…belongs to the man who owns one." – H.R. Mencken, IIRC
I’m putting this here, because it is clearly About This Message Board, and is not a complaint directed at anyone in particular, which would go to the Pit. But if you mod./admin. guys feel it should be moved, do so with my blessings.
What I’m posting this on and you’re reading it on is an online bulletin board, operating on a moderately expensive piece of software, on a server which I think is dedicated to preserving and making available the deathless pieces of prose we all generate and choose to share with the world, or at least the SD community.
It is physically located and the property of the Chicago Reader, Inc., a for-profit business which publishes an alternative newspaper in the Chicago area. It’s here as an adjunct to the promotion of the Straight Dope column, a syndicated column produced by one Cecil Adams, whoever or whatever he may be in real life.
It is staffed by (a) a couple of technicians who provide IT services for the Chicago Reader, (b) Ed Zotti of the Reader staff, © three volunteer Administrators and something like a dozen volunteer Moderators. These people take the time to read through every bit of stuff put up on this board, be it your refinement of the Theory of Relativity that has potential for solving the energy crisis and taking us to the nearest stars in seconds or how you injured yourself in a humorous way while masturbating.
Full disclosure: I function as a moderator on another, much smaller such service. I know a little of what goes on behind the scenes, the decisions on how to encourage a possible problem child to be a constructive poster who contributes to the community instead, all that fun stuff. The board I work for is owned and operated by a couple who felt it their Christian duty to make such a forum available and staffed by a group of volunteers.
I have come to love the free-wheeling spirit of this board. But I guarantee that if I were in David B or Gaudere’s shoes, and had to read all the stuff they have to read, I would convert to Christianity (they being atheists) just long enough to pray that everyone who posts to a drive-by witnessing/kill the fundy. thread catches leprosy and all their fingers fall off, and if I moderated either GD or the Pit in the period since last November 7, I would quickly join Citizens for a Benevolent Dictatorship in an effort to kill off the election-recrimination threads. And I think if I were in IMHO or MPSIMS, I’d take a vow of chastity.
People, you may have freedom of speech. But this is their board, and they have a right to run it on their terms. To quote Lazarus Long, “Sure, we believe in free speech. But this hall is paid for. Go rent your own hall.”
I don’t think Ed, Tubadiva, Lynn, Dex, or any of the moderators owes me an explanation for any decision they make. And I’m certain they’ve thought it through, in detail, before they make it. When they do give their reasons, or a portion thereof, and usually do it wittily, that is gravy.
I know that I personally disagreed with two recent actions taken by the Administrators here. (And it’s nobody’s business but mine which two.) If I have anything other than that sentence to say about the issue, it will be in e-mail to them, privately. If I have a question about how the board is being handled, or whether something is appropriate, it will be in a post in this forum, so the question and answer are available for others who may be interested. And I’ve done that when I felt it worhtwhile.
BTW, as a sort of mini-hijack of my own thread, may I suggest as an appropriate codicil to the “no direct insults” rule that putdowns of banned posters should be prohibited, especially as they are not in a position to respond (obviously). A casual reference to them, particularly in a warning to someone you as a poster see coming close to the line, is in order – casting aspersions on them for their real or supposed misdeeds is not.
In summary, we’re playing in their park, by their rules. In general, I think they’re good rules. If you don’t like them, buy a server and software and start your own board. Or send e-mail. I’ve dealt with about half the moderators and two of the four administrators here regarding issues I felt deserved their time, and gotten very positive feedback, even when they disagreed with me. They’re people, folks, not the Evil Establishment. And they’re doing a very tough job, on the whole, remarkably well.