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Are there limits for censorship in ProZ?
Thread poster: tinageta
tinageta  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
English to Latvian
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Jul 10, 2006

Although I do not participate in forums too frequently, I read the threads often and with great interest, and I do not like what I observe.
I see site staff closing threads they are not comfortable with, like this one: http://www.proz.com/topic/50990?start=15&float=
Of course, the reason for closing the thread was simple and honourable: compliance with the forum rules. And worry not, should a need arise we will simply introduce rule No 7567354 so that we are not troubled in our sleep and asked unpleasant questions, and forced to hear unpleasant opinions!
Then we see a moderator preaching that an off-topic is not off-topic enough to belong to the off-topic forum; although it was turned into a joke later, in the beginning it was clearly not so.
And there are many examples, I simply do not have time to browse the forums to extend this amazing list.
Come on people, is this a free world or not? ProZ is turning into one of the most heavily censored Internet sites I have visited, and I have visited many. Are you trying to convert this place into something like a virtual …. (insert the country name here, but do not utter it loud - you might get banned for being politically incorrect)?

Agnese

[Edited at 2006-07-10 05:28]


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Cristóbal del Río Faura  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:23
English to Spanish
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I share your concern Jul 10, 2006

and I am more and more surprised with what I see.

Regards,
Cristobal

[Edited at 2006-07-10 05:25]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:23
English to French
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That's not all Jul 10, 2006

The topic you are referring to also contained some posts that simply disappeared - and believe me, they were not against forum rules. They were simply posts that had the potential to make moderators/staff feel less at ease.

Careful now! This topic is probably about to also get locked - if not deleted.

With that said, I was about to post a similar topic to this one, but because I got censored so many times today, I thought the timing is not right. Also, since the topic you are referring to was locked pretty quickly, I never had the opportunity to reply to those who have sort of "blasted" me, and never got the opportunity to defend my ideas. I look stupid now, because one of the last posts calls for a reply, but I can't reply.

The sad thing is that the moderators who make some posts disappear and who lock threads when there is nothing against the rules don't realize that they are hurting their cause. For example, a thread was posted today about moderators deleting posts - and the moderator of that thread deleted posts in the thread and locked it. Silly silly silly! Just to prove that the initial poster was right on the mark.

I think that if people on this site "turned the other cheek" - a little like Henry often does - instead of making traces of discontent disappear, if they only faced the opinions/comments coming their way, the general opinion of them would actually improve, and in turn, they would get a better grip on their stuff. But it seems that right now, many of the people in charge are blind to this idea.

I also see an increasing number of people "disappearing" from the site, as well as people saying they lost a privilege - like posting in the forum or contacting members. This is a bad sign, and it doesn't help the site's reputation or its other affairs.

Overall, very sad situation. I am starting to understand what communist China must feel like to its citizens...

[Edited at 2006-07-10 05:49]

Something quite funny happened - a deleted post in the thread you mentioned just reappeared. Isn't that weird? Lemme check some other topics that were blocked / had posts deleted...

[Edited at 2006-07-10 05:53]


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transparx  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:23
English to Italian
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agree Jul 10, 2006

tinageta wrote:

Although I do not participate in forums too frequently, I read the threads often and with great interest, and I do not like what I observe.
I see site staff closing threads they are not comfortable with, like this one: http://www.proz.com/topic/50990?start=15&float=
Of course, the reason for closing the thread was simple and honourable: compliance with the forum rules. And worry not, should a need arise we will simply introduce rule No 7567354 so that we are not troubled in our sleep and asked unpleasant questions, and forced to hear unpleasant opinions!
Then we see a moderator preaching that an off-topic is not off-topic enough to belong to the off-topic forum; although it was turned into a joke later, in the beginning it was clearly not so.
And there are many examples, I simply do not have time to browse the forums to extend this amazing list.
Come on people, is this a free world or not? ProZ is turning into one of the most heavily censored Internet sites I have visited, and I have visited many. Are you trying to convert this place into something like a virtual …. (insert the country name here, but do not utter it loud - you might get banned for being politically incorrect)?

Agnese

[Edited at 2006-07-10 05:28]


I also entirely agree with you. When I read Henry's posting, I was shocked and started considering responding somehow.
I agree that staff and moderators should reserve the right to lock a discussion if, for instance, members are being unduly attacked or, even worse, publicly insulted by others. In fact, this is not the case. I often see people get away with nasty nasty remarks, as a matter of fact.
Instead, as you point out, threads are now being closed for no valid reason --just because there is a rule that allows staff and moderators to do so.
This seems to me to be at best ad hoc, at worst boarding-school-like.


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Pilar T. Bayle  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
English to Spanish
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I am concerned... Jul 10, 2006

It starts feeling like ProZ grew too much and someone is trying to fix it and keep it together, with some ideas that are not very well thought out. Whenever moderators or any of the staff do not like something, they just tote an obscure rule that seems simply perfect for the case. I call that clarividence, to be able to forsee all possible situations.

Kind regards,

P.
www.pbayle.com/blogs-english


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:23
English to French
+ ...
Here's another one Jul 10, 2006

Nice example of people using obscure rules just because they are perfect for the purpose.

http://www.proz.com/topic/50986

By the way, two posts are missing at the very end of the above thread, both of which were not against forum rules. They were just posts that I would not have found flattering if I was a moderator. They simply disappeared. I think it's not for nothing that Aleksandr posted the above topic - I certainly see where he is coming from.

Oh, and if the moderator of that same thread sees this, would you be so kind as to explain why those posts were deleted? I am sure there was a reason to delete compliant posts in an off-topic thread - otherwise they would not have been deleted, right? I can't wait to read the answer... And by the way, it didn't look like staying on topic mattered to you for a while there - until the unflattering posts appeared, which are now luckily deleted and nobody will EVER know about them.

The post that reappeared, by the way, contained this:

"Well, since your forum opinions don't seem to count (my concerns about the basic integrity of this new feature apparently don't even rate acknowledgement, as I am a lowly non-member), I humbly suggest that all those who are dissatisfied take the time-honored path of voting with their feet, and hitting ProZ.com where it counts - in the wallet."

It wasn't against the rules - but it sure is unflattering, don't you think?

[Edited at 2006-07-10 11:40]


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tinageta  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
English to Latvian
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TOPIC STARTER
Frustrated Jul 10, 2006

I myself am a moderator in another forum (totally translation-unrelated) so the hardships of moderatorship are not alien to me. But it is not the moderators who determine the site policy and general ambience, it is the “higher administration”. More and more it feels that this site is turning into some sort of virtual Eurasia where those who disagree with the “party guidelines” and whatever new features introduced are frowned upon, and history is constantly being “updated”.
The obsession with political correctness (which some call the new for of fascism) in this site is on the verge of lunacy, and I will not be surprised at all if in December we will be forbidden to say Merry Christmas, as it might offend those users and members who have other beliefs and views.
I totally agree that each forum needs rules, the rules should be followed, and there are cases when a moderator must intervene; however, one might assume that the rules are there to facilitate communication and not to choke it. Funny that a site designed to facilitate communication among communication experts does everything possible to make this communication impossible!
I need some air…

Agnese


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:23
German to English
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Criticism - fair or unfair? Jul 10, 2006

There is a fine line between fair and unfair criticism, and I personally feel that this line has sometimes been crossed in anger.

In the thread about "freelancer WWA" (the one with 50+ pages) there was some criticism that I felt was fair and on-topic, i.e. saying that this feature, at least as implemented, was felt to be unhelpful and counter-productive. I was one of the people who expressed this criticism.
Eventually, the site staff took the point and suspended the feature. Henry asked us to suspend further comments on this feature until the site staff had something practical to suggest. I am not sure that I will be happy with the new suggestion when it comes, but I think that Henry's request is reasonable and sensible - it is entirely unproductive to argue about what might be.

But some of the posts since then have been rather angry in tone, and more emotional than rational. I don't find this helpful, and I can understand why moderators delete some posts and lock some threads. They are trying to calm things down and return to a more rational tone, and they have my sympathy. Whether their judgements are always right is secondary - such decisions are difficult at the best of times, and the mods (IMHO) are trying to make the best of the situation.

If I understand correctly, moderators do not in fact earn anything out of the site - they take on the role as a service to the community. And I'm sure they are often under the normal freelance time pressures, and then have to wear their "moderator hat" although they don't really have the time.

So come on folks, give them a break, and if necessary give them the benefit of the doubt. And if a post of yours is deleted, try not to feel personally insulted.
BTW, a post of mine was once deleted (from a completely different thread). I was surprised at the moderator's interpretation of my post, but I thanked him for trying to calm down a difficult thread, and accepted that he had acted in good faith and done what he felt to be right.


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:23
English to Russian
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with all due respect Jul 10, 2006

RE: Come on people, is this a free world or not?

Which world we are talking about saying "this" - as ProZ 'covers' such a variety.. and some of the worlds or countries our members live in may be considered not that free by some other members.

I am with ProZ from 1999, nearly from the very beginning and I can say that there is no anything even nearly close "in this world" like this site. And i like it and i will stay with it.

Just keep in mind that this is not some kind of self-organized community website or marketplace and never has been - this is a result of the vision of one (great) person being helped by a talented team and it actually belongs to this person, it is a private venture, if I may say that.

In the nutshell, like everywhere else in this world), the owner sets the rules and users either agree with those rules and follow them or, if they do not like it ("do not like the product"), they do not use this site ("do not buy the product") - those who paid for membership and dislike it can even get their money back.

RE: started considering responding somehow.

If someone here does not like something or disagree it is always good to contact a moderator - these are the people who volunteered to help to run this site. They will try to explain and/or assist. Such way, in most cases, is the fastest and most efficient. I know it as in the past i have served as a moderator for two ProZ communities myself.

Cheers,
V.


ninogulli wrote:
Come on people, is this a free world or not? ProZ is turning into one of the most heavily censored Internet sites I have visited, and I have visited many.
Agnese

[Edited at 2006-07-10 05:28]


I also entirely agree with you. When I read Henry's posting, I was shocked and started considering responding somehow.
I [/quote]


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Levan Namoradze  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 11:23
Member (2005)
English to Georgian
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100%! Jul 10, 2006

In the nutshell, like everywhere else in this world), the owner sets the rules and users either agree with those rules and follow them or, if they do not like it ("do not like the product"), they do not use this site ("do not buy the product") - those who paid for membership and dislike it can even get their money back.


Hi all!
I DO AGREE with Vladimir! Despite I do not like some things at Proz sometimes, I always bear in mind that that is 'the product' and I may consider whether to pay therefore. Until now, I am willing to pay.
Kind regards,
Levan

[Edited at 2006-07-10 06:54]


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tinageta  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
English to Latvian
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TOPIC STARTER
... Jul 10, 2006

Victor Dewsbery wrote:

If I understand correctly, moderators do not in fact earn anything out of the site - they take on the role as a service to the community. And I'm sure they are often under the normal freelance time pressures, and then have to wear their "moderator hat" although they don't really have the time.


I do understand that the task of a moderator is not always easy, and it can be very difficult to find the golden midway. Locking threads and deleting posts might be quite effective a way to create an illusionary “calmness” in a short-term; but in a longer run it is a way to lead us to standing waters with the doubtful benefits of dead fish and rotten smell.
As for the people devoting their free time and resources to moderate the site: this is a noble thing to do, I (and others I am sure) are grateful for that, but hey, nobody forces them to do this, do they?


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:23
English to French
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What the point is Jul 10, 2006

It is a fact that some postings and threads were deleted/blocked even when they were not against rules, or even Henry's request to stay off a topic that was completely irrelevant to the particular thread everybody here seems to agree to be shocked at. Whether so and so agrees or disagrees with what was discussed in that thread is irrelevant to this topic. Whether so and so feels they're getting their money's worth or not is also irrelevant. The fact remains that people were unjustly silenced.

When I posted that thread, I was not discussing the WWA system, so Henry's reaction is a little - to say the least - out of place here. I was asking people's opinions on losing privileges for deciding to opt out of a feature, after Henry has repeated several times that everyone can freely opt in/out. I was asking the question whether this was really so, or if anybody else agreed that we are told we have the choice when we really don't. Never mind whether I want to use the WWA system or not. The fact is that I was not allowed to reply to people who did not agree with me, whether I respected the rules or not, and that those who may have wanted to give their opinion on the subject of that particular thread - and not on the WWA system - were not allowed to do so.

By the way, it's hard not to be emotional when we first get a new feature forced upon us, then are told that we can opt out of it - only to lose other privileges we had before. I find this extremely insulting, as it is a way to force something upon us we don't want while not admitting that that is what's going on. As many people have said it before me, ProZ is a translators' community - or so it pretends to be. In light of this, I think the decisions of late are at best inconsiderate, at worse insulting and authoritarian. I feel it's hard to stay neutral and calm in such circumstances.

Either way, I got a bar of soap shoved in my mouth and it doesn't make me feel any better. I am still awaiting explanations and answers from fellow freelancers, but I don't think they will ever be allowed to exist, judging from the actions taken in the past 24 hours.

[Edited at 2006-07-10 07:45]


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TranslateThis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:23
Spanish to English
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Big Brother is watching... so be careful! Jul 10, 2006

QUOTE***Henry asked us to suspend further comments on this feature until the site staff had something practical to suggest. I am not sure that I will be happy with the new suggestion when it comes, but I think that Henry's request is reasonable and sensible - it is entirely unproductive to argue about what might be. ***UNQUOTE



It is quite reasonable to expect that members/users be allowed to freely express their opinions (whether positive or negative) about any of the newly introduced features.

I personally feel that this particular thread is now locked not because it was getting a little out of hand but simply because there were too many posts opposing the new feature.

Just wondering how long until this one gets locked, too

This is a great site. However, it would be even better if:
(1) imposing new features / stripping users of existing benefits and/or rights could be avoided and
(2) users were allowed to freely voice their opinions on site features


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:23
German to English
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Perhaps a misunderstanding Jul 10, 2006

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
By the way, it's hard not to be emotional when we first get a new feature forced upon us, then are told that we can opt out of it - only to lose other privileges we had before.


The opt in / opt out mechanism was one of the controversial issues discussed in the monster WWA thread.

But if I understand rightly, the whole of the WWA feature (with all the associated opt in/out and privilege issues) has been deactivated and is not in force at present. I believe Henry and the site staff have taken note of the protest, and that is the main reason why the feature has been removed from the site.

Apparently the site staff are working on a "WWA mark 2". Whether this is wise and can be done in an acceptable way, remains to be seen. Until then, it's not worth arguing about.


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tinageta  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
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TOPIC STARTER
This is not about WWA only Jul 10, 2006

I just would like to add that so far (!) none of my postings have been deleted and none of the threads initiated by myself have been locked. I am not “personally offended” and, so to speak, stand up for others. Even if some of us have grown so cynical as to accept that the world is an unjust and unfair place and there is nothing that we can do about it, it does not mean we all should embrace such an approach even in matters where it can be avoided.
And I do not think we should focus on the thread about WWA, which just happened to be the last one unfairly closed I noticed. We are not talking here about rare exceptions, this is starting to be a frequent practice.
Dictionaries tell us that forum is “a public facility to meet for open discussion, a public meeting or assembly for open discussion”; so if this place is not designed for open discussion but only for the “correct opinions”, then probably its name should be changed. I would be most grateful if someone could recommend which moderator I should approach in order to solve this issue.

Agnese


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