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Discussion on: Censorship on DEV Community 😢🀐

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sargalias profile image
Spyros Argalias

I seem to have an unpopular opinion on this, but I think it's fine for the author to be able to hide comments.

This makes dev.to similar to a personal website, where you have complete control over your content and deleting comments.

dev.to could have taken a different approach, such as being more like a guest blog post website (where you can't necessarily delete your post or the comments), or being something like reddit (where you can't delete the comments, only moderators can). But I like this approach. It means that we can make posts and feel safe about them. If we get inappropriate or irrelevant comments, we can hide them. And we can do so based on our opinion. In the end, the post and page can look exactly how we want them to. It's our content after all.

But I still think that only inappropriate (and possibly completely irrelevant) comments should be hidden. If someone deletes a constructive comment with a different point of view, that just means they couldn't support their point of view in an argument. So their point of view probably doesn't have merit. Also, everyone loses out on good discussion. Finally, it gives a bad impression to viewers of that page that the author isn't fair and may unfairly hide opposing comments. So I think that's sufficient punishment for the author.

The response is to make your own post with your own point of view.

It's not ideal, but I personally think that this con is worth it for the ownership it gives the author over their content. The point of view with the most merit can still come out on top. Additionally, I hope that people who hide comments are the minority.


Sidenote: There are many comments that are unconstructive (in my opinion), such as:

  • "This was a bad post"
  • "Testing is useless" (that's the whole comment), on a post that explains the advantages of testing.

I don't delete these kind of comments personally, but I wouldn't blame someone for wanting to delete them. And I wouldn't want them to have a jury of mods that need to agree on whether it meets their threshold of "low quality" before they're deleted.

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inactive profile image
inactive

It's alright to have an unpopular opinion, absolutely fine by me!

I personally don't bother hiding comments (not even the shameless promo I get every so often in my comment section). I just leave them be. Not everyone has to agree with me on everything, and I've come to terms with that.

I started blogging with the intention to share what I know with others. And despite being in "full" control of my content, I don't feel motivated to weed out every last comment on my post. I just leave people be. I challenge self-promoters here and there and those that don't have anything constructive to add to the conversation ("This post is useless"-kind of comments). They usually don't interact back. Perhaps, because they feel like they are in the minority or because they are trolls.

Either way I stand for the protection and safety of the author, but I also value other people's views and I don't believe everything needs to be "censored".

Food for thought. Spicy way of starting the week, if you ask me. πŸ˜‚

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sargalias profile image
Spyros Argalias

I think what you do is very good. I also leave almost all comments alone, even troll comments. So in a sense, I don't exercise "full control" over my content either :).

I guess we only have a different opinion at the extremities. I also definitely think that censoring opposing points of view is bad for the community. But I still believe that your content, on your page, should be your own. Other people can still get their view across on their own posts, which technically solves the censorship problem.

It's not ideal, but I think this way, the author can feel 100% safe, rather than have other people decide for them on what's allowed or not on their content.

But that's just my opinion and where I would like the balance. You've made some great points too. In the end, it's up to community to decide :).

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miguelmj profile image
MiguelMJ

I actually agree with you. In my opinion, you can't have both: self-moderation of your content to protect you and complete freedom of speech. If you want one, the other goes away.

Each community needs its own approach. If DEV was about politics, I would be all in for complete freedom of speech. But it is about software development and computer science, so an insecure person hiding an opposite opinion won't make that much of a difference (even though is not a nice move). If you notice that a well intended comment is removed by the author, then remember his/her name and don't engage with them again 🀷. It's bad for you, but it's better for vulnerable people.

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sargalias profile image
Spyros Argalias

Yeah, it seems like they contradict at some level.

Also, interesting mention about politics there. I hadn't considered it. It's interesting to think about how we'd do things differently for different topics and what impact it might have overall. Thanks :)

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miguelmj profile image
MiguelMJ

Thanks, Spyros. I believe that each community should have different purposes or we wouldn't want to even use the Internet!πŸ˜‚

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inactive profile image
inactive

It's bad for you, but it's better for vulnerable people.

Certainly a fair point

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patricknelson profile image
Patrick Nelson • Edited on

It's a very valid opinion; I think the nuance for me was not on the existence of the feature, but maybe more how authors decided to use it when mixed with politically sensitive issues (which could get heated, importantly). This may actually entrench individuals on each "side" (when drawing lines) in the debate, particularly if they feel they are being unfairly silenced. So, the issue is not with the ability to censor itself (which I agree should still remain on dev.to, even though I "fell victim" to it), but rather the decision that is then made to censor someone after an hours-long back-and-forth that can potentially have unexpected side effects.

But that's up to the author.

On the flip side, I do moderate a minor subreddit of my own. As the moderator, I'm careful not to remove comments unless they violate some pretty obvious rules (i.e. follow "reddiquette," no harassment, bullying, name calling, hate speech, etc etc). This rarely ever happens, but: Even if I end up on the unpopular side of a discussion and end up with some negative karma, I will not flair my posts or delete comments or ban users or anything along those lines. For me it's more important that we have a forum where folks can discuss openly without fear of the moderator disagreeing with them. If it ever went that far (it hasn't yet), I'd rather just take all the negative karma and potentially just delete my comment in shame rather than use my power to moderate the discussion to my liking.

However, that's a completely different context and a totally different forum and type of discussion. Even in a place like dev.to though, I think I would still apply that approach. Particularly in the world of development. I can't count how many times I've had an opinion that ended up changing because I realized I was "doing it wrong" or that there ended up being much better ways of doing something that I never considered.