Content Moderation At Scale Especially Doesn't Work When You Hide All The Rules

from the getting-twitchy dept

For quite a while now, we've pointed out that doing any serious content moderation on major internet sites is laughably difficult, if not impossible. Whether done in a purely automated format, or with real human oversight, everything ends up boiling down to just how much collateral damage are we all willing to accept when sites attempt to enforce moderation rules. Even when sites attempt to communicate the rules to the public in a somewhat transparent fashion, such as Facebook, it all inevitably goes to the kind of hell that includes nixing accounts for sharing what is purely art.

But when sites don't bother to tell their users what the rules are, even after exacting punishment for violation of those rules? Well, that's when you have a bunch of Twitch streamers wondering what the hell is going on.

Earlier this week, Twitch suspended a streamer named Quqco for wearing a cosplay of Street Fighter heroine Chun-Li on stream, deeming her outfit “sexually suggestive.” This took Quqco—and many others—by surprise, given that the outfit was not overtly risqué. But this was not an isolated incident. In the past few days, Twitch has been cracking down on so-called “sexually suggestive” content more aggressively than usual, and picking some questionable targets for its crusade.

The whole post is long and very detailed and should absolutely be read in full. The article lists numerous examples of Twitch streamers being handed out warnings and suspensions under any number of circumstances that range from cosplaying as Street Fighter characters, to wearing a sports bra and baggy shorts on a stream, to drawing clothed cartoon characters. All those interviewed for the post that were on the receiving end of these warnings or suspensions were completely flummoxed.

Especially when their own inquiries into their punishment were being responded to like this.

For example, Fareeha’s warning specifically accused her of wearing “underwear or lingerie,” when she was, in reality, wearing baggy gym clothes in a setting where you’d expect to see them. Twitch’s guidelines around what streamers can and cannot wear are vague and contextual; the sort of attire Fareeha was wearing might not have cut it if a streamer was broadcasting from their bedroom, but streamers regularly wear gym clothes in the gym. Some men even go shirtless. It’s not clear why Twitch singled out Fareeha.

Fareeha specifically believes she may be the victim of another aspect of the internet that makes content moderation at scale impossible: trolls. It turns out that there are dedicated Discord channels out there where people get off on doing mass-reports of Twitch streamers they don't like for any number of reasons. Obviously, those many numbers of reasons often fall into categories that include "they're women doing things we don't like" and "they're people that don't look like us doing things we don't like." The theory goes that whatever automation Twitch has built into its moderation system -- and there surely must be something of that sort of thing -- it's likely to be sensitive to mass reporting of ToS violations. This is being gamed by trolls to get the system to punish Twitch streamers who otherwise would never have been punished.

Is that what's happening? Nobody knows, mostly because Twitch is being frustratingly opaque on the matter.

Saruei, who was suspended for drawing “nude” characters, declined to speak to Kotaku out of concern that she could face further repercussions from Twitch. However, prior to her recent suspension, she spoke out against what she feels is “hypocrisy” on Twitch’s part. Suggestive poses apparently aren’t allowed in her drawings, she said, but it’s fine when some people do them IRL.

“These are suggestive poses, right?” she said of her own art while discussing her Twitch warning during a recent (now-unavailable) stream. “We agree with that, right? Why I can’t draw waifus like this when there is fucking Twitch girls that can do it?” She went on to express frustration about the lack of clarity that she, like others, has had to deal with. “I hope it won’t happen again, because I asked them ‘What is the problem with these drawings?’” she said. “Is it the clothing or the pose? What is against Twitch guidelines? I need to know.”

Those last two sentences are all you need to hear to recognize the massive problem that is Twitch attempting to do content moderation at a scale that is largely impossible while not being transparent as to how to stay on the right side of that moderation. There is entirely too much gray area, too much room for gaming the moderation, and too much stupid collateral damage to make any of this worth it.

Meanwhile, the Twitch streamers who make Twitch's product attractive are stuck trying to figure out what the rules are. Until they decide to go somewhere else, that is.

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Filed Under: content moderation, content moderation at scale, quqco, rules, transparency
Companies: twitch


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Maier Stubb-Bourne, 20 Sep 2019 @ 7:59pm

    Is TD "purely automated format, or with real human oversight"?

    I've asked many times over last several years, not least for how many clicks trigger a "hiding" and/or whether an Administrator makes any decision, yet have no answer.

    But when sites don't bother to tell their users what the rules are, even after exacting punishment for violation of those rules?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Maier Stubb-Bourne, 20 Sep 2019 @ 7:59pm

    Re: Is TD "purely automated format, or with real human over

    What are the guidelines here at TD? Why are fanboy comments never hidden, no matter how vile? Is there any way that dissenters can avoid offending the alleged "community"? And so on. No answer. The "system" here is not entirely a black box, as it's certain that dissent gets hidden.

    Here's an example of not just permissible comment by (then apparently mere) fanboy (now a re-writing minion who blithely ignores his own history in this very piece), and which Masnick calls a "joke":

    "There are white people, and then there are ignorant motherfuckers like you...."

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110621/16071614792/misconceptions-free-abound-why-d o-brains-stop-zero.shtml#c1869

    Now, Twitch is CRAP, but this site pretends to serious weighty matters -- in this very piece -- puts up plain HTML with no stated conditions or guidelines, and claims to support Free Speech, yet it has the unique "hiding" which invariably works only on those disagreeing with pieces, NEVER on fanboys.

    So, I think that Techdirt should at least try to fix its own contradictions before even wondering about other sites.

    You're welcome. Now "HIDE" this and prove me right to conclude you're mere aged kids with a web-site.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Sep 2019 @ 8:14pm

    Content Moderation Myths.

    1 - No one will ever report for fun.
    2 - If we tell them the rules, they will try to get around them in the worst possible ways.
    3 - Its best to outsource this work & never review the decisions.
    4 - Never admit fault, never take blame, always leave them fearful that speaking out might lead to worse happening.

    Pretending mass reporting isn't a real thing is stupid.
    It is a sport for some trolls, but just in case we need to punish you for what others claim offended them.
    (See also teacher murdered for unfounded allegations of insulting the prophet, all the people in Turkey who Gollum thinks might have said mean things about him. People murdered over rumors spread on social media in other countries.)
    You can see real world examples of how this is the shittest way to deal with it, but they all do it.

    You've broken a rule we haven't even invented yet you are banned!
    And they wonder why users are upset & traffic is dropping, because they are getting afraid of being the next person to be on triple secret probation because of some unknown law that this typo is now viewed as being a white power symbol.

    Have the reviews done by non-native speakers, the problem thing being removed from all context, & no other information offered.
    We had 300 complaints about this feed!!!
    Huh did you know 150 of those are from accounts they only seem to submit similar complaints over and over??
    The other 150 accounts were created today from the same IP addresses.

    We can't tell you sorry, and mean it. We can't tell you if anything happened to those who reported you. It might make people fear reporting, even if everything points to them being part of a coordinated effort... we can't risk bad publicity! Not doing SOMETHING is always much worse than doing something stupid.
    (See also Patriot Act, TSA, Qualified Immunity)

    It is impossible to craft rules, because everyone isn't on the same page. Calling myself a bundle of sticks (because why not use my own experience??) doesn't offend me & it hardly raises my eyebrow when others use it... but someone else MIGHT be deeply offended so its best to decide if someone complains that the use is then bad, but only for you not the other 3000 examples you can find some clearly meant to be offensive.

    The problem is this magical idea that somehow we can keep everyone from being upset & we have to act immediately.
    You can't, it's not possible, stop.
    If someone says a bad word, let people press a button and never have to hear that person again. Stop pretending that if the words still exist on the platform that somehow the universe is unbalanced.
    People are willingly abdicating taking responsibility for themselves & it really needs to stop.
    You can't make that, its fattening!

    • Yes we can, some people know how to enjoy them as sometimes treats not a meal.

    You can't offer toys, that makes children fat!!

    • Yes we can, some parents actually gasp can tell their children no, like they are supposed to.

    You can't have them flavored, its only done to lure in kids!!

    • Yes we can, unless you ban all flavors in everything you don't really care about the children do you?

    If someone says something that offends you, ignore them.
    Press the button to mute them forever.
    Do not give into the skinner box response of press the report button & get a warm fuzzy having them booted out... because you just encourage that behavior & then are awash in reports as people try to score points in their heads... meanwhile things that are really disturbing & worrying slide under the radar because you are looking at the wrong things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Sep 2019 @ 8:16pm

    It’s not a matter of disagreement that gets your comments hidden. One article from ten days ago received a number of comments that disagreed with said article. Those comments weren’t hiddent because they weren’t like yours—that is to say, filled with worthless complaints driven by a decade-old grudge and an apparent need to collect grievances like Ash Ketchum collects Pokémon.

    Try being less of a paranoid asshole. You might not come off as someone who’s a collected grievance or two away from storming Techdirt’s offices looking for a “Second Amendment remedy”.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Sep 2019 @ 8:18pm

    Content moderation at scale is a lot of work. Expecting automated systems to do it in place of human moderators doesn’t help. I have to wonder what Twitch admins are thinking about this right now—especially in light of losing one of the site’s biggest streamers not too long ago. How many more popular streamers can Twitch afford to alienate?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2019 @ 8:23pm

    Re:

    Incidently I have found that (given sufficent time after the comment post) the community flagging works reasonably well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Gary (profile), 20 Sep 2019 @ 9:25pm

    Brigade

    The thing going on with these is "Brigading." Where an small army (large minority?) of asshats all get together and submit (fake) complaints.

    The algorithm automatically trips since 10, 20, or 50 flags have been tripped.

    Blue Balls tries to do this at TD, but withought backing the effort fails mo matter how many posts they make.

    On Twitch, this takes down the targets and causes serious problems.

    But who is to blame - Twitch, or the "Brigade" of Trolls?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Gary (profile), 20 Sep 2019 @ 9:42pm

    Re: Is Troll for real?

    I dare you to give us the link to Your supper better website..

    Double dare you. Show us how a real champion of free peaches handles trolling.

    Bet you would block me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2019 @ 9:42pm

    Re:

    Oh, so hiding content is considered punishment now?

    Thanks for confirming that SOPA was intentional censorship, genius.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2019 @ 10:57pm

    g

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    bhull242 (profile), 20 Sep 2019 @ 10:57pm

    Re: Re: Is TD "purely automated format, or with real human

    Do you make any money for comments on this site (directly or indirectly)?

    Can people still read the comment after it’s been hidden?

    Do the site operators play a direct role regarding what comments get hidden? Or is it only a matter of whether enough users flag the comment?

    Is the community for this site very large?

    Are comments the primary draw for this site?

    There’s a large difference between getting a stream removed from Twitch and having your comment hidden on Techdirt. There’s no real similarities here.

    Also, you have been given reasons for why your comments get hidden, and you have not changed anything. In fact, people can tell it’s you even if the name and IP address are not already associated with you. And you haven’t pointed out other cases that are similar to or more extreme than yours that were treated differently. (And for the record, that example you mentioned, in addition to being 10 years old and thus of minimal value regarding the rules for current enforcement of the rules, was one of several quotes from Obama’s memoir, and was never meant to be taken seriously. You, on the other hand, clearly want to be taken seriously, and seem to be using your own words, even if you tend to repeat yourself. The two are clearly different.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 12:32am

    Re: Re: Is TD "purely automated format, or with real human

    Pretty sure the guidelines are "don't be such an ass that a fair number of readers flag your comment".

    And not all the time, but i have seen "fanboy" comments hidden for being sheer assholery. I'm personally bored also with the trollbait comments which don't seem to get get enough flag votes often enough. But hey, i can ignore them just as easily as i can click to unhide your ceaseless and unchanging drivel and read it. Unfortunately, it is still the same dreck i've seen before.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Glenn, 21 Sep 2019 @ 4:00am

    Typical site's #1 rule: no discussion of moderation; all such comments will be moderated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 5:16am

    And that's why the whole idea of content servers of various types is broken beyond belief and needs to die as soon as possible. Youtube is useless, Twitter is useless, Twitch is useless, all of them are dinosaurs that apparently refuse to realize they're supposed to be dead.

    The future should belong to either self-hosting or crowd-hosting your content, because anything else will only end up curtailing your freedom of expression sooner or later. You should have the option of not seeing what you don't want to see; but short of it being explicitly illegal, nobody should have the power to prevent you from saying or showing whatever the fuck you want, whether or not anyone wants to actually see it. And the obsolete content server model we have now will NEVER allow for that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Sep 2019 @ 5:29am

    Re:

    So, you're saying that people need to return to how things were before these services were available without addressing any of the reasons that they were demanded to begin with? Yeah good luck with that..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 5:48am

    Re:

    Social media often removes legal content, but posting on social media does prevent ISPs and DNS from censoring the content, which law makers will call for more if self-hosting becomes the norm. Social media sites also provide many ways to find content within the site, which lessens the impact if it is removed from google.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 6:11am

    Re:

    nobody should have the power to prevent you from saying or showing whatever the fuck you want, whether or not anyone wants to actually see it.

    Nobody does, if you go the self hosting route, which you can do right now if you want to. Most of the moderation problems are caused by people who want to use centralized platforms because that is where they can try and force their views onto others. If everybody played by the rules that the platforms layout, and trolls did not false report or try to swamp platforms with their views, there would be very little problem with moderation.

    A question for you, how do you gain an audience without a centralized search engine, and social media platforms on which to promote your own site?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 7:06am

    Re: Re:

    You say that, and yet you can't self host without using the services of banks and tech companies, who will then block you and refuse to do business with you on their own justification reasons.
    Look at PayPal, impossible to set up or use if you want anything adult oriented, Patron bans you for sex fetishes they don't approve of, and the last time somebody tried to set up their own service no credit card company would work with them effectively crushing them before they could set up.

    So pray tell, oh wise one, how does one self host without services and utilities? Does the bargaining system still function for renting amazon services? Does praying to Google for a bountiful click harvest still require sacrifice of your firstborn?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    "some" good points

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Now you have gone beyond freedom of speech into areas where you need commercial relationship with banks etc. and they are entitled to look at and evaluate your business to decide whether they want that relationship. If you call that freedom of speech, you have to also respect other peoples freedom to say go away, otherwise you are restricting other peoples freedoms to advance you own objectives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 7:34am

    How do you regulate morality ?
    You Can't
    Your morals aren't mine and mine aren't yours
    Problem comes up when YOU try to impose yours on me .
    Basically comes down to freedom .
    I mean hey any two people with baseball bats can beat the crap or kill anyone
    The problem arises when you try to impose your fears on me by not allowing
    me to defend myself .
    If you feel that your willing to allow two people to beat you with no means of defending yourself , I see no problem with that just don't impart your fears of self protection on me by denying my ability to defend myself by any means
    allowed by law .

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 7:56am

    Re: Is TD flagging real human

    / "that a fair number of readers flag your comment" /

    well, what exactly is that "fair" number ?

    TD never says and is very vague as to the details of its flagging process.
    It's difficult to comply with vague "Rules".

    A highly arbitrary/opaque flagging system can easily be manipulated into an unfair "censorship" tool -- and I have observed that happen here several times with minority opinions presented in civil, on topic comments.

    Apparently it takes VERY few objections (<5) to flag/hide a disfavored comment... and TD staff get to vote.

    Viewing a "hidden" comment also requires observers to enable javascrcipt... which opens up their browser to receive advertising/tracking/more internet vulnerability.

    One simple step for TD transparency is to add the "number" of community members who initially flagged a comment and triggered its hiding:

    replace current
    "This comment has been flagged by the community."

    use

    "This comment has been flagged by 5 members ofthe community. Click here to show it "


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 8:00am

    Well, I guess this means that present twitch users will be looking for an alternative platform. Market opportunity here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re:

    You know you can literally test that for yourself by going to a comment and flagging it via your constantly changing TOR addresses, right?

    This isn't hard. It's a solution anyone can come up with. Hell, your boyfriend John Smith already threatened to sign up 50 IP addresses to downvote anyone who disagreed with him into oblivion.

    I get my comments hidden from time to time because my responses to trolls like you are misconstrued as animal abuse. I don't lose any sleep over it. Because unlike you, I don't have an obsessive yandere schoolgirl crush on Masnick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 9:04am

    Re:

    ... and contrary to some commentator's views, Techdirt falls into "atypical" for that rule.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re:

    "posting on social media does prevent ISPs and DNS from censoring the content"

    How so?
    An ISPs can block, DNS can remove a lookup - how does social media stop any of that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 9:19am

    Anyone missing the time when there were no "report" buttons slaved to autobans and haters complaining about everything had to make their case by email to an actual human being?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 9:43am

    Re:

    No, because those were the days when it was mainly the tech elites on the Internet. I will take the diversity of the current Internet any day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    A basic idea of how those technologies work will tell you that ISP and DNS can't be used to block specific content on a site.

    They only have site level granularity.

    Thus is is true that social media may have helped resisit the tendency to uses ISPs or DNS to block access to content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 10:28am

    So if Twitch won't say WHY they warned/banned someone they open themselves to a lawsuit that "they did it because I'm black/jewish/a woman/different religion" or other protected group......

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Sep 2019 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    You can sue anyone for anything, but that doesn't mean it will actually work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Sep 2019 @ 11:44am

    Any such lawsuit would need to prove Twitch banned someone for that reason. I doubt that would happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Please explain how social media can stop an ISP and/or DNS from "censoring the content".

    • Does Mark call them on the phone and say "Hey - stop censoring that content!"?

    "ISP and DNS can't be used to block specific content on a site."

    • Agreed, they just block the whole thing and management at social media can not stop it.

    "Thus is is true that social media may have helped resisit the tendency to uses ISPs or DNS to block access to content."

    • It is not entirely clear what you are getting at.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re:

    "Nobody does, if you go the self hosting route"

    Back in the day this was accomplished via a soapbox, town square and a loud talker.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 12:14pm

    Re:

    "How do you regulate morality ?"
    idk, start a religion?

    Cool - now what did that have to do with content moderation at scale?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re:

    The leet were not all bad, just obnoxious.
    Many things were much better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 12:19pm

    Re:

    I thought it was banned because the site moderators are unable to control themselves when encountering a female wearing clothing that does not completely cover the body.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Sep 2019 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Look at PayPal, impossible to set up or use if you want anything adult oriented, Patron bans you for sex fetishes they don't approve of"

    So... you're saying that business should lose their right to free association and be unable to select their customer base? Why are these companies not entitled to the same rights as offline businesses have always enjoyed?

    "So pray tell, oh wise one, how does one self host without services and utilities?"

    Choose services and utilities who do not have a problem doing business with you rather than trying to force people who don't want your business to host it. If none currently exist, there's a nice niche for the free market to provide the required services. That's the way things should work, and the way they always did work before people like you expected services to have no say over who they provide to.

    "Does praying to Google for a bountiful click harvest still require sacrifice of your firstborn?"

    No, but if your business is 100% dependent on Google and you choose to do things that violate their terms of service, that's on you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Sep 2019 @ 1:40pm

    Re:

    I'm sure they're able to produce evidence in court as to why this wasn't the case. If they can't and they actually did ban them based on membership of a protected class, they would rightfully lose in court, else they will rightfully win.

    Why is this suddenly a problem?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think they are confusing 'self hosting' with 'have google/amazon host it'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    no, I'm not. i was simply using it as an example as other here love to do, but only if it suits them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. identicon
    Bruce C., 21 Sep 2019 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Just because you're paranoid...

    The original (if poorly phrased) question of "what is TD's content moderation process?" seems like a legitimate one. The exact number of flags to trigger hiding isn't quite so important, nor (to me) are a list of rules beyond the tooltip's "abusive/trolling/spam" but what happens after that, and whether there is an appeal process that actually results in a review are relevant.

    In other words, I can see why the 2nd comment by OP was muted, but why the first one? They pointed out some apparent hypocrisy between the writing of this article and the lack of information on the website as part of the question, but they are also correct that TD's moderation policy is hardly transparent beyond "if too many people flag your comment it will be hidden".

    Moderation policies and procedures are important to understand regardless of whether the affected person loses revenue from a stream or video. The speaker is being silenced. Possibly, even probably, for good reason, but most of us will never know when the moderation policy is opaque -- and no, I'm not making a free speech argument here, I'm making a "fair dealings" argument, which is basically the same POV as the article. Since content moderation at scale is impossible, it at least needs to be transparent. From end to end.

    At least TD allows us to click down to see the moderated comments. So the allegedly objectionable content is hidden from those of us who trust the site's moderation standards, but is also available for others to evaluate independently.

    That's actually sufficient from my personal POV. But the OP raised a legitimate question, and a quick scan of the site links here doesn't reveal anything like a moderation FAQ or an actual appeals process.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2019 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I must have misunderstood the entire argument in the message then.

    Because every time I read what you just said I get:

    "I actually didn't have a point at all becuase my entire arugment is
    predicated on something I believe to be false, but I see others
    treating as true here, so I'm going to emulate them."

    Of course that would be a terribly ridiculous thing to say, so clearly I'm not understanding what you are trying to say.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Sep 2019 @ 6:45pm

    Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    In other words, I can see why the 2nd comment by OP was muted, but why the first one?

    Because it's been explained to death, the one asking isn't honestly looking for the answer(as again, it's been given to them many times), and people are tired of explaining it yet again to someone who refuses to listen.

    On the assumption that you're new here and actually are interested however, here's what they've been told many a time:

    TD's 'moderation policy' is based upon whether or not the community considers a comment to fall into one or more of the 'abusive/trolling/spam' categories, as once something makes it through the spam filter(and unless something is legitimate spam it will make it through, though it may take a few hours/days depending on when a comment gets caught and if it's on the weekend) it's on the community to decide whether or not to report it. While that may seem rather vague it can be basically boiled down to 'don't be an ass' and 'if you've earned a reputation for violating rule #1, don't be surprised if you start getting auto-flagged as actions have consequences and people only have so much patience'.

    TD doesn't have a 'moderation FAQ' per-say because moderation on TD is community driven, and as for an appeals process there is none, if someone feels their comment was 'unfairly' flagged they can leave another comment to make their case, or if they've dragged their reputation through the mud through their actions they can strive to act better, ditching their chosen name for a new one if needed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. icon
    Gary (profile), 21 Sep 2019 @ 7:09pm

    Re: Re: Just because you're paranoid...

    I can see why the 2nd comment by OP was muted, but why the first one?

    Once you start multi-posting, the community generally sees this as spamming the board. Blue Balls (The OP) know this, but will often post two or more times to "Make his point" and people are generally quick to downvote his nonsense.

    Because if you make 50 posts of utter nonsense who cares that one of them might have a valid point?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Agammamon, 21 Sep 2019 @ 9:30pm

    But when sites don't bother to tell their users what the rules are, even after exacting punishment for violation of those rules?

    But Twitch users do know what the rules are;

    Rule 1 - if you're a Twitch-thot who makes a lot of money for Twitch you can do whatever the hell you want. Nip slip? No problem, just pretend its an accident. Camel-toe? No problem. Toss a cat over your head? Not a problem, cats land on their feet, right?

    Until enough of a media backlash comes around and then you'll get a temp ban for a few days to let things cool off and then you can go back to showing your cleavage to sad, thirsty, men.

    Rule 2 - If you're not a Twitch-thot making a lot of money for Twitch then you'll be banned at any time for any reason. Are you not Alinity? Then you get a perma-ban for pushing your cat off the desk.

    Rule 3 - if you insult or even slightly upset any of the Twitch-thots who make a lot of money for Twitch your arse will be ban-hammered so hard your parents head will hurt.

    That's it. Those are Twitch's rules for content creators and viewers. Everything else they've written is just bullshit for media consumption. Its PR spin - some document they can point to when people point out that Twitch's main business is not videogame streaming but titty-streamers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. identicon
    Agammamon, 21 Sep 2019 @ 9:30pm

    Re: Re:

    That's Mixer;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48. identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 21 Sep 2019 @ 10:50pm

    Difference Between Private And Public Enforcement

    I have heard several times this really bizarre excuse for keeping the moderation rules secret, in that if users knew what they were, they would find ways around them.

    Aren’t you glad the Government-run legal system doesn’t work that way? Because laws are supposed to be public, so that the Government can claim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

    If private companies don’t know how to enforce rules without keeping them under wraps, then by all means turn the job over to those who know how to manage it in a transparent way: the legal system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Sep 2019 @ 11:00pm

    I bet you’re a men’s rights activist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Sep 2019 @ 12:54am

    Oh if only...

    Aren’t you glad the Government-run legal system doesn’t work that way? Because laws are supposed to be public, so that the Government can claim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

    I laughed at that, but it was not a happy laugh.

    Not a happy laugh at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re: Just because you're paranoid...

    The original (if poorly phrased) question of "what is TD's content moderation process?" seems like a legitimate one.

    If you read the help that pops up when you hover over the flag button, you would see a quick description of what is considered flaggable. Beyond that you would need to ask the people who use that button, as they do not work for Techdirt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 5:32am

    Re: Difference Between Private And Public Enforcement

    Subtle sarcasm - bravo

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53. icon
    PaulT (profile), 22 Sep 2019 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re: Just because you're paranoid...

    "But the OP raised a legitimate question"

    The OP is also very recognisable as a regular troll who regularly lies and launches personal attacks against other users, then cries foul when his posts are reported. To regular readers, this is obvious from the first post, so we know that even if that original post appears legitimate (it's not, he has had the answer to his question many, many times), it's not being asked in good faith.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 6:55am

    Re: Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    ("moderation on TD is community driven")

    then please define "community" exactly

    what minimum portion of that specific community is necessary to flag and hide a comment?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

    had to google TOR to find out what you are talking about

    you are saying that anybody in the world can anonymously flag comments here?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Agammamon, 22 Sep 2019 @ 10:32am

    Re:

    Oh, I'm so sorry - I didn't realize you were one of those thirsty guys paying for someone in a low-cut top to hurl abuse at you.

    Stop watching Twitch Stephen, and start supporting real cam-girls.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57. identicon
    Rocky, 22 Sep 2019 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Sep 2019 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    Community, noun: In this context 'The people who read and/or comment in the TD comment section.'

    As for specific numbers it's irrelevant, and only TD staff would know for sure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    None of your business. There an honest question asked. An honest question answered.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re:

    Bro he’s gay. You just owned yourself hard

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 12:45pm

    Is blue purely automated format, or with real human oversight"?

    Hey bro you are about to get a new nickname. Ignorant Motherfucker with Blue Balls.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Sep 2019 @ 12:46pm

    Bold of you to assume I would ever pay for mere camgirl teasing, incel.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    OK, so anybody who happens to stumble upon this website is automatically a member of this "community" and can legitimately flag any comments he chooses?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Re:

    how do you know this to be true?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    Yes.

    Counter question.

    How fucking stupid are you bro?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 2:58pm

    Is trolling real human? Yes because we can’t program that stup

    How about no. Does no work for you bro? Or even better bro. Code your own super awesome blog site with a visible flag count and post the link in your next post.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67. identicon
    Dan, 22 Sep 2019 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The fact that you're seeing significant discussion of moderation in the comments on this very post would appear to answer your question, such that you shouldn't have needed to ask it in the first place--why did you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 4:47pm

    How many ignorant motherfuckers does it take to change a light

    One

    But he will complain about being called an ignorant motherfucker for the next decade or two.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Sep 2019 @ 5:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    If they so choose to be involved, yes.

    Any other absurd questions I can answer for you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 10:18pm

    Re: Re: Is blue balls real human

    You know blue balls. You have waaayyyyy too many tells to try to play incognito.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2019 @ 11:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sure you do blue... Sure you did...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 12:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    If a person chooses to engage in the community then yes they are a part of it. But, it's unlikely that any significant number of flags come from random passers by who have never been to the site before vs. people who visit regularly and wish to warn others about the regular trolls.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Is TD "purely automated format, or with real human

    If you act like a twat, you get hidden.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74. icon
    John85851 (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 10:36am

    Re:

    Those sound a lot like Twitter's rules.
    Send a tweet to your 15 followers saying you're going to hit someone? You're banned.
    Send a tweet to your 5 million followers saying North Korea should be careful or else you'll drop nuclear bombs on them and kill 20 million people? That's not threatening at all, and in fact, creates more controversy which creates more attention for the person and Twitter itself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75. icon
    urza9814 (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    That's the EXACT SAME POLICY that Timothy is complaining about from Twich. A bunch of trolls -- sorry, "community members" -- click the report button and the content gets banned. Same could happen here. What's there to prevent it? What's the appeals process? What are the rules? Nobody knows, there probably aren't any -- just like on Twitch. And people who try to comment on this hypocrisy get their comments flagged and hidden. Way to take the high road, Techdirt....

    Although I should probably also mention that usually when Techdirt posts such stories, it's from the viewpoint of "We can't regulate the right way to do this because every option sucks." Which seems like the direction they're going here in the first paragraph...but then from the opening of the second paragraph it kinda throws that all out and starts making a different -- and fairly hypocritical -- point. That rules need to be codified and explained. Not here on Techdirt of course -- here on Techdirt people just inherently know how it works. But EVERYWHERE ELSE the rules need to be codified and explained so people know what's allowed and what isn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76. icon
    urza9814 (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Agreed, they just block the whole thing and management at social media can not stop it."

    There's no technical measure the social media's management could use. There are many social/economic/political measures available, which would not be available to some random self-hosted Wordpress site.

    It's not like we've never seen anyone attempt to block these sites entirely. I can't recall any that were actually successful long-term though. Usually it only last a day or two before they're forced to remove the block.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    “If you read the help that pops up when you hover over the flag button, you would see a quick description of what is considered flaggable.”

    From the AC below.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78. icon
    urza9814 (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And, much like the self-hosted website, the idea that nobody can stop you from speaking from your soapbox has never been more than a myth. Even US federal agents have been arrested for standing on a soapbox reading the US Declaration of Independence. Didn't matter who they were, didn't matter what they were saying, all that was important was that they were speaking and the government didn't want them to.

    http://www.libcom.org/history/1909-missoula-free-speech-fight

    If the government doesn't like what you say, they WILL stop you, and none of your rights will prevent it. The only way to prevent that is to jam enough bodies into the machine that you break it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79. icon
    bhull242 (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re: Is TD flagging real human

    It’s not that they’re vague about their flagging process. In fact the only part unspecified is the number of flags needed to hide a comment, which may or may not be dependent on the age of the comment. It’s just that there aren’t many details to the process. If enough people in the community (meaning users) flag the comment, it gets hidden. There is no review process or anything. Maybe if enough people unflag the comment, it will no longer be hidden, but that’s the only way to reverse it.

    The rules are largely unofficial and touchy-feely, but they can be summarized as follows: 1) don’t spam, and 2) don’t be an ass. If a comment breaks either rule, it will likely be flagged. If a particular user has a long history of breaking one or both rules, it’s likely that many will auto-flag any post by that user.

    Now, that may seem like it’s worse than Twitch’s policies, but there are some key differences between the platforms that I address in another comment, namely that comments on Techdirt are less important for the writer than a stream is for a streamer on Twitch, Twitch has a much larger user base, hidden comments can still be viewed on Techdirt by anyone who wants to, streams comprise the primary draw for Twitch while comments are secondary to the articles on Techdirt, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    That's the EXACT SAME POLICY that Timothy is complaining about from Twich. A bunch of trolls -- sorry, "community members" -- click the report button and the content gets banned. Same could happen here.

    No, not really, as while Twitch mods can remove content, the 'moderation' on TD at most hides it behind a single mouse click. If someone can't tell the difference between 'the content is gone, and for no apparent reason' and 'the content has been hidden behind a single mouse click because someone was acting badly' then that's on them.

    What's there to prevent it? What's the appeals process? What are the rules? Nobody knows, there probably aren't any -- just like on Twitch.

    I swear, it's like you didn't even bother to read the very comment you are responding to.... In short form them: Nothing, there is none, don't be an ass. It's really not that difficult to get if you're honestly asking.

    And people who try to comment on this hypocrisy get their comments flagged and hidden. Way to take the high road, Techdirt....

    ... Or, you know, the ones 'asking' are known trolls who aren't asking honestly because they've been told the answer countless times before and they refuse to actually listen. Act like a petulant child and you get sent to time-out, who knew?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81. identicon
    Rekrul, 23 Sep 2019 @ 6:32pm

    The best part is when a platform punishes you without even bothering to tell you what you did beyond a vague "you were abusive" response (IMDb). Or they won't give you a specific example of what you supposedly did wrong (YouTube).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 12:41am

    Re: Re: Is TD flagging real human

    I have observed that happen here several times with minority opinions presented in civil, on topic comments

    [Asserts facts not in evidence]

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83. icon
    PaulT (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 1:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Is TD flagging real human

    Yep, the assertion would be much more believable if he ever gave any examples.

    The only such comments I can ever recall being flagged are those from either a) recognisably regular trolls who happen to have posted an out-of-character legitimate post (which is hidden because people recognise the troll) or b) in response to a troll post (some people like flagging the entire thread that starts with a troll in an attempt to give the OP less legitimacy).

    I don't think I've ever seen a non-troll related reasonable opinion get flagged, but the great thing about the internet is that nobody has to take this type of claim at face value. It's very easy to provide concrete evidence, if the person making the claim has any.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84. identicon
    Rocky, 24 Sep 2019 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    One anecdote isn't a pattern.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 25 Sep 2019 @ 9:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Is TD flagging real human

    It's a form of sealioning, basically. Deliberatly mischaracterizing his pathological lying and schizophrenic insults (which insult readers' intelligence) as "civil" because they happen to not contain any explicitly profane words.

    (And there's the tandem lie of his that calling him out for being a fucking moron is rude.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Sep 2019 @ 3:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a difficult question if honestly asked

    "OK, so anybody who happens to stumble upon this website is automatically a member of this "community" and can legitimately flag any comments he chooses?"

    Yep.

    I personally suspect that more weight is given to those who have an actual account when they set a flag simply to keep random trolls or Baghdad Bob from spam-flagging most of the threads. But that's mainly common sense.

    The system as such appears to work - I've seen any amount of posters using harsh language and starting inflammatory debates while the community has still allowed them to remain visible...but obvious trolls and morons get flagged and hidden at once.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Sep 2019 @ 3:39am

    Re: Re: Is TD flagging real human

    "Apparently it takes VERY few objections (<5) to flag/hide a disfavored comment... and TD staff get to vote."

    I doubt it. Looking at your specific history I'd dare say you regularly get flagged by five or ten times that number, simply because out of everyone reading a given thread it's often only a few who feel compelled to post something. But they will, if what they read is crappy enough, certainly feel the urge to press that small red button just once.

    "A highly arbitrary/opaque flagging system can easily be manipulated into an unfair "censorship" tool -- and I have observed that happen here several times with minority opinions presented in civil, on topic comments."

    Truly?
    I often make it a point to casually peruse what was hidden and I think I must tell you that although a post starting with "TD fanbois" or "Google catering to child pornographers" might be considered a "minority opinion" presented in a "civil" manner it's still 100% pure unadulterated bullshit which most people would feel compelled to flag outright as manifestly false and misleading astroturfing.

    "One simple step for TD transparency is to add the "number" of community members who initially flagged a comment and triggered its hiding"

    Now that is actually a good suggestion. Huh. Not OOTB or Baghdad Bob then...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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