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Censorship by mob rule on HeraldTimesOnline.com

By Scott Tibbs, July 14, 2013

Are there real, concrete and understandable guidelines for comments on HeraldTimesOnline.com? This does not appear to be the case. Instead, the principle guiding comment moderation on HTO is that comments that are unpopular with the majority of posters will be deleted regardless of whether they abide by the stated comment guidelines and Terms Of Service agreement. This is censorship by mob rule - a terrible policy.

When I had a post deleted on HeraldTimesOnline.com last week, I inquired as to how my post violated comment guidelines or violated the Terms Of Service agreement. I was told that the deletion was "an example of crowd moderation." I requested my post be restored if it did not violate the TOS, and I re-posted it when it was not restored. It was deleted a second time, and deleted a third time as Leftists spammed the report button.

I asked several times how my post violated the comment guidelines or the TOS, but not one single person on HTO staff has informed me exactly what about my comment violated comment guidelines or the Terms Of Service agreement. What I have been told is that my comment has been deleted because of a "feature" (more like a glitch) in the content management system that allows censorship by mob rule. This is a terrible policy and it has been abused by trolls all week to censor my posts with a heckler's veto.

This also raises another important question, regarding Rule 5 of the comment guidelines:

Our system accepts abuse reports from users that could trigger removal of comments and loss of commenting privileges of those whose comments are reported most frequently. We also reserve the right to revoke the privilege to comment from any account that requires frequent moderation and does not comply with the spirit of civility.

The emphasis above is mine.

If other posters on HTO are abusing the "crowd moderation" feature, spamming the report button to get my posts deleted, am I in danger of being banned from comments because my account "requires frequent moderation" or because my posts are reported frequently? If so, I hope HTO administrators can see how it is grossly unfair it would be for me to be banned because Leftist trolls are spamming the report button.

The reason no one at HTO will answer my question about what rule I broke is because they know that no matter how they answer, they will admit they are wrong. If they say I broke the rules (likely because of a word Leftists object to) they will expose themselves as hypocrites for not deleting all of the other posts in that thread that use the same word. If they say that my post did not break any rules, they will admit crowd moderation has failed.

The silence speaks louder than any words possibly could.