In a few more days, we’ll throw the switch on the shiny new blogHarrisburg forums located at forums.blogHarrisburg.com. We’re doing this to help address the growing mountain of criticism that seems to be constantly levelled at another unnamed forum (I’ll refer to them as the other “Popular Local” forum to help protect their anonymity). Before doing so, I’d like to hear your thoughts or opinions on what the forums should be.
One of the biggest (and most consistent) complaints I hear about the Popular Local forum is unwarranted censorship. Although the complaints frequently vary in scope and specifics, they tend to retain one specific message: “I posted a message about ____, and it was deleted a few minutes later!” Sometimes it’s a message complaining about a local business that happens to be an advertiser on the Popular Local forum. Other times it’s a message portraying a local elected official or municipal organization in a negative light. Sometimes it’s even seemingly random keywords that trigger the deletion frenzy. While I can’t make any claim as to the veracity or accuracy of such complaints, the fact that they pour in on a regular basis bothers me.
The blogHarrisburg forums are going to be maintained with the philosophy of “moderation in moderation”. A “controversial” or “unpopular” opinion will not, in itself, get you banned or your posts deleted. You’re even welcome to create a thread criticizing every aspect of blogHarrisburg itself from top to bottom, and your post will be welcome. With the exception of a few clearly-defined and publicly-viewable prohibitions (such as spamming), the blogHarrisburg forums will be an open community for all.
The idea behind “moderation in moderation” is that the community can take care of itself. Don’t feed the trolls; don’t fly into a 37-paragraph rage because someone insults you; don’t take the board more seriously than life itself. I’ve been online since the Glory Days of the BBS, and I have no misconceptions about how online communities behave. There will be the occasional rough spot and we’ll still have spirited flamewars — and posts will still be occasionally deleted. The difference between the blogHarrisburg forums and the Popular Local forums is that blogHarrisburg won’t kill your post simply because we disagree with you.
So what do you think? Thoughts? Commentary? Wishlists?