There has been quite a bit going on in the world of forums and blogging. I won't name names, but a few bird-themed places that I spend some quality cyber-time have been getting their knickers in a twist. You see, even though people are invited to comment on them, the administrators of these sites have seen it fit to 'moderate' and delete postings.
Of course, there are times when the need to delete will be the proper course of action - homophobic comments, racist insults, bad taste - I don't think many will disagree with that. But sometimes the removal of words is down to personal bias, political manoeuvring or petty point scoring. This is where waters get muddied.
When anybody seeks response (such as I do on this blog), it is like leaving your front door open with a sign outside that says 'All welcome, come on in'. Trouble is, you don't know who will walk in. But all have been invited. If I were to round up the first 200-300 people who walk past my house, chances are there are going to be a few nutters, a few who are opinionated, a few more who are argumentative. As long as any discussion is done so in a controlled manner, there is room for them all (even the nutters!)
For my blog, it's just me. I can delete a comment if I find it offensive. I've only ever deleted half a dozen over the years, and they were all adverts that had wormed their way in. I keep any 'negative' responses alive, and try to reason with them. However, a forum is a bit different. You need moderators as these sites are under group 'ownership', normally a way of allowing members of clubs and societies to have a good old natter and disseminate information. If these get hijacked by troublemakers, then such contributors need to be sorted out - a quiet direct message to begin with, followed by a warning, then expulsion if they persist. But one person's 'troublemaker' might be another person's 'champion'. When does the line get crossed? Who decides where the line is drawn? Tricky stuff...
More than one forum has been closed down because of infighting. Dissent can spread like a disease. It takes the skill of an international peace envoy to keep everybody happy. It is a thankless task carried out by volunteers. I applaud them all - as long as they leave my posts alone!!!