On moderation of discussions

7:44 am

Things have been lively at PPS Equity lately. Chalk it up to growing pains (readership suddenly doubled and comments went through the roof a a few weeks ago), but I’ve had to become a little proactive on moderation of discussions. A few notes with regard to a recent complaint about this moderation:

  • This Web site is hosted on a server that I own, with bandwidth I pay for.
  • When you’re participating in a discussion here, you’re my guest. As such, I want to make my guests — especially those typically on the short end of the stick in the issues at hand — feel comfortable expressing themselves. If one boorish guest makes several well-mannered guests want to leave, I’m going to err on the side of the well-mannered guests.
  • I am interested in minority opinions here. Majority opinions, by definition, dominate in the world around us. This is an alternative publication, intended to give voice to people who are not well-represented in mainstream media and organizations.
  • Minority opinions have always been shouted down in the public square, and majority rule frequently denies basic civil rights when majority privilege is perceived to be under threat.
  • If we’re discussing how to lessen inequity, I’m not interested in arguing whether inequity exists. Likewise, if we’re talking about race, I don’t want to host arguments that white privilege doesn’t exist. And since the education of our children is at the center of everything here, I’m definitely not interested in giving grown-ups a platform to trash talk students for typos.
  • This is not a freedom of speech issue, it is a freedom of press issue. I own this press; I decide what gets published (and until very recently, I’ve published every comment that’s been submitted). Anybody with access to the library can get a free blog of their own at WordPress or several other sites, and discuss whatever they choose. If they follow the rules here, they can even post a link to their own blog.

I do not take lightly the decision to moderate a discussion — by admonishment, editing comments, deleting comments, moderating certain users, or, as a last resort, banning users. I have a strong presumption to allow all voices to be heard, but that is tempered by a desire to work toward social justice. Yes, this Web site has a point of view, and I’m not going to let it get derailed.

In time I’ve published PPS Equity, the vast majority of participants have been respectful, mature, intelligent and informed, even when in disagreement. You, the readers, have contributed far more column inches to this site than me. I’ve learned a ton, and have been respectfully corrected on a number of issues I thought I had a line on.

I’ve participated in online discussions — Usenet, e-mail lists, Web forums and blogs — for over a decade. So I can say with some authority that the tone of discussion here is something we should all be proud of (see, for example, how ugly things have been getting on another Portland site). I don’t know of any other political Web site that rises to the level of discourse here. I’m not about to let one person change that.

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: Blog, Equity, Media, Race

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2 Responses

  1. Comment from ohme:

    Keep up the good work Steve. This is important work, and I have been telling everyone who is concerned about equity in the district about this site. Having a place to be open and honest about the issues surrounding equity in our district is critical, and long over-due. Many of us feel like our students and parents have no voice in the issues and decisions being made at the district level. Hopefully, this continues to provide that voice. Gives this teacher hope of change for the better…

  2. Comment from Nicole Leggett:

    Thank you Steve. You are 100% right. This is our safe place. We are respectful, hopeful individuals here. Now to expand the message to the masses we need you to keep the meaning in all this clear.