Moderation

CYBERSPACE, 10 January — In the glorious free speech year of 2010 Rose was moderated out of SL7B and VBCO was moderated out of Burn2. Probably a lot of other artists were moderated out of a lot of other things.

Here at iRez, I have never moderated a comment out. We’ve had very little in the way of harsh comments, but even the 1 or 2 bits of profanity launched my way, I’ve let run.

Today I’ve chosen to moderate a comment for the first time.

It’s an awkward decision. But it feels like the best one I’m able to make.

A commenter, who I happen to be unfamiliar with, wrote in response to a post on this blog. In the comment they outed the typist identity of 2 avatars. I actually was unaware of this identity “fact” about either. I haven’t fact-checked it, but for the purpose of this thought exercise, I’ll assume that the “facts” are true, and are at least somewhat known in the community.

Even so, I’m uncomfortable with someone outing someone else.

The process of coming out, be it sexual orientation, typist gender, secret guilty pleasure, or any other aspect of persona, is, I believe, almost always an empowering act when it comes from the individual, and almost always a marginalizing act when it is presented about someone else.

The author of this now moderated out comment was writing about one avatar discussed in a blog post here, and a second avatar who’d never been discussed here. I thought the comment was balanced, interesting, and thoughtful. Still, for all the whining and bitching I’ve done here, I’m just not sure that this blog should be a place for outing people, even if that information happens not to be secret.

I do long to live in a world where people will “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” And where avatars are judged not by information about their identity, but by the impact and ramifications of their actions.

Yes, knowledge about identity can color your read of someone’s actions. VBCO Multiverse is a big supporter of the wonderful Physical World / Virtual World group Gimp Girl. Awareness of someone’s physical circumstances could affect your perception of their actions. But I’d be equally uncomfortable with a comment outing someone’s paraplegia. I think that’s information for the avatar themselves to divulge or not divulge when and as they choose.

We’ve already seen the Free Speech that we fought so hard for in the physical world taken away in the virtual world by hegemonic regimes like Facebook and Linden Lab, I just can’t see this blog being a part of taking away Civil Rights in the new world.

To the commenter: it was an insightful comment. If you’d like to express your thoughts another way, I’d love to have them be a part of this dialog.

—VB

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Categories: Blogs

Author:Vanessa Anne Blaylock

As a Virtual Public Artist my work invites virtual communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

One Comment on “Moderation”

  1. Tuesday, 11 January 2011 at 20:15 UTC #

    Very happy to read you seem too have taken the only right approach to such an issue. Respect for privacy of individuals is one of the best reasons to use moderation powers. The ‘Freedom Of Speech’ has nothing to do with ‘everything should be outed everywhere at anytime’. Applause! .)

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