A little issue is brewing in various forums and mailing list regarding Creative COW’s moderation policies. The COW has always been pretty upfront that it moderates posts. Tim Wilson celebrated as much in a 12th anniversary congratulatory piece.
Today, this seems head-slappingly obvious. Every single significant online community, including the few, small email-based communities that remain meaningful, every single one of them is moderated. Zero exceptions. Forum members across our industry even want to be moderators themselves. THAT’s why it seems obvious now.
Yet The Lindebooms came under personal attack for years, and sometimes still do, for a practice now virtually universal in our industry, and in the hundreds of thousands of forums across the web that have been founded since Ron & Kathlyn started theirs.
By the way, it’s not that nothing off-topic is ever allowed. Off-topic conversations are sometimes critical for keeping the community together–as long as they don’t tear the community apart.
Please note that the following intends no disrespect whatever. But it’s worth noting that one of the longest and strongest holdouts to moderation was our dear friends at the Avid-L, some of whom are also leaders in The COW. “The L” came to an acrimonious split in 2005 over the lack of moderation. The core of that group in its new incarnation moderates both its membership and topics.
Again, no disrespect intended. I’m just saying that moderation works. The Lindebooms started it in our industry. Others have followed.
I look back on all of this and remember what they say: history is written by the victors. Well there you go.
Understood. But that’s not the whole story. Avoiding flames and way off topic posts is laudable. The COW goes much further, disallowing posts that mention competing sites. A COW user can’t say to another, “The answer to your question can be found at this site…”
That’s too bad. Ron, Kathlyn, and Tim should be a little more secure than that. In the age of Google, eventually the user will find that answer anyway. Would they rather Google be that user’s first option? The COW is big. It’s successful, and it can afford to allow the free flow of information — or eventually it will become irrelevant.
Most troubling is the extremely misleading error message (pictured above) one receives when mentioning the unmentionables like DigitalProductionBuzz, Total Training, or Pixelcorps. Would you trust a site that isn’t totally upfront about its moderation policies?
Moderation works, but censoring the free flow of valid information is a poor strategy. Lots more on this at GeneralSpecialist.