Here is my opinion:
First, those of us who haven't been here for longer than, say, 6 months, don't know
that the moderators used to manually remove posts. As such, more tolerant moderators
might ignore posts which less tolerant moderators might hide. Also, these removals
were subject to uncontrolable personal biases; for example, Phlabibit and I are friendly
towards each other and, as a result, he might be somewhat more lenient towards me
than towards someone he detested, even if the content of the posts were the same (this
is just an example, not a representation of real life). This means of hiding was dreadfully
time consuming, inefficient, led to fights, and was frustrating for all involved.
The 'auto-mod' process eliminated this problem. Things were removed automatically
once a certain alert-threshold was reached. Moderators then (presumably) sift through
a forum of removed posts (that only they can see) and verify that the removal was
The resulting problem is two-fold: first, without the 'hand's on' removal process, the
moderators no longer have a reasonable opportunity to apprise a user that their post
was removed and, thus, the poster often didn't even know that their post had been
removed in the first place (particularly if it is back a page or two and they are
assuming that people are considering responding to it); second, this could lead to a
different sort of abuse, where groups of people could unjustly alert posts to hide and
stifle a single person's writing. Russ addressed this second point when he made this
change to the system, saying:
If people alert posts continuously, and appear to be targeting the posts of one user
for no good reason, they could find themselves the recipient of a forum ban, in much
the same way as someone who posts inappropriate material continuously will be.
However, unless moderators keep track to who alerts whom, this is a hard rule to
So, I suggest that, when a post is indeed hidden, a person receives an auto-response
by PM. To minimize confusion, the PM should contain a copy of the post that was
hidden and an indication that it was hidden. Any replies made to this PM should go to
a hidden 'Grievance' forum, where the appeal will be reviewed by moderators.
This will have a few immediate benefits:
1) This allows the poster to review the post and edit it where necessary; e.g., if a
post was hidden for a single indiscreet word, that person could repost it with that
2) When a grievance is filed, this will focus attention on that post and poster. In a
forum filled with hidden posts, a moderator will be drawn to the one with a filed grievance.
If the grievance is just, the moderator can act and unhide a post and explain his actions
to the 'alerters.' If the grievance is unjust, the moderator can either ignore it or reprimand
that original post, explaining why his/her post will remain hidden.
Note that this will not cause the sort of problems that existed in the forums before,
because the notification will be automated and a grievance does not have to be honored
or even addressed by a moderator (if it unjust).
I hope that the moderators and administration will consider this, as I feel that it will
further improve the forum moderation system.