Why I Censor My Hubs
(Note: Use of the term "we" refers to professionals and serious writers within the HubPages community. Some Hubbers' attitudes and actions may not be represented here.)
I never delete comments. Why should I? Commentary comes in all forms and all have every right to exist. However, some commentary is inappropriate and out of place. Even purely inflammatory and harassing commentary should be kept if only as evidence should such behavior continue from the same individual. Imagine trying to obtain a restraining order against a potentially dangerous stalker without any evidence to support your claims. The comments may not be very nice to look at and, if you have trouble letting such words roll off your shoulders, it may stress you out more than necessary, but keeping them may prove worthwhile should real trouble arise. If we are not deleting such comments, then what are we doing with them? We are denying them. We are removing them from public view. We are keeping the commentary on track with the hubs they are posted under.
Do you allow out of place, verbally abusive, and other comments that distract from the topic of your hub?
Out of Place
Beyond the negativity arising and offense taken from commentary that does nothing more than attack other views or individuals without any sort of information to provide a civilized argument, some comments are just plain inappropriate for the pages they are posted to. Comments that are pure spam (ex: "Nice hub! Visit my link! URL-to-bad-or-inappropriate-website") should not require explanation as to why they are censored. Even a positive comment may fall under this category. For example, a comment that delves into why the commentator enjoys the latest pop song on a hub that in no, way, shape, or form has anything remotely to do with music is not going to make much sense.
In the HubPages community, there seems to be a misunderstanding that hub comment sections are places to talk about anything and everything. Actually, that is the purpose of the forums on HubPages with specific sub-forums to help organize the various topics. The comment sections are for commentary on and relating to a specific hub. When visitors to a hub come in via search engines and other outside sources, they are coming to the hub for the information provided. As such, they will often scan the comments for further information on the topic. Comments that are inflammatory or that attempt to argue a point that is not relevant to the specific topic of the hub are not helpful to the visitor. In some cases, the visitor may even decide that any information by a writer or HubPages as a whole is not worthwhile simply because of the comments in a hub.
Those visitors who take the opposite approach and fall in love with HubPages because of such commentary are not coming to the community to learn but to jump in on gossip, unnecessary controversy, pick fights, and a plethora of other reasons not conducive to the environment HubPages attempts to create. Although there may not be anything wrong in such a preference, a community like HubPages was not designed for them. Such behaviors can destroy communities, not because the communities are wrong but because what made the community strong is attacked in similar fashion to a parasite attacking its host. This leads into our next section.
Sometimes the commentary is not completely off-topic, but the nature of the comment simply does not fit the environment it is posted in. Think of the hub comment sections as social events and places. Some will be more like formal functions, requiring a strict suit and tie attire. This means comments are expected to discuss the information in the hub and when any criticism or opposing view is offered, it is expected to be in a manner that is civilized, devoid of name-calling, and offers legitimate (read: scholarly and straight-from-the-horse's-mouth) sources to create a positive discussion that all can learn from. If you show up in jeans and a flannel shirt, you are going to be turned away. It is not that you are unwelcome or that your perspective does not matter. Instead, the issue is that you are crashing the party through unnecessary distractions and drawing attention to yourself preventing any real learning from taking place. Put on the suit and tie and come back when you are ready.
Some hubs are considerably less formal. These are more like your weekend bars without dress code (well, aside from those required by law). Different approaches and attitudes will be welcomed. In hubs, this means that some level of controversy and negativity will be allowed. It adds to the conversation in a different way and some topics actually benefit from these various communication styles. However, if you attempt to instigate a fight or throw a punch in the bar, you will be thrown out. Likewise, if your commentary turns to nothing more than personal attacks on the author or other commentators, you will find your comments censored.
Acceptable Message, Unacceptable Method
Have any of your comments been censored by fellow Hubbers?
You Are Never Banned
Not only because it cannot be done with current controls, but also because your opinions, thoughts, voices, and the like are just as valid as our own. We are not attempting to silence you. We are not trying to cover up opposing views. We are maintaining our hubs as a place of professional and educational discussion. We are acting as moderators to ensure that libel and other verbal attacks are not reducing the quality of the community environment. We are ensuring dress codes are enforced as necessary and that violence does not break out.
Commentary, once removed from public view, can be rewritten as a new comment. Some comments that have a verbally abusive edge to them also provide great questions and points for discussion. Unfortunately, Hubbers can only choose to approve, deny, or delete comments. We cannot edit them to address the worthwhile portions of the comments. If you find your comments are denied or deleted, stop and consider why. Walk away for an hour (or day or week) to clear you head. How else can you voice what you said? Could you benefit from using tact? Is what you have to say important enough to you that you are willing to put on that suit and tie? Let it go if not, but if what you have to say is beneficial, try again while dressed appropriately. You will be amazed at how quickly the attitude against you went from one of censorship to one of understanding and exchange of intelligent discussion. You will no longer be perceived as an instigator or "troll" but as a civilized human with intelligence worth interacting with.
Do you provide fellow Hubbers the option to contact you outside of your hubs' comment sections?
Do you respond to fellow Hubbers if they contact you outside of your hubs' comment sections?
I Wish It Was Not Necessary
To date (21 MAR 2012), I have censored a total of eight comments and all in the same hub. Two comments are my initial responses in attempts to get the comments back on track. Three come from one Hubber; two were attacks on me as a writer and written in such a way as to instigate conflict and contained no sources to provide a valid argument against the information provided in the hub, one made little sense standing on its own. Trying to discuss points raised in those comments was a waste of time and energy and did not provide any further learning on the topic. The other three came from another Hubber; one used wording to insult others whose worldviews differed from his own and contained unnecessary remarks such as "Some people with tiny brains... Others, with even smaller brains...", one was a comment about the censorship and the last a response to my answer. The last two were later removed as the discussion of why the previous comment was censored is out of place and off-topic from the hub (though the last one had some interesting points mixed in worth discussing should the comment be rewritten).
Why that particular hub attracted such negativity and lack of well-formed responses, I do not pretend to know. During future edits to the material in the hub, I hope to find the answer. Based upon some of the wording and explanations provided within the censored comments, I suspect it has more to do with my approach to presenting the terms in question in the first case and a refusal to accept an alternative worldview in the second. Regardless of the reasons, neither commentator appeared to understand that the hub was attempting to answer a specific question posed by a fellow Hubber and not meant as a dictionary or an encyclopedia entry on the topics. As such, a mere misunderstanding could be all the explanation there is.
If an off-topic or aggressively worded comment has points that must be addressed, there are many ways to contact Hubbers outside of the hub. Some suggestions are here on HubPages in the forums and in the form of a counter-hub (write a new hub discussing your take on a previously published hub). Many Hubbers can also be contacted through personal emails and social networking sites. Censorship by Hubbers is not silencing of individual views, ideas, and beliefs. It is moderating out of place and unnecessary commentary that can be discussed through a more appropriate channel than a particular hub's comment section.
Hub #17/30 for March Challenge.
© 2012 Evylyn Rose