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Why I Censor My Hubs

Updated on May 24, 2012
There's more thought behind choosing to deny a comment than a simple matter of bigotry or lack of intellectual social abilities.
There's more thought behind choosing to deny a comment than a simple matter of bigotry or lack of intellectual social abilities.

(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?

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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.

And Under-Dressed

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?

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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?

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Do you respond to fellow Hubbers if they contact you outside of your hubs' comment sections?

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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

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    • EinderDarkwolf profile image

      Sean Bradbury 5 years ago from Tempe, A.Z.

      Well done as always Evylyn.

      I would just like to state that if I censor a comment on a hub that I write, it's generally as stated in this article. I don't mind a good debate, but those are better for the forum. Trying to educate people with information that you don't have references to or only have assumption and supposition to work with, doesn't help anyone, and generally those are the thing that I end up censoring. Just me personally, not sure about other people and how they run their hubs though.

      Voted up and will be sharing as well. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
      Author

      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Thanks, Einder. :) The first time I found myself having to censor comments, I talked with a lot of fellow Hubbers about it. I felt bad about feeling the need to do it but also extremely frustrated that someone would use the hub's comment section in that way. Many shared that they run into these problems a lot. I tried to incorporate many of the points they made as I agree with them. Truly, we do not have to justify why we censor or do not censor our comments. However, there are some individuals who fail to recognize that their abrasive approach quickly turns into abuse. I wrote this in hopes that those who are well-meaning will understand why we remove their comments. A little tact goes such a very, very long way. ;)

      Thanks for the vote and share!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      I really enjoyed this. I know not a person out there isn't immune to criticism and it doesn't feel good to get it. I personally have censored a few because of attacks on me or attacks on other hubbers. I completely agree Evylyn. If we aim to make and keep HP as a professional writing community, people need to conduct themselves professionally. There are thousands of other websites that will allow for ranting and attacking. I'm glad so many fellow hubbers and HP are on board with this. Voted up and sharing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I agree completely; I have only had to censor one comment in the time I have been here but I have similar standards and I'm sure there will be more to come. Great job!

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
      Author

      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      cclitgirl, criticism may not always feel good, but it can be constructive. Unfortunately, even a well-intended comment can easily go from criticism to unnecessary attack when handled unprofessionally. I was also glad to have responses from other Hubbers that demonstrated a desire to make and keep HP as a professional writing environment. Thanks for the comment, vote, and share!

      billy, it's good to hear you have only had to censor a comment once. I certainly hope none of us ever need to again in the future. Unfortunately, that's a hope that depends upon the actions of others and we can only encourage they share our professionalism. Thanks for the comment!

    • giocatore profile image

      giocatore 5 years ago

      I haven't had a comment that warranted denial, but I wouldn't hesitate to do so if necessary. Writers can deny my comments (although nobody has so far), and they don't have to have a good reason. They own that little space, and can do what they want with it. Up and sharing, by the way.

    • hawkdad73 profile image

      hawkdad73 5 years ago from Riverside, Iowa

      I had to do the same thing on one of my community forum blog. People disagreed so much, that people stopped coming to discuss. I hated that it was necessary, but it was.

      Good hub.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
      Author

      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      giocatore, Awesome point! I agree completely. In the same way I wouldn't allow someone to bust through my front door just to rant and rave in my home, I have no reason to allow them to do the same in my hub comment sections. Thanks for the comment, vote, and share!

      hawkdad, That's exactly why I don't allow that kind of negativity in the comments. People who previously came to discuss just stop. Who wants to jump into the middle of a heated (especially one that is ridiculous and provides no learning) argument? Thanks for the comment! :)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 5 years ago from SW England

      Fortunately I've only found one reason to be offended; a hub which included unnecessary language for its own sake. I agree completely with you. It's great that so many people on hubpages are friendly, helpful and supportive and I tend to concentrate on that. The positive prevails and most silly comments can be ignored, though some remarks have to be addressed, as you say, preferably with tact. Well presented & well argued. Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • profile image

      Write to Inspire 5 years ago

      Evylyn, Excellent hub,I don't censor any comments because everyone has an opinion on what we write whether we agree or not. If they are very inflaming it just shows to the rest of us their own personality. I love a good debate and most on here(hubpages)actually encourage this and in any Debate things can get out of hand but its within our character on how we as writers handle such situations.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
      Author

      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      annart, thanks for the comment and votes! I agree that the positive prevails. Some who are negative out there can make us think otherwise, but remaining positive is what keeps the community alive and well. :)

      Write to Inspire, I also love a good debate! I like discussing differences in opinion and there are certainly some topics that there really is no resolution in terms of striking a compromise. That said, there's a difference between a debate or discussion that becomes heated and comments that are out of line or do not add anything to the debate. Like hawkdad73 pointed out, a disagreement can go from a great debate to something so heated and inflammatory that no one else wants to chime in. I'd rather censor out what turns others away to provide an environment for real discussions to take place than to have nothing but name-calling and useless trolling taking away from the purpose of the hubs they are posted under. Thanks for the comment and alternative viewpoint!

    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 5 years ago from Southeast USA

      I enjoyed this and your honesty

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