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Defemation, racism, etc. on forums

Defemation, racism, etc. on forums

Postby shootist » Sun Nov 08, 2015 4:00 pm

Following a major anxiety attack that another forum owner has experienced and a consequential ban on any discussion of religion, politics, anything that could possibly be construed as related to race, or anything considered controversial in any way, I have set to wondering what the reality of such worries is.

With that in mind, I would ask the members of this forum if they could offer their considered opinions. I ask here because I am always agreeably amazed at the depth of discussions that can be had on this forum, and as it is run by, and moderated by, legal beagles I feel fairly confident that any posts that carried and real risk would be deleted PDQ and the poster advised, or likewise deleted.

So, how would you advise the faint of heart and the fearfully ignorant to conduct a forum with the above in mind while trying to maintain a right to free speech?
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Re: Defemation, racism, etc. on forums

Postby Boo » Sun Nov 08, 2015 5:09 pm

shootist wrote:and as it is run by, and moderated by, legal beagles


Actually, they're in the minority here!

It would be sensible to set rules and limitations.
This forum died a couple of times - in my lifetime - the majority of us became acutely aware we should be cautious - just in case - hence the controv section where certain topics could be raised almost freely.
I've not been comfortable with having that section, but this is David's baby and he sets the rules.
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Re: Defemation, racism, etc. on forums

Postby atticus » Sun Nov 08, 2015 5:13 pm

Prompted by shooter's post, I've just had a look at that other place for the first time in months. I can see that it has faced some kind of crisis.

It may help to know that the controv section is only open to registered users who have posted a number of times and who are logged in.

Ultimately, where and how to draw the line is a matter for the forum owner. Here, the touch is relatively light.
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Re: Defemation, racism, etc. on forums

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Nov 08, 2015 5:19 pm

Boo wrote:
shootist wrote:and as it is run by, and moderated by, legal beagles


Actually, they're in the minority here!

That does depend upon how you are defining "legal beagle": it does not necessarily mean "lawyer"; it could be construed to mean anyone who has attained an appropriate knowledge of the law.
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Re: Defemation, racism, etc. on forums

Postby atticus » Sun Nov 08, 2015 5:23 pm

The active mods are one retired lawyer, one practising lawyer, and three non lawyers.
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Re: Defemation, racism, etc. on forums

Postby shootist » Sun Nov 08, 2015 6:24 pm

OK, so we have lawyers. Is it possible to give some sort of beginners guide how to avoid such common pitfalls as may exist. On the forum I have in mind there has been utter panic about legal penalties for defamation or racism or pissing someone off who desperately needs to be a victim. You know the sort of stuff. I', more concerned about the real world that some theoretical court action. I realise it is easy to threaten such action but the reality is often much less of a threat than is generally realised.
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Re: Defemation, racism, etc. on forums

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Nov 08, 2015 6:25 pm

atticus wrote:It may help to know that the controv section is only open to registered users who have posted a number of times and who are logged in.

It is perfectly possible to set up a section and define precisely who can read it and who can post.
If you have a forum where some members favour robust discussion and others get upset by that, then you can give those users separate sections.
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Re: Defemation, racism, etc. on forums

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Nov 08, 2015 6:25 pm

shootist wrote:OK, so we have lawyers. Is it possible to give some sort of beginners guide how to avoid such common pitfalls as may exist. On the forum I have in mind there has been utter panic about legal penalties for defamation or racism or pissing someone off who desperately needs to be a victim. You know the sort of stuff. I', more concerned about the real world that some theoretical court action. I realise it is easy to threaten such action but the reality is often much less of a threat than is generally realised.

I think the appropriate phrase is "reasonable diligence".
If you have taken reasonable steps to avoid or mitigate against defamation or racism, then you have a clear defence. I expect you can get insurance against it.
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Re: Defemation, racism, etc. on forums

Postby dls » Sun Nov 08, 2015 7:40 pm

We have particular rules. Some look trivial and obstructive, but have a proper purpose.

Best we have a fairly steady people of all sorts will to persists, to compromise, to suffer occasional sleights, and to assist.
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Re: Defemation, racism, etc. on forums

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Nov 08, 2015 7:47 pm

My point was not directed at us, but as a suggestion for OP's problem.
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