Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bawlers Vs Moderators In Online Conversation

In the last ten days or so, I made some observations that never existed before on this site, Desicritics. Suddenly many unsought words such as [EDITED - PERSONAL ATTACK], [EDITED], [IRRELEVANT RACIST CRAP], etc started appearing at regular intervals and these were sprinkled across many posts. So this was the fodder for my post, and I have tried to collate my views and present it the best way I could have.

"Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains". Probably Rousseau was clueless of the power of Internet, which is nothing but a network, a grid or an endless chain of computers/servers when he coined this phrase. Literally, with no strings attached, so much has happened till date that, 'chains' which has a negative connotation in the quote, has turned to be the positive catalyst for business, education, travel, commerce, administration, entertainment, for that matter anything and everything that one can think of. This has been aptly termed by Thomas.L.Friedman in his book, The Lexus and The Olive Tree as "The Democratization of Technology" and "The Democratization of Information". Global forums, which were earlier, confined to technical online discussion assemblies have now diversified and all the topics that were earlier discussed by print and digital media is now dissertated by common man. No wonder, why the TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 was You.

Diaries once sealed under lock and key are now discussed in the public, topics that were considered taboo have turned vocal and the playground is now the blogosphere and e-zines, where posts are made daily by all those who care to make the emotional investment, share opinions, and make this world a simple place.

But it is often not possible to carry on an online conversation without observing the difficulty with which a new element makes its way into the domain. When any person has strove for distinction, s/he would be surprised to hear herself/himself censured where s/he could not expect to have been named. S/he would find the utmost acrimony and tartness [note all this is happening online without physical human expressions] among those whom s/he never could have offended.

With internet as a staple equivalent to electricity supply or running water in our lives, it’s easy to follow some decorum and etiquette, when we are wired. For me the rules in real life and e-life seem to be same with a thin flimsy onionskin separating both, the physical presence. Just google on the word "Internet Etiquette" and everything is clear black and white.

But as the group blogs and e-zines grow with its increasing viewer ship, it divides the most miscellaneous and confused assemblages into discrete classes. The insects of the summer that torment these groups with their stings and the prosecutors of merit may be classified as Bawlers and the Moderators respectively.

The bawler is a dangerous enemy with the sole intention of gaining an air of importance. He has no other qualification for a champion of controversy than a hardened front and a biased voice. Vociferation is his weapon for any argument, failing to understand the thin line between a critical argument and an argument. He has little care to preserve the decency in the forum and always has a store of reproachable epithets and contemptuous appellations, ready to be produced as occasion may require, which by constant trolling he pours out with great ease. If relational database is mentioned, he without hesitation devotes it to mainframe systems; if the beauty and elegance of a lady is mentioned, he wonders how the town can fall in love with such deformity; if the achievements of a humble genius are discussed, he pronounces the champion a hopeless individual. His comments are generally without effect. Like a tree that bends to a tempest, to stand erect again when its force is past, the bawler sometimes hibernates and turns docile only to recover his former strength.
[look for the comments part for the underlined words]

The moderator is an unprejudiced person without any interest but honest curiosity. He is always disposed to rational, well-reasoned, sensible, humor tinged interpretations and last but not the least favorable unbiased opinions. If relational database is mentioned; he understands that it is the next generation information hubs for business and education. He believes that a young lady pleased with admiration and wishful of achieving perfection needs to be appreciated. The genius he knows to be a man of diligence who perhaps didn’t sparkle with the ball as did McGrath , but has the judgment to discover his own deficiencies and in his opinion modesty and humility is a quality so rare and amiable.
[look for the comments part for the underlined words]

As, no two children are the same and need to be respected and handled in different ways, similarly no two persons on an online forum are the same in terms of sensibility. This is where the job of the moderator becomes all the more critical. The moderator usually tries online peace to be maintained and the rules to be enforced by editing and deleting personal comments, warning members for offenses, avoiding flame wars, etc. The way in which the moderation system works depends solely on the site architecture and the software adopted, for example, the site algorithm may also allow the moderator to create word filters, automated scripts which strip undesirable text from commentator’s messages and spam comments. The algorithm like any other software product matures more with time and initially the word filters may strip off few desirable and legitimate comments and this draws in wrath of few readers.

There is an argument to be made on both sides of the coin. With the anonymity the Internet provides, people are more brazen or bold about what they voice. I feel that the conversations can be kept just fine without the stuff one considers dross. Peppered with regular dosages of humor and trivia, apart from straight comments actually make a better conversation. The Internet is teeming with passionate people, and passionate people are always the most eloquent, the most mindful of manners and outspoken with a call-a-spade-a-spade mentality. Treat your fellow humans and their views and opinions like one, would like to be treated, whether it is online or offline.

If the web 1.0 was centered on pages, web 2.0 is concentrated around common people. Web 2.0 is made up of ordinary people, who wish to opinionate their voice to the Web's great evolving conversation for the sheer love of it. It's amazing that this medium can bring out such varied potentials and ideas in human behavior. So if you wish to join the team at Desicritics, and let your voice be heard, do visit here and join the gang.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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