University Web Developers

University Web Developers

One of the concerns I hear about social media seems to confuse social media with what I call asocial media; soapbox monologues on unmoderated blogs by anonymous posters with no interest in dialogue. In other words, what's social about one (or many) people posting flames without caring about the response?

In the perceived debate between controlled and uncontrolled messaging -- as false a dichotomy as "you're either with us or agin' us" -- is anyone managing in the nuanced area between, where editorial moderation and civilized discussion is valued? To what degree is the strategy of crowdsourcing ideas and selecting only some for action (as at change.gov and whitehouse.gov) instructive?

Are you involved in managing social media in the area between being-open-to-all-perspectives and being willing-to-moderate-which-will-be-heard? (Does it have to be all or nothing?) If so, how do you do it? ;)

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I share this concern as well. I never want to censor content, but sometimes for the good of the community it needs to be done. In Seth Godin's book "Small is the New Big", in the topic of "Accountability", he talks about all the problems on the Web due to anonymity. He compares it to a workplace where all the employees come to work wearing a mask. They can say and do anything and there are no repercussions. In his words - "Anonymity is the enemy of civility".

I personally would like to make it a requirement that to participate on this site you have to be a real person, using your real name. Virtually all of the content I've had to ban has come from people who are anonymous and are posting content for their own gain rather than for the community. I hope we get a variety of opinions on this site because that is a tenet of good conversation. I just prefer to know who I'm talking to. In addition, I prefer to see members who use a picture of themselves as their avatar. For me, when I can put a name with a face it makes the conversation more human.
Right on.
Excellent points, Mark. This is the only "social" site where my avatar is an actual pic of me largely because of the reasons you point out.

The only place this would apply to my institution is our blog (hosted on blogger). We moderate the comments we get there, but if memory serves we only rejected a single comment and it was obvious spam, a problem that blogger seems to have addressed since then. The only entry we've had that generated any real debate was a discussion on the president's desire to make us a smoke free campus. We were pleasantly surprised when it didn't quickly turn into a flame war.

Other than that, in all honesty, we're still working on trying to get the sort of sticky content that generates enough discussion for us to even really worry about civility/censorship issues. :)
Our CMS (Ekklesia360 from Monk Development) requires that someone log in to the site in order to post a comment to a blog or a thread (or response to a thread) on our message boards. We still moderate the comments, as there has been at least one instance of SPAM in our online community, but I have yet to reject an actual comment, because that extra step of logging in helps ensure that someone is an actual person.

We really want to be intentional about encouraging open discussion and dialog, so I am not likely to reject a comment, unless it is obviously a flame or SPAM. We have had a couple of spirited conversations on a couple of our blog posts, but like Derek, most of our content (so far) hasn't been sticky enough to cause any real problems.
Speaking as a representative of the avatar-represented crowd - and a real person - let me say that the online world gives you a chance to play with your image or dispense with it entirely. Using an avatar - or a nickname - doesn't make you any less "human."

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