Hiding Criticism.

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 25, 2012 in Internet, News & Opinion |

Sometimes I get fed up, when I visit a news site and want to see what’s going on, with the mess of comments unrelated to the subject matter, which follow. I don’t have a problem with people making comments, even welcome it, but some form of moderation? When ten or twenty comments out of several hundred (can you say Yahoo!) are one liners which have nothing to do with the subject matter, just people attacking one another, showing their lack of education, intelligence or a racial bent in the wrong direction then perhaps it’s time for some webmaster, or whoever monitors the websites, to rethink what they’re doing.

Fine, I know it is all free speech and all that, although the US no longer tolerates free speech, but there has to be a limit. The FAQs or Terms and Conditions on many sites expressly ban such comments, but then do nothing about it unless someone complains enough or, as often happens, another news site happens across a story and pushes it and the competing site into the mud face first.

Some, however, tend to go in the other direction. I recently tried to download the WordPress application for my Android. The downloading would normally be no problem and the use of the application might also be easy but… why does the download have to be so complicated? Click on a link, go to the application, download and install. Simple.

Reality is click on a link and go to a website which explains all about the application. Then click on another link which takes you to a website to download the application. This website (Google in this case) fails to recognize the Android (!) phone first, second and third time. Finally, click on a link to download the application. Now on another page which tells me that I need to log in to Google to download the application, or create an account (so desperate for users?). Luckily I can log in, but there are countless others who will not have an account, and then the simple download of an application takes even longer and is considerably more complicated and you have to retain the Google account, whether you want it or not. Try and delete it from your smartphone and the application(s) you downloaded no longer work.

The download process is too complicated, too much bother. A company like Automattic, which is WordPress, should be capable of hosting the application on their own website as well as Google. When a company boasts of ease of use, ease of download, ease of installation, it should live up to that boast.

Anyway, I gave up trying to download it. The whole process was nearing twenty minutes and I don’t have that much patience. Rather, when I got home, I left a comment on the site saying that the download process is too complicated. I’d love to be able to use the application when I’m out and about, but not when I have to go through such a burdensome process to get it.

The comment goes into the moderator’s queue and vanishes.

It was a constructive criticism that I wrote, but a criticism nonetheless. All the comments on the download website are positive, gushing even. There is not a bad word to be seen.

There is, for me, a difference between moderating content to ensure a good visit, the right information, the right impression. Cutting out all the trash, the attacks, the insults and so on, that is fine by me. However, criticism which is relevant, which could be used to assist, being cut out because it doesn’t say anything expressly good about a website, an application, a company or a policy? That, to me, speaks volumes on insecurity, and that despite the fact that WordPress is still, by far, the best software application for blogging.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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  • Jaymz says:

    Moderation is fiendishly difficult, and spam makes that job all the more harder. I’m sure you’re aware of how painful it is going through moderation queues with this site, when 20-30 spambots have posted gibberish in the hopes that some idiot will click a link and buy illegal viagra.

    Facebook, as you know, have taken to hiring people in third world countries for less than a dollar a day, so they can scrutinise and delete people who post pictures of earwax. Point being, it’s a thankless job – it sucks when it’s your own site, but probably a thousand times worse doing it for someone else. Especially as the internet itself seems to be diametrically opposed to the notion of quality control.

    • viki says:

      When a deletion, or a refusal to approve, is justified I see no problem, and do not envy anyone the job of checking what is right and what is wrong. However, the site has no criticism which might be seen as even moderately adverse to the product, it is all nothing but good and everything is wonderful. Any constructive but adverse criticism is removed so that the overall picture is unblemished by problems.

      As to Yahoo! and others, moderation? There is none. Occasionally posts are suppressed through Down Votes by readers, but they can still be seen.

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