Tuesday, April 25, 2006

shame on craigslist? maybe not

hi, i'm a programmer at craigslist. i assure you that staff wouldn't have removed that posting for being offensive or outside any sexual norms- we see much more 'outside' stuff daily.

however, this posting looks like it was miscategorized- it was in "temporary gigs" rather than a personals category, where i think you would agree it belongs. that's not grounds for taking steps like blocking the user's IP, of course, but if the user persistently posts daiper-fetish ads in that category, i imagine our customer service people would first ask him to post in a personals category, and then block him if he continued to post in temporary gigs.

in this case, i'm not sure if the user is actually blocked due to consistent abuse, or if the original poster was exaggerating by saying s/he'd had him blocked. that particular posting was "flagged down", that is, removed from the site by the action of a number of users flagging the posting as being miscategorized or otherwise prohibited- that's a process that doesn't have any staff interaction, and has generally been an effective system for keeping unwanted content off the site (of course, it has its own flaws, which we're trying to address).

I can absolutely appreciate that someone miscategorized a post. And perhaps it should’ve been posted in another category. So, that woman who said that she got him banned for the nature of his content was lying? That’s good to know.

Here’s a question for you, if someone repeatedly flags him for inappropriate content, do you ban him from posting?

I guess it’s working out the kinks of flagging. Miscategorized content versus content itself…From the outside looking in, it seems really black and white. But, I am on the outside looking in.

finally, the charge of supporting censorship is, i think, a little misplaced regardless of the facts at hand- that is, even if we had removed the post ourselves because our senibilities were offended by his particular fetish, i don't think it's right to claim that the user had been censored, or that we're supporting censorship. to stifle the person's ability to talk about his diaper fetish in any forum- in a public park or on the street corner or on his blog, for example- would censorship make. to remove a posting on a private website is akin to asking an unwanted guest to leave your house- in this case; it would demonstrate prudishness and naïveté, but not hamper the person's right in the broader sense to communicate.

I really hear you, but it is censorship. You are craigslist.com. you created a public forum for people to post and say whatever they want as long as it doesn’t threaten another life or exploit children. Barring that, if you remove content because you don’t agree with it or find it tasteless or inappropriate, how is that not censorship?

The definition of censorship is: The act, process, or practice of censoring.

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I think it's pretty terrific that someone from craigslist took the time to write about the process of flagging and banning.

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