I hope all of you are safe and healthy during these crazy times. I have been trying to keep up with my work on Pinside, which admittedly is pretty difficult with the kids at home and everything else going on.
I've got some cool new Pinside features very close to finished, but then last week something came up that I felt needed to be put at the top of my to-do list as it was causing some serious problems.
Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely dislike closing topics on Pinside. Neither do I like deleting posts. Freedom of speech is important to me. But of course this all has to be within the confines of our community rules. There is a reason why certain polarizing topics (politics, religion...) are not allowed on Pinside:
This site aims to bring pinball fans together, not divide us. In fact, it's a big reason why I like pinball: it makes me forget the real world as I work on my games or play pinball with my friends.
I have been following the problems with the Covid thread on Pinside and I have witnessed the many, many discussions behind the scenes that the moderators were having. This thing was sucking up all the time the volunteer moderators could spend, which was becoming a huge problem. And so we tried moderating the thread more aggressively, but that wasn't helping much either. Things kept escalating. Moderation was turning into a reactive clean-up activity after the damage was already done. And things were being posted that I just don't feel should be here on Pinside. I don't want to be responsible for running a platform that spreads information that may put peoples lives in harms way.
So after giving this a lot of thought, I came up with an idea which I'm going to try out on the new Covid thread:
post approvals. Just like on a number of other platforms (youtube, reddit, blog comment sections, etc), this new feature allows moderators to review and approve submitted posts before they are displayed publicly to everyone.
The upside to this is that controversial posts or posts that violate the forum rules can be reviewed and rejected before they trigger an argument and derail the discussion. It also helps Pinside to keep potentially dangerous misinformation from our platform.
The downside is that there will sometimes be a delay in approving posts, so discussions might not happen in real-time. Although that could also be seen as an upside, considering the time I needed to keep up with the thread.
I realize this idea may not be popular with everyone. I can already see the protesters outside PinsideHQ carrying signs of "Censorship!" But it's important to realize that Pinside is not a free for all place where you can do anything you like. There are community rules. And the mod team, who I have carefully considered for the job, work together to determine if posts fall within those rules. If we feel they don't, then they won't be allowed.
I don't anticipate that Post Approval Mode will need to be used extensively on Pinside. In fact, I would prefer not to use it, since it brings a lot of manual work for the mod team. Plus, I'm sure most of you would prefer to converse in real-time rather than waiting for posts to be approved.
But, it may come in handy at times. And short of closing the Coronavirus thread permanently, there weren't a whole lot of other sustainable options available.
So, we'll see how this goes!