Growing pains of citzen journalism

@dedmond29alerts Twitterworld to an impassioned controversy concerning the role of moderators on an internet marketing news and discussion forum.

Edward Lewis, who runs online marketing company SEO Consultants, has had his account at Sphinn terminated. Sphinn is a site for internet marketing news and discussion forums which also encourages users to vote on content, like Digg, pushing a forum to the front page. Here is Lewis partially quoting his termination from Sphinn.

Edward, your account has been terminated for the continued disrespect shown towards rule-abiding Sphinn members and the Sphinn moderator team, as well as abuse of the Desphinn and spam reporting facilities. It was not your job or your right to go on a one-man lynching mission, and although your help in identifying some rule-breakers was appreciated, your tone and actions towards new members and moderators was inexcusable.

Lewis, who wrote, commented and voted on the site under the name pageoneresults, had frequently fought against what he thought of as inaccurate content or, worse still, biased voting. But the termination has brought about a vociferous debate on the right and wrongs of pageoneresults and the power of moderators under the headline “Unintended Consequences” on the Sphinn site.

One view, from Jill, a moderator herself, argues that

Every online community has its own culture and not everyone fits into that culture. We’re lucky that there are plenty of them, and nearly everyone can find a few where their style fits nicely within the community.

while another take, by billslawski, argues that

Too many votes seem to be based upon the people who make the submissions rather than the quality of the content submitted.  Too often great submissions sphunn by people who are newer to the industry get ignored while others who are better known have their posts find the front page.

to a comparison by SpostareDuro that

African Americans who are slaughtered by KKK – KKK thinks they do not ‘fit in’ so they eliminate force them out of their neighborhoods with scare tactics, threats, coercion of various sorts. (even to the point of death)

The forum reminds me of the anger and frustration of intern Jessica DaSilva’s recent posting “It’s worth fighting for” . She revealed the likely future of The Tampa Tribune only to be hammered by commentators. This digital world will always throw up change and, as importantly those who are threatened and hurt by it. One week it is a posting on a blog, another the role of a moderator over voting (or Sphinning!). These are the growing pains of citzen journalism.

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About John Welsh

John Welsh has spent his entire working life in business-to-business media, first traditional publishing, having edited three magazines over 14 years, and, second, exhibitions since 2007. He started this blog on 22 June 2008 and ended it on 18 May 2010.
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