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Re: Bhakti List Moderation Policy

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (
Date: Wed Aug 12 1998 - 19:30:05 PDT

At 10:57 AM 8/12/1998 -0700, Mani Varadarajan wrote:
>Dear Members,
>As of a couple weeks ago, I am reviewing the posts
>before I forward them to the Bhakti List.  I started
>doing this for a few reasons:
>   (a) to prevent illegible/encoded posts from being
>       posted 
>   (b) to prevent blatant, accusatory personal attacks
>       from being posted, to keep the mood of the List
>       friendly
>   (c) to keep the messages readable -- i.e., to inform
>       posters of a series of articles to space them 
>       out so we can all read them.

There is no problem with (a) and (b) except that 
the members must be permitted to pay tribute to
their acharyas at the beginning and the end of
their posts if they so choose.  That should not
be curtailed in the name format moderation.

There are several problems with (b).

The reason we are having this discussion is
because one of the parama bhagavthas (obviously 
not me :-)) of this list was asked to remove some 
ostensibly offending paragraphs from his post.

A review of the archives will show that the civility of 
discussions have not gone down.  On the contrary, 
the level of civility has never been higher.  Way back
years ago an Acharyapurusha was severely criticized.
There were several posts by another individual almost 
ridiculing the concept of bhakthi.  Even then there was 
no attempt to moderate for offensive posts at that time.  
In the recent past there were one or two avoidable 
remarks, but at least one person expressed regret 
in the open in a rather poignant manner.  Thus, what 
is the reason for this sudden and significant change 
in the traditional modus operandi? 

However well intended, terms such as “facially accusatory” 
and “offensive” are vague.  For example, I did not find the 
passages that were asked to be removed, either “facially 
accusatory” or “offensive”.  Neither were there any personal
attacks and pointing of fingers.  Yet parts of it was found 
to be objectionable.  On the other hand, I personally thought 
that parts of the post that the Parama Bhagavatha in question 
was responding to, were offensive.  Obviously, since the 
first post has already appeared in the list, that post was 
not deemed to be objectionable.  Thus, it is clear there 
is ample room for subjectivity.  What some of us may 
feel objectionable, others may find perfectly fine, and 
vice versa.

The line between content moderation and censorship is 
a fine one.  However unbiased one may think he/she is, 
it is impossible to be balanced or seen to be balanced 
all the time.  We are not above the grip of Samsara.  
Thus, if the members feel moderation is necessary it 
must not be left to a single individual to do it.  There 
must be an established procedure for asking an author 
to change his/her content, and must be done by a group 
of at least two respected elders known for their impartiality.  
But this is a great burden worth taking _only_ if there is 
an acute need.  Where is such a need?  I think most 
would agree that there is no such need.  The discussions 
are well within the norms of decency and decorum,  in 
the most part.

Ours is not an Usenet group where any passer by can
drop a post and move on.  This is a closed forum where 
entrance is restricted.  In such a forum, where mutual 
respect and civility is clearly manifest, it is incongruent 
to attempt to curb the free expression of ideas in whatever
manner the Bhavathas choose to express them.  It is their 
honor they risk with personal attacks and being offensive.  
I submit to you, this is sufficient to keep the mood of
this list friendly.

Instituting moderation policy (b) without any demonstrated 
need, at least in the recent past, in effect makes us  all
potential offenders.  I can't imagine anyone reading through 
posts from the many bhagavthas who write in this forum 
looking for offensive personal attacks.  I would personally 
feel such a scrutiny of my posts enough of an affront not 
to make any more posts in this list if this moderaton policy 

Finally, who will moderate the moderator? 

>I have the time to do this at present; this may not 
>always be the case.

If this is the case why start something that is not
even needed and offensive to boot?

-- adiyEn raamanuja dhaasan