You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : August 1998

Re: Bhakti Moderation Policy

From: Russell D Kane (ss_at_clihouston.com)
Date: Fri Aug 14 1998 - 10:15:23 PDT

The recent exchanges regarding the need (or lack of one) for 
moderation make interesting reading.

Sri Mani writes:

> 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.
>....................................................................
> P.S. One member suggested moderation by "a committee
> of elders." Other than the obvious logistical problems
> this involves (including its impossibility using the
> current software), I am loath to have a committee 
> review each post to see its suitability. A
>.................. other stuff deleted.....................

The rationale for moderation is self-evident, and it is difficult to 
disagree with Mani's catholic intent in doing so.  Further, this is  
a task best performed at a minimally intrusive level (one that is 
obviously difficult to enforce if a committee is in charge) and with 
a view to ensure that content (as evaluated by Mani) is the only 
criterion.

Couple of more points that we may wish to consider are:

1.  Ask members who post translations or reproduce commentaries give 
credit to the source.  I have seen several instances where 
commentaries are reproduced with no mention of the source, meaning 
posters often take implied credit when the source is not specified.  

2.  Keep "stylized" material out of the bhakti digest for we should 
not purport to be a forum for those with aspirations to be authors.  
While anubhava pooritha writings, such as those by Sri Sampath 
Rengarajan and other eminent Bhagavathas on this list, provide 
valuable  insight into aspects of anubhavam not commonly 
available and are an immense source of joy (and represent the very 
essence of this wonderful concept of an email-based list), some 
times, material produced (such as a recent discussion on phala 
shruthi where questions were asked so that the person asking the 
questions could provide the answers), often appearing to be mere 
exhibitionism, tends to dilute the content. 

Sri Dileepan writes:

> 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. 

While I can appreciate Sri Dileepan's concern about ensuring lack of 
bias in the editorial policy, any group-based procedure would 
essentially make the list dysfunctional.  Also, Sri Mani, as the 
creator/sustainer of the list (as well as on the basis of his very 
evident and often-displayed impartiality in dealing with contentious 
issues) is, in my opinion, in the best 
position to provide the minimal levels of editorial control necessary 
to ensure happy co-existence amongst a group of prapannas with 
diverse backgrounds and view points who wish to exchange ideas with a 
spirit of inquiry and for mutual benefit.

Ultimately, to me, the list represents the essense and a very real 
manifestation of what our dear Sri Krishna says of his bhakthas:

math chitthA madgathah prANA
bOdhayanthah parasparam
kathayanthi cha mAm nithyam
thushyanthi cha ramanthi cha

After all, what can be more joyous than talking about His anantha kalyANa 
guNAs or the incredible insights of Azhwaar/Acharyaal aruLiccheyals?

Azhwaar Emberumaanaar Jeeyar thiruvadigaLe sharaNam

sridhar