In the early days of the internet, most all communications between people far away who didn’t know each other happened via IRC. It was truly as free as it could be. Few people in society had the skill or technical savvy to use IRC, simply because computers were mostly an enigma to people, and most people who had one had Apple Macintosh and drew squiggly lines on them and browsed the Web. Most people with PCs just played simulators, ran business software, or browsed the web or typed letters.
The people using IRC were a pretty cool group of tech savvy “nerds”, most of whom were IT people for companies, Network Administrators, etc. They were all generally much smarter than the average person, having tackled computers while most of the world was barely aware they even existed.
Conversations were thus on par to what you might find on hackers forums on the dark web today, perhaps. You said what you wanted to say because 100% of everyone else there was not some sissy crybaby that would crumple over and curl up in bed at the first sign of a dirty word or radically different idea.
Everyone on IRC was radically different, doing radically different things.
Then came Newsgroups, easier and more interesting than IRC, it wasn’t instant like IRC, it was sent to your mail server and you could reply at your convenience, and this is where threads of ideas really began taking shape.
Newsgroups were the best because a lot of unique ideas came forward from a lot of unique individuals. Of course, it was a place where every idea had a place. Every personality was given equal right to communicate in whatever way they saw fit.
Porn began to be more and more common and Newsgroups were the main way porn was initially shared.
There were Newsgroups for everyone. If one offended you, you wouldn’t subscribe to it, or leave the Newsgroup. If there was something you personally didn’t like or found offensive, the point was moot, all you had to do was not follow the Newsgroup. You could have whatever internet experience you desired for yourself, and so could everyone else, with nobody bothered by anyone else’s. It worked really perfectly. And nothing has really worked as well since. Newsgroups distilled everyone on the internet and every idea out there into clear places and communities and shared interests and similar personalities. It didn’t matter that there were racist Newsgroups, it was a special place for them to stay to themselves and only be heard by like-minded people.
Sure, some no doubt violated the law and discussed things which were not legal in every part of the world, but the beauty of the internet is that it was probably legal somewhere, and people in those Newsgroups were from countries where it was legal and the conversations were as normal to them as your legal conversations are to you, and so you had the opportunity to be exposed to the cultures of the world without needing to travel. And people who thought that it should be legal were there to share ideas and support changes in their own countries.
Then came the internet Forum, which was a natural progression to the idea sharing that was in Newsgroups, coupled with the personal conversation of IRC. It was a forum for discussion of the same topics in Newsgroups, where the sharing of knowledge and opinions could be taken to a whole other level. And forums were extremely successful in those days, with as many communities springing up as there were Newsgroups, almost. People could elaborate, explain, and expound. Essays upon essays were written by everyone with the inclination to make their point of view known, and to share their thoughts on any subject under the sun. The Tutorial was born, in specific response to a request for help, or to document the learning journey of someone who wanted to record it for themselves and anyone else who would be able to benefit from it. Ideas flowed from anyone with any knowledge of the subject and better ideas were created than the original.
The internet truly began to see its full potential realized, the sharing of knowledge flowed freely across border, around the world. Everyone on the internet was open minded to an entire planet of thinkers from different cultures with radically different ideas.
Then came AOL. The xenophobic, anti-truth, America-first, “crybabies need internet too” organization that created to control the flow of information and stifle free expression. AOL was about America. Sites just for Americans, where American values are held above all others, and sites were selected which were favorable to the American world view. All others were blocked, so your average American xenophobic bigot could have a place to talk and surf without the offensive world views of non-Americans.
AOL did a lot to clean up the internet and get rid of the annoying Americans. It also got rid of the annoying non-Americans for the American-first bigots and Aryan white supremacists.
It was a win-win. Separating two groups of people who were becoming increasingly annoyed by the other. The only downside was that AOL also pandered to the non-tech savvy American who would have benefited from global debate, but was sadly left to an AOL experience of the internet, unable to communicate with the world over the real internet.
Forums were always unmoderated from their beginning. Anything was ok, after all, this was the internet. Naughty words were perfectly acceptable because they are perfectly acceptable in nearly all cultures, and a great many individuals and families in America.
Moderators first appeared on corporate websites where having certain language or views would reflect bad on their own personal brand. Easily solved, don’t talk about anything important on the website of an airline. Moderation then spread to include content that made other customers feel unwelcome, uncomfortable or unhappy. Later that would change to companies not putting forums on their company websites, a natural solution.
Having a Moderator was then rather quickly adopted by non-corporate websites who wanted profits from advertisers who would pull their ads if the content was too offensive or brutal. Having an ad for shampoo next to a wall of anger and hate reflects poorly on the company and product. Not many forums had ads.
Very shortly thereafter, more and more forums started seeing moderators as the answer to their prayers. They began timidly deleting posts at first, usually apologizing and reinstating the post after an uproar by the user who posted it. There was a very clearly tangible feeling that they were violating the rights of others, violating free speech, impeding truth, and so it was definitely done with trepidation, out of respect for knowledge and the integrity of the internet itself.
Eventually a new generation came to the scene, an entitled generation that would eventually come to be known as the millennials, who receive trophies merely for participating in sports, and who run to mom and dad for everything. These materialized in forums as moderators who were bold, angry, narcissistic megalomaniacs that thought that they’re knowledge of technology (which was far inferior to their 1337 predecessors of the IRC generation) made them super intelligent in all aspects of everything. They showed zero respect for the old guards, and thrived on winning arguments merely by deleting opposing view points. They even just started trolling their own forums, and banning people from them who had the slightest variance in view on a given topic, banishing enemies of their little realm. In fact, it became so common that people were often just banned within minutes of registering, just for having an opposing view point to what they’ve already established as the most dominant view they rather oddly claim as truth.
And today, all that self-serving narcissistic greed and power-mongering has just resulted in the utter death of internet forums, which are now just tiny cults of personality who find comfort and solace in protecting each other from the outside world and opposing view points that contradict what they are trying desperately to establish as fact, straight from fiction, by simply deleting anything posted which fractures the propaganda they’re hoping to spread and establish as unchallenged, untested truth. You’ll just have to take their word for it, naturally, they hope so anyway.
Forums have devolved into places harboring xenophobes where each user exists to reaffirm the other users of their validity and superior views and opinions on the subject matter at hand, notwithstanding they’ve no education or expertise, cannot tolerate any challenge or debate, are far from being 1337 in the subject, and are mostly just crybaby posers. They’ll also call you a crybaby for not accepting their truth, as presented, just before banning you.
Trolling is now anything you say which they don’t agree with or makes them angry.
Forum moderation has become exactly what oppressive governmental regimes who control information do, to shape the world view, control the narrative, silencing dissenting opinions, sending truth into oblivion, in what is simply the spread of propaganda to protect fragile egos.
Fast forward to 2018, where everything is either Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (or “the dark triad”, all 3 likely controlled by the United States government), which have pushed very hard to end all other platforms of communication and consolidate the population of the internet onto a few easily controlled, monitored, and filtered services, and you have complete government or company control over the people. The dark triad has its rules, though they choose where and when to enforce them, meaning they exist specifically to give them power to control information and silence dissenting/contradicting views. For example, they will accept hate speeches from white supremacists and fascists which serve their own narrative, agenda and political motivations, whilst deleting opposing comments from Antifascists by claiming the rules were broken by the antifascists, thereby giving them freedom to delete one while leaving the vile fascist remarks to remain, though both include the exact same profanity. Or if one is against America or the American government, or Google, or Corporations, or Republicans, etc. The Dark Triad clearly favors capitalism, corporate power, the status quo, the right-wing, Christian bigots, and a world view of white America at the center that can only be described as Confederate.
They’ll play along with the Democratic view and even the liberal agenda, but as soon something out-reaches their own conclusions, and stretches beyond the power mongering view of placing America First, Foremost and Best, all the cards are kicked over by some crybaby who’s personal feelings or agenda is being hurt, who’ll delete your comments.
The claim began to be made that using real people’s Identity, verification etc would stop strongly-worded opinions which angered certain groups of people from being made. Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram have verified who we are, right to our phone numbers, in our homes, real names, and notwithstanding that, they delete people and comments exactly the same as they did before requiring verification. Meaning all they seemed to want was more of your personal information with no interest in stopping their propaganda and control of information.
The power to moderate is the power to play god or totalitarian governmental regime over the lives of others. There is no one with the power to moderate who is moderate. Nobody with the power to control the narrative who doesn’t flip his own switch, nobody who is not corrupted into serving his own agenda.
What people don’t seem to be able to grasp is that its not hateful people who win freeforum arguments. Hate is just an emotion, be it fascist or Antifascist. Truth will always prevail where no moderation exists. In a battle of free speech and free ideas, the only victory that ever has occurred in the history of free arguments is that of the truth. Truth 99% of the time hurts you, your friends, your family, your feelings, your country, your ideologies, your beliefs, your opinions and your ego. It makes everyone mad and weakens nations, causes rulers to tremble. All you are ever doing when you moderate and censor free speech, is destroying truth, and it will never be found where speech is censored. But what will be found, conveniently, is everything you ever hoped the world was. Your own little box of safety and security. But no, never the truth.
Your internet is no longer free, and hasn’t been for a long time. Generations are growing up not knowing what a free internet is. The government is making the entire internet a big AOL for Americans, making it unfree, giving control of it to companies that in turn give control over to the government. The internet is nothing but spammy ads, trolls, click bait, willfully negligent programming designed to fail when you try to avoid ad spamming and click bait, meaningless forums where no debate or counter arguments take place. Utterly meaningless. Its devolved into personal life moments sharing with the world, as narcissistic as could possibly be.
Perhaps we should go back to News Groups and IRC. It’s asinine to think that everyone on the planet can be in the same place and not have very conflicting ideas and opinions, and that everyone should behave like they’re in an American Christian church setting 24/7, and then, PUNISHING them for it. Its essentially enforcing a white Christian American view over the entire world.
I’ve personally stopped using the Dark Triad (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and a Double Entendre for what behaviorists refer to as the Dark Triad, Narcissism, Megalomania, and Shameless Self-promotion, which basically sums up everyone using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and certainly all forum moderators) and their services, in support of a free, unbiased internet.
If you care about the internet, you should do the same.