Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Has muti made a fundamental mistake in community management?

So muti in the last few days has been in flames. It all started when someone posted a link on muti to a screenshot from Coda of apparent spam from blueworld. Imod stirred the pot asking a few questions on his blog in response. Both the submissions to muti hit around 35 votes very quickly, but were then removed. (Following the link comes back with a 404)

Let me be clear, i am a fan of muti and find it extremely useful, i access it so many times a day i actually created a desktop application for it and the guys from blueworld seem to be doing a lot of cool things as well. Though i am going to ask the questions that need to be asked. Has muti made a fundamental mistake when it comes to community management?

Granted that the noise being made may be a bit loud regarding the spam, though just recently the blogging community made a similar noise against deal-a-day email spam which hit muti as well. Charl is a respected member of the SA blogging community and they did come out with a response and the issue should have died there.

However both the submissions were then subsequently pulled from muti, one at the request of Chris. The other i have no idea why? Coda then asked the question on why was the second post pulled? I find myself asking the same thing. Why?

Once muti starts making decisions on censoring content of what people submit it's heading down a slippery slope. The thing is you can never please everyone. Google themselves refuse to censor search results. Even on Youtube, only content that is clearly hate speech is removed. So where does this leave muti?

I think the guys at muti need to decide if they want to cater for a small group of people, all of whom have the same opinions and that way censoring of content that differs from the general group consensus is fine. However if muti wants to cater for a larger community, censoring and pulling submissions should only be done in extreme circumstances of Hate Speech. Also note, with previous submissions of hate speech the vote count was merely cleared, the spam posts however were completely deleted including comments and the discussions around it.

We need to realize that since muti currently caters for large number of people, there are going to be differing view points and you really do not want to play the adjudicator, judge or take sides. Muti has clearly done this, and as the facilitator of the blogging community at large i believe this is a fundamental mistake.

As an example this raises questions like:

  • Someone posts something that is factually incorrect and paints me in a bad light, could i request the post be removed?
  • Or maybe this post could be pulled at the request of Yasser since it was clearly critical?
As you can see, the questions this action raises could go on and on, and you would never get to the end of it. This is a problem faced by many companies, Google, Facebook, Twitter. Even telecoms companies like Vodacom and Cell C where people complain falsely of harrasment via sms. Unless the community is extremely small it becomes increasingly difficult to be the judge, therefore the best response is to set clear guidelines on what is not accepted(i.e hate speech) and can be removed, anything that does not meet the criteria of unacceptable stays.

muti needs to 'grow up' and realise it does not just cater for a small group of people any longer with the same opinions, and with that nobody, no matter who they are (including shareholders) should be able to influence the content that gets removed. Let's just hope this is something that will not be repeated again and we can take away a lesson from this.

Update: Mandy De Waal has a post regarding this as well

Digg this
View blog reactions

No comments: