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As a way of increasing the transparency of Lobsters’ moderation, I would like to suggest adding the ability to view posts and comments that have been removed by a moderator, similar to The Orange Site’s showdead feature. As of now, we have to trust the moderator who removed the content, since all we users see is a line in the moderation log (X was removed by Y: “off-topic”). Allowing us to see removed posts gives us to ability to come to our own conclusion as to whether it really was worthy of being thrown out.


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    While I get the idea, I think all that would happen is that conversation would continue while referencing the dead/removed content. Lobste.rs does a really good job of keeping the conversations consistent, by for example preventing the editing of comments after a certain amount of time.

    IMHO if the content was removed unjustly, discussion in IRC or private communication with mods would probably be preferable. Lobste.rs isn’t the Orange Site, and I think a Backbone Cabal suits it well.

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      I think all that would happen is that conversation would continue while referencing the dead/removed content

      I think that making it visible only in moderator log would be inconvenient enough to prevent that from happening.

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        It could cause inconvenience for the operators in the current (cancel)cultural environment, eventually maybe even risking the site’s existence. It would pretty much undermine the purpose of moderation.

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          What would you do with content which is illegal and could cause legal consequences?

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            As far as I can tell this is not a real issue on this site.

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              There was a link to the leaked WindowsXP, which was removed because of that reason.

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                But it is a failure mode that can be exploited by a bad actor. I’ll expand on that in a top-level comment.

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            We could possibly lock conversations on the removed content. It would only be visible.

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            I don’t think this is a good idea, nor actually needed.

            First, the obvious failure mode. A “bad actor” can con their way onto the site via invite, post a comment that would violate most hosting providers AUP, and could then point to it being visible in the modlog as this site breaking that AUP, and getting the site in trouble. So even if most moderated comments could be visible, there’d still be “extra-banned” comments which would excite even more interest.

            For those with a prurient interest in moderated or even deleted comments, it’s not hard to set up something that scans each submissions comments and keeps deleted ones (or tracks edits). Each submission page has a .json extension which gives a machine-readable view of that page. A couple of hours of hacking and a cronjob and it’s off to the races.

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              I would expect that 99,99% (if not more) of deleted comments is completely legal and can be displayed. The few that needs to be deleted can probably be removed via rails auto generated management api.

              Even if it is a real issue I still agree with op that showing removed comments would be a good improvement on transparency. So maybe during deletion mods should have an option to mark as removed or actually delete offending comment. This would solve illegal content issue but still improve transparency.

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              On HN, showdead shows comments that have been flagged by users or some shadowbanned users. There’s certainly total removal - otherwise you’d see things like herbal supplement spam links and trolls pasting other people’s copyrighted material or significantly less welcome things.

              I’m strongly against replacing comment deletion with ‘comment slight inconveniencing’. Removal expresses more than disapproval, it’s an active desire to not continue serving something. There are plenty of online communities available that have little to no removal if you prefer the resulting level of discussion.

              As a practical matter, if you want to read every comment, remove any filters and enable mailing list mode. Something removed from the site won’t be removed from your inbox.

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                In my opinion it would improve transparency for the sake of transparency. Without going into too much detail (obviously) which are situations, where this added transparency could have added value to the experience of using the site?

                On another thought, what do you think about a community committee which has access to the logs and could intervene if moderation gets out of hand. These people could always be the ones with the most Karma over the last three month or whatever. This would serve both sides: Normaler users have a good moderated experience and the moderators can get feedback on their decisions. This is just an idea, but in all honesty right now Ive nothing to complaib about and being a moderator is a hard enough job already :)