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theljstaff wrote in lj_policy
Concerns regarding Adult Content program

We wanted to address some concerns about the program put in place last month regarding adult content. This system came about due to a variety of legal, community, and industry standards. There are no punitive measures for deciding not to participate, and is designed so that logged-in users over the age of 18 should not see any change in their experience on LiveJournal. With that in mind, we would like to communicate information we have regarding some concerns.


  • A process for notifying authors that an individual entry has been administratively set to "Explicit" is in progress. As soon as this feature is released we will post again to let you know about it.


  • For users who registered before a date of birth was required, we wanted to remind you that you may enter your date of birth on the Edit Profile page. Under the heading "Birthday" it is possible to hide that information, make it publicly visible, or show it only to friends. You may also decide what format to use when showing the information (Month, Day, and Year; only Month and Day; or only Year).


  • We'd like to reiterate that there's no effect at all from a single user flagging another user's content. After multiple flags, the content will be reviewed. There is a system in place to make it so that flags used by someone for improper reasons (harassing another user user, working out a personal grudge, or systematically flagging content which does not fit a category) will no longer count towards the threshold for review in any category. This system has been working well thus far - we will make any adjustments needed to ensure this continues to work as intended and is not used as a tool for harassment. Part of this assessment may include changes to the internal processing or external appearance of the flagging system.


Blocked Search Terms

Some users have noted that there are certain search terms which are currently blocked from use. We can clarify the following things:


  • The list was created in June of this year and an update was added in late October


  • The blocked search terms are not related to the search filter which was put in place with the Adult Content program


  • The blocked search terms are not related to the recent purchase of LiveJournal and were made earlier this year, as stated above


  • We will continue to review the blocked terms and update or remove them as necessary; however, we will not be posting updates when we do so.


  • We are reviewing the system for a different solution to the problem, but will likely not announce or comment on any changes


We're sorry we can't share more information, but we wanted to address the issue to let you know we are aware of your concerns. Whenever possible, we will communicate information to you, even if it's just to say that we can't comment.

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(Deleted comment)
At this time we don't have a set standard for "multiple" because a) depending on different factors it may fluctuate and b) we don't want to encourage people to encourage a certain number of users to also flag something.

We will continue to review the blocked terms and update or remove them as necessary; however, we will not be posting updates when we do so.

We are reviewing the system for a different solution to the problem, but will likely not announce or comment on any changes

Why not?



Edited at 2007-12-20 12:28 am (UTC)

This must be some new definition of "transparency."

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
I have a question that has been repeatedly ignored by LJ support, so I'm going to post it here in hopes that perhaps it will be addressed.

Is there any way that Six Apart/SUP would consider lifting the new tag limit for LJ communities and individual users? It's particularly difficult as a customer when you're given functionality only to have LJ take it away.

Aside from the question of the new policy being extremely dubious customer service, tags serve a vital function for large LJ communities; they allow users to sort and find content that they need. This is particularly important for comms devoted to academic discussions, scholarship, current affairs, news, etc. There's also the question of RPGs, where a comm can max out the one thousand tag limit within a month.

When will the tag limit be lifted? Who should users contact if we want to express our concerns over this loss of functionality?

Edit: I'd like to echo the concern about your post stating that you won't be posting updates on the search term blockage. Is that really your idea of good communication with customers?

Jesus H. Christ.

Edited at 2007-12-20 12:30 am (UTC)

I second this concern. I belong to many communities that tagging has become incredible important for finding content: recipe comms, rpgs, and others. Limiting tags *needs* to be lifted.

It is absolutely unacceptable that you have decided not to update us on changes or replacement of the interest filtering system.

I don't understand why you are blocking search terms in the first place. Are you moving the servers to China or something?

This flys in the face of any claims of transparancy you could make now.

Not to CHINA to RUSSIA! Another great democracy.

(Deleted comment)
We can't answer those questions right now, but wanted to do something other than ignore them. I'm sorry that's the case; we will still work on removing the way it hampers searches, even if we can't comment.

Could you tell us why you choose to ban some terms, but not others?

Could you fix the system so it doesn't ban terms containing similar letters?

We'll be looking into the problem with substring matches on the terms but, unfortunately, can't address the reasons behind it.

This system came about due to a variety of legal, community, and industry standards.

Which ones?

There are no punitive measures for deciding not to participate

Well, I can't choose not to participate, so it's kind of punitive in that area. Are you saying it's not punitive for SUP/LJ not to participate? If so, what's compelling the change?

This system has been working well thus far

How so? Can this be detailed?

The list was created in June of this year and an update was added in late October

Why?

however, we will not be posting updates when we do so.

Why not?

We are reviewing the system for a different solution to the problem, but will likely not announce or comment on any changes

Again, why not? Did hiding it initially work out that well?

We're sorry we can't share more information

Why not?

but we wanted to address the issue to let you know we are aware of your concerns.

How aware?

Whenever possible, we will communicate information to you, even if it's just to say that we can't comment.

Letting us know why you can't comment would go a long way toward regaining lost trust in this situation. I'm not at all saying that you can't have trade secrets or whatever you want to call them, but call a spade a spade - if, for example, the blocked search terms are due to external forces, tell us. If it's some internal decision, explain why.

*points at list* Indeed, this post opens more questions than it answers.

(Edited to fix typo)

Edited at 2007-12-20 12:59 am (UTC)

Thank you for, at the very least, referencing our concerns. One thing I can suggest is removing the interest search blocks completely. If users could more easily search for racist and illegal content, they could more easily report it, thereby boosting the utility of the Adult Flagging system.

Just a suggestion. I think things are heading in a more positive direction than they were previously, so as long as you pay attention to the issues that many people have brought up, I think things will only improve.

*Edit: First page!

Edited at 2007-12-20 12:41 am (UTC)

Right now we can't lift the search blocks completely, but it's not tied into the flagging system because the areas of need for the two aren't the same.

Thank you for the affirmative comment - we are reading and paying attention to what effects everyone and hope you'll see the result of that in the future, too.

1) Could you please clarify what problem blocking search terms solves? Why these search terms are blocked? I recognize that there are issues involved with content that may violate LJ's TOS, but (debates about chilling effects on discussion aside) is preventing people from searching for certain interest really the best way to do this? It seems impossible to block all, or even most terms that might lead to such material (e.g. you've blocked certain terms associated with Nazism in English, but not the equivalent terms in German, and searches on these do definitely lead to the type of material you are probably trying to prevent people from searching for). Why prevent people from searching for terms when they can still be listed as interests and such content can still exist on LJ? Does preventing searches on these terms somehow offer LJ additional legal protection? I simply want to understand the logic behind this.
2) I would very much like to see an announcement made if drastic changes are made to this list of terms, or if a different solution is implemented.
3) If searching must be restricted in this way, can more careful attention be paid to not blocking unrelated terms? e.g. blocking a particular term resulted in users being unable to search for such unobjectionable interests as "spicy food" and "hospice." These terms are now searchable, but so is the term I assume was being intentionally blocked. There's a similar problem with the word "fagioli"-- in the event that some were interested in discussing Italian cooking, this might be a problem...

I agree with what you posted. In the first issue about blocking search terms, I also want to know what doing this solves; you can search for subjects on Google and get results that lead to LiveJournal pages, so blocking the search on LJ itself isn't accomplishing much. And blocking all the problematic terms is, as you said, impossible.

I have to agree, announcements on the changes would be nice (or even a list of what's blocked), and if nothing else, fix the problem with blocking unrelated terms. Sheesh. We're not grepping for names on Usenet feeds anymore, people, why can't LJ have a reasonable filter that doesn't create so many false positives?

There are no punitive measures for deciding not to participate, and is designed so that logged-in users over the age of 18 should not see any change in their experience on LiveJournal.

I am a logged-in user over eighteen. When I am browsing the journal of a friend who has marked their journal as containing explicit content, all I see is lj cuts. If I click on the lj cuts to see what's underneath them it lets me through, but is there any way I can just glance through an "adult content" journal normally? Especially since it was marked as such not because of considerable risqué content, but out of banning-engendered paranoia? Because loading a new page to read every entry is hella annoying.

Not even going to go into any of my other problems with the whole adult content experience, just addressing this - because this has changed my LJ experience significantly, and makes what you just said explicitly untrue.

Edited at 2007-12-20 12:49 am (UTC)

There are a couple of things that could be causing you see the adult content cuts. If you open a support request, certain volunteers can assist you in identifying the cause and pointing you to a solution.

"We're sorry we can't share more information"

vakkotaur

2007-12-20 12:48 am (UTC)

Without a real explanation it really looks like LJ is still operating under the silly assumption that "interests" and "supports" are equivalent.

We are reviewing the system for a different solution to the problem

What everyone is asking is, just what IS this problem? Or won't anyone know until some whistleblower has the courage to leak a memo?

Re: "We're sorry we can't share more information"

charliemc

2007-12-20 01:58 am (UTC)

Agreed.

There are certainly many potential examples that come to mind. For instance, if I list 'murder' as an interest, that wouldn't make me a murderer or potential murderer -- or even weird. (In my case, I have more than one friend who has had a family member murdered, so it would actually make sense -- though I don't list murder as an interest.)

A person can take an interest in things they find entirely immoral and repellent. But being interested doesn't signify approval or participation in something. (Isn't this clear to everyone by now?)

(LiveJournal just isn't the same place I joined back in 2002, I'm afraid...)

(Deleted comment)
I agree: lj-cuts were an already-existing perfect way to allow people to not look at things they might not wish to see.

Granted, my knowledge of American law isn't great, but I know of no law that prevents you from explaining to your users what's going on with these blocked search terms. As far as I know, you can share more information. You're choosing not to. Can someone at least explain why that is?

Besides, I'm pretty sure that there's a legitimate, non-illegal reason to use every single one of the blocked interests. For example, "genocide" is a blocked interest. One of the things I studied a few years ago was genocide -- am I not allowed to be interested in the subject? Am I not allowed to talk to other people who are also interested in it?

100% agreement.

[Except I didn't study genocide. I studied maths.]

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
OK, if it's "wrong" somehow to search for certain interests, why is it possible to list those interests in the first place? It doesn't make a whole lotta' sense, guys.

*lifts phone, watch and CPU above head*

Lj, the bullshit gets any deeper here, you will start to violate city ordinances the world over!

Yep, save the important stuff, however, our shoes are a lost cause...

A process for notifying authors that an individual entry has been administratively set to "Explicit" is in progress. As soon as this feature is released we will post again to let you know about it.

Is that "authors" as in people writing fiction and posting it on their journal, or is it any journal content "authored" by the Live Journal owner? I ask not to be picky, but to point out that many statements made by ljstaff need more editorial review for multiplicity of interpretation; as in, did you say what you meant to say, or are three follow-up posts required to refine a statement into the intended meaning.

Otherwise, I continue to be disturbed, dissatisfied, and unwillingly to renew my LJ's paid status when another user can alter my journal (with the flag that is way too easy to accidentally hit). Putting this icon in place before considering the rights of the journal owner is not appropriate customer service, even if it was a rushed action to wrap up selling Live Journal (an assumption that seems more logical than an urgent need to meet industry standards). Additionally, I'm concerned if someone flags an entry because of the contents in comments, as opposed to the original post itself. I can't easily review everything in comments to my LJ because I'm not receiving e-mailed Comments due to that problem with LJ appearing on a third party's spam list that my ISP references.

Also, "Flag this journal" may look to new users like "tag this" or "bookmark this". I e-mailed a friend, regarding this new icon, who's been away from LJ for a few months and might think it's a tool for memories or organization.


Edited at 2007-12-20 01:12 am (UTC)

I don't work for LJ, so I can't guarantee that I am 100% correct here, but I think that I can answer a couple of your questions.

1)I'm pretty sure that "author" in this case means the person who authored the post in question.

2)The flag button may very well be easy enough to hit accidentally. But after you hit that button you are taken to a page that requires you to clarify the reason you are flagging a post before the flag is actually sent anywhere. So someone who accidentally hits the button will not be flagging the post unless they fill out the rest of the form. To see what I mean, feel free to try it on one of my posts.

3)As for the not getting email thing, I am a bit clueless as to how to fix that. Have you tried opening a support request? I don't know if they will be able to help you either, but it might be worth a shot if it hasn't already proven less than helpful.

4)Yep, the flag does kinda resemble a way to tag a post as important or something similar. But since the flag takes you to a form first, users who are new or have been away should be able to figure it out quickly.

HTH some!

~Lisa

Blocking terms, not updating users

dragonsweave

2007-12-20 01:00 am (UTC)

I will echo what I am already seeing from a variety of other people:

What terms are you blocking, and why?

Why have you decided not to tell anyone about updates that will affect our ability to use the service?

Just to be clear: I do not come to LJ looking for adult content, but as an adult, I do not appreciate being "protected" from it, or any other content, by someone else who refuses to tell me why, how and what. LJ's actions with respect to these issues over the next few months will determine whether I keep my content here or not.

Re: Blocking terms, not updating users

charliemc

2007-12-20 02:01 am (UTC)

+1

Beautifully stated.

This is exactly how I feel -- and how many of my (also adult) friends feel, too.

I HATE the whole flagging explicit material stuff that you've got going on. I'm over the age of 18 yrs so I should be able to write whatever I feel like writing in my private & personal journal. The problem is people will abuse this, say they don't like what I say or disagree with my view on say abortion or something somewhere then they go to my personal/private journal flagging it saying that it's inappropriate it etc. Is it really up to you guys to decide if my PERSONAL & PRIVATE journal is truly explicity and not some joke that others have decided to play because they themselves are immature. What I hate is that you guys are acting like myspace and all those other sites, we know kids are here so why not just put it back to the way that it was? Or just not let kids under 16 join that way you won't have such problems. Besides if someone's swearing most kids at the age of like 13 hear all those words anyways. Stupid thing I say, just my 2 cents.

Most adults don't want to be here for adult issues or things, we're here to do what LJ is for WRITE in our journals, commuities, stay in touch with others. Just becuase myspace or other sites are doing doesn't mean that LJ has to do it either.

Edited at 2007-12-20 01:11 am (UTC)

Besides if someone's swearing most kids at the age of like 13 hear all those words anyways.

Most kids at the age of 10 use them. Round here they do, anyway.

We will continue to review the blocked terms and update or remove them as necessary; however, we will not be posting updates when we do so.

We are reviewing the system for a different solution to the problem, but will likely not announce or comment on any changes.


Why the hell not? Why not give us complete transparency? After all, we are paying you via purchased accounts / add-ons and advertising revenue.


This system came about due to a variety of legal, community, and industry standards.

Such as?

We're sorry we can't share more information

Oh, really. Of course you can; you just don't want to. I can't imagine why not. For example, "spic" was unblocked recently: is there any sensible reason why you couldn't have announced that? I can't think of one.

And the underlying point remains that the way you've gone about this is laughable. I can search for "Hitler" but not "Himmler". I can search for "wog" (an offensive racial slur in British English) but I can't search for "doo-wop music".

"No comment" is no answer. Simple as that.

No, this is definitely a situation where we can't share that information. Since we're not able to address the questions that have come up, we wanted to at least acknowledge them rather than ignore them.

"# We will continue to review the blocked terms and update or remove them as necessary; however, we will not be posting updates when we do so."

why

and why can't you share more information. you HAVE it, why won't you give it?

Right now it's a situation where we can't share that information. But we do want to let you know we're aware of the way it inhibits searches and (if we're able) take away those problems.

This system came about due to a variety of legal, community, and industry standards.

Dittoing the "such as?" others have already asked.

Me too.

Specifically, what "community" standards were used in setting up the flagging feature?

Whose community is deciding what my kids can view on LJ?

This system came about due to a variety of legal, community, and industry standards.

Sir Humphrey's System for stalling Creative Inertia?

You have to admit that some of LJ's moves recently have been courageous...

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