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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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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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*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)

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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...

Unfortunately, we can't clarify the problem which caused the blocked search-terms. Over time we hope to eliminate terms and substring matches, but it won't be something we *can* comment on.

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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"

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"


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...)

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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.]

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