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Discussion on: Censorship on DEV Community 😢🀐

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Heyo!

Thanks for bringing this tricky issue up... I can definitely understand the pushback against giving authors the power to hide comments on their post. ​

Just for the record, here's the changelog post that originally came out describing the feature in case anyone would like to review the motivation and thoughts on the feature at the time of release.

First off, I don't think that giving authors the ability to hide comments on their post is a perfect solution. As you pointed out, it allows authors the freedom to hide any comment on their post, which means that authors may hide warranted criticism or any other discussions that they disagree with.

On the other hand, not giving authors this ability, means that the author must report a comment that they think should be removed from their article and wait for an admin to remove (or not remove) that comment based on whether it has violated the Code of Conduct as it's interpreted by the admin who is reviewing reports β€” after all, we're humans and so may have slightly different interpretations of how a comment should be handled based on the CoC. That waiting could be an excruciating experience for someone who has been majorly slighted or worse had their info doxxed.

Ultimately, we decided that the benefits outweighed the drawbacks β€” that we'd rather allow authors the ability to hide comments on their own post (without needing to report a comment) because we think providing this safety feature and giving authors the agency to control the discussion on their own post is more important than allowing an a commenter's comment to stay visible on a post when the author doesn't want it to be there.

Maybe there is some middle-ground area here that we could take. I definitely understand the idea of making it so that hidden comments are still visible to all by clicking in somewhere else to see them. On one hand, I really like this idea as it seems like a nice compromise, but on the other, I feel like it does sort of undo the purpose of making the comment hidden if it can easily be clicked to. I'd slightly worry that people would be drawn to read these comments because they want to see whatever controversy is happening on the other side.

Maybe when an author hides a comment that comment should be flagged behind scenes to DEV staff. I have a feeling that some of the time a comment is hidden and not necessarily reported... in some instances, we actually may want to take a harder stance against the commenter whose comment was hidden. Perhaps they have breached our Code of Conduct and need further action taken against them? On the other hand, maybe the comment was "This post is plagiarized" and thus it's the author, not the commenter that has broken our Code of Conduct and needs further action taken against them. I could see us potentially opening up a section for admin to review hidden comments.

While I think there are issues with allowing an author to hide any comment on their post, I still believe that the safety benefits outweigh the downsides. I do think it's worth exploring some inbetween options though and will bring this up with the team. Thanks for the honest feedback here and hopefully we can come up with ways to improve this feature!

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technoglot profile image
Amelia Vieira Rosado 🐣✨ Author

Just for the record, here's the changelog post that originally came out describing the feature in case anyone would like to review the motivation and thoughts on the feature at the time of release.

Thanks for sharing, I'll take a look at it!

after all, we're humans and so may have slightly different interpretations of how a comment should be handled based on the CoC.

Yes, and well, because of this things often go sideways, haha.

I could see us potentially opening up a section for admin to review hidden comments.

I admit that it adds a significant overhead, but through this discussion, I hope anyone can freely contribute possible solutions and middle-ground approaches to improve the platform.

I knew that you guys thought long and hard about this. I know that perhaps not everyone is fully satisfied with the current way of doing things but it can surely be addressed. Yes, I don't want authors to feel unsafe but I can't help but sympathize with those whose comments have been hidden or deleted in an unwarranted way.

Anyhow, I hope that this discussion brings in some great suggestions that can be helpful to the DEV/Forem team!

Thanks for dropping in!