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Community Building and User Generated Content Forum

    
Topix Eliminates Fee for Expedited Content Review
Abusive posts will be dealt with more quickly
rogerd




msg:4185330
 12:02 pm on Aug 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Under pressure from state attorneys general, the community news site Topix has stopped charging users a $19.99 fee to prioritize their requests to review allegedly abusive posts.

In a joint statement with 35 attorneys general, the Palo Alto, Calif-based company also said it will aim to examine and delete any such posts within three working days. The attorneys general did not allege that Topix's priority fee was illegal.


[mediapost.com...]

This seems like something that could impact a wide variety of online communities. Topix is unique to some degree, as they have almost no moderation and lots of activity - 125,000 posts a day.

 

walkman




msg:4185469
 5:09 pm on Aug 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

"We thought it was a really good idea," Tolles said

Sure it is, $20 a comment.

martinibuster




msg:4185534
 7:48 pm on Aug 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said at the time that an initial investigation showed that the "forums and polls" section of the site "is routinely used to post abusive or vulgar information, often about children, in blatant violation of Topix's terms of service."


That description makes Topix sound like a cesspool.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4185620
 10:50 pm on Aug 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm a topix editor for my local area but I stopped editing when I realized it would take me working 24/7 to keep topix clean of abusive content and spam. I still occasionally log on to remove blatantly abusive stuff but unless it's blatant there is just too much work to do, for free.

I also don't think the Attorney General has any business deciding if a fee can or can't be charged for priority evaluation. If I WAS receiving a cut of the priority fee I would definitely review those first.

moTi




msg:4185640
 12:57 am on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

sorry, i have no clue about topix, because it's completely unknown over here. but am i understanding correct, 125,000 posts a day and no obligation to supervise what's going on for anyone? how can that legally fly? i mean, how ridiculously low are the duties of a website operator in the u.s?

freedom of speech, that's all good. but what about personal rights? right to one's own picture, legal defense options in case of being slaughtered by a hate mob?

they took fees for accelerated processing time for abusive posts. what a crazy legislation where such practices are even thinkable. i'm really astonished. no chance a website like topix could legally exist in other western countries. would be sued into oblivion within days. with good reason.

walkman




msg:4185866
 8:43 am on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Topix is a disaster waiting to happen. Accusations galore with the worst names for people, businesses and the likes.

Walt Stumper




msg:4186013
 3:29 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

freedom of speech, that's all good. but what about personal rights? right to one's own picture, legal defense options in case of being slaughtered by a hate mob?


European libel laws are certainly not the ideal anyone wants when faced with a lawsuite...

Libel tourism came to international prominence in 2005, when Saudi billionaire Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz sued New York-based author Rachel Ehrenfeld in a British Court over her book Funding Evil. Even though the book was not published in the U.K., 23 copies purchased via the Internet provided Mahfouz with enough grounds to sue Ehrenfeld in England, where libel judgments are easier to obtain. Ehrenfeld refused to participate in the proceedings, was ordered to pay £10,000 and legal costs. In response, New York and five other states passed their own libel tourism laws.

In 2007, Mahfouz forced Cambridge University Press (CUP) to rescind publication of J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collinsís Alms for Jihad, in the face of another controversial libel suit in a British Court. In a move that garnered significant media coverage worldwide, CUP was forced to pulp copies of the book, put the book out of print, ask libraries to pull the book from the shelves, pay damages, and in an extraordinary move, issue a public apology on its web site.


One can read the rest of the story at [publishersweekly.com ], were you can read about a new US law protecting us from European lawsuit happy plantiffs!

Moving back on topix just a bit...when did Topix turn into the mess I see it is? Last I looked (perhaps a couple of years ago) they were a news gathering site similiar to Google News, Yahoo News, etc.

It hurts my head to look at this website! (Now maybe here's a place to pass a law outlawing badly designed websites.) I gather the "social networking" stuff is the controversial part...

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4186344
 6:26 am on Aug 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

My take on Topix after having been a volunteer editor for a couple of years...

Topix is moderated, unfortunately most editors are volunteers and not paid. It works a little like wikipedia in that sense.

The bulk of the stories are mainly via known and trusted RSS feeds and editors can manually approve lesser known feeds (single posts only) that visitors submit. It's not a runaway mess. What Topix does well is get opinions and related content on the stories it posts and it does "local" extremely well. The comments and opinions all add a unique flavor to the site.

Still, it's got a glass ceiling. It's a mashup site with a following I think best describes it. There is a thin line between pure mashup site and mashup site with a following these days. Pure mashup is hated by most but mashup sites with a following are revered.

rogerd




msg:4186549
 2:16 pm on Aug 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

This may have changed, but the last I heard was that Topix relied heavily on automated filtering and attempted to remove only the most abusive posts that got past the filtering, e.g., death threats. Their philosophy was, more or less, "If someone calls you a pathetic moron and likely spouse abuser, we won't remove the post but we will give you free rein to defend yourself and insult your attackers in return."

From a community building standpoint, I think that sort of approach encourages flame wars and discourages participation by thoughtful individuals.

Trying to develop a scalable moderation model for their number of location sites (2000+) and six-figure daily posting volume is a real challenge.

moTi, websites which allow user contributions in the US have generally been afforded legal protection as service providers. The author of libelous content (i.e., the poster) is still liable, and the site owner can be forced to divulge registration information, IP addresses, and so on, by a court order.

Still, the vast majority of site owners try and remove libelous content quickly, both for community reasons and to avoid getting tangled up in messy and expensive lawsuits.

walkman




msg:4186805
 9:38 pm on Aug 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Their philosophy was, more or less, "If someone calls you a pathetic moron and likely spouse abuser, we won't remove the post but we will give you free rein to defend yourself and insult your attackers in return."


I tried it and they flag /remove within minutes the ones with certain keywords. The problem is not calling someone a moron but a rappist, chlld molester, thief etc. etc. by changing a few letters here and there.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4187582
 8:54 am on Aug 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

You'll get flagged rather quickly by using different letters.

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