With the line between “IRL” and “just the Internet” becoming more blurred as we become ever more connected, it is just as important to create safe-spaces online, as it is to create safe-spaces offline. Drew Curtis and Fark have just done something pretty major in an effort to make the Internet a safer place, and TransCanuck applauds them.
Yesterday, Drew Curtis made the following announcement on Fark:
Adding misogyny to Fark moderator guidelines.
Adam Savage once described to me the problem this way: if the Internet was a dude, we’d all agree that dude has a serious problem with women.
We’ve actually been tightening up moderation style along these lines for awhile now, but as of today, the FArQ will be updated with new rules reminding you all that we don’t want to be the He Man Woman Hater’s Club. This represents enough of a departure from pretty much how every other large internet community operates that I figure an announcement is necessary.
There are lots of examples of highly misogynistic language in pop culture, and Fark has used those plenty over the years. From SNL’s “Jane, you ignorant slut” to Blazing Saddles’ multiple casual references to rape, there are a lot of instances where views are made extreme to parody them. On Fark, we have a tendency to use pop culture references as a type of referential shorthand with one another.
On SNL and in a comedy movie, though, the context is clear. On the Internet, it’s impossible to know the difference between a person with hateful views and a person lampooning hateful views to make a point. The mods try to be reasonable, and context often matters. We will try and determine what you meant, but that’s not always a pass. If your post can be taken one of two ways, and one of those ways can be interpreted as misogynistic, the mods may delete it — even if that wasn’t your intent.
Things that aren’t acceptable:
– Rape jokes
– Calling women as a group “whores” or “sluts” or similar demeaning terminology
– Jokes suggesting that a woman who suffered a crime was somehow asking for it
Obviously, these are just a few examples and shouldn’t be taken as the full gospel, but to give you a few examples of what will always be over the line. Trying to anticipate every situation and every conversation in every thread would be ridiculous, so consider these guidelines and post accordingly. I recommend that when encountering grey areas, instead of trying to figure out where the actual line is, the best strategy would be to stay out of the grey area entirely.
As one of the folks who picks headlines, I can also say with some certainty that we’re not going to get everything right all the time on our end either. I’ve been trying to keep an eye toward these guidelines for a couple months now and I still make mistakes and/or miss problem taglines completely. We’re trying to make the Fark community a better place, and hopefully this will be a few steps in the right direction.
What is missing from this announcement, and is equally important, is what else was added to the Fark guidelines:
Sexism, Racism and LGBT bashing: Fark is a humor site, and we’ve done more than our fair share at poking fun of others, often for what they’ve done, sometimes for what they’ve said, occasionally because they look funny. Fark has long prided itself on being irreverent and sarcastic.
That said, there are still some things that cross the line, and misogyny, racism and LGBT bashing are some of them. So just to be clear: these things will not be tolerated.
We know that on the internet, it’s impossible to know the difference between a person with hateful views and a person lampooning hateful views to make a point. The mods try to be reasonable, and context often matters. We will try and determine what you meant, but that’s not always a pass. If your post can be taken one of two ways, and one of those ways can be interpreted as misogynistic, racist, or LGBT bashing, the mods may delete it and could even give you a timeout–even if that wasn’t your intent.
There have been many larger-than-us sites commenting on this. Slate’s opinion is that this is a futile effort. PZ Myers over at FreeThoughtBlogs.com is calling this move “enlightened,” while some people in the comments are screaming, “What about misandry, racism and LBGT hate?”
yup it is. Just did. When are you getting around to it? @Slate: Fark wants to ban misogyny. Is that even possible? http://t.co/dtAf7AUDaC
— DrewCurtis (@DrewCurtis) August 19, 2014
Oh, yeah. That’s also covered.
New York Magazine is calling Fark/Drew Curtis a trailblazer.
And of course, many people are saying this move will spell the end for Fark.
If you do a search, I’m sure you can find more opinions on this matter.
Ever since I read the announcement yesterday, I’ve been trying to think of things to say other than, “GOOD JOB!” But, that doesn’t seem like quite enough.
As someone who has been the subject of coordinated attacks—which include DDoS attacks, my home address posted online, death threats, my children’s well-being threatened, and more, with RCMP involvement—and the site used to do so was an aggregator filled with anonymous commentators, I know very well how this is an “IRL problem,” and doesn’t stay contained within the confines of these series of tubes.
Sure, keeping the comments safe may be an uphill battle but at least Fark is doing something about it, instead of just giving opinions about things. It’s way too easy to say “Don’t feed the trolls,” or, “Don’t read the comments.” Actually attempted to do something about it instead of placing responsibility on victims, that’s noteworthy.
I’ve seen people scream about First Amendment rights. Well, Fark is not the United States government. They are a private website. Websites are like homes. I’d kick someone out of my home for making sexist, racists and LGBT-phobic comments. Fark has every right to kick people out of their home for doing the same.
I’ve been reading Fark for over a decade now, but I stopped reading the comments a few years ago. I only continued to go there for the unique headlines. I’m glad that I feel like I can start wadding through comments again.
And if that means you’ll never read or comment on Fark again, then it’s already a better place.