Genealogy Wise

The Genealogy & Family History Social Network

Today is the one-week birthday of GenealogyWise. In the last couple of days we have had to face some censorship issues for the first time. We have not been around long enough to have set policies for these kind of issues. So, we want to turn to you, our members, to help us set our censorship policies. We invite each of you to respond letting us know whether or not you think the following types of posts should be censored:

(1) Content related to pornography or adult content
(2) Content promoting products and services not related to genealogy (business opportunities, etc.)
(3) Content that is disrespectful or rude (name calling, etc.)

We value your feedback and want your help in setting policies. What do you think?

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Obscene language is also subjective. I don't find anything in the written language offensive, not swear words, nothing. A word like 'Hell', since I'm an atheist, carries no more weight than a word like 'boat'. In a phrase: I just don't care about what sort of language a person uses, it's the VOICE of the language that matters. Pants used to be a kind of swear word in England, like slang, do I find it offensive, no. If you found out your ancestor wrote a play that used pants in that way should you have to censor it? No. Similarly if you have a letter from an uncle who was a preacher, isn't the word Hell going to be littered in any surviving sermons? OUR language today should be at all times respectful [just because swear words hold no meaning to me, and I use them in my day to day life, I'm not going to post swears here because it wouldn't be respectful, I'm also not going to censor the word Hell in this post since I am referring to the 'place'.]; but we shouldn't censor the voices of our ancestors.
I have been on the positive side about GW. In fact, in a draft post originally slated to appear today at GeneaBlogie, I wrote that FamilyLink has created "one of the most advanced collaborative cyber-communities: a place where both individualistic and communitarian democracy can flourish." But I haven't posted it yet. It seems to me that the history of such cyber-communities, brief in time though it may be, is rich with examples of how community sponsors should interact with the community. It is true that these precedents come from trial and error. One consistent theme is that community members believe strongly in the right to express dissatisfaction with the sponsor when they believe it is warranted. The success of any such community depends on recognition of this fact.

GW has grown rapidly and is rich in content, much of it user-provided. Community m,embers have an interest in seeing that the community thrives. They don't want porn or excessive commercial activity. And the users to whom this community appeals the most is a fairly moderate crowd in terms of social behavior. Check out the demographics. On the other hand, their life experiences have enabled them to sniff out baloney and cheese very well. Their right to call the sponsor to account only the community.

So it is a positive thing not to remove posts critical of GW. But even GW need not subject itself to abusive tirades that serve no community purpose. Even under the broadest readings of our western constitutions and charters of freedom, some things are not entitled to the dignity of free speech. The trick is learning to discern the difference. I would say that you need to trust the community and give the benefit of the doubt to the value of expression.
Well written Craig. Thank you very much.
Excellent, Craig!
I think you have to create some kind of a charter that is much broader than the three elements above. Those are obvious. A charter could be discussed here if you like.

Promoting products etc could be allowed in restrected areas, special forums, where everybody knows that's the issue.
Torill, Yes, we are very open to discussions here about other policy items that you think should or should not be part of our charter. I like your point about creating areas where restricted items can be posted. For example, maybe non-genealogy products and services are only appropriate on a group that we have created for only that purpose. Maybe a debates group could be created for people who want to more strongly debate in a way that others feel is disrespectful. Maybe there is a group for GW criticism, and people know they can be more disrespectful or strong in their wording there than they can be towards normal members.
No ads, except from those who are not peddling products, such as Ancestry; we do not want billboards constantly appearing when open any file or discussion. Instead you might consider an index, (too much work, probably). establish distinct categories of the research we do.

Then ask all to please enter their question or comments within their choice of those categories. As it stands, unless I simply do not understand, if I want to know who said what about any area of research, I must read all the replies submitted because every comment bears a label selected by every writer. Such categories might be 1) veterans research, 2) wills and administrations, 3) tax records, 4) immigration records, 5) courts' orders, 6) deed records, 7) reunions, 8) miscallaneous records, 9) school records, etc., etc. I made this suggestion to Debbie and have heard no more about it.


Paul, Thanks for your feedback. We're working on implementing better options for finding the content you care about. Some of this is going to be done soon, and some of it is going to take a few months. So, we ask for your patience as we work to get better organization and search options in place.
Thomas' reply has said it all for me, too! Well said, Thomas.
All 3 should be restricted.
There is no doubt that someone some where is related to someone in the porn or adult entertainment industry in the past couple hundred years. If the images have no genealogical significance they should not be allowed.. The last thing I want to sift through is everyone's cats and dogs and travel photos. I definitely don't want to see any images from a Playboy or Hustler spread, porno films and stills or advertising because someone says this is my relative.
These items should definitely be censored!
Might I suggest that you look at, if you haven't already, look at some of the Community Standards that other Genealogy focused Message Boards use. The two that come to mind are the and, probably Rootsweb and other (formerly The Generations Network) message boards. Many of us already use them and may be somewhat familiar with them. As you know, they have "been there, done that".

It one attribute to those message boards are that the Reader has a way to Mark the Response or Thread so that the "owner" can review that entry or thread and determine IF it meets or does not meet the Community Standards.

I am not saying that the Genealogy Wise Community Standards be the same, but they might be reviewed so see IF they apply here as well.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.




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