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Criteria for Composting?

What are the criteria for putting a post in the compost bin?
I really hope it isn't 'I know a spam when I see one'.

The right-wingers are claiming they're being composted simply for being right-wingers.

I don't believe that. They may claim they're debating, but they've been just nasty, attacking authors rather than their arguments.

Of course they're getting away with it because this is a test, they know it, and they're attacking any place they find weakness.

I would like to know the criteria. How is it divorced from content? How do you tell a legitimate post that is right-wing from one that is spam? What makes a post legitimate, and what makes it spam, whether it looks left, right, or odd?

Some answers I would hope to see:

1. A post is recognized as unoriginal, without the origin cited. (Some accused Lamet Vali of this, but no one actually said "plagiarism".)

2. The author attacks other authors without debating their argument. More specifically, calls them names, or attacks them simply for perceiving them to be a part of a group. (cunt, unwashed hippies, censor the right-wingers)

Now, StevetheGreen outlined a pattern, perhaps that is used as a criteria. But that prompts me to ask, how can someone step out of that pattern? What if a "spammer" has just been an idiot, and needed to learn some manners, so they learn about creating a legitimate argument? Once sent to the compost bin, are they always sent?

I have learned from this site, learned about the possibility of disrupting agents, even Cointelpro. That too could turn out to be a name-calling. When would that become spam, someone accusing someone else of being cointelpro, of getting paid to do this, of being a freeper?

I, unlike some, have faith in the intentions of the editorial team. It seems to me this decision to create a compost bin was made reluctantly. It certainly will turn people away who come here and see aggressive attacks that muddy up the true news.

Any concern I do have about censorship would be dissolved if we could see some criteria, some answers to my questions. Perhaps some of those answers need to be solidified.

Criteria for Composting 15.Oct.2002 13:21


If it stinks, throw it out.

'nuff said.

What's the purpose of this box on the side?>> 15.Oct.2002 13:41


I may have missed out on references to this at meetings or whatever, being a few dozen miles away.

composting is going to far 15.Oct.2002 13:43


I have had a few messages composted (at least they never showed up when I tried publishing them) I am not a right wing nut, or a troll, and am attempting to engage in meaningful dialogue.

In one message I expressed support for a person who described themselves as right-wing, but distanced themselves from some idiot troll who was ranting about 'liberals'.

Apperantly, the subject line "right on/right wing" lead my post to be censored despite the fact that the content of my message had to do with building coalitions between libertarians and anarchist movements.

I support hiding messages that are idiotic attempts to prevent discussion, but any attempt to engage in discussion ought to be allowed, even if we disagree with the perspective.

I'm afraid this censorship experiment may be poorly organized and thus be inadvertantly overdoing it.

jason 15.Oct.2002 15:06


your concerns would be difficult to address in the absence of more specifics from you.

reply to enji 15.Oct.2002 18:03


Hi Enji,

you said "I really hope it isn't 'I know a spam when I see one'. "

that is exactly what it is. . .it had to do for a supreme court justice and it will do here.

here is the text of what was proposed and consensed upon at the meeting last saturday. . .this does not obligate it to be enforced, but does empower individuals to act as needed. . .the idea being not to keep a spam-free newswire, but to keep the noise level down.


* Newswire items: editorial volunteers are empowered to group "spam" type
newswire stories into a "compost bin" newswire story on a regular basis, as
needed. The bin post will include an email address where people can write with
concerns. Alerts should be sent to the editorial list when a bin is created
with the URL.
* Comments: editorial volunteers are empowered to hide comments of a disruptive
nature. An alert should be sent to the editorial list with the text (if
practical) and the reasoning.

replies 15.Oct.2002 18:17

spArk spark@tearitalldown.com

hey heidi -- you wrote: "I really hope it isn't 'I know a spam when I see one'."

actually, that's exactly what it is. :)

there's no way to define even a general set of guidelines intellectually that would work well. what's spam and what isn't is not an objective call -- it's subjective. there's really no other way to do it, practically speaking. as i'm sure you know (but i say this for other readers) your sentence, 'I know a spam when I see one' refers to a famous supreme court case. the case, JACOBELLIS v. OHIO, 378 U.S. 184 (1964), was about an allegation that a movie was "pornographic" and Justice Potter Stewart said:

It is possible to read the Court's opinion in Roth v. United States and Alberts v. California, 354 U.S. 476 , in a variety of ways. In saying this, I imply no criticism of the Court, which in those cases was faced with the task of trying to define what may be indefinable. I have reached the conclusion, which I think is confirmed at least by negative implication in the Court's decisions since Roth and Alberts, that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that. [my emphasis]

not to say that i look to the supreme court for moral guidance ('coz i *don't*) but i think justice stewart hit it spot-on with his analysis. so -- how does the portland indymedia community see spam? by talking to people in the community and reading all the discussions on line, editorial folks came to the conclusion that some stuff needed to be hidden so the site wouldn't be swamped with crap.

here's some plain english ways of talking about what kind of stuff is currently hidden (not deleted!, just shunted off into a different section where everyone can still read it whenever they want):

  1. content seems intended to disrupt. this might mean language used or it could just mean a very very short post with nothing but an insult in it. sometimes it has to do with whether the content is offensive to the goals of this site. for example, the newswire item that had a headline saying it was "HILARIOUS" that a tree-sitter fell from a tree and died is something that doesn't have a place here. the forest kids are already being attacked by the corporate state for their valiant efforts, and are struggling enough as it is; they don't need to have crap like that posted prominently on a site they use for their activism. so that kind of spam is removed out of sensitivity for the community that uses indymedia. so far, much of the community seems to like the policy, including some people who argued against it in the first place.
  2. frequency. if the same person posts a disruptive comment to 12 different posts in just a few minutes, that's definitely spam. nothing seems intended there but to be a pain in the *ss. any one of these comments by itself might not be so bad, but it is the proliferation that is problematic. so a bunch of 'em get hidden.

in other words, as "." said above: "If it stinks, throw it out."

does that make things a little more clear, heidi?

to jason -- if you don't see your posts in the compost bin then the reason your stories didn't come up was because of a computer error, server-side. as many people have noticed, the site is not always fast and additionally articles sometimes don't post at all or disappear temporarily with a "no story to tell yet" error message. talk of upgrades is in the air. look and see if your posts are in the bin here: http://portland.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=26839&group=webcast if something is in there that doesn't belong there, write to imc-portland-editorial@indymedia.org

to everyone -- a year ago i argued tooth and nail against ever hiding posts for the reasons that they are now being hidden regularly. however, at that time i had not been involved with an IMC that was under such concerted attack. now i see why sites like sf.indymedia have policies like they do, and i'm glad that portland indymedia decided to go that way too.