Here is the officially-stated editorial policy of this website:
"Anyone can post to portland indymedia's open publishing newswire. Anything you upload with this form will appear (nearly) instantly on the website. "Every reader is a reporter".
Occasionally, the editorial committee will remove an item from the newsire, but only if it falls into one of the narrow categories of the editorial policy, below. Participation in the editorial committee is open to everyone.
portland indymedia editorial policy
portland indymedia reserves the right to hide or edit posts that:
1. advocate criminal activity indicating a specific time, place or manner
2. are duplicate posts; the most recent is kept
3. are obviously libelous or slanderous
4. interfere with the functionality of the website
This policy does not exist to "censor" the newswire. Rather, it is meant to provide indymedia with legal protection (in the cases of #1 and #3) and to keep the site clear and functional (in the cases of #2 and #4). You can see the posts that have been hidden here. The vast majority are duplicate posts.
If you wish to comment on the ideas in a particular post, use the add your comments link at the bottom of that article. The free-wheeling discussions that take place through such comments are another interactive feature of the indymedia website.
Please post news items only; post your comments after existing articles."
Is this what actually happens in practice? Not exactly.
(1)Some posts get hidden for advocating criminal activity, but not at a specific time or place. Allegedly, some other posts threatening violence were not hidden. There seems no clear-cut standard.
(2)Duplicate posts usually get quickly hidden. This is good.
(3)There are lots and lots of obvioulsy libelous posts. Some get hidden. Many do not.
(4)This one is the most troublesome. The criteria of "interfering with the functionality of the site" is vague. If it means in a strictly technical sense--fine. If it means deleting stupid posts, spam, and trolls--that requires discretion. This is not a "narrow category." Obviously there is a lot of silliness that goes on at this site, and much of it deserves to be hidden. But what constitutes "interference" by a troll, and what constitutes ironic, humorous, or pointed comments by a serious conservative interested in genuine dialogue, or at least making a point?
Part of the problem is that there are really two functions served by the site. One is a source of independent news. "Free-wheeling discussion" is welcome in the form of comments. The other unstated function is as a political forum. Perhaps separate sections for news and forums? As it is, it is too cumbersome to really be a good news source--one has to wade through all the other stuff.
I also think that the stated policy and the reality need to come more in line with each other. If idiotic and abusive posts will be deleted, that should be part of the policy. If comments that fall outside of a certain range of political opinions will be hidden, that should be made explicit in the policy. As discussed elsewhere, the administrator who deletes a post should be identified.
I make these comments in the spirit of helpfulness. I've come to really appreciate PDX Indymedia, and think of it as a good source of information and a potential source for positve change. To the people who spend time making it happen--thank you.