Is The Mob Censoring Ideas At Synthtopia?

Is ‘the mob’ censoring discussion in the comments at Synthtopia?

Reader Someone Dudeus (we suspect that might be a nom de guerre) contacted us to complain about ‘mob rule’ censoring comments on our site:

You run a forum where the mob can censor ideas.

I agree – if comments in the forum is obnoxious or otherwise containing no content but innuendos and personal attacks and foul language – you remove the post.

But to have people “like” them and remove “disliked” posts is something completely different.

Not letting the guy thinking outside the box having a fair chance.

Other smuck sites can do that but U should not.

Here’s a little background on how comments are handled at Synthtopia:

  • We use an automated system, Akismet, to filter out comments that are clearly spam. It does this very effectively.
  • We delete comments if they are clearly spam or if they cross the line into things like hate speech or personal attacks. We only need to do this a few times/month, because most readers respect having the opportunity to have an intelligent discussion about synth news.
  • Finally, we let readers give comments the thumbs up or thumbs down. Comments that get primarily negative feedback eventually get ‘hidden’, by default. If this happens, the comment doesn’t get censored or deleted, but it doesn’t waste other readers’ time, either. We know that some people are going to try and manipulate and abuse the system, but we’ve set the thresholds high. As a result, it’s actually pretty rare for comments to get buried and, most of the time, it’s for good reason.

This system isn’t perfect, but it’s as good as any we’ve seen, and it allows for posts to regularly get dozens and even hundreds of comments, while keeping the discussion relatively free of spam and other garbage.

If you’ve got feedback or suggestions on the way we handle commenting, please let us know. Thanks!

37 thoughts on “Is The Mob Censoring Ideas At Synthtopia?

    1. [laughs] Every half hour Scarlett checks and gives me another thumbs down! That’s okay, because I picture her sitting in front of her iMac in her Avengers outfit looking all pouty and sexy.

  1. I’m certainly guilty of using the thumbs down as an “I disagree” vote, when I should probably restrict it to “this guy should be muzzled for the good of the planet.”

    1. “I’m certainly guilty of using the thumbs down as an “I disagree” vote, when I should probably restrict it to “this guy should be muzzled for the good of the planet.”

      Well said, my thoughts exactly. I also tend to read the thumbs down ones out of curiousity, then I usually see why they are thumbs down and I then hit them with an additional thumbs down.

  2. I don’t like this rating system as well because it can be abused just like the poster above my text is demonstrating. To use a thumbs down to express a contradiction is the wrong way. It’s the opposite to an “intelligent discussion”. To vote an entry down should only happen when the original poster indeed used a foul language or when he / she is insulting others etc. But to hide an opinion just because some readers have other opinions is the most stupid way. That’s really censorship.

    1. oh for fuck sake. i really can´t believe people bitch about thumbs ups and downs.
      i for one always read the hidden ones just because they´re hidden.
      that´s human nature and curiosity. chances are they are offensive ergo fun.

      this whole censorship discussion is absurd. it´s music gear. not voting on the nuclear issues.
      reminds me of a kid on a playground crying because he´s not popular.

      actually “thumbing” stems from the colosseum and actually is sort of fitting for a populus forum. and yes people are a mob. live with it.

      1. Well, I don’t care much about this thumb up, thumb down thing, but you know that some discussions here can become very emotional. And it’s not okay that an opinion is hidden just because other people don’t like it.

  3. Do I comment enough to have imitator-type people? Charming if so.

    I think the voting system is essentially fine, although for pre-polarized topics (like the teenage engineering OP-1) it can be a little whack.

  4. I think the voting system isn’t perfect but the situation is not so dramatic as this text make it seem. What I find interesting and very funny is how the post reads: “Maybe some readers opinions are being censored in the comments, tell us what you think about it IN THE COMMENTS.”

  5. I vote thumbs down on every comment whether I read it or not.

    Seriously, though, I think it’s sad that this post has more comments than the FM synthesis post. People do like the drama. I, myself, do find it useful for accessing trends. I’m sure companies do, too…. except Roland.

  6. Music exists within a political context. I am from Manchester and all decent music that has come out of there is 100 percent working class. Smiths, all the punk stuff, all the electronic stuff etc.
    There a lot of dull middle class idiots on here who are bland as fuck and want the likes of me unheard and pushed to one side. I am pleased to see provocation and serious ideas on the forums connected to music and its context. Music is a form of expression and continues to reinvent itself because of rebellion to norms. People are the same, some ‘unpalatable’ ideas for example, (that Steve Jobs was an utter cunt who knew how shit the workers where having in his factories but he didn’t give a fuck ) are now coming to the surface ,that Apple are worthy of serious criticism.
    The I pad brigade have redfaces and in a Stalinistic way want to airbrush out one or two uncomfortable details, so they don’t look like thick cunts, after all ,the branding of equipment is really about the haves and have nots, the incrowd and the nobodies.
    Punk Rock, Rock and Roll. Funk, Soul music, Acid house etc existed as a reaction, not as comfomity.If anyone wants to delve into anyone of those gneres , from the gay roots, of disco. To the origins of soul and the term R n B (it was called Race music initially) Do your homework and then praise the political element in art and music and in the factories, cause the roots of it all are revolutionary , as in music is about change and being heard. Fighting back . The civil rights in America had the coolest sound track. So did those against thatcher, with two tone etc, punk, etc
    The dominance of the dull is only cause they have the most time to spout bollocks.Some of us graft. All the music I like is working class, that isn’t to be hip or cool its true. Look at the posh kids getting tattooed up and trying to look street, or posh black kids trying to appear ghetto. Hiding their identities cause they aren’t hip.
    Someone once said ‘Art can never mean anything to the middle class cause thay have nothing to express’ I believe that .

    1. When you engage a political enemy by revolting against them you empower them and turn yourself into their pawn.

      Look inward and make music that celebrates your own place in the universe. The other planets and stars and galaxies out there don’t give a fuck about which politicians or businessmen you like or don’t like. (And most people here don’t care, either.)

      Look at the 1960s for a moment. A lot of “rebellion” music was create. Is any of that political music as beautiful and lasting as, for instance, Stephen Stills’ “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”?

      Isn’t music something a lot bigger than Jobs or Gates or all of politics even? Did you know that someone once described Chopin by saying Chopin: “…is neither Polish, nor French, nor German, he reveals his higher origin; he comes from the country of Mozart, Rafael and Goethe. His true country is the country of Poetry.”

    2. holy shit so much text and no point in sight.

      for the record true art as beauty and truth is capable of reaching anyone. that is the property of truth.

      your spouting against the ipad brigade and jobs is exactly the oppressive and offensive (not to mention closeminded) attitude which seems to be discussed right now. elitism against apple – used to be an oxymoron. now it´s just a moron.

      1. (“elitism against apple – used to be an oxymoron”– Just fyi, people who transfer their love of the iPad or iPhone into a love of Apple should be aware that for decades a great many people have loved Apple products while having a certain kind of dislike for Apple. After the Apple II which was targeted at home and individual enthusiasts, Apple devoted a lot of internal resources to the Apple III, which many people don’t even remember, but which was targeted at the corporate world. Then, again, when the Apple II continued to be the core of Apple’s customers, they devoted resources to the Lisa. And then the Mac. And then the whole “Apple II Forever” campaign just disappeared. Apple–of course–is a business. Sometimes they come up with cool products. Sometimes their products suck. The people iPad fans perceive as “Apple haters” are just reacting with sadness, often, at seeing the sincere passion iPad fans are investing not in the particular product, but in the corporation behind the product. Apple has generated a lot of love. But along they way Apple has broken a lot of hearts and the more you know of the behind-the-scenes events, the more hearts you are aware having been broken. So love the iPad, but have some compassion for the people who have trouble not seeing the corporation behind the product. The product is cool. The corporation–like all corporations–sometimes is cool and sometimes is hell. Very hell.)

        1. i agree fully on that mark.
          what annoys me is the ipad hate (along with OP-1 hate) where ipad is being equaled to mindless consumerism and corporate slavery. like apple invented the corporate system.
          not saying they are not greedy but every company in its essence always is.
          so who gives a fuck on a music forum? why are so many people telling me i should not have fun with ipad or i should hate jobs? that is the issue. it´s really funny how people get protective about gear. live and let use i say.

          selectively critiquing apple just gets you in a bilnd alley because we all support the system and can´t live without it. be it ios, android, win or fuckall. it´s all same evil shit in the end.
          we either accept it or go live in the woods.

          1. Ipad’s are for consumer’s not musicians. The OP one is ok but to expensive for me to own. Ipads are just evil. I cant afford one of those either. Lol

            1. I actually would like to get a Mac but an older one something pre Sys 7. Maybe an Atari St also. As for Ipads …. just put a net up around the factory.

  7. If these issues keep you up at night, then rejiggering a comment section on a synthesizer web page isn’t the kind of help you need

    1. Cheer up mate. Dry yours eyes.

      Away Days,24 hour party people,Casuals ,Soul boys,Human Traffic, Shadow Players, Control, are a few of the many recent films that deal with music and culture. We aren’t troubled by a passion for music and politics.
      Scuse me mate your the one up at 6 .05 am.
      Let the fun begin!!!!!

  8. I love the system as it is, although I agree that I too use it too express whether I agree or disagree with the reply. Of coarse I also don’t read every reply but I will definitely read one that has been hidden due to a low rating always. I think it just gives the reader’s of this great site an additional way to provide feedback.
    I think that as it is, it is a more inclusive and interactive way of handling a comments feed. I wish more sites used Akismet, as I really appreciate the lack of spam and other less nefarious promotion that it filters out. There is very little I would wish to change about this site and especially not the comment rating system as it is.

  9. I always get really excited to read a “hidden due to low comment rating”! I’ll admit I’m usually let down after reading though. There’s a definite mystique to a comment that cannot be immediately viewed. Most of the time they’re hidden for good reason but occasionally it will be a bird with a banging body buried by a baggy blouse.

  10. To all the f*ckers who voted my entries down: you idiots are a proof for all I said so far. Too much kiddies here.

  11. oh now this is funny. this really made me laugh,
    the guy just went: “i´m going to show all you fuckers” and rated everything

    so gentlemen we just had our own little social experiment. results:
    any system per se isn´t faulty till a cunt comes and exploits it.
    what a pathetic existence it must be.
    thanks for the laughs tho.

  12. I believe it’s a persons own weak intellect that allows them to be upset by some 13 year old with acne and an internet connection. Personally, I’d rather read flame wars and trolls than the same old ‘I use DAW ‘X’ and everything else is bogus’ or ‘I’m a PRO so I don’t touch iPad’s’ or ‘Real muz-ish-ians program synths with their teeth’…

    At least with jerkoff’s we get some comedy – if the rest would grow a little skin.

  13. Wow, all comments should default to hidden! I think the extra effort probably keeps a lot of the lulz trolls away. Seriously, some of the most interesting discussion I’ve seen on this site and it’s hidden.

    Vote down if you agree.

  14. I just went down the page hitting dislike indiscriminately in protest of Dudeus. I think Dudeus has a thin skin and should be banned from Synthtopia permanently. Oh yeah….One other thing… I don’t own a Jupiter or a Juno… I own a DJX and I will frickin out perform all of you any day anywhere any time.

  15. Thumb up/down is no different than real life. If people say stupid or disagreeable stuff people quit paying attention, or shun them if it gets weird. If they are saying stuff people like, they attract an audience. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just the way it is. This is why people will do things on the internet they would never get away with in real life, and why inevitably a vocal minority can ruin an online community for everyone else.

    At the most you could stop the auto collapsing of the thread, but saying yay/nay is very powerful and natural.

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