September 24, 2010
First of all, in spite of what some people have said, I don't think the JC moderators are biased in favour of anti-Israel sentiments. I think they try very hard to appear balanced and impartial, but in doing so are in danger of giving the impression of favouring one side of the debate over the other due to inconsistently applying rules.
However, there does appear to be a few problems and I wanted to start a constructive "suggestions" thread.
I think it's outrageous that Blacklisted Director was banned for expressing his genuine views while proven frauds, liars, anti-Semites and propagandists are given a free reign to spew whatever hatred they like. This gives the impression of restricting opinions on one side of the argument while endorsing views on the other. This is not a good way to run a community site as eventually you will start to lose valuable contributors to other websites. I have seen it happen elsewhere, and what happens is eventually you end up with a community full of haters which no sane person would want to go near. I myself have felt the need to take a "break" from visiting as some of the posts can be really quite upsetting.
I don't agree with banning people unless it is for a very good reason and as a last resort. As a community I believe we are articulate, knowledgeable and smart enough to expose liars, frauds and propagandists for what they are and in that sense the JC can be self-policing.
Pre-moderation of posts doesn't work well as it destroys the real-time feel of posting. I also post on the Times quite a lot (usually trying to combat the visceral hatred of Israel that appears on articles there) and it is a bad system. Perfectly reasonable posts have a habit of disappearing - probably because the moderators cannot keep up with the volume of posts - which gives the impression of editorial bias and generates a lot of ill feeling. However racist, untruthful or offensive posts should be moderated quickly and efficiently, and I also think that the moderators should give the reason that a post was moderated. Even if it's just a one-line explanation (e.g. anti-Semitism). The same goes for blogs - rather than just delete the blog I think it would be better to delete the text, prevent it from being edited, and stipulate exactly who wrote it and why it was removed. That way the user that wrote the offending article can be held to account for it in the future, which seems right.
Prematurely closing discussions
I know this is a bug-bear for a lot of people. It is very frustrating to see a good blog post which generates an interesting discussion get "closed" after a very short time with no explanation. I really don't understand why you do this, and again the rule appears to be applied inconsistently. If people want to continue discussing a topic, why not let them?
Navigating between blogs is a very frustrating process. The list of "live" blogs is very short and good posts can easily be lost, especially when someone comes along to post three or four blogs in quick succession. I realise there is a separate page which allows you to navigate through older blogs, but it's not very handy. A better system of navigating between blogs would be very useful.
Final words: I love the JC community, and I really enjoy a lot of the conversations we have here. It feels like one of the few places left on the internet where sanity still (generally) reigns. It would be very sad to lose people because of the disruptive behaviour of a few agitators, and I beg the editorial staff and moderators to not let this happen.
Please could the editors / mods contribute to this discussion?