Sept. 3: After hundreds of comments, we've decided NOT to ban any words on OpEdNEws, and will more aggressively deal with trolls and bigots using comment flagging and article editing software we are developing which will help our limited editorial staff.
1-after over 250 comments on the announcement to ban some words, while allowing full discussion of issues, we backed off and will not institute, and never did institute the policy. OpEdNews is run with a Web 2.0 bottom up philosophy of management.
2- The fact is, the Israel Palestine conflict is one of the most inflammatory discussions to be found. Many sites, perhaps most sites do not allow full discussion of it, meaning discussion by supporters of Palestine and supporters of Israel and AIPAC. Most Democratic and Republican sites ban support of Palestine and many liberal sites ban support of Israel.
OpEdNews is one of the very few that allow civil discussion by both sides. We believe if there is going to be any hope for peace that both sides must talk to each other and we struggle to create a forum for that, as conflict-full as it can sometimes be.
Matter of fact, when our readers (400,000 unique visitors a month) were asked to list any high traffic sites (under 6000 alea ranking among US sites) which allow as wide a range of discussion of issues as OpEdNews, they did not come up with a single one. That would suggesst that rather than being a restrictive site, we're the MOST OPEN SITE on the web.
3-Over the past five or six days since this discussion began, we have had about 25-30 subscribers unsubscribe because of their dissatisfaction with our original take on the issue (out of over 7200 members and 10,000+ subscribers) . We have had more than that many people sign up as either subscribers or members in that time, so we have a net gain, relative to this issue. On any day we see about 5-30 people unsubscribe, usually because they are cutting their bandwidth, so the five or six a day who unsubscribed due to this discussion did not in any way cause so much as a bump in the unsubscribing pattern.
4-Bottom line is we listened to our members. No word banning will take place. We'll be instituting several software solutions:
-member ranking comments on several parameters
-member burying of comments, like digg.com does.
-allowing more members to hide or delete troll rated comments, including bigoted ones.
-word recognition software to cue writers with suggestions, if they use language that tends to be abused.
5-The fact is that the words we chose really are used by bigots to hide behind to express hate. There are legitimate uses for them and there are abuses. Anyone who denies this is naive, disingenuous or fool. We'll be having community discussions on what constitutes reasonable usage and unreasonable usage and then creating FAQs based on member conclusions of the discussions. Those will be used as both non-mandatory guidelines for writers and commenters as well as for editors and trusted authors who will be deciding on troll ratings.
6- The Middle east conflict is one of the hardest problems in the world.We're proud to have the site with one of if not the widest tolerances for discussion of issues. Routine and ordinary ways to solve the Middle East conflict have failed. New ways to approach it, talk about it, explore the issues must be considered and we're trying to do that with integrity and openness. We're not going to get it right every time, but we are going to take risks, as we experiment with different ways to make our open forum work.
7- I encourage readers to check out our site directory for articles on Israel, Palestinian Homeland, Middle East, Lebanon and you will find hundreds of articles covering all ranges. Before you judge us, from one attack article, and a sour grapes rejected writer, see for yourself.
For many, discussion of middle east issues is a very hot, passionate topic that can easily lead to anger, accusations and recriminations. .
I don't know if there is another site on the web, with commenting, that allows strong opinions ranging as widely, from both sides of this issue, as OpEdNews allows. Most take one side or another or ban discussion on it altogether.
added at 6;45 PM EST: A Challenge. Mention any high traffic progressive sites on the web that allow as wide a discussion, including postings of articles and blogs on the middle east as OpEdNews. I believe that most block all discussion or only allow or encouragearticles and blogs on one side or the other-- Pro-palestinian and anti-Israel, Anti- zionist or Pro-Israel. I'll check with that site or sites on how they handle this challenge of hate. But if you can't think of one, take a moment before raising the accusation of censorship. Meanwhile, the response to this ban has been huge, with some excelleent observations and suggestions. Consider it temporary, while we work out solutions that are not as draconian. So... make suggestions. It is intolerable to allow the continued use of hate dripping words used dishonestly.
After consultation with our team of editors, we're banning the use of the words: Zionism, Zionist, Islamicism, Islamicist. These words are too often used too loosely as a veiled way to express racist, hate messages.
We do not, in any way, intend to restrict or censor criticism of Israeli or Palestinian actions, policies or behaviors. But we do believe that this approach will prevent people from abusing our community and members with hate talk and force all writers to use more nuanced, descriptive, precise language.
The only rare exception to this rule, will be the use of the terms to discuss how others are using them. For example, if a writer on another site, or a politician refers to the term, then discussion of that person or media site's use of the term will probably acceptable. This does not mean that quoting others is acceptable. It is not. For example, if Senator Hatch describes the world Islamicist plot to force sharia to be observed planet-wide, then it would be appropriate to discuss his use of the word.
This is discussion of the USE of the word. On the other hand, we really don't want to see articles on Islamicist or Zionist plots or conspiracies. And we will not tolerate quotation of other people talking about zionist or islamicist plots or conspiracies.