I have been following the drama, hyperdrama and metadrama surrounding the banning of commonmass, the call for reinstatement if he requested it, and the subsequent back and forth in diaries and comments which included a lot of criticism of both commonmass and the individual asking for reconsideration.
I don't know quite what to think. I am relatively new here. I came here from Huffington Post where moderation was too often heavy handed and arbitrary. Here it seems to be on the other side of the continuum.
I am working with a site now, Yabberz, that is trying to address the issue of moderation from a position in between the HP and DK model. It is very hard to do.
I like the fact that DK is not moderated in the way that most sites are. There is an honesty in language here. There is a sense that people are being very real with each other. It is permissible for emotions, even strong ones, to be expressed. The range of topics considered is breathtaking. All to the good it seems to me.
However, the events around commonmass demonstrate the downside of such an open ended policy where boundaries are not well defined.
During what some veterans here have called "the worst meta explosion in memory", I have witnessed charges and counter-charges launched in diaries and comments in what at times seemed to be reckless manner. It is my worry that this diminishes the overall level of civil discourse here that I believe is at the core of the progressive way of thinking. I have seen diarists and commenters say things to and about each other that would seem to undermine the overall quality of the interaction here.
I acknowledge that much of this is the result of the nature of communication on the internet. Going online can appear to have the potential of connecting everyone with everyone else creating a virtual community. A paradox lies in that this community generally takes place in isolation. People sit at keyboards, often by themselves, and write to others in similar circumstances. In the company of others, people usually observe a basic level of civility. Our body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and volume all shape the way we interact. In isolation none of that is known to the other person. So the "conversation" is held "in the dark and in silence" and it is episodic with one monologue following another. Under such conditions we do not easily modify our words as we do in the company of others when we register their reactions to what we have to say in real time and in a real place.
Left alone to ourselves, we, too often, set aside civil restraint. Instead of challenging the thinking of the other person, people feel freer to unmask any all-too-human prejudice, welled up resentments, and repressed hurts, expressing them in ad-hominem exchanges.
I got a chance to read a number of commonmass' diaries and I can see why he profoundly disturbed so many. The writing was deeply disturbing to me. I read a number of highly critical comments about him and of those who defended his right to have a place here that I also found profoundly disturbing.
Taken as a whole, it seemed to me to be the very definition of a social media flame war. Commonmass has been banned and so have others in the melee. Upon reflection, this appears to be a wise move---- to dampen a raging fire, separate the elements.
In the final analysis, for the foreseeable future, I don't think it would a good thing for commonmass to return. Not good for him. Not good for the community. He seems too deeply wounded; too angry to moderate his own words. That's probably not a good thing in a forum like Daily Kos. I am less certain of the others.