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What is a personal insult?- AVEN's speech censorship

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timewarp
3 hours ago, chandrakirti said:

So- I've read a whole raft of stuff on anti-sexual elitism, but can't find a policy about anti-asexual elitism, although I've read plenty of it around threads.

Anyone able to point me in that direction? I'd love to read that.

From the ToS:

 

Quote

c. Offensive and bigoted content
AVEN does not tolerate elitist, racist, queerphobic, or sexist bigotry, as these create an environment that is hostile to the reasonable exchange of views. You may not post hateful, abusive, or disparaging content about people's race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, romantic orientation, age, or mental or physical disability. This includes anything bigoted against 'asexuals', 'sexuals', 'aromantics' or 'romantics' as identifiable categories.
Posting offensive content, or bigoted propaganda, may result in an immediate and permanent ban from the forum. Offences judged less serious by the Admod Team will be dealt with under the Warning system outlined below.
 

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Guest Jetsun Milarepa

Good. Thanks. I've seen loads of disparaging comments about aces here in the 3 years I've clocked in.

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daveb

Just remember, warnings are private so people may have been disciplined without members knowing. And there is a process it goes through, so it won't usually happen instantly anyway.

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Moon Spirit ☽

I hope other members are never made aware of warnings. People are so annoying and nosy.

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Sally
1 hour ago, Winter Spirit ❅ said:

I hope other members are never made aware of warnings. People are so annoying and nosy.

That was suggested by a member fairly recently, and most people thought it was a very bad idea (thankfully).

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Serran

I have talked to Chi and even met Chi IRL and I still have no idea who her ex is. :lol: Even meeting IRL I never learned much about her. Shes super secretive. Even if nosy about everyone else's trees ! 

 

But, it does seem odd people cant seek support about an ex because they joined AVEN for the community during a mixed relationship. If my ex joined AVEN to bug me, then half my posts about him would suddenly be breaking ToS because I have called him abusive (he was, even putting my life in danger and giving me scars) and I would absolutely refuse to edit those posts to I felt abused..  I didnt feel abused, I was abused. 

 

I know there are other users who have left AVEN after an abusive relationship experience because their abusers were AVEN users. Some of them even joke about the abuse they put their exes through in chat. Now I think on it, that isnt against ToS and was never punished. But, calling them out for those jokes would be. I can see why this system will upset people. 

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Serran

Actually, been thinking over past AVEN relationship breakups and the last public disagreement I can remember was one where the one user said the other raped them. That user didn't get stopped or punished for it. AVEN as a community supported the victim. 

 

And when I posted that my ex may join AVEN to bother me, the admods were quick to jump to offering to get rid of him if he joins because he is abusive and again the community supported the victim. Even though he would be an AVEN user at that point. 

 

AVEN is a huge support network for a lot of people. It is the only place they are comfortable saying some things, like details on abuse or sexual assault, etc. To tell them they cannot say they were abused, raped, or otherwise mistreated if their exes make an AVEN account because the person who is trying to speak out about abuse is "insulting" their abuser and instead they are told they have to say "I feel as though I was raped..." or "I feel as though I was abused..." seems like forcing a victim to invalidate their own abuse to protect their abuser. 

 

In fact, the only admod response here is basically "you have no proof you were abused, your abusers feelings matter as much as yours, so you have to shut up about it" in response to Chi saying they cant say they were abused. 

 

This is setting a dangerous precedent for victims, denying them a safe support network when something awful happens and they can't talk about it IRL. Also, making it easy for abusers to continue harassing their victims, they just need to make an AVEN account to shut them up and take away their support to further isolate them. 

 

Are admods at the least sending a domestic abuse sticky for where to seek help when they deny people the ability to talk about it, like with suicide ? I know that wasn't a thing when I was an admod, but then, as I said AVEN has usually stepped up to support the victim rather than the abuser. If that is going to be a warnable offense, it should probably come with a sticky at the least. 

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Puck

Jumping in only at the tail end, so sorry if I repeat anything others have said or misinterpret due to not taking the time.

 

Also, I am speaking with my own thoughts, not as a staff member. And, of course, I am no longer an admod and never plan to be again.

 

IDK, I think this is a much more complicated line that just "we need to support victims." We (as a community) do, whenever possible and with as much love and support as possible, need to do that. But I do think it's unhelpful not to acknowledge how challenging it can be sometimes.

 

I mean, just look at the Jussie Smollett situation that's been taking over the news. He said he was assaulted, had a noose placed over his neck, and had his ribs broken. So many people said to "just believe him" as they were so ready to believe that narrative and, honestly, they wanted to support their community, to do the right thing, to heal a nation they did know had such problems. But then the evidence pilled on that Jussie had lied and in fact had staged the whole thing. And thus, he wasted police time, taxpayer money, took resources from actual victims, and took advantage of the good hearts of many, many people.

 

A similar situation on AVEN is when two AVEN users get in any kind of situation where they butt heads. Truly, people don't want mods just taking the side of whomever screams "abuse" first? Surely we shouldn't blindly believe whichever one claims they are a victim? Couldn't that just as easily be used to abuse someone? I mean, let's say I was abusing member1. Would people really want me to write vague posts about them, saying how abusive they are, drumming up support from a community who really wants to support people in need when it's actually the person I'm talking about who needs the support? Wouldn't it sicken you to know you were comforting me while that public comfort was hurting the real victim? (I know I would. I would feel physically ill to find out my words hurt someone so deeply when I was only trying to help.) Suddenly this website just becomes another source of abuse. Suddenly it becomes a toxic environment. Suddenly, if even a few people know who I was dating, those people begin assuming member1 is an abuser when they are actually the victim in all of this.

 

It's easier when it's a person not on AVEN. They won't ever read the posts, there is no fear of them possibly being abused in this way. It's just easier to take sides because the other side basically doesn't exist in the communities world. It's also very VERY different to block someone who's never been a part of this community verses letting someone who is a part of this community watch it slowly turn on them (even if the community doesn't know who the "them" is. It's still very harmful).

 

Don't forget the toll this take on the community at large. What if member2 (who isn't a part of the situation at all) looks at the thread where I vague posted about member1, sees how quickly the community turns on it's members, and no longer feels safe building connections or speaking up at all for fear that someone would expose them in this way?

 

It's impossible to avoid drama, it's impossible to support every member of this community in every way, and it's impossible to keep people from seeing things that might upset them. But I think it's in the best interest of the WHOLE community to not have comments calling out AVEN members in any way. It may not be the best for the victim, but it's keep the community from being dragged down into very tricky, emotionally draining, and complicated matters. When a person posts such things, they are asking the community to comment in a place where all members of the situation can see while purposefully withholding information and not allowing the other side to speak without causing a scene. That's, imo, an incredibly unfair ask.

 

What I think would be much more acceptable, if we feel a people should still have an outlet, is to not mention that their abuser is on AVEN at all. That's what causes a lot of the fear, drama, and feelings that this community is turning on itself. One can say they met on a forum, say they talked through chat, whatever. But I really and truly think that this kind of behavior is more often than not toxic for a community.

 

AVEN is not a therapists office. It's a community. Airing things out too publicly can have consequences not just for the handful of people originally involved, but for the entire population of the site. I would love nothing more than for victims to get support, love, and understanding. But in these situations, I just don't think AVEN is necessarily the right place for it. That ability for that support was given up, imo, once one starts dating within the community. It sucks, but I really really think that's just the reality. At least publicly. Why not start a PM of good friends on the site and talk to them? Why not come to a mod you trust and see if you can speak to them? I do understand and feel sympathetic if AVEN is the dominant source of one's support network, but I simply think it's asking too much of a community to expect it to choose sides in such situations.

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Serran

The issue with Chi is people know her ex is on AVEN. So now she can't even post a T&S thread saying "my ex was abusive, here is how it hurt me" without the admods seeing it as personal insults. None of us knows who the ex is. But, if Chi needs someone to discuss abuse with, it is rather cruel to cut her off from AVEN because her ex made an account here and warn her for it.

 

Admods could have instead offered a support sticky and a (h)aven alt no one knows for a way to talk about it without causing a community issue. 

 

Suicide is a not allowed topic but admods approach it with support as they remove it for being triggering. This situation seems.. less supportive and a lot more punitive (and yes I was an admod when it started, but it is still ongoing and obviously support here is important to Chi so why not offer some alternatives for a user in distress? )

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Puck

I fully agree the appropriate reaction was a sticky and (h)aven account. I still disagree that a T&S thread -or anywhere on the wider forums- is the appropriate place to have the conversation and disagree that mentioning that the other person is a AVEN member is approrpiate. I didn't read this whole thread nor do I know the whole situation, so I'll say that if a warn was given, I would say that was very inappropriate. A nudge would have been wrong, but I'd have looked at admods with a heavy dose of side eye rather than thing it was wildly over-bearing.

 

IDK, I wouldn't have known Chi's ex is on AVEN if they hadn't mentioned it. Obvs, they could just run in different circles than I on the site, and so those in their circles would know. But I stand by trying to make a community choose sides is a tall order. There are ways to find support from it that doesn't pose that same ask.

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Serran

T&S (or (h)aven if it's considered anonymous posting is needed) should be an appropriate place to post about struggling with emotional issues related to an abusive relationship - if mentioning the user is from AVEN was the issue, the admods could easily have just edited that bit out. The fact it's known to be the case will remain an issue, as admods know it's an AVEN user and thus it will fall under ToS whether they say AVEN ex or not in their posts. 

 

There isn't really any taking sides in this case, as, I don't really know  anyone that knows who Chi was with. We just know it was someone on AVEN, but AVEN has 100k+ members that could be the ex. But, they are in need of talking to a community they have been a very active part of for years about something that was traumatic. The answer should not be "You have to say you weren't really abused, just felt like you were" or "You can't talk about it, go away". 

 

There are many other avenues the team can take in this instance than warning points and graveyarding the threads while telling Chi to invalidate their experiences. They can offer a list of resources similar to the suicide sticky. The ones that put in the effort to the at-risk population of AVEN when they post about self-harm etc could extend a check up message same way they do with other people going through a rough time. (h)aven can be offered as a resource to remain anonymous to avoid the problem of anyone knowing it's about an AVEN user. There are a myriad of options beyond "warn, graveyard and invalidate" which has thus far been the response Chi has reported receiving. 

 

We were both admods, @Puck when this first started. And, I will fully admit I gave little thought to the incident when it first began because, honestly, I was rote responding to "ToS breach: yes, no" by that time. But, it's quite obvious that denying Chi the support network of AVEN, which means a lot to many of the users, is not the right move and is causing emotional harm about a pretty serious matter. And given I can name two other relationships between AVEN users that became abusive, this is not a rare isolated incident so the team needs to put a response plan in place that can both keep the peace and support the at-risk populations much the same as the suicide response plan, or the under age user response plan. 

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Serran

Oh and to the admods since I know some are sensitive to criticism and may read my posts as "You guys suck" more than "This was a bad choice, here is how to make a better one" 

 

I'm including myself, Puck, my spouse and everyone else that was in admods when this very first began in my criticism of the handling of it. Everyone dropped the ball, because it was being viewed as a ToS breach, more than a "user in trouble, how can we handle this?" and the more time has gone on and this is still an ongoing issue, the more it's obvious we all handled it very wrong and it's time to take a new approach that can support the users that obviously need an outlet for trauma. Some of us aren't in admods anymore, so it's up to you guys to decide how to respond next time. Hopefully, a plan of action based on empathy for a potential abuse victim can be implemented, that way future users can feel supported, even if certain content needs removed, much like our self-harm and mental illness users receive action surrounded by empathy and support.

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Chihiro
On 2/23/2019 at 10:33 AM, Serran said:

If my ex joined AVEN to bug me, then half my posts about him would suddenly be breaking ToS because I have called him abusive (he was, even putting my life in danger and giving me scars) and I would absolutely refuse to edit those posts to I felt abused..  I didnt feel abused, I was abused. 

If your ex joined AVEN, whats the proof he is indeed your ex? Anyone on this forum who hates you can make an account and claim to be your ex and file a report. Thats why, its ridiculous that just making a post about AVEN ex is considered a personal insult. Are admods checking anything to verify *they* are indeed the ex? Honestly, every relationship post which speaks of trouble can be talking about an AVENite partner.

 

This kind of rules, reminds me how dictators rules. For instance, in China you can't criticize the ruling govt even when no particular govt member is ID'd. Heck, you cant even use "Winnie the Pooh" phrase, its considered as mocking the president because apparently someone said the President resembles the character.

 

On 2/24/2019 at 1:56 AM, Puck said:

A similar situation on AVEN is when two AVEN users get in any kind of situation where they butt heads. Truly, people don't want mods just taking the side of whomever screams "abuse" first? Surely we shouldn't blindly believe whichever one claims they are a victim? Couldn't that just as easily be used to abuse someone? I mean, let's say I was abusing member1. Would people really want me to write vague posts about them, saying how abusive they are, drumming up support from a community who really wants to support people in need when it's actually the person I'm talking about who needs the support? Wouldn't it sicken you to know you were comforting me while that public comfort was hurting the real victim? (I know I would. I would feel physically ill to find out my words hurt someone so deeply when I was only trying to help.) Suddenly this website just becomes another source of abuse. Suddenly it becomes a toxic environment. Suddenly, if even a few people know who I was dating, those people begin assuming member1 is an abuser when they are actually the victim in all of this.

 

First of all, its a vague post so no one would know who member1 is. Second, everyone knows that all relationship stuff posted here is just one side of the story and the opinions posted is based off of that. There is no question of blind belief, or supporting one over another. If member1 responds to such a posts and starts causing shit then the mods can step in and do what they have to do.

 

Also, its pretty common IRL. I have supported one person over another and later realized I was mistaken and changed my stance. It happens at workplace, politics etc. Everyone knows (or should know) that while they supported they had partial access to information and there is nothing to feel ill about. Its life.

 

Also, haven't you seen loads of people supporting one person over another out in open on AVEN? Cliques come in and start attacking or saying things against particular poster. I dunno if any actions are taken, but the point is.... this sort of thing happens on AVEN pretty often. As usual, the popular one gets more support.

 

On 2/24/2019 at 1:56 AM, Puck said:

letting someone who is a part of this community watch it slowly turn on them

As I stated above, this happens on AVEN quite often publicly. I have had a bunch of people turn against me, or against someone who I disliked and all those times, I had no control over how people reacted. I didnt make a post writing about it. People saw bits and pieces and jumped to conclusion. 

 

On 2/24/2019 at 1:56 AM, Puck said:

What I think would be much more acceptable, if we feel a people should still have an outlet, is to not mention that their abuser is on AVEN at all.

LOL. I have figured out people's crushes or partners or exes even when no mention of AVEN was made. There are other things that easily help ID the exact person. Like their country, language, unusual hobby, certain singers they like etc. Just saying AVEN person, is too broad for anyone to guess.

 

I agree with Serran, there needs to be a better way to handle this kind of situation than silencing someone. A lot of people end up here because of relationship troubles. Its a website not just for educating about asexuality but it acts as a guidance for relationships too.

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Puck
5 hours ago, Chihiro said:

If your ex joined AVEN, whats the proof he is indeed your ex? Anyone on this forum who hates you can make an account and claim to be your ex and file a report. Thats why, its ridiculous that just making a post about AVEN ex is considered a personal insult. Are admods checking anything to verify *they* are indeed the ex? Honestly, every relationship post which speaks of trouble can be talking about an AVENite partner.

 

This kind of rules, reminds me how dictators rules. For instance, in China you can't criticize the ruling govt even when no particular govt member is ID'd. Heck, you cant even use "Winnie the Pooh" phrase, its considered as mocking the president because apparently someone said the President resembles the character.

You're right, you can't have proof. For that reason, I personally think it wiser to avoid these kinds of conversations except in spaces like (h)AVEN where things are WAY more private. The conversations can be ok if they are kept very vague (again, in my personal opinion that doesn't really matter because I no longer effect the rules or discipline of this site) as in not saying what communities they belong to (such as being an AVENite).

 

To be clear, though, I would love you to find good support and a place to express yourself. I simply disagree that AVEN is the place. We have the resources thread that can point to organizations that can better serve you and have WAY better resources and knowledge than this site does for such situations. I truly hope you can find good ears to be there for you in these times, no one should go through what you've been through alone. I just really think speaking here does you and the community more harm than good when there are other, better resources out there for you.

 

As to your last point, considering you are right now actively criticizing the leaders of the site with (I assume, I keep out of disciplinary threads) no disciplinary action nor has this thread been taken down, clearly it's not quite as extreme as your example. Regardless, this is a privately held website, not a government. You have the entire internet to enjoy if this one isn't treating you the way you wish to be treated. If you don't like how things are being dealt with, you can vote in better mods or become one yourself.

 

5 hours ago, Chihiro said:

First of all, its a vague post so no one would know who member1 is. Second, everyone knows that all relationship stuff posted here is just one side of the story and the opinions posted is based off of that. There is no question of blind belief, or supporting one over another. If member1 responds to such a posts and starts causing shit then the mods can step in and do what they have to do.

 

Also, its pretty common IRL. I have supported one person over another and later realized I was mistaken and changed my stance. It happens at workplace, politics etc. Everyone knows (or should know) that while they supported they had partial access to information and there is nothing to feel ill about. Its life.

 

Also, haven't you seen loads of people supporting one person over another out in open on AVEN? Cliques come in and start attacking or saying things against particular poster. I dunno if any actions are taken, but the point is.... this sort of thing happens on AVEN pretty often. As usual, the popular one gets more support.

It's one thing to support someone over another in personal situations, it's entirely another to accuse them of abuse and expect others to take sides. Of course my other friend groups and the like have split over petty situations, but they are light and we come together in the end easily. To accuse someone of abuse, though, is to accuse them of one of the worst things someone can do to another person. It's something that, if proven true, a person cannot come back from in many communities. It's too big an ask to have a community take it as a light thing they can just just between sides on. They can't, they shouldn't.

 

If you wanted to say they did something more innocuous, such as stood you up or ghosted you, I'd personally have no problem with you lamenting about it on AVEN, even saying it was an AVENite (as long as you don't mention their user name or other identifying information). But abuse, actual abuse that has lasting effects for a persons whole life, is an entirely different case. This is too big, it crosses a line. It's, again, asking too much of a community woefully unprepared to know how to handle the situation.

 

5 hours ago, Chihiro said:

As I stated above, this happens on AVEN quite often publicly. I have had a bunch of people turn against me, or against someone who I disliked and all those times, I had no control over how people reacted. I didnt make a post writing about it. People saw bits and pieces and jumped to conclusion. 

But did they think you ABUSED someone or something equivalent? Because, as I said above, in my eyes that is something I could never forgive another person for. It's a big accusation. Remember that actual abuse of another person is illegal, while just being mean to someone or some people isn't. Actual abuse is a very serious allegation.

 

5 hours ago, Chihiro said:

LOL. I have figured out people's crushes or partners or exes even when no mention of AVEN was made. There are other things that easily help ID the exact person. Like their country, language, unusual hobby, certain singers they like etc. Just saying AVEN person, is too broad for anyone to guess.

 

I agree with Serran, there needs to be a better way to handle this kind of situation than silencing someone. A lot of people end up here because of relationship troubles. Its a website not just for educating about asexuality but it acts as a guidance for relationships too.

If you have been able to ID people, then you should understand exactly my fears.

 

I, too, agree with Serran. I think she's right to say we should give access to (h)AVEN and send the support thread. The support thread is always sent when the unpaid, untrained volunteers who make up AVEN's staff recognize situations they shouldn't be handling. We have NO ONE on staff who is trained to handle, honestly, anything. They are the same as any other forum; they know how to edit posts, take them down, and issue warnings. They are mostly college-age people trying their best. It's no surprise that they don't know how to handle these situations, because they simply don't have the background to know what to do when real cries for help come up. They know they should do something and they give a go. Sometimes it's the wrong thing, but I have yet to met an admod that wasn't fucking trying their best to support this community. Of course they get it wrong, but their inexperience and lack of knowledge isn't their fault. AVEN has no training beyond how to use your buttons and a little help interpreting ToS. That kind of training in NO way helps them understand how to help those in serious situations. Could you imagine expecting a 20-year-old to know exactly how to deal with their friend who's been abused? Of course they won't know, they'd probably call their parent or a trusted older adult who has more experience or knowledge. Maybe they'd go to a clinic or (if they are in school) call a counselor or support center of some kind or even call the police. But you don't sit there and expect THEM to do the right thing right away because they are fucking 20.

 

Of course, there are some older admods and some with different experiences that makes them more helpful, but AVEN isn't a place where you come for sage, experienced wisdom and support. It's a place where dominantly young people try their best to support each other and that means things go weird sometimes. Same as how high school cliques don't know how to properly handle problems at times. Because their ability to support has it's limits. One can choose to give them the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge this isn't a place that can handle everything one might ask of it, or one can choose to expect more than what one really can from a site lead by untrained volunteers.

 

 

I want to end this by again saying I would like nothing more than for you to get whatever support you need. Here is the support thread AVEN has created to help those that are out of staff's abilities, if it can be helpful: https://www.asexuality.org/en/topic/77883-support-resource/. I hope that either you can find a resource there or elsewhere that gives you much better support than is currently available on these forums.

 

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Sage Raven Domino

 

2 hours ago, Puck said:

Of course, there are some older admods and some with different experiences that makes them more helpful, but AVEN isn't a place where you come for sage, experienced wisdom and support.

If so, it turns out I've spent too much time on AVEN :(

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