I’ve written this twice now, but because the first version was so long I decided it was best to shorten it. Anyhow, Google really needs to take another look at their comment moderation tools. I’ve said it before, a long time ago, but I didn’t think I’d be revisiting this annoying topic again this soon.
Correct me if I’m wrong—but did Google not do away with that ridiculous “neutral zone” theory? I remember back when Google+ was just rolling out (and even then there were probems with their “real names only” policy where people with uncommon names were being locked out and support, for whatever reason, just wasn’t helping them) that there was an introductory video explaining the concept of blocking vs muting. I’m still looking for it because I’ve recently had to mute somebody for doing some serious concern trolling and I want to make sure I haven’t falesly remembered it.
I know, Google has always favoured the tired “just ignore them” and “you can lock someone out of your house but if they visit your neighbour all you can do is leave” approach, so the likelihood of them actually changing anything (within the next 5 years) is slim to nil, but this is such a universal feature that I’ve come to expect it to be available on any internet platform: block a user and they’re invisible to you across the site. I’m secure in the knowledge that they cannot interact with me via that account, and I’m not tempted to interact with them. For Google to turn that around and put the blame on users for not having enugh wilpower to “ignore them” is a slap in the face. It would be different if you were paranoid enough to unblock someone to see if they’d been talking about you behind your back.
When you block someone on Facebook, their comments and profile become invisible to you unless you unblock them, and unless your profile is made public, they can’t see/interact with all of it when they log out either. Twitter blocking seems to work by blocking access to that person’s tweets, forcing a mutual unfollow, and otherwise making it impossible for them to message/interact with you on that account. From the looks of things, it’s not even that easy to block someone on YouTube because you have to make sure you’re doing it through both YouTube AND Google+, and some profiles don’t have a visible link to any Google+ page.
Another popular argument for keeping the block feature “as-is” is free speech, and that blocking can be abused in the name of censoring unwanted opinions—sorry? Blocking a user doesn’t have the potential to be used as a means of real censorship. If one user feels like “censoring” another, then it wasn’t a conversation worth having. My point is this: if blocking is to be marketed as a tool to prevent users from being harassed, it should function in a way that doesn’t undermine that goal. Blocking should always hide a user’s posts from the person that blocked them and limit interaction with that user on both sides.
Anyways, (unrelated) you may have noticed that my poem-a-day streak was interupted, and I may return to it soon.
Until next time,