Ok so we went through subs by size (subscribers/active posters), name-match with a reddit default, system-owned, and/or "default" (listed in the banner and/or on the first page of the subverse lists https://voat.co/subverses). The goal was to establish a classification system for subs and then try to identify some guidelines to follow when dealing with those subs. The main outcome, it is hoped, is to establish a list of "public-owned" subs where the users are firmly in charge.
We eliminated circlejerk subs like v/fatpeoplehate, (update) v/thedonald, and some of the "racist" subs. A circlejerk sub has a singular focus and contrary opinions are not permitted. The only way to create such an echo chamber is with deletions and bans. So censorship is basically built into the design of those subs. At the same time, even with the built-in censorship they are less vulnerable to an agenda-pushing mod because of the one-dimensional nature of such subs. For example, there are no politics in v/fatpeoplehate - you either hate on fat people or you have no real business on that sub. (The one exception would be if a rogue mod were to take power in one of these subs and abruptly change its focus without the support of the community.) In contrast, the "public-owned subs", while some may be subject-specific, all revolve around discussion and debate in the comments. Different opinions are required and to protect that, moderator power must be limited. None of the "public-owned" subs that we have listed could be conceivably classed as "circle jerk" subs. We would oppose any mod team trying to change this (ie how the politics and news subs on reddit have basically become liberal circle-jerks where content from conservative news sources are deleted and comments going against the PC environment are deleted). Therefore, in the interest of keeping our mission simple we will group circle-jerk subs in with the private-owned subs in terms of how we will approach user complaints: Engage the mods and if that doesn't work assist the user (if they desire) in creating a competing sub.
(Update) The addition of v/pizzagate to Voat has required a new category to be created. The "investigative sub". A sub dedicated to investigating something may make submission requirements to keep the sub on track and allow for removal of shills looking to derail the effort and/or forum slide. You can't give mods free reign to delete at their own discretion, but you need to allow for a standard to be set and maintained. For these subs the following will apply:
The topic that the sub is investigating will be clearly defined in terms of content and scope. This definition should be sourced from a discussion that is open to all members of the community. The coalescing of user suggestions into a unified statement should be 100% transparent and open to ongoing modification based on user suggestion.
The submission standards should be sourced from a discussion that is open to all members of the community. The coalescing of user suggestions into a unified ruleset should be 100% transparent and open to ongoing modification based on user suggestion. The ruleset should be clearly defined and should provide clarification on any points of contention.
- Enforcement of the ruleset should be consistent and objective.
- Comments are not to be deleted (excepting illegal content, dox, copypasta spam, and unlabeled NSFW images in non-adult subs)
We eliminated joke/shitposting/satire subs like v/soapboxbanhammer, v/nojewsallowed, etc. Where people shitpost or the purpose of the sub is satire and deletions/bans are part of the joke. These are very similar to circlejerk subs except that they are more chaotic and random, but, in the final analysis, moderators are expected to abuse their powers as part of the culture of the sub.
We also eliminated any NSFW subs because they are basically mini-porn sites and focus around image submission.
After going through all of that, we have come up with a tentative list of what we will call "Public"-owned subs. Technically one could say that most subs on Voat are public-owned due to the free speech platform, but we are trying to limit them to the subverses where "start your own" is not really a viable option for users. If a sub is small enough where a viable competitor can be started then we will urge users to pursue that route. But the idea that thousands of people should have to move to get away from one mod who happened to be first in line for a brand name that guaranteed subscribers is something we believe is unacceptable. So again, we have come up with a list of subs in which we believe the "ownership rights" of the user outweigh those of the mods. We will have ZERO tolerance for moderation that attempts to subjectively enforce rules concerning deletion of submissions (Rules are fine, but they need to be CLEARLY defined and fairly/uniformly enforced).
Some of the listed subs are subs where only @system, @atko, and/or @puttitout are the current mods, but are nevertheless being included in this list with the idea that one day they MIGHT have additional mods added because we are aiming at a comprehensive list of the "Public"-owned subs. v/announcements and v/whatever have been left off because we can't foresee a time when either of those subs will ever have a non-admin mod. Again, these "Public-owned" subs would be the subs where our solution will be to work towards removing a mod who abuses their power.
There will be ZERO tolerance for any deletion of non-spam/non-dox comments that don't violate US law on ANY sub on Voat. (The one exception would be comments containing NSFW images in subs not marked "adult", some of us have jobs). This applies to "public-owned" or "private-owned". Mods are not discussion police.
Once this list is finalized we will need volunteers to audit the mod teams looking for "sleeper mods" based on the risk identified in this thread: https://voat.co/v/ProtectVoat/comments/728360. Basically identify mods with no submission and/or comment activity for periods exceeding one month. If your account is that inactive you have no business modding a public-owned sub and the risk of a "squatter" like we just witnessed in v/politics outweighs any "rights" a mod may feel they have to a sub that they didn't "create". Besides, if they were a good mod then there should be no issue remodding them once they "return" and become active again.
This does not mean that we consider "private"-owned subs to be off the hook when it comes to censorship, however in those cases the mod may have started the sub and have some claim to "ownership". In the case of these subs you are usually talking about a few hundred users where it is feasible to start a competing sub. Where these subs are concerned we will still look to engage a mod to work towards resolution and if that can't be reached we will simply assist the user in starting and promoting a competing sub. If a mod is abusive it will be far more noticeable in these smaller subs and far easier to effect a quick migration to the new alternative.
So, as of right now, the tentative list of "public-owned subs" is as follows:
Please weigh in with your opinion of this list. Should any be added? Should any be removed? Please indicate why.
v/whatever (added in a 12/8/16 edit because v/whatever has (J) mods now tasked with deleting adspam)
Discussion on expanding system ownership: https://voat.co/v/ProtectVoat/comments/786868