Thursday, March 12, 2009

CBC Responds

Here's the reply from the CBC's Moderation Manager (i.e., the person in charge of the team that screens what gets posted on the CBC's message boards)

Apologies for the delay in responding. Thank you for your e-mail of February 17, once again drawing our attention to anti-Semitic messages you found in the audience comments pages on CBC.CA.

I acknowledge that on a handful of highly controversial topics - the Middle East, among them - it continues to be a challenge for us to provide an open and lively forum for Canadians to share their often strong opinions, while at the same time, maintaining a space where people feel safe and comfortable participating. We have not always been successful.I have read the comments and users you pointed out in your e-mail and agree that many contravene our submission guidelines. I have once again reviewed them with the moderation team.

Moreover, since my e-mail to you a month ago (February 4), we have taken additional steps to tighten up our procedures respecting abusive posts. We have requested our technical team to make a number of changes to the system designed to improve the quality of our moderation. The changes will make it easier for the moderators to assess pending comments, and to deal effectively with problematic users. As an example - and as you suggested - one of those changes
will automatically highlight the posts of known problem users. Our procedures include banning users - and we do. (Although, we have found that it has not been particularly effective, since the user will simply register another account. This puts the moderation team at a disadvantage because we don’t know who to look out for. We also find these re-registrants can return with decreased community spirit.) But we have also adopted a new procedure that will allow us to issue a temporary suspension, or “time out,” for users who fail to follow the guidelines, in order to give us more time to assess their contributions. We have made more changes, as well, and posted them here:

Despite our precautions, when dealing with a projected 1,500,000 comments this year, our efforts will minimize problematic comments from appearing but cannot totally eliminate them. If comments appear that fall outside our guidelines, we will remove them as quickly as possible.

We are continuing to reinforce our procedures and strengthen our team. We believe there are good reasons for not banning comments entirely on Middle East stories, for example, as some other news sites do, (including The Globe and Mail), but that is a decision we will continue to review.

Finally, yes, the Moderation Manager uses a generic name because of the sensitive nature of the position. Thank you again for writing us. I hope my reply has reassured you of the continuing integrity of our service.


CBC Moderator


  1. With all the talk from CBC that they will "try" to cut the anti Semitic garbage from free flow. It has yet to be seen. Just today they have continued to allow some of the MOST anti Semitic bigotry to be posted on their site.

  2. Anonymous,
    Sorry for the delay posting your comment - I've been out of town and away from my computer.
    When you find antisemitic comments at the CBC, please document them.
    Copy the comment and the URL for the story it appears on.
    Then please
    (a) Post the comment here to help me document the CBC's behaviour
    (b) At the CBC site, report the comment as objectionable so that it will be removed
    And (c) complain by email to the CBC.
    The CBC will improve if we encourage them.
    All the best,