I belong to a forum. Anyone can read it but one of it's primary functions is for those of us who do or have done paid blogging to discuss things--from technical issues to monetary rewards or lack thereof, to other stuff which can be of our choosing.
Recently a blogger expressed the opinion that the people on the forum were falling victim to "censorship" and he began actively recruiting people on the forum to join a new forum he'd started.
Now there's a host of people who visit the forum to which I belong--from advertisers, seasoned bloggers, brand new bloggers, paid staff and everyone in-between. From the lack of responses it seemed that he did not have a lot of success in drawing from our forum to his.
I've been on forums before and of course there has to be rules in place as a forum exists as a community. What I've found on this forum is, on a scale of noose-like restrictiveness to almost no interference at all, is that this forum tries to be as hands off as possible and let the boards flow. The most involvement I've seen is when a duplicate thread (new topic) is introduced and that thread gets merged with the other or, someone asks a question in the wrong section and the thread is moved so the thread author will move likely get what they are needing.
I've seen very little of what New Forum Guy called censorship and when there was such a thing it was justified. The censorship takes the form of the topic not being able to have any more comments added to it. The thread becomes "locked."
So New Forum Guy has started a couple of new threads on the forum to which I belong and each one IMO, seemed more to promote his new forum than to discuss a relevant topic. I wasn't the only one to notice the self promotion and they called him on it. This provoked him to insult one of the volunteer moderators on the boards. She told him she didn't appreciate it and others including me, tried to give her support with kind words. New Forum Guy came back to the thread and threw more road apples around, this time provoking an all-out love fest for our mods.
Then something surprised me. A commenter downplayed it all by saying the thread comments "were just words." Just words?!
We've all heard the old Internet axiom, "you can't convey in writing what you can in person." Oh yeah? So the Constitution is "just words" and the Bible and the Koran and everything Shakespeare ever wrote--do I have to go on? These very important pieces of writing, each conveying thoughts, ideas, beliefs, stories--all in WORDS.
This is the 21st Century. We are speaking less and less to one another and more and more we communicate by typing our messages. If we feel what we are doing is "just words," than why are we doing it? And since we are doing it frequently via instant messages, texting, weblogs, email, membership in forums, boards, and in gaming, these words are being used a great deal. And isn't something that is used frequently of import? And further, since we are using words frequently shouldn't we be getting better at expressing ourselves this way? When are we going to stop using the excuse that what we type is "just words?"
That reasoning was never truly factual and it's far less so now.