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An open letter to the Webmaster

11 years ago...

Dear Webmaster

Like many other Surbiton residents, I turn to Surbiton.Com as a forum for information and intelligence on life in our home town. But depressingly often all I find is a stream of rants from ignorant racists.

Someone innocently enquires about the best restaurants. The reply? A twisted diatribe about Surbiton no longer being an 'English town'. Another person asks about safety. The response? A litany of rubbish about a 'black scourge'.

While I am totally for free speech, I am absolutely appalled by the sheer number of racist remarks.

As Webmaster this is YOUR site. YOU run it, therefore it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that people adhere to the code of conduct that YOU have laid down. If YOU can't be bothered to monitor the content on your own site then pass the job on to someone else. Or close it down. It is time you started behaving responsibly. goes out to the entire world. Must they all believe that Surbiton is nothing more than a town of bigots and xenophobes?

Comments is one of many sites maintained by 3 Radicals, a small Surbiton based company specialising in web design and development. We use the site as a test bed for new ideas and functionality we develop. For this reasons we do not have the resources to actively monitor the discussion threads nor the finances to take on the legal responsibility such endorsement would imply.

Having said that, we wish we could spend more time working on the As local residents we believe it is important that Surbiton has a strong online community, though we realise that would benefit from closer feedback with it's users.

As a spokesperson for the site I would like to remind users that does not monitor, approve nor endorse the comments posted and that we are totally reliant upon users reporting antisocial behaviour. Clearly we need to make this more apparent and will update the relevant pages in due course.

I would like to point out that at the time of writing we have received no flagged comments nor user feedback relating to recent offensive postings or user misconduct. This is the reason we have only now commented on this 'open letter' posting.

We have worked hard to make the reporting process simple. Every comment has a 'report this' link that allows anyone, registered or anonymous, to directly notify of any perceived misconduct. We also recently added a 'Karma' voting system that allows users to effect other users posting privileges.

Once again I'd like to offer an opportunity for users to volunteer their help in monitoring the discussions by alerting us to any misconduct. We'd appreciate it if users would take the time now to report any recent postings you consider are in breach of our guidelines. We will act upon all notifications we receive. We are also open to suggestions on how we can improve the system considering our restricted resources. We have stated many times that we would happily allow user moderation if a number of users were to put themselves forward.

We'd also like to state that, 3 Radicals and it's employees categorically do not endorse racism and find the implication deeply offensive.

Sorry to tell you, but the UK is predominantly racist and growing more so by the minute. Unfortunately it's only a very small number of educated, middle class people that aren't, if you mixed with a wide range of people from all types of social groups, you would know this and you wouldn't be shocked by the racism reflected on this forum. I hate it too, but pretending it doesn't exist by censorship will only hide the scale of the problem.

Apologies for implying that you support the racist comments. You have to admit though, it doesn't reflect well on the owner of a site where such attitudes are rife, and the anonymous posting system makes it very easy indeed to say whatever the hell you want without fear of repercussion.

That's why no-one complains to you, what's the point? You can't ban or warn an anonymous user.

and LOL at getting called a communist for saying that racist, xenophobic posts are unacceptable on a community-based website (or anywhere for that matter). Classic response by a far-right moron.

So you don't even take the effort to point out the problem? A bit like complaining to all the neighbours about a dumped car in your road but not reporting it to the council.

Since you are clearly in denial about the racist nature of some of the comments on this forum, I was about to trawl through the threads and pull out examples. Luckily for you the offensive 'off topic' remarks (and there were many) have been 'disemvoweled' by the webmaster.

[quote=Anonymous]Since you are clearly in denial about the racist nature of some of the comments on this forum, I was about to trawl through the threads and pull out examples. Luckily for you the offensive 'off topic' remarks (and there were many) have been 'disemvoweled' by the webmaster. [/quote]

Only recently you were winging that the webmaster didn’t do enough for your cause, now you cry like a child when he does. If the content was illegal it would have been removed not 'disembowelled'

Nobody is being racist but some may feel you are running the risk of creating such a reaction.

Er... how can they act on complaints if no-one complains?

Just to put things in perspective, it is now nearly 24 hours since our previous posting and still no one has reported which comments were considered offensive. We have since 'disemvowled' recent comments that were clearly off topic. We would also like to apologise for the offensive comments that were published.

In the future we recommend that all complaints should go through our feedback form or via the 'report this' process. We would like to remind you once again that we do not actively monitor the discussion threads, but will act on all complaints we receive.

Frankly I think no one has reported about comments considered offensive as there have not been any. I do wish people who seek to ban and censure people would very simply just go away.

Thanks for your support hotspanners. Sadly I've also reached the inescapable conclusion that the webmaster (whoever he or she is) agrees with the comments posted on this site.

Don't you find it tragic though, that some people here honestly can't distinguish between free speech and overt racism. And that the only way they can make their argument is by resorting to petty abuse.

No problem. It's such a shame, this site could be a really positive resource...

Where is this overt racism on here? Please identify then get down off your high horse.

My dear sir. If you have such an aversion to the expression of free speech I humbly suggest you emigtate to Russia. Or China. Or Mugabe's Africa. Thank you.

An aversion to free speech? Sorry, my dear sir, did I not just say the very opposite?

Your comments do not imply any encouragement if freedom of speech - rather a total censorship.

."... If YOU can't be bothered to monitor the content on your own site then pass the job on to someone else. Or close it down...."

"...Must they all believe that Surbiton is nothing more than a town of bigots and xenophobes?"

No they must belive that people can speak. We don't really do facism in Surbiton.

Well said Peter


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