Bored@Baker: The right to do vs. the right thing to do

by Nicholas Zeiss

02 Feb 2012

Any­one who has browsed Bored@​Baker quickly learns that anonymity can turn the best of us into jerks. How­ever, it also lets stu­dents share opin­ions they nor­mally wouldn’t. An open di­a­logue held on Tues­day as part of the on­go­ing Words and Their Con­se­quences se­ries dis­cussed stu­dent opin­ion about the web­site, as well as on­line anonymity, cyber bul­ly­ing, ac­count­abil­ity and the fine line be­tween free speech and hate speech.

De­spite what you might think, the con­fer­ence wasn’t just a bunch of kids going around in a cir­cle com­plain­ing about bul­ly­ing. While this was dis­cussed, vocal par­tic­i­pants also showed up in favor of the forum. Sup­port­ers viewed the site as a place where peo­ple can dis­cuss cam­pus hap­pen­ings and offer views that would not oth­er­wise be stated.

And this is a valid point. Like sev­eral stu­dents said, when some­thing hap­pens, you can ei­ther wait for some­one to write an ar­ti­cle about it in a few days or you can head over to Bored@​Baker and jump into a dis­cus­sion that’s al­ready started.

The anonymity that al­lows dis­course that open, how­ever, can cut both ways, as those with more crit­i­cal views of the site sug­gested. While it al­lows posters to share opin­ions they wouldn’t or­di­nar­ily share were it at­tached to their iden­tity, it also al­lows users to bash oth­ers with­out con­se­quence. Many times, these at­tacks can go too far and do some real dam­age, stu­dents at the dis­cus­sion said. Other peo­ple choose to spread big­otry and stereo­types (Soulja Boy any­one?).

 

COUR­TESY OF GU­NAXIN

 

 

An­other type of poster that was viewed as dis­rup­tive to an hon­est di­a­logue on the site is the troll. Trolls are users who post in­flam­ma­tory con­tent to in­cite heated ar­gu­ment or try to horde votes. These stu­dents crave the at­ten­tion of oth­ers and often don’t con­tribute any se­ri­ous con­tent. The most ef­fec­tive re­sponse for these users is to ig­nore them, ac­cord­ing to those at the di­a­logue.

 

COUR­TESY OF SALAGIR. COM

 

The bulk of Tues­day’s forum was spent find­ing ways to help stop such mis­use of the site. Cur­rently, the rules of the site pro­hibit in­ten­tion­ally hate­ful con­tent, and a re­port func­tion is built in to let users flag those who break these rules. But, as sev­eral pointed out, there aren’t enough mod­er­a­tors to prop­erly mon­i­tor the large vol­ume of con­tent on the site, and of­ten­times these posts slip through.

Par­tic­i­pants in the forum pro­posed that more mod­er­a­tors be added to the site to help pa­trol posts and re­move the of­fend­ing con­tent. Since site mem­bers can par­tic­i­pate in clean­ing up of­fen­sive con­tent, user par­tic­i­pa­tion can also help solve the prob­lem,

De­spite dif­fer­ing opin­ions, stu­dents agreed that the site pro­vides a unique medium for di­a­logu­ing and doesn’t need to alter its core iden­tity. The con­sen­sus at the forum seemed to be that the ben­e­fits an open forum like Bored@​Baker pro­vides eclipse how some stu­dents choose to abuse it.

Over­all, Bored@​Baker en­ables stu­dents to dis­cuss their opin­ions rapidly and is not going to go any­where in the short-term.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Words and Their Con­se­quences se­ries.

 

COUR­TESY OF DART­MOUTH CEN­TERS FORUM

 




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