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Problems with DeafRead

Earlier Tayler posted something about solutions for DeafRead. I've got my own thoughts on this, but its not quite the subject of this post. I've stopped using DeafRead, because it does not work for me and its having implications on the free flow of content.

Since most of our UK readership won't know what it is, DeafRead is a moderated or filtered aggregator. The deal is best stuff (its subjective) goes on the front page. Anything else, including not deaf related content / not of mainstream interest / contains adult content and it gets pushed. Guidelines here.

As far as I'm aware, its moderated solely by humans living in North America, yet has some international reach. Am sure it works out fine as a US issue, but running into issues in the UK. I suspect the same could happen for other countries. Before I go on, moderating is not an easy task, thank you, etc. But ..... here's some examples:

Posts that made DeafRead main page this year, i.e. Best of!:

BSL Activist having a go at Paula Garfield: to me, its libel and full of wrong information. However, if John feels the need to attack yet another person, and have a go ... go right ahead. Deaf people for the record were invited to the event (I was!), and since its a private theatre event, the theatre can do damn well what they please. Whatever. Not entering this argument, and not the point of this post.

MM and well ...!: One of our top trolls in the UK, and I'm sure he's delighted to get that honour. Sure he can have his say, just erm ... Deafies were dealing with MM long before the net, via Ceefax. I certainly remember him trolling his way through the 90s. Hi, MM, hope you're having a good day!

Posts that went into DeafRead Extra:

BSL Recognition:, representatives of deaf organisations get to meet the Prime Minister, to discuss the official recognition of BSL. Huge issue that has dominated the past decade for campaigning (we've had marches, road blocks etc), and this was not covered on any other blog. For our US friends, its like the President of NAD going to see George W. Bush to discuss protecting ASL in law, then putting any mention of it in Extra! Not deemed newsworthy.

Transcript: BBC Radio Wales, Good Morning Wales: a national radio station (Wales is a country) reporting on the ethical argument of deaf embryos and the right to be developed. It for some reason gets shoved into Extra.

Access to Work: potential cut in funding by the government, which means it will be harder to get e.g. BSL/English Interpreters, speech to text for workplace settings, and huge implications on deaf people's employment in the public sector. (Incidentally a subject I've put off blogging for a few months).

Wrong way around

These last three examples to me are *much* bigger in terms of broader policy issues, they impact everyone nationally and good for a comparative approach internationally; vs those from individuals who have some personal gripe. Don't get me wrong, I will defend your right to of freedom of speech even to produce utter crap, and put them in best of ... but the logic above *really* does not make sense, when major policy stuff is downgraded. Against posts which are essentially no more than personal attacks, being labelled as quality content.

In recent months, I could have cited a good few more examples. To me, those lists should be reversed.

Logic? Its not, and I'm of the opinion that international human filtering cannot work; unless those moderating are extremely clued up on the idiosyncrasies of every community. Jared, before you pop up in your PR role and tell me Editors are human etc (we've both had this conversation before), its not just happening once or twice.

Before it has been suggested that we put posts in context, i.e. background information. Firstly, you've got the aggregator influencing content, where blogs should be free from bias and even independent. Personally, I'm against this idea as it influences the animal of what blogging should be. Secondly, as a UKer, I frequently see background information *not* being supplied for many US blog posts. Thus its being moderated from a US angle, where posts are being treated as "foreign" and US subjectiveness applied. If that's what you want, fair enough ... but its not an ecosystem that works from an international basis.

There are wider issues, re blog content, which puts me off visiting. However, that's not the purpose of this post, and I wanted to give another dimension to feedback from the ground.

See also:
An example of how deafread doesn't cater for an international audience

Comments (19)

finding it interesting you don't visit deafread but posted this 5 hours after tayler did. pretty quick!

Got told of via MSN. Does that answer your question?

I respect your opinion and I believe we have agreed to disagree on the model of information distribution of DeafRead. We acknowledge that there will always be those who don't agree with how we run the site.

I believe that the editors made the right judgment calls on the vast majority of the posts. We are always open to emails to let us know if we have made a mistake and make an attempt to correct them. It's not a perfect world and we do what we can. Most of the readers who we have talked with are fine with how we run the site, despite the occasional mistakes that have been made. Our growing traffic statistics seems to show that we have been making the right decisions on how to run the site.

DeafRead is only one of several ways people can get more information about what is going on in the Deaf world. That said, we know we are far from perfect and don't claim to do a flawless job, but I know from internal communications with the editors, they all have great hearts and always try to do their best and the right thing.

We are aware that it's impossible to make everyone happy and we accept this fact.

you can't always have what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need.

who cares if you check deafread or not? i appreciate it for what it's worth.

Thats why we need more of these types of website agreggators. So fairness in information distribution is achieved.

I stopped visiting DeafRead long ago myself too - because they've succeed in doing what I thought was impossible...

Taking blogs posts into an agreggator and turn it into a forum with moderation.

Reading many of the "blog" posts on deafread is seriously too much like reading a forum with moderation - where posts are made "in reply" to someone else on deafread, but is written like a forum - posts doesn't have background info or anything - if I was to stumble upon that single post I would not have a clue what was about unless I follow it on DeafRead instead.

That's not what blogging is about.

Jared - as usual - editors are humans blah blah...

Yes we know. You're quick to use this "excuse". As usual. I also remember you talking about getting international editors to better reflect what happen in other countries because having North Americans editors to decide what's newsworthy in remote places such as Australia, Russia, France, UK, Ireland and so on is just pure stupidity.

So...we're still waiting...

You seem to find it difficult to realise that the Internet is a global tool accessible by anyone in the world. Either get international editors to cover posts from other countries - ie British/Irish editor to cover posts in UK, Australian editor for Australia and so on or make it clear that DeafRead is for USA only and the rest of world can bugger off.

@dog food - you're making a statement re people outside the US are not welcome via "who cares?" stance, because the international dimension is basically what my post is about. Its not about *me*, but how I am responding for what people feel over here.

Moderation for international issues is not always working, and is demonstrated by the 5 examples. If I moderated a UK list, and made statements that something was not newsworthy from another country, e.g. President of NAD and a trustee of AGB went to meet GWB to discuss ASL, you might have something to say about it!

Its sometimes moderated to the point where it starts to look silly, and this post is a heads up of sorts. Like it or not, there's a value judgment places on certain deaf issues.

Since a moderated aggregator is against my belief what blogging is about, its not something I'm pitching to undertake. However, its meant to be constructive feedback from an international perspective (to this end I deliberately included examples so it wasn't just perceived as an "attack", or I was bored). Perhaps people might like to take it as this. International people not welcome here? Which is fine, it underlines the point that its a US focused aggregator.

@Jared - I appreciate your comments, but is this stuff being fed back to the moderators. Some awareness of their actions?

I agree that with you that it's a problem when some blogs depend on DeafRead too much and as a result, turn it into almost forum-like site. This was not the original purpose of DeafRead, however some people are new to blogging and don't fully grasp the full potential of their blogs.

While I wish they would directly link to other blogs instead of to DeafRead when they have a conversation in the blogosphere, we cannot control their actions. We let them deal with all this technology (which may be overwhelming or too complex for some) in ways they can understand and work with.

Don't blast DeafRead for this behavior... you could take the time to educate the bloggers themselves on how to maximize their exposure to online visitors.

We have made some headway on the internationalization of DeafRead. There's still much more to do and it hasn't progressed as quickly as we would like because it's very difficult and time consuming. Tayler and I try to work in some DeafRead development into our busy schedule while being involved in many other things and events.

We would like the international section to be done right and executed well. This would definitely include editors from their respective countries so that better moderation decisions can be made.

>>a moderated aggregator is against my belief what blogging is about.

A moderated aggregator only becomes a problem if a blogger starts to purposefully blogs for this aggregator specifically. This will cause bloggers to skewer their blog posts in a way where there would be a higher likelihood to get published on DeafRead. This increases their dependency on DeafRead for their traffic. From our prior experience, it can become unhealthy for both the bloggers and the DeafRead team.

Instead, if a blogger continues to blog naturally and in total disregard to decisions made by the DeafRead team, all these problems disappear. DeafRead instead becomes a complementary service and the blogger can enjoy the nice bonus of additional traffic boost once in a while. This is the most healthy attitude to have with a site like DeafRead.

@Jared - I agree with you in the sense that blogging is a much wider animal, and for someone who has blogged in some form or another since 2002 I get it. However, many people who are new to blogging *since* its inception, don't.

I think in part the Deaf community - at least in the UK - is rather paternalistic and sometimes doesn't go and seek what's out there. Perhaps being introduced to blogging in this manner (for the positives it does also stand for) encourages to stay within a "deaf bubble", and this parent figure aka DeafRead "looking after us".

Most of the traffic for this site comes from direct hits or mailing lists etc, since we're UK based. Sure we get some traffic from DR (which is useful for US coverage, and credit where its due). However, for us its somewhat easier to divorce oneself from a perceived central traffic source.

However, the pros / cons of this, wasn't the aim of my post. Like it or not DeafRead is a place that people rely on for "deaf content" and "best of deaf content". Whatever judgments the moderators want to place on this is fine ... but like it or not you are influencing politics, irrespective of what individual bloggers should be doing. I don't think you can entirely divorce yourself from this.

When the Chair of a deaf organisation goes and meets the Prime Minister, and this gets shoved into an "Extra" section and personal attacks (or what I term as libel) gets put on the front page ...... there's something wrong. (The merits of inclusion of personal attacks is not so much the debate here, the central issue is how issues are being prioritised).

Its kind of skewed moderation. Perhaps some analysis needs to take place why this is happening ... it is my personal belief (I could be wrong) that moderators in the US aren't quite clued up to what's happening in other countries.

This kind of filtering stops me and others from using the service, and I'm sure your purpose (from a business perspective) is not to drive down visitor numbers. There are other points here, which influences my readership, but that would be for some other post.

(I know DR cannot control what people say, etc etc its the international value judgment I'm throwing into the ring here).

It's good to know that you are "still looking" into the international aspect of DeafRead...how long now?

However I'm going to have to disagree with you here:

"Don't blast DeafRead for this behavior... you could take the time to educate the bloggers themselves on how to maximize their exposure to online visitors."

Erm...when your moderators are approving posts that is more of a forum style post - you are encouraging this kind of behaviour. Most people read DeafRead to access blogs - and reply to what they read...then they see their post showing up.

And for this reason I "blast" DeafRead for it. Doing the above does nothing to "teach" them about the blogging technology and doesn't encourage them to learn about it.
The central hub is DeafRead. It make sense for people to read more about "blogging - howto?" from a central hub rather than a local blog from UK.

Jared - in case you suspect that I'm not very believing of you saying that you will get international editors etc etc...

It've been a whole YEAR since you said it - first mentioned April 2007:

[snip]...On an additional note, We are currently working on the internationalization of DeafRead. When the time comes, we will be reaching out to international community of Deaf bloggers/vloggers and will be asking a few to join us as editors for their respective countries.

Hopefully, this will help to bring together the international community of Deaf people on a scale never seen before and open all of our eyes to what the Deaf people are doing in countries across the world.

http://www.alisonbryan.com/thoughts/2007/04/an_example_of_how_deafread_doe.html#comment-6220

You're just rolling out other services instead. How much longer will you continue to roll out the excuse "editors are human" or "it's the blogger at fault for explaining the importance of post" (when you don't expect American bloggers to do the same - because...you have American editors..imagine that!) and so on...

I do believe DeafRead can become one of vital hub for deaf people around the whole, but lagging on the international aspect suggest that you don't take this seriously at all.

Trust me dude, nobody in the UK takes and notice of these silly little girls. I'm not surprised you have not accepted their rubbish for Deaf read it doesn't accepted anywhere else either!

@groundhog day - that was a personal attack, as opposed to issue based or staying on topic. Technically one I would delete your comment for. You sound rather too like Andy Arthur.

One of the examples quoted was not a blog by me / Jen. It related to Access to Work, and interpreters / speech to text, etc. Thus got knocked off.

One assumes you want UK based policy issues downgraded and/or don't think people's access to employment is an important issue? In favour of personal vendetta. Interesting.

JGJones, find us an angel investor who can inject us with enough cash so we can focus on the site full-time and you'll get the DeafRead International in a short order ;-) Otherwise, we are taking it one step at a time and prioritizing our limited development time across several features we want to release. Some features are more simple and quicker to develop, while others will take up considerable time and resources.

The vbloggers are what make up DeafRead. They can make their own decisions on what kind of vblogging behavior is acceptable/encouraged. We are taking a hands-off approach and letting the collective make up their minds. It is up to the vbloggers to decide how they want to interface with DeafRead.

We prefer to let the vbloggers to direct others about how to best use resources such as their own blogs and DeafRead. Instead of us chasing after many bloggers (and new ones everyday) to get them to improve their vblogging behavior, it's far more effective to let the collective take care of itself and reward those who understand how to best exploit the nuances of the world of Deaf vblogging.

Jared - fair point about cost of developing new services.

However...

That doesn't apply to editors - how long does it take to appoint an international* editor? This cost nothing. (I have assumed that editors aren't paid)

*by international I mean non-USA based editor, ie editor from the 2nd most popular country where blogs come from - ie if it's UK, then a British editor.

I volunteer to do edit UK and OZ blogs for DeafRead!

Why do we need moderators? Why 2 strands of blogs aggregating? Creating an underclass of bloggers?

It should be possible to set up a system to catch potential spam or unrelevant posts, double check and let it go back into the stream. Have some house rules, educate on the use of tags during registration stage. Have a personalised filter options. Disconnect the persistent offenders, who break these rules.

Pardon me for a simplistic take on this. It is not that hard, is it? ...probably use less resources for the setup.

Just been visiting DeafRead.com - pardon me but I couldn't see any references that it is an international D/deaf blog aggregator. Cos of this, I am starting to get a bit confused about the criticisms of its being American-centric.

However, I still do question some of the judgements, from editors, to put a slagging off post on the front page and a newsworthy post into 'Extras' and the likes. Even the editors should not be absolved from responsibilities of "presenting" the Deaf community from round the world. It doesn't do the UK Deaf's image any favour by putting a negative piece on front page, and consigning a positive piece into the backwaters. This is not to say it is a conspiracy - I just feel that more due care and attention are needed when looking at contents, flowing in from outside the US of A.

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