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The Real Issue of FREE SPEECH

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    The Real Issue of FREE SPEECH

    Quite some time ago I used to be part of the team that ran #pakistan, an irc channel. There were 13 admins and about 27 moderators then. Time and again, we faced the problem of Free Speech and moderation. #pakistan was the only outlet in those days. Ultimate responsibility laid on those who ran the channel to keep that medium fluent enough for anybody. The problem was that a handful of people were trying to make the whole pond muddy. Majority always wanted to have a good time, make new friends and discuss issues. Finally, it was decided that the channel needed a cleanup. We started throwing out the rotten ones. That started a cyber war unheard of even in the #effnet channels. People would get accounts on different machines (yes, when they used to give free telnet accounts), and would return to #pakistan to spread more of their hatred. The primary objective of the administrators on #Pakistan was to keep abusive language and personal attacks to a minimum. Well, the target was achieved in little less than 3 months after they had banned around 30 people and lost almost 20% of their traffic due to people getting sick and tired of the constant nagging on both sides. In the end, there was peace in the channel.

    For years to come, people remembered that episode and new moderators would be trained with that set of policies. But things have changed. The web has emerged where what you say, stays. Pak.Org first tried to offer its discussion forums back in late 1996. It worked well. Then, in 1997, the same drama happened and people asked for more and more freedom. We, the administrators, fell for it and opened our doors. Some of our visitors will still recall those days when they had to go through hundreds of posts to find anything other than the so-called ‘free speech’. Having proven to the world that non-moderated forums are a disaster, we then moved to this software and started moderation.

    Since December 1998, we have had hundreds and thousands of posts with only occasional problems. We, the admins, opted to select Moderators from among you for the very reason that no one should come back and tell us that WE are moderating. Hey, its people from amongst yourselves. The idea has worked well. Over 26 Moderators have come and gone and some are still here since day one. The administration has loosely told Moderators about the policies and left it with them to take care of the rest. And I think it was working fine till the following happened:

    1. Some people needed more traffic on their web site and came here with the purpose to capture some of our users. What would be the best way? Start writing crap and you will get banned. Use that and shout loud that the Admins are unfair.

    2. It worked. Administration did fall to that. I personally deleted a few posts that were advertising other web sites here. And they agree on their web site that ‘someone’ was pushing buttons. In the whole episode, a few posts got deleted by just being in the wrong places. Some members felt that they have been banned while it were not them but their network addresses that were being used by those people. Now the same few people started coming in with aliases, and asking for more freedom of speech privileges. The subsequent posts that were deleted had meaningless content and served as nothing more than fuel. There was no need for the regular visitors to see those hate messages.

    When people started this web site years back, the only aim was awareness. And we knew it wasn’t an easy task. But, I am glad that we have served well. Now people have a choice. They can go to many sites and select the crowd they would rather be with. Unlike some other sites where the motto is to ‘uneducate’, this site has a purpose, and that is to bring more awareness and services to our community (browse through the forums and you will see this spirit). And during this course, if we have to face hardships, then, so be it. We would rather keep it clean than making it another junkyard.

    This is not the first time that the web site advertisements were deleted. We had a few instances where passionate webmasters would come here and start advertising their web sites. Although we had no objections in discussing these sites, we would never allow posts for advertisements only. We have provided them another media for that. So, you see, the whole issue wasn’t about us banning the advertisement of a web site. It was a carefully orchestrated scheme to disturb the peace at GUPSHUP and make an effort to take away some of the users. Now, even people on their site have started to realize what’s going on.

    Now, our users do have a choice. Everyone knows what they wanted us to know (their web site address), it would not be hard to compare apples to apples. Go for yourself and see what’s happening.

    I would like to apologize to our regular visitors who have been forced to see this junk. All the administration was trying to do was what any businessman would do to save his business. If that was something wrong, we would like to apologize, but at the same time stress that we cannot just throw away our years’ of time and efforts for some people who want to be famous over night. This website has evolved with time and now the network serves more than 9 Million hits every month. And for those who are accusing us of making tons of money, we would like to challenge them with a financial penalty that bring us your auditors and see if you can prove that we are making even a dime out of this network. The administration frequently goes out to the well to do Pakistani’s and patriots and asks for financial contributions. To this date, we have invested some hundreds and thousands of dollars in equipment, ISP charges, and labor costs. Read the name of this organization. It’s PAK.ORG (a non profit org). Our visitors are our only asset. We would retaliate back whenever someone tries the steal away our wealth. I guess, if trying to saves ones lifetime accomplishment is a crime, then we are criminals.

    In the end, allow me to repeat. YOU the visitors are our greatest pride. YOU are the reason we are in this business. If someone would try to snatch you away from us, our reactions can be conceived.

    I rest my case with the people’s court.

    We cannot let this place go without some form of moderation.
    Moderators come among yourselves. They make their individual policies.
    Our visitors are dear to us. We will stop anyone from stealing them away.

    All the administration was trying to do was what any businessman would do to save his business.

    Since he said that loud n clear, i think every one shud calm down now....the whole issue was business all along...for both sides.....(i knew that all along)....

    So cut this crap of freedom of speech and first amendment(sp?) rights....(thats utter rubbish).....and choose whatever Dukaan u like ppl.......simple as that........

    Aur Logo....Puhleeeeeeeeeeez Abb tou Case Close karo

    [This message has been edited by NaikLarki (edited November 30, 2000).]


      Azkar (and others) hi - I don't think freedom of speech (or business) is the only issue here. I believe there is an underlying more fundamental point, which is consistency in the application of the rules. I fully agree that those who wish to go to any site should make informed decisions and accept the rules (or lack thereof) of the site they frequent. However, it is absolutely reasonable for them to expect equal treatment for similar rule breaking.

      I personally think this is a case of a mountain that came out of a molehill, and I'm sure some lessons learnt. small issues become big ones when they're treated as such. The pakistani internet world is far more mature than we think it is, lets give them some credit for being able to make up their minds and sort the garbage from the whatever interests them.

      BTW, 'net freedom' has also been an issue in the newsgrp world, and soc.culture.pakistan, which used to be a pretty decent place, is now an unmoderated battle ground for pakistani and indian gaalibaazi competitions. Some moderated "baby scp's" were hatched a few yrs back, but unfortunately are barren for reasons including the moderators treating the NG as their little jagir.

      lastly .. those who're regaling each other with their 4 letter ghazals, guys.. chill out.


        Chowdhary ShahjehaaN saani thanks alot for your dissertation on free speech and telling us about your Phannay Khani on IRC. Even more thanks for posting the summary because I cannot read very long posts.

        Thank you for admitting that this is your little Walmart. Banning and deleting people was not a matter of policy or principle, but of "saving your business". It follows that:

        (a) You aren't doing anyone a favor by running this site. Others are doing you a favor by coming here so your business gets better.

        (b) All those who are your moderators (I don't know why anyone would take a job like that) are putting their time and effort into running your forum which increases YOUR business and they don't get anything. (I'd say they start demanding a cut.)

        khwaab say baydaar hota hai zara mehkoom agar
        phir sula deti hai uss ko hukmraaN ki saahiri

        jaadoo-e-mehmood ki taseer say chashm-e-ayaaz
        dekhti hai halqa-e-gardan meiN saaz-e-dilbari

        (c) You are also a lowly ingrate for badmouthing Kashmirigirl because she decided to leave your forum. This is after she spent alot of time and effort doing YOUR work on YOUR BUSINESS getting no compensation.

        (d) Stop pretending that you want free and healthy discussion of issues or any such nonsense. Don't even pretend to have a policy because you don't. You are running a site and all you care about is your pocket and your ego to some extent. That's it.

        (e) If this is a non-profit organization, exactly what kaar-e-khair are you doing? Who are your "contributors"? And more importantly....I think your patrons (i.e. the gupshup visitors) have a right to learn a bit about your budget...who draws a salary and who doesn't? I will be looking forward to seeing some documentation on that.

        Now to naikoo....Gupshup is a dukaan. So is RAG...but what happened was not a matter of dukaan competition. It is a matter of ungle. yes I did ungle here. Phaar Phun? yes. And also partly because I have this thing against self-promoting gutterballs who guise their little businesses as kaar-e-khair. Other examples are Asim Mughal and that Imran dude. And please save the's making me sick. Chowdhary Sayb was ranting and raving about policy...and admitted to this little business thingy..only after deletiions, bans and everything else failed to clean the public relations poopoo.

        I for example have no financial or any other stake in RAG, nor do I plan to get any. I go there because I like the atmosphere AND because RAG is not run like a business. It is run like a place where ppl can have fun, ungle, badmaashi..whatever...and because the administrators are mature enough to take it if they dish it out. The day chowdhary sayb shahjehan saani's character gets banned on rag, he's free to email me at: [email protected] . I will lead the crusade against that ban.

        KKHH 3.5


          Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai 3.5, yaar tu bara hee bay-gayratt hay, every time you got banned, and every time you are here again with you ugly sss face, what is problem with ya ?

          I think being a looser you should get lost and leave this forum PAK, we do not need any damm stupid idias and posts from you.

          Please leave us PAK, and do not mess with us, Azkar is actually cleaning, rather Paaking the forum from your dirty soul .....

          now, get lost and do enen think to mess up with moi

          may sub kay bhaid khol doonga, yahoo.....


            > now, get lost and do enen think to mess up with moi

            Hmm .. I think its a little late, my dear friend. That other site is already messing with you and this post of yours .... but don't worry ... you can be a man here. Azkar bhai will be the saviour.

            Aren't you gonna tell me a UET 1991 "broken noses and bones" story ? A guy by the name of Bond already looked into Choudhry sahib and declared it false, btw.


              huuuuuuuuuuuuuush hush hurrrrrrrrr


                Kuch Kuch,

                You mentioned RAG in you post. What does it stand for and what it is, thanks for your answer.


                  Rani, RAG is also a discussion board where desis have informal chats. if you want to check it out, address is on my profile.




                    The only word I can say in this is, "Plz handle with care and especially the matter of Kahsmiri Girl!!!"




                      aah jab gulshan ki jam'iyyat pareshaaN ho chuki
                      phool ko baad-e-bahaari ka payaam aaya to kya?

                      Dear Nadeem...the matter of kashmirigirl has been handled already not with care but with cheapness and kamzarfi (which did not surprise me a bit). Now your warnings or admonishments are of no use.

                      KKHH 3.6