03 March 2022
Istijlál, 02 ‘Alá’ (Loftiness), 178 B.E.
Just before sunset …
Bringing the conversation to a close in the “Fighting Misinformation” subwiki on WT.Social …
The last comment:
”I’ve been deprived of the opportunity to engage members of this platform in conversations about the points raised in the posting”
Isn’t this very long comment evidence that you haven’t been deprived?
I think you have some good points about possibly over-aggressive moderation, but I also see apparent good-faith attempts to preserve your ability to make the point you want - with the layers of irony of this being in the Fighting Misinformation forum.
I think I see Jezza and Fiona’s points. Phrases like “Whoever controls the narrative controls the world” trigger my misinformation sensors. I go on high alert. Those types of phrases are often used in the propagation of conspiracy, implying the existence of some kind of cabal intent on world control. The type of charge often leveled at Jewish people. Eric Dynamic trafficks in histrionic conspiratorial phrases like that too.
fwiw, Jezza and Fiona do not seem to me do be hegemonic controllers of narrative. They are doing their best, I sense, in a forum that’s still trying to find its stride. In my experience, undermoderation can be just as toxic as over-moderation. Finding the balance is tricky. I appreciate personal moderation, with all its faults (as opposed to the brutal, impersonal moderation on FB, etc).
My last response:
Thanks, Greg. I appreciate you taking the time to offer a thoughtful response.
I agree that by the moderators allowing my second, albeit redacted, posting to stand along with subsequent revisions and commentary made by several in this thread attest to my not being “…deprived of the opportunity…”
Bear in mind, though, that none of this exchange we’re having now would be going on had I not reposted my first one, which the moderators deleted without explanation.
And yes, there is no absence of irony in that the main theme I wanted to pursue by my choice of post in this “Fighting Misinformation” subwiki concerned the question: how do we work through the clash of differing opinions and power dynamics about “misinformation” without ignoring, labeling, maligning, redacting, deleting, blocking, or banning those whose perspectives are not our own?
I see that you have questions of interest about topics where there is a multiplicity of viewpoint and experience about misinformation, conspiracy, control, power, and governance. So do I.
That brings me to your last statement. Yes, I agree that the “rules” governing behavior on the forum are evolving; that the role of a moderator is necessary to help preserve civility among participants when exploring potentially contentious topics in a public forum; and that the moderators are doing their best to exercise sound judgement, finesse nuanced situations, learn from their experiences, and know that they, like everyone else in the forum, are given the license to act in good faith, take responsibility for their words and actions, learn from their experiences, and be better.
Maybe with that we can move on. I look forward to learning from you and all others who have participated in this thread in other places on this forum!
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The accomplishments of the previous series of Plans—particularly the last Five Year Plan— could not have occurred without a tremendous advance in the teaching work. An important dimension of this work is the capacity to engage in conversations on spiritual themes, a capacity which was explored in our message to your 2015 conference, where we described how it is developed through participation in institute courses and by gaining practical experience. It is evident that the pattern of activity unfolding at the grassroots opens up a variety of settings in which receptive souls—sometimes whole families or peer groups—can take part in meaningful conversations which awaken interest in the vision of the Faith and the Person of Bahá’u’lláh. Over time, many such souls begin to identify themselves with the Bahá’í community, especially as they gain the confidence to participate in community life through service. Of course, the community welcomes any degree of association that a person would like to maintain, great or small. Yet to recognize Bahá’u’lláh as a Manifestation of God and accept the privileges and responsibilities that are uniquely associated with membership in the Bahá’í community is a singular moment in a person’s spiritual development, quite distinct from regular involvement in Bahá’í activities or voicing support for Bahá’í principles. Experience has shown that the environment created by community-building endeavours in a locality enables anyone who wishes to take this step to do so with relative ease. Wherever these endeavours are under way, it is important for the friends to remain mindful that the doors of the Faith are wide open and to give encouragement to those who stand at the threshold. And in areas where such endeavours have been well established for some time, many believers are discovering that a vibrant, expanding pattern of activity can naturally lead to families, groups of friends, and even clusters of households being ready to enter the Cause. For in spaces where the possibility of joining the community can be discussed openly and inclusively among those who share a sense of collective identity, souls can more easily feel emboldened to take this step together. Bahá’í institutions, especially Local Spiritual Assemblies, must adopt a mindset that allows for such developments, and ensure that any obstacles are removed. 1
We ask you and your auxiliaries to help the believers, wherever they reside, reflect periodically on effective ways of teaching the Faith in their surroundings, and to fan within their hearts a passion for teaching that will attract the confirmations of the Divine Kingdom. Souls who have been given the blessing of faith have a natural wish to share this gift through conversations with relatives, friends, classmates, co-workers, and those previously unmet, seeking in every place and at every moment a hearing ear. Different settings and circumstances lend themselves to different approaches, and the friends should be occupied in an ongoing process of learning about what is most effective in the place where they are. 2
- Universal House of Justice. “To the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors.” Bahá’í Reference Library, 30 Dec. 2021, https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/20211230_001/1#758524483. [return]
- Universal House of Justice. “To the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors.” Bahá’í Reference Library, 30 Dec. 2021, https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/20211230_001/1#758524484. [return]