Comment: The madness of warnings in Internet forums

Comment: The madness of warnings in Internet forums


In times when there is no legal orientation - let alone legal security - for forum operators, it is almost impossible to moderate certain topics 'correctly'. Often not even a lawyer can be sure whether certain formulations are warranted or not, because the case law comes in day out on the most varied of judgments. A reliable orientation is impossible, unfortunately mostly at the expense of the site operator.

So it happens that ComputerBase is becoming more and more common the request from lawyers commissioned by various companies or individuals to remove posts in the forum.

These demands are usually underpinned by decisions taken by courts and references to legal texts. If someone had enough time, he could find and quote exactly the opposite judgments on almost all of these 'facts'. Only - and here I come back to legal certainty - it is of no use. Because each of these judgments is an individual case. And every further case would again be an expensive individual decision. In addition, the time limit for removing the contributions, especially for voluntary helpers - who we all are - is usually utopian in order to be able to react adequately. As is well known, we have to keep an eye on a topic (or contribution), which has undoubtedly come into focus through a legal letter, ' from knowledge ' of the included contributions retrospectively and in the future, since the operators directly and can be held liable for future contributions without a further, prior warning.

At the beginning of September it was that time again. ComputerBase received a request from the lawyers of a complete system manufacturer to delete a number of posts from the forum. The deadline was very short, the contact with the manufacturer requestedResponsible was established immediately. Two company employees contacted ComputerBase for further consultation. One to report problematic contributions, the other to get in touch with customers and intervene to clarify.

We removed the items initially complained about, but only partially afterwards that were repeatedly reported by the manufacturer. Because now the whole dilemma of the discrepancy in the assessment of the contributions between “description of experiences and personal consequences” on the one hand and “statements that are detrimental to business” on the other hand was revealed.

Not that anything here Is misunderstood: It is the right of every company to create business-damaging and above all unsubstantiated claims from the world or have them created. But where is the limit? What is provable and what cannot? Who decides what is true and what is untrue?

And unfortunately there is also the other side of the coin that I don't want to hide. These are contribution writers who specifically exploit the supposed anonymity of the Internet. Your trick: Registering in the forum only for one or a few irrelevant posts, pouring fuel on the fire, posting links and keeping things going. Our forum rules are of course ignored. Even the inexperienced users of the forum, who pick up a term and spread the word, make work extremely difficult, because explanations in the thread or via the personal message function are deliberately ignored and the biggest possible hammer in the form of an accusation of censorship comes into serious play.

The consequences for the moderation: stomach pain in every respect, uncertainty in the assessment of individual but decisive contributions (as well as, if not even a lawyer can make a decisioncan be?), headaches and endlessly time-consuming discussions. Some are absolutely necessary, but also many simply due to lack of understanding and being right-wing. Additional consequences for the operator: Possible financial burden up to unsustainable.

Conclusion and consequence for us: We want to keep this wonderful platform for the exchange of help and opinions between many participants undamaged. But we don't want to be harnessed to any cart. Neither the cart of individual users nor the cart of individual companies. Only since there is currently no other solution in sight, and also in the foreseeable future, we will have to close threads with an extremely high warning potential. With this column, we want to bring transparency into these processes as much as possible and deal with the dilemma as openly as possible. And last but not least, we ask the users of ComputerBase/ForumBase for their understanding and trust in our approach, especially in such cases that are justified for us.

Conclusion and consequence for everyday forum life and its users: If everyone responds to the Keeping the rules and presenting your concerns and your experiences objectively, without insulting criticism , insults, polemics, naming real names and without presenting your opinion as a factual assertion, we can move on to everyday life here too. Do not be afraid, but please be sensitized and take responsibility for what you write.

Note: The content of this comment reflects the personal opinion of the author. This opinion is not necessarily shared by the entire editorial team.