I let my guard down and the result's been transphobes and homophobes busting into discussions across the site, from one about that arrest at the Parkman Bandstand to one about, um, somebody getting sliced on the Orange Line.
For that I apologize. That isn't supposed to be what UHub should be about, but I let it get that way.
Here's what happened (this is not a justification, but the start of explaining why I'll try to do better; yes I'm long-winded):
Anybody can comment on a Universal Hub article. But while comments from people with log-in accounts on the site go public as soon as they hit Submit, comments from anonymous users (i.e., people without accounts) go into a queue where I have to approve them first.
I originally went to that system to block spam (spammers kept figuring out how to break whatever automated anti-spam system I used), but over the years, it's worked fairly well to deal with the sort of horrible stuff you'd expect to see on 4Chan or even Twitter. There seemed to be something about the process of just signing up for an account that acted as a filter, and so most of the time, I didn't spend any time reviewing stuff posted by logged-in users (and, to folks who tried posting anonymously, I admit, I grew increasingly less willing to review the comments piling up in the anon queue; for every interesting, funny or useful comment, there seemed to be ten from transphobes, homophobes, racists, misogynists, anti-Semites - personal note to them: Yeah, I'm a Jew, now go fuck yourself - and just general MAGAboys, but I repeat myself, and all that crap gets depressing to wade through after awhile).
Turns out not paying attention to logged-in users became a mistake. Even with my current pain-in-the-ass account signup system (send me e-mail and hope I respond), they were getting through. And some of them were fairly clever, they'd lay low for awhile, months, sometimes, and then explode with all the bile they'd been storing up all that time.
And that's what happened with the post about the Parkman Bandstand person. And I should have figured if something would happen, it would happen there. But instead, I just went on my merry reporting way, writing about king tides and obscure colonial ordinances that are still in effect rather than checking into the comments on that article. Or, for that matter, the comments on a post about a fight on an Orange Line car in which I used the word "manspreading."
Again, my apologies for not really checking in in those discussions. I will have to do better going forward (and if I don't, feel free to let me know). I've blocked three accounts from posting (well, they can try to post anonymously, but then they go into that queue rather than posted instantly).
And why am I leaving those discussions up? Some folks took the time to respond to the transphobia. For that, my thanks. They show, once again, that this is not some hate-filled dystopia, but that sometimes you have to take a stand, and they did.
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!
Thank you, Adam
There are so few places left on these Internets that haven't been darkened by the Forces of Shit, and it takes constant effort to keep them way, so thank you for always making that effort - it is appreciated.
because someone disagrees with your thoughts is a slippery slope that brought down many sections of the media.
No it isn't
Craigslist and Amazon brought about the demise of many media outlets.
Maintaining certain ethical and moral standards, on the other hand, did not.
If you feel you're being censored, though, there are many other outlets for you to choose from. Or you could even set up your own. That's one of the marvels of the Internet Age.
Only government can censor
Adam has free speech rights too.
It's as much censorship
As a bartender throwing out a jackass who's spilling beer everywhere and yelling at all the customers, i.e. not that at all
Check out Karl Poppers
Check out Karl Poppers “Paradox of Tolerance” or let me assure you you’re wrong.
This is a commercial enterprise AND a community
Adam tries to provide content that brings eyeballs, so that advertisers might see it as a worthy investment. He also tries to build a community of users interested in Boston related stories and discussion. None of this requires him to platform every bigoted ass who wants to post racist drivel. In fact, providing such a platform kind of kills the mission of the site and harms the overall brand. The smartest thing he could do is block hateful posting.
I actually remembered my password and logged in tonight say thanks for what you curate here for the Boston area—both in your posts and in the community of regulars who reply (sometimes, not logged in!) We May all sometimes make each other a little argh from time to time (kinda like a misfit set of unruly bar regulars, eh?), but that’s what community is about: compromise within the community. With such a demise of legit local media the last 20 years, this site is a super-important part of my daily, local news intake; I appreciate your reporting as well as all the regular commenters, with all their backgrounds and positions on how to improve Boston.
Finally, just as a soft pitch to others who might read this, please consider a recurring donation to help UHub with running costs. I have a monthly automatic PayPal transaction that is so hands-off, I don’t really even notice it. It’s trite, but true: every little bit helps.
What he said!
What he said!
Thanks for dropping these little tuckers at the curb. They all have a long history of hateful sexist and racist comments as well.
The replicator gnomes know that I'm doubly grateful.
Just to say -- your work is appreciated, and thank you for making this the strange, decent, welcoming place that it is... even if that requires a bit of active unwelcoming of the spammers and other such from time to time.
I read your site every day and thank you for all of the work you do. I even learned about the Provincetown Independent from reading your site and ended up getting a subscription to it including a physical mailed copy (yes, I am over 50)!
Personally, I am not bothered by extreme opinions or posts. Every once in a while, one may have something that makes me think. Most times, I skim and move on.
So, I understand what you do here is mostly a labor of love and am not worried if there are some bizarre posts. Thank you for what you do!
Thank you for the work and the thoughtful explanation
I know it takes a lot of work to keep this site working as a community instead of a hate filled cesspool, and that wading through to eliminate the dreck is miserable work. I'm sorry to hear it's gotten worse and appreciate knowing that you want to be alerted when crap hits.
Universal Hub is a wonderful resource and I appreciate all the work you put in to keep it that way.
I finally had to leave Twitter (no, my account is still there, I'm just only using my lists from un-logged-into-Twitter mode) because Musk killed my tweetreader, and Twitter proper is just 4Chan lite.
I'd missed the latest brouhaha, but thanks for catching it and dropping the banhammer as necessary.
Don't kick yourself for this; some folks are just fine right up to when you mention "that thang", and then you find out who they really are.
I check Universal Hub
I check Universal Hub multiple times a day and it's categorically the best local news source. Thank you for all your hard work!
One shouldn't have to work hard at delivering news and compelling content not available widely anywhere else and at the same time squash hate speech from the moronic.
You do a splendid job at both and should not have to apologize for letting some leak through occasionally.
I think I can speak for the hundreds here, we have your back Adam.
Thank you for all you do!
I appreciate the insight into the challenges of trying to be a force for good in a world with a lot of twisted cancerous souls. I wish there was a way you could keep score for us of the number of times hate-filled bilious speech-vomit is directed at UHUB, that way I could be sure to send X$ per spew to select groups like Out and Equal, the Southern Poverty Law Center and ACLU. Kinda of like a reverse telethon where the more they type, they more I give to the things they hate.
This comment section is toxic.
Rude, abrasive attacks are the norm here. Certainly there’s no place for transphobia in good faith discussions, but the people slapping themselves on the back here for routing some trolls might want to look in the mirror and ask themselves if their contributions on a regular basis have fostered spirited and enlightened debate here.
Then why, dear anon, are you reading the comments section?
Look in the mirror and ask yourself.
Thanks for everything
Your apologies are no good here.
Thanks for everything. Don't worry about it.
We do have some really good discussions on here about topics both important and unimportant, and it would be a shame to lose that to those who wish to use this site as a sounding board for their deep-seated bigotry.
I hadn't even looked at the Orange Line story yet, but on the other problematic one, I wasn't expecting any of us to change their mind and one might decide to ignore rather than engage when you know that will be the end result but intolerant and hateful ideas cannot go unchecked.
The thing I like about UHub
It's just a fun place to visit between projects and emails. The stories are varied and interesting. It has the most comprehensive local news of any local news site. It's well written. The headlines are great.
I lurk in the comment section because even with the occasional troll it's still 99% healthier and positive then a vast majority of news sites.
To be honest, I don't know how Adam does it. Dozens of stories are posted every day. There's never been a day with no updates in the ~10 years I've been here. I assume Adam sleeps, eats, and spends time doing other things but I have no proof of that given how the site is run.
Only paid subscribers get to comment without pre-moderation.
And/or you need to donate in order to get an account.
Perhaps some trusted community members could be deputized to lighten your load as moderators of at least the anon comments.
Another another idea
A “Report post” function so that people can flag offensive posts for you. When you get enough hits on a particular post it might make it easier for you to know to tune in. Of course some would report anything they don’t like but when you get a large number then it’s probably noteworthy.
Just about to post this exact idea
Weigh the reports based on number of people that reported the post since people will report things they don’t agree with, but are not actually bad. The bad posts will be lit up like a Christmas tree pretty quickly.
The module for the thumb's-up thingee also allows for a flagging system. Never tried it because people haven't been shy about e-mailing me about issues, but I'll take a look.
To add on …
If there is some way to weight based on "number of years active on UHub" you'll probably have a pretty good proxy for "not a raging transphobe, racist or antisemite."
Sure, I might get into friendly arguments with folks on here from time to time, but the ones where it becomes unfriendly (remember MarkK?) usually get banned pretty quick.
Please don't make this go the way of metafilter, a place where I was once very active. Then a petty tyrant mod decided not to like me, and I was unwelcome.
Adam does a great job, and I understand that it's a sisyphian task. Adding other people is not as straightforward a solution as it may seem.
More for the anon comments
If Adam had some help with this he wouldn't be so overwhelmed with the rest. Most anons don't use consistent pseuds.
I agree that moderators can become tyrants - I can name a subs on reddit where the mere presentation of scientific data contradicting a pet favorite spouting woo in a non-political discussion will make you a target of the insider's club.
The problem with mods
The problem with mods is not that they moderate. The problem with mods is that the position can attract people who haven't gotten over their desire to be the hall monitor -- and then it just becomes a vicious cycle as people try to ingratiate themselves to these mods in order to remain members in good standing. I think adding mods to this site would only kick the can down the road, because to keep the site what you want it to be, you'd have to oversee the moderators.
I do believe that you've described what happened to MetaFilter. It's sad that what used to be a fun site became such a tone-policed, trigger-warning-laden wasteland.
has become that way too. I got banned permanently for calling out an insurrectionist (or got the third strike which is essentially the same thing there, and no appeal will work) just because the wannabe hall monitor agreed with it when it snitched on me (remember, I give scumbags the neuter pronoun). And yes, that was in the Boston subreddit, where I got most of my Karma from. So yeah, if we have moderators, better make sure they are doing it for the site and not for personal vendettas. I would NOT be applying for that very reason but hope more reliable people would.
Please do not ban Magoo
I know this is unpopular opinion, but he is…special. Let him remain. Please and thanks for all the hard work.
I sort of agree with you
I can't put my finger on why, but I sort of agree with you.
Magoo doesn't appear to have a mean-spirited bone in his body.
Man, he's annoying, though.
I think Magoo is funny
so I agree not to ban him.
Will you be banning
All vile comments or just the one you don’t ideologically align with. Probably the latter.
Get off your virtuous high horse.
this doesn’t even mean anything
why would anyone be “ideologically aligned” with comments they don’t agree with?
Leave, then, if you don’t like it
I don’t see anyone asking you to stay, so why not fuck off? Definitely one of your best looks right now, Chief.
It’s his site. He can manage it how he wishes. People can view however they wish. Laissez-faire and all that.
If you want to be a prick, you can (respectfully) go back to whatever contrarian private Facebook group you crawled out of.
You’re a good man, Charlie Brown
And I agree that having one or two mods you trust watching the comments might not be a bad thing.
And hey, folks
If you’re like me and just realized that you haven’t contributed to Adam and this great site in a while (or maybe ever), there’s a “Support now” link right up there at the top of the page! You even get a sticker!
I just did a monthly subscription so I don't forget. This site is worth it!
Adam, you do a phenomenal job
This website has engendered a great sense of community. Not only is it literally the only site where I will read the comments, but I actually really look forward to what the commenters have to say, most of the time. Most of the posters here are smart, funny people with interesting takes on the news you post.
I appreciate the line you walk between people being able to say what's on their mind vs being dangerously intolerant asshats, and I fully support you shutting down hateful discourse. I'm proud to be a Uhubber.
Thank you for all you do, you're incredible.
I love your journalism, I love your occasional personal contributions in your own comment sections, and I love your choices in content control and moderation on the site. Please never stop.
Magoo sez thank you for not blocking Magoo. Magoo.
I'd take a thousand Magoos...
...over those particular cretins shitposting here (as much as I eyeroll at your weird but benign posts).
You're welcome, sir.
Deep down inside, we love you, Mr. Magoo.
Adam, you are good people
Thanks for all that you do.
I think the issue is...
We toss these terms around all the time. The actual term "phobia" does not equate to what the more common uses traditionally have been. Arachnophobia, agoraphobia, and acrophobia have real physical responses. I haven't ever seen a person react in such a way to a transgender person.
We've reached a point where "I disagree with an opinion" means the other person is some sort of phobe or -ist. The words have lost all meaning.
there is a very real physical response when lawmakers create legislation that marginalizes trans people based on their* inability or unwillingness to accept that the actual world is bigger than the one that they perceive
* fixing a poorly constructed sentence. “their” is referring to the lawmakers. i need coffee.
being transgender is not "an opinion" that other people are just "disagreeing with", they're actively working towards eliminating people's rights to exist and knowingly undermining their mental well-being.
plus, phobias aren't just expressed by shrieks of fear and hiding in the corner, but denial that a thing exists and an inability to accept its reality.
you revealed quite a bit about yourself and your beliefs there.
Except that other people's lives are not opinions.
What word would you prefer to refer to irrational reactivity to someone else's existence?
thank you Adam!!
Universal Hub is the one site I check daily. You report on real local news that truly affects my life, and I can trust that you'll have accurate info often well before anyone else. Moderating is a job in and of itself, and I truly appreciate the work that goes into that on top of the work of running the site as well as your taking the time to give us a glimpse behind the curtain.
Thank you Adam
UHub is just as good as the globe, and free.
As daily reader and an occasional non-registered commenter, I appreciate the content and challenging process of moderating comments.
Adam, I appreciate this apology but hope you aren't beating yourself up over it. Perhaps you will deputize some moderators or use the flagging system, but otherwise we get it that you can't be "everything everywhere all at once." This reminded me that I hadn't donated in a long time, so I just did and hope others will too if they enjoy UHub as much as I do.
Thank you, Karen.
And this time I don't mean it pejoratively lol. You're one of the GOOD KArens. :-D
Thank you Adam
That is all. Just a heartfelt thank you.
Thanks Adam - Thanks Community
Sincerely respect all you do for keeping the citizens of Boston and the Commonwealth informed.
Providing a community space that is inclusive for all, is not easy, but I appreciate your effort and will continue to support.
Thanks Universal Hub and all the (Hubbers? Hubbites? Hubricans? Hububs? Hubholes?) community that posts.
It hink we should take a poll
...on what our nickname of that type should be. Shirley Adam has the capability? Also, I'm testing his Leslie Nielsen rating here. ;-)
Thank you, Adam!
I usually just lurk in the comments -- people usually state my position better than I could (and no I don't mean the vile comments from the mouth-breather section of the audience!). Thanks for running this site all these years, and I hope others will consider donating monthly like I do. (I'm not giving very much, but hopefully enough of us are doing it that it makes a difference.)
You are much appreciated, Adam
You are much appreciated, Adam
Hopefully the warning leads to less bigotry overall
Getting a bit meta
Getting a bit meta on the subject of apologies: a number of people have commented that you don't need to apologize, and while I agree that you have made an earnest and good faith effort to deal with trolls and bigots, strictly speaking I think only those who have been harmed have the right to say whether an apology is needed or not. Others can validate your good efforts and intentions, but I don't think people should offer absolution for actions that didn't harm them.
With that said, I very much appreciate both what you've done and this statement. It can feel very lonely standing up and speaking up to bigots, particularly when bystanders roll their eyes and say some marginally parlor-polite version of "oh you're always playing the [fill in the blank] card". It means a lot to hear that you appreciate those who stand up.
I know what you're saying and
I know what you're saying and agree with the larger point, but I'll gently push back on the idea that e.g. only trans people are harmed by transphobic comments. They're harmed the most, but hate taking over a public square hurts everybody.
Thank you :)
Thank you, Adam. I'm happy my monthly contribution helps keep this site going.
Thank you, Adam
for everything. And you don't have to apologize for standing your ground against online bullies.