[tech] Managing un-moderated account creation and it's side-effects

Sean Conner sean at conman.org
Thu Jan 7 08:03:12 GMT 2021

It was thus said that the Great Mansfield Mansfield once stated:
> Hello!
> One of my goals has been to have a client / server pairing that
> supports helping non-technical users go from downloading a client to
> posting content as quickly and painlessly as possible. In my mind this
> means allowing new accounts to be created *without* moderating their
> creation... which leaves me wondering how I might respond to side-effects
> like any unwelcome content (illegal, offensive, spam, etc.).
> I understand that walking down a path that allows un-moderated account
> creation is asking for trouble. I'm still interested in exploring
> the possibilities to see if a compromise might be found for
> my implementations.

  I am not a lawyer, so take what I say with a few bolders of salt.

  How concerned are you?  I can see where you might be subject to:

	* laws where you live
	* laws of the domain you register (for instance, the purely
	  fictional .fd top level domain (Freedonia) might  subjects you to
	  its punative libel and copyright laws despite where you or the
	  server or your users are located)
	* laws where the server resides
	* laws where the user lives

All of those might be the same country; it might not.  The US has strong
freedom of speech codes and thus libel cases are harder to prosecute (to a
degree); the UK has less free speech and very strong libel laws (compared to
the US) so you might be liable for something a user said.  Again, it
depends upon jurisdiction.

  I know the US (since I live there) tries to make a distinction between a
"publisher" and a "platform" and one of the differences comes down to
moderation---do too much and you can fall into the "publisher" category
which makes you more liable for what is said than if you are in the
"platform" category.  Too little moderation and, as you say, is also

  Okay, ignoring legal liabilities, one way might be to use an "invite-only"
system.  The website Lobsters (https://lobste.rs/) uses an invite system. 
Users can invite new users (even ones they don't know) but they then become
liable for the new users behavior.  I'm checking the current moderation
queue for users [1], and while most are userid changes (foo changed username
to bar), some users have been banned (mostly for spamming; one for
"repeatedly trying to use Lobsters to whip up an online outrage mob against
organizations they don't care for"), some have had invites disabled for
inviting too many other people who have been banned.  That seems to work for

  Also, trying to invoke a community spirit can help.


[1]	https://lobste.rs/moderations?moderator=%28All%29&what%5Busers%5D=users\

	I'm not sure if you can read the link if you aren't a member.

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