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Author Topic: Not all (online) spaces are for everyone… are they?  (Read 1482 times)
Necrosia
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« on: March 24, 2023 @865.43 »

Leaving aside the law-enforced rule of no minors on inappropriate sites, 'curating' members for online spaces is something that sort of vanished with social media where everyone can access almost anything, I just got reminded that this is actually a thing when another popular retro-web place began talking about enforcing the no people under 25 on their spaces.

Heres some other real examples I found on the wild:
  • A discord gaming group that accepts only girls ('girl' being a broader term that encompasses trans, nonbinary and genderfluid)
  • A telegram group of planed parenthood that only accepts people if they are invited by someone who is already a member.
  • Art communities where artists must be a certain skill level to join.
  • Queer communities not accepting people younger than X age, they claimed it was because a lot of younger queer are perpetuating prejudice they so far only saw on non-queer people and they feel its not their job to teach.

This sort of member curation can feel malevolent at first but under the right circumstances they help create safe spaces specially for minorities, twitter just recently added the option to curate who can answer to your tweets, before that it was not uncommon for total strangers to pop out of the blue to give unsolicited opinions on personal topics. Some times member curating is done to create a sense of elite or status, you have access to something not everyone can access.

Are you a part of any 'curated' community? Do you know of any other curated place? Have you ever been denied joining an online space because you did not fit the requisite? Do you feel like everyone should access everything? Or any other thoughts regarding this topic~
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2023 @909.85 »

They are not! I'd say that all online spaces are limited in some way, whether by a fixed rule or the group's social norms. If you join a group and you are not willing to engage with that group on their terms, then you are harassing them, regardless of who they are or who you are! (It can be a lot more complex than that because groups change and evolve, and so do individuals, but you get the idea)

This forum has a loose social rule that you should only join if you have a personal website or are at least interested in personal websites and the culture around them. This discussion about limiting access to the forum is a good read too!

I have mixed feelings about restrictions like age... sometimes it's reasonable; such as a group of 80-year-olds making an over-80s social club. However, when it comes to young adults it's often very unfair to make generalisations about age and maturity.

I suppose that leads to the risk with these kinds of spaces; they tend to become cliques. If the group doesn't have some form of outreach and it doesn't have an influx of new ideas, it becomes too solipsistic; that's never good for anyone :ohdear:

Limits can also be good; they can help a group focus on its goals, and create the kind of culture it wants to foster. I'd count most companies or jobs as curated social groups. I'm part of a few curated art groups and others that require paying a fee to be a member. They have their own merits and limitations! Usually, they are less fun and more focused on getting a job done, but sometimes that's exactly what you want  :grin:
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2023 @937.49 »

[I started writing this before there were any other responses, so pardon me if something was said already <:O)]

I think 'curated' members could make sense if they actually correlate with what the community is for. For example.. it wouldn't really be logical to make a community about fashion or writing science fiction "Girls only" since liking fashion (even specifically women's fashion) or writing science fiction isn't really unique to girls. The point is a little null and, to me, unnecessarily exclusive.

Although, one question I have is.. is there a significant advantage to curating members forcefully instead of allowing the community to form itself naturally with the guidance of a set topic and rules? If the goal of a community is to create a space where a certain group isn't alienated, wouldn't making it a community that discourages actions that alienate anybody serve that purpose just as well? If a community is set around a certain topic, can't deviating from that topic (or joining without having an interest in/involvement with it if the space is more casual) be clearly discouraged?

My personal belief is that, if you were to keep even respectful people who may be different from who you expected to join from having some sort of input in a community, you would be running a risk of creating something that's more akin to a dangerously isolated echo-chamber than a place that encourages the consideration of new and unusual information and views. If we have the ability to make curated friend groups with the people we meet, what is the purpose of having an entire community that isolates you from obtaining new information through meeting people who have certain differences from you?

My brain is beginning to tie itself into a knot trying to consider every single possibility imaginable, so I'll stop there. I'm curious to see other people's examples of communities that might benefit more from curating through force.. besides ones that do not allow minors simply because those communities are too inappropriate for them, anyway. That is perfectly understandable.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2023 @942.21 by Commodorn » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2023 @76.93 »

[I started writing this before there were any other responses, so pardon me if something was said already <:O)]

I think 'curated' members could make sense if they actually correlate with what the community is for. For example.. it wouldn't really be logical to make a community about fashion or writing science fiction "Girls only" since liking fashion (even specifically women's fashion) or writing science fiction isn't really unique to girls. The point is a little null and, to me, unnecessarily exclusive.

Science Fiction tends to be dominated by guys so it makes sense to have a group for women. The exclusivity also changes the nature of the conversation - the focus could be on different types of authors and themes. Similarly it would make a lot of sense to have a men's group for something like breast cancer or knitting. Maybe in an ideal world it wouldn't matter but the world is never really ideal. I wouldn't apply too much scrutiny to the limitations unless there's like some obvious problem (ie: bigotry)

Most of the issues with internet spaces also apply to real life spaces. The biggest difference is there's no physical limitation to where you can be, which gives people less incentive to be patient. Also less incentive to talk to people who aren't similar to them. In real life you might talk to someone just because they happen to be around... although that seems to happen less often these days.

In general I think most people need a sense of community in their life and it's hard to get that from being bombarded by algorithmic content.
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« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2023 @125.84 »

i'm a big fan of curation in the form of requiring users to register an account to participate in a community, like the standard forum format. registering an account is typically enough to discourage most low-effort trolls from bothering, and if it doesn't, you can always just ban them. back in the days of Livejournal it was common for communities to require approval before you could join: communities would state different requirements to join, and then you would request membership to be approved by a moderator. it was a good way to filter out spam and trolls. 

as a trans person i also think "___ demographic only" communities are fine in concept, but in practice there's rarely a way to prove without a doubt that someone is who they say they are online. even an ID can be edited digitally! i think something like "this space is for trans people only" works better in real life, and even then that's not without its issues, but i don't have anything strongly against the concept.

also, i feel like the word "clique" gets brought up a lot as a kind of boogeyman word, like cliques only form when the community is curated, like it's an automatic inevitability with curated groups. if you've ever spent any time on a free-for-all style social media platform like Twitter or Tumblr, particularly in fandom spaces, you'll know what i mean when i say cliques can and will form regardless of how private the community is :ohdear:

another thing i wanna bring up, again informed by my status as a trans person: we also live in a world where online harassment is a much bigger and more dangerous problem than it used to be, with things like doxing and swatting happening with alarming frequency. curated groups are one of the only ways that queer people—and people who belong to any other oppressed group—have to talk to others like us online without feeling like we have a target on our backs.
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« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2023 @336.98 »

i think it's perfectly fine to have a curated space, since sometimes it comes down to a shared interest, and sometimes it's just a necessity for protection; in the case of the "girls only" gamer space, it's likely because the predominant Gamer(tm) subculture is misogynistic, and in the case of queer-only spaces, as doubleincision said, it's because of societal homophobia/transphobia. as for my experience, i probably have been "denied" in a sense because i felt like i didn't really fit in, or i didn't really try to engage with those communities, but that's perfectly fine. not everything's gonna click  :dive:

there's somewhat of a phenomenon i've seen on twitter and tumblr where people express the opinion that instead of a space being set by a group of people or a clique it's up to the individual to curate their own experience. this might just be me playing a word association game with the word "curate." part of this idea is about interaction/participation ("if you don't like a person, don't interact with them/block them"), i think it is also in part about content consumption, where people's posts are the content. but also... longer form communication over forums like melonland are also kinda content consumption and interaction? there's clearly a difference here, but what is it? i'm unsure where to leave this response off  :drat:
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2023 @435.44 »

Nearly every space is by definition exclusive since no space is really there to support EVERYTHING. A forum about the Devuan operating system probably won't be a place to talk about history, whereas a MySpace group about WW2 most likely won't appreciate computer nerd discussion.

Even larger more general purpose communities like Twitter select their audience by excluding, say, children under the legal age of signing up, or perpetrators of hate speech.

Having a purpose or a theme is always exclusive and that's O. K. too. A "girl gamer" Discord has every right to exist and so do all the other examples.

The only problem is when these exclusions end up missing the point. Our uni has a cafe only for non-cis-male people, but my trans male friend was always policed in his masculinity. Of course my cis male feminist friends were not allowed in even alongside me but a cishet woman with racist and transphobic attitudes was, all the time, just for being a woman. Building inclusive spaces depends on policing opinion, not identity, imho.
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Necrosia
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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2023 @621.76 »

there's somewhat of a phenomenon i've seen on twitter and tumblr where people express the opinion that instead of a space being set by a group of people or a clique it's up to the individual to curate their own experience. this might just be me playing a word association game with the word "curate." part of this idea is about interaction/participation ("if you don't like a person, don't interact with them/block them"), i think it is also in part about content consumption, where people's posts are the content. but also... longer form communication over forums like melonland are also kinda content consumption and interaction? there's clearly a difference here, but what is it? i'm unsure where to leave this response off  :drat:

I understand what you are saying and I have seen those kind of posts on tumblr as well!  In the case of this topic maybe curating was not really the right word but I cant think of anything else right now other than "letting people join a community based on the fact that they fulfill a prerequisite or no" Now, that's a mouthful  :happy:

I do enjoy this idea propagated by tumblr that one should curate their virtual spaces tho but I think they apply to more free for all spaces like a social media feed or discord where as you said content consumption and interaction runs free and most of the times unsupervised and the user has the ability to block or ignore certain tags, contents or users.
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2023 @847.88 »

sometimes exculsion can be a good thing I think. These days i pretty much prefer to join fandom discord servers that have an adults only policy, mostly because of the adult subject manner.

But sometimes it can be mostly out of just wanting to interact more with people around your own age rage. My experience with mixed ages fandom spaces lately has been a bit negative to say the least, whereas in the more moderated adult spaces things tend to be a bit more calm.

Believe it or not lately there this weird  divide of who gets to be in a fan space, and everyone having their only space helps mitigate some of it.

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« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2023 @868.53 »

@Necrosia: I wonder which community you're refering to, that wants to have all members older than 25. Do you have some links?

Because it sounds... downright idiotic for some minor heap like the old web community to segregate between age groups. You can afford that when Facebook is slain and banking works over a telnet terminal again! Anyways, the "blonde CRT users with a 20-25 year old Amiga computer" message board will be formed soon...
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« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2023 @108.19 »

Fantastic discussion!

I personally believe similar to teatime, /home/user/, and doubleincision: I believe "curated" spaces are a necessity now that the internet has grown so far beyond it's early reach.
As the internet itself gets into the hands of more people and slowly becomes a necessity to life, we will absolutely be exposed to more dangerous people and groups who - as doubleincision pointed out - will have access to very dangerous tools such as swatting and the like. With people also being bred into hostility online due to being forced to mingle with folks that wish harm on them, many absolutely abuse these tools and real people's lives are very much put in danger.

I've been excluded from spaces for various reasons, and honestly I used to have the bitter sentiment that it was toxic and unfair when I was younger. But as I got older and understood as well as experienced harassment myself, I really realized just how needed these spaces are.

I run and participate in "exclusive" spaces online. The most "exclusive" ones are NSFW so we have to keep minors out. These spaces are needed for many adults' mental health - especially with the resurgence of extremely harmful ideologies. It's vital for these spaces to exist in safety, without fear of harassment, minors, or being shamed/attacked for their consensual practices.

I do see why a space sought to limit it to 25 and older, seeing as most adults that give our spaces the most trouble are between 18-25. Yet I look at that as a step back rather than a step forward, and adults over 25 are still very capable of also propagating biases and prejudice.

Most come from a place of ignorance or fear. A lot of the time they can feel forced to follow these beliefs by the harassment and social isolation that happens if they don't. So many are left to feel disgusted or ashamed for things they should not be and it is heartbreaking.
I understand those who do not have the time or energy to help adults struggling with these leftover issues, it is a very daunting and demanding thing! Though I do believe if everyone opted to just not teach, it could lend to many continuing to practice these toxic behaviors and ideologies that we create these spaces to avoid in the first place. So I am thankful for those with the energy! It's a lot. And again, no ill will to those that don't!

Be kind all, and thank you again for this awesome topic!

*Slightly edited, my language was a bit iffy in some places lol
« Last Edit: April 19, 2023 @826.78 by Ninaiso » Logged


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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2023 @121.49 »

I'm a part of a few hobby groups that curate their membership by asking fairly benign questions about the hobby, and personally I'm *really* glad they do ._. Not always, but some of the groups I've seen who don't do this are... ooh boy. It's an interesting dynamic.

Lolita fashion *especially* comes to mind, because unfortunately there are quite a few people who fetishize the fashion and turn it into something really disgusting ;;

Personally for me with age, I generally make it known that I have an age I'm comfortable with partially for the sake of the users interacting with me? Like.. I don't see a reason at my age to talk to teens unless it's directly hobby related, yknow? Our lifestyles will be so different, and I'm not always comfortable being an older-sibling type ;;
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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2023 @559.59 »

@Ninaiso
Lovely, I agree with everything you said! In the end it really boils down to not everyone having the time or energy to teach so its easier to just block people out despite the eventual consequences.
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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2023 @616.98 »

I don't wanna quote anyone but anyways, since it was brought up. I'm 25 years old, and I have online friends who are teenagers, and those who are closer to my mom in age than me. A very wide net. How we met is being in the same fandom, but it's not like we can talk about only the fandom all the time, so we talk about our lives. Our lives can be very different (I don't have children of my own, for example) but we can still share things with each other. As much as a teenager could be absolutely insufferable (and I've run into those plenty), there are also teenagers who are great friends to me, reasonable in their behaviour and full of great ideas.

It's a sad topic in a way. I always felt like I was very "mature" online when I was younger in the way that people typically tought I was older than I actually was, so I think and hope I wasn't annoying. It felt quite annoying to me if there was a (SFW) fandom space that was limited to, say, only 16 and up, when I knew I would fit in just fine even though I was 14, etc. I kind of want to extend this to the teenagers I encounter now and give them a chance. Because as much as I see someone online who seems insufferable, I check the profile and it says they're 14 and that just kinda explains everything, I know that there are those who don't fit into that stereotype. It's like there is a battle inside me: on one hand, I want to give a chance to the nice teenagers; on the other, going on a Discord server and seeing a bunch of teenager members at the top makes me nope out very quick :ziped:

I guess I should add that I don't participate in any NSFW servers/topics.
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« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2023 @747.27 »

I also used to be more salty about exclusion of younger members when I was a teen (I wanted people to look up to because my family isn't great, and also the usual teen stuff of feeling really mature and too good for your peers), but I have to say, I was lucky in that it only really happened in my later teens, so I grew out of the exclusion quickly. I kinda have the opposite experience than the original thread post - in my personal experience, we interacted a lot throughout different age groups (from 12 to 55) when I was an early teen, and the older I got, the more people got divided by age. And nowadays I find it hard to find a social media profile (and sometimes even Neocities page) that doesn't have a "DNI/BYF" that says minors should not follow or interact otherwise. I think with many, there is this fear that if they associate with a minor, they could do irreparable damage or influence someone too much, or that they could be accused of inappropriate conduct with the minor. I think many people get side eyed nowadays on Twitter and especially TikTok if they even follow minors when they are 18+, kinda like "ewww why are you following/replying a minor, what are your intentions, creep?" so they try to prevent that by being hypervigilant around the topic of even getting followed by a minor.

edit: Accidentally made it sound as if I am 55, corrected that :P
« Last Edit: April 20, 2023 @678.46 by shevek » Logged

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