Let me clear this up: The LJ Abuse team works their asses off, and they're very consistent.
The problem boils down to:
- I don't talk with the abuse team often enough, but they try to do what they think I'd want.
- More often they side with "not getting LiveJournal sued" than allowing freedom of speech or fair use. (but see below)
- They don't have enough tools, so a lot of simple things are really hard.
- None of their tools allow them to make anything public, so they have this "secret police" stigma that makes people fear them more.
- Back when they used real names and real LJ usernames, they got harassed a lot whenever they suspended (or didn't suspend) somebody. See, each case always results in one angry party... the reporter or reportee. But without using names, they're a faceless secret police.
We had a long meeting the other day and went over everything that we thought sucked about the LJ Abuse process.
The LJ Abuse team couldn't be better. We've had some bad apples in years past (power-hungry people who liked to suspend) but nowadays only a couple employees have suspend access and they have to review the cases of the abuse team before any suspension happens. And those suspension recommendations are reviewed, found consistent with policy, and carried out.
The problem is also policy: like I said before, without enough contact from me, the abuse team always sides with safety, rather than skirting the edge of the law. Personally, I prefer to live a little more dangerously and let legal things go, even if there's heavy pressure otherwise. Free speech and fair use are really important to me, which is why I donate money to the ACLU and EFF. We spend a fair amount of our time telling companies and individuals that we won't take something down and we'll need a court order before we do so.
But as a result of our meeting the other day, all policy additions or modifications will be rubber-stamped by me and the rest of the guys in the office, following a recommendation from the core LJ Abuse team. Also, the policy will be public, as will cases when users request it.
But I just want to assure you it's not the abuse team that's to blame. It's really just years of process/tools neglect. Ben and Junior have been appointed to coordinate fixing it all, with Ben interfacing with the abuse team, and Junior writing tools. This will include an appeals process too, with independent reviewers, public cases, public policy, etc. But more on all that later.
Things are changin', folks.