Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Policing Flickr

Here's an interesting inside look at how the folks at Flickr maintain "law and order" among its 30 million members. A must read for those of you who are interested in getting a job as a Community Manager at any internet company. From SF Gate:
The essence of Champ's job, she says, boils down to defending this imprecise but holy "spirit of Flickr." Indeed, imprecision is an art here. The list of community guidelines is an assortment of lawyer-vexing instructions like "Don't be creepy. You know the guy. Don't be that guy," and "Don't forget the children." If you've spent any time online, you instantly recognize these to be meaningful and clear edicts. Champ is only half joking when she says her is responsibility is to keep things from "encroaching on Flickr's serenity."

"The job always comes down to finding the fulcrum in the teeter-totter, the balance that benefits both the individual and the community," she explains.

Indeed, for all its color, the site is governed by gray. Take, for example, what I call the penis quandary, endemic to any operation like this: A photo of a penis will be flagged on Flickr as offensive and relegated to the site's version of an adults-only zone. But what about a photo of the word "penis"? What about a cloud that looks like a penis? What about a penis on a Greek statue?

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