The Open Legal Blog Archive, backed by LexBlog, will serve as a moderator of legal content, and that’s a good thing, despite its arguable infringement on free speech.
“First, let’s look at the world without any content moderation. A website that has no content moderation but allows anyone to post will fill up with spam. Even this tiny website gets thousands of spam comments a day. Most of them are (thankfully) caught by the layers upon layers of filtering tools we’ve set up.
Would anyone argue that it is “against the principles of free speech” to filter spam? I would hope not.
But once you’ve admitted that it’s okay to filter spam, you’ve already admitted that content moderation is okay — you’re just haggling over how much and where to draw the lines.
And, really, the spam example is instructive in many ways. People recognize that if a website is overrun with spam, it’s actually detrimental for speech overall, because how can anyone communicate when all of the communication is interrupted or hard to find due to spam?”
Substitute the web and legal blogs in place of Masnick’s reference to how a website that has no content moderation but allows anyone to post will fill up with spam.
We have a web that allows lawyers and legal marketers to post spam in the name of a legal blog. Thousands and thousands of spam blogs are the result.
Rather than information, insight and commentary written by an experienced lawyer, spam blogs are “written” by ghost writers without expertise in order to achieve high search rankings.
The result is a web filled with ”legal junk.”
One function of the Archive will be to archive only credible legal blogs.
This moderation leads to a number of benefits:
- Legal blogs will be viewed as secondary law and a reliable resource of legal information, insight and commentary. Legal professionals and the public will not view legal blogs as marketing foddering.
- Secondary law provided by the Archive to legal research and AI platforms will be credible.
- As Masnick notes, there must be space for conversation. Legal blog posts build on the commentary of prior blog posts. This legal conversation, which has gone on for over two hundred years in the physical world, advances the law. Noise, or mostly spam, leaves no space for conversation.
I’m with Wilson that I’d like a world with little moderation. I’ll find my way around. Though I have come to enjoy the benefits of algorithms, just another method of moderation.
The Archive may limit free speech – any fool can take to the web with a bullhorn – but a failure to moderate would be detrimental to speech and the advancement of the law.