Dell responds to accusations of censorship

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Dell says it is not censoring IdeaStorm, merely responding to IdeaStorm community requests to “merge” ideas.

Commenting in response to our post Dell censors IdeaStorm Linux dissent, Dell spokesperson John Pope said that the company isn’t censoring dissent on IdeaStorm.

“If ideas are submitted and they turn out to be the same, we have been asked by the IdeaStorm community to merge them — as well as any votes cast and comments logged — for simplicity,” said Dell spokesperson John Pope.

“To be clear, all votes and comments tied to an idea are added to the merged idea — they do not go away. In this case, that is exactly what happened.”

According to Pope, IdeaStorm is moderated by “open-minded individuals who do not censor”.

Pope did make the point that Dell has the right, as per the site’s terms of reference, to delete input that is not an idea or merely a “digital reprint” or link to a news article on its IdeaStorm web site.

While I applaud Pope for engaging with the wider Internet community, by selectively “merging” and deleting ideas, the company is in fact manipulating how ideas are presented to the public, and that is censorship.

I just searched IdeaStorm to see if I could easily find Beer28′s Feb 28 ”idea” merged into another entry. Beer28 articulates a specific argument that involves concepts like economic theory, Steve Ballmer, the Department of Justice, and closing factories. For all intents and purposes, Beer28′s ”idea” of Feb 28 is not there.

If it’s been merged, it’s been merged into oblivion. Contrary to IdeaStorm’s tag line “Let your ideas reign”, Beer28′s idea has not had the opportunity to reign, or even to ne discussed, or corrected (if that’s what needed to be done).

IdeaStorm is Dell’s site, and of course the company can edit and manipulate the content according to its discretion. I can understand that Dell might “merge” ideas that contain profanity or are overly rude, but Beer28′s article was neither of those things. Though I do admit that it was controversial.

Why doesn’t Dell follow a laissez-faire approach?

Let the community decide what’s important and what’s not; that’s how most social news sites work. Articles that add little or no value are soon forgotten.

At least for the rest of us, it’s become very clear how the IdeaStorm web site actually works.

As a final aside, some wag has posted this idea on IdeaStorm:http://www.dellideastorm.com/article/show/64341/Heres_an_idea (I can assure readers that the person who posted this is not affiliated with TECH.BLORGE.com).

This article originally appeared in Tech.Blorge.com on March 1, 2007.

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