Awhile back I posted a blog (that I'm not going to link to for shameless self-promotion) asking why terrible news stories were being allowed to pass through the approval process. I was speaking about stuff that's worse than your average flamebait post or unsubstantiated rumour. Things like stories with incorrect titles, or the personal blogs of developers talking about what they did one day in what could be an extended twitter post were being put through the approval process. Then I saw something just as bad, if not worse.
Before I get into that, I'm going to touch on a problem we've all seen on this site. That being the bot spammers who pick high traffic news stories to post scripted ads in the form of comments trying to sell clothing from chinese online stores, or trying to find suckers to sign up for "work at home" programs. We've seen them everywhere, we've reported them as Spam, and they are constantly returning because it's impossible to permanently stop bots. The Spam report is, if I recall correctly, one of the few reports that moderators take more involvement in dealing with; the others being Offensive or Personal Attack, and it should be fairly obvious as to why. N4G is not an advertising agency where any company can freely peddle their online wares to the hundreds of users that frequent the site; so it stands to reason that there are rules put in place to prevent spamming and self-promotion and such. None of us are here for that. If we wanted to see those kinds of things, we wouldn't be on a site called News 4 Gamers.
Now we come back to what I've seen that's at least as bad, if not worse, than the Spam bots posting in comments. That being sites writing up blog posts advertising their site's wares and getting through the approval process thanks to the ONE vote of a moderator, or a Network Manager, or in essence an employee (for all intents and purposes) of this site. One person having the power to immediately and pretty much automatically approve any story with one vote. One person circumventing the "community approval" aspect of this very site which stands as its most basic principle.
Is it me, or is this action the kind of thing that screams hypocrite and undermines the entire practice of removing Spam bots from commenting with their own brand of advertising? Is one more legitimate because someone took the time to create an account specifically designed to promote their own site's product? Is it not still advertising and can it not be more suited to being placed in the forums under a specific section for "deals" or what have you?
This is a problem because we, the users, take time to write out these blogs of our own personal opinions and have to go through the approval process. A process with guidelines that states very specifically "no Spam." A process that can see our blogs fail approval if the members of the site report it for legitimate reasons, or if it fails to gain the necessary amount of approvals in 48 hours. How is it that we have to go through this process, and yet some random site can create an account specifically designed to Spam (regardless of what they are selling) and be approved by ONE person? When did ONE person represent the community?
In my personal opinion, no ONE person should have the power to put any story through. I understand the merit of a moderator being able to single-handedly remove a story, but no one should be able to use their ONE voice to speak for the community. That is the very antithesis of what this site is supposed to represent and is completely unfair to the average user who has to work at getting their stuff approved.
Maybe it's just me, but I really think this needs to change. If the guidelines can so easily be tossed aside, what's the point in having them then?