The Moderator’s Paradox (a barber’s paraphrase)

Suppose there is an Internet Community with just one moderator; and that every person in the community keeps himself moderated: some by moderating themselves, some by obeying the (one and only) moderator.

It seems reasonable to imagine that the moderator obeys the following rule:

  • He moderates all and only those members of the community who do not moderate themselves.

Under this scenario, we can ask the following question:

– Does the moderator moderate himself?

Asking this, however, we discover that the situation presented is in fact impossible:

  • If the moderator does not moderate himself, he must abide by the rule and moderate himself.

  • If he does moderate himself, according to the rule he will not moderate himself.



  1. Moderations are the masks of/for moderators, their «rules» conceal their personalities. His/their rules replace the lack of a language for unmoderated relations. The undiscussed moderator’s idealisms hide his fear of interhuman relations. As it happened at a clan. I think …

    (if somebody will ask if i relate the function of undiscussed moderation with that of the clan like mafia, well, yeees is what i am saying 😉 Moderation is just a newer form. )

  2. Hi Dimos!
    Well, basically I agree with you, with only one small and important clarification:

    Moderation can still exist WITHOUT CENSORSHIP, facilitating FREEDOM of expression (instead of curbing it) as well as the READABILITY of (any) electronic discussion. However, in order to do this, and still preserve the integrity of digital speech, new technical methods must be employed to make sure that the spam or the garbage excluded from the MAIN CONTEXT of electronic dialog does not disappear completely; instead of being deleted, it can be safely placed in a «parallel context» linked to the discussion, accessible to anyone who wishes to read it, without hindering the main discussion.

    For example, at this very moment, as we talk, it is theoretically possible for a gang of spammers or cyber-bullies to start polluting our discussion with annoying… content-free comments, harassing us. What can we do, in this case? Well, in the past, when this has actually happened, in this blog, I simply copied ALL such comments to a separate web-page, preserving them intact, but removed them from the main discussion. This took place e.g. in the middle of a very creative discussion between our friend Zalmoxis (, a few others and myself, when a well-known «Super-blogger» appeared, making insulting remarks and destroying the conversation with completely irrelevant grudges he held against me. What I did is reply to him in a civilized way, as much as possible, but at some point (when he finally finished his… monologue) I copied everything he said (as well my replies to him) to another web-page, deleted athis unpleasant interlude (out of context) and continued the creative discussion. Of course, I had to all do this by hand, and it took many minutes of work. In the future, it should become possible to implement this in a more automatic way, pressing a few buttons.

    However, I would oppose the complete disappearance of (even) that person’s harassing comments. It’s my nature, to oppose ANY form of censorship. Of course, I do recognize the need for SOME form of decent moderation, which will (however) preserve the Integrity of Digital Speech, even of profane or irrelevant and harassing speech – whatever.

    These ideas are NOT mainstream, of course. Many people will argue that moderation is absolutely necessary, and so on…

    It’s a painful topic to discuss, also full of misconceptions, misunderstandings, implicit ideological assumptions, and other… goodies!


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