Dribbble terms tackle inappropriate content

Dribbble, a site where designers post snippets or grabs of work, has updated its terms of service following the posting of content deemed inappropriate by community members.

The shot, which subsequently appeared on Dribbble's popular page, sparked discussion and fuelled a rethink of what content is allowed on the site.

Co-founder Dan Cederholm told .net such changes were necessary in order for Dribbble to succeed in its goal of being an inclusive social platform for designers. He said that, while larger networks typically revolve around the formation of small ecosystems where you block anyone who acts inappropriately, problematic content has the possibility of being more visible in smaller communities like Dribbble.

“We'd been fortunate that our community has largely been self-policed - it's a testament to how great the community has been on the whole, and how only a tiny fragment of what's posted is objectionable,” Cederholm said. “A vast majority of what's shared on Dribbble is outstanding work. But as we grow, we realise we need better tools and policies to deal with inappropriate content. It's yet another challenge in scaling the site.”

At the time of the latest incident, there were questions regarding the lack of an immediate response by Dribbble. However, Cederholm argued any changes to a site must be carefully considered: “You run the risk of disturbing the foundation if the changes are knee-jerk or happen too often. We've been very careful not to put too many rules around what can be uploaded on Dribbble - to a point.” He added that at the same time, “everyone should be comfortable in using the site, and content that's intended to stir up controversy or alienate certain people isn't the type of content we want on Dribbble”.

Keeping it clean

The most obvious change to the site is a new rules section, which states that users must not post inappropriate content, and continuing to do so may result in an account being suspended.

“We needed to be more specific about what types of content may be removed. It doesn't mean we have the resources to vet everything that's posted on the site, but rather we now have an understanding with the members about what types of content we will suspend to keep the game clean,” explained Cederholm. “It'll be an ongoing process, and while not perfect, will give us the tools to keep undesirable content at bay. The [Player's] Handbook will evolve only when it needs to. Our goal isn't to write more rules about how folks use Dribbble, but we'll react as the community grows and evolves to keep the level of quality and integrity high.”

Product designer Faruk Ate has recently written about industry sexism. He was disappointed Dribbble didn't initially remove the offending artwork in this incident, with a moderater stating it was an “honest attempt to show work” and not meant maliciously.

“But someone can mean well and still be offensive at the same time,” Ate told .net. "If a community’s leadership says objectionable - or at least highly questionable - comments or images are tolerated within its virtual walls under certain ‘conditions’, it explicitly condones such content to be shared on the site in the first place”.

Ate decided to chime in, explaining why he couldn’t continue to be a member of a community that would “tolerate or condone such hostile and exclusionary content and behaviour”, including artwork that “blatantly objectified women”. However, on contacting Cederholm, Ate discovered those behind the site were in fact already heavily debating the issue and figuring out what to do.

“The outcome is a more stringent policy regarding inappropriate or questionable content, better ways for Dribbble itself to deal with such cases, and an updated Player’s Handbook that is far more explicit about creating a welcoming and inclusive community,” he said. “With these new rules, policy updates and improved technology in place for dealing with incidents like this one, Dribbble is taking the right steps towards making sure its community is respectful to all of its members, and that is a fantastic result to see less than a day after this issue was brought to their attention.”

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