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For Black History Month, Someecards Experiences Dark Downside of User-Generated Content

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Slade Sohmer

By Slade Sohmer on February 23, 2012

As we’ve seen with the Jeremy Lin headline fiasco at ESPN, sometimes editors make mistakes and produce web content they should know better than to publish. But if you’re a website that relies on user-generated content, the skill and urgency of moderation can be a trickier issue.

What user-created content stays up? What comes down? What’s too far over the line? Is there a line?

Someecards.com is an oft-hilarious, always-edgy website that ranks among the Internet’s top 1,300 properties. It pushes that comedic line further and further, making a living off striking that delicate balance between boundary-pushing remarks only a select few can get away with and Michael Richards responding to a club heckler. Their own Happy Black History Month cards show observational wit, things like: “I wish you were black so I wouldn’t have to lie when I tell people I have a black friend” and “We must break down racial stereotypes that imply white people have smaller penises.”

The site features some clever Black History Month user submissions, too, which is tougher because people at home might not be as experienced with toeing that line. Case in point, one of our eagle-eyed scouts accidentally stumbled upon this user-submitted card hidden in the “Get Well” section.

See the date? That’s been up in the “Get Well” section for a week now. Has anyone at Someecards even noticed it? If so, will it eventually be moderated, or is it no holds barred?

This problem isn’t Someecards’ alone. Many sites rely on user-generated content, and almost all sites have comments sections that implore people to add their voices. But are these sites just as set up to moderate the off-color, over-the-line content? Probably not. And we’re left with stuff like this.

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