I thought I'd open a thread for this, as it's a (seemingly) very little-discussed aspect of Scientology's public communications that I've become quite fascinated with. Perhaps some of you old-timers (or better yet, recently left) might be able to put it into the greater context of Scientology policies and beliefs. For some years now, the official Scientology youtube channel has allowed moderated comments. The comments that the moderators let through have generally either been what I call "Yay" comments: short meaningless phrases of approval such as "Nice video!" or "This is so cool." In recent years, we've also seen "neutral" comments come through in reasonable quantities, especially when they very directly engage with the topic of the video: this has been particularly true in the short videos explaining some fundamental Scientology belief. With the 2018 Superbowl commercial hitting over 4 million views on youtube (that's a 40 fold increase over last year's ad: I am not sure why that is, but I fear it may be quite significant), these guidelines seem to have been put to the test. The first few days saw the old policy of "yay" comments applied - relevant neutral comments aren't very common for an ad like that, anyway. After that people picked up on the artificial moderation and commented on it. I was astounded by the sheer numbers of these "meta" comments they let through! Letting one or so through per video has been a thing for the last 12 months or so at least, but this time we're talking up to a dozen: in fact, these comments have so taken up the top of the comments that I don't rule out the possibility they retroactively deleted some of the excess "yay" material. Alternatively, it simply got buried at the bottom of the comment stream (where a dozen or so still remain). Moreover, they began engaging with comments directly. I don't think I've seen C of S directly reply to someone before, but in this ad, they absolutely have. Example: A seeming wog*: "Ya' know, is awesome and scary to see how everyone in the comments are all happy" Scientology reply: "We're gonna focus on the "awesome" part." *Channel full of anime doesn't exactly spell out Scientologist in my eyes. The user's profile seems utterly authentic and has no reference to Scientology or its front groups. Another example of a comment they let through, this time with no reply: "For some reason these comments make me feel like I’m in a scary horror movie where everyone is robots and show no emotion but a terrifying happiness. Like an uncanny feeling that something is horribly wrong but I still can’t place my finger on what exactly it is..." Not only is that an acute observation, it's neutral leaning negative rather than positive. Now, let us be clear, this is still a heavily moderated comment section. Youtube shows the number of total replies submitted to a comment as "View 65 replies", but if you expand it only shows the ones that passed moderation. This metric gives us well over a 95% reject rate for all replies given, which is probably roughly proportional to all comments in general: though I think it's a bit inflated due to an effort to delete all non-Scio replies to a comment also replied by the channel itself, as an effort to highlight these official replies. A good indicator of heavy moderation is that the word "cult" does not appear once in the comments. But that's precisely why these comments are so interesting. With such extreme curation, the comments that are left are there almost certainly to serve some purpose. Interestingly, the channel actually posted a version of its moderation policy as reply to someone accusing them of deleting negative comments. Nope, we're not deleting anything, you have my word on that. I'll share our curating process with you - There are both positive and negative comments in the queue. The first thing we try to ascertain quickly is if the posting account is real or not, and I can tell you that in roughly 90% of the negative posts, and roughly 30% of neutral or positive posts, are from what appear to be fake accounts, therefore we don't share them. Why would we or anyone? Secondly, FYI, we'll post and respond to sincere, genuine negative questions or points when we feel we can have a mutually respectful conversation that can lead to better understanding on a topic, but guess what? The majority of negative comments are not about issues, they're simply trolls or insults, or bots, or name-calling and there's simply no point to making them part of the community as they have nothing constructive to offer the dialogue. I hope that helps in understanding. Now, are we perfect? Will trolls/bots slip through review sometimes, yep, but we do our best and we're sincere and genuine in the attempt to create a constructive, curated stream that is welcoming and informative. They definitely make their moderation sound like a lot of work. I must say that describing a stream as "welcoming" when half the comments you read are about how creepy said stream is is a little bit funny, but nonetheless it is easy to see the effort made. For instance, the people running the channel have been unusually liberal with humour. This produces some wonderful quotes: "LOL" - Church of Scientology, 2018 On another comment, they explained "We have a liberal comment policy: someone has to be outright mean, malicious or intend to do harm to not make it into the comments." Now, 95% censorship is still a bit borderline when it comes to "liberal"; but certainly, this is a bit new and unúsual for the normally so very opaque organisation Scientology is. I'd love to hear from some of you more saturated in the field of Scientology's external communications: how much of a break with the past is this really, what is it aiming to achieve, how far do you expect it to? Comments cited have been stripped of the names of their senders for a nicer flow of text: similarly, quotes from Scientology have been stripped of any introductory sentences addressing the commenter. Some particularly annoying mistakes in spelling, punctuation, and grammar may also have been resolved, and additional line spacing added in line with the improvements in the Golden Age of Knowledge re-release. If they do it to LRH, then I can do it to them, damn it.