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Policing Content & Cyberbullying

anonymous profile picture
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Posts: 1643

29 January 2009, 18:23

Firstly, good thread - it's good to have discussions about these types of things.

You can limit the total space that each child can have through Mahara with its quota. You can also limit the size of uploaded files rather crudely, using the server settings for maximum allowed file upload size, though unlike the quota you can't control that on a per-student basis.

There is functionality to disallow files of certain types in 1.0, but it will be removed in 1.1, mainly because it is so inaccurate. E.g. all office documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc. are all detected as msword documents, which makes it impossible to filter between them.

Though, I would suggest that you will never be able to prevent "objectionable" content making it into any electronic system. Students are smart, and they'll find their way around all but the most sophisticated systems. E.g., even if you ban them from uploading images for fear of pornography being uploaded, they could just hide the images in word documents.

So the better way to look at it is to provide systems to allow students to report bad content/behaviour to admins. Mahara has an 'objectionable content' feature for Views that can help with this.

If students are repeatedly causing problems, their accounts can be suspended by administrators, or in extreme cases, you could delete them completely.

anonymous profile picture
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Posts: 5

30 January 2009, 12:17

Thanks for all the replies. If I understand correct, we can put quotas on users to limit the amount they upload which deals with the main content problem.

 On the cyber bullying issue do I understand correctly that there is in effect a self policing system, allowing other students to report problems in the system. If this is so, I'm assuming that with logs and other techniques we can know who was responsible for the objectionable content (is it even possible to install content anonymously?)

 Finally, is there a mechanism to search the database for objectionable content to be able to find it pro-actively? I've recently taken responsibility for a significant number of moodle sites that had been hacked, and had links to dubious content installed on them, and wondered if there is a mechanism is a to be able to spot this.


Heinz Krettek's profile picture
Posts: 480

30 January 2009, 13:52

Hi Anthony,

i hope the posted links do show you a direction to handle the website.

You can configure the quotas on

.. /admin/extensions/pluginconfig.php?plugintype=artefact&pluginname=file&type=file

and set here an website default value. The quto for a single user could be modified with the section:


I think it wolud be a good example for students if they know about a colleague with a decreased quota because his stuff is objectionable ;-)

Each view and also the artefacts in it has a link "Report objectionable material" . The students should be adviced to report such cases and the admin is informed via a notification.

At the moment there is no way to search this content actively. The best wayto work against such behaviour is to explain the students the things.

Cheers Heinz


PS would be great if you give us feedback about the UK gov material


anonymous profile picture
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Posts: 1643

31 January 2009, 3:00

Hi - out of interest, what kinds of content are you hoping to identify pro-actively, and are you aware of tools that allow you to look for that content in other software?

Oh, and you can't post content anonymously, everyone using the system needs an account.

Mary Cooch's profile picture
Posts: 135

31 January 2009, 7:09

I have to say first I'm not anticipating any major problems - ours have been so used to years of being watched over in Moodle that they know the consequences.However in Moodle I can see via the stats their instant messages; I can get email alerts on the forums we let them loose on on their year pages; I can see their blogs and so basically it's quick and easy for me to check up on them. However this idea that they can select a group of friends to present a view to (with ,say a unkind blog in, or mocking images of other students) and that I cannot automatically see what's going on unless I log in as that pupil-and I am not going to know about it to log in as a pupil unless another pupil tells me via reporting objectionable content,am I? And if a group of them decide together not to grass each other up (if that's an internationally understood phrase !) then I don't see how I can police this. I will post a feature request  about restricting groups when I've worked out how to do it, and I too am finding this a very valuable thread. I do entirely agree with Heinz that the best way to go about it is to educate them  in correct online behaviour , however.
anonymous profile picture
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Posts: 1643

31 January 2009, 17:53

Hi - thanks for those feature requests you posted. And I at least understand grassing - I'm half English Wink

Yes, you're right that some students could make bad content and display it just to the students they intend to harass. Hopefully at this point, the objectionable content system swings in to action. It might need tweaking in your case (or even in Mahara itself) to inform students that their reports are confidential etc., and then combined with some basic training for students, hopefully the system will police itself.

But there will probably never be a panacea in Mahara, because the idea is that students' data is private to them. Some could argue that having login as functionality is bad enough, because if students know that staff can just waltz into their portfolios and read their work, they're less likely to use the system for honest reflection. But of course, administrators are going to need this functionality from time to time, at least to investigate things like cyberbullying. So hopefully what we have here is a balanced system - at least until we gather some intel as to how students are using Mahara over time!

Heinz Krettek's profile picture
Posts: 480
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