Sunday, February 22, 2009

Comments on a New Comment Policy

I had a rather unfortunate experience with the blog yesterday that is having me consider a technical/policy change. During an exchange under the Phil Gramm post from yesterday, I entered into a spirited exchange with one of our frequent posters, during which I made the oft made comment here that he was not reading what I wrote....and that his responses were based on a misreading of my words.

I left that comment up for about 20 minutes. After a while, I thought to myself that my comments were not made in a manner that brought repute to this site and so I took the comments down, resigned to just doing what I often do with responders with whom I disagree--and that is, move on.

Apparently the poster with whom I was having this debate had the opportunity to read what I wrote before I took it down, either through good luck or because he subscribes to an RSS feed of the site. Perhaps not realizing that I had put my gun away and pulled my last post down, he responded with a healthy defense of his position and a counter-accusation that I had not read his words.

I then removed the whole shooting match from the site.

So here's the deal. As currently configured, I post something, and then if someone wants to comment, they can. Their comments are immediately posted to the board without any review on my part. I have the ability to go in and remove posts, but not until after they've already been posted. I have had to remove posts before for a number of reasons including profanity, extreme prejudice, personal attacks (on me and others) and rarely out of editorial prerogative--that is, because I have gotten so pissed off at the what I consider to be deliberate and continued misreading/nonreading of what I had written followed by defenses thereof.

I am considering enabling the technology here that allows me to first review a post and then determine whether it will be posted. In this way, I won't again have to have the public discussion of "you're not reading what I wrote", something that after eight months of writing this blog I have come to despise more than anything else about it.

What do you think (and no, I haven't enabled it yet)? There are clearly pros and cons to the idea. On the pro side, it makes me happier, makes me like blogging more, and keeps the site civil. On the con side, it could be viewed as limiting debate--especially debate that I find disagreeable (and do not read that as "with which I disagree"; that is an entirely different concept)--which by the way, it would absolutely be used to do. Additionally, if I am unable to get to a computer or email, the posted item would languish in cyber-purgatory until I posted or killed it.

I know that I could implement this change without debate and discussion. Realize also that this blog was never supposed to be an ongoing public version of an email chain or personal conversation between me and any one or two of my readers. My desire is to comment and invite comment, and if there's a good conversation to be had among the readers, it will develop. Every bit of time and energy I spend on defenses/conversations is time and energy I don't devote to moving on to other subjects.

So--should I make the change to front-end editorial control, or should I leave things the way they are and simply suck it up, and get better at just ignoring comments I find objectionable?


Anonymous said...

Whenever I see a series of deleted posts, my curiosity is instantly piqued as to what exchange may have occurred (and I always assume the ugliest of exchanges). I say let them stay; if you have to review each comment, you'll become a slave to your computer. As annoying as it is to read some of the 'you're wrong and I'm right and I'm pushing my points regardless of what you've said,' it makes for a spirited debate. And there's enough of us that understand your views that can jump in in your defense. I realize you don't need 'defending,' but the majority of your readers know what you're saying and can certainly speak up. Or we can simply ignore some of the comments as well, because it's impossible to reason and have that spirited debate with some folks hell-bent on getting their point across.
Ask yourself, though, if you really can ignore the objectionable comments--or is it going to be too irresistible for you to smack some ignoramus down?

Anonymous said...

Though I appreciate your distaste for those who treat this site as a personal chat room and the blogger wannabes who have not put forth the effort to actually set up their own sites, I would be diappointed if you changed the posting policies.

The current policy allows for spirited debate among your readers and allows you to delete any post in a reasonable amount of time if you see it is unfit for the site.

Anonymous said...

Just because you disagree with our alternate views doesn't mean you should censor us! If you want a FOX news kind of one view of the world blog then just keep censoring. Oh wait, I didn't read what you wrote. Never mind.

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Ken Adams said...

Let the comments flow. Free speech needs to be free from prior restraint, or it doesn't work as well. Effective debate also needs to be timely, and waiting for an editorial decision detracts from that.
I think you would be much better off with a policy of deleting ad hominem and other attacks rather than editing and selecting what you will allow to be said. I suspect that your comment threads would mostly dry up if you went moderated.

Bill said...

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." Baron Acton understood.

But I do prefer what Prime Minister Pitt condensed and stated better, "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it"

Hard position to be in but from the cheap seats I would prefer to read uncensored debate and make my own determination.

This discussion does make me wonder if a public blog (even one with defined ROE) is protected in any way by the 1st Amendment. Does create an interesting angle and one I will ponder.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Sally--ignoring the objectionable comments will be hard--but ultimately might be the best thing.

Target--very funny, thanks.

TDP--thanks for the input.

Liv--funny, but relevant?

Ken--very wise input.

Bill--interesting view and inferences are striking. That said, it is my site, right? I mean, I don't like what comes out of MSNBC, the New York Times, or The Nation----but they are under no obligation to supply me with a platform for my views, objectionable or otherwise--and I not only understand that, I support it. So what's different about this site? Note please, that I am not saying (and I have gone out of my way NOT to say) that I am looking to censor those who disagree. I am looking to censor those who routinely and blithely create their own interpretation of my words (a debate with a gay rights advocate who never bothered to ask what my views on the big issues impatcting gay America were comes to mind). Disagreement is encouraged. Disagree-ableness is not.

..... said...

Is there a way to allow your readers to flag objectionable comments? Not the ones that are based on incorrect readings of your entries, but ones that cross the lines of decency, etc. In this way, the market could screen for you those objectionable posts instead.

As for the misreadings, I suggest letting them remain unanswered.

Finally, is there a function that limits the length of the posts that your readers can make? That way, in forcing us to be brief, the exchanges won't be so toilsome.

Anonymous said...

Don't change a thing!

Bill said...

CW: is a company still private if they sell shares?

The statistics you have stated previously reveal many people from many places that visit this blog and as Goethe stated, "There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance."

Knowing you and your penchant for exacts it is paramount then to consider that it is extremely difficult to convert someone if they have been silenced. And simply put it doesn't allow us or at least me to pile on!

The Conservative Wahoo said...

...should have known better than to ask a bunch of Conservatives whether or not I should change something....

Mudge said...

Anne Thrope - Couldn't agree more with throwing down the gauntlet for contributors to be brief. I have several examples that I would like to offer in support:
1. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. BLAH!!! Blah blah blah blah blah.
2. [Insert text of any program of "The View"]
3. [Insert blather from any policially-charged Hollywood award acceptance speech]
4. [Insert virtually anything vomiting from Ann Coulter--sorry, can't stand her]
5. [Insert many of Mudge's postings--mea culpa!]
To summarize and get the message. And so did I!

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