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More Blog Moderation Blah Blah

In a previous post, I linked to something going on at LosTechies.

Derick Bailey posted an update about his original post wherein he described his decision to delete various comments that he felt were totally out of context and so deleted them.

Needless to say, if you read the comments to that update, he stepped into it, so to speak.

I’ve posted before about the entire topic of moderation, but here I tend to use really basic moderation tactics.  If, to make up an example, I post about a Porcupine Tree concert (and there will be yet another one shortly), and a commentator decides to try to start a debate about the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (not the ship, if there is one, the freakin’ constitution), I’ll delete it.  If it’s spam, I’ll delete it.  If it says something negative about my mother, I’ll delete it.  Anything racist is right out.

Other than that, I’ll probably allow it (the ‘probably’ modifier gives me leeway to be capricious, though I’ve never had to be on this blog).  Some people don’t like anonymous comments, but because of my USENET usage heritage, I have no problem with them.  Some people don’t like personal attacks, but my experience has been that one person’s personal attack was another person’s accurate analysis (and I think one of the best comments of the very few my blog generates was arguably an attack by someone I happen to know personally, but it was both accurate and funny….funny will almost always trump anything in my book, even/especially if it is at my expense).  I’ve been called “.NET’s greatest troll” both literally and in spirit, often times simply because I tend not to always accept ‘Alt.NET Orthodoxy’ (there is no such thing, but you know what I mean), and some people sometimes apparently think I don’t actually believe it when I don’t accept it.  And that’s okay. 

When it comes to blog comment moderation, the very safest thing a blogger can do is to go the John Gruber route.  Don’t allow comments at all (Scott Bellware does this on his current ‘blog’ (apparently he doesn’t consider it a blog, per se).  This is perfectly acceptable in my mind.  I don’t know if I buy Gruber’s reasoning 100% (that will surprise anyone who knows me not at all), but it makes sense to me.

Once, however, you decide to allow comments, even/especially when they are moderated, you just open yourself up to a lot of crap when you start to delete/block them for reasons other than the reasons I give.  It gives the appearance that you are blocking things simply because you disagree with them.  Which is perfectly legal, but seems really unsporting.  Especially if you are someone who posts something highly opinionated, you should expect disagreement.  It comes with the territory.  If you don’t want people to strongly disagree with you, don’t post anything highly opinionated. 

Rob Conery automatically blocks every comment I might make to his blog (even when I agree with him), but at least he was open about it.  Phil Haack blocks every comment I might make to his blog (even if it is a request for help about SubText) as flagged for moderation, but then it disappears forever.  I can’t for the life of me figure out why </sarcasm>.  That’s their right.  It isn’t (in my mind) strictly censorship, since they aren’t government entities.  I think it says something about them, but I don’t think they care what I think about it, which I understand personally.

Anyway, there you go.  Once you accept comments, if you start to block things because you disagree with them, you’re just causing yourself extra grief.  If it isn’t racist, etc., allow it, and then, as the blogger, if you think it is important, point out that you think the commenter is a douchebag.  If you can manage it though, don’t be a wuss about it.

HTH.  YMMV.  HAND.

posted on Thursday, September 16, 2010 9:11 PM Print
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# re: More Blog Moderation Blah Blah
Derick Bailey
9/17/2010 8:56 AM
i appreciate your perspective in all this and it's rather obvious that i need to get a new perspective on this.

it's been about 36 hours since i deleted those comments and at this point, i'm feeling like an idiot for doing it. there were a couple of comments that crossed over a few lines, but i got all high-and-mighty in my reaction to them and decided that more of them needed to go than should have.

live and learn, though. this entire drama has certainly caused me to stop and re-think a lot of things and i've seen more and more people talking about blog comments in a manner that is similar to what you're saying here.

hopefully I'll actually learn this lesson and not do something stupid like this, again.
Gravatar
# re: More Blog Moderation Blah Blah
jdn
9/17/2010 6:37 PM
Yeah, that's a good attitude to have.

Online moderation is difficult because it causes people to think they are being 'silenced' or something.

I would hesitate to think of things too much in terms of 'the community' as it tends to over-inflate one's importance. LosTechies is an online community and I'm sure there are many people like myself that subscribe to your RSS feed because we find value in the content you provide, but in the end, you're a group of bloggers talking about code. As professional coders, those things are important, but, one should keep a perspective about it.

Looking forward to future posts from you.

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