Why Moderated?

I have been asked a couple times why I moderate all comments. This irks some people and they want to know why. I guess it comes from having run some sort of forum or other social website for many years at my old ISP. We ran into several problems when we allowed anonymous unmoderated postings. Let me be clear. All comments on this site become part of this site – they are not something that floats out there independently. As such, comments become the property of this site.  However, I also believe that commentators must “own” their words as well – I don’t want to change what they say unless I absolutely have to. Interestingly enough, we also discovered that most of those that complain are also the ones that would cause the problems.

The first problem is hatred. Whenever one deals with religion, politics, and computer operating systems it seems that people have some very strong view points. Some will spew venom upon anyone that disagrees with their way of thinking. Although I will allow for completely divergent viewpoints, counter-points, cogent arguments against what I say and even some personal attacks against myself, I will not, cannot tolerate attacks against other people that might post comments here. Those kind of comments will simply be deleted.

Moderation makes people pause and think before spewing that kind of hatred. When one feels that they can do a hit-and-run without any consequences, they are quick to do so. But by simply requiring a log-in, they have to remember that they are a part of a community. It won’t stop the hatred per se. Some will have to say something. As long as there is no personal attacks against any one person, I will allow them to show the extent of their intelligence. But I will moderate (edit comments or delete them) any hatred against another person out.

The second problem is “trolls.” Trolls are people that have the need to say something, often off-topic, that will be disruptive and induce an emotional response from others (see Wikipedia). They get their kicks from seeing others suffer and try their best to say something that makes others do so. It is called baiting or flamebaiting. The best thing to do when a troll says something is to ignore them. “Do Not Feed the Trolls” (DNFTT) is a common phrase seen on forums. This is a sad affliction that seems all too many people have (was that statement troll bait?). Most of the time, troll comments simply get deleted as well.

Trolls are less likely to post when they are a known quantity. Anonymity is their friend. It allows them to hide beneath the bridge and spring out when you least expect. If they know the forum is moderated and all posts are moderated, they will often attack the moderator (to little effect except to get banned) but usually refrain from attempting to bait others since instead of taking the bait, others will simply say, “Eh, its just him. He is a duffus head.”

Finally, there is the problem with spammers. Now, this is not as big of an issue as it used to be. There are a lot of good tools available for WordPress that can keep the spam to a minimum. However, the simple act of signing up and logging in can slow the spammers up to a trickle, the additional tools then have less to deal with. Finally, by having all comments moderated, the spamming is stopped cold. I have once too many times found an unwanted link to a porn site or image in unmoderated comments.

As such, these three problems, which are not exclusive, create the situation where I feel I must require moderation of all posts. I am sorry if this keeps you from posting a comment out of principle but it is the way things have to be done now days.

Here is my policy for comments on this site.

We reserve the right and feel we have the responsibility to edit for clarity, civility, and accuracy all comments submitted. All edits will be noted. If an addition, the addition will be surrounded by square brackets, e.g., [ed: Sam Spade]. If content is deleted from the comment, it will be indicated by “<snip>”. If a comment is edited, and the commenter is known (anonymous commenters give up all rights since there is no attribution), they have the right to clarify their comment, delete it, or request it be deleted.

Commenters have the right to look ridiculous, inarticulate, and unlearned. We, of course, hope for smart, articulate and informed but feel that editing should always be done minimalistic if at all. Don’t expect us to correct your spelling, fix your grammar, or otherwise become the “iron fist of editorial control.”

Commenters have the responsibility to respect others and the facts. All facts stated in a comment must be accurate. If what you are stating is an opinion, it must be clear that is is an opinion and not a fact. Broken links or links to inappropriate sites disrespect others and will be deleted. Libel, malicious, hateful and/or disrespectful statements against others will not be tolerated.

Commenters speak only for themselves and/or their organizations. Publication of a comment should not be taken as an endorsement of that comment by this blog or anyone associated with it.

Our aim is to stimulate discussion, not end it. This is a partnership between blogger and commenter not adversarial.

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