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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