Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Politics of Moderation

If you are looking for my Thursday Thirteen, please click here.

As regular visitors to this blog know, my posts/polls are normally related to pop culture. Because of recent events, I've decided to make a one-time deviation from the format. In addition to voting in the poll in the left sidebar, I hope you are able to read the following post:

The other day, I was talking with a blogging friend and we agreed that there are two reasons one would enable comment moderation on their blog:

1. To eliminate Spam, trolls and mean spirited comments

2. Because they are reluctant to let anyone with a different opinion share their views

Recently I had an encounter with Lauren, the author of the blog Can You Be A Part Of My Life? Although I had an unpleasant exchange with her earlier this summer, I still read her blog on occasion. One thing I noticed is that Lauren sometimes has a tendency to go on the attack against those who don't share her views. In a post about the Saddleback Forum, she stated that if she were to have an abortion, it would affect no one but her. Lauren also said that comments stating that she would be hurting a baby would be deleted. When a commenter countered that abortion does affect the man (he even drew on personal experience), Lauren tore into him like a hyena does a zebra on one of those Animal Planet documentaries. Because Lauren's words are hers, I won't use any direct quotes here. However, you can read them in the comments section of the various posts that I've linked to here.

Last week, she wrote an anti-Obama post titled Is This The Change America Needs? When Pjazzy answered the question in a respectful way, she felt the wrath of Lauren. She called Pjazzy super ignorant, compared her thought pattern for choosing Obama to Hitler/Chavez, and that was just in the first three paragraphs (her response totaled 8)! A natural reaction for many would be to return the attack and that's what Pjazzy did. Lauren countered by doing a separate post (click here to read it) in which she included Pjazzy's response, along with her comments. I took issue with Lauren's attempt to make herself look good by describing her original response to Pjazzy as simply a "reply". As a result of this incident and the previous one with the gentleman who voiced his opinion about abortion, I decided to respectfully voice my concerns to Lauren in the comments section of the post. Although my comments briefly appeared on Lauren's blog, they (along with Pjazzy's in which she thanked me for what I said) quickly vanished.

Last Friday, Lauren wrote a post about McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate titled Vagina Or Penis I DON'T CARE (she has a fondness for typing in all caps). One commenter stated that they were leery of Palin because they had never heard of her. In Lauren's response, she mentioned that until less than 2 yrs ago no one had heard of Obama outside of his home state. Since I knew this to be untrue, I wrote the following:

"It'll be interesting to see how McCain's pick of Palin as his running mate plays out. Will it sway more of the Hillary supporters McCain's way or will he lose more votes because some don't like the prospect that should something happen to McCain, we'd have a female President?

You mentioned that until less than 2 years ago, Obama's name was never uttered in anyone's household except for extremely local towns in his home state. In actuality, Barack Obama came to national prominence 4 years ago when he gave the keynote address at the DNC in July 2004."

Lauren responded by insisting that no one knew Obama outside of his state until less than 2 years ago. She went on to say that by questioning one of her statements instead of sticking to the topic, I was being a typical liberal. To illustrate the point she made in her response to the commenter, Lauren cited that she didn't know me before she started blogging. I responded by saying:

Lauren, I never said that giving a convention speech is automatically going to thrust someone into the national spotlight. However, in Obama's case, I think it did. I remember that Obama's keynote speech in 2004 did generate buzz from the media. Below is the link to a clip of PBS pundits giving their analysis of Obama's speech:

I also recall some of my friends, co-workers, etc. talking about the speech afterward. You mention that there was no talk about Obama in all the states after he made his speech. In all seriousness, I am wondering how you know that. Do you subscribe to newspapers in all 50 states? Did you visit all 50 states? Just asking. Having said that, you and I can agree to disagree on the impact of his speech.

You said that I'm making this about what you said instead of sticking to the issue. Since I know that people were talking about Obama in my home state (which isn't the same as Obama's) back in 2004, I knew that your statement about his name not being uttered in anyone's household except for extremely local towns in his home state until less than 2 years ago wasn't true. Is it not OK for me or others to address comments that you make on your blog?

You mentioned that my comments were "Typical typical liberal attempts to put so many directions in the conversation that we get lost and forget what's really the topic." Three things:

1. Making sweeping generalizations about one's political beliefs doesn't accomplish anything.

2. Is your not knowing me before you blogged sticking to the issue? If you think so, that's cool. However, I thought the issue at hand was politics.

3. Since I don't recall ever telling you what my political affiliation is, I am wondering how you could know whether or not I am a liberal, conservative, independent, etc.

Hey, did you notice how I didn't type any words in all caps to make a point? :-)

Lauren (who began using comment moderation last week) chose not to post those comments. However, she did post her response to those comments by saying that she wouldn't post my comments if I didn't stick to the topic of the original post. I replied by asking her what she was afraid of; adding that moderating comments in the manner that she does makes her blog one-sided and boring. As you can guess, those comments didn't see the light of day either (I didn't think to save them so I can't include them here). She posted a lengthy response accusing me of demanding that she do things my way (not true) and trying to change the subject/topic (wrong again).

To me, not posting a reader's respectful comments but posting your response is distasteful. I wouldn't be surprised if readers are thinking I cussed her out or something! It's akin to both Lauren and I having guns. The only difference is that hers fires bullets, while a flag with the word "Pow!" comes out when I pull the trigger on mine.

I have no issue with sticking to a topic when I comment. However, it was she who brought Obama into the conversation (with inaccurate information) and chose to comment on my political beliefs (which she had no way of knowing). By Lauren's rules, she can go off on any tangent that she chooses. However, if you decide to address any side topics that she brings up, be prepared to get slapped down.

One of the aspects of blogging that I enjoy the most is the exchange of various ideas. Last year I deleted the comments of an anonymous poster who used a racial epithet and part of me regrets doing so. Although I no longer allow anonymous comments, I don't use comment moderation. There was a commenter who aired her anti-gay views in a post I did about gay male intimacy. Although I completely disagreed with her, she was allowed to voice her opinion.

Comment moderation can be a good thing (to eliminate Spam and abusive commenters) and it's a blogger's prerogative to use it any way they see fit. But if you use it to muzzle people who either disagree with you or call into question inaccurate statements that you are presenting as fact, what's the point? The title of Lauren's blog asks the question "Can You Be A Part of My Life?" For the sake of my sanity, I think I'm gonna answer that with a resounding "No!"

As a side note, Lauren has an open invitation to come over here and join in on the discussion. I told her as long as she keeps it clean and respectful, she can say whatever she wants.


Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I think what you said here sums it up perfectly:

"To me, not posting a reader's comments but posting your response has a one-sidedness which I find distasteful. I wouldn't be surprised if readers are thinking I cussed her out or something! It's akin to both Lauren and I having guns. The only difference is that hers fires bullets, while a flag with the word "Pow!" comes out when I pull the trigger on mine."

You call it distasteful, I call it censorship. Not allowing people to see both sides of a conversation to make oneself look good is a pretty sad way to get a point across.

On my blog I like to let my readers form their own opinions and if they disagree I am open to considering their views. I am not too proud to change my mind if someone can show me an alternate way of seeing something or bring new facts that I may have not been aware of before.

Good post.

The Rock Chick said...

One word....YIKES! While I certainly respect anyone's right to post their opinions on a blog, if you're going to do so, you must expect at times that not everyone will agree with you.

If you don't want to hear what they have to say, then you should disable commenting altogether. I don't think what Lauren is doing is right at all. Why attack your readers anyway? I think she'd get her views across much better without all the anger.

Her response to the man trying to make a perfectly valid point in the abortion post was sickening and what she did to Pjazzy was inexcusable. I won't be going back there again.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Yikes indeed. And I remember when Obama got elected to senate that he was already being primed as a presidential candidate. He's not my favorite out of the dems, but he's a darn sight better than the other one imo.

But some people should learn there are different ways to think.

That would be one blog I wouldn't frequent.

pjazzypar said...

I knew when I responded to her question I knew that we had diametrically opposed political perspective, but didn't matter. What I did not expect was to verbally brutalized. In retrospect, my handling of the situation might not have been the best, but reading her response to my comments made me angry.

It would have been over that day; however she continued to badger me in her responses to others on another topic unrelated to topic I commented on. We went back and forth for two days, which in hindsight was ridiculous on my part.

It's her world over there and she can run her blog as she pleases' however she should post a disclaimer expressing that anyone who voices opposition to her point of view will be ripped a new one. Then the reader can proceed at their own peril or click the close button and vacate the premisses. I wish I had done the later now.

Oh yeah Malcolm, when she didn't post your comments she seemed rather schizophrenic if you ask me. I bet readers were wondering who the hell she was talking to! I bet you she will not show up over here and it's too bad because she might learn how to host a blog with offending the reader. Thanks for posting this. Eloquently put!

The Rock Chick said...

"Anyone who comments and doesn't agree with me will get ripped a new one."


Pjazzy-you crack me up! :)

Jessica said...

First of all- nice post-very tactful and well organized. :)

My opinion, in general, is if you are going to write about issues such as politics which can be controversial, or other things of a controversial nature…you have to be open to people that don’t agree with you…they will come. Because it’s human nature…people are passionate about things. Personal attacks (ie- about a person’s appearance) should not be accepted, but disagreements in view points need to be. At least in my opinion, that’s how the world works.

I’m glad you posted the comments here that she wouldn’t allow…thanks. To me it is obvious…that you weren’t attacking her personally. You were just stating you opinion!

Kristi Mantoni said...

I do not moderate comments. Simply because I really haven't gotten any bad ones. I think that if you're going to post a blog on an open forum and invite people to comment, then you should allow for all comments.

Off topic - I also think I'm going to shy away from politics on my blog. Conservative and Liberal brains are just wired differently. So differently in fact, that it amazing me most of the time.

Jessica said...

I forgot to vote. lol

Da Old Man said...

Thank you for the invitation to read your post today.
Personally, one problem with a "he said, she said" situation is that it ignores some history, while putting forth the agenda of the writer.
As far as comment moderation itself: I don't use it, but I do not write anything very controversial, so I wouldn't expect such comments. I have had comments deleted on blogs where I disagreed with the author. After the 1st one, I never went to leave a second.
Comments are the lifeblood of a blog. One where the comments don't appear usually dry up and go away.
If I strongly believed my voice wasn't being heard, I would not continue to attempt to contribute to a blog.
But that's me.
As far as Lauren~~if she won't give you the freedom you think you should have, then either ignore her, or accept that situation.
I've read that 20,000 new blogs appear each day. I'm sure many are political, and will give you the voice you seek. That may be the logical answer for you.
Take care.

David Amulet said...

I don't mind how any blogger runs his or her site. If I experienced what you describe, I'd just never visit the site again.

She has every right to run her blog the way she wants to. So although I think her reaction to others' comments is petty, childish, and reflects either insecurity or arrogance, I wouldn't stick around long enough to figure out the precise mix thereof.

Lori said...

What the heck?! (LOL) You mean, y'all been somewhere cutting up sideways and I missed all of the fireworks?! (He-He).

Okay, on a serious note, I've seen this sort of thing before on other blogs. Unfortunately, in two of the instances the bloggers were both writers and folks I'd once respected. But after a couple of instances of watching them tear folks up and spit 'em out, I was done. In one of the instances, the woman used the comment moderation feature in a similar manner: she refused to post responses that didn't agree with her own.

Not only did I lose a lot of respect for both of the individuals in question, it also tainted my view of their work as authors.

What I've learned in the brief time that I've been on the blogging scene is that some folks really do want conversation and an exchange of ideas, while others are only interested in a monologue.

And when it comes to bullies, frankly, life's too short and I just don't have the time. There are simply far too many other playgrounds where folks are more than willing to adhere to the rules we were all taught way back kindergarten (smile).

By the way, I do use comment moderation on my blog--as way of keeping the spammers at bay and the inappropriate and off-topic or the "I don't know what the heck you're talking about" comments to a minimum (LOL).

Is that censorhship? Hmm, I just view it a way to keep folks from posting about their experiences with viagra or what they did at the strip club last night when the topic is "your memories of grandmama." (smile)

Great topic, Malcolm and as always, I think you played it smart and handled the situation well.

Fortune Cookies said...

Great post! I think anytime politics or religion makes its way onto the blog, the doors are open to varying opinions, and oftentimes, the wrath of apparently irrational thinkers like Lauren. Kudos to you on handling it well. a political news junkie, I remember way back, before Barack Obama gave his speech at the DNC, when he was first elected to senate, he was already being talked about as a "pick" for 2008. The keynote speech was just what pushed him into the mainstream, so to speak and got him more noticed by a broader range of people.
I just shake my head in shock and awe over people like this Lauren.

Candy Minx said...

I don't moderate my comments.

I've had some real humdingers like this one:

I think that the court of public opinion usually finds that people being able to read comments especially harsh ones,, reason prevails.

I think someone deletes and controls the comments made ona blog when they re worried common sense might reveal they are "one-sided" blog posts...and if they are insecure about talking about a variety of opinions.

I think Laura sounds insecure. It sounds like she isn't able to understand that the human condition is about sharing ideas in ordr to struggle to find truths and share ideaas and aideals.

When she stops people from commenting...she says she is afraid of looking ignorant if someoen contradicts her.

Meanwhile...I myself am so sick of negative bloggers who whigne and complain on their blogs. We all have bad days...but "hot topics" like abortion or religion and politics are going to attract a variety of opinions and hopefully some great shared experiences.

I just try to avoid personalities that are always negative...especially on blogs. Life is too short...and they say negativity is bad for the health...physical, mental and emotional and spiritual.

Candy Minx said...

And hey...p.s. I think writing about this topic is exactly part of pop culture! Blogging is a major activity so...I would consider it reflective of pop culture!

BeckEye said...

I don't have comment moderation because I would never want people to think that I'm censoring anyone. And if you see some of the crazy-ass comments I've gotten (especially on my American Idol posts), you'll know that I don't believe in censorship, even when the comments aren't respectful. I figure, let people show themselves for the idiots that they are. Of course, when they want to post rude or obscene comments they always hide behind the veil of anonymity, because they're cowards. And I like making sure that they know I know they know they're cowards. :)

MsMarvalus said...

Mal...First let me say this is a good post, and your heart appears to be in the right place. I do use comment moderation, partially because I ran into an issue with my previous blog with some was ugly! But part of the freedom of blogging is running your blog how you want, and just like one of the commenters said earlier, if I don't like how you run your blog, and if you attack me when I leave my comments, then I won't be back. What I love about blogging is the dialogue and the open conversation...if I can't get that, then I am out...

Lauren seems to be very closed-minded, imo...I say let her do her, and you do you (which you do so well)...

BookMama said...

You and I have talked about comment moderation before. I don't moderate my comments, but I DO reserve the right to delete any comments that don't follow my comment rules.

I think you'll agree that the rules are pretty complicated: Be respectful.

That's it, just be respectful. Disagree with me if you want, just do so respectfully.

The only comments I've ever deleted were a series of personal attacks that one person left on numerous posts over a 12-hour period.

I guess I don't really care too much if someone wants to moderate comments as heavy-handed as Lauren does. But sheesh, just delete them/don't approve them. That onc-sided back-and-forth is just silly.

Meju said...

Just wanted to say I do moderate blog comments BUT it is only to keep out an unfounded personal attack against another poster or spam ( to date I have never denied one) not due to an opinion being different from mine. I thought both sides having a say on any matter is what America is all about?!

Bryan said...

Logic doesn't work on crazy. You're wasting your time & energy if you continue this, Malcolm.

"Life is like a box of chocolates"

btw, I completely agree with you.

colleen said...

Ha! I read this looking for #4, thinking it was a 13 Thursday and that your number 3 was rather long!

Obama definately was thrust into prominence from his key note address four years ago. He also worked in the state senate. I thought the Republications last night were belittling regarding Obama and his grassroots community organizing experience.

I've only had one political troll who went over the top and I did delete his comments if they were insulting to readers and just downright mean. Sometimes I let his first comment pass but deleted others because I wanted him to state his opinion but not use my blog as his personal forum.

Pop Art Diva! said...

Malcolm - I have found you to be:

a) an intelligent and thoughtful commenter
b) polite and respectful even when you disagree - remember you took exception to my comment about real pop culture being only retro and from the past - and you were quite correct!!

Had I been narrow minded, angry and defensive and deleted your post I would have deleted interest from my blog, lost an opportunity to learn something and change my mind and lost content to boot! Besides, as I said, you were absolutely right and you pointed out my error very kindly. (my post was a knee jerk reaction to all the silly info-tainment sites that pass for "pop culture" and are really just splogs - probably a post that would have been better left unwritten, lol.)

I think you have every right to delete racial epithets from your blog - it's your blog and if you do not want inflammatory wording of that nature on your site that is your prerogative. I do not allow certain words on my site because I want readers of all ages to enjoy my posts.

If I can edit a comment that contains a word like that with a bleep I will post the comment, otherwise I will delete the post to keep my blog as "G" rated as possible. I also delete obvious spam meant only to grab traffic that manages to filter through - though Blogger's spam filter does a good job of that for me. I do not delete any posts just because they don't agree with me or have a different perspective. But I don't get a lot of those because I am "purfeckt" - oh, hahahahaha, rofl - who am I kidding here?

Otherwise I am always up for a good discussion - as long as those involved stay respectful and kind. I once posted on a Disney policy and got a response from the Disney Blog that disagreed with me. I posted the comment and commented back - great fun!

By the way, I will not visit her blog - time is a valuable commodity to me and I don't like to waste it.

I do, however, defend you and Pjazzy vehemently as you both have added great information and value in your comments on my posts - giving more to my readers to enjoy, and you have both done so with class and style. Isn't that the whole point of blogging?


Lori said...

This is a very thought provoking and well done post. I do not moderate my comments, but would have no problem deleting something that was obscene or offensive. I actually really enjoying finding out where other people are coming from who think and believe differently. If I am grounded enough in the things that are unchangeable for me and flexible enough to consider those things that are, I have nothing to fear from disagreements. (And I don't know if that sentence came out as I meant but whatever, you'll know what I mean!)

I am a Conservative Republican, homeschooling, mother of seven, born-again Christian, preacher's wife who loves pop culture and gaming. Lots of controversy available right there, but I believe we can speak respectfully to one another even if we never understand each other completely. And I believe that goes much farther in making our arguements than shutting people down or being nasty. Hopefully your post will be a great reminder to those from all perspectives to be respectful to each other and allow freedom of discourse as much as possible!

Anonymous said...

I've never moderated comments. Of course, my topics are personal and not usually ones to cause blood boiling opinion clashes. About the worst I have to put up with is a whole lot of "Ewwww, rats are gross." type comments about my pet of choice.

I know that a lot of people have comment moderation to keep spam out, but I installed Askimet on my blog and have had no trouble with it since.

But, to not let someone's comment go though, yet commenting on the comment itself in such a one sided way...that seems a bit wrong and a lot like censorship.

I've always thought, if you are not going to be open to other peoples opinions, even if they differ from yours, then you should probably be keeping a private PAPER journal and not a blog on the internet for the world to see.

Or if someone is going to be of the "I'm always right and you're always wrong" school of blogging then they should have comments disabled and not even bother with the moderation. It'll save them deletion time.

(and that is the longest comment I've written anywhere today!)

Kara said...

I actually like it when someome disagrees with me respectfully within a blog comment. It allows for a discussion to start and lets me know that I at least made SOMEONE think-whether they agreed or not. I don't moderate comments (but obviously delete spam).

Malcolm said...

Before I respond to everyone individually, I wanted to say thanks to all of you for taking the time to weigh in on this topic. As you can guess, this post took some time to write. Not only did I have a lot to say (I wish I could have done a Cliff's Notes version), but I wanted to make sure that I said it in a way that didn't resort to personal attacks.

Barbara: One of the reasons that I enjoy your blog is that you have a mix of opinions. Even when someone writes something that counters with your beliefs, you respond in a kind and respectful way.

The Rock Chick: It's funny because Lauren's blog has potential. I wonder if the guy who she ripped for his views on abortion bothered to respond. If he did, it would have been great for readers to see what he had to say.

The Mistress of the D: Well said. I'm not even a political junkie and yet I knew that her statement about Obama not being well known until less than 2 years ago was false.

Pjazzy: When I read her initial response to you, I skinned my jaw because it hit my PC keyboard. I expected a response from her, but nothing like that.

Part of me wished that I didn't comment/attempt to comment on her blog. However, the other part of me is glad that I did. It's made me conscious of how I conduct myself when responding to those who comment on my blog.

By the way, it looks like she is declining my invitation to join in on the discussion.

Jessica: I'm glad you brought up the word "passionate". Many of us (me included) get passionate about something that's relatively minor (such as pop culture) so it stands to reason that politics is going to get some people riled up. As I've said to you before, you sometimes write about controversial topics on your blog. However, you do so in a passionately... not confrontational. Even if someone disagrees with you, they are more likely to do so in a respectful manner.

Kristi: If someone is going to pick and choose what comments get through based on their point of view, they should let readers know from the get go. Otherwise, it becomes an online version of The Mutual Admiration Society.

Da Old Man: I'm glad you accepted my invitation. I agree that comments are the lifeblood of a blog. I sometimes visit blogs with hardly any comments and I can practically see the tumbleweeds blowing by.

Trust me, I've accepted the situation regarding Lauren. I quickly came to realize that it would be pointless for me to continue trying to comment and wonder whether or not my views will make it to her blog.

David: As I mentioned near the end of this post, it's a blogger's prerogative to use comment moderation any way they see fit. After Lauren wrote the last lengthy response to my comments that she didn't post, I knew then that I had to cut bait in regards to trying to get my voice heard on her blog.

Lori: Yeah, we did spread some tables last week, lol. That's too bad about the writers you mentioned. It's esp. disappointing because I expect writers to be open to the exchange of ideas.

Yeah, "Tales From the Strip Club" don't mix well with "Memories of Grandma".

Fortune Cookies: When I first read her comments about no one really knowing Obama until less than two years ago, I had to make sure that this was 2008 and not 2006. It's no shame in making a factual error. However, if the person in question gets called on it... they should own up to it. Otherwise, they run the risk of losing credibility.

Candy: Thanks for including the link to a post of yours that contained negative comments directed at you. Ouch!!

I think that most of us blog as a way of not only getting our ideas out there, but to also get the views of others (whether they are different from ours or not). As I said, that's one of the things I love about blogging. For example, I never thought about this post having a pop culture angle to it. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

BeckEye: Now I'm going to have to go back and read some of your AI posts. Anonymous commenters kill me. I think that when something controversial is brewing, they go around scouring blogs looking to stir up trouble. You got all "Ralph Kramden" on me in that last sentence. Does that make me "Norton"?

Ms. Marvulus: If I don't like a song, I switch the station, hit the "fwd" button, etc. It didn't take long for me to realize that I couldn't dance to the tune Lauren was playing.

BookMama: I recall seeing that post where you deleted some of the comments. I figured they must have really been out of line because I know that you are open to people expressing their opinions in a respectful way.

Meju: One of the unfortunate aspects of the Internet is that people can be anonymous (to a point) and therefore feel that they can be as nasty as they wanna be. Sorry to go all "2 Live Crew" on you.

Bryan: It's funny that you mention the word "logic". I say that because when I was discussing my encounters with Lauren, I said that I believe I made a mistake by trying to insert logic into the equation. You won't have to worry about me continuing this battle. This post will be my final word on the matter.

Colleen: I did find it funny how the Republicans last night tried to make community organizing a dirty term. I completely understand why you deleted that clown's comments. Let him spout off that foolishness on his own blog and if he doesn't have a blog, he needs to start one.

Pop Art Diva: I'm not a big fan of info-tainment blogs either (guess where Britney was spotted, did you see what Lindsay was wearing, etc.). However, to each their own because a lot of people love those types of blogs.

Although I occasionally use profanity on my blog, I am careful as to when I use it when I comment on other blogs. The only time I do is when I know that the blogger has used it themselves.

Once I get time this weekend, I will get over to read your post about a Disney policy. I can't wait!

Lori: Excellent points. Even if I disagree with someone's views, I am more likely to listen if they convey them in a respectful non-confrontational way.

I believe that you've commented on some of my Thursday Thirteens in the past. Since you say that you are into pop culture, I hope you have time to check me out at some point in the future.

Nonersays: Because I had so much to say, this post is much longer than ones I normally write. Even though it was long, there were things that I chose to leave out for the sake of brevity (or a close proximity). One of the things I was going to say in the post was almost word for word what you said (some bloggers should just keep a paper journal if they don't want to hear from others who disagree with them).

Kara: I too like it when someone shares an opposing view respectfully. It gets the dialogue open which can lead to a fun and educational exchange.

X. Dell said...

Lawyers have a saying. When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. If the law is on your side, pound the law. If neither is on your side, pound the table.

People like Lauren know they're full of shit. They know they're toxic. They just don't care. All they want is their way, and they want it now. They'll just pound the table. If they have to resort to name-calling, demonization or marginalization of people because of race or gender (as she did with Pjazzy here), pseudo-intellectualism (parroting right-wing talking points without even bothering to change the wording isn't critical thinking), projection, blocking, or other psychic defenses, they will.

Deleting someone's comment, and then commenting on it, in a situation like this, is more than dishonest. It's cowardly.

Sometimes, I've had to step in to control the content of reader comments. One cyberfriend, for example, allowed a comment on her board (from someone else) that was defamatory. Defamation is not protected speech, and removing it is not only allowable censorship, but required. Sometimes, on my archived posts, I'll get neo-nazis responding. As long as they behave themselves and don't break the law, I'll let them have their say...once. But if their goal is to repeat and repeat the same points in order to bludgeon the reader into submission, I won't allow it. I'll simply remove their comments. Sometimes, readers will attack one another. I want to make sure that everyone who visits the board is safe, so I'll actually referee the conversation, but not delete anything. I've also deleted comments that have contained personal information about me that I don't allow on the board. Still, I'll explain the situation, and respond to their remarks. No one has a problem with that.

Still, I cannot imagine doing what Lauren has done. Then again, I'm not an ideologue.

X. Dell said...

BTW, I agree with David and Candy in that these people will exist for awhile, and they're intractable. The point of whether or not she has the right to moderate comments is moot, because she can (she doesn't have any right to defame, however, and her remarks to Pjazzy actually approach that boundary).

I wouldn't say she's insecure about her position so much as she's insecure about her ability to champion that position in the face of all reason and logic.

Malcolm said...

X. Dell: You made some excellent points! By the way, I like that lawyer saying that you included with your comments. Most blogs feature a mix of not only the opinions of the blogger, but facts too. If a blogger is going to throw out opinions disguised as facts (which shows a lack of credibility), they better be prepared because they may get called on it. If the blogger is called on it, how they handle it will show their maturity and integrity (or lack thereof).

Anok said...

OK, so this post goes back a month and a half - but with recent events being what they are, and Malcom, thank you for contacting me (Like your blog so far!) I will say that I'm pretty sure medication is needed.

I had one encounter with the woman on a forum and she went batshit crazy at the mere discussion of what she posted about. I was utterly confused for a little bit - but me being me I kept baiting her - she went away :D

Weirdness. I have found that the appropriate phrase for folks who engage in debate like that is "willful ignorance". It's a state denial, or projection - or some such mix where they simply cannot concede a point, or even discuss things calmly or rationally. Even if the face of facts.

I have taken to not only link to sources and references, but actually quoting the references in the post or comment for people like this, because otherwise they will dodge and dodge, never having read any of what you gave them. It's frustrating.

As for comment moderation- I started out wiht moderation, becasue I wasn't sure what to expect, but quickly realized that I don't need to, nor do I want to.

Opinions stand as they stand (although I do delete spam). SO far, no one has actually been so rude or inflammatory that I had to step in and break things up.

Malcolm said...

Anok: Thanks for stopping by. When I saw the way things were going down on that Blog Catalog thread, I thought you might appreciate a little background info.

I thought it was great how you and others were calling her out for distorting facts and for her lack of netiquette (typing in all caps, personal attacks, etc.).

It was beyond comical how she kept urging commenters to watch the video even after they already did. The way she acted, you'd think that the man in the video had reinvented the wheel.

Thanks again for taking the time to stop by and join in on this discussion. I'll be over to visit you blog again in the near future.

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