Monday, December 28, 2009

Explaining comment moderation

Ah, christmas holidays, I love this time of the year. But of course not everybody does, and family reunions and giving each other presents is also a source of tension for some. At least that is what I figured when over the last few days I had to censor half a dozen or so angry and insulting comments, more than usual, especially surprising since I didn't even post much contentious stuff these days.

Nevertheless one guy felt the need to tell me how dumb I am, another called me a troll, and another guy called me a whiner. The latter posted the identical comment twice under different names, probably confused why his first comment was never posted. So I thought I might have to explain Blogger's comment moderation to some people.

It is really very simple: Every comment you post does *not* directly appear on the blog, but at first only on a comment moderation page. I visit that page several times a day, read the comments, and can then decide for each of them whether to publish or to reject them. In short, I have ultimate censorship powers, not just after the fact, but everything has to pass by me before it is posted. Thus if you post a comment saying "Tobold, u r so dumb", I will reject it, and it will never make it to the blog. Not just because I don't appreciate being called names on my own blog, duh! But also because thus comments tend to disrupt any other polite and intelligent discussion going on. How do you write an intelligent argument to counter a "u r dumb" comment?

Look at it that way: Imagine you think your neighbor is dumb. You certainly can mention that thought privately. But spraying a "U R DUMB" graffiti on your neighbor's house wall is already not covered by any freedom of speech rights you might think you have. And asking your neighbor for permission to allow you to spray "U R DUMB" on his house wall is obviously not a good idea. Not only will your neighbor certainly not permit it, but he will also conclude that it isn't him who is the dumb one in that story. Trying to call me names on my blog with comment moderation on is exactly the same thing, with exactly the same results. An intelligent person can find a way to disagree with my points of view without calling me anything, even without using the word "you" (or "u") at all.

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