Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Should I Enable Comment Moderation?

View Beyond Bethlehem is the fearless product of Donald, an openly gay Bethlehemite who also shares his political views about local and national issues. He loves blogs himself, but only rarely reads the comments. Here's how he explains it:

"It's not that I don't care what people are thinking, I do, otherwise why would I spend so much time reading blogs? I don't read comments because so many commenters are rude, coarse, crude, insulting, petty, foul, nasty and often uninformed. This may come off sounding a tad snobbish or elitist but most commenters do not know what the hell they are talking about. If they did they would not resort to the petty insults and name calling. The ones that peeve me the most are the anonymous ones. If you are going to attempt to insult me or put me down at least have the guts to sign your name or at least your first name."

I've often claimed that the comments are the best feature on this blog. I learn from you and get many useful tips. I particularly enjoy the spontaneity of unkoderated comment. This interactivity is what distnguishes a blog from other websites. On the other hand, it is impossible to write about controversial subjects or express strong opinions without being attacked.

I expect that. But personal attacks in a post about my grandson's football team? Those are really disgusting and are almost always made whenever I write about him. This time, he saw some of them before I could delete them.

Several people want me to enable comment moderation. I've hesitated, thinking that the good outweighs the bad. Won't enabling comment moderation make me a censor? Doesn't that convert a two-way street into a one-way street? I've decided to beef up my comments policy. But what do you think? Should I screen incoming comments?

39 comments:

michael molovinsky said...

off topic, and perhaps it's just my computer service, but your entire post about don cunningham not knowing about the scott ott debate is gone?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I changed the length of the scrollbar and inadverdently saved the post to draft. I've fixed it.

A.J.C. said...

You can always change commenting to registered users only (meaning no more anonymous comments.)

ironpigpen said...

"Necessary Evil" my highly experienced brother said this past winter. "You will thank me later."

Most blogs I have visited seem to employ Comment Moderation.

This summer we had an R-Phils game report with Mike Spidale in it.

Somebody left something to prove my brother's foresight and wisdom.

The person trashed Spidale as a player, which I thought was ridiculous because the outfielder had a good season for both R-Phils (81 ga, 3 HR 27 RBI, .297 avg) AND IronPigs (31 ga, 0 HR 7 RBI, .289 avg), especially considering he is a veteran platoon player who will be very lucky to see the Majors for even one day. But whatever, fans can have opinions and set their own standards of excellence.

What really shocked and angered me was the way the person then launched into an attack on Spidale himself, accusing the player of being a drug addict who spends all his time in bars.

Then he viciously assaulted Spidale's girlfriend by calling her all sorts of dreadful names and topped things off by attacking the girl's mother. (???)

We failed to post EXACTLY TWO COMMENTS ALL SEASON - the other was in Russian Cyrillic script and it was so long, we took it for junk, spam-type e-mail.

DON'T STOP THE YOUTH FOOTBALL REPORTS.

Resident of Allentown said...

I think you should delete the comments that are personal attacks. Leave out the moderation. In today's world of lawsuits, protests, and terrorism for sometimes doing nothing more than expressing an opinion moderation could be very stifling for an average person who may be too afraid of these possible consequences.
If you added moderation, yes, you would be blocking a fool's comment now and then but you might also deter someone with some valuable insight on a subject.
Having said that, it is your blog and only you can determine if it is worth the hassle.

Chris Casey said...

"Necessary Evil" is the nicest way to say it.
We discussed registerdd users only, but we figured monitoring the comments was the only way, at least for now. Hopefully most local trolls may eventually find something else to do.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
There is a definite risk to allowing us to post unheeded but what we think has made your blog one of the state's best is the free will of speech. Can't you still delete disgusting comments once they are brought to your attention?
We did not see that ugliness about a child's sports team. This is a hard call to make.
Molovinsky censors his site. Maybe fame comes with censorship?
We'll respect whatever you decide and understand why. Interestingly, the Call now requires registration and we've noticed an enormous reduction in comment entries. Some stories have 4 or 6 total comments where there used to be 100. That does play a negative on the advertiser's dollar spent to showcase a product.

Anonymous said...

Definitely do not require registration.

Anonymous said...

We agree that no personal attacks such a someone's weight or looks or lack of money should ever be posted. Political, social and financial issues, yes.

LVCI said...

I visit tons of sites and when you look amongst the comments vile is the order of the day in a great many of them. But so too peppered are well informed opinions that serve to further my awareness.

So far this has not been a major problem with mine. But then again I have very little traffic, so it only happens occasionally. And I've posted some pretty edgy opinions.

I suppose the key is not to take most of it personally. However several bloggers posters or people who have left comments have been targeted by some real ugly comments who's goal it seems in life is to target others very personally to ruin their day.

I wish to try very hard and leave comments wide open, but perhaps not too bad an idea to turn on comment moderation for at least a period till the simple minds lose their focus and go somewhere else to taunt.

I don't care who you are, as soon as you speak in a group or a crowd you open yourself up to it. The folks that bash seldom will belly up and do a blog themselves where they could carry on to their hearts delight... except they fear the same will be done to them as to what they are doing. Perhaps it's better to know of these things being out there then to blind sighted by this vile, but one surely doesn't need allow it in their homes or blogs.

Either rappers, TV, entertainment encourages it or just reflects peoples thoughts, but it sure doesn't represent mine!

Hang In There

BabaBooey said...

I wonder how many of those comments were from "the troll".

I read his blog for the 1st time the other day. Man, that guy has ISSUES. What a nut !!!

michael molovinsky said...

anon 1:53, i wouldn't agree that i "censor" my site. i was forced to do comment moderation as almost the entire valley was, and which even o'hare is considering. besides for the "antagonist". i do occasionally reject a comment, but not to often; i.e., i just did earlier, because the comment concerned the o'hare/molovinsky controversy and would have demanded a reply. i don't think there's that much different between rejecting a comment before it appears, or deleting it shortly there after. i suspect comment moderation does cut back on the number of comments received.....

NLVlogic said...

moderation kills trolls.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Molovinsky,
We didn't mean any disrespect about your blog maintenance. You have every right to examine posts before uploading them. We were only using your site as an example of a blogger who does "moderate" conversation.

dick nepon said...

I would recommend no moderation. We are all able to tell crap when we see it. Let the crappers go on. Sure, zap the ugly, racist, misogynist, xenophobic,uneducated comments (when you see them, in your opinion), but don't fret over how long they were up before you did get to them. Only play moderator if someone is willing to pay for the service. Play owner whenever you like. Your ball, your ballpark. Hell, you can zap people just cause you want to. Let them complain about it, elsewhere. We read your blog for who you are, and who deigns to comment. It wastes our time to sift through off topic crap. Zap it when you see it.

Anonymous said...

I thinkg that as long as it relates to the topic, keep the comments not matter how bizarre they are...if they have nothing to do with the topic like all the repetitive crap about you that is so annyoning to everyone, then get rid of it... or "God Save Charles Dertinger" when the topic has nothing to do with Charles Dertinger. Keep only topics that comment on the post.

Anonymous said...

I was curious to see what % of increased site traffic you received when the Mcall.com became a register only site?

As most Mcall comment writers are probably unaware of your site as they live under rocks and still type in mcall.com in the Google search box because they are just stupid people!

Is that type of statement worth censoring?

I think not because it's my opinion and not a personal attack on a named individual, just stupid people in general, we all have them just like the assholes we wipe each day.

The stupid people and their comments make me laugh..., all the way to the toilet!

Mystery said...

BabaBooey,

It's not worth insulting the troll by becoming one. It goes both ways.

Alexis de Tocqueville said...

Those nuts and their ghoulish death fascination notwithstanding, comment moderation would significantly change what makes this blog one of the best cyber-barbershops around. I lean right/libertarian and enjoy the mostly fair shake, the lively jousting, and the tremendous amount of useful information imparted here. You'll have been bested if you change. I'm betting you won't.

Volvo Driving Soccer Mom said...

Bernie-

Margarita sent me an email with an answer to your post. I mean you no offense. I published it without some info not previously discussed.
I thought you should know, I really don't want any issues with you, and I won't mind reading your response. I honestly felt she should be allowed to answer in her own words, and I tried not to influence any comments.

BTW, I am still willing to serve you and MM the drink of your choice. ;-)

Oh, and I heard a good one!

Did you hear about PBS? (Paranoid Blogger Symptoms)

They are running an "Are you being served" Marathon!
All this week! Tee Hee!

The Village Idoti said...

Bernie,

It's your blog and your call. Your blog does provide a good service. If comments become moderated, will it effect your "rule" of the blog? I use rule in a sense of the way monks and monasteries use the word rule. It is the source, end all, and be all of the monastery. Therefore, will it affect/effect your goal of this blog?

What is your comment policy? I see it above this box that I am typing in. But is that it? Shouldn't there be more?

Lastly, being the object of scorn, you, I, and a motley crue of others; we know what it is like to have negative attacks attributed us. This will never stop. I am sorry that some knuckle-head upset and detracted from your grandson's fun. When you are out there, in blogosphere, that is a chance you take. You know that; I am preacher to the choir now. But I hate censorship. Also, you'll lose the ability to post remarks quickly. But you will gain additional responsibilities with approving and publishing remarks. Some that will actually come with liability.

Good luck. I think this blog is great. And you have me as a reader, which ever way you decide.

Peace, ~~Alex

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks, Fr. Alex, and I am sorry for your recnt personal loss. I've considered what you and others have said, and this blog will remain unmoderated. I think I lose too much interactivity by effectively censoring what people say.

The Village Idoti said...

Thanks Bern!

~~Alex

Anonymous said...

God ohare you are a drama queen. It is your blog so you can do what you want. You never care what people think if they don't think like you. You know if you do registration, your blog will be the same as most others with very few comments. Your ego choir will still comment, like angry priest but any other voices will go away.

I really don't understand your problem you are already censoring and taking off many of the things people post. If in your head it is not bashing the people you like to bash or it is not telling you what you want to hear, it is gone.

So again ohare, moderate, don't moderate, who the Hell cares. You will just get a lot less hits and you know it. Since you already blame every post on Villa and one other person before you remove it, what difference does it make.

ironpigpen said...

I like what LVCI says about the people who are probably the nastiest on the most consistent basis probably DO NOT have a blog of their own, as well as some of his observations.

Outstanding pieces of evidence for the case that life is NOT fair, that's the way it is sometimes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I really don't understand your problem you are already censoring and taking off many of the things people post."

I've actually been fairly lenient. But people like you, who just come in to toss grenades do not belong here. I do not want discussion here to deteriorate into name-calling. That's why people like you, who use disparaging terms like "angry priest," can expect to be delted. if you can't make your point w/o insulting people, your point won't be made. That is up to you, not me.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

No moderation makes for a tedious read. It is your right to post only informed and insightful commentary. Do the readers a favor and let the anonymous insulters find another blog to vent on.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

That leaves you out Scott!

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
That leaves you out Scott!

12:05 AM"


Perfect example of my point.

Scott Armstrong

Volvo Driving Soccer Mom said...

I disagree with Scott on many things, but why do people feel they have to insult him?
I am considering removing comment moderation from LV poliblog during the day, and enabling the email notification tool. That way at least if the Troll strikes, I can quickly delete it, at least during the day.
I have been checking it at night after my last email run through, it would only take a few seconds to put the moderation on while we all sleep. I wish I could leave it off, but when you have a troll leaving dozens of comments even when you are moderated, it makes you think you can't put your guard down.

Anonymous said...

It breaks my heart to think of your grandson seeing vicious remarks about his football team. But it's a teachable moment in his young life. As an experienced blogger, you have the chance to explain the pros and cons of the networked world that he'll live in.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, the first and most important lesson when I entered the world of politics came from Rex Erdman who served Bangor Borough for 50 years: " Carol, you have to agree to disagree" in his very Dutchified accent. I spent just 3 days in East Germany in 1983 as part of a Lutheran tour, right,left, centrist, liberal, conservative, whomever, God Bless America, Carol

Anonymous said...

The only moderation should be of comments containing the Barack speak "teachable moment".

I think I'd rather suffer Villa!

Anonymous said...

VOLVO SOCCER MOM:

It's the thing to do these days --- beat down conservatives constantly

Not only is this very fashionable, it is completely socially acceptable. Your friends will love you.

Isolate and Attack

Smear, Marginalize, Demonize

See Alinsky's Rules For Radicals for proper explaination of all relevant vocabulary and how to implement strategies to maximize success with respect to attainment of desired political activist goals

Bernie O'Hare said...

VDSM,

I completely missed your comments last night and this AM and have only seen them now. I spent a lot of time last night deleting comments and was trying to get my writing done bc I had to meet someone early this morning.

When undergoing an attack, I sometimes enable comment moderation to give me time to take out the garbage. I sometimes do it when I am writing.

By now, you've seen my comment on your blog in reply to that exchange. As I mention, I had my own exchange w/ her yesterday. She has corroborated half my story (about being here), but denies ever being placed on ARD for DUI. If it turns out that her claim is accurate, I will post a blog acknowledging an error.

We all have opinions, but I like to get my facts right. If I got this wrong, I will acknowledge it. I do not have issues with anyone who is interested in trying to determine accurately what has happened.

I will not be taking her word for it. I've already told her i want to speak to people in this area who know her. She has agreed, but claims I must wait two weeks while she moves.

Volvo Driving Soccer Mom said...

Well, Mr O, you and Mr M have me perplexed. You are the last two I ever thought would be "Bickering on a blog."
I know your dilemma, when it comes to moderating the blog, we had quite a bit of awill put forth for a while.
Refusing comments is time consuming, you would think blogger would let you do a bunch at once, but it doesn't.

Anywho, I kept up my discourse with M.L over the weekend, even if i didn't write about it.

My kids come first, and I think you understand. But now that son is a freshman away at college, my girls keep me busier than ever.

We are going to the Old Boulevard lanes on Union tonight, I haven't neen in it since they revamped it. I let you know if it is appropriate for a united Blogger nations meeting!

as for ML.

I wonder if Pam V would be willing to tag along? I think having more women there will make ML more comfortable. If it's all guys and me, I think she might be less open. I don't want to be the only woman in attendance at this proposed gathering. I am not even sure I want to meet in a group.

It would serve me better personally to meet her alone and protect my anonymity.

Ever hear of Blogger Pittgirl?

She lost her job when she was outed. I have worries.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:57, Those comments are posted by Villa, who apparently thinks nothing of hurting a little boy to try and get at me. Today, on his own blog, he makes it a point to mention that Dat is not really by grandson and calls him a "prop." He was posting comments like that on my post about my grandson. When I pointed out that it hurt him, he did it even more. Anybody who can do something like that is already living in hell.

Bernie O'Hare said...

VDSM, I undersatnd it might be best if this woman met w/ other women. I can't speak for Pam V, but she has indicated she considers the story over. My sole purpose in meeting her and her family would be to determine if I was wrong, and I could probably do that separately to alleviate concerns about your contiued anonymity.

noel jones said...

Hi Bernie,

Just saw this post and so am a little late to comment, but I think, like anything, you leave it open until somebody ruins it for everybody else. For instance:

In NYC, you used to be able to walk your child into an elementary school building. Now my aunt has to walk her little daughter to the police stationed at the door, and hand her off. I don't have kids, so I don't know what security is like in the schools here, but the point is that it used to be fine and safe to allow parents to walk there children to their classrooms, and now it's not, because of the bad actions of a few who ruined it for everyone else.

I think comment moderation is similar--we leave our blogs open until some asshole's comments begin to hurt the blog, i.e., discourage other, sensible, balanced debaters with differing opinions from wanting to engage in commenting, thereby discouraging comment traffic, which is the life-blood of any blog. So far I have been able to do without comment moderation, because all disagreements have been civil. But if that changes, I won't hesitate to moderate comments. Our blogs are ours, not platforms for the vulgarity and vitriol of others only interested in personal attacks, rather than engaging in earnest debate.