“Wealth is now defined, at least in part, by the ability to be offline whenever you want” Fernando Gros.
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Blog // Thoughts
April 19, 2007

Rethinking Comments I: Not Censoring Comments … Maybe

For quite some time I have had a strict policy of not authorising crude, anonymous and inflammatory comments. But, whilst on holidays, walking along the beach at sunset, I found myself wondering if I had made the right choice. I restarted this blog in October 2004 (having previously blogged in 2001 and 2003) and since […]

For quite some time I have had a strict policy of not authorising crude, anonymous and inflammatory comments. But, whilst on holidays, walking along the beach at sunset, I found myself wondering if I had made the right choice.

I restarted this blog in October 2004 (having previously blogged in 2001 and 2003) and since that time I’ve had a steady trickle of comments and a deeper stream of email correspondence covering the various posts. There’s been a small, but regular amount of what could best be described as “hate-comments,” typically clustered around posts about India, Australia and to a lesser extent, the emerging church. Most often these comments are anonymous, vulgar and misrepresentative of what I, or others, have said. Rarelt, they raise very valid concerns, but their anonymity makes it impossible to verify their content.

Those comments get deleted – but, now I’m starting to miss them. Sometimes the best repudiation of a position or ideology actually comes from the mouths of those who try to defend it. Maybe, instead of working so hard to defend the “respectability” and “legitimacy” of this blog, I should have been more permissive and let the world see what people who claim to be defending the good of their country or church are willing to say to another human being who is simply trying to find some truth and honesty in this world?

Maybe I got it wrong? Maybe it’s time for a rethink?

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7
Responses
Tim Abbott 13 years ago

This is a brave decision. I agree totally with your logic about the best repudiation of an ideology coming from the mouths of its defenders. Some of these people should hear themselves! Those who proclaim their opposition to an idea often end up casting that idea in a stronger light, making it clearer for others to see and understand.
And you may well find that you get a stronger response from supporters if the detractors get their say.
But anyone commenting is still writing on your page, not their own – so there may still be a line of acceptability beyond which you can quite reasonably hit the delete button.

Toni 13 years ago

Would it be possible to add the IP address in place of a name where the commenter fails to supply one? Just a thought.

Paul 13 years ago

I think there is a line of acceptability in terms of comments, which is going to vary as a matter of taste/judgement – anything violent, threatening, or too obscene etc is i think just not acceptable how however crass, rude, stupid etc is fine by me.

I suppose it comes down in part to a question of atmosphere – does it actually hinder or intimidate conversation would be the critieria i would apply…

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Tim, it is my hope that in seeing some of the more extreme comments might cause a reaction in readers. Even if they don’t comment here or on their blog.

I will probably opt to simply sensor some words, or drop vowels. Not sure. I hate editing comments, but I guess it is a halfway thing in this case.

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Toni – good idea!!!

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Paul – I’ve had plenty of violent, threatening and obscene.

That said, your criteria is a good one. I’m not sure I want a comments-environment that is combative for the sake of it. That said, this site has never really been the kind where people comment extensively. Only one post has ever beat 20 comments and most of the posts that attract comments (more than half never do) garner between 3 and 6 comments (often half from myself).

But then again, there have been some other blogs where I’ve avoided commenting simply because of the tone (or the games one has to play to get noticed).

Paul 13 years ago

yes blog gladiator doesnt strike me as much fun – last one commenting to the cheers and boos of the baying crowd – is more in the end about the consumption of blogs and their ability to entertain rather than provoke good conversation or honest faith thinking…

I’m sorry to hear about the violent threatenings – i’d rather see those deleted than displayed.

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