Tim O'Reilly and Jimmy Wales are proposing a sort of blogger's code of conduct according to the NY Times. This quote ties me in knots:
A subtext of both sets of rules is that bloggers are responsible for everything that appears on their own pages, including comments left by visitors. They say that bloggers should also have the right to delete such comments if they find them profane or abusive.Comments are deleted from this blog from time to time. I -- and the other admins -- reserve the right to do so, and use the power sparingly. I clearly don't agree with everyone who comments here, nor even my co-bloggers, and I hope that we've let critics have their say practically unfettered. I can live with some salty language, if you have a point, although I confess that Ruffin sometimes has to make me see past the profanity to get the point. Such is the value of honest friends. My weakness is that I tend to tune out completely if you are too enamoured of four letter words, especially if I feel they're unduly inflammatory.
There is a contradiction here, unfortunately. If I disavow ownership of and responsibility for your comments, anonymous or not, then how am I empowered to remove them? That is, power over your speech implies some responsibility, does it not?
I will read the proposed guidelines and think about them as they might apply to this site. If the admins decide that there should be changes, we'll let you know. Feel free to sound off in the comments with your own take.
I admit that I think less of sites that show hints of deleting visitor comments.
Yes, some clean up makes sense. Kill the spam bots. Kill blatant baiting outside of the scope of the post. Things like that.
But "taking responsibility" can drift into policing thoughts and removing dissenting opinions. (And removing dissenting opinion can be disguised as "taking responsibility by removing inflammatory comments.")
The only post I can recall deleting other than spam right now is one that insulted my wife. I don't feel bad about deleting that one. Put that under dissent if you wish, but it didn't contribute to the discourse at hand.
I should add that I don't think I've deleted a non-spam comment with a user handle attached to it. The one I mentioned above was an anonymous drive-by hit, from what I could tell.
Hopefully this clahhsic didn't step over the line, Smoky...
Jeremy, do you ever have anything intelligent to say? You are a cookie moating flea bagger who couldn't get afraid if you slipped a seal doll off a roofie.
13 March, 2007 21:59
I think if we're letting things like that go with such a minor edit, nearly absolutely free speech isn't yet a problem at the Curmudgeon.
I hadn't really noticed anything missing here, despite a variety of opinions and some drifting topics, so I didn't really suspect you had been pruning comments. :)
But I've been on boards that do. Some are pretty good about it, or at least even handed. Others are less so. Even a good mod can find himself tempted to cut slack to a post he supports, but be less forgiving (or quicker to judge) a post (or poster) that he doesn't. And not all mods are "good."
And that is without even getting into the really biased forums (like some company public boards,) where anything that could be perceived as negative (or even just not positive enough) towards their products are deleted under claims of trolling or inflamatory.
As for taking responsibility for everything said in reader responses? The best solution to that is to just shut down comments, because anything that gets enough views to cause a problem is going to be annoying to police. The second best solution is to screen all comments, which can cripple the usefulness of responding (as the original entry is already old by the time one reader could respond to another reader's comments) and introduces an air of bias (particularly if you find your comment not posted or note a hint of a pattern to what does get posted.)
The third, policing after the fact (no pre-screening) is hardly a solution. Anything with traffic enough to produce a controversy would require constant policing, and even then something might be up long enough for multiple readers to catch it. (A low traffic site is less likely to explode into controversy in general, outside of the original article being something so outrageous that it gets slashdotted.)