In the nearly ten years of this blog’s existence, I have employed what one might generously call a laissez-faire style of moderation. I have deleted spam and threats to my person–and nothing else. People have always been free to be colossal jerks in the comments, and that’s in large part because my commentariat behaves itself on most occasions and colossal jerks usually get their asses handed to them by my very clever and awesome regular readership. I have felt that allowing the commenters to police the comment space was the best policy, because the content of the comments, in my ethical worldview, belongs to the commenters, and I believed it was not within my rights to remove their work even for the most egregious of offenses. I left crappy comments up as a warning to others–see the response this person drew. Don’t let it be you.
I can count on one hand the number of people I have banned and comments I have deleted. On the same hand.
I’ve always said: this is an open space. Don’t make me sorry for keeping it that way.
Well, it’s finally happened. Ten years was a good run, but I have been made sorry and things are going to change.
Iron-handed moderation is the standard on most large blogs, and it’s come to my attention that people relatively new to reading this one assume such a policy is in place here–that threads should and will be frozen, comments deleted, users banned. This conflict between what is assumed to be true and what is true has caused significant misunderstandings, and that’s at least in part my fault for not having a loudly stated moderation policy. If you assume I moderate like a motherfucker, then it logically appears that anything in the comments is something I think is at least nominally ok. Bad logic, weird logic, not at all appropriate logic when it comes to blog comments, but I can see how, when things get heated, it is a logic that can be leapt to.
But now, especially since my professional name is very prominently placed on the front door of this joint, I’m going to have to stop pretending that this is still a personal, intimate blog shared with a few of my friends. It is not 2003. Time to start acting like a grown-up internet girl and accept that this blog is widely read, and by a lot of people who haven’t been here since day one.
So. Welcome to Thunderdome.
These are the rules.
- Anonymous commenting is, now and forever, shut the eff off. There are as many ways to sign into Livejournal these days as stars in the sky, and the former policy (of screening anonymous commenting but allowing them because I wanted people to be able to participate in the conversation without declaring allegiance to a website) is not going to cut it. If you want to talk to me, most especially if you want to call me names, you have to use your big-kid words and put your name on it. After all, my name is on it. If one is accountable, all are. (All comments are automatically screened on the main site/non-Livejournal blog.)
- This is my Freeze Ray. There are many like it, but this one is mine. If I feel that you are being a craphead for no purpose other than because your head is made of shit, I will freeze your thread. (Being a craphead in service of the greater good may or may not be allowed on a case by case basis. And as it is my blog, I get to decide what the greater good is. You can decide it on your own blog.) If I feel that you are trolling or crossing the line vis a vis threatening or otherwise over the top rhetoric, I will freeze your thread. If your conversation rockets past useful and engaging and into fighting for fighting’s sake or just being miserable to each other, I will freeze your thread.
- If you act a fool, I will let people make fun of you. If, for a wild, random example, on a post about how women are not taken seriously and often threatened when they speak online, you decide to treat me like a bleating little girl and say that my post has been elevated to relevance only by a man’s notice of it, I will let people take you down like a JV quarterback at the ever-loving Super Bowl. Because it illustrates a point, I will not freeze or delete it unless it gets out of hand–but a long, long leash will be given to those handling a commenter who proves the thesis of the post. People like to feel like they can do something about injustice and assorted bullshit. If you give them a target, I will let them take their shots. It’s called catharsis. Don’t make yourself a vessel for other people’s catharsis. It’s not good for your health.
- This does not mean that you can’t disagree with me. Please do. Disagree eloquently, vociferously, and in good faith. For the purposes of my own goddamned space, I define trolling as: arguing disingenously, insincerely, or just to be contrary in order to cause distress or draw attention to your own super-awesome self. Arguing is not trolling. Arguing in bad faith because you want to rile people (or me) up is. The other side of that is that, even if you genuinely and sincerely believe, for example, that gay people shouldn’t marry or women shouldn’t vote, leaving such comments here is still trolling, because you know damn well how I feel about it and that I won’t change my mind, so mooing about such subjects has no purpose other than to get attention and incur rage points to your dubious account. Just don’t. If I feel that a heated argument has value to the greater discourse, despite its heat and rhetoric, I will leave it up. If it descends to abuse, I will freeze it but leave it visible. But warnings will be issued to argue more in the fashion of Jane Austen than Stone Cold Steve Austin, dig?
- I will now treat the comments section of this blog as a high-stakes game of Whack-a-Troll. Users will be banned. I have only banned two users in the decade of this blog. Both threatened me with rape and demonstrated knowledge of my whereabouts such that I took them seriously. You will not have to go nearly this far to get banned any longer. I take to heart Tiger Beatdown’s philosophy of “Every comment on this blog is an audition.” Repeated offenses of the above (or below) variety will get you banned. Stalking or otherwise harassing other commenters will get you banned. If you behave toward me in such a fashion that the mere sight of your username causes me anxiety, you will be banned with extreme prejudice. I am not going to take your fee fees into account anymore. My peace of mind is more important than your right to talk in my space.
- To this end, comments which veer wildly off-topic will be frozen or deleted. For example, there is no reason to post kitten pics to this post unless it is of my kitten or it is hilarious and contains a macro pertaining to strict moderation. But because kittens are cute and harmless, I will freeze such comments rather than deleting them. Carrying on arguments from previous posts or demanding that I answer for the crimes of kittens everywhere are abusive and disrespectful and stupid, and will be deleted. Repeated offenders will get Whacked.
- When a user is banned, I will comment saying “You have been banned for unacceptable behavior because REASONS.” These reasons may be enumerated or they may not, depending on how much time and energy I have to deal with you. Most will not get a personal note detailing offenses–if you have been banned, it’ll probably be pretty clear why. I am not preemptively banning anyone. We all have a clean slate as of today. Make good use of it.
- If you have something off-topic to say, say it on Twitter or Facebook or put Off-Topic in your subject heading and make sure it is something nice like “I don’t think you’ve seen this YouTube video of a pug filing her own taxes yet.”
- Keep in mind that I do not have a team of moderators. It is just me. I field all comments to this blog, I am the only person with access to it. Given the traffic here, this is sometimes a full time job. And I already have a full time job. Also, I am new at this moderation thing. I am not psychic, such that I know when you feel your boundaries have been violated or the discussion has gone too far for your comfort. So, in the tradition of the self-policing space that this always was, I am asking for your help. If you feel a comment has stepped over the line, or that a thread has passed usefulness and entered tail-chasing territory, please leave a comment with the words: Miss Bennet disapproves. (Yes, you may do this in threads and discussions of which you are a part.)
- This does not actually mean I will instantly freeze and/or delete the thread. It should act as a warning to commenters to slow their roll, and I will determine whether I feel the Freeze Ray needs to come out or not. Commenters who incur Miss Bennet’s wrath and modify their behavior accordingly will be given lenience. However, the final judgment lies with me. No one else (right now) has mod privileges. This is Open Source moderation–but I reserve the right to make the final call.
- Just…try not to be horrible. In return I will also try not to be horrible. I have always chosen to simply not respond to the ugliest comments, and I will continue that, only with more wielding of the banhammer and less patience. This is usually and can be a warm and welcoming space even for dissenters. We can argue and not be insane dick posses to each other. IT IS POSSIBLE. Treat this blog like a campsite: leave it better than you found it. I will try to take this angle with what I choose to post about. Let’s all just try to pass our Turing Tests and act like human beings rather than malfunctioning rage robots, shall we?
- If you have any further suggestions on how to improve the moderation of this blog, please leave them in the comments and I will take them under advisement. I didn’t even know how to turn off anonymous commenting until two days ago. I’m pulling together a policy from other blogs I frequent and my own temperament. It may well be that I’m missing something or being too lenient in some area. This policy is a work in progress–if you have wisdoms, I want to hear it.
- You will find this entry permanently linked from the sidebar. For further illustration of my New Visage of All-Mighty Avenging Stinkeye Goddess Bearing the Horned Helmet of Divine Moderation (And What She Thinks Of Your Nonsense) see this helpful picture.