Sunday, January 20, 2008

On Anonymous Comments

Recently, I've received a number (3) of private e-mails asking that I do something about my comments section. Basically, these writers have argued, this blog is so flipping brilliant that Noam Chomsky ought to be stopping by, but instead I get the black guy that says he's Jesus and "Biff" in all his anonymous incarnations.

(Although I actually like the guy that says he's Jesus, and wish he'd come back more often, but whatever...)

Thus far, my philosophy has been that, since I bash the righties pretty hard, they should have an opportunity to bash back in the comments section, but I am not sure how well that has been working as the blog gathers more traffic. So I am going to try it for awhile with anonymous comments allowed but comment moderation on, and we'll see how well that works. Anything too stupid will get killed, and any exchanges will get killed when they get too long and content free.


bigcitylib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

BCL has now arrived as a true left-wing blog. Free speech is henceforth controlled and this place will become a circle jerk like the other left-wing blogs. So be it, it's a free world.

Ti-Guy said...

You'll end up having to babysit your commments section, but I suppose this is better than letting "Biff" continue to treat it like a toilet.

bigcitylib said...

"You'll end up having to babysit your commments section..."

And when I can't do that the whole flow of the "debate", such as it is, will be lost. We shall see.

buckets said...

It seems to me that the important question, BCL, is what you want comments to do. If the point is to increase visitors to your site, then the flame wars help. If, by contrast, you're interested in real discussions going on in the comments, then anonymous posters should probably be disallowed, since there can be no point-counterpoint, since no one knows which anon is which. Moderation in my experience is a lot of work, and it kind of kills the discussion because points can sit in the queue for hours before they appear.

My guess is that the best course is to allow users with google accts and OpenID. This means that at least everyone will know who is who.

Gayle said...

For what it is worth, I think the real problem with biff/ezra (I really think he is posting here anonymously), is that the rest of us are not ignoring them and we should be.

Biff clearly posts in a manner intended to get a response. I have been guilty of taking the bait, and I am not the only one.

I suggest we all simply "Ignore The Biff" and only engage people who are interested in rational discussions. And yes, I think there are conservatives who can discuss things rationally.

If you do not fed the trolls they will get bored and leave.

Ti-Guy said...

If you do not fed the trolls they will get bored and leave.

Not if they change personae from one comment to the next or try to hide the pseudonymous persona they've established elsewhere. My issues have more to do with sock-puppetting than with trolling, although I will admit that I have problems ignoring the trolls, especially those I consider intelligent enough to write in coherent English.

Ignoring the trolls only works when everyone ignores them and that never happens.

Raging Ranter said...

Are we still allowed to insult other commenters?

bigcitylib said...

Yes, RR, and you will get points for creativity.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't have anyone I wish to insult at this time, but if there are points being given for creativity, how about:

A pox on your first born you ugly boil on a festering wombat. I've seen smarter things sliming their way across pond scum!

Do I win?

John Cross

Reality Bites said...

I don't see a conflict between disallowing anonymous comments and allowing right-wingers to reply.

Make people stand by their current and previous comments, regardless of political bent.

Anonymous said...

Based on that constraint, ti-guy's comments from now on will just be

"Removed by moderator."

John Mashey said...

Seriously consider turning off "anonymous" postings. If people can't be bothered to provide even a nickname/pseudonym, why should anyone bother reading them? Certainly having a bunch of different people all positng under anonymous just wastes everybody's time.

If you use Firefox, you can get greasmonkey:

Then you can install the killfile script,

(see Install at right side).

Then, the first time you see Anonymous, click on Kill, and from then on, [at least in this blog] Anonymous comments will disappear, although you can look at any specific one, or unkill the lot if you want.

This doesn't work for all blogs, and it's still not as good as USENET newsreader KILLFILEs we had 20+ years ago, but it's way better than nothing.

Gresham's Law applies to blogs & newsgroups: junk drives out good stuff in unmoderated groups, by lowering the signal/noise ratio far enough that people quit. Some blogs are new enough that it hasn't happened to them yet, but there are many newsgroups that were once excellent that are now useless...
Groups need only be moderated lightly to keep quality much higher.

Unknown said...

My two cents:
Forget moderation and instead disallow anonymous comments. Eliminating anonymous comments doesn't prevent anyone from posting. The anons may cry about it, but it's only because they'd rather not be held accountable for their posting history.

Anonymous said...

It really does seem that you have absolutely no desire to get views from outside your extreme left-wing little world. You are a left-wing totalitarian, right down to controlling speech. As an elitist neo-com, your views are the only views, and so they must be the correct views, and other dissenting views will not be tolerated nor even discussed. You are terrified that others will discover a truth which you've tried to keep hidden. "The truth is out there - but was buried by LEFTwing extremists."

Enjoy your cozy little inbred discussions.

bigcitylib said...

Just a note. I rejected anon 4:30s previous comment. Letting this one through should drive him crazy.

Unknown said...

"You are terrified that others will discover a truth which you've tried to keep hidden."

Damn! I wish I new how to navigate away from this blog.
How does I get to teh other internets? Help! I need the truth!