Moderation in All Things

December 20th, 2010 by Editor B

After much dithering and even more mulling, I’ve decided to implement a new policy regarding comments on this blog. From this point forward, I’ll be moderating all comments. In other words, until I approve a comment, it won’t appear here for public view.

In the past, this was semi-automated. Certain posts would be flagged for moderation, but most comments from actual human beings (as opposed to automated spambots) would just come right through.

I’m a big fan of the first amendment and freedom of speech, but that applies to the public sphere. This blog is akin to a personal newsletter, privately published by yours truly, primarily to gratify myself through narcissistic ego-tripping. I enjoy sharing with others, and hearing back from readers. However, this not a constitutional forum and has never functioned as such.

So far, I’ve been fortunate to have a base of readers who are extraordinarily respectful and thoughtful, with very few exceptions over the years. But this being the wide open internet, there’s no guarantee that such good behavior will continue. Someone could post a death threat here tomorrow. I’d feel pretty bad about that.

Given the highly personal nature of my writing, and the fact that I now have progeny to worry about, it just doesn’t seem wise to leave this venue wide open for any and all to say whatever they want.

So I’m going to exercise some prior restraint. Actually, prior restraint is a technical term, and I’m probably using it incorrectly. What I mean to say is that all comments will be held for review from this point on. Given the generally low volume of comments here, I don’t think this will be overly burdensome.

Inquiring minds will wonder what sort of criteria I will use to separate the wheat from the chaff. I regard the comment section here as akin to a discussion in my living room. That’s the level of decorum and civility I hope to see. Any dialog that I wouldn’t tolerate in my living room will also not be tolerated here. Negative examples include:

  • Blatant spam
  • More subtle varieties of spam
  • Hate speech
  • Threats of violence
  • Incoherent ranting

That’s not an exhaustive list, just some ideas off the top of my head.

Let me also make clear this isn’t about shutting down oppositional viewpoints. I love hearing from people who disagree with me. I enjoy a good challenge to my deeply held convictions. Longtime readers can vouch for this.

But make no mistake — by exercising prior restraint (or whatever the correct term might be) I may actually be taking on a greater level of culpability. Since I am manually approving everything, the legal view might be that I am tacitly endorsing what you write. Therefore, I will err on the side of caution. If you don’t come correct, your comment will not be approved. You will not be notified. Your words will softly and suddenly vanish away. That’s all. There will be no recourse, no appeal. If you don’t like the policy, you are of course free to start your own blog.

Hopefully I’ve been clear and this makes sense to everyone. If you have questions, you can post a comment.

3 Responses to “Moderation in All Things”

  1. lemming Says:

    Hoping that getting to be part of the living room will include snacks and drinks.;-)

  2. celcus Says:

    What’s wrong with a little Incoherent ranting?

  3. Peris Says:

    @celcus For that you need to have your own weblog.

Leave a Reply