David Farrar has a major challenge trying to clean up Kiwiblog, as comments on his latest post on proposals to clamp down on abuse demonstrate.
Abusers want to be able to continue to have an unfettered forum to abuse and bully.
Kiwiblog stands out as a major blog with very little restrictions on who can say what. Farrar has been a strong supporter of free and open debate, but this ideal has it’s down sides due to rampant abuses.
Farrar was noticeably reality checked by claims in Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’. He hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as Cameron Slater but has been an integral part of the ‘dirty politics’ way of life.
One of his initial reactions was to seriously consider walking away from Kiwiblog. Since then he has posted several times on cleaning up his blog. This is on two levels:
- his own use of Kiwiblog as a political tool
- the frequently awful and abusive behaviour displayed in the comments sections of his blog (Farrar rarely participates there but also rarely intervenes).
The latest stage of an attempt to reform Kiwiblog was posted yesterday: Proposed Comments Policy where Farrar asked for input into his proposals.
Some of the reaction was positive and supportive, but it didn’t take long for the thread to be taken over by the same old barrow pushing and abuse. An eventual comment:
Kiwiblog does not need any change. If people cannot handle vigorous debate let them leave. DPF is possibly being far too sensitive.
DPF has been saying that he wants some change. He isn’t trying to quash “vigorous debate”, he’s made that clear.
…on most topics, you should be able to reasonably and robustly disagree.
He made it clear what he’s trying to target:
Generally they are not a huge change from the status quo except in the area of personal abuse. I want more people to feel safe to post on Kiwiblog, without being abused for their views. Their views can be attacked, but not them.
I could imagine him being a bit disappointed by some of the comments on this thread. It’s hard to know whether ignoring DPF and using the thread to defend abusive behaviour and display some of the things DPF says he is trying to clean up is through ignorance or blatant defiance.
Wanting to reduce personal attacks, abusiveness and bullying has nothing to do with ‘PC’, it’s an attempt at moving towards basic decency in a democratic and civil society.
That some seem to claim a ‘right’ to freely be abusive arses on a blog who’s owner clearly wants to clean it up, and that they ignore requests by displaying behaviours that the blogger is specifically saying they want to clamp down on, is a pretty sad reflection on what the Kiwiblog community has to an extent become.
I think if the obvious abuses of a small but vocal minority are reasonably limited then many more people are likely to be willing to contribute here.
An unfettered forum for a few arses? Or a decent debate blog? Obviously it’s up to DPF but I thought he has made his preference quite clear.
“I want more people to feel safe to post on Kiwiblog, without being abused for their views.”
That people are arguing (and acting) against that on the thread is remarkable to me.
Cleaning up Kiwiblog will be a big challenge for Farrar. It will be difficult overcoming entrenched habits of abuse and repeated hijacking, as the comments on his post demonstrate.
His attempts look like being strongly challenged by those who want to keep abusing his forum by continuing to use it to bully and abuse others and drive away decent debate.
Kiwiblog is far from the only blog with similar problems but at least Farrar acknowledges the problem and is trying to address it.