Hager, journalism and hacking

There’s been an interesting (long) discussion about the raid on Nickey Hager’s home and it’s implications for journalism and democracy at Public Address – Doing over the witness.

There’s been another post and discussion at Kiwiblog – Don’t believe the spin.

I got involved in an exchange there with Bart, who said:

Nookin, the core of my argument is this: I believe the freedom of the press (I include any form of media here) is far more important for a healthy democracy than the prosecution of a single crime of hacking a computer. The chilling effect that this sort of action has on journalists is not something that we should be willing to accept, regardless of whether you’re on the “left” or “right” side of the fence.

I responded to:

I believe the freedom of the press (I include any form of media here) is far more important for a healthy democracy than the prosecution of a single crime of hacking a computer.

How important is privacy of information to you? How important is a right to privacy and security of personal information in a democracy?

Should hacking be encouraged by journalists to score a good scoop?

Bart returned:

Privacy is critical to a well-functioning democracy. I hope that you will be an advocate for limiting the government’s powers when JK looks at reviewing the SIS legislation.

I have no problem with the police finding and prosecuting the hacker – and they should use all reasonable legal means to do so.

However, raiding a journalist’s house has an unreasonably negative impact on journalists – who wants to expose their family to searches and seizure of their personal belongings for doing their job? Is it reasonable to expect a journalist to take on that kind of personal price because their informants may have done something illegal? Would you expect your home to be searched as a result of working hard at your job?

Perhaps Nicky Hager shouldn’t have accepted the offer of the emails on ethical grounds, but that is a separate issue. I’m not aware of Nicky himself being charged with committing a crime in this case.

I’m an advocate for trying to get the best balance of privacy versus security. I think the Government’s powers should be limited and have effective oversight, but they should also have the power to deal with crime and prevent physical and cyber terrorism.

The Government has just made a change that helps spread responsibilities by giving the Attorney General operational responsibility for the GCSB and SIS with the Prime Minister having overall responsibility. That’s a move in the right direction.

There’s far more surveillance at a local level with security cameras proliferating. There’s potential dangers with them but if a security camera identified the perpetrators of the alleged rape of a New Zealand women in Sydney who would complain?

I think it’s critical to a well-functioning democracy that hacking doesn’t become an acceptable norm. That would take dirty politics to a very troubling new level, wouldn’t it?

And anyone active online subjects themselves to extensive public scrutiny and commercial surveillance and they generally seem to accept that.

However, raiding a journalist’s house has an unreasonably negative impact on journalists – who wants to expose their family to searches and seizure of their personal belongings for doing their job?

I have concerns about the need and nature of the raid and strongly support journalists being allowed to do their jobs without legal or police threats.

However Nicky Hager is not a normal journalist.

He colluded with a hacker knowing the information he was supplied with was illegally obtained.

He deemed that the material was not of sufficient public interest to publish it immediately.

Instead he took the time to collate selected exerts in a book and use the book to try and have maximum effect on an election – he decided that what was revealed was serious enough to try and decide the outcome of an election. Did that contribute to “a well-functioning democracy”?

Hager also appears to have worked in his investigation with fairly far left bloggers (Bradbury and Prentice) who have longstanding and very public grudges against Cameron Slater, while he didn’t attempt to get the other side of the story before publication. That is not good balanced journalism.

He wrote a book as a political activist more than as a journalist.

Hager has admitted he made mistakes despite many people claiming he can do no wrong.

The main premise of Hager’s book remains unproven – the degree of involvement of John Key and the National Government in ‘dirty politics’. Was Jason Ede acting on instructions from the top? Or was he acting over the top and out of control?

I’m not aware of Nicky himself being charged with committing a crime in this case.

He hasn’t been charged with any crime, yet.

But I think it’s valid – actually it’s very important – to examine and question his journalistic versus political activist balance in this. And his motivation. And the motivation of the hacker or hackers, and the others who have been involved in this.

And isn’t it also fair enough to question whether Hager has committed a crime? It’s possible he was involved in the hacking, involved with crimes. We shouldn’t just take his word that he had nothing to do with the hacking should we? The police in particular shouldn’t just take his word should they?

The police should investigate this thoroughly shouldn’t they? Not just take the word of Hager’s blogger supporters?

I haven’t seen any evidence of it but what if Hager was complicit in the hacking?

What if Hager has been used by political activists who deliberately hacked a foe to practice politics at least as dirty as their targets?

I wouldn’t like to see a precedent set for approving of and encouraging political hacking because one side of politics deems it’s public interest to oust the current Government.

Left troll good, right troll bad

In contrast to Kiwiblog’s tentative steps to clamp down on abusive behaviour The Standard continues to hand out bans almost left, right and centre – the left of the left continue to abuse with impunity while unwelcome contributors are excluded with bans, often accompanied by a tone setting abusive lecture from Lyn Prentice.

Here are examples of abuse and bans on a single thread at The Standard yesterday.

Hard left regulars can be abusive and make unsupported assertions while relatively innocuous responses can cop a harsh ban:

infused

cry me a river.

Another regular abuser makes an unproven assertion – “Prime Minsiter’s Office stealing”…

One Anonymous Bloke6.

Prime Minsiter’s Office stealing NZLP membership data and credit card details. Perpetrators admitted emails boasting of the crime are genuine. Prime Minister’s Office confessing crime to NZLP.

Open and shut case: a theft from the opposition by the government.

Your position: to cheer and wave a little Quisling flag.

  • Del Griffith

    I’m not sure why you saw fit to say I was waving a Quisling flag when I asked a genuine question. I don’t think people should be able to hack into other peoples computers and write books based on the stuff they find in there and profit from it.

    [lprent: That is an assertion that is defamatory, not supported by any facts, and recklessly puts this site into danger. Plus you look like a simple troll with your brains in a tiny deformed dick that you obsessively pump as you comment. Banned permanently. Don't come back ]

..and a relatively reasonable response cops a permanent ban, plus some typical abuse from the ‘moderator’. Yeah, his blog etc etc but he sets the tone and gives favoured lefties a free shot at anyone and typically if the target reacts he bans them.

It can’t be defamatory when it is a general comment and not directed at anyone in particular.

framu 

“He published stolen emails.”

ok – real slowly now – everyone clap along so infused can keep track

He published stolen emails. – AS…. A…. JOURNALIST. – not as an MP sneaking about someones computer system or as a hate blogger

Granted 

Oh, so are journalists entitled to steal emails?

[lprent: Asserting a crime that never happened - which is defamatory. Banned for simple trolling and simply being too stupid to be bothered with as well. ]

Being “too stupid” is Lynspeak for making the wrong arguments so the excising of unwelcome opinions continues although in this case it’s unclear how long the ban is.

Naki man

“they raid journalists over the tea cup tapes…

what is your definition of a journalist?’

This so called journalists hid a microphone at the table,
the smart arse little prick should have lost his job.

[lprent: You mean hidden like this?

See that wee bag in the foreground - that is it being "hidden"

Take 2 weeks off for bullshitting just a tad too much. If you want to make myths up, then do them on your own time. Stop wasting mine looking up an image for you. ]

A response to the ‘Infused’ ban:

greywarbler

Infused is hardly a worthy RW commenter is he. Just a twisted, sneering little twerp. If we want anyone to argue with, we actually can do that amongst ourselves without providing him with his perverse pleasure.

[lprent: I came to that conclusion after reading a series of his comments today. He needed time to refresh himself away from this site. So I gave him that time. ]

One Anonymous Bloke and Weka both abuse with impunity and both have been involved in actions aimed at driving away or prompting bans of commenters they don’t like.

On just the one thread One Anonymous Bloke continues a string of abusive comments and highly questionable claims with no moderator demands to provide evidence.

  • PS: Oh look everyone: a National Party representative advocating that the Police use powers of search and seizure to punish witnesses.
    No wonder the National Party are trash with that attitude.
  • Didn’t take you long to expose your true character, did it, Wormtongue.
  • Keep denying reality, you already look like a complete idiot.
  • They’ll be raiding Slater and the Prime Minister’s Office to ascertain exactly who in that office hacked the New Zealand Labour Party’s computers, stealing membership and credit card details, any day now.
    Unless they’re enemies of society, operating under double standards, that is.
  • So Slater is either a thief or a perjurer, just to bring you up to speed.
  • Are you witless as well as ignorant? You’ve already been informed of the Police complaint.
    We need better wingnuts.
  • Please try and get up to speed Mike: Slater gave evidence in the High Court that the emails are genuine. In the emails he boasts about stealing credit card and membership details from the NZLP with as-yet un-named accomplices from the Prime Minister’s Office.
  • Please stop exposing your cretinous ignorance in public. You’re a joke.
  • It seems to you, and no-one else. Evidence that the Prime Minsiter’s Office has admitted to be true: they stole from the NZLP, doesn’t seem to concern you.
    That’s because you’re either mendacious or ignorant or twisted by bias. Which is it?
  • No murder has taken place. The theft, on the other hand, has already been acknowledged by the perpetrators, although the Prime Minister’s Office (which has also acknowledged its part in the crime) is harbouring one of the accused.

That’s a common tone day after day. One Anonymous Bloke has an undisclosed connection with Labour (lprent discloses a long time connection) and this image is quite damaging to the Labour Party.

It’s also quite ironic on a blog with frequent claims that ‘dirty politics’ only comes from National.

It’s not about reasonable or balanced discussion, it’s about ‘fun':

Once Was Tim 

Back to Hobbitville – the trolls there are just funny rather than frustrating me with their UTTER stupidity despite lprent’s valiant efforts.

[lprent: I don't try to eliminate them. I just try to keep the rabbits down to an acceptable level. Why would I spoil the fun. ]

Another regular from the left gets far more lenient treatment for making a far more blatant assertion, this accusation against a Labour MP and leadership contender:

Colonial Viper

Grant has solid left wing values, and stood up for the membership’s right to be heard and involved in that process, while still being a respectful chair and a loyal deputy leader.

I’m sure that is the case. However, a large number of notable MPs voted against the inclusive, democratic leadership selection process that the NZLP now uses. Grant Robertson was one of them.

[lprent: Offhand I can't think of anyway to prove this one way or another unless you were watching him in the 2012 conference. There are no records of the hand or card votes there down to branches or people. If you want to assert that, then you should also say how you know otherwise I will satrt getting finicky. KL below is completely correct in their objection. ]

If someone deemed from the right (which means moderate left to right) made an assertion like that (or probably if it was a similar claim against Cunliffe) proof would be demanded to avoid a ban. This accusation was strongly refuted…

  • Keir Leslie

    That is a bare faced lie. Robertson voted for, organised for, fought for, helped win us the inclusive, democratic process we use now.

    I don’t know how or if he voted on Cunliffe’s divisive and self-interested attempt to make it easier to roll a leader chosen by that inclusive and democratic process by giving a minority in caucus the ability to depose them. That was a different fight, and one the membership at conference was pretty closely divided on.

    But Robertson was a staunch driver of the party democratisation process, while making sure that the leader of the party wasn’t undermined.

  • Roztoz

    I was next to GR at that vote. He voted for democratisation.

    And that was only after a year of pushing the changes through caucus and keeping NZ Council and caucus talking on it.

…but no action was taken despite two witness accounts.

And on another recent thread an ominous response that hints that moderator mood could play a part in behaviour.

  • Don’t the Nat$i party supporters wish fisi !, why are they so afraid of DC?(why are you going so RED prime mincer?)

    [lprent: sigh, still auto-spamming. I will be back later so will look then if I am sober enough.. ]

Political blogs like The Standard and Whale Oil (which also bans prolifically) continue to do a disservice to political discussion. They seem to be vehicles for the egos of bloggers and little consideration is given to bettering democratic debate. That’s their choice.

Kiwiblog has it’s problems but at least the discussions are not politically biased by bans of unwanted opinions.

At The Standard it’s very much left troll good, right troll bad.

The term “troll” refers to someone who deliberately incites or disrupts a social media discussion but it is more often used as a pejorative meaning little more than “I don’t want you or your opinion here”.

On blogs irony is very common, rationality far less so. Noting that Kiwiblog and Whale Oil seem to carry significantly larger audiences than The Standard and acknowledging that Prentice likes to have the last word (often enforced with a ban) I’ll end with this “more rational” comment:

Many blogs won’t carry much of an audience because of what people write. The arseholes of the net will choose to hang off the self-destructive like Slater or dive into the older sewer at Kiwiblog. The more rational will come here or to Public Address or Transport Blog where the conversations may be robust but their comments can be heard.

New Kiwiblog moderation strikes

David Farrar has been promising to toughen up on abusive comments at Kiwiblog with a new three strikes moderation policy. The first and second strikes give an indication of intent.

The first was on the thread Volunteers sought for Kiwiblog last Friday, where fairly predictably ‘Kea’ got the first strike:

And that Scott Chris shows you are fundamentally unsuited to make that choice. You are a coward and intellectually dishonest. Your own contributions are worthless dross for those reasons.

But I would allow you to share your brain-farts in total freedom. They make other contributors look good and fill the diversity quota [for the handicapped] at the same time.

[DPF: Thanks for the perfect example of an unacceptable comment. You're the first person to get a strike under the new regime]

That’s relatively mild from Kea, who has been banned several times under the old moderation system. Kea is a prolific commenter with some good things to say at times but often resorts to personal abuse, sometimes extreme even by (past) Kiwiblog standards.

The second strike was yesterday, and was a second strike for Kea:

Scott Chris has pushed the “Report abusive comment” button FIFTY TIMES. What a cowardly wanker.

DPF gives me a strike but sees none of the abuse thrown at me by this, and other, abusive bigots on a daily basis. DPF has form for this sort of thing and his bullshit claims about lack of bias further erode his remaining credibility. The primary reason he demerits me is for my views.

I am out of here folks for good and are closing my account. Though I will pop in to watch KB continue its decline into a fanatical Christian anti-Muslim hate site.

[DPF: And that was strike two. You're not yet suspended if you change your mind]

Scott Chris had openly admitted reporting the abuse – as requested by DPF – and if Kea had felt unacceptable abuse had been directed at him he could have done likewise.

If Kea changes his mind and returns then on past form a third strike will be difficult for him to avoid.

This new moderation regime seems to have made some of the regulars a bit uneasy but if they don’t resort to personal abuse they shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Some at Kiwiblog seem to have for a long time considered abuse, bullying and trying to drive other away a bit of sport. They will have to get used to the referee’s new rules.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/mxsbbvy2wn2thrf/Kea%20RIP.jpg?dl=0

Kiwiblog Comments Policy

UPDATE: Another strike on 8/10/2014

Nukuleka (316 comments) says:

Not sure why you should worry about having any code of standards about your blog DPF when you mindlessly use inappropriate and offensive language at will. Perhaps you are the offensive little creep that the left wing hate blogs suggest. Maybe JK would be wise to start to distance himself from you as well as from Cameron Slater.

[DPF: Strike 1]

Standard blog banning spree

The Standard (mainly lprent) weeded out quite a few voices leading up to and during the election campaign. Assumptions that the bans would subside after the election may prove to be false.

Since the election:

sockpuppet

[deleted]

[lprent: 2 week ban as a gentle warning. ]

Richard McGrath

Deserved carnage. Great to see the odious Harawira get his come-uppance after selling his soul to a [deleted].

[lprent: You made an assertion of a probable defamatory fact and certainly the statement as a whole is defamatory as it carries no public interest. It is not worth us trying to defend. Banned for 6 weeks. ]

Beasely petes

15% this site was saying.

[lprent: No it wasn't. Banned for 2 weeks for the stupidity of saying that a computer has an opinion. Read the policy. ]

Ants

To be fair, the Labour Party own this blog, given the $$$ they put into it. It is a mouthpiece.

LP is the administrator.

[lprent: To be fair you are a lazy pig-ignorant dickhead who hasn't read the about. (BTW: Has anyone else noticed that people who use that phrase "To be fair" are usually about to lie by omission and innuendo?)

The Labour party have never put a cent into this site in 7 years (not that I'd want them to do so). If you read the about you will find that I largely paid for it myself where required (with slowly increasing donations from readers and authors) until early 2010. The costs of growing traffic and server costs started to exceed my ability to easily keep paying for it while I was dealing with a leaky home. Since then the adverts have mostly paid for it as the costs kept rising.

Right now the site owes my bank account something like $800 (I haven't had time to calc for it fully in the last month). That is due to very late arriving advertising revenue and a couple of UFBs that I brought to maintain the power supply.

However I have also managed to drop its $600-$700 per month running cost to $330 last month. That was despite a a near doubling of traffic and was due to spending a sizeable chunk of my 6 weeks holiday paid time between jobs in dropping the data transfer from about 1TB/month to about 400GB/mo (despite rising traffic) by pruning everything that was increasing the transfer.

This month the traffic has jumped by 50%, but further site improvements mean that the cost for the month will drop to roughly $270. The downside is that that site's main server is now running on my personal home development box because that was what I had available (with 8 fast watercooled cores, 24GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD) when I finally got fibre into my home.

It is a hell of a lot of work, and something that no political party could really afford my time (or interest) to do.

Quite simply the Labour party wouldn't know what in the hell to do with something like this site. Their best attempt was Red Alert which was destroyed by newbies (MPs) not understanding the social trust relationship required for a blog site.

It'd also have cost them an order of magnitude more to run at a technical level than this does. The party is made up (by my standards) of technophobes. So they'd have had to have paid for the expertise. After all I don't charge for my very expensive time.

The reason I do it, and why most if not all of its authors do it, is because it is a tool that the left needs to have. It needs to be pretty independent of all of the political parties, unions, rather strange MPs, their supporters, and their media people. The bad habits of building silo complexes to protect themselves from each other and their mutual interdependencies requires it.

There needs to be an avenue for people of the overall labour and green movements to talk to each other that bypasses all of those in a reasonably non-real-life manner. The Standard trust and I provide that. Many in Labour, Greens, unions, and the media find it disconcerting because authors and commenters aren't exactly nice to anyone and it is a communications device that bypasses everyones control systems.

And you are banned permanently for being a pig-ignorant dickhead who doesn't read the about or policy on a site, and who instead lies about the operator of the site because you are too much of a lazy fuckwit to look it up. ]

Disturbed

AW I voted for Robert Muldoon when he was a true National politician but my standards are way beyond choosing this simple yes-man Currency trader.

Why has Key been at meetings with the controversial Bilderberg group black ops world one order agenda group?

[deleted]

[lprent: Banned for 4 weeks for using stupid conspiracy theories that appear to have no basis in fact in a post that has nothing to do with them. If you want to write comments here then please don't be a dumbarse fuckwit. It just displays that you can't argue or have problems moving the rust in your brain. I really don't like seeing the other commenters (and me) bored shitless for a nincompoop who can't leave nutty conspiracy theories in OpenMike. That is what it is there for. ]

Jimmie

Yeah ok so the evil Jew John Key is actually a neo nazi, one worlder secretly plotting to rule the whole world. (maybe from his secret bunker in Wellington?)

Plenty of tinfoil hat material in that statement – big picture though if leftie folk keep thinking that the evil John Key is the reason why they’ve been left in the dust then 2017 is gona go the same as last night.

[lprent: Banned for 4 weeks for using stupid goodwin and wingnut stereotypes. If you want to write comments here then please don't be a dumbarse fuckwit. It just display that you can't argue or have problems moving the rust in your brain. I really don't like seeing the other commenters (and me) bored shitless for a nincompoop who has to resort to a godwin. ]

Doug Stuart

[deleted]

[lprent: You appear to be astroturfing, and I have already warned you. 4 week ban for being a astroturfing dumbarse. Indeed. Watch this space because you can't write here. ]

chris73

National on track for four terms
And the Labour caucus has more important things to discuss…..

[lprent: and you are astroturfing. I'm tired of it. 4 weeks ban. ]

Ron 9.1.1

Its a bit immaterial now since DC is contesting but you did not answer my question which was wondering If DC was not standing in New Lyn what sort of support would another Labour MP get. Looking at the Party vote for that electorate which from memory had National in lead

[lprent: Ok I am detecting a troll meme here. There were exactly 5 electorates that had Labour party majorities. They were Dunedin North with 24 ahead before the specials and 4 south Auckland electorates. No electorate candidate standing for this leadership did well in the party vote.

What relevance it has this this discussion is miniscule. So you don't get to participate any further in this debate here. 16 weeks should achieve that. And a mandatory 16 week ban for every fool who I find raising this astroturf in this and subsequent moderation sweeps.

Astroturfing is something that I really dislike and a primary tool to use to mark trolls. I suggest that you learn to use your brains and give your own thoughts rather than some lines someone has given you.

Banned 16 weeks. Adjusted to 1 week after an explanation.. ]

left for dead

nothing good about losing the party vote yet again,in Dunedin South.Have another look at those stat’s.By the way MickeySavage,will you not release that list you are compiling on the Labour caucus misfits/cretins.If we have to spill blood,lets have all the facts,for a cleaner fight.

[lprent: So get off your lazy arse and do it yourself. From memory, the specials still have to be counted and should be through at the end of the week. We're all short of time to do anything.

Demanding things of authors is bloody stupid. Read the policy.

Banned 1 week. That should give you time to do your own analysis. ]

JeffRo

Even gives an opinion and you go straight to attacking him personally.

Maybe get a job, it will enhance you with perspective.

[lprent: Her comment was valid, sarcastic, picked a profession where the practice does happen, and well within the robust rule.

Your comment was not. It was a classic troll comment. Play the victim and then abuse the person you are replying to. With overtones about how others should act (which is our purview).

Banned 2 weeks as a warning not to try troll tactics here ]

Ronnie Chow

The Labour party is no longer a party of the working man, but one for beneficiaries and social engineers. The battle for a 40 hour week has been won, and lost again by choice as people chase the consumer society dream. Weekend trading means more hours of work available to more people and from the looks of the crowds at Mitre 10, Pak n Save and the Warehouse on the weekend, the consumers are enthusiastically looking to consume.

[lprent: Off topic and not for the first time now I look at it. Banned 16 weeks because you look like a stupid troll and I find you need a robust warning. Moved to OpenMike. I suggest you read the policy if you want to avoid my personal attention. ]

Fats 30

Picking holes in National’s selections should be the least of your priorities.

How about choosing a leader who actually represents NZ workers? Labour hasn’t had a leader like that in decades (although Helen Clark made a good job of faking it).

How about policies that put ordinary NZers first instead of your union paymasters?

For example, why can’t we experiment more in education? Oh, that’s right – it might upset two of our biggest unions.

Why can’t you have a united caucus?

Why is the Labour party so desperately and tragically out of touch.

I remember when everyone knew our local Labour MP by name. He was part of the community, but too many Labour MPs (thankfully, not all) parachute in for surgery and to drum up votes during elections.

Get your house in order and I might even think about supporting you and even making a donation – but pull your head out of the sand, use this election defeat as an opportunity to make serious reforms.

[lprent: 16 week ban for deliberately going off topic. ]

steve

good lord, you guys are living on another planet, newsflash! Charter schools have worked just fine in USA,Sweden,and other countries.
translation! we dont want to even look at the possibility charter schools might work because that threatens our union, forget the kids its all about our control right??
Why can’t we defend children against people who experiment on them? what a tosser.

[lprent: Talking about tossers. Where are your links to back your assertions? One week ban for being a lying pillock. If you don't provide backing link(s) to asserted facts then you are by definition lying. ]

Gosman

I’m just telling you what’s happening in the right wing circles I participate in. We would all love if Cunliffe got re-elected. It would provide acres of fun for us.

[lprent: You are starting to read like a troll with a nah-nah fetish left over from when you were a child. You aren't adding anything to the debate apart from demonstrating one of your bouts of being a dickhead. Goodbye for 2 weeks. ]

That’s fifteen bans in ten days. It’s possible it is more banning than usual due to people coming off bans after the election but it’s a higher than normal ban rate.

Blogs ban however they like. The Standard is unusual in that they are very open about their bans with accompanying lectures so it simply may be more obvious.

Of the other major blogs:

  • Whale Oil and The Daily Standard seem to ban frequently but far less obviously.
  • Kiwiblog is open but bans rarely (but is currently reviewing moderation policies).
  • Dim-Post bans secretly so it’s not possible to know how much.
  • Public Address and Pundit seem to ban infrequently but don’t seem to have open moderation policies.

Casual blog readers can never be sure how open or controlled the discussion is on any blog. Message control and manipulation is more complex than banning certain political leanings or opinions.

For example Kiwiblog has very light moderation so discussions aren’t controlled by David Farrar but as harassment, bullying, personal attacks and lying have been uncontrolled participating individuals or groups can at least attempt to drive away opinions they don’t want or agree with. However Kiwiblog is more likely to be dominated by the most determined or persistent rather than any particular political agenda.

With the other major blogs it’s difficult to know how much of the discussion is manipulated by moderation and how much is people with similar leanings congregation.

It’s safe to assume that no blog is representative of any particular public opinion as there are many potential limiting factors.

The difficulties of cleaning up Kiwiblog

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.

Farrar versus Gilbert and ‘dirty politics’

A spat between David Farrar (DPF) of Kiwiblog and Dr Jarrod Gilbert continues, with connections being made to ‘dirty politics. Gilbert posted on Wednesday:

Proof of David Farrar’s deception: my own experience of Dirty Politics

In the lead up to the election the Minister of Corrections Anne Tolley launched a gang policy. In order to justify the government’s approach she used gang figures that overstated the gang problem. Not by a little bit, but a lot. And I mean a lot. I couldn’t prove it at the time (I can now) but because they were so obviously nonsense I called her out and said I would eat a suitcase full of carrots if she was correct.

Carrots proved to be the least of my problems. My problem proved to be the dishonest Right Wing blogger David Farrar. I initially took Farrar’s challenge in good humour thinking it would be a healthy tussle to seek the truth. It wasn’t. As we know now, he and Cameron Slater are birds of a feather, but where Slater is dim-witted Farrar is marginally smarter and this makes him more insidious.

Farrar quickly leapt to the Minister’s Defence. He was able to gain the figures – presumably from the Minister’s office – and with them he attempted to ‘prove’ that I was wrong and discredit me. Sound familiar? It was my own little experience of Dirty Politics.

Farrar responded with an apology:

Jarrod was right

September 24th, 2014 at 1:55 pm by David Farrar

May have some carrots to eat.

I had an exchange with in August about the proportion of crimes caused by gang members, in reference to his disputing a statement by Anne Tolley.

I blogged:

Is Dr Gilbert Saying the Corrections Department is lying when it says 28% of the prison population are gang members? They supplied the data, and I see no reason why they would make it up.

I’ve just been told that the Corrections Department figures do include associates and family – something they did not make clear at the time.

So Dr Gilbert was quite right that the Minister was not comparing apples and applies, as one figure included associates, and one did not.

UPDATE: of course I apologise for doubting when he says Police and Corrections were using definitions of gang members. They were!

Graeme Edgeler took him to task

I’ve just been told that the Corrections Department figures do include associates and family – something they did not make clear at the time.

You were told that at the time. In fact, you quoted Dr Gilbert and responded as follows:

What the 28 percent prison number represents is gang members as well as gang associates in prison.

So it is a technical argument over definitions. I don’t care what you call them.

What’s changed? You agreed it was an argument of definitions then, but didn’t think it mattered.

David Fisher at NZ Herald:

Minister used wrong figures on gangs

Figures used by Police Minister Anne Tolley to justify a new law tackling gangs were wrong, police admitted last night.

The error was picked up by police shortly after Ms Tolley announced the policy in the run-up to the election but it has yet to be publicly corrected.

“Our intention is to shortly publish the relevant Cabinet Paper and clarification online,” a spokesman said last night.

Ms Tolley launched the policy as a “whole of government” approach to gangs which included drug dogs at domestic transit points – airports and ferries – and a new gang intelligence centre.

Launching the policy, she issued a press release saying 4000 gang members were responsible for a crime wave, including a quarter of murders last year.

She said that during the first three months of this year those 4000 gang members commited 34 per cent of serious drug offences, 36 per cent of kidnapping and abductions, 25 per cent of robbery offences and 26 per cent of grievous assault offences.

University of Canterbury sociologist Dr Jarrod Gilbert, who challenged the figures at the time of the policy launch, was yesterday citing proof the press release was wrong.

And Gilbert countered Farrar yesterday:

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the government isn’t playing dirty.

Ten minutes or so before I posted my blog yesterday proving the Police and Corrections Minister had used dodgy gang numbers, David Farrar wrote something akin to an apology on Kiwiblog for attacking me for exposing the truth. He was getting the jump on criticism coming his way.

Was this a coincidence? Of course not. He was tipped off by the Minister’s office following an inquiry by the the Herald’s ever diligent David Fisher just an hour or so before Farrar posted. Tolley’s press secretary is a man named Gillon Carruthers. Leaked emails used in Dirty Politics show that Carruthers has been providing material to Farrar’s offside Cameron Slater since 2011. Old habits obviously die hard.

And:

When I wrote in my blog that I used somebody else to send in the Official Information request because I was concerned the fact I was doing so would be leaked to Farrar or others (to whatever end), I thought I might be seen as paranoid. To be honest, I thought I might have been too. Unfortunately it appears not.

It is already quite clear that numerous people have been attacked by Slater, Farrar, often at the behest of government ministers or those working for them. This is not a small matter, it is about how we want our democracy to operate.

After the revelations of Dirty Politics, it might have been assumed these practices were halted. It seems that they haven’t been. Cameron Slater said to me last week on Twitter ‘wait until you see Dirtier Politics’. The worst, it would seem, is yet to come.

Slater has sounded unrepentant about playing dirty in between claiming to be a victim.

Farrar has pledged to clean up Kiwiblog and be more vigilant about disclosure of sources but he’s also been taken to task about this by Edgeler:

“if any content substantially comes from a parliamentary … source, I will state so when using it.” cf.

I haven’t seen a response to this from Farrar.

Some of this has been highlighted in a post at The Standard. Anthony Robins concludes:

Business as usual then (what a surprise). Expect dirty politics, and personal attacks on critics of the government, to escalate even further over the next three years.

A bit ironic considering the levels of personal attacks on critics at The Standard but fair enough holding Kiwiblog to account.

Dirty politics and personal attacks won’t stop overnight, they are ingrained practices across the political spectrum and across blogs.

Steve R also commented at Kiwiblog:

You need to do more to make up for how poorly you treated Dr Gilbert who I note you now refer to simply as “Jarrod”.

You misrepresented his position and allowed ignorant vitriol to be published whilst at the same time you suppressed counter arguments in support of his position. For instance, I wrote the post below and then watched and waited, and waited, and waited for it to be made public and funnily enough you only released it to the public well after activity on the thread had died off. If you’re going to manage your blog with such little integrity and courage then why don’t you openly label it for what it is – a gathering place for those of the right with feeble minds that cannot cope with a dissenting opinion.

My earlier post: “The one thing that Dr Gilbert has got wrong is that you deserve a reputation for honesty. You are being quite dishonest to suggest that Dr Gilbert has conceded the point, he absolutely has not. And it is utter nonsense to suggest he is wrong by simply standing by the initial apparently flawed data.

Furthermore, your refusal to accept there is a significant difference between gang members and associates betrays nothing but sheer ignorance. Having worked with gangs as a police officer (including time undercover in their midst) I can assure you that there are numerous people who are recorded as “gang associates” that have no association with “the gang” although they might have a completely non-gang related association with an individual “gang member”.

For instance, consider the co-worker who has his name taken when he gets pulled over in the company of a gang member; the person whose cousin or brother in law is a gang member (such people include policemen, lawyers and even a Judge); the tradesman who does work for a gang member etc etc. All can be recorded as “gang associates” and in the event that they commit an offence it is recorded as having been committed by a “gang associate” notwithstanding the fact there is no “gang” connection to the offence. Thus, the definitions used do matter because if the “gang problem” is wildly overstated because of a flawed nexus between offences and “gangs” then policy decisions and resource allocations are potentially misguided.”

Holding prominent political blogs and bloggers to account has become an important aspect of New Zealand politics.

It will be interesting to see how Farrar and Kiwiblog responds to what will no doubt be ongoing pressure to clean up.

Gagging social media on election day

Now we have heavily promoted advance voting for two weeks leading up to the election, during which time campaigning for votes is full on, it’s more than a little anachronistic that on election day itself publishing anything that may influence how someone votes is forbidden by our electoral law.

This was originally an exclusion on media advertising or reporting. That is now extended to not only blogging but to all social media commenting.

Up until Thursday night (Friday’s figures haven’t been posted yet) the Electoral Commission report that 557,174 people had advance voted and they expect the final figure to be around 700,000.

In the 2011 election 2,278,989 voted. If a similar total votes this time that means about one third will have advance voted while campaigning and vote soliticiting was very active.

So it’s odd that the rest of us are protected from influence in election day.

The Electoral Commission states:

ELECTION DAY RULES FOR CANDIDATES, PARTIES AND THIRD PARTIES

This guidance has been produced to help candidates, parties and third parties comply with the law by setting out the general rules for behaviour on election day and during the advance voting period.

Any activities (including advertising) promoting the election of a candidate or party, or attacking a party or candidate, are prohibited on election day before 7pm (Saturday 20 September 2014) and are a criminal offence. The full list of prohibited activities is set out insection 197 of the Electoral Act which effectively prohibits anything that can be said to interfere with or influence voters, including processions, speeches or public statements.

Summary of the rules for candidates, parties and third parties

On election day you must not:

  • Display any hoardings – all election signs must be taken down or covered up before election day.
  • Display any other election advertising – cover up or place away from public view vehicles advertising parties or candidates (this includes flags and bumper stickers).
  • Distribute any campaign material.
  • Distribute or display anything showing political party or candidate names.
  • Post election-related material online. This includes election-related posts on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. 
  • Take part in any election-related demonstration or procession.
  • Wear or display clothing that promotes a political party or candidate.
  • Conduct opinion polling of voters.

In relation to websites and social media:

Social media on election day

There are additional restrictions on election day.  On election day (from midnight on 19 September until 7pm on 20 September) there is a general prohibition of the publication of any statement that is likely to influence which candidate or party a person should, or should not, vote for. 

Election advertising does not have to be removed from social media so long as:

  • the material was published before election day
  • the material is only made available to people who voluntarily access it, and
  • no advertisements promoting the page or site are published on election day.  

If you use social media, do not post messages on election day that could breach these rules.  The Commission recommends candidates and parties temporarily deactivate their Facebook campaign pages to avoid the risk of supporters committing an offence by posting on your page.  For other forms of social media where others can post comments the Commission recommends that where possible security settings are changed so that other people cannot post messages before 7pm on election day. 

Posts on social media that are not connected in any way with the election can of course be posted on election day.

So as long as you post something prior to midnight on election eve it’s fine, even if it is prominently displayed during election day. But you supposedly can’t post anything on election day.

While most of the Electoral Commission advice relates to parties and candidates “a general prohibition of the publication of any statement that is likely to influence which candidate or party a person should, or should not, vote for” implies that these gagging rules apply to everyone.

To an extent this is understandable, if individuals were allowed to promote party and candidate voting then parties would find ways to sneak around the rules.

But when an increasingly large proportion of people vote while campaigning is in full swing this seems anachronistic.

I wasn’t going to tell you who you should vote for anyway. Just make an effort to vote if you are inclined towards voting.

The Standard versus David Farrar and Dirty Politics

David Farrar was implicated in Nicky Hager’s “Dirty Politics” book. He remains a friend of Cameron Slater and appears to have worked in tandem with the Whale Oil blog via his own Kiwiblog. His disclosure statement is here.

His latest post at Kiwiblog is Issues that matter – the Economy where he says:

I think the economy matters and should be a much bigger issue in this election so I’ve put together almost a dozen graphs showing the difference between National and Labour’s record on 11 important economic indicators. These are issues that matter to families and businesses

He details eleven graphs with comment and concludes:

Government do not directly control many of these economic measures. But they can and do impact them with their economic policies. The difference between where we are today and where we were in the mid to late 2000s is stark.

The Standard has posted Dirty Politics Watch I with an image extract from Dirty Politics:

Standard Dirty Politics Watch IThe post then links to Farrar’s post and states:

It’s like deja vu all over again.

The ‘author’ is listed as By: – in other words, no name, no disclosure about their identity or their political links.

‘Gosman’ asks:

Ummm… what exactly is his ‘crime’ meant to be here?

‘Puddlegum’ responds:

As I understand it, the implication is that Farrar has been making use of the National Party Research Unit and posting it as his own work again (or the National Party Research Unit has been making use of Farrar, again).

Not a crime, but, if correct, a post by Farrar that misleads his readers about the providence of its content. A potential fact that might influence how it is read and interpreted.

That’s the implication I understood.

‘Lanthanide:

A pure example of two-track politics as advanced by Hager.

Instead of the National Party themselves posting these 11 graphs (or National giving this to the MSM themselves) to show the differences between National and Labour, they outsource it to their blogs so as to maintain distance and plausible deniability.

Pretty obvious I should have thought.

The insinuation was pretty obvious.

There is no proof or indication that the post is anything but Farrar’s own work.

Farrar has responded on Facebook:

Some anonymous poster at The Standard thinks that me spending five or six hours compiling data to produce some economic graphs for my blog, is an example of dirty politics!!!

Instead it was an example of common tactics used in dirty politics.

The poster was of course anonymous, as most of them posters are.

But what I love is how they label as dirty politics basically anything that doesn’t worship David Cunliffe and Labour.

I guess it is easier for them to anonymously smear me, rather than actually do what I did, and spend a few hours going through the Stats NZ database compiling information.

The Standard, as I showed in “Vote Positive” and The Standard, seems to have given up on praising Cunliffe and Labour, almost all their posts are negative attacks on John Key, National, Slater and Farrar.

Farrar is right, the economy is a critical election issue and deserves critical examination. His post is predictably pro-National and also deserves critical examination, but instead an unknown person with unknown political connections tries to go dirty instead.

Ignoring the issue and trying to discredit the messenger is a standard dirty political tactic.

The first comment, by long time Labour activist ‘Anne':

David Farrar is as guilty as sin when it comes to Dirty Politics.

His whining and moaning over the supposed hacking of his computer following the launch of the book “Dirty Politics” was nothing but a cover-up job to try and claim victim status and distract from his involvement in the rotten game.

Anyone who has ever been the victim of a dirty smear campaign – more often than not involving unlawful conduct similar to Slater’s – will know that the perpetrator (or perpetrators) always use this tactic to cover for their own behaviour. The sad part is they invariably get away with it because the ‘powers that be’ (read establishment) let them get away with it. You have to ask yourself… why?

Some irony there with “dirty smear campaign” and “always use this tactic“.

‘Nadis’ comments:

I don’t get the problem? Some benign (but obviously cherry picked) partisan data gets published. I cant see why the source matters, if it in fact is not Farrar.

Now I’d get the point if it were an allegation of wifebeating or corruption etc, but some economic charts? How does it matter whether the source is David Farrar, a top secret black ops team, or my grandma?

I think for dirty tricks, you actually have to be doing something dirty. Otherwise the bleating just comes across as tinfoil hat conspiracy theory. And yes I have read Dirty Politics.

That addresses the non-problem of Farrar’s post, it questions the insinuation “if it in fact is not Farrar” and calls it ‘bleating’. Fair call.

But it doesn’t address the hypocrisy of The Standard alleging dirty politics while playing dirty politics.

Standard sysop and trustee Lynn Prentice often complains about ‘The Standard’ being referred to as an entity, claiming it is just  ‘a machine’. He recently posted in Meet The Standard:

So now when you see me saying that you can’t treat The Standard as a person with opinions because it is a machine. You’ll now know what I’m talking about….

But the reality is that this is just the hardware. The Standard is the sum of the loosely cooperative authors and their mixture of different viewpoints, and the commenters who have fun analyzing everything to death.

No attempt at analysis by ‘Notices and features”, just doing dirty to death.

An insinuating post with no evidence sounds like someone is hiding behind the machine. A dirty machine.

“Not as bad as Whale Oil”

Since the release of Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’ there has been much discussion and condemnation of what has been revealed – even though much of the dirtiness of Cameron Slater was already well known. He has boasted about his political uncleanliness.

Last year after the Len Brown revelations just after the local body elections Slater said on The Nation:

Mr Slater argued that Auckland politics was “a dirty disgusting despicable game”.

“It involves dirty disgusting despicable people at all levels,” he said.

“And to have this high and mighty belief that New Zealand politics is clean, it isn’t.”

(Frontpage)

He repeated this on his Whale Oil blog recently. He often quotes ” Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it”, along others from his list of ‘rules’.

Whaleoil’s Rules of Politics

1. If you are explaining, you are losing

2. Utu is good, even necessary

3. Never hug a corpse – it smells and you end up smelling like the corpse too

4. Always know where the bodies are buried

5. Don’t let mongrels get away with being mongrels

6. Don’t mess with The Whale or Cactus Kate

7. Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.

8. Never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer

9. Speak plain, Speak Simple

10. Remember, I’m telling this story

11. Never trust a politician if you aren’t close enough to them to hit them in the back of the head with a bit of 4×2

12. Never trust a politician with a moustache or a hyphenated name

There might be a lot of people, especially politicians, giving serious consideration to rule 3 right now.

Slater’s personal attacks and vindictiveness are well known. There’s no one who comes close to his media prominence and dirtiness in New Zealand politics.

So all other bloggers can comfortably claim they are “not as bad as Whale Oil”. But that sets the bar very low and should not excuse lesser levels of dirtiness.

One of the more long serving and respected bloggers Russell Brown posted  We can do better than this at Public Address and concluded:

In one of the early reports that annoyed me, Radio New Zealand’s political editor Brent Edwards, talked about smears being unleashed to “blogs” and “the blogosphere”.

Actually, we’re not all like that. The multitude of bloggers, political bloggers included, have no part in this. And while the cynical side of politics is not new, I do believe that the scope, scale and nature of what is described in Hager’s book is unprecedented.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can, all of us, do better than this.

Russell is right, we’re “not all like that”. No one else is as bad as Whale Oil. I agree that “the scope, scale and nature of what is described in Hager’s book is unprecedented” – although it shouldn’t really have been a surprise to Russell if he was aware of what Whale Oil has been doing for years.

But in comments Russell seems to think that the ‘all of us” in “We can, all of us, do better than this” doesn’t apply equally to all of us.

It’s over to you, Pete, to identify a left-leaning blogger with even a tenth of the venality and vindictiveness of WhaleOil.

I feel kind of icky agreeing with Pete (sorry, Mr. George) but if our baseline is “not as bad as Whaleoil” that’s a depressingly low bar you can clear without lifting your feet.

Which is really just a morally elevated way of saying “everyone does it”. It’s simply not true. What has happened in and around Whaleoil these past few years is actually of a different nature.

He seems to be claiming it’s not true that everyone doesn’t do it, despite calling for “all od us” to do better.

Some of what Whale Oil has done has been of a different nature” and of a more extreme nature, but there are many examples of dirt mongering across the blogosphere. Russell moderates Public Address fairly well but even his own blog shouldn’t be exempt from criticism. There’s dirt at different levels but there’s dirt – there were even mild attempts to attack me personally to divert from the issues being discussed on that thread (eg ScottY and Kracklite).

Public Address is relatively mild but still allows personal political attacks and dirty comments. The other major left wing blogs The Standard and The Daily Blog allow and promote a lot of abuse and attempts to emulate some of Whale Oil’s “success”.

Lynn Prentice (lprent) at The Standard often boasts about his nastiness:

That is because in my sysop role I’m deliberately a nasty vindictive mean old man with abuse of power issues, whose only redeeming quality is that he is too lazy to be bothered exercising those traits, but who often and almost randomly goes totally over the top when roused.

And as chief moderator that sets the tone for blog with support of a one sided attack culture.

And Martyn Bradbury is well know for over the top rants and abuse, as well as doing party promotional blog posting without revealing he is being paid by or seeking payment for his work, one of the things Slater is correctly criticised for.

Josie Pagan is very familiar with how nasty the left wing blogs can get, they have blasted her a number of times. She recently posted The politics of vilification.

Nicky Hager’s book exposes both the politics of demonisation and the National Government’s role in facilitating it. The right wing blogs have been more extreme, more violent and more coordinated with the parliamentary party and so the book is their comeuppance. 

I agree with that. Whale Oil is obviously the main culprit but Kiwiblog can be very nasty in it’s comments and I think the generally and widely respected David Farrar would admit to overstepping lines of decency at times (as most if not all bloggers do to varying degrees).

But imagine how much harder would it be for the government to deflect some of the disgusting stuff they’ve been involved in if some on the left blogs had not spent so much energy vilifying and demonising people they disagree with.

I’ve been suggesting to left wing blogs for a long time thatthey would be fdar more credible and effective if they cut down on the crap – I’ve been banned from The Standard for giving them advice along those lines.

At least Farrar recognises problems and has pledged ttake measures to try to improve Kiwiblog – Some changes for Kiwiblog.

Josie concluded:

But there is also a wider lesson to everyone about the way politics is conducted. 

As I wrote back in December, “The fundamental principle of the left is our compassion…. Ours is the politics of redemption, forgiveness and humanity.” 

Or, as Nicky Hager elegantly stated on The Nation this morning, “if anyone is doing it, they should stop.

It’s hard to see Whale Oil changing it’s degree of nastiness but if we are to improve political discourse in New Zealand it’s up to all of the rest of us to do what we can to improve – bloggers and politicians.

Directing all the blame at the other lot and demanding action from them ignores those shitting in our own nests.

Yes Russell, we can, all of us, do better than this. ‘All of us’ means not opting out because we’re are not as bad as Whale Oil.

UPDATE: Russell has responded via Twitter:

Thanks for another droning restatement of what you’ve already said. I’m at a loss as to what I’m supposed to do about it.

I replied: Try using your stature showing some leadership in the blogosphere in raising standards perhaps?

Kiwiblog steps up

David Farrar has stepped up to a major challenge and is promising improvements at Kiwiblog – see Some changes for Kiwiblog.

Farrar has always been one of the most open bloggers on disclosure, and he is are taking that even further. 

I receive up to a dozen unsolicited e-mails a day, suggesting stories to me. Most are from people who are not politicians or staff – just ordinary readers. Some are just links to stories, some make some points on a topical issue. I sometimes quote these e-mails in posts. I have always been very careful to distinguish between content I write, and content people may send me (which I quote as coming from a reader). But I’m going to go a further step and if any content substantially comes from a parliamentary, or political party staffer, source I will state so when using it. I will not name individuals, but if I quote someone I will include information on their affiliations, when relevant. You will find this is very infrequently.

The comments and commenters at Kiwiblog have a reputation for being many things, usually negative. There’s no doubt it can be a very abusive and insenstitive forum at times. Amongst the noise there are also many very worthwhile and interesting comments and commenters, but reputation focuses mainly on the worst.

After the election (ie when I have more time) I am going to consult on a tougher moderation policy for the comments. I want them to be robust and forceful, but focused more on issues than people. I have very limited time to read them myself, so probably will ask for some readers to step forward as moderators. We’ll have that discussion in October.

Moderation can be very time consuming, a difficult beast to confront. It’s a REAL SHAME that more responsibility and respect isn’t shown by commenters who are guests on Kiwiblog. This will be a challenge but it’s worth doing.

Farrar is setting a higher standard for himself – now it will be interesting to see if the blogs to the left who have been busy claiming they are not as bad as those on the right step up and follow your example.

As Bunji has just posted at The Standard – Left wing blogs aren’t “the same”.

No, they are not the same. Are they willing to up their standards too? What about it lprent? 

UPDATE: Already The Standard has indicated where they stand on this, showing their hypocrisy in claiming the moral high ground – No Changes for Kiwiblog.

Whoever wrote and posted that didn’t even have the guts to disclose their name or pseudonym.

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