Commenting on Your NZ

I think it’s worth looking at a few points that have been made in discussions over the last few days about commenting here, about moderation and and anonymity.

Moderation

It’s been claimed that Your NZ is “an unmoderated website”, and also “probably the most moderate and balanced blog there is”.

I generally try to be moderate and balanced here – as do a number of regular contributors in comments, so it’s more than just me. But a wide range of views are also encouraged. Growing support suggests there’s a niche for this approach.

This isn’t an unmoderated blog.

The tone is set via my posts and comments and by the comments of regulars. It’s a social media and people usually tend to adapt to the social setting they go into.

Every day I post this on Open Forum:

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is to encourage you to raise topics that interest you. 

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some basic ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised.

There’s more in About but most people don’t go there, and a menu link to Good commenting, so there’s ample opportunity for visitors to get an idea about what’s encouraged.

I occasionally give gentle reminders to people if I think they are getting into inappropriate territory. I occasionally edit comments, showing clearly that I’ve done this. I very occasionally delete comments. And on some occasions I’ve moderated on request – anyone is welcome to query what they think are unfair or potentially illegal posts or comments.

Sure when free expression is seen as important sometimes people can express strongly and may push boundaries but that’s a fundamental part of an open forum.

And anyone who doesn’t agree with or like something that’s posted here has a right to respond.

Moderation isn’t very visible here because it’s not needed much, not because there isn’t any.

Anonymity

The question of whether people should be required to use their own names or be verified before commenting comes up from time to time.

I have chosen to be open about my identity online, as do some others. It has it’s advantages and it’s down sides.

But I think it’s important to allow people to comment using pseudonyms, there can be very good reasons for people having a degree of anonymity.

Readers can make their own judgements on the authenticity of comment.

Allowing anonymity is especially important when allowing and encouraging rights of response. If commenter identification was essential it would deter people from speaking up for and defending themselves.

Some people can abuse anonymity – but some people who are easily identifiable can be very abusive online too.

I don’t think the majority of people, who act responsibly, should be limited or discouraged from speaking out because of the abuse of a few.

Requiring commenters to be registered discourages some so it limits the possibilities for getting varying opinions. I find some registration systems to be a hassle so I don’t bother with them, so I don’t insist on them being used here.

I hope I don’t have to limit the easy access to speech here.

Yes there’s some risks with allowing free and relatively unfettered speech. But I think there’s significant risks fettering speech.

Thanks to those who support and contribute to the commenting culture here – open forums need to be joint projects.

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3 Comments

  1. Pete Kane

     /  7th August 2015

    You’re right Pete, free and frank public discourse must be at the forefront of a functioning democracy, And I accept you’re inference that it’s better to accept the risk of abuse to that discourse by some monovalent responses than see that opportunity of discourse curtailed for all. Best wishes.

    Reply
  2. traveller

     /  7th August 2015

    Pete, can I take this opportunity to thank you for your efforts here and for providing a forum for commentary and debate. I find I am coming here more and more often for your thoughtful and well considered posts. It may well be that you might need to ask for assistance in the future and I am sure that we would be more than happy to contribute. Keep on posting and all the best.

    Reply
    • Mike C

       /  7th August 2015

      @Trav

      You put all of my thoughts about this Blog and Pete George and his current situation in a very succinct manner, and I couldn’t agree with you more.

      I would also be happy to make a financial contribution 🙂

      Reply

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