Blog moderation – musing and amusing

Blog moderation is difficult and relentless. You can never please all of the people all of the time, but the general aim is to please most of the people most of the time.

I’ve had a few challenges here, in particular a couple of years ago when there were deliberate attempts to disrupt and shut down the site. Now it usually just involves a bit of guidance in trying to balance free speech with stopping people from shutting down the speech of those they disagree with.

Before (and after) stating Your NZ I tried to stand up to crap at Kiwiblog, but I gradually lost interest as it was obvious that ongoing abuse and lies were going to be allowed to continue with little restraint. I deliberately broke a blog rule once to make a point, but it was probably fairly futile.

I commented occasionally commented at Whale and on one occasion challenged comments in a post and was banned, but that was during the mass purges in 2014 when a lot of people were being banned so it doesn’t mean much.

Russell Brown banned me from Public Address when I argued against the crowd who were claiming that Nicky Hager could do no wrong and had never been proved wrong – some of them kicked up a stink when I produced evidence they didn’t like.

I’ve had an interesting history at The Standard, where they (some regular commenters and some moderators) tend to run with double standards, being tough on some while giving others a virtual free rein (and free reign for a small number of bullies).

I am often accused of disrupting discussions there, and have been deliberately provocative in a gentle way for sure, but most of the disruption is in the nature of deliberate mob attacks with an aim to having me banned for disruption – with the disruptors usually acting with ongoing impunity.

One of the worst offenders at The Standard has been One Anonymous Bloke – who is  currently targeting Colonial Viper who has recently returned there from a long ban.

I pop in there occasionally to test the waters. As Robert pointed out, yesterday:

One Anonymous Bloke:

So your response to Bradbury’s argument is to attack Bradbury. It’s the same argument I’ve been making. Wilson “Security” has been offering hush money: this is a matter of public record.

If you think anonymous Ian is a credible source, that’s on you, not Martyn B.

Me:

“So your response to Bradbury’s argument is to attack Bradbury. It’s the same argument I’ve been making.”

Irony or admission? You attack far more than you argue.

“If you think anonymous Ian is a credible source…”

That’s pure hypocrisy.

[3 day ban for flaming. Even in Open Mike you have to make some attempt to debate the politics and not just have a go at someone you disapprove of – weka]

Ferocious flaming! Weka has admitted paying special attention to me, and she frequently allows far worse from others – in particular OAB. She seems to me to overly protect comment and commenters she agrees with and approves of while being draconian with others with opinions from a different political spectrum.

A couple of days earlier a moderate and occasional moderator Bill made a big statement.

This is a long moderation comment applying to a number of people who’ve commented on this thread

In “the policy” there is this…We encourage robust debate and we’re tolerant of dissenting views. But this site run for reasonably rational debate between dissenting viewpoints and we intend to keep it operating that way. What we’re not prepared to accept are pointless personal attacks, or tone or language that has the effect of excluding others.

Obviously a number of people who frequent this site are Sino-phobic and/or racist. That’s life. And obviously those things are problematic as they most definitely exclude others when they form part of a comment or, more subtly, when they are the fuel sitting behind comments.

A pack mentality that revolves around getting a commenter to respond or react in a way that will bring a ban down on their head isn’t necessarily fuelled by those things – but then, it doesn’t need to be for it to fall foul of site policy..

So this thread’s got an example of a pack mentality that’s played out to its conclusion. Wei – a new commentator mind – has picked up a one month ban for submitting, absolutely and without a doubt, “less than flash” comments in response to ongoing needling and provocation. In the following incomplete – think “indicative” – run-down of stuff, I’ve disregarded the blatant Sino-phobia and racism that was marking some comments.

Anyway. Let me begin by offering a message of congratulation to those commentators who succeeded in their efforts to be seeing the back of Wei. We have so many Chinese voices – or in this case I suspect it would be more accurate to refer to Maoist perspectives – on this site, that I’m sure one less will make no perceptible difference to the breadth and diversity of the place.

Some of you should come down to Dunedin. We can walk down George Street or Princes Street and I can point out for you the Maoists and the Leninists, the Trots and the anarchists (both lifestylers and social). Or maybe you’d be more interested in the communists or autonomous Marxists? The anarcha fems perhaps? Nah. I guess not.

It seems (in the worlds of some hereabouts at least) that divergent political views can only be the result of (in this case) Chinese State Agents or “putinbots” (Simonm comment 29.1.4 and off-spring comments by – Psycho Milt, Union city greens) and any commentator expressing views that diverge from those familiar to “the pack” belongs firmly in the throw-away file, derisively labelled somethng along the lines of “you lot” (exkiwiforces comment ).

And of course, that file must find its way to the bin.

So circle and close in. Egg each other on and ignore or sidestep rational debate. Maybe start up with false accusations (exkiwiforces comment 28.1) and/or groundless appeals for moderation (Venezia comment 28), or just spring board from those points. Then goad, ridicule, belittle and jab in the hope of eliciting the inevitable bannable comment…and if that comment doesn’t come, then just keep going. Rinse and repeat if necessary (aster comment 29.1.5 / Union city greens comment 32) And if eventually something comes up but slips past moderation, then grab it, swallow it whole and keep regurgitating it because, well obviously it’s so damned offensive to you that you must repeat it again and again and again.

Hell. You can even get into frothing condemnation over “the target” committing an innocent enough faux pas in their choice of terminology if you want – every little bit helps.

Of course. Given that it’s against site policy to indulge in such shit, it’s probably not a good idea. And strutting your stuff after “mission accomplished” like (as martymars appropriately describes it) “puffed up roosters walking round cock a doodle dooing” – yeah -that’s definitely not a good idea.

OAB couldn’t resist strutting their stuff yesterday, protected from a right of reply:

I’ll always attack your beige drivel Peter. The mods here are alert to pointless personal attacks, or tone or language that has the effect of excluding others, so if you think they’re doing a poor job I suggest you take it up with them.

When I assert a fact I provide supporting links, so I’m not a source of anything. Reference to “anonymous Ian”, by the way, is a clue that he’s as credible as I am: which is to say, not credible at all without supporting material.

Have a lovely day 😈

OAB frequently attacks and lies with no supporting material (and has a right of reply here if they wish).

There’s an interesting discussion following Bill’s warning. My name came up – RedLogix:

As I indicated in the back-end, I’ve raised this issue of ‘piling on’, or ‘mobbing’ a commenter a number of times in the past and received no support at all. So in this respect I fully welcome this new moderating guideline.

The trick will of course be to apply it in an even-handed manner. It was always my expectation that moderators should focus on behaviour and remain agnostic about the politics.

And yes PG was gang bullied quite mercilessly on many occasions, but to my recollection he never retaliated. But it really is a highly subjective decision as to whether someone is simply ‘airing their opinions’ or ‘indulging in irksome derailing’.

Some there, like OAB, are not subjective, they simply attack peopler they don’t want commenting, for whatever reason.

Weka also commented:

As someone who has been in many, many conversations that PG has been in and who in the past year has also moderated him, I think the issue is one of patterns of behaviour that disrupt the thread or the community. In PG’s case, observing that over years makes the patterns of behaviour obvious. Sometimes it’s derailing, but not always.

She selectively ignores patterns of behaviour of some with an obvious intent to disrupt threads, and willingly or unwittingly gets played by those who disrupt and blame, but no moderator is perfect.

PG has been given a lot of latitude here…

She probably believes that. I deserved the wee break she gave me yesterday. If she was consistent The Standard would be better for it, but I don’t expect much change.

It’s a hard job being the perfect moderator.

Leave a comment

32 Comments

  1. The blogs can’t abide “reasonable”. They hate that more than outright hate speech. If one discusses a situation with even a modicum of reason, but opine in a manner that dissents from the position of the blog, they come down hard.

    Ironically Pete, you run a reasonably unmoderated and relatively polite blog and give people a good deal of leeway. OTOH TS, TDB,WO ban at random. Their blogs are the lesser for it imho, largely sycophantic echo chambers.

    Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  November 21, 2017

      Reason is King and reasonableness is his Prince; I don’t agree that bloggers, in general, “can’t abide “reasonable” or that commenters on blogs reject it either, it’s just that tone thing: righties speak with a different tone to lefties, often, and both hear the other as “unreasonable” before they take the time to think about what was said. Your tone, to my ear, traveller, often sounds very unreasonable, though I expect you regard your views as the height of reasonableness.

      Reply
      • “Your tone, to my ear, traveller, often sounds very unreasonable, though I expect you regard your views as the height of reasonableness.”

        I’m well aware that my tone would discombobulate you. I do not regard my views as the height of reasonable at all. At times I can be worse than belligerent, other times quite affable. Depends how I feel.

        I am nothing if not erratic, but Sir, I believe I have the introspection to acknowledge my partisanship. I don’t apologise for it, I am what I am. Very nice on a good day. 😉

        Reply
  2. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  November 21, 2017

    Perhaps I am a shallow wee thing….
    I know there is some foul, abusive stuff on Kiwiblog and I am frequently on the receiving end of a bit of it, but I am guaranteed some great belly laughs every day on that site.
    Best show in the country, as far as I am concerned.

    Reply
  3. Tipene

     /  November 21, 2017

    I think you run a pretty good plumb line on moderation Pete, and that is coming from someone who copped a comment-moderation-prior-to-publishing scrutiny for a time.

    Reply
    • lurcher1948

       /  November 21, 2017

      And tell me, how did you get of it???

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  November 21, 2017

        E-mail , Pete. He will provide his bank account details. In your case Lurchy, your ‘donation’ will need to be substantial. However, ‘donations’ are tax deductible.

        Reply
  4. Pete, your sincerity, if indeed it is that, comes across pretty well here, but very poorly outside of your own blog. It’s impossible to know how aware or otherwise you are of your “tone” but grey and beige are the usual descriptors and they are freely applied at TS, as you know. It’s difficult for a person to hear the tone of their own voice, so feedback, even from distractors, is useful. I sound, to myself, like a very merry chap, full of bonhomie, but accept that others hear “annoying” 🙂

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  November 21, 2017

      Or mad hermit.

      Reply
    • Robert, you and others at TS appear to not give a shit about sincerity. You join the mob attacks there regardless of what is said by me and others just because, it seems to me, you feel a duty to repel anyone deemed an enemy of the cause.

      Do you disagree with Redlogix’s comment in the post?

      Reply
    • patupaiarehe

       /  November 21, 2017

      I sound, to myself, like a very merry chap, full of bonhomie, but accept that others hear “annoying” 🙂

      Full of something, anyway, Robert… 😛 The thing that sets this place well above your other favourite haunt, is that we actually debate our differing opinions intelligently here (well most of the time anyway 😉 ), rather than ‘tripping up’ someone we disagree with, then verbally beating them when the moderator has removed their ability to fight back.

      Reply
    • More about angry ear than voice perceived Mr. Guyton. Ad hom and personal targeting are TS behaviour. Stick to societal observation rather than the former is the preferred MO here.

      Reply
  5. Conspiratoor

     /  November 21, 2017

    pg, im curious to know. Is there any blog, apart from this one, where you haven’t been banned
    or run afoul of your fellow commenters?

    Reply
    • Many that I have never commented on.

      On those that I have commented on – Aardvark. Bowalley. Brian Edwards media. The sort of people who understand and accept political debate. I’ve never been close to it in Kiwiblog – of course I’ve ‘run afoul of your fellow commenters’ there, that’s what happens to many people on political blogs.

      It’s common for commenters to dislike being challenged, and hate being proven wrong. And some get particularly annoyed when provocation and abuse doesn’t get the reaction they want. It’s also common for people to get annoyed at anyone who isn’t blindly uncritical of their favoured party.

      I’ve deliberately rocked boats and pushed limits at times, it’s been very illuminating about how political activists operate and behave. I’ve been experimenting and learning. It’s been very interesting.

      Reply
      • Conspiratoor

         /  November 21, 2017

        I’ve never commented on kiwi blog because it looks to me too much like a circular firing squad. Brian Edwards and bowalley- is there a term for a blog with three participants? Gab is the best place for some intelligent discussion and learnings in a less adversarial style …in my opinion

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  November 22, 2017

          Gab is an interesting site,first visit…poster with the nic…obama sucks anus….charming.

          Reply
      • patupaiarehe

         /  November 21, 2017

        Aardvark used to be a lot like this site, many years back. Plenty of differing perspectives, and those who ‘trolled’ played a fair game, by reserving their efforts for those who they knew could fight back. But then Bruce ‘updated’ or something, and the forums didn’t work for a while. I paid Aardvark a visit recently, and it is a shadow of it’s former self.

        Reply
        • I was a regular there for a few years, that was my first foray into online forums. As you say, it was very good until it lost it’s way, I can’t remember specifics but Bruce got involved in other things. I went from there to Kiwiblog with intentions of seeing what the other side thought about politics – and I think because of that have been forever branded as a RWNJ at The Standard. I was kind of shocked when I was rejected as an enemy as soon as I went to TS, especially given that when I decided to try and get involved in politics I approached Labour – that was just after Clark in 2009.

          Reply
      • How about Keeping Stock, Pete? Spend any time there?

        Reply
    • I’m not alone in trying to agitate for better standards of debate and behaviour online.

      For almost two decades now I have railed against the excesses of social media. I have done so on radio, on this website and on Facebook. The general tenor of my complaint has been that, across these media, intelligent debate has been replaced by frequently anonymous personal abuse.

      http://brianedwardsmedia.co.nz/2017/10/argument-wecomed-but-keep-it-civilised/

      It just happens that some site moderators choose to shut down debate they don’t like by banning. I think that’s a poor look on political sites, where i think diverse opinion should be encouraged.

      Reply
      • Conspiratoor

         /  November 21, 2017

        I fear Brian will take his disappointment to the grave. Sure social media has facilitated exchange of views with random strangers but it is not in itself a root cause. Most of us have been invited to social gatherings with a caution not to ‘talk politics or religion’ …for good reason

        Reply
  6. Russell Brown was a presenter of Media Watch. Is it any wonder the one-eyed media (journalists) are not trusted.

    Reply

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