Blog moderation and hypocrisy

There’s been a bit of a spat on Twitter about lack of moderation at Kiwiblog, with a number of people joining criticism of David Farrar’s hands off approach to moderation.

It’s well known that Kiwiblog comments can at times get very abusive. I’ve commented there a lot in the past and often confronted the worse of the abuse, and have been abused and lied about there quite a lot, sometimes in reactions to confronting them. Several times I reported abuse to DPF, and on one occasion  I had him remove defamatory comments, which he did as soon as I contacted him.

I have also been subjected to a lot of abuse and mob attacks at The Standard, and have been banned from there several times for confronting some of that.

So I was a bit bemused when Stephanie Rodgers joined in put me up alongside Farrar in the Twitter spat.

SRTwitterModeration.jpg

There’s a bunch of irony and hypocrisy in that.

King Kong is a regular abusive figure on NZ blogs. Yet you never see them on mine, because – radical – I moderate them.

Yes she does ‘moderate’. But one person’s moderation can be another person’s message control or even censorship.

Bloggers like DPF and Pete George want to pretend it’s hard to moderate out abuse, and it simply isn’t.

Rodgers has made that up about me. It can be easy to moderate out abuse.

What is difficult is getting the balance right between enabling and allowing free speech and free discussion but minimising abuse and personal attacks.

It can be particularly difficult to keep their own views and disagreements separate from moderation.

Likening my moderation to DPF’s  shows quite a degree of ignorance.

DPF’s moderation is very hands off. He relies on people reporting abuse to him, and rarely engages in comments threads. With the number of comments at Kiwiblog it would be a huge job to vet each one.

I am actively involved in moderation here as much as time allows. I actively discourage abuse and act on it whenever I see fit. It isn’t required often, apart from the occasional burst from individuals, because the regulars here understand my aims and support and help achieving a reasonable balance between robust comment and debate but avoiding personal attacks.

It’s imperfect, and it is hard, nigh on impossible, to please all of the commenters all of the time. But it moderation is a continual effort for improving the commenting environment.

You just have to give a damn about not publishing pointles personal attacks – instead of actively encouraging them.

This looks like blind hypocrisy from Rodgers. As has been noted here in the weekend there was a typical mob attack on me at The Standard in the weekend, starting here.

That not only involved abuse, it was an obvious attempt to discredit, shut down, shout down and get me banned by someone some of the numpties there – a number of familiar names.

And Rodgers joined in. That’s a form of active encouragement.

For people like Rodgers moderation seems to be a tool to shut down comment they disagree with and shut out people they don’t like, but to allow attacks when it suits their prejudices and agendas.

it helps not to nurture a commenter base made entirely of deplorables.

But then who would comment on DPF’s obvious flamebait?

Rodgers seems to be blind to the culture of the commentariat she is a part of at The Standard, where flamebait and deplorable abuse are allowed by moderators like her.

Kiwiblog redesigned

Kiwiblog has had a major redesign, they first time I have seen any significant change there.

I kinda liked the look and functionality of the old version. I am really not sure if I like the new one or not.

The first impression is very stark, almost glaring white. And for it’s simplified single sidebar layout it looks quite cluttered at times, especially with a major increase in advertising.

Kiwiblog2

Comments now nest, apparently that wouldn’t work with the old version. Some will like the change, some won’t. I used to like the linear threads at KB compared to say The Standard’s nesting, but nesting seems to be generally preferred.

 

Greens turn off comments

Greens have joined the growing number of websites turning off comments. Like others they say that commenting can be done elsewhere, like on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. But that’s not the same.

This is a bit of a shame but political parties and political activists seem more intent on trying to control their messages than engage in open debate.

Sure it can be challenging dealing with trolls and those who try to deliberately disrupt and trash forums, but good democratic debate takes some effort.

The Green announcement:


 

A change to our blog – switching off comments

You might have noticed a change around these parts in recent days. Yes, we’ve deactivated the comment function on the Green Party blog.

We think it’s a good move that will allow us to keep delivering the views of our MPs direct to you. This isn’t a decision we’ve made lightly and we really appreciate our commenters who have engaged with us over the years. Still, it’s time to change things up.

Let’s be clear. The Greens love debate. We love hearing the views of New Zealanders. Indeed, one of our core Green principles is appropriate decision making/whakarite totika, something that only happens when you listen to others speaking. On the other hand, our values also mean that we should:

  • engage respectfully, without personal attacks,
  • actively respect cultural and individual diversity and celebrate difference,
  • enable participation with dignity, and challenge oppression, and
  • foster compassion, a sense of humour and mutual enjoyment in our work.

Over time, we’ve come to the realisation that the comments section on our blog doesn’t really fit with those values. Moreover, as social media has become the main tool people go to for news and discussion, we’ve decided to move with the times.

We’re not alone, indeed we’re in quite distinguished company. Radio New Zealand recently switched off its comment section, something news sites across the world have been doing for a while.

Back when blogging exploded onto the scene in the early 2000s, a lot of people were hopeful that it would usher in a new era of high quality democratic discourse. Sadly, the promise outshone the reality. Now, the most often quoted maxim about comment sections is: “don’t read them”. We’re saddened that the initial promise of online discussion has been undermined by bad behaviour.

But we’re also optimistic. Great conversations still happen elsewhere like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. Our MPs and staff work hard to deliver you interesting and relevant stories, videos, and images on these platforms. That will continue. We look forward to seeing you there!

While the comments might be gone on this blog, we’re not going away and we love your feedback. You can reach us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, or good old fashioned email. We also like mail!


A blog isn’t really a blog with no commenting allowed.

One person’s account of comment ‘moderation’ at Kiwiblog: Frog Blog bans comments

David Farrar adds:

So the Labour Party blog has closed down and the Green blog no longer allows dissent. Sad.

Remember Labour’s Red Alert? That collapsed under the weight of increasingly heavy handed censorship of comments and MP paranoia ( believe Trevor Mallard and Clare Curran in particular tried to control the message there).

Remember National’s blog? Neither do I.

Borrows reaction at Kiwiblog

It’s not surprising to see quite contrasting reactions to the charging of Chester Borrows at The Standard versus Kiwiblog.

Some of the Standard reaction is in Chester Borrows charged, more at Borrows charged for injuring protestors.

David Farrar posted Borrows charged at Kiwiblog:

My sympathy is with Borrows. He was driving as slowly as you can, and the protesters chose not to move. They were blocking a legal road. Sure if he had been driving at speed, that would be different. But he was just nudging them out of the way.

We’ll see what evidence comes out in court. Will the protesters be charged for blocking the road? You have the legal right to protest in NZ, but not to do so in a way that impedes people going about their legal business, or blocking public areas.

Manolo led with a typical comment for him:

It should be remembered that scum like that pair also have rights. 🙂

There’s actually some reasonable discussion, and this account from from Keeping Stock:

I was present at the function Borrows and Bennett were attending that morning, and although I did not see the incident in question, the protesters were spoiling for a fight. They kept up a cacophany of noise outside for the duration of the function, and abused a number of the people attending when they were arriving and departing. Bear in mind this is the function prior to which one Phillip Rewiti Bear from the Meatworkers Union had made an overt threat towards Paula Bennett, hence the Police being in attendance.

http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2016/03/phillip_reweti_bear.html

One of the protesters filmed the “incident”, and the decision to prosecute will have been taken in part from that video. However the video is notable for the behaviour of protest organiser Denise Lockett (the woman with orange hair in the centre of labrator’s photo), supposedly injured. As soon as Borrows drives through, she shouts out to the person filming the incident “Did you get that on video”. That was her very first reaction, having been supposedly run over, and injured to the extent of Borrows being charged with carless driving causing injury.

I doubt that I am the only person who smells a set-up here, and I hope that when the charges do finally go to court they are thrown out and Chester Borrows is completely exonerated.

It’s not unknown for protesters to manufacture controversy to get media attention and to score some sort of hit on their targets. Whether it occurred with the Borrows incident will presumably come out in court (if it gets to court).

Pyscho Milt comments there (as well as at The Standard):

The ferals blocking his path were obstructing him from moving freely.

Fortunately the cops were there to make them get out of the way. Pro tip: if people are blocking your car, the law doesn’t entitle you to run the annoying pricks over. You’d think an ex-cop would have been able to figure that one out.

Also a pro tip for protestors: putting your foot under the wheel of a moving vehicle can result in injury.

Srylands (who used to comment at The Standard but is probably banned now):

mikenmild says: “I can’t believe anyone would suggest that driving a car at someone is an acceptable response to having the road blocked.”
_______________________

I think it is totally acceptable.

I don’t think it’s acceptable, and quite unwise for an MP, especially one who is an ex policeman.

There were some who suggested more extreme (and stupid) actions. igm:

Pity he did not do a decent job. Suppose they were either unemployable or public servants.

mara:

If I were Borrows, I’d have gone from nought to 200mph in 20 seconds, or less, given the car’s capacity of course. Give the man a medal for exercising restraint.

DifferentPerspective:

These are dirty little whining dole bludgers. This is so typical of the fascists on the left bullying and threatening people when they lose the contest of ideas.

They’re no better than the animals in the BLM movement. Sneering at the universal truth that ALL LIVES MATTER doesn’t make it any less of a universal truth.

In the 1930s national socialism brought us exactly the same issues with the Aryan concept with it’s Orwellian overtones that the white, blond haired racial stereotype was more equal than others (preaching that they were oppressed by the dirty jew). 80 years later we have exactly the same concepts just with different labels. And again the statistics don’t support the hysteria (blacks kill a disporportionately far higher number of blacks that cops do).

The progressive movement is turning into a filthy caricature of itself with a slide to neo-nazi like behaviour. Jack booted thugs shouting down everyone in the 30s – dreadlocked thugs doing exactly the same in 2016. Seig heil to progressives everywhere.

Sponge:

I find it hard to sympathise with this rabble of protesters.

The ugly one in gumboots shouting abuse? Vile.
The one that looks and sounds like a demented parrot? Vile
The retarded one that is so spastic that it gets its big toe run over? An absolute moron. What is more, I suspect it was no accident that this creature put its toe under the wheel. That parrot beast certainly wasn’t worried about its friends wellbeing but wanted to make sure it was on film.

As an aside why is it that the anti TPPA protesters always appear to be unemployed and ignorant ne’er–do–wells

But comments like that were a small minority. Which makes this comment by Psycho Milt at The Standard curious:

The concept that you have a right to obstruct a public way if you want to is as bizarre, if not quite so scarily insane, as the Kiwiblog commenters’ view that you have a right to run people over if they’re in your way.

And:

You really, really don’t want to go over to the Kiwiblog thread on this subject then, as it features a surprising number of commenters who apparently need to have it explained to them that no you’re not actually allowed to run someone over if they’re in your vehicle’s path.

That’s hardly a representative view of the Kiwiblog comments overall.

It’s well summed up at Kiwiblog by eszett:

That the car didn’t stop and didn’t give people time to move or officers opportunity to move them is what makes it dangerous behaviour.Unless context is missing from the video I think he is quite properly charged.

Foolish, perhaps, especially politically, but dangerous?

Yes, he should have waited until the cops had cleared the way. Would have cost him 10 seconds and saved him a lot of unnecessary drama.

It does seem to have been careless of Borrows. Whether careless enough legally to result in a conviction will be no doubt discussed in depth on the blogs once it goes to court.

Obsession with poll ‘predictions’

There seems to be an increasing obsession for media and pundits to view and use polls as predictors of the future.

When pollsters also become to focussed on the future then I have serious concerns about the purpose and usefulness of polls.

Ina guest post at Kiwiblog – Five Key Takeaways from Brexit   – KIA says:

5 – The polls were wrong … again
6 out of the 8 major polls picked a Remain result on the eve of the vote and the 2 that picked Leave had Leave only just winning versus the 4% eventual lead.

The polls weren’t wrong. They attempted to measure public opinion at the time they were taken. There is no way of measuring whether they were right or wrong.

I thought that polls were not designed to be predictors of the future sample measurements from the past.

If pollsters manipulate their polling and polls to try and match a future election or referendum then their margins of error should reflect this. The 95% probability is supposed to be based on their polling, not voting at a different time by a much bigger sample.

I can understand pundits and journalists trying to misrepresent what polls are, but if pollsters become obsessed with or feel pressured about who is supposedly the most accurate at predicting something in the future then I have serious concerns.

Polls aren’t wrong. They may be inaccurate at the time they were taken (and statistics and margins for error and being based on 95% probability account for this), but they don’t count votes on election day.

Pundits are wrong when they try to use polls to ‘win’ on future predictions.

The Hosking petition

There has already been discussion here about the petition directed at TVNZ to ‘GET RID OF HOSKING’.

I don’t like watching Mike Hosking on Seven Sharp so I hardly ever watch him or any of the show.

Anyone has a right to start up a petition about anything they choose, but I think that campaigns to try and force television presenters out of their jobs is stupid. If I thought it might be an effective way to shut down voices that people didn’t like I would condemn it as anti-free speech.

But the petition is just as likely to boost interest in Seven Sharp and Hosking so he and TVNZ may actually benefit.


Petitioning Minster of Broadcasting NZ Hon Amy Adams MP and 3 others

Get Rid of Hosking

GET RID OF HOSKING. [ It is our opinion ] TVNZ broadcaster Mike Hosking is an offensive and thoughtless media personality who continues to arrogantly and ignorantly disregard the struggles of everyday New Zealander’s. Hosking’s attitude and comments continuously cause offense, upset and disdain to reasonable and innocent people ; both viewers and non-viewers of TVNZ. Supporters of GET RID OF HOSKING expect that TVNZ acts as a responsible and mature public broadcaster and respects this request from thousands of New Zealanders – That is –  We no longer wish to see or hear any more from Hosking on our TV screens.

This petition will be delivered to:
  • Minster of Broadcasting NZ
    Hon Amy Adams MP
  • TVNZ
    Kevin Kenrick CEO and Jeff Latch Director of Content TVNZ
  • Broadcasting Standards Authority
    Broadcasting Standards Authority
  • ASB BANK Executive General Manager Marketing & Communications at ASB
    ASB BANK – Roger Beaumont

There are currently 18,115 supporters.

I guess it’s ok that the petition is aimed at TVNZ. It’s up to them whether they take any notice of it.

Although it depends on to what extent pressure is put on TVNZ to dump a presenter. If it goes to the extent of a campaign to boycott TVNZ I would be concerned.

A similar campaign was waged against TV3 over their axing of John Campbell. That appeared to affect their ratings, which in turn could impact on their viability.

I would be disturbed if a TV company or public broadcaster was shut down because of campaigns against them. This would significantly reduce options for free speech.

Why has the Minister been included? I would be appalled if a Minister intervened in TVNZ decisions on how presents their shows.

Why is the Broadcasting Standards Authority included? I would be appalled if they tried to tell TVNZ who they should or shouldn’t have as presenters.

The ANZ Bank being included has an insidious angle. Attacking a major sponsor could potentially have a significant effect on the financial viability of part of TVNZ’s operation.

A couple of contrasting blog views on this.

Kiwiblog: The haters of freedom of speech

I’m tempted to call these people cultural fascists.

First of all do they really think the bloody Government should decide who is and is not allowed to appear on television as a broadcaster?

Secondly they seem to hate views they disagree with, and want Hosking gone because he says things they don’t like.

I think NZ is better when it has diversity of views on air – I think it is good both Hosking and Campbell are broadcasters.

But these cultural fascists hate views that are not their own, and think the Government should decide who is allowed to be on air. They can get f****d.

The Standard: Dirty Politics Farrar and freedom of speech

In another fine example of the Streisand effect, poor wee Dirty Politics Farrar doesn’t like it.

Not being one for self-reflection, DPF hates views that are not his own and thinks they shouldn’t be expressed. Or perhaps he just doesn’t understand what free speech is.

It’s good that both Farrar and ‘Natwatch’ have the freedom to speak about this as they see fit.

Should Mike Hosking be shut up because many of us don’t like what he says? I don’t think so.

Who is Dan Wayman? He is a lawyer, sometimes from Wellington. Stuff has some information on him and his motives:

Wayman, who describes himself as a New Zealand-enrolled barrister-solicitor who divides his time between New Zealand and Shanghai, where he works at the British Consulate, says he started the petition because he “just felt something needed to be done really”.

“[Hosking’s] socially irresponsible comments are damaging to the New Zealand public, and especially as the face of the national broadcaster in the 7pm timeslot, being a family show, I think it’s harmful for the next generation to receive those types of sentiments from Mr Hosking.”

Seven Sharp is a family show? I can’t imagine that many young people would watch it. An increasing number of young people watch little or no broadcast television.

Wayman said comments made by Hosking over the crowdfunding purchase of the Awaroa beach and over the New Zealand flag debate as examples of why the broadcaster should be removed from TVNZ.

Wayman said: “It’s the constant lack of empathy and dismissive comments of New Zealanders struggling, even following stories on Seven Sharp – he just does not get it, and I think it’s harmful.”

“The ultimate goal is to have a more appropriate face on the national broadcaster in the 7pm slot,” he says. “That’s the ultimate goal. I’m not worried about his radio career, but I think the platform that he’s got (with Seven Sharp) – he’s not the right person for that platform.”

TVNZ said:

“We welcome feedback on our programmes, which we get in the form of daily audience ratings, quantitative and qualitative market research, and direct feedback from viewers. Given we engage with around 2.5 million New Zealanders per day, we typically get a broad range of views expressed about our on-air and online content. There are a number of viewing options.Seven Sharp is the most watched show at 7pm.”

There are a number of viewing and doing options at 7 pm Dan. As a lawyer don’t you value free choice and free speech?

Winston for PM – Kiwiblog v The Standard

Tracey Watkins at Stuff: Arise Sir Winston, Prime Minister of New Zealand?

If you think that’s a stretch (and Peters has run with conspiracy theories on less), here’s another theory that’s been doing the rounds much longer.

It is that Peters will only retire after he has fulfilled his ambition of one day being prime minister. It’s even said to have been put on the able in NZ First’s protracted negotiations to form a government in 1996.

Election night 2017 might be now or never for Peters, given he will be 72 by the time the next election rolls around.

Which is why the Labour-Greens cooperation agreement announced this week might be the game changer everyone is talking about, but not in the way they think.

Because it may bring Peters’ dream within his grasp.

David Farrar quoted that and posited at Kiwiblog: Will Labour agree to make Peters PM?

Let’s say the election delivers a result of National 45%, Labour 23%, NZ First 15%, Greens 10%.

NZ First holds the balance of power. Peters demands to be made PM. National says no. A party on 45% is not going to give up the top job. Labour however has just 23%. They are desperate to be in Government.

Bang you have Winston as PM.

Anthony Robins has quoted the same from Stuff and countered Farrar: Will National agree to make Peters PM?

Let’s say the election delivers a result of National 41%, Labour 33%, Greens 15%, NZ First 11%.

NZ First holds the balance of power. Peters demands to be made PM. The Greens say no, so Labour couldn’t do it even if they wanted to (which they wouldn’t). But National are desperate to cling to power.

Key gets shipped out to Hawaii and bang you have Winston as PM.

The suggested results…

  • National 45%, Labour 23%, NZ First 15%, Greens 10%
  • National 41%, Labour 33%, Greens 15%, NZ First 11%

…are both quite feasible, but which is more likely given current polling?

National are likely to fall from their 47.04% from 2014 (they were 44.93% in 2008 and 47.31% in 2011).

Labour could be anywhere between 20% and 40% (interesting that Robins suggested 33%) but have dropped in every election this century from 41.26% (2002) to 41.10% (2005) to 33.99% (2008) to 27.28% (2011) to 25.13% in 2014.

Greens peaked at 11.06% in 2011 dropping slightly to 10.70% in 2014.

NZ First: 10.38% in 2002, 5.72% in 2005, 4.07% in 2008, 6.59% in 2011 and 8.66% in 2014.

Regardless of the actual numbers it looks likely National would require NZ First to form a government next year, and so would Labour along with the Greens.

So who’s suggested outcome is more likely, Farrar’s or Robins’?

Stable Government seems to benefit substantially from both a strong leader (Clark, Key) with a dependable same party co-leader (Cullen, English).

Anyone wanting a stable Government with medium term prospects should rule out Peters because Peters.

 

Poll summaries

David Farrar has a poll summary at Kiwiblog: April Public Polls

I won’t try and replicate his table that compares back to 9n years ago, but the key points:

Both National and Labour have averaged a fairly stable 46-47% and 26-27% over the last three months (but National took a dive at the end of that).

Greens are in a normal range to 12-14%.

NZ First has risen significantly from 7% to 9% to 11%.

In preferred Prime Minister is fairly stable at 39-40%

Andrew Little has 8%, 9%, 7% compared to Winston Peters with 8%, 9%, 10% which should concern Labour a bit.

Gezza has pointed out that the next Roy Morgan poll is due out later this weekly. These come out monthly but there’s a scarcity of other public polls.

Humourless face

This exchange on Kiwiblog illustrates how blogs could pick up the slack if there is a gap in the online comedy market.

Inandout:

I have seen Gordon Campbell’s articles in free community papers, but am usually put off from reading them because of his humourless face; features often displayed by leftists.

Some may think that Martyn Bradbury has a humorous face, I wonder if Inandout: enjoys reading his posts.

Mikenmild:

Inandout
Quite right. I prefer to read opinion from more handsome people like DPF and Cameron Slater. At least you can be sure that someone that good looking will always write very well too.

But a handsome retort by Inandout:

milky, please don’t display your ignorance of the English language.

KiwiComedy could be a separate project to KiwiNews.

But Inandout may have a point. If TV talking heads – chosen for their looks and personality more than their journalistic skills – laughed more when they read the news of another earthquake or car smash or beating or war or flood or tortured and murdered child it may prompt  people to really take notice.

 

WS v KB on Carter and London

Two curiously contrasting posts about whether David Carter was aiming for London and the High Commissioner’s job.

Stuff reported yesterday: Next London High Commissioner ‘not a politician’, says Government

…Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully confirmed a decision was close to being made.

“There are about 20 Head of Mission positions that are being filled at the moment, London is one of those.

“And we’re well down the track towards making those appointments. I can tell you that Mr Carter’s name has not featured anywhere in that list, including in relation to London,” he said.

“We have somebody in prospect for London, it’s not a member of Parliament.”

So an outright denial from McCully that Carter had featured in considerations and that the person they had lined up wasn’t a politician.

Carter was also quoted:

Carter said: “Despite persistent media speculation, it has never been my interest or intention to become New Zealand’s High Commissioner in London.”

But a post at Whale Oil under Cameron Slater’s name claimed David Carter is telling porkies:

Oh come on now. Even the Press Gallery know the veracity of this situation. Lockwood Smith’s tenure in the UK is under a cloud and is being carefully stage managed.

National have been going around offering all sorts of jobs to all sorts of people. I suspect Judith Collins was offered a “dignified” way out, and Maurice Williamson said “no” to life-after-being-an-MP as well. The ambassadorships to the US and the UK have been on offer since last year.

And Carter wants the one in London. He’s been provisionally told he’s got it.

It’s no coincidence that Winston has been winding Carter up and putting more and more pressure on.

Despite the claim that contradicted news reports that didn’t seem to raise much interest, it only attracted one comment.

Then this morning on Kiwiblog David Farrar posted Carter rules out London.

This quotes from NZH the same denial that Carter was in the reckoning, and Farrar adds:

Anyone who knows David Carter knows that he was not wanting to be the High Commissioner to the UK.

So that totally contradicts Slater’s assertions.

Farrar also quotes NZH…

In a speech to students at Victoria University yesterday, Mr Peters attacked the “brorocracy” of recent diplomatic appointments.

“As an example of how meritocracy has been abandoned in favour of a mainly white brorocracy look no further than how some of our high commissioners and ambassadors are being appointed.

…and comments:

The hypocrisy is high with this one.

Winston is the guy who lobbied Helen Clark insistently to make Owen Glenn the Honorary Consul to Monaco, after Glenn paid off his legal bills for him.

Hypocrisy and Peters are not strangers.