Much for bloggers to ponder in managing comments

Something that I have a particular interest in is what part if any that others have in encouraging a lone wolf type attack, or any terrorist type attack.

It is probably easy for them to find a small number of like minded nutters online who bolster each other’s warped thinking, and increase the chances of one of them actually taking action, or trying to take action.

Do they look wider online? Do they get encouragement from others who share and promote their same prejudices and intolerances?

In particular for me (and others in the blogging world) – does allowing extremist views to be aired and promoted raise the risks of someone taking drastic action? I don’t know the answer to that.

But I do know that those with over the top or extreme intolerant views can be very persistent in pushing their agendas.

And also on a lower level, how much some contribute to intolerance, racism, Islamaphobia etc.

There are some who may genuinely feel strongly about what they see as cultural or political dangers who don’t go to extreme levels, but whose persistence, especially if amplified by numbers can be a toxic haze in online communities.

It’s a difficult time trying to work out how to deal with this.

David Farrar is grappling with something similar, putting in place auto-moderation on anyone who doesn’t use their own name (that is, use a pseudonym to keep their identity anonymous).

Kiwiblog: Moderation changes

I have put comments on manual moderation, as the normal process of waiting for someone to complain about a comment was not ideal in this period.

Having me manually approving every comment is not a long-term solution. But neither was the old system of having all comments appear automatically unless there were complaints about them. Because that means some unacceptable comments stay there.

If you use your real name for comments, you will be given a status that allows your comments to appear automatically. There will be no delay. You’re still subject to moderation after the event if your comment breaches policies, but you will not have any delays.

If you do not wish to use your real name, you are entitled to do so. There are many genuine reasons you may have for that. But it means your comments will be held for moderation until a moderator (currently just me) can view it and approve or decline it.

The idea is to incentivise people to use their real names, but to still allow an alias.

Some people have said they are happy to “own” their comments but don’t want to have their name listed as the commenter as it becomes the first thing which comes up on Google. One can qualify for “auto-approve” status if you link your user profile to a page that identifies you, even if you use initials or an alias.

In comments there is some support, but a lot of angst and threats to desert Kiwiblog. Some who have genuine reasons to remain anonymous, and who don’t want to comment with auto-moderation, will be a loss to Kiwiblog. Others will be a welcome clean up, and more may comment with less threat of attacks and abuse which was prevalent there.

What about here?

At this stage I have no plans to require use of real names to allow immediate commenting. Most people using pseudonyms here are good contributors, and I don’t want to penalise them because of the abuse of a few.

But I am considering using auto-moderation (where a person’s comments have to be approved by me before they will appear) more often.

I don’t want Your NZ to be used for promoting division, intolerance, hate, conspiracies, unsubstantiated accusations, abuse.

All first comments from any new identity will need to be approved before it will appear. After that comments will appear immediately – for now I will still give everyone the benefit of doubt, initially.

But some who breach the guidelines here, especially repeatedly, are more likely to be put on auto-moderation.

I don’t have time to monitor comments 24/7. I don’t want to be an on-call babysitter and policer.

So if I see anyone as a risk for posting inappropriate or suspect content, then I will put them on auto-moderation.

For those who comment responsibly and in good faith, nothing will change.

Also note that if I see a comment posted that is a cause for concern, I will bin it. When I get time I will review it, and may release it, edit it, or dump it.

I may not always seem consistent. Tough. I play things as I see them. Complaining about it won’t help your case, but as always I’m open to having reasonable queries brought to my attention.

Not the end of the world or a win for a terrorist

There has been some wailing at Kiwiblog that increased moderation is a win for a terrorist and the end of the free speech world. That’s over-wrought bollocks.

When people try to use a terrorist act to promote an extreme agenda, and that causes a tightening of moderation on a blog, it is the extremist commenters who are to blame for their voices being not being trusted s being responsible enough for unfettered speech.

 

 

 

 

 

Farrar belatedly addressing moderation at Kiwiblog

Kiwiblog has long had problems with lack of moderation. David Farrar can write good posts, and there are a lot of knowledgeable commenters who are worth looking out for, but the comments have been blighted by abuse and highly questionable agendas.

The Christchurch mosque terror attacks, and responses in comments at Kiwiblog, have finally prompted Farrar into taking more action.

It’;s difficult enough moderating a small blog like this, especially when some people are persistent and determined to do as they please despite requests and warnings to comply with fairly liberal guidelines.

Monitoring a blog the size of Kiwiblog is a huge task. It’s common for posts to have hundreds of comments throughout the day and night.

Due to lax moderation for years it is an even bigger task trying to get things under control there.

Yesterday:

General Debate 18 March 2019

Comments turned off until I have had time to delete and sanction those who have crossed the line.

UPDATE: Comments now back on. But they will not appear until manually approved. Those lacking in empathy will probably not appear.

This was a drastic step. I’m not sure when comments were turned off, or on again with moderation, but the comment rate slowed down considerably.

And later in PM announces inquiry

The last comment at Kiwiblog appears to have been posted at at 9:20 pm last night, so something significant is obviously going on there. Time will tell how that pans out.

However moderation and comments go now there it will be a major challenge changing the widespread perception that Kiwiblog is an abusive and toxic environment, with racism, political abuse and white supremacy issues.


Whale Oil has been heavily moderated for years, but that has largely been for message control and manipulation.

Comments there yesterday indicate that they still have problems with some of their content, both in posts and in comments. They may have stopped swearing, but they still allow political abuse, and anti-immigrant and ansi-Muslim sentiments.

They have started today with much of the same old anti-Muslim lines (that Farrar appears to be trying to claamp down on): https://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2019/03/face-of-the-day-1906/

 

It’s not “democratic crowd sourcing of the moderation”

It’s not “democratic crowd sourcing of the moderation”, it’s a small number of people abusing moderation at Kiwiblog to censor comments.

A few numpties continue to abuse the Report function at Kiwiblog that is intended to counter abusive comments. This shows on a thread starting with this comment:

Surely Knott:

Lol. It’s not mob censorship – it’s democratic crowd sourcing of the moderation. And it’s a blog for grown ups so we don’t need to be protected from ideas, generally.

It’s not democratic when five people can target and effectively censor comments – and they don’t look like they’re acting like grown ups.

Further on in that thread:

It took some time for this to go into moderation, suggesting a gradual accumulation of REPORT clicking. But this is a clear abuse of the reporting function.

From Kiwiblog’s Comment Policy:

The other way you can signal you think a comment is unacceptable, is to click on the link which says “Report Abusive Comment”. If a certain threshold is reached of people reporting it, then the system will automatically hide the comment from view, and place it into moderation for a moderator to review. This can be the quickest way to remove an abusive comment from view. This should not be used for comments you merely disagree with, but only ones that are abusive.

A second comment has also been parked in moderation:

Pete George

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Linking to a source is normal practice, especially when there is more detail there.

In the site Comments Policy – https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/comments_policy – there is no indication that linking to a source is a problem. I have never seen DPF say not to do it. I have had a strike for doing it.

Accusations of ‘link whoring’ amounts to a form of trolling to try to disrupt or discredit or censor. Reporting ‘link whoring’ seems to me to be an abuse of site processes. It is used to try to suppress free speech, something that is against the pro-free speech principles of Kiwiblog.

These comments are clearly not abusive, so this looks like a clear case of ongoing abuse of the reporting function – more mini-mob censorship.

Update: on a thread on this at Kiwiblog from Muttonbird:

Interesting that the comments policy left out some important additional information on the report process outlined by Mr Farrar when it was introduced in 2014.

Note that this feature should not be used on comments just because you disagree with them. If you continually report comments that are not abusive or trolling, then I’ll suspend your account. The up and down vote buttons are what you use for agreeing or disagreeing with a comment. This feature is for comments that are highly abusive.

https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/09/an_easier_way_to_report_comments.html

Perhaps Mr Farrar needs to update his comments policy and clarify just what he wants this feature to do and the conditions under which it should be used. Because I don’t see a lot of suspensions happening right now for flagrant misuse.

https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2019/01/general_debate_8_january_2019.html/comment-page-1#comment-2397658

Mob censorship in action at Kiwiblog?

I posted about some over the top comments and a ban at Kiwiblog on Thursday. There was no General debate at Kiwiblog that day, so I posted a comment and link on it yesterday. There was some reaction to it for a while, but then it disappeared into moderation – not just the comment but the whole thread.

It is still hidden in moderation nearly a day later.

Perhaps David Farrar is otherwise occupied and hasn’t had a chance to check moderation over the last day, or maybe he chose to leave the comment and thread in moderation – that would be his choice.

But of more interest – is this a form of mob censorship?

Some of the reaction was predictable (for Kiwiblog), like ‘igm’:

Do you not think Ardern deserves abuse . . . wake up you tosser!

But ‘redeye’ tried this old trick

That’s pretty disgusting link whoring for mine.

People post comments with links all the time – that’s a fundamental way the Internet works. Bloggers link to source material a lot – it is what many political blogs are based on. It is widely accepted.

DPF himself has Kiwiblog set up to link to posts at other blogs – including Your NZ. There were a lot of clicks through to here on Thursday from an automatic Kiwiblog link. I don’t see that as ‘pretty disgusting link whoring’.

Link whore accusations are just one of many forms of trying to attack and discredit the messenger or source.

This comment came up from starboard (a long time KB commenter):

PG reported for link whoring.

Soon after that the comment disappeared into ‘moderation’. This was probably automatic. From the Kiwiblog comments policy:

If your comment has disappeared, it has probably been reported as being potentially abusive. A moderator will review the comment and decide whether it meets out comments guidelines.

I don’t know why it’s still there after a day but that’s not the issue.

What is of interest though is that a small number of people (depending on how the moderation trigger is set) can effectively censor a comment and thread if they want to. DPF may eventually release reported comments from moderation, but by then the audience has moved on.

This is the first time I have seen it happening at Kiwiblog, I don’t know how common it is, but I wonder if it is used as a deliberate means of suppression of comments and threads, a form of mob censorship.

On a blog that generally leans strongly towards free speech this is a bit of an anomaly.

UPDATE:

Morrisey at Kiwiblog:

Mr George has got it exactly right. DPF keeps away from the fray, generally, which is admirable; however the “Report” function is routinely, cynically abused by a small group of grumblers. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same half dozen haters of free speech pushing that button compulsively.

https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2019/01/general_debate_5_january_2019.html#comment-2396211

Comment from muttonbird:

It is a common practice on that blog. I have had several comments disappear in the same way. From memory just one was restored by the lone moderator.

Pete. It requires just 5 users to hit the report button for the comment and all replies to disappear from general view. And yes, if you have said something which really gets under the snowflakes’ skin they’ll use it regardless of whether it could be called abusive or not.

As is Farrar’s laissez faire, fact-free attitude to blogging he might restore the comment or he might not. Remember Kiwiblog only recently got the sub-comment feature having previously been a linear only comment structure which was a nightmare.

https://yournz.org/2019/01/05/mob-censorship-in-action-at-kiwiblog/#comment-337203

Farrar acts on ongoing attacks on Ardern

David Farrar has finally stepped in and done something about the ongoing and increasingly nasty abuse at Kiwiblog that has been directed at Jacinda Ardern, her partner and her baby.

Longknives:

By signing that ‘Migration Pact’ fraud Ardern has signed the Death Warrant of so many New Zealand women and children.

It will take a few years for Kiwis to wake up and actually realise what this vile woman has done but one thing is for sure- History will not remember her kindly.

No, that isn’t the comment that Farrar moderated. It was the reply to it from realityczech:

I hope the first victim is her wretched spoor of the cursed union. I’m sick of ordinary people paying the price of decisions made by an elite who are removed from the consequences. I want her disgusting brat to suffer hideously so she can know the pain she inflicted on millions of others.

Upticks 5, downticks 23

[DPF: You need to see a psychiatrist. That is also Strike 7 and a three month suspension]

Strike 7 means that ‘realityczech’ has been moderated before (they seem to have commented as Kea too) – their record:

  • RealityCzech – 1st strike 1/4/17, 2nd and 3rd strike – 3/2/18, 4th strike – 7/3/18, 5th strike – 19/5/18, 6th strike – 15/9/18, 7th strike – 02/01/19,

That’s just addressing the tip of a vitriolic iceberg, which continues on the moderated thread (some comments will have been posted before the ban).

Someone confronted the comment. Awww C-mon:

Fuck that’s more than a little OTT.

You need to chill the hell out and stop being a fucking cunt.

19 upticks, 3 downticks.

And as per normal an attack back from realityczech:

Here come the sleazy virtue signallers.

Tell ya what have it your way – Who’s kid do you volunteer, yours ?

3 upticks, 18 downticks.

It continued went on between the two.

There were also some abuse supporting comments from Longknives:

To be fair to realityczech- This Labour/Green Government are quite happy for my kids to become ‘Collateral Damage’…
So why should I give a fuck about Ardern’s kid?

15 upticks, 10 downticks.

And:

You do realise that Labour /Greens intend on closing ALL prisons and releasing ALL crims back into society? (Every rapist, murderer and child predator..)
And that Ardern’s puppet Andrew Little said he was prepared to accept ‘Collateral Damage’ when they do this??
Throw in the Migration Pact (Open fucking Borders!) and it is clear that Ardern and her lunatic Government are quite happy to play games and endanger my/your kid’s lives…

19 upticks, 4 downticks.

And:

I certainly don’t wish any harm on Ardern and Gayford’s kid.
I feel sorry for it though- As I’m sure one day it will realise it’s whole existence has been some kind of twisted publicity stunt to further it’s Mum’s career…

You will never convince me that Ardern and co wouldn’t celebrate the demise of one of my kids though- I honestly think they are that morally bankrupt and utterly ruthless in their ambition…(Look at how she cashed in on the death of that poor tourist girl..)

10 upticks, 3 downticks.

While Farrar is not directly responsible for comments from individuals at Kiwiblog, he is responsible for the overall tone prevalent on his blog, and he is responsible to ongoing hit to his own reputation because he allows high levels of vitriol, attack and personal abuse.

For as long as I’ve been aware of Kiwiblog (about ten years) it has been bad for virtually unrestrained abuse and attacks. I think it has been a major detriment to the site, and has continued to harm Farrar’s political reputation. While David Farrar paused to consider his blogging future when linked closely to Cameron Slater in Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’, he carried on, and so did the toxic discussion forums.

It’s difficult to moderate any online forum (I know from my own wxperience), especially when managed by one person, and with the number of comments posted at Kiwiblog – often many hundreds per day.

Farrar has always largely kept a distance from Kiwiblog’s comments, favouring free speech. This is a laudable but ultimately lax approach – I and many others have found that you can’t rely on online commenters to act like responsible adults and to not abuse others and to not abuse forums where they are effectively guests.

Sadly shitting in other people’s online nests is very common – some people get way with as much nastiness as they can, and then push boundaries more. I guess some people just have nasty streaks. perhaps they get some sort of power thrill from attacking others. In some cases try to deliberately trash the reputation of blogs (as happened here in a major way in 2015).

One ban is not going to fix Farrar’s problem. He is either going to have to try and clean up his mess – that wouldn’t be easy, online abusers seem to get a sense of entitlement to use forums to abuse, and can get worse if any attempt is made to restrict them. I used to confront abuse at Kiwiblog and with virtually no moderation it usually only escalated the abuse.

Kiwiblog has some very good comments and very interesting commenters participate there. But all the good is badly tainted by the rampant and largely unrestrained abuse.

This affects Farrar’s reputation. He must know this and seems to just accept it. I have seen no indication that he cares about it.

But it also impacts on the National Party by association. Farrar has been closely associated with National for a long time. From his disclosure statement:

Since I joined Young Nationals in 1986, I have been affiliated to, and a member of, the National Party.

As a volunteer, I established National’s initial Internet presence in 1996 and have held various roles in the party up until 2005, including Deputy Regional Chair. I have three times been a temporary contractor to National HQ, helping out with the campaign in 1999, and also between staff appointments – in 2004 and 2007 for a total of ten months. I still help National HQ from time to time on data and IT issues.

I worked in Parliament for almost eight years from July 1996 to March 2004. I initially worked as a media advisor to Ministerial Services when Jim Bolger was Prime Minister. I then had the rare privilege of working in the Prime Minister’s Office for Jenny Shipley, and in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition for Jenny Shipley, Bill English and Don Brash.

I am a Director  of  Group Ltd and Curia Market Research Ltd.

Clients who have used Curia publicly are the New Zealand National Party, The Parliamentary Office of the National Party Leader…

This is well known.

National don’t have any responsibility for Kiwiblog, which is Farrar’s personal blog. There is no indication to me that National have any connection with the ongoing abuses and attacks on Ardern and her family. But they are tainted by association. I would be extremely surprised if the party or their Parliamentary offices have any direct connection to personal and political attacks at Kiwiblog.

But Farrar continues to leave them open to accusations due to his hands off aiding and abetting of nasty political attacks.

And the abusive environment also deters people from participating, as demonstrated by this comment at Kiwiblog earlier yesterday from SGA:

It seems to me that lots of the posters on KB have moved to the left.

I can’t say I have noticed that, Viking2. For myself, I enjoyed Kiwiblog a lot more before the last election. Nowadays, I seem to scroll over increasing amounts of content-free bitterness and name calling to find anything worth reading. But maybe that’s just me

Upticks 21, downticks 5.

realityczech, a prolific commenter, responded to that:

You don’t notice it, because you don’t like freedom of speech.

Us liberals do notice it and you are far from being a liberal.

Upticks 3, downticks 16.

The ticks for and against those comments indicate that most don’t like the nasty and abusive tone that a small minority persist with, largely unrestrained by Farrar. In effect Farrar is favouring a few over the preferences of many. That’s what unfettered free speech tends to do.

Farrar can choose to run his blog however he likes. He is an astute political operator – but he seems to have a blind spot to the damage the abusive forums at Kiwiblog have on his reputation and on National.

Mental health of online moderators

An ODT article today doesn’t seem to be online, but it refers to this: We need to talk about the mental health of content moderators

Selena Scola worked as a public content contractor, or content moderator, for Facebook in its Silicon Valley offices. She left the company in March after less than a year.

In documents filed last week in California, Scola alleges unsafe work practices led her to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from witnessing “thousands of acts of extreme and graphic violence”.

Facebook acknowledged the work of moderation is not easy in a blog post published in July. In the same post, Facebook’s Vice President of Operations Ellen Silver outlined some of the ways the company supports their moderators:

All content reviewers — whether full-time employees, contractors, or those employed by partner companies — have access to mental health resources, including trained professionals onsite for both individual and group counselling.

But Scola claims Facebook fails to practice what it preaches. Previous reports about its workplace conditions also suggest the support they provide to moderators isn’t enough.

How moderating can affect your mental health

Facebook moderators sift through hundreds of examples of distressing content during each eight hour shift.

They assess posts including, but not limited to, depictions of violent death – including suicide and murder – self-harm, assault, violence against animals, hate speech and sexualised violence.

Studies in areas such as child protectionjournalism and law enforcement show repeated exposure to these types of content has serious consequences. That includes the development of PTSD. Workers also experience higher rates of burnout, relationship breakdown and, in some instances, suicide.

This is a modern problem that an increasing number of people are exposed to. The Internet has made a huge amount of information readily available to most of the world, but unfortunately a lot of material reflects the worst of the world, and the worst of human nature.

We also need to address the ongoing issue of precarity in an industry that asks people to put their mental health at risk on a daily basis. This requires good industry governance and representation. To this end, Australian Community Managers have recently partnered with the MEAA to push for better conditions for everyone in the industry, including moderators.

As for Facebook, Scola’s suit is a class action. If it’s successful, Facebook could find itself compensating hundreds of moderators employed in California over the past three years. It could also set an industry-wide precedent, opening the door to complaints from thousands of moderators employed across a range of tech and media industries.

Rapidly changing use of technology means that solutions to problems introduced by the technology will struggle to keep up.

Note that I am one online moderator who has no concerns about the exposure I get and have to deal with. The problems here are very minor in comparison to some parts of the Internet, and I am not reliant on this for earning a living so it is choice rather than necessity that I continue to the relatively trivial moderation concerns here.

 

Moderation changes at Kiwiblog

Lurcher posted a comment:

I sent a really caustic email to David Farrar about the rubbish been posted on his blog [deleted the rest as inappropriate – PG].

He also provided a link to Kiwiblog: Quicker moderation

In this David Farrar has announced some moderation changes at Kiwiblog. He has a reputation as one of the most light handed blog managers, supporting the principle of free and open speech, but has chosen to toughen up a bit – by how much is yet to be seen, if it is notices at all, as he may now silently delete abusive comments – something Farrar has a negative reputation for.

For the last 15 years or so, I have tended to not delete comments that are overly nasty or abusive, but hand out strikes and eventually suspensions to commenters.

This has had the benefit of publicly showing that I don’t censor comments based on political opinion, but for breaches of my commenting policy. It also has allowed people to see what is and is not acceptable, and for most (not all) infringers it has allowed them to learn and stay within boundaries.

There have been minimal boundaries and much abuse at Kiwiblog as long as I have known (about ten years). It has popular for some, and I’m sure drives others away.

It has also caused problems for Farrar in wider media as comments on his blog have been seen as his responsibility. I suspect this is part of the reason for a change of approach.

I am not stopping this approach, but I am supplementing it.

So in future I am going to more frequently  simply delete comments that I deem are too abusive or trolling etc. They will simply disappear. If this happens to one of your comments, then you should change your commenting style in future.

If I see someone being persistently abusive or trolling, I may still take the time to do a formal strike and suspension.

I think enough people have seen my style the last 15 years they they know (unlike some blogs) I won’t just delete comments because I disagree with them politically. The whole point of comments (for me) is to have debate and disagreement.

A major point of comments for me has also been to have debate and allow disagreement and different views, but I think that lax moderation leaves too much opportunity for some to abuse the privilege of commenting on someone else’s website. A common approach by some – and I’ve seen this across a number of blogs including here – is to abuse people with views that aren’t agreed with and try to shut up alternate voices and drive them away.

I think this has been common at Kiwiblog, which is a shame because some of the comments and commenters are worth looking out for.

From my own experience some people (a small minority) can get worse if their freedom to abuse is curtailed. There could be some adjusting required.

Moderating a blog is a very challenging job, trying to get the balance you want somewhere about right most of the time.

It will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable change at Kiwiblog.

I hope the worst of the abuse is filtered out and it encourages more open debate and more freedom to express different views. Almost always, abuse is the opposite of debate,


I have rarely commented at Kiwiblog for years now, so it’s funny to get a couple of mentions on the thread.

@’secondcumming’

And you know *Kiwiblog’s* doing something right, particularly when you see someone like Pete George @ YAWNZ, criticizing DPF’s moderation policy. LoL!

Very funny, but I suspect for a different reason.

@All_In_Red:

In the past DPF has cracked down on ‘link whoring’
I recall Pete George used to do it a fair bit and got punished.

That’s straight out wrong, I haven’t seen any cracking down or punishment from DPF. I responded:

Blogs are commonly largely based on linking to other information. Like Kiwiblog.

One of the main features of the Internet has always been the ability to link to other information.

I don’t recall ever getting ‘punished’ for providing links to sources or to more detail (or to anything), apart from some commenters grizzling when they didn’t like alternative views, and that wasn’t punishment, it was success.

It was interesting to see who tried to attack the messenger or means of message, with no attempt made to debate points made or information provided.

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.

More on Maori and Labour

A generally good post at The Standard by ‘weka’ on Marama Fox on working with a Labour/Green government

This refers to comments made by Maori party list MP Fox:

You know what, they’re all trying to get to the power seat too, and if Labour and Greens are successful then we’ll be looking to do a deal with them, because it’s obvious to me that under Labour Māori are tossed aside all the time and you can have a look at the Point England development to see that.”

“I think it is better to be at the table making decisions or at last being the social conscience of a government who may be disconnected from its community or don’t know how to address those things. And Labour want the same thing, that’s why they’re trying to win the seats of government. So if they are successful, then we’ll happily work with them. And yes, It is better to be at the table at the decision-making end, and have as much influence as we’re able to ensure that we can correct the disparities that currently exist.

Weka comments:

What will happen if Labour needs the Māori Party to form government? Some on the left see the Māori Party’s relationship with National as a betrayal that can never be forgiven, and speak in the most scathing terms despite National being able to govern irrespective of where the Māori Party stands.

Myself, I think Māori are entitled to their own politics, and it behooves the rest of us to pay more attention to what those mean on Māori terms.

I certainly don’t like everything the Māori Party has done, but I think we need to look more deeply here, especially as the left may end up needing this alliance to form government. But more than that, the Māori Party have many policies that align well with both Labour and the Greens, including in critical areas like climate change and water.

We should be building relationships here for that alone not just because of the vagaries of MMP.

It does seem odd that Labour seems intent on trashing any relationship with the Maori and Mana parties.

The Maori Party have always made it clear they are prepared to work with any government to further their aims. This is a sensible approach to MMP politics.

So this is a good post from Weka, until  this plonked on the bottom:

Moderator Note – Considered and respectful commentary and critique are welcome here. If you want to make claims of fact about any NZ political party here please back them up as you comment. If you want to gratuitously bash any party other than National, go somewhere else to do it.

This is an illustration of the Standard moderation that damages their credibility.

Weka is inviting “considered and respectful commentary and critique” and warns not to “gratuitously bash any party” – fair enough – but then makes a mockery of her imposed standards by adding “other than National”.

Strict moderation might be fine if it was evenly applied, but Weka warns off any bashing of her views or preferred parties while effectively encourages gratuitous bashing of National.

In practice this is often how Standard moderation works, coming down hard on any perceived attack or criticism of their views or parties but encouraging open slather against parties they dislike and commenters they deem to be right wing or right wing party supporters.

The left is sadly lacking a blog that allows fair debate and discussion.

Changing Standard

 

There has been noticeable changes at The Standard over the last few months. More rigid moderation has resulted in long time regulars being banned, and there has been a marked change in volume and nature of comments.

One of The Standard’s most prolific commenters, Colonial Viper, caused some controversy and last year was banned for several months. He returned to commenting yesterday, but didn’t survive for long.

Colonial Viper3.5.1.1.1

Hey always happy to argue my points hard out over a beer, but last time I was banned for a month for referring to what official exit polls said about demographics voting Trump.

So why bother.

[That’s not why you were banned. You were banned for making assertions as fact and not backing them up, and that specifically being a pattern of behaviour considered trolling. Here you are misleading about why you were banned. I can’t see any point waiting for yet another series of demonstrations of the patterns of behaviour that have led to multiple bans in the past, so I will just do it now. Banned until a month after the election. – weka]

That’s removed another dissenting voice for the election campaign. CV is wacky agt times, but he is prepared to challenge group think, something the new Standard seems to want to avoid. Ironically this happened on the 1984 post.

There were mixed reactions:

adam

I’m liking the new hard nosed weka.

To many people have spun shit about her point of view, they deserve what they get for misrepresenting her.

As we all should cop, if we tell porkies about the authors.

The authors offer enough reminders not to do it. Yet, people still do it.

Galeandra

Well you can carry on liking her on your own. I’m off again.

Weka banned me when she didn’t like her arguments challenged recently.

She was busy yesterday – also:

Peter Swift

Of course you are my bro, I’m inclusive. We’re all in this together, man, and like it or not, we are the BROtherhood of man.

Best stick that faux race outrage, I’ve lost the argument so will play a race card, back in it’s very naughty box where it truly belongs. :tut tut: 🙄

[ok, you’re out until Monday. Pattern of behaviour that is flaming, and you’ve been warned 10 mins ago and you still do it, so wasting mod time too – weka]

[just seen your response in the backend. You still don’t understand why you were moderated, so here it is again. You were banned for flaming, ignoring moderation, and wasting moderator time. If you don’t understand what flaming is, ask. That ban is now extended out to 1 month for ignoring moderation, wasting moderator time, and attacking an author. Expect moderations from now on to at least double but some will just go to past the election if you do something really stupid – weka]

Tim

The most reasonable commentator gets suspended because someone said the word ‘bigotry’… Your position is truly weak, weka.

[Peter got a short ban for blatantly ignoring moderation, and for flaming. Flaming is about behaviour. In moderation we are looking at patterns of behaviour that cause trouble for the site and increase work for the moderators. It rarely has anything to do with the content. Peter already has a history of this, which you are probably unaware of but the moderators are. Marty and adam were both warned as well and chose to tone down the flaming. I would have banned either of them similarly if they hadn’t.

Speaking of patterns of behaviour, and looking at your comments in general, I’ll let you know a couple of things. One is that I personally have a low tolerance for having my views misrepresented. People can disagree with me and they can go hard against my arguments, but when they start misusing my beliefs either against me or to further their own argument, then I will moderate. One of the reasons is that it’s hard enough being an author here without being attacked. The other is that I write to generate discussion, and if people choose to abuse or attack rather than debate then they need to go somewhere else.

You can count this as a warning. We obviously disagree politically, which is fine. But in addition to that you are stepping over a line that will result in a ban if you keep it up. Don’t make shit up about moderation (wasting moderator time is one of the quicker ways to get a ban), don’t attack authors, don’t misrepresent the views of authors. Pretty simple. – weka]

Weka does write to generate discussion, her Kaupapa Pākehā was good, but she also often puts strict boundaries on what can be discussed, and tends to ban when losing an argument (claiming things like ‘misrepresentation’, something she has done herself).

She is easier on some regulars, like:

bwaghorn14

”It looks like Labour are willing to bash those they see as being in their way politically”
it would appear you as a card carrying greeny are willing to bash labour when it suits weka

[ok, I’m torn between giving you a warning over stupid shit that’s against the rules (having a go at an author over perceived party politics), and asking you wtf you are on about. I’ll go with the latter. Please do explain what me being a GP member has to do with the post or what I said in it. I’m really curious what possible motivation I could have as GP member for apparently bashing Labour. – weka]

She uses her role as moderator to wield a stick in discussions:

Nope14.3.1.2

You can’t pretend your Green Party allegiance doesn’t influence your frequent attacks on Labour and Little.

Everyone has a political bias, and party membership and allegiance is a huge contributor.

I had hoped the MOU would give greenies a sense that there was one way to change the govt, and that was backing Labour and the Greens. Support for any other party that won’t commit to changing the govt just makes it less likely this will happen.

[“You can’t pretend your Green Party allegiance doesn’t influence your frequent attacks on Labour and Little.”

So much on one little sentence. I don’t have an allegiance to the GP. I vote for them and I am a member and I support many but not all of their policies, but if they had done what Little did I would be criticising them too. I don’t have to pretend anything. I like Little (that’s on record), I want Labour to do well, I want the Greens to do better, I want the govt to change. You and I disagree on how that might happen and what the best strategy is, that’s fine, make those arguments, but stop making shit up about me.

You will now provide 5 examples of my writing posts that attack Labour and Little in the past 3 months, or some other reasonable example of ‘frequent’ and ‘attack’. If you can’t/won’t do that, you have two choices. You can withdraw that comment and apologise, or you can have a ban. I’m putting you into premod until you answer. If I don’t see anything I will eventually ban just to tidy this up. I suggest you read the Policy and About and that you start paying attention to what is being said in moderation bold across threads so that you learn where the boundaries are.

You seem new here and look like you are bringing good commentary, so I’m cutting you some slack, but you need to understand that commenters are expendable and authors aren’t. Stop attacking authors, and debate the politics and points instead. If you don’t understand anything I’ve just said, ask for clarification. – weka]

These changes in moderation have generated quite a bit of comment. Violet:

Violet 2.1.1.1.1

We all know, that in little NZ, blogs like TS are often referred to. We also know that one of the biggest arguments against the left in NZ is that they fight amongst themselves constantly, and therefore are not capable of governing the country. The constant criticism of Labour here over the last few months, feeds directly into that view. And yes, I know this not a Labour blog, that is really not the point.

And as a reader for many years, I am sure this has been a relatively recent change. In the past, I have come to this blog to read a practical opposition to the government from a practical left wing perspective. Of late, it seems to be more often a fanciful view of what politics could be if everyone behaved in a way that is so far from practical reality.

I am so disappointed that this blog has turned this way over the last few months. What we need now, is strong support for a change in government at the next elections. And no, that doesn’t mean no criticism of Labour. But the reality is, like it or not, Labour doing well in the upcoming election is crucial for a change in government.

There is discussion on that, mainly from Weka, who continues here:

.weka 10

Violet, from here https://thestandard.org.nz/kaupapa-pakeha/#comment-1302361

A couple of points. One is that the Labour-bashing was going on for most of last year. I spoke against it quite a few times. I’ve even written a post about that that I haven’t published yet. It’s been delayed because of the US election mess here last year, and then more recently because of all the hooha over WJ (I had it loaded and just about ready to go). So whatever changes have happened in the past few months that you are seeing, Labour-bashing is not new here.

A large part of that was the fact that an author and prolific commenter had a lot of leeway here last year to Labour-bash. He’s not here now as an author and hasn’t been here as a commenter for much of the past few months either.

I”ve just had a look through the posts tagged Labour, and apart from the Kaupapa Pākehā one and the Poto Williams one, there aren’t really any ones that are that critical of Labour. Back in early Dec there were some but they weren’t critical of Labour so much as responding to criticism.

I”m not saying your perceptions are wrong, but that unless you can be specific they’re not that helpful in understanding what you mean or looking at what needs to change. I really like it when people talk about what works here and what doesn’t, so have it. I’d just ask that you give examples so we can know what you are referring to.

Long time commenter Anne:

Anne11

I am so disappointed that this blog has turned this way over the last few months. What we need now, is strong support for a change in government at the next elections. And no, that doesn’t mean no criticism of Labour. But the reality is, like it or not, Labour doing well in the upcoming election is crucial for a change in government.

My sentiments too Violet. Thank-you for expressing them so well. I have yet to figure out what exactly has happened to TS over the past few months, but there is a sense of intolerance and a lack of respect towards points of view that don’t always fit nicely with what the majority are saying on this site. I say that with some reservation because it only applies to a relatively few number of commenters who happen to be more prolific contributors, and by no means are all of them are at fault. However if it continues, it will start to turn people off coming here.

[TheStandard: A moderator moved this comment to Open Mike as being off topic or irrelevant in the post it was made in. Be more careful in future.]

Weka herself posted several comments that were “off topic or irrelevant in the post it was made in”. This double standard is effectively a warning to be careful what ones says, and where they say it.

Moderating is a difficult and thankless task. Every site has a right to do things as they want to. There’s no doubt that Weka’s interventions are having a marked effect at The Standard, for better and worse.

I’ve always had differences with the Standard on their moderation, but the bans and the need to tip toe knowing a moderator is hovering changes the nature and the value of discussions. It looks like this will become more of a thing as election year progresses.

Colonial Viper has been a Labour candidate (Clutha-Southland, 2011) and has since clashed in the party (in particular with Claire Curran in Dunedin South). He added a lot to The Standard (not to everyone’s liking) so his absence makes a difference.

The biggest difference is that even Labour supporters and members are now not necessarily safe to comment as they please there. Or at all. Earlier this week:

trpthestandard

So TRP can author posts but not comment on them?

That continued with CV joining in, click on this to see the thread: