Changes to moderation of website comments

Moderation of comments is an ongoing challenge on any online forum.

Facebook have just announced they are clamping down on ‘hate speech’ and the promotion of racism and white supremacy.

I posted recently about Stuff imposes extensive commenting restrictions.

Yesterday Whale Oil posted about this – Stuff follows Whaleoil’s lead but then takes it one step too far – claimed credit for being a leader in moderation.

Whaleoil five years or so ago broke new ground when we committed to a comprehensive moderation system to make our commenting section a respectful and pleasant place in which to debate ideas.

Pleasant for those left allowed to comment, although posts and comments still attacked people through derogatory and insulting images and name calling.

And that post is heavy on hypocrisy and light on admitting their own heavy handed censorship on some topics, but I don’;t want to get into that here.

Kiwiblog has long been labelled a cesspit due to fairly unfettered commenting policies. David Farrar initiated changes after the Christchurch attacks, has just announced more detail on major changes.

New proposed moderation policy

Commenting on Kiwiblog is a privilege not a right. The privilege will be removed for repeated unacceptable comments.

Unacceptable comments include but are not limited to:


Do not make comments that could expose Kiwiblog or yourself to defamation.


Trolling is an attempt to deliberately disrupt a conversation by being grossly offensive or massively off topic.

Comments on a post should be a response to the topic of the post. While some thread drift is inevitable, do not try to divert the thread into another topic. Use the daily General Debate for other topics.

There are several equivalents herfe for general topics:

  • World view – for international news and topics of interest
  • Open Forum – to discuss anything of interest
  • Social chat – for general social chat, not for debate
  • Media watch – links to things of interest on media issues or mostly New Zealand news

I allow a lot of flexibility on what is talked about where, except for Social Chat.

Personal Abuse

Attack arguments, not people. It will generally be unacceptable to call someone a moron, but it will be acceptable to say their argument is moronic. That may seem a fine distinction, but an important one. However don’t try and push the distinction to breaking point. If you say that someone’s argument has the integrity of a syphilitic pygmy (for example), then that would find you with a warning or strike.

Abusive nicknames for MPs such as “Ardern the liar”, “Golly G”, “Simple Simon” will be unacceptable. You can critique something they have said or done, but not just repeat an abusive nickname.

That sort of name calling is still prevalent at Whale Oil. It has long been unacceptable here.

Gratitious references to attributes people have no control over

People can’t choose their gender, race, skin colour or sexual orientation. There will be times when those attributes about a public figure can be a legitimate discuss in in relation to an political event.

But slagging off someone on the basis of something they can’t control is unacceptable.


Grossly offensive generalisations are not acceptable either. Treat people as individuals. This is not to say one can’t discuss group characteristics (such as why certain races are over-represented in crime statistics), but it should be done in a way which is not derogatory of the entire group.

Lumping 1.5 billion Muslims all in together is almost certainly going to be unacceptable. One can criticize a religion and/or specific acts or teachings. But don’t attribute things to every follower of a religion. Be as specific as you can. If there was an attack by Islamic extremists, say “Islamic extremists” instead of “Muslims”.

The same applies here to political lumping such as ‘the left’ or ‘the right’.


There is some tolerance for swearing so long as it is not directed at someone. Calling someone a c**t is almost never acceptable, but the use of the word in other contexts may be. Telling someone to f**k off is not acceptable.

Personal Details

Give other commenters the courtesy of referring to them by the name or alias they use on this blog. Do not reveal personal details about them such as their name, address, phone number etc. unless it is somehow connected to a public issue. If in doubt, check.

It’s good to see DPF finally taking control of comments at Kiwiblog.

I agree with all of these policies, they are similar to what I have used here – I see them more as guidelines than rules , but I put a big emphasis on decent comment and respect of others while allowing for robust debate and some jocularity.

You get better debate without abuse and without general or targeted attacks – especially when arguments are backed with facts and sound reasoning.

There’s been a lot of moaning at Kiwiblog about the change. Like:

Shut the hell up you Fascist!

Bye bye

But this is what fernglaas said:

You’ll get less commenters, but the quality of them will be vastly improved. The anonymity of the internet gives freedom of expression to many but also provides a platform for cowards, bullies and those who prefer prejudice to facts. I wish you the best in trying to balance the objectives you have set out. I don’t envy you.

Moderation is difficult, but I wish DPF the best with his latest changes.

Labour-NZ First coalition deal

The coalition deal between Labour and NZ First was signed today by incoming Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and incoming deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.

From Stuff Live:

Key points from the NZ First deal:

  • $1b per annum Regional Development Fund
  • Re-establish the New Zealand Forestry Service
  • Review and reform of the Reserve Bank Act
  • Progressively increase the Minimum Wage to $20 per hour by 2020
  • A comprehensive register of foreign-owned land and housing
  • Free doctors’ visits for all under 14s
  • Free driver training for all secondary students
  • A new generation SuperGold smartcard containing entitlements and concessions
  • A royalty on exports of bottled water
  • Commit to re-enter Pike River
  • A full-scale review into retail power pricing
  • MPs allowed to vote on a potential referendum on euthanasia

Most of that looks fine generally.

Regions have been neglected and allowed to run down for the last three decades so could do with more help. However it will be a challenge to help regions help themselves rather that heap them with subsidies.

While increasing the minimum wage will help many low income earners it’s a risk, as it could backfire and result in a significant number of job losses, meaning some get more but some get less.

NZ First portfolios:

  • Foreign Affairs
  • Infrastructure
  • Regional Economic Development
  • Internal Affairs
  • Seniors
  • Defence
  • Veterans’ Affairs
  • Children
  • Forestry
  • State Owned Enterprises
  • Racing
  • Associate Finance
  • Associate Education
  • Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Regional Economic Development

That’s a good haul of portfolios for a 7% party, with some big wins.

MPs who will take the portfolios will be announced tomorrow.

Stuff:   Labour and New Zealand First Coalition Agreement

The Government waiting game is poor

Traveller commented: “Jacinda and Winnie’s anti-capitalism, anti-migration, anti foreign investment frankly scares me”.

Parties needed to be given time to wait for results, and to negotiate governing arrangements, but continued delays can give a feeling of being strung along.

It is especially important that we have confidence in the incoming government to be responsible and sensible on economic matters – the financial and business worlds continue despite being under a caretaker government.

The lack of information given since the election a month ago, especially over the last two weeks, is poor from the parties involved.

Winston Peters claimed that negotiations were complete a week and a half ago, but it was obvious they continued up until he made his decision to go with Labour. and it appears that negotiations have continued since then.

And I suspect the policy agreements are being massaged for public consumption.

This isn’t a good start for a new government.

Claire Trevett: Paddles the cat the only bright spot in transparency

For almost three weeks now the confidentiality has continued – the two weeks of talks behind closed doors with barely an iota of information emerging and four days since NZ First leader Winston Peters cast his lot with Labour (and the Greens, although Peters has selective hearing when it comes to that word).

New Zealanders know precious little about what securing that support has cost Labour in terms of policies – and money.

We should be better informed by now.

Ardern has promised “meaningful, material change.” Change can be exciting but is can also be unnerving. She cannot forget almost half the country did not vote for that and will be nervous about what it entails.

Businesses are likely bracing themselves as talk abounds about increases to the minimum wage and fair pay agreements.

The Greens and NZ First voters also want to know whether the policies they voted for survived the negotiations – and if it is worth it.

Small amounts of drip fed policy concessions will be concerning some voters who had hoped for something different.

Ardern may consider the past three weeks of near silence a necessity. It is regrettable one and Ardern has been worryingly swift at becoming adept at it. It should not become a habit.

Here’s hoping Ardern’s Prime Ministership will be marked with a tad more transparency than it has begun with. She got away with it because she is Jacinda Ardern and people are giving her the benefit of trust. She campaigned on hope and change – voters should have been told a bit more about what that means in practice.

Leaving journalists out in the cold for so long is having an effect that will likely result in more scrutiny and less honeymoon for the incoming government, not a bad thing.

But the public are being poorly served here, it is not a good start.

The ongoing waiting game has been poor, and getting worse as it goes on.

The concerns may all wash away tomorrow when the Labour-NZ First and Labour-Green agreements are revealed.

But if there are signs of not getting full and open disclosure, or signs of trying to hide some plans, or signs trying to gloss over significant policy concessions, then the new government may have set themselves up for a tough start.

Green policy wins leaked

As soon as the new government was confirmed the Greens started leaking.

Here are their probable portfolios, and this is The Greens’ 10 big policy gains:

1. Climate action

“Significant climate action, with a shift towards a net zero carbon emissions economy by 2050” and the establishing of an independent climate commission. This would include shifting farms to “more sustainable land use” and a focus on transport, energy and primary industries.

See Greens, farming and “more sustainable land use”

2. Beneficaries

The welfare system will be overhauled. Specific promises include ensuring access to entitlements, removing “excessive sanctions” and reviewing Working for Families “so that everyone has a standard of living and income that enables them to live in dignity”.

3. Conservation

“Significant gains in the conservation budget.”

4. Water

Improve water quality and fund “freshwater enhancement”. Government support for irrigation will be wound down.

5. Mental health

Free counselling for under-25s and access to mental health services for everyone.

6. Special needs

Access to education for children with learning difficulties.

7. Gender pay gap

“Substantial progress” to closing the gender pay gap in the public service.

8. Students

Reducing the number of students living in hardship.

9. Refugees

Review, as well as “adequately fund and support” refugees under the family reunification scheme.

10. Drugs

A referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis by 2020. Funding for drug and alcohol addiction services will be increased.

See Cannabis referendum could disappoint


With or without the Greens

James Shaw has made it clear, Green MPs and ex MPs have made it clear, Green supporters have made it clear – the Greens won’t try to do any sort of governing deal with National, this time at least.

This is despite some strong hints of accommodations from the National camp.

Stacey Kirk: Honour above the environment? Greens hold a deck of aces they’re refusing to play

There is no way the Greens can work with National.

They should, and the reasons they won’t work with National are getting flimsier by the day. But they won’t – it’s a matter that strikes too close to the heart of too many of their base – and for that reason, they simply can’t.

They prefer to stay staunch, holding out for everything and risking getting next to nothing. Or maybe not.

Well, National Party pollster David Farrar has “speculated” on what the Greens could potentially get from National in an abstention deal – purely for their vote on confidence and supply.

That could buy the Greens:

  1. $1 billion over ten years for cycleways
  2. A levy on nitrate pollution
  3. A South Taranaki Whale Sanctuary
  4. A levy on plastic bags
  5. Accelerated timetable for rail to Auckland Airport
  6. Doubling the funding for DOC
  7. $65 million a year more for predator-free NZ
  8. Stricter water quality standards to increase the number of water bodies rated excellent from 42% to 70%.
  9. A commitment to double the reduction of children in poverty from 50,000 to 100,000
  10. Double the reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 11% to 22%

Farrar is so far up in National that’s not speculation – that’s an opening offer.

Why waste time offering the Greens something they don’t want to do?

Maybe NZ First should pick up these policies, go with National, and claim credit for doing what the Greens won’t.

Greens would be happy, they would have indirectly helped achieve major policy wins, even if it means they slip out of Parliament because voters decide there is no point in voting for them.

It sounds like National would be happy to be seen as not just a centre right party but as a party that values economic prudence alongside genuine care for environmental and social issues, so they would be happy.

And most New Zealanders would be happy. With or without the Greens it could and should happen.

Farrar has been busy promoting a green agenda on Kiwiblog:

Drip fed policies adding to the confusion

This has been a maniacal election campaign that has been punctuated by some major changes, with three party leaders stepping down, and one new leader turning the election upside down.

That has created a confused political landscape, but also contributing to the mayhem has been the perpetual drip feeding of policies.

With just eight days until election day parties are still drip feeding policies – with significant adjustments as recently as yesterday (by Labour) and possibly by Winston Peters but it’s hard to know with him due to his bluster and vagueness.

Feeding the uncertainty on a daily basis is the drip drip drip feeding of policies and positions on issues. National, Labour and the Greens are all guilty of this. They are all announcing new or rehashed policies

In reaction to pressure and polls Labour made a major backdown on their tax policy yesterday – see Labour lose their nerve on tax.

That was on top of a regular policy of the day announced by Jacinda Ardern:  Labour’s plan for West Coast prosperity

Labour’s regional development plan for the West Coast will build on its strengths in engineering and tourism, while delivering a much-needed upgrade to the Buller Hospital, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.

“Labour’s vision is for a thriving regional New Zealand, where people from all around the country know that they are valued, and know that they can make a valuable contribution to New Zealand’s social and economic life.

A fairly vague vision but that’s typical of Ardern’s campaign, a lot of icing but in reality not much cake.

National were still in bribe overdrive yesterday, still abusing their position of being the incumbent government – they have often dressed up normal government spending as lollies in the scramble for votes. Their announcements yesterday:

$44,000 to help support school teens play sport

Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman has awarded a number of grants to enable high school students around the country to play sport. “Participating in sport is a key…

That looks like a clear conflict of interest, using Ministry funds in a campaign.

$2 million to make cycle trails safer

Associate Tourism Minister Nicky Wagner today announced a funding boost of more than $2 million for safety improvements on four Great Rides in Waikato, East Coast, Hawke’s Bay and West…

Another conflict. Ministerial announcements should be banned from the campaign period.

New Antarctic Science Platform announced

Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee and Minister of Science and Innovation Paul Goldsmith have today announced that Antarctica New Zealand, in partnership with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and…

More abuse of a Minister’s position.

National will invest in the East Coast’s future

National will re-invest $24 million over 10 years in Gisborne’s road network to support strong growth in the district’s forestry sector, Economic Development and Transport spokesperson Simon Bridges says. “National…

And more.

Young farming families able to buy Landcorp farms

A National Government will help young families into their first farms by allowing young farmers to buy state owned farms after they’ve worked the land for five to ten years….

One actual policy announcement plus four bribes by Ministers.

Greens don’t have a media announcement from yesterday, their latest is from Wednesday:

Green Party announces a better deal for students

The Green Party announced today that, in government, it will provide genuine support for students by bringing in a universal post-graduate student allowance and increasing allowance rates for all students.

That’s a major announcement at a late stage of the campaign. Claiming “in government, it will provide” is fanciful, if Greens get into government (if they even get back into Parliament) they will first have to get Labour and possibly the Maori Party or NZ First to agree.

The only certainty is Greens won’t get to implement anywhere near all of their policies. Labour have already committed just about every available dollar for their own policies, NZ First have ‘promised’ many more, so there is simply not enough to pay for all their largesse.

NZ First had their promises exposed in The Peters-Espiner interview.

Winston Peters was in Dunedin: SPEECH: After the election the old parties will forget you – we won’t

Winston can’t even remember his own policies or costs of policies.

I’ve generally given up trying to keep up with the deluge of policies and bribes being drip fed daily, still.

Advance voting has already probably about 200,000 people who have voted, and they don’t know what they are voting for.

This campaign has been a mad large scale confusion, and this has been added to by the daily drip feeding of policies.

It all seems designed to feed the media, chasing the daily headline. Most people just see a mess of mediocrity. No wonder the polls aren’t settled.

I am in no position to judge the parties on their packages of policies. I have given up trying to keep up.

I’m going to wait until next Saturday before I vote, and before I decide who to vote for.

I’ve just realised that I haven’t even looked at who my local candidates are and how they are promoting themselves. A presumably safe electorate gets next to no national attention.

I was over this election some time ago and am just hanging in until the end of the confusion.


The mad rush of policies/bribes

It’s hard enough keeping up with all the controversial political stories, including the stepping down of three party leaders, leading up to the election.

But even for those interested in following politics the mad rush by parties to attract media attention every day, the bombardment of election and spending promises is just about impossible to keep up with.

National announced new education policy in the weekend, following DOC great walk charge increases, and god knows what else, it’s all becoming a blur. National intermingle new policies with re-announcing already announced policies so it’s hard to know what’s new.

Jacinda Ardern has been busy going around the country announcing targeted carrots. In the weekend it was $300 million promised to Canterbury rebuilding, before that Dunedin was promised a $1-1.5 billion, another MP announced an Auckland bridge walkway/cycleway, Ardern promised light rail to Auckland airport and also promised not to raise some taxes while not saying what taxes Labour might raise.

Winston Peters has been drip feeding policies targeting various voting demographics.

Greens are trying to get  their campaign back on track by saying what they will do when they are in government – but they seem to be at real risk of not even getting back into Parliament. At best their influence on policies next term is likely to be not large.

And this cacophony of confusion makes it very difficult for people to know what they are voting on.

Advance voting opens in two weeks, and we have policies still being announced. This is a hopeless situation for voters.

I follow politics and have no idea who to vote for, and have no clear way of evaluating whose policies sound the best mix and the most credible.

I wouldn’t be surprised if most people, who normally have little interest in politics, are simply confused by the mess of attention seeking.

The Ardern agenda

Jacinda Ardern has been around different media being question about policies, especially tax.

RNZ: Campaign day 2: let’s talk about tax, baby

It’s day two of the election campaign and Labour faced pressure to provide more detail on its tax plans, but is keeping its cards close to its chest – for now.

She was pushed hard on policy in an interview by Guyon Espiner: VIDEO: Jacinda Ardern won’t rule out capital gains tax

NZH:  Jacinda Ardern in The PM Job Interview: ‘It’s time to talk about a republic’

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says it’s time New Zealand started having the conversation about New Zealand becoming a republic.

“I do think that we should start having the conversation. There are a lot of issues that need to be resolved on that path, and I would have liked the government to have had that conversation when the flag debate came up,” Ardern said during a special PM Job Interview with the Herald today.

“That was the time to say, ‘actually, where are we heading? What’s the Crown’s ongoing relationship with Maori if we transition into a republic? Where will we be in 20 years’ time in this regard.'”

Patrick Gower tries to answer  What is the Ardern agenda?

Income tax

A new tax rate on higher earners on say $120,000-$150,000 could be announced in the coming days.

Capital gains tax

Ardern has made a ‘captain’s call’ to not rule out a CGT (excluding family homes) pending an expert panel review during her first term.

Retirement age


Ardern has ruled out raising it raise it – ever.


Ardern says if elected, she will pull out of the deal unless Labour gets a clause allowing it to ban foreign home buyers. She thinks it can be renegotiated.

Water tax

Labour wants to charge a ‘fair and affordable’ royalty to large commercial users of water – including water bottling companies.

Climate change

Ardern revealed she could charge farmers for emissions in the first term of a Labour Government by bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme.


Ardern supports legalising medicinal cannabis and expanding the access of medicinal products, but won’t be drawn on how she’d deal with the wider topic of decriminalising recreational cannabis.


Election policy tool

If you like to look at party policies in depth The Spinoff has a tool that may help.

Introducing Policy NZ: an incredible new tool to help you decide how to vote in Election 2017

Personality is central to politics. That much is a truism. And it’s not just inevitable but necessary that voters get a chance to examine the people seeking the highest seats of power. We want to get a sense of them, to weigh up trustworthiness and character, to understand better how they might behave under pressure, how they interact with others and what they look for in a biscuit.

But sometimes it gets a bit much. While the ability to communicate a party’s ideas and plans are critical to the modern politician, we don’t always get enough of the ideas and plans themselves.

In the last fortnight, for example, a couple of high-profile leader resignations have sucked most of the oxygen out of the campaign preamble, leaving some to say – and here I’m paraphrasing – What ho, Spinoff / other friendly media outlet! How about giving us more about the policies the parties are actually putting forward.

So here it is. The Spinoff is thrilled to bits to lift the curtain today on what we think is a very important and beautiful addition to media coverage of the election.

Conceived and assembled by Asher Emanuel, Ollie Neas, Racheal Reeves and their exceptional team of developers and researchers, Policy is, we think, a seriously big deal. Collecting the policy positions of the main parties and presenting them in a clear, accessible and digestible fashion, the tool allows readers to flick through policy areas, compare the parties’ positions and drill down for more detail

Election 2017 policies:

Pot calls kettle empty

Neither the Greens nor Labour announced any new policies in their joint ‘State of the Nation’ event yesterday.

National’s Finance Minister and campaign organiser Steven Joyce commented on Twitter:

It did seem like a wasted opportunity. I suspect that Labour and Greens are holding back with major policy announcements until they see what National do in the budget in May to try and avoid being outmanoeuvred again.

And perhaps they waiting to see if National announce any new policies.

It’s unbelievable that at the beginning of election year the 1 largest party has no new policy to announce.

Or maybe not, National have tended to not announce much policy throughout their tenure in Government.

On the home page of National’s website they say what they are doing, not what they intend to do.  Defensive about their record rather than anything new.

Supporting safer families

We’re making changes to our family violence laws to prevent the abuse, keep victims safe, and stop perpetrators.

National’s comprehensive housing plan

National is committed to addressing the challenge of housing and we have a comprehensive plan to achieve that.

Helping more Kiwis buy their first home

Nearly 12,000 New Zealanders have received government grants to help them buy their first home in the first 12 months of National’s KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme.

An open and prosperous New Zealand

New Zealand has a strong, growing economy under National. That’s delivering more jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders, and trade is a vital part of continuing this success.

Helping rural communities

When our primary sector succeeds, New Zealand succeeds. A successful primary sector is part of National’s plan to create more jobs, lift incomes, and build a more productive and competitive economy.

Better healthcare

National believes New Zealanders deserve high-quality health services and delivering better services remains our top priority. In 2016/17, a record $16.1 billion will be invested into health.

That’s in the past pot, not in the future pot. Business as usual and no indication of new policy proposals.

English and National come up with any new policies to take into the election campaign. That would differentiate his leadership from John Key’s.

Or is that pot empty?