Sunday, April 20, 2014

Request for comments about my moderation policy

Dear friends,

I have decided to take the opportunity of a lull in my Sunday afternoon to seek your advice as to what to do about my comments policy.

After quite a few years of relative obscurity, this blog has seen a sudden and massive explosion in readership.  For years I was getting about 1000 visitors per week, now it regularly gets over 20'000 visitors per day from literally all over the world.  With that influx of visitors, a lot of weird, sick and outright deranged also showed up - that is normal, even 1% of 20'000 is still 200 and my sense is that the freaks are even much less than that - possibly 20 or about 0.1%.  That really ain't much, but that is enough to be a real pain in the ass, pardon my French.  These freaks fall into several categories.

1) Your typical garden variety trolls
2) Obsessive compulsive racists
3) Monothematic delusional folks completely fixated on Jews
4) Nazis
5) Plain old idiots who simply cannot make sense

In the past, when my blog had few visitors I had a 100% freedom policy.  Except for commercial spam, I would literally allow anything no matter who stupid or insulting.  Then a little over a month ago I got really fed up with some exceptionally dumb Nazis so I decided to kick them out.  Or rather then banning them, I began sending any moronically racist or Nazi post to the trash.  When I asked for your inputs only one person got angry at me.  Everybody else told me that they fully supported that decision and that I had waited enough.  This new policy definitely helped and some of the worst offenders packed and left.

And yet I still get way, waaaaaaay to much comments about Jews and while I do not get many Nazis any more, I still get some world class idiots posting their nonsense.  So I am not sure what to do next.  

One thing I could do is drop my normal policy of "there is no such thing as off-topic on this blog" and require comments to remain generally pertinent to the topic at hand.  But that would also mean losing the opportunity of having some very interesting off-topic comments posted.  Or I could use my discretion and decide that off-topic comments I find worthwhile publishing and which not.

I could try to set up some pretty sophisticated and detailed posting guidelines,  but that would be very time consuming and still probably leave loopholes.

Or I can ask you to trust my judgment and basically toss out anything I would find too offensive or too stupid.  What I do not like about this option is that it sort of implies that every comment that I would allow would then get my implicit endorsement but that would be completely wrong.  If, say, somebody posts a comment saying that Russia should try to vaporize the USA in a preemptive surprise nuclear strike I would categorically disagree with that, but I cannot say that this is not a legitimate comment in a threat discussing Russian options to stop US aggression.  But if I do let such a comment through, would that not look like an implicit endorsement?

Bottom line - I need some advice from you all.  I consider this blog as much yours as it is mine, and I want it to meet your expectations.  I do not want to allow freaks and morons to pollute it, but I don't want to censor it either.  So, please, post your suggestions here or email me.

Many thanks and kind regards,

The Saker