Moderation Guidelines

A note on moderation

I’ll be frank, I am a die-hard first amendment advocate. I grew up in the south during the aftermath of the civil rights movement. Freedom of speech was a luxury then. I was even supportive of rap artist’s when they came to the forefront and railed against what they percieved as continued racial inequity despite their lewd use of language to protest. I was an opponent of Tipper Gore’s attempt to censor it as well despite the fact that I had a young daughter who would likely be exposed to such things before I had a chance to address them with her personally.

There are a few people whom I’d like to single out. Several people named John. John MiltonJohn Stuart MillJohn LockeJohn SeigenthalerWayne Morse—the list is extensive. All of them believed that a desire to express an opinion was paramount regardless of how offensive it may have been to popular belief.

Having said that, I’d like to point out that off topic flame wars and agents provocateurs whose only interest is to disrupt the dialogue here are unwelcome. This is my house. If you come into my house and pee on my carpet, I have every right to kick you out. Likewise, if you come into my political blog and threaten the people posting here who wish only to engage in legitimate political discourse, I get to boot you out of the conversation.

I don’t consider this a first amendment abrogation as much as I do treating people with bad manners appropriately. And/or treating people with respect. I insist upon that.

So, what do I consider bad manners? Excessive use of foul language. Personal attacks upon others to shoot down their opinions. Off topic flame wars. Goading others into flame wars. Threats. Keep in mind we won’t kick you out unless you’re being a real asshole.

I love a lively debate but when it gets into the personal attacks, I am inclined to stop it. Why? Because first and foremost, I am trying to create an atmosphere of engaging political dialogue. That other stuff scares people out of the debate. That is not what I want.

You’re in my house. You can have an opinion and express it. I simply request that you do it respectfully.

All of the article contributors here have comment jettison capabilities. I have banning control. I really hate using it. Let’s not go there, shall we? Please play nice as if you were speaking to others in person. Just the way I suspect your Mama raised you to be.

10 Responses to Moderation Guidelines

  1. Number Seven says:

    Right on. My only question is: do I have to take off my shoes, Japanese style??? Don’t worry, I use Gold Bond 😉

    That joke aside, I hope people quit responding to Bart. If I want right wing talking points, I’ll watch FOX Boobs…

  2. mclever says:

    I support you 100% in everything you said. 🙂

    I also love lively, informative, respectful debate. Let’s keep it reasonable, folks.

  3. shortchain says:

    This seems as good a place as any to say a few words.

    1. The level of personal vituperation has just got to be decreased. An occasional spat is no big deal, and the character of some commenters drives some people over the edge. I feel that myself, when I’ve read, for the 20th time, and from the same source, something that I’ve seen chewed up, swallowed, digested, and eliminated 20 times before, and found to be false. That’s still no excuse for making 20 comments consisting of nothing but a “you lie!” and a derogatory name.

    I have to continually remind myself of my grandmother’s injunction: “if you can’t say something informative or insightful, don’t say anything.” (OK, that may not be what she said, verbatim, but it was a long time ago. And times change. It’s what she would say today if she were commenting on a blog, I think. Wise lady.)

    2. There are these ratings you have. I would suggest that, when one has collected enough negative points on a thread, one should refrain from commenting. (I also feel that if one has accumulated enough positive points one should go into lurk mode and let somebody else speak for a while, but that’s just me.) Positive points would balance out some negative points. This would a) provide a metric — always a good thing to have, in my opinion, and b) encourage people to use the damned up and down buttons. Otherwise, what are they good for?

    Banning some people temporarily would be a good lesson for them. I’ll state that, if you feel I am ever out of line, feel free to ban me. Permanent banning should be reserved for the cases that won’t learn, after multiple chances, in my opinion.

  4. shiloh says:

    Get rid of the Rate This feature as it’s only useful for liberal pandering and to see how many “thumbs down” Bartles can accumulate in any (1) day …

  5. Bart DePalma says:


    I agree that the thumbs up/down feature is simply an ego trip. I don’t use it.

  6. Mr. Universe says:

    It was hoped that the rate this feature could be used as a community moderation tool.

  7. shortchain says:

    Mr. U.,

    In order for the rating feature to be used as a moderation tool, it must be:
    a) fairly administered. No gaming, at least not easily. I doubt that’s possible to achieve.
    b) capturing something that is useful for moderation. A simple like/no like is not, I suggest, useful.

    Assuming you either make the rating feature difficult to spoof or are willing to accept the possibility of spoofing and live with it, I would suggest that, by reformulating the feature by asking if the comment was worthy (in a sense you determine) or unworthy (perhaps), it could be used as a moderating tool.

    And, of course, those like Bart who persistently post comments whose sole purpose is to run down anything to left of himself (which pretty much describes everyone) won’t like any rating feature for the simple fact that it disagrees with his self-image, and so will ignore them.

    It would still be nothing but a heuristic, of course, unless and until an unbiased authority could be the source of the rating.

    You could restrict the rating to yourselves as a group. Somebody gets enough down-checks from the group, they no longer get to comment on a thread (or for a certain amount of time).

    I don’t know who is responsible for the programming, of course. All of these ideas are contingent on having some direct control over the feature.

  8. Mr. Universe says:


    The WordPress platform doesn’t give us much room to work with. However, I’m still investigating.

  9. The Taxi Dog says:

    I had an aphasic stroke in ’02, I used to write well and am relearning. I would ‘like’ you but its not an available option. So I’ll ‘read’ you instead. I hate yelling. I have well thought out opinions, but I want DISCUSSION most of all.

    I recommend to you the work of Johnathan Haidt, who I’ve just synopsized below:

    I’ll will read you with great interest.


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