December 30, 2006

I love this new moderation!

I've switched to moderating comments on Blogger. Forced by annoying circumstance... but it turns out to be saving me an immense amount of time, because it's easier to read through the comments on Blogger's moderation page than to check them out in the email (and actually finding them all in the posts is impossible). And I've been able to turn off word verification. You wouldn't believe how bad I am at typing in those verification words. (All those double "v"s trying to look like "w"s!)

I hope you enjoy the change, this escape from having to type gibberish, even though it means there may be some delay in getting the comments up.

And here's some advice for avoiding having your comments rejected. Don't use bad language. (I don't mind it myself, but I'm worried about filters.) Don't be abusive. (I'm fine with people disagreeing with me, but if you just want to call me a moron, get your own blog. You can whine about censorship over there too.) Don't try to make the thread be all about you. Don't cut and paste long quotes. And don't bring up subjects that are completely unrelated to the post, unless it's funny or cool or aptly analogous or something else that I happen to appreciate.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm all for it. I would even vote for more aggressive moderation. Extreme moderation, if you will. Not going to happen I'm sure (but maybe a trial period?), but I can't help think this party would be more fun if there wasn't so much automated, preformatted knee-jerkiness to tune out.

(I'm aware that 99.9% of my comments would be declined under the system I envision, but that's okay.)

Feel free to start with this comment! :)

Simon said...

The only thing that makes this change a little more difficulty is that it requires a little extra discipline to never hit submit before hitting "preview"; the old system was a little more tolerent of the occaisional mistake.

You read every comment? Hmm.

Ann Althouse said...

Well, I hope the new moderation will bring a new flowering of high-quality commenting!

Goesh said...

I thought for a while you might have to start packing some mace on your hip the way some people were coming after you. I would have recommended a Louis Vuitton mace holster, the one with gems on it - it's all the rage of professional women these days, plus it doesn't incite envy in the gun fanatic crowd - they think only girly men would wear such things...

Buddy Larsen said...

Reading every comment is not onerous--it takes five or ten seconds per, about, so a hundred comments shouldn't cost over ten or fifteen minutes total--a small price to pay for higher quality, imho.

Palladian said...

Unfortunately it stifles the best thing about the comments section, which is the ability to interact with other commenters in an immediate fashion. There's less of a sense of dialog, which makes me a little less motivated to comment.

All because Blogger offers the worst comment management of any blogging platform I know. Any other program would allow you to simply ban problem commenters, as well as have things like "membership" which would allow you some control over who can comment, perhaps reducing the number of drive-by trolls. I know in the past you've said you didn't want to switch to a different blogging system, but you've built a fine site here, and attracted a fine group of readers and I hate to see that compromised by a couple of sociopaths. Anyway, something to consider.

Buddy Larsen said...

Hey, this is like fathering a baby--first you submit, and then some time later you check the crib, and there's a spanking new comment looking back at you, and it has your eyes!

Anonymous said...

If I had as many commenters as you, I would consider using the comment moderating feature.

I like this change on your blog, because it's easy (ok...lazy) to assume that you, Ann, agree with the comments left for you on any given post when a questionable comment is left unchallenged.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Palladian: There's a good deal of truth to what you say. (Although, when Ann is around, the wait is definitely not long.)

IIRC, Blogger does have some type of "members only" blog, but I've never bothered to check out how it actually works (and no one has asked me to join one, either). I'll bet those blogs set pretty stale after a while.

yetanotherjohn said...

If you want a really neat feature for the comments, check out www.outsidethebeltway.com . He has integrated a spell checker into his comment page. For those of us whose minds are not so narrow that we can envision only one way to spell a word, its a real nice feature for interacting with those who aren't so broad minded.

Anonymous said...

I support comment moderation 100%, but I know I'll miss the apt and witty observations about the word verification strings that were often posted. It's the little things like that which IMHO elevate the blogosphere over the MSM. If the humorless old liberals at the NYT did such irreverent joking about--like pointing out that the capitalized letters in their headline (DWRIWVIHCAH) about Saddam Hussein makes a great Arabic victory chant, for instance--I might want to read their paper once in a while. Still, keep up the good work Ann!

James Wigderson said...

Ann, tell the truth. Did the Libertarians drive you to it?

And since you have to read every comment now, would this be a good time to ask you to add me to your blog roll?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

The new comment moderation is throwing my rhythm off. It could create quite a drag if you're not right there, like the day you drove a thousand miles and no comments went up all day.

But the upside: there's a fighting chance I could be away for a few hours and not see a bazillion comments waiting to be read. When there are about 50+ comments, I'll skip the whole thread because I don't like zinging a comment without having read the whole "conversation.". Sometimes, though, just for fun, I'll go to the end of a long thread and read backwards and see who created a stir. Usually when there are 50+ comments, someone is causing a stir.

Pete Fanning said...

An appropriate step and course of action in these times.

I myself am subject to an inordinate amount of comment spam, and while much of it is trapped by my junk detection system in place, a small percentage isn't. I'm permitted to go in and force them out enmasse.

You go m'lady.

Brent said...

Althouse has always been known as having some of the better writing in blogdom, both from the author and the commenters (Hugh Hewitt has made this comment about Althouse before on his radio program, talking about how certain blogs "rise to the top".)

I do agree with palladian, though. Keeping a wait and see attitude about the overall back-and-forth. This awkward writer has learned a lot from the Althouse comments over the years.

Anonymous said...

My attempt at being rejected.

How can yooouuuu, a law professor, institute this kind of censorship.

I fart (is fart still bad language?) in your general direction!

That's going to have to be a pretty big booming fart to reach you in Madison from Santa Monica, alert everyone between of a pending biological (or is that chemical?) attack.

Speaking of censorship, why haven't you addressed my Festivus Grievance list yet (part one, and two)?

Surely you know everyone deserves to know your position on this.

There, that should do it, I swore (if fart counts), I insulted you, I made a Monty Python reference, I whined about censorship, and I linked to myself for no good reason.

(I'm pretty sure this isn't funny or cool either, so delete away, Professor)

(I left out a lengthy cut and paste job, that's just being too much of a jerk)

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that the nice moderation interface can't be used in a retroactive manner: that is, comments would be seen immediately, but would be subject to future deletion via the convenient interface. But I will take the good with the bad!

Anonymous said...

I think you may find your traffic numbers fall off because of the new comment moderation policy.

I would sometimes visit Althouse a half-dozen times in an afternoon to check on the active comment threads, but already I see that there's much less activity and so no point in stopping by so frequently.

I will miss stopping by like that, because I do like the virtual coffee house atmosphere here.

Anonymous said...

I think that delay will mean a different style of commenting. I agree that the immediacy of the old system was one of the charms of this site.

Instead of the back-and-forth that we're used to, my fear is that we will be treated to more set pieces, which by their nature will offer less of a reason to frequently return here to see what someone has just said.

Ron said...

Like fathering a baby? I tend not to get a beer and a snooze after commenting...but perhaps I'll watch football.

I, for one, welcome our new moderating overlords!

Anonymous said...

Yes, well the incentive for writing anything opposed to your point of view just got lessened.

Before a message would post, and if you didn't like it, you would remove it, but the point would have been made, however ephemeral.

In your first moderation announcement post, I made a comment that fits in with your guidelines but still, you never posted it.

Why post anything that might get your panties in a knot? It will almost certainly not be seen at all.

So moderation will certainly help empower your wingnutty minions and take a bland yuppie white blog and make it that much more blander, yuppier, and whiter.

Your groupies will have a much more shallow set of ideas to swim among, which is good I guess, since it seems they cannot be counted with much deeper than a cereal bowl.

I gather this is what an authoritarian does when geeks try to harsh her reality tv mellow.

Jennifer said...

I agree with Palladian - it's too bad if this stifles the back and forth.

At the same time, I go through periods where I stop coming back here because I'm so tired of the whining and the combativeness and the mindnumbingly persistent aggression that seems to cycle through.

So, I'm all for moderation!! (And good riddance to the annoying word verification.)

Anonymous said...

If you're going to moderate the posts anyway, why not allow anonymous comments? Anonymity has a long, proud, and protected history in the United States, and sides which, it makes it more fun when a good, apt, quotation is signed by its original author.

sharon said...

I think comment moderation is an excellent choice. It keeps out spam (which is the reason I use it), but I also had a troll who was more interested in mischaracterizing my posts and repeating herself than saying anything useful (she would even go back 2 or 3 weeks to post something just so she would have the last say). It was tedious and annoying to have to track down the comments. You will like being able to keep up with the comments this way. :)

Ann Althouse said...

Yes, it's bad about the lack of immediacy, but I'll be checking in often most days.

tiggeril said...

I'm glad. Maybe we'll be able to get back to conversations rather than... appendage-waving.

Ann Althouse said...

reality check said..."If you're going to moderate the posts anyway, why not allow anonymous comments?"

Now, you're really not thinking! Why did I go to moderation in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Oh no!

You approved my earlier comment.

Unfortunately, that fart in your general direction has already been released.

As I understand, it's already wreaking havoc in Nevada and is about to travel over Utah.

Folks better watch out in the Midwest, and you better prepare your gas masks in Madison for around the time of the live coverage of the Rose Parade.

(semi-interesting LATimes article at the link about a local controversy regarding its coverage)

Sorry for the inconvenience.

I'll wait till I've definitely been insulted to release my weapon of mass flatulence in th future.

Ann Althouse said...

James Wigderson said..."Ann, tell the truth. Did the Libertarians drive you to it?"

No. They're fine. It's a longtime comments abuser. And I did add you to the blogroll.

Mr. Forward said...

Comment moderation seems to have slowed down your site's download speed.

Gerry said...

"Now, you're really not thinking!"

Second verse, same as the first!

Buddy Larsen said...

"...since it seems they cannot be counted with much deeper than a cereal bowl"

RC is right, I can't be counted insult me deeper not cereal bowl than.

amba said...

Them's some daunting submission guidelines . . . I'm gonna worry about not being self-effacing enough.

(And i miss verification word goofing)

Guesst said...

Well, thanks longtime comment abuser. Now we all have to be moderated because you can't control yourself.

Anonymous said...

I fear that reality check and his brethren's clarion calls to, well, whatever those Joshuas of the intertubes are exercised about --they never say, they just point out our manifest shortcomings-- well, I'm afraid their voice will not be heard now. So I will take up the mantle! I will be your champion.

But I'm busy, so I'm going to have to make an outline and just paste it in there over and over. Don't worry, no one will notice. Here goes:

***snivel***
***whine***
***I'm being oppressed***
***Sheeple remark***
***work "tard" in there somewhere***
*** mispell hipocracy***
***mispell misspell too***
***Oh what the hell, misspell every damn thing***
***sprinkle in apostrophes like you're planting a lawn***
***don't forget to point out the smearing lies the lying smearers are smearing with all their lies***
***change my screenname again, I think my boss/mom/Ann is on to me again***
***fling bizarre accusations of collusion between people that don't know one another***
***fling my poo***
***France don't like us***
***point out you're the only one that knows The Truth. You read it on Raw Story. It had a link, so you know it's good***
***CAPITALIZE EVERYTHING OR every third WORD for no APPARENT reason***
***swear like an eleven year old the first time his mother lets him go to the 7/11 alone with his friends***
***Point out the obvious collusive link between Neonazis, Wal*Mart, the Illuminati, Halliburton, Georgehitlerburton, The Pope (unless he's against the death penalty today), a lifelong democrat in Madison, and Katie Couric***
***It's Faux news. Get it? Faux. See? It's funny***
***refer to Rush Limbaugh as if he's minority whip of the Senate, not a fat guy nattering on AM radio, selling Gold Bond Powder during the breaks***
***Did I mention John Kerry's dreamy?***

***Sad***

How'd I do?

Anonymous said...

Guesst: Yep - one of the goals, no doubt. Not quite "mission accomplished," but close enough, I guess.

Sip: Works for me!

Buddy Larsen said...

SC, that cracked me up--guffaws and guffaws--don't forget EXALTED HANDLES!!! Reality and Alpha and Truth and Mighty Sword OF Vengaence **and** Rightoeuisness!!!

hdhouse said...

Everything in moderation. Even moderators.

Paco Wové said...

How'd I do?

Don't forget the Dark Sweaty Heel of Fascism Descending on this Once-Great Country and about to Crush Us All under its Oil-Soaked, uh, Heel, unless we impeach Chimpy McHitlerfascistburton Right Away!!

And You, a LAW PROFESSOR!!!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Just curious...of the 39 comments that made it past the blogstress, how many got canned? Percentage or raw numbers will do fine.

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne: I probably reject about 1 in 20... for abusiveness.

Fritz said...

Too bad the the Redskins lost. The Pack will need super monitors! I'll be in a Soldiers Field skybox so weather, alcohol, transportation will be of no consequence. I do not like the new moderation. You will not lose traffic early on, but after time yes, those of us that like to respond, will end up feeling HuffPost. UGGGH If you want pics from the Bears Packers game, contact me.

Anonymous said...

A little story that may have some relevance:

A long time ago I worked as a chat room host on AOL, starting just before it developed a mass audience. We had a wonderful little community: witty, fun, informative, supportive. As AOL gathered steam, the "Snerts" (AOLspeak for trolls) began to show up in greater numbers. As with Blogger today, there were no truncheons with which to smack the regular lawbreakers up the side of the head. All AOL had were wimpy Terms of Service violation reports. These could get the Snert's account suspended for a few days, but very much after the fact. We had nothing like the tools of the CompuServe sysops who could selectively bounce the twerps off, no questions asked.

The result of the troll infestation was that the better commenters left in droves. Mostly teenagers remained with their cryptogrammatic gossip and insults. Shortly after, AOL went to its current system, and the remnants of our small community evaporated in a sad little cloud of loneliness.

When the proprietor of an online venue, whether AOL or Blogger, refuses to take trolls seriously, I feel like I'm one of the residents of a town in an old Western movie, petitioning the selectmen to hire another deputy before the outlaws come back and shoot up the saloon again.

Sheriff Althouse has moved the jail next door, but it just won't be as much fun. I've heard the the bartender's watering the whiskey to keep everybody sober, and the piano player's looking for another job.

Buddy Larsen said...

That was a good story--if a little glum in the denouement.

Mr. Forward said...

Website performance back to snappy so never mind.

Word verification my butt, I suspect some of those weren't real words.

Pogo said...

Theo's experience, as here, reminds me of driving, how the standard went from a mostly polite "you go first" attitude to middle-fingered road rage. In the end, we all have to drive like a barely sober Donald Trump late for his latest divorce hearing.

This passage certainly marks me as a literary buffoon but it fits pretty well, and I am that buffoon.
"Holden said, "It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other kids would see it, and how they'd wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them- all cockeyed, naturally what it meant, and how they'd think about it even worry about it for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever'd written it"."

P.S. Sippican's most excellent list neglected that utility infielder term "Brownshirts." But I never did understand the distaste for kindergartener Girl Scouts. They wear cute sashes and pins, and don't have to sell cookies yet!

Peter said...

I do the same thing over at my place. So much spam out there, and the spammers are getting crafty now, starting out the spam in comment-like fashion to get it around spam blockers.

The only things I've blocked are anonymous comments (if you are brave enough to say something, you should be brave enough to sign it), 9/11 Truther Moonbats and some defenders of a felony drunk driver.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I think moderation makes your blog much less responsive. Comments are much less interactive, and the fact that every comment has to pass your personal muster makes it much less likely you will receive comments disagreeing with you.

Even if you don't delete or alter any comments, the fact that you have a formal censorship stage just discourages participation unless someone agrees with you. Also, I'm not sure that many casual readers will go through the process of setting up a blogger account just to participate.

One vote against moderation (not sure if you care).

Ann Althouse said...

Well, rnitz, since you never participated before and you don't realize that setting up a Blogger account just to participate has been a requirement here for virtually the whole time I've had comments, over a year, your opinion of the comparative interactiveness is not very weighty!

Do you even know why I had to turn on moderation?

You sound like a representative of the group of people who have no interest in the community of readers we have here and only like to have their fun by abusing me and derailing real conversations. That screwed up interactiveness too.

And every comment already had to "pass [my] personal muster," because I deleted exactly the sort of things I now just reject before publication. Obviously, I let through disagreement. I just screen out abuse and irrelevant material. If you can't meet that standard, you don't belong here.

You can be "interactive" from a distance, on another blog, but I'm not going to let abusers ruin the discussion here. The only problem is that there is some delay. That's a shame, but I'm usually around during the day to approve comments, so it shouldn't be a big deal.

Anonymous said...

but I'm usually around during the day to approve commentss, so it shouldn't be a big deal.

Right, but you're in a different time zone and you're not around to moderate while you're sleeping. I've engaged in several late-night conversations here, and now that won't be possible. And what about when you're back in class?

You're the only one who can assess whether or not the tradeoffs are worth it. There are other solutions available which would allow you to retain the immediacy we all loved while at the same time screening out the jerks... unfortunately none of them involve staying with Blogger.

tjl said...

"I've engaged in several late-night conversations here, and now that won't be possible."

Joan has a good point. The late-night conversations produced some of the most thoughtful and illuminating comments ever posted on this board. Remember, among many examples, all the gay-marriage threads that drew hundreds of comments? It was like reliving those late-night college-dorm talks, but minus all the carbs from the beer and pizza.

Anonymous said...

I think part of the issue here has to do with the difference between a blog and a chat room.

As a former chat room host, I appreciated the immediacy of that format. The room I helped host on AOL was about classical music. It attracted a very high caliber of participants, including some well-known musicians and writers. It was like an after-concert party every night, witty, fun, with lots of great stories and back-and-forth. The chat room format also limited the length of comments, so everything had to be sharp and focused if it were to make any sense.

Unfortunately, it took only a handful of snerts/trolls to ruin things. We didn't have the tools on AOL to deal with them, and in any event AOL wasn't interested in protecting us. AOL was increasingly about eyeballs on the ads, and trolls' eyeballs were as good as anybody else's. Who cared if a few hyper-refined types were offended? Their demographic wasn't worth the bother. AOL was much more interested in the MTV crowd and a younger, more upwardly-mobile audience. I hate to put this in starkly economic terms, but the right kind of eyes on the page pay the bills.

One of the attractions of this blog is that it has some of the character of that old chat-room-with-quality-participants. But we should realize that much of this has to do with Althouse's unstinting efforts to post fresh material and keep the discussion moving. And, as in my old chat room, abusers can make the place intolerable.

I'm as sad as anyone to see things bog down, as I think I've alluded to in a previous comment. But if, as she says, it shouldn't be a big deal, and will help her save time in the end, we might perhaps gulp hard and give Althouse our support, or at least not gripe too much.

I will, however, gripe a little, and say that I agree with the general critique of Blogger. Other services simply have better tools against trolls. On the other hand, Blogger is free, has gorgeous templates, is easy to use, and is generally secure against denial-of-service and other kinds of attacks that have plagued popular blogs hosted by other means.

So there are trade-offs and things change. It's a New Year, always a time for a little reflection, perhaps this time to include blogs and blogging.

Anonymous said...

Ann,

Sorry, didn't mean to push your buttons. I'm a long time reader, but as you mention, that was my first post, so I was surprised to see you tell me:

"You sound like a representative of the group of people who have no interest in the community of readers we have here and only like to have their fun by abusing me and derailing real conversations."

I was trying to help. Another problem with your comment moderation (that I've just found) is that your replies are posted immediately or just after the appropriate comment. But with the delay for moderation, your commenter's response to you often is quite separated.

It's obviously your blog and you should do what ever you want with it. I was just thinking you wanted different input from some of your readers.