July 24, 2006

Comment moderation.

Friends, I've had to turn on comment moderation. This will cause some delay in getting your comments to show up, as I will have to approve them. Unfortunately, this was made necessary because of some very abusive comment behavior today.

UPDATE: Well, I tried to turn off comment moderation this morning (Tuesday), and the abusive commenter managed to get 7 comments up within 20 minutes. I've deleted them all and turned moderation back on. How utterly pathetic the way some people think they are entitled to ruin a community. Amazingly, this blog stalker is someone I know, a former student, who does not perceive how embarrassing her behavior is, I think because she experiences her very moralistic opinions with great certitude. What a shame!


tiggeril said...


To, er, commemorate the occasion, here's a picture I took of meerkats when I was at the zoo.

Bellicose Woman said...

Interesting - you have the same line in the sand I do. I've only ever banned one commenter on my own blog, and it was for very similar reasons. (Though the attackee was my late co-blogger rather than myself.)

At any rate, I don't blame you a bit. There are some things that are just Over The Line.

Mary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
XWL said...

An understandable change, an annoying inconvenience for you, but some folks can't take a hint.

I guess it's true that popularity breeds contempt.

(Should I admit, where I first heard that phrase?)

(and that's a damn fine album that y'all should buy if you don't already own it)

Speaking of not taking a hint, un[bleep]in' believable.

tiggeril said...

Here's one I took of a gorilla the same day

Jennifer said...

It's too bad you need to do that, but commenters who are abusive and, frankly, creepy make the experience less enjoyable for all of us.

I just don't understand why a select group is unable to grasp that this is your blog.

al said...

Man - I go back to work after 3 weeks of vacation so I have to, you know, product results, and I miss all the fireworks.

Moderation is kind of a bummer but to be honest I'm surprised it wasn't turned on because of he shall not be named.

Steve Donohue said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve Donohue said...

Has the quxxo mystery been solved?

Very circumstantially, I think that it has...

sonicfrog said...

Dang. I missed all the fun :-)

Maxine Weiss said...

"make the experience less enjoyable for all of us."---jennifer

Not all of us. There are some amongst us who get a vicarious thrill out of any conflict. Some people traffic in combative confrontation.

I take titillation anywhere I can get it.

Isn't that horrible?

Peace, Maxine

Bissage said...

tiggeril: As so often in life, the answer is meerkats. Thank you.

Mary: I read your comments today. Why are you always trying to hurt people? During the Telemacchus episode, I trusted you to act in good faith. I regret that.

Ann: I know nothing about the abuse to which you refer, but it must have been nasty. This too shall pass. And thank you.

Ann Althouse said...

Steve: I told Quxxo that I viewed his comments as harassment and that he must never post here again, and he didn't. So for all the troubles with Quxxo, he proved a certain basic decency that Mary lacks. I never knew who Quxxo was, but I do know who Mary is. She's a former student who chose today to reveal her full name, apparently not realizing that she is damaging her own employability. I hate to see that happen to any of our alums. Her continued posting shows a certitude and self-righteousness that is just plain tone deaf. Anyway, she's making Quxxo look like a prince.

Bissage said...

Ann, I just read your 8:32. Please delete my comment. I don't want to look like I'm piling on. I didn't know it was Mary.

Conserve_Liberty said...

Cool Hand Luke is on her Favorite Movies list.

Can't be all bad.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

Sippican: Of course, you're my friend and so is everyone else who gathers here and writes in good faith. This is a valuable place, and anyone can be part of it, but no one should be permitted to deprive us of what we have here. This is something. This matters.

(Is that a line from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"?)

Johnny Nucleo said...

I, too, consider you my friends. If you are ever in a jam - like with the mob or bikers or evil businessmen who want you to sell them your mom and pop store because they want to build a mall, but you don't want to sell, and now they are getting baseball-bat serious on you, but the cops won't help and you don't know where to turn - tell them Johnny Nucleo is coming.

Pogo said...

Group hug!

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Townleybomb said...

I, too consider all of you my friends, or at the very least drinking buddies from some ideal corner bar where conversation flows freely and troublemakers are reluctantly but firmly shown the door.

Can anyone come by to clean my cat's litter box next time I'm out of town? THANKS FRIENDS.

downtownlad said...

Ann - Why don't you just switch to haloscan comments? It's very straightforward.

The only problem is that all of your past comments on blogger will get lost.

It's possible that they've upgraded it recently, so that comments from blogger can get uploaded.

Blogger is owned by Google. I'm shocked that they don't have the ability to ban specific users.

Elizabeth said...

Sippican, as always you say what needs saying, clearly. Except of course for when I disagree with you and can't imagine what the hell you're thinking.

I seem to have the most appreciation for people here that think very differently from myself on political matters, but who understand that I, and they, can be jerks without meaning to, and that I, and they, are just trying to talk together and get around some hurdles and hindrances. Thanks, friend, for seeing the real people behind the occasional jerk facade. That goes for everyone, but Sippican gets extra-special notice.

Elizabeth said...

And thanks, Ann, for the gathering place.

Internet Ronin said...

What a nice thing to say, Sippican! There are many "regulars" here, including many more who rarely or never comment, and I imagine most of us feel the same way now that you mention it.

The most difficult thing for me when I finally started commenting after almost two years of basically lurking was remembering that, although I felt I "knew" the regular commenters after reading them for so long, you folks had no idea who I was. Before I started posting, I remember seeing some post or another and saying to myself, "Wait til so-and-so sees that!" or "That's right up X's alley."

At the same time, I never felt as if I was treated as an interloper when I first started posting. All in all, I think that there is a pretty good mix of opinions here, and, for the most part, actual conversations going on instead of dueling talking points memos.

Palladian said...

Not to get all sappy and personal, but since it seems we're tending in that direction, two weeks ago member of my immediate family was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I've been sort of a zombie, dealing with unknown emotions and all the terrible mundanities that swarm around you when you stumble in life. It's been a great comfort to come here and to other sites I read and take my mind off of things. It's easy to forget how much the web has changed our lives for the better, and has enabled me to learn from (and be entertained by) people who I would have probably never otherwise met. It's sad that a few people seek to destroy conversations rather than participate in them, but they're just bumps in the road. Thank you Ann, and the rest of the intelligent commenters here, for being here.

joeschmo1of3 said...

Hello Ann,

I'm so sorry you had to see someone melt down in your commentary sections and then have to ban her to boot. I started seeing shades of Deb Frisch in her responses as more and more commentors responded to her posts and she became more and more combative and belligerent. Oh, you missed one of her comments in the "shameful question" post.

Even after all the mess with Deb Frisch, it's hard to believe that someone would not have learned a lesson. I'm glad that most people here are genuinely interested in what others have to say instead of winning points with each putdown. Very telling that on Mary's blog, commenting is not allowed.

Ann Althouse said...

Palladian: I'm very sorry to hear that. We miss you when you're not around. You're one of the most valued members of this community.

Ann Althouse said...

And thanks to all for your understanding. I really regret the delay that's produced by moderating.

Goatwhacker said...

I hope you don't stop approving posts from people who don't know much about law and reflect an appalling lack of intellect, otherwise I'm in big trouble.

Brendan said...

Ann, is there some sort of Mary "back story" we're not aware of, like a bad grade or in-class argument? If you can't clarify for privacy reasons, no prob.

Jennifer said...

Palladian: I'm so sorry to hear that. I hope for the best for you and yours. I've wondered what you were up to, since I hadn't seen you around. Wish I had something better to say than that.

Sanjay said...

Eh. I guess it means, cool, Professor Althouse is reading all the comments! And (in my most recent post, in the thread above) I'm even trying to game it using that.

altoids1306 said...

Wow. I'm seeing a lot of "removed by blog admin" signs. Kinda wish I was here to read what those comments were.

If you (Ann) feel the need to remove commenting entirely, that is, of course, your privilege, but I think the commentariat do provide some added value for you, at least generally speaking.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Palladian: My deepest sympathies. Know that people out there are pulling for you and your family. And Ann is right. Please try to post something every now and then.

Pogo said...

Here, I don't expect agreement, except to be civil, and to discuss the topic at hand. And I look forward to the opinions, whether I concur or not. And some writers are quite compelling either way. One is forced to refine a view, rather than merely doing some cut & paste from elsewhere. Quite fun, really.

Yet as I get older, I fear I understand people less and less. Where does it come from, this desire to hurt and belittle and crush those you disagree with? I mean, I think I know, but I wish I didn't. I wish for eloquent writers like Elizabeth, who stand their ground and not givean inch. Thanks for that. And for Sippican's metaphors, of which I have no small envy.

"Oh, but it wasn't a dream! It was a place! And you - and you - and you - and you were there. But you couldn't have been, could you"

Sorry. Gettin' sappy.

Svolich said...

I'm glad that most people here are genuinely interested in what others have to say instead of winning points with each putdown


There are too many in office (and non-elected public life) that think "leadership" is scoring some clever comment or insult. Somehow they think winning an election should be the cumulative score of how many headlines they've gotten in the preceeding 2 years.

That's one of the things I've liked about Bush/Cheny/Rove. Even when they're wrong, they're playing the long game.

Ann, thank you for having us in. Your parlor is always well spoken and lively. We certainly don't hold it against you that a crasher thinks it's fun to throw things.

Would someone pass the lemonade?

Pastor_Jeff said...

Ann - It's a shame you've had to endure so much nastiness. You're doing the right thing. Thank you.

Palladian - I'm so sorry to hear of your difficult news.

Sippican - Thanks for your excellent words. And just because you asked:

A 90-year-old man said to his doctor, "I've never felt better. I have an 18-year old bride who is pregnant with my child. What do you think about that?"

The doctor thought for a minute and then said, "I have an elderly friend who is a hunter and never misses a season. One day when he was going out in a bit of a hurry, he accidentally picked up his umbrella instead of his gun. When he saw a rabbit sitting beside the stream, he raised his umbrella and went, 'bang, bang' and the rabbit fell dead. What do you think of that?"

The 90-year-old said, "I'd say somebody else killed that rabbit."

The doctor replied, "My point exactly."

Mark Daniels said...

I'm so sorry to read of your sadness. I will offer a prayer for you and yours before I go to bed in a short while.

God bless!

I didn't read the comments that precipitated your decision of today. But you have every right to expect a level of civility here

God bless you, too.


reader_iam said...

Palladian: That is such a shame. I'm really sorry for what all of you must be going through.

reader_iam said...

And Palladian, I've meant to mention that I like your website, especially "Icebreaker," for example.

sonicfrog said...

Palladian, take whatever comfort you can that all our hearts are with you.

Pogo wrote:

Yet as I get older, I fear I understand people less and less.

Funny. As I get older I feel a great burden lifted from my shoulders, as I find the desire or need to understand people less and less. I guess I'm glad I never became a psychiatrist :-)

How is that for a joke Sippy.

Seven Machos said...

I wish to enter this fray by saying that I love this blog because almost all of the comments are reasonable and made by reasonable people. There are lots of people here who don't vote the way I do, or think the way I do. Getting challenged by them/you makes me:

1. constantly question what I think, and adjust and refine it;

2. confident that "the other side" is full of good and capable people with whom I share many, many, many values.

I also like it here because I feel like I can challenge people who disagree with me, forcefully but hopefully inoffensively. I mentioned reputation in an earlier post. My reputation is important to me. When people see my goofy little name, I want them to read what I say and consider it.

Ann Althouse: you do your thing and you wail with it. I hope this moderated comments thing works out. There have been only two people banned, and that's a pretty good record. Maybe a better solution will present itself if this one ends up too burdensome.

Palladian said...

Thanks all of you for your thoughts and kind words. I really appreciate it.

I love the whole encounter group vibe of this thread!

Finn Kristiansen said...

Whoa... somebody must have passed a joint in here cause there is waaaaaay too much love.

Actually, while comments make things better and certain people here always have great stuff to add, this blog kinda rocks without comments too.

And Palladian, sorry to hear of the personal struggles, and I hope joy sneaks up from around every corner and tickles you.


Sometimes I sit around and think about the Bible story of God tossing Satan out of heaven, and if true (okay, just roll with me here), I sometimes wonder if God has left breadcombs or a path for Satan to come home again. Maybe at the end of the day, and alone, Satan will say, "I want to be back with my friends, I am sorry."

If such could happen, should God allow him back? Then I get to wondering if people ever pray for Satan at all, in that we don't know the mechanism by how God might run the afterlife, and what allowances he makes after we are dead.

We only know of what he instructs us to do here (as in, say, "share the gospel") and we extrapolate a whole lot based on that (as in, "Oh my gosh, if I don't share the gospel, God has lost those people forever").

Perhaps we are to do our part here, and, unbeknownst to us, God has other alternatives and backdoor fixes to scoop up others we don't reach or those who choose not to believe right now, including, his former friend Satan.

What am I talking about here? I don't know. It's late.

It would be nice if people could see their errors, apologize, change their ways, and then be forgiven. But that is the hard thing I guess. People are willful, turning gardens of Eden, and blogs like this, momentarily into lesser places; they must then be sent on their way into the cold.

Would it be an Eden (or a heaven) if everyone, regardless of actions, was accepted? Or would it be a heaven if we violated the will of its creator, but still expected to be let in?

(Yea...somebody definately must have passed a joint in here).

Simon Kenton said...

Finn, the decision that produces hell for a soul is a willed separation from God. As it is willed it is reversible, so one could choose to return to heaven. But that decision has a way of becoming impacted, and as a practical matter, doesn't get reversed even if it could be. And so eternity congeals around them.

Mary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tjl said...

Thanks Ann for making sure that your blog is a space where people can disagree heartily without losing civility.

If only there were some mechanism for doing this in the day-to-day practice of law. Many lawyers can oppose you vigorously and then have coffee with you after the hearing. Certain others think advocacy means scorched-earth tactics.
We all benefit from reminders that disagreement can be fruitful and stimulating if you don't lose all respect for the other side.

SippicanCottage said...
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Elizabeth said...

Palladian, I'd been wondering where you were. I'm sorry to hear your news; your family's in my prayers.

Elizabeth said...

Pogo, next time gay marriage comes up it's going to be really hard to resist calling you Dorothy. You look good in those red shoes, Miss Thing.

Marghlar said...

Wow. I guess some people have great difficulty understanding the concept of associational freedom. How dare you not publish other people's vile rants, Ann? Honestly.

Since the joint is being passed, I will say that I have always enjoyed the civil back and forth here, and have nothing but contempt for people who would poison the well with pointless ad hominem. And who brings someone's family into it? That's just sick.

I think extremists on both sides have this consistent problem where they cannot perceive people who disagree with them as reasonable, or even human. This makes them chronically unpersuasive (which is why they remain in a small minority) and also unpleasant to be around, if you don't subscribe to each and every one of their prescribed list of favored opinions.

Good riddance, Ann.

John said...

I'd like to apologize to the group - and to Mary - for being one who engaged her in a topic that caused far more emotion to get through than necessary. As passions escalate, it becomes a little like the eye-for-an-eye analysis - you tend to push back harder than you were pushed.

Again, I'm sorry. As an infrequent commenter, but avid reader, I appreciate your thoughts in these pages.

Acad Ronin said...

Although I would love to see Mary's comments - sheer and uncharitable curiosity - this is your blog and you get to run it any way you please. If I don't like it (actually I do - very much), I can always wander off.

Joseph Hovsep said...

I wonder if you can do something like Orin Kerr has done: moderate anonymous comments but allow specific prescreened commenters to post without preapproval. I'm not sure how that works on a technical level, but I think the burden of moderating all comments might prove too difficult and will inhibit the fast-paced back-and-forth that makes the commenting here fun and engaging.

Maxine Weiss said...

Revealing someone's full name is not the big threat it used to be. I don't think anyone really cares about reputation anymore.

Maybe Wisconson is different, and somone's good name still matters there.

In California, the big no-no is revealing someone's weight or dress size. That is simply not done.

Go for the jugular, Ann. Tell us Mary's dress size and weight measurements. Give us a full description of her looks:

Is she beautiful?

Wouldn't that be horrible if your nemises, your stalker turns out to be a hottie?

Let's hope that's not the case.

That'd be awkward.

This is all about looks. We know that.

Peace, Maxine

Jeffrey said...

Confessions of a Troll-ISH Commenter.

I have been a blogger -- Iraqi Bloggers Central -- and commenter for the last three years. I have, to tell the truth, been banned from several blogs for engaging in flame-wars with other miscreant knuckleheads.

On the other hand, I have also been a moderate and thoughtful contributor to debates conducted at other websites. In my experience, the comments pages of blogs tend to reflect the basic attitudes of the blogger. For example, at Belmont Club you will find commenters arguing reasonably over issues related to warfare and international politics. It is very rare to find a troll infestation. The commenters are drawn to Richard Rodriquez's coolly analytical blog entries and try to engage him in the same manner on the comments pages. But other bloggers are vituperative and in-your-face and attract troll-ish commenters. And this is fine too.

My advice to Mary is that she find a different blog, one where trolls gather for flame-wars. Flame-wars have their own incandescent beauty, but Ann Althouse's blog is NOT the appropriate blog to conduct attacks on other commenters in which disproportionate force is not only condoned but required.


Freeman Hunt said...

I feel like I showed up late to a party, and everyone else is hammered. Definitely a lot of love going on.

This blog has the best comments of any blog or message board I've visited. Cheers to the hostess and the commenters who make this such a great place.

And I have to confess... the sillier parts of me are a teensy bit disappointed that I missed the climax of the building hostility.

Jim said...

Welcome to the real world, Ann, where your credentials don't entitle you to an automatic audience and where a small weapon can empower the otherwise voiceless. I would love for someone to come up with a web-based bit-bucket for all the posts you and other censors think we aren't adult enough to read. I'd probably find Mary a lot more interesting than I find you!

Are you practicing your censorship in a run for President?

PatCA said...

Thanks, Ann, you did the right thing. We have plenty of disagreements here, but what I saw happening yesterday was beyond that, so I stayed away. Even quxxo's marathan cut-and-paste sessions are directed to an argument--perhaps not the argument on the table, but an argument nonetheless!

You have built a very nice salon/water cooler here. I salute all your quick-witted and erudite guests, my fellow travelers and particularly my worthy opponents.

(Palladian, take care! And Sippican, glad you're back.)

SteveR said...

I count myself among the others who have expressed appreciation for this "community."

Sloanasaurus said...

The abusive commentator is like a terrorist. It only takes one ruthless individual to ruin freedom for everyone.

knoxgirl said...

Ann, you totally made the right call. And to my mind, you gave that particular commenter more than a second chance, on more than one occassion.

I appreciate the great group of people here as much as I do our host. And as another commenter intimated, I'm sure there's a ton more who are part of the Althouse family who just aren't commenting (yet...?)

Palladian, best wishes and I have been missing your contribution to the discussions here...

Blondie said...

Ann - Good for you for defending the community of your blog.

Mary - Quit being so incredibly lame. Invest all of this energy into something else that doesn't require pushing negativity on to others.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
howzerdo said...

Ann, I'm sorry this will cause you more work, but thank you. As I was reading yesterday, I thought the comments were being hijacked and it was very tiresome.

John in Nashville said...

"Amazingly, this blog stalker . . . does not perceive how embarrassing her behavior is, I think because she experiences her very moralistic opinions with great certitude."

This is, of course, your space, and the commenters should not abuse your hospitality. I thank you for providing this forum, and it is indeed unfortunate that an invited guest has abused you.

The quote above, however, shows that your sense of irony remains strong. Maybe Mary hopes to someday be President of the United States, but lacks the nepotism and the support of five friendly wardheelers on the Supreme Court.

brylin said...

Palladian, sorry to hear.

SC, you're right as usual. I have enjoyed the intellectual give-and-take and viewpoint diversity, and I always appreciate it with the absence of ad-hominems.

It is quite a community here!

brylin said...

I must say that the Althouse experience today is less than usual. The absence of timely comments detracts from the blog. The ability to comment on the comments is taken away.

I wonder if there is some legal recourse? Are commenters invitees? Once disinvited are they trespassers?

amba said...

Palladian, I am so sorry that you and your family have to go through that. We all will.

Pastor Jeff, great joke! I'm passing it around.

(Ann, I'm having my first correct try at the verification word rejected; and then my comment double posts. I don't know what the glitch is. I apologize and will delete any doubles.)

PatCA said...

Here's a good joke which I'm stealing from a commenter at Tim Blair's place.

A man standing on a streetcorner holding a sign. He's in the usual urban prophet long robe, sandals, beard. The sign says "Unfortunately, the world is going to drag on."

michael a litscher said...

Pastor_Jeff, here's one back atcha:

A man goes to see the Rabbi. “Rabbi, something terrible is happening and have to talk to you about it.”

The Rabbi asked, “What's wrong?”

The man replied, “My wife is poisoning me.”

The Rabbi, very surprised by this, asks, “How can that be?”

The man then pleads, “I'm telling you, I'm certain she's poisoning me. What should I do?”

The Rabbi then offers, “Tell you what. Let me talk to her. I'll see what I can find out and I'll let you

A week later the Rabbi calls the man and says, “Well, I spoke to your wife - I spoke to her on the phone for three hours. You want my advice?”

The man said, “Yes.”

The Rabbi replied, “Take the poison.”


Palladian, sorry to hear the bad news. FWIW, you and yours are in my prayers.


Ann, I know you're more than tolerant due to some of the things I've posted, yet haven't gotten me banned, and I do appreciate you and your blog, and all the wonderful people who come here every day.

As for Mary, there were a few times in the last few days where I started to write a snarky/sarcastic reply to one of her posts, thought the better of it and decided not to instead. Didn't seem wise to throw more fuel on whatever fire was burning under her arse.

Jim H said...

According to another Jim:
Welcome to the real world, Ann, where your credentials don't entitle you to an automatic audience and where a small weapon can empower the otherwise voiceless. I would love for someone to come up with a web-based bit-bucket for all the posts you and other censors think we aren't adult enough to read. I'd probably find Mary a lot more interesting than I find you!

Jim apparently believes that a web forum is a city square when in fact it's more analogous to an establishment; the owner sets the rules. He's yet another who doesn't understand what constitutes censorship.

Mostly I just want to make sure no one confuses Jim with Jim H.

Jim H good.

Paddy O. said...

I entirely agree with all the supportive comments here. This is a great and unique forum. Really, it is a lot like going to a good pub, where the conversation may be mundane or profound, intellectual or shallow.

I'm reading through the Biography of Samuel Johnson right now and it seems to me in this era there was an intensity of comment and disagreement only it was handled with so much more style and wit.

What is offensive about Mary isn't her disagreement per se, but her boorishness. My suspicion is that if someone were to engage in an intelligent, artful sparring here it would even be appreciated. This is a place where many lawyers hang out after all.

The problem with so much of the internet isn't the flame wars, but the entire lack of wit. There's no style anymore, there's no fine turns of phrases, there an entire lack of what we would expect from educated discourse. It is offensive to the English language really. It is an offense to witty repertee.

Instead of sharp quips and intelligent sparring we get the rhetorical equivalent of a monkey throwing feces. There's just nothing right or good about a monkey throwing its own feces.

That may be okay for a zoo, but entirely inappropriate for a dinner party.

boringmadedull said...

I don't comment much, but I've certainly got 'moralistic opinions' and 'great certitude'.

But I draw the line at mere vulgar abuse (most of the time - unless it's witty), and certainly at being a potty mouth.

And there's certainly a class of blog commenter whose forte is 'potty mouth', and is just as mature as the phrase.

It's always worse when it's someone you know. Sorry you were troubled

Ann Althouse said...

Boring: It wasn't a matter of bad words or the usual nastiness. It was a whole different dimension of ugly. It was irrelevant talking about my children and reposting the same material after I deleted it and said it was inappropriate. This, by a commenter who had posted nearly 100 in two days. A former student, manifesting disturbing hostiliy toward me. I'm not opposing moralistic comments and great certitude, merely trying to say something charitable about this person's inability to see how wrong her behavior was. Yeah, look at Paddy's comment. He has a good grasp of the problem.

Pogo said...


1. The angels wanna wear my red shoes.

2. Don't dream it, be it.
(Actually saw RHS at our community theater last night.)