April 17, 2014

"You allow anonymous comments?"

I ask Meade, about his new blog, his all-dog blog, which got an Instalanche yesterday.

Meade: "Yeah, but they're moderated. I only approved them if they're nice."

Me: "But would you allow some comments that weren't nice?"

Meade: "Um, yeah. I said not 'nice' but what I really meant was not mean or nasty. Like I just approved one: 'Yes, but what do they taste like?' So that was funny. Maybe: Don't offend the people who have the dog."

It's an evolving standard, moderating comments. I've only switched to moderation all the time recently (after a period of on-and-off moderation, after a very long period of no moderation because the moderation function was broken), so I hadn't given any thought in many years to allowing anonymous commenters.

Anonymous commenters might be the very people that you delete all the time when you see them in moderation. And in Meade's method, those people could get through, but only if they are nice or funny or whatever suits the evolving standard. It's comment-specific moderation, not name specific. They can't build up a troll persona to get off on.

Trolls aside, there are some people who just can't figure out how to register in an account that lets them comment (either Google or something accepted by Open ID). I get email from such people sometimes. (They always seem to be professors, in case you were thinking they must be quite dumb.) And obviously, some people, even using a pseudonym, are sensitive about having names connected to their comments.

At my colleague Nina's blog, where comments must pass through moderation, anonymity isn't accepted, on the specified ground she only wants to hear from readers "if they feel they can stand behind their words." She adds "I do not seek a free-for-all here. I like camaraderie far more than conflict," and that may suggest that she doesn't want the experience of reading mean and nasty comments, even when she can prevent them from ever seeing the light of blog.

By the way, speaking of Meade's dog blogging, Nina has been doing a lot of chicken blogging, not that hers has become an all-chicken blog.

39 comments:

Paco Wové said...

I hate that guy Anonymous. So freaking schizophrenic. Contradicts himself from one comment to the next.

AReasonableMan said...

For the record, I don't like the moderation and hope it is temporary. It slows down the conversation and kills the interplay between the commenters. Also, where have all the liberals gone?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

(They always seem to be professors, in case you were thinpeoplehey must be quite dumb.)

That means nothing. Professors as a group are the stupidest people I've ever met. The worse thing that ever happened to this country was the embracing the credentialed elite as our leaders.

Henry said...

Meade needs another blog called "Comments rejected from the all-dog blog"

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Ellison said...

AReasonableMan said "where have all the liberals gone?"

There are still a few around, but I hope that people resist such labeling. We all have some of this and some of that in our political thinking.

The Althouse blog is better than almost any I see elsewhere in maintaining an open debate.

Fen said...

It slows down the conversation and kills the interplay between the commenters

But it does a good job as troll-bane. They can't disrupt a thread by creating their own vortex. It never forms because of the time interval.

Also, where have all the liberals gone?

Like I said, it does a good job as troll-bane. I don't remember any non-troll liberals here that have a history of measured intelligent commentary (on par with Hayden, Hunt, et al). People like Garage seem to be the standard for the Left.

Ann Althouse said...

"I hate that guy Anonymous. So freaking schizophrenic. Contradicts himself from one comment to the next."

Yeah, that reminds me why I stopped allowing anonymous comments. When you have a lot of comments, it gets confusing. If there's back and forth, you can't figure out who you're talking to and whether someone is expanding on early comments and responding to others or whether some other person has hopped into the conversation.

The people who are trying to have a conversation are undercut by what seem to be the least committed participants.

Ann Althouse said...

"For the record, I don't like the moderation and hope it is temporary. It slows down the conversation and kills the interplay between the commenters. Also, where have all the liberals gone?"

You've cited the worst thing about moderation, and I agree with you about that, but I'm weighing all the considerations, including a need to stop some people for whom "interplay" is a game of trying to drive everyone good out of here.

Bob Ellison said...

My "Least Updated Blog" still has no comments. I don't think Blogger supported comments back in 2004, though.

I plan to make the Guinness Book with that one.

Anonymous said...

Comedy Stage Open Mic Night Comic says:

You know, I use the internet a lot in my parents' basement -- I even use it when I'm not masturbating (laughter). Or should I say 'between masturbating' -- it sort of coincides with 'logging on' and 'logging off', if you know what I mean (laughter), they go hand-in-hand, or at least hand-in-sweatpants, if I am to be more specific (laughter)...

Sometimes when I am not masturbating I comment on blogs. That annoying guy who frequents entertainment blogs asking about the actresses in new movies as to whether they are naked in it? That's me. (laughter) And -- by the way -- thank you to those who answer, it helps me spend my entertainment dollars wisely (laughter), there are priorities...

Now, I don't use my real name -- I think the reasons should be obvious (laughter). Sometimes I've used my dad's name, you should see the emails he gets: sick, sick people out there, sick people. My poor dad, having to look up the meaning of 'felching', kind of sad, really (laughter)...

Sometimes I frequent a blog run by a law professor. Sounds educated, right? Now, I know little about the law: for instance, I know I can legally masturbate in my basement, but masturbating at the bus stop by the high school after the girls' track meet is illegal, my lawyer explained this to me (laughter), who knew? (laughter)...

Now this blog lawyer, she covers a lot of things beyond the law, even things I can understand (laughter). She kinda has a Bob Dylan fixation, it's cute, really, even if I don't get the references, mostly due to not being born at the time (laughter). The Sixties: now that's a subject I'll have to return to sometime, but -- Dylan -- I mostly know him through a Victoria's Secret commercial, so: OK in my book (laughter)...

This lawyer's blog, there are a lot of dog pictures, a lot of dog pictures. I know, me too: female law professor, I was figuring cats, myself. Anyway, she doesn't even own the dogs, but taking pictures of other peoples' dogs is apparently legal -- whereas me taking pictures at the high school girls' track meet got me get questioned by the police; obviously photography is a tricky thing, legally (laughter) -- maybe its the age of the dogs that is the issue (laughter)...

Thank you, you've been great....

Anonymous said...

Maybe posting a betamax3000 bit on a post with the quote "They can't build up a troll persona to get off on" might be asking for trouble.

Ann Althouse said...

As to the question "where have all the liberals gone?" I would expect many of the commenters to say something along the lines of: Althouse is the liberal.

It might be interesting to try to figure out -- mining these archives -- how righty commenters came to overwhelm the lefties here.

One theory is that righties enjoy debate (they're "looking for converts") and lefties need everyone to agree with them about everything (they're "looking for heretics"). I think lefties tend to see anything insufficiently left as toxic and they cannot tolerate hanging out in such and environment. They may drop in for the occasional attack, but they can't enjoy the place. It's not a lively coffeehouse for them.

But people come and go. If you read a comments thread from 5 years ago and another from 8 years ago or whatever, you'll see almost a completely different group of people. Where do they come from? Why do they leave? (And more importantly: What happened to Bissage?!)

Another theory is that this blog gets an inordinate amount of traffic from Instapundit, and the politics of Instapundit therefore strongly affects who chances to read here and who is in the pool of potential regular readers and commenters.

If you ever go into the comments at Instapundit on a post where he links to me, you'll always find somebody there who really can't stand me… because I'm not right wing enough, basically. They don't get me.

So the tendency of righties to not get and to not like me is -- I suspect -- as great as the tendency of lefties to not get and to not like me. If only there were an Instapundit of the left that linked to me as much and sent as much traffic, the balance of opinion in these comments would be very different… and I would love that (and not just because I'd love more traffic!).

Bob R said...

"Evolution: 'You may have thought dinosaurs we’re fearsome before, but now I’ve given them a few upgrades.'
*out walks a chicken*" - Frank J.

Apologies to Nina, but we raised chickens when I was a kid. I'll always regard them as cockroaches with feathers - tasty cockroaches with feathers.

Gahrie said...

You've cited the worst thing about moderation, and I agree with you about that, but I'm weighing all the considerations, including a need to stop some people for whom "interplay" is a game of trying to drive everyone good out of here.

I seriously hope you are talking about Crack here.

Sadly, I doubt it.

rhhardin said...

because I'm not right wing enough, basically. They don't get me.

The idea tha women are as smart as they're going to get and men have to work around that isn't great as political commentary.

It's no wonder they pay women less.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

At my colleague Nina's blog, where comments must pass through moderation, anonymity isn't accepted, on the specified ground she only wants to hear from readers "if they feel they can stand behind their words."

At transparent (to me, anyway) rationalization.

In these days of the weaponization of government agencies, and irresponsible 'dog whistles' green-lighting everything up to and including violence against though 'enemies', it is, ironically, cowardly to require comments to identify themselves.

For 'commenters' to maintain at least some surface level anonymity ("locks just keep honest people out"), is NOT cowardice, but simple caution and prudence.

Jane the Actuary said...

I have my first crazy commenter at janetheactuary.blogspot.com now; he's quite determined to "make" me argue with him on immigration, and is quite upset that I'm not engaging with him. He's relatively harmless -- thinks that he can win an argument by throwing out as much jargon as possible, but that's about it -- but his determination to get a response from me strikes me as odd.

And I suppose that's the bigger question about blog comments: are we trying to persuade Ann, or fellow readers, or just wanting to "express ourselves" (in the way that if I don't vent about something in the paper I'll be bothered about it and won't be able to settle down to my day job).

(Of course, as often as not, these days I comment on a blog to try to drive traffic to my own blog, but before this summer, when Ann temporarily shut down comments and I responded by starting the blog I'd always meant to write myself, I spent an inordinate amount of time in her comments section anyway.)

EMD said...

I'm sure Dogging Meade will go over like gangbusters in the UK.

prairie wind said...

They always seem to be professors, in case you were thinking they must be quite dumb.

Haha! I see Bill has already commented on this. I wouldn't say professors are the stupidest people I've met but I would say that the assumption that professors are smart is pretty damned stupid.

John Lynch said...

I'm happy moderation is back. "Back and forth" in Althouse comments is almost always insults. It's overrated. There are plenty of places on the internet to insult people.

I've been reading and commenting on the blog for a fairly long time. There have been many interesting characters (Sir Archie is missed) but mostly it's political spam.

One game I play is to see how many comments it takes before Obama is mentioned. Even in completely non-political topics it happens pretty quickly.

Ann Althouse said...

@EMD Did you write that in the john?

Ann Althouse said...

@John Lynch … btw how can you endure such a name?!… back and forth is a way to get the comments numbers up, but it means that people who don't come in right away feel that their comments won't be seen or don't fit the style of the place. What good does that do? Often, it would overwhelm the work that I'd put into the front page post, framing some issue that I thought was new and could lead to interesting things and someone would take a cheap shot at an obvious topic (e.g., Obama) and the whole point of posting would be lost.

Ann Althouse said...

Some of these commenters saw my posts as just establishing a place for them to set up and display their presence and they expressed the belief that my traffic was in fact people coming to see them in the comments. Whether that was delusional or not, it isn't why I blog, and it's not the readership I'm hoping to reach.

Danno said...

"which got an Instalanche yesterday."

Is this like an avalanche?

Mr. D said...

I allow anonymous commenters on my blog, but with the caveat that I can delete anything I find offensive. Mostly the anonymous trolls are given the piñata treatment, anyway. And I get about 1% of the traffic you do. On a blog of this scope, anonymous commenters would be intolerable.

Patrick O said...

"(They always seem to be professors, in case you were thinking they must be quite dumb.)"

As a credentialed elite, thus embraced by this country as a leader, I think it's not an issue of smarts.

Absent-minded professors is a phrase someone shouldn't use because it's so overused. But it's true. Professors specialize their knowledge so can seem very dimwitted when outside that knowledge.

"It might be interesting to try to figure out -- mining these archives -- how righty commenters came to overwhelm the lefties here."

I think Althouse is a contrarian, and typically contraries the typical Madison, WI world, thus presenting as a righty on many issues. But it's not true.

Althouse, above all in my perspective, does not like to be put in a box or a tribe.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

"they expressed the belief that my traffic was in fact people coming to see them in the comments"

That's not precise. You had a very good group of commenters here. It was just as interesting and entertaining to hear what they had to say. Sometimes more so.

Fen said...

There was also the bonus feature - conservatives were actually allowed to argue with liberals without having their comments deleted. Most (if not all?) Lefty blogs delete conservative posts that are thread winners.

B said...

Fen said...That's not precise. You had a very good group of commenters here. It was just as interesting and entertaining to hear what they had to say.

Very true. A few of those old commenters still weigh in and there are a few new contributors. I miss a lot of those commenters who never or very seldom returned after last summer's shutdown. This joint is much further down my A-Blog list and still falling as a result. The latest license given Crack to hijack thread after thread with his racist/racialist ranting has me dropping threads that might have been interesting reads as soon as I see the first comment from him. I doubt I'm alone in doing that.

The brand is damaged. Evolution in action.

Patrick O said...

These " people coming to see them in the comments" were/are not necessarily the same group as these "very good group of commenters here."

Though, the former sometimes thought of themselves as the latter.

Sadly, offending the latter was the way of addressing the former.

Honestly, if Althouse did not have comments I likely would never have come back or stayed. No offense. Indeed, the complimenting the comments section is a comments to the host. It's a unique art itself to compel discussion among intelligent people with diverse backgrounds. It was always a delight to see a topic raised and an actual expert or more show up to sharpen the conversation.

Ann Althouse said...

"I miss a lot of those commenters who never or very seldom returned after last summer's shutdown."

Why miss people who didn't care enough about me to understand what the problem actually was for me — which was the absence of a working moderation function and a troll who was posting continually, many times a minute? It was completely impossible!

Patrick O said...

"Why miss people who didn't care enough about me to understand what the problem actually was for me"

Like a relationship, assuming what people think or now is difficult.

It wasn't processed well with people who otherwise had developed a community of sorts, with aftermath leading to more entrenched positions and insults to each other.

B said...

Ann Althouse said...Why miss people who didn't care enough about me to understand what the problem actually was for me — which was the absence of a working moderation function and a troll who was posting continually, many times a minute? It was completely impossible!

I understand the bolded portion and you should not assume the absentee commenters didn't also. What you don't seem to be open to is that the good faith commenters were as tired as you of the nonsense. The aggregation of reactions thread indicated that and I know I was.

Look. You have intelligent readers who are open to debate. But when they construct a thoughtful comment and then see some unmoderated jackass hijack the debate and any thoughtful counterpoint is submerged by into smarmy middle school they take their trade elsewhere. The unmoderated jackasses are still around.

Patrick O said...It wasn't processed well with people who otherwise had developed a community of sorts, with aftermath leading to more entrenched positions and insults to each other.

Better than I said it.

Professor, have you noticed that your accommodation of Crack's antics have effected things here adversely? I have. Why would I ever respond to anything he writes when his schtick is to call me a white racist and try to bait me into admitting that as a white racist I owe him recompense for his failures. And if a thread is overwhelmed by him, why would I continue to read it or after a while even acknowledge your initial post by opening a thread I know is one he will hijack.

EMD said...

@EMD Did you write that in the john?

No, in the loo, of course.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Frank sang it:

Some people get their kicks,
stomping on a dream.

My dream was open comments at Althouse but determined diseased minds can do shitty things.

I never understood why people, besides the eponymous host, took everything so personally. If it's your blog with your name, damn right you should take it personally.

Otherwise folks shoulda simmered down a bit. Maybe just listened to the soundtrack from Barry Lyndon with a glass of wine and gone to Protein Wisdom and Ace of Spades for a few weeks.

And I used to love the fights. Epic battles of Bitch tits this and She-Devil that and whatnot.

Sure made me laugh to beat the band, like Crack.

Finally, betamax makes me cry. Why does he have so much talent and I have so little? I suggest beta must send each other commenter two or three jokes per week they can use as their own to help encourage social acceptance and well-being for all, not just the funny one.

nina said...

My feelings about chickens are... evolving.

Smilin' Jack said...

Why miss people who didn't care enough about me to understand what the problem actually was for me — which was the absence of a working moderation function and a troll who was posting continually, many times a minute? It was completely impossible!

The terrorists have won.