Boing Boing's Moderation Policy (Archived)

Our moderation policy was revised in October 2009. Read the new version. This version is deprecated.
Q. Why does Boing Boing have to have a moderator?

A. First answer: Because every general-interest online forum that's worth reading has some kind of moderation system in force.

Second answer: Because four years ago, Boing Boing's first, unmoderated comment system went so septic that it had to be shut down. The Boingers want to never go through that again.

Third answer: Because Boing Boing gets enough traffic to attract non-automated scams.

Q. All the vowels have disappeared from a paragraph I wrote! What's going on?

A. We did it. Someone (a moderator, one of the Boingers) was expressing displeasure at your remarks. The technique is called disemvowelling. It deprecates but does not delete the remark. With work, the disemvowelled text should still be readable.

Q. You disemvowelled a very polite comment of mine that happened to mention a current presidential candidate. That means you're biased against that candidate, right?

A. Wrong. It means you shouldn't throw in mentions of presidential candidates unless they're mentioned in the main entry or are highly relevant to it. This rule will apply until the next president is elected.

Q. Something has happened to the link back to my website that I put at the bottom of my comment.

A. There's an answer to this problem: please don't put links in your comments that aren't relevant to the entry. We'll just have to remove them. Instead, put a link to your site in your user profile.

Q. My link-free .sig lines keep disappearing too.

A. We aren't big on .sig lines either, though they're a lesser offense. Rationale: first, your name is already there in your message header. Repeating it a few lines later is redundant.

Second, .sig lines eat up vertical space to no good purpose. The more messages you can see at one time, the easier it is to understand how they relate to each other. Pointlessly using up vertical space reduces the number of messages per screen without conveying any benefit in return.

If your .sig lines keep disappearing, it's because the moderators are removing them. Please take the hint and stop using them, because deleting them is bleeping tedious.

Q. Are you changing people's comments in any other ways?

A. Not really. We'll occasionally fix HTML errors or zap duplicate comments, if we feel like doing it and have the time. Once in a while we'll remove excess line returns in order to conserve vertical space.

Q. There's an old comment of mine I want you to delete.

A. Drop us a note, if it's really important; but the default answer is "no."

Q. One of my comments has disappeared!

A. There are several possibilities. One is that we may be having technical problems. It never hurts to write and ask. Another possibility is that someone thought your comment would be better gone.

Q. I can't believe that Boing Boing, of all places, would be using censorship. What happened to freedom of speech?

A. Boing Boing is steadfast in its support of your freedom of speech. We believe that you, O Reader, should be able to have (or refuse to have) anything you want on your own website, as long as it doesn't deprive others of their rights. Yay, freedom of speech!

By that same token, freedom of speech also means that the people who write and edit Boing Boing have the right to have (or refuse to have) anything they want on their own website. If one of the things they don't want is a comment that you have posted, they aren't depriving you of your freedom of speech. You're free to put that comment up on your own webpage.

Q. Why can't you just tell everyone to ignore the trolls?

A. Because they can't. Everyone automatically reads the text that's there. If it's nasty or unpleasant, they get a dose of that. If there's too much of it, they stop participating. There's far more internet discourse lost to trollage and casual rudeness than is ever lost to moderators.

Q. Isn't the moderator just enforcing compliance with her own political views?

A. Not at all. You couldn't reconstruct her personal views from a list of the times she's intervened in a discussion. The time she invented disemvowelling, it was so she could deal with a flaming leftist.

Q. Isn't the moderator just enforcing compliance with the Boing Boing party line?

A. There is no Boing Boing party line. The Boingers have varied political opinions.

Q. What's with all the [steampunk, outsider art, papercraft, other Boing Boing obsessions]?

A. One or more of the Boingers likes it.

Q. Aiiiiiiieeeeeeeeee! Boing Boing has advertising! Doesn't that mean you've become hopelessly corrupt?

A. You mean, unduly influenced by whatever advertisers are the source of the site's revenue? Don't worry about it. Boing Boing's editorial content is unaffected by its ads.

Q. But--but--those people are giving them money! How can they not be affected?

A. (The moderator speaks solo: "In order for the Boingers to be unduly influenced by who advertises on their site, they'd first have to reliably remember who those advertisers are. Trust me: this is not an issue.")

Q. But you take ads from Microsoft!!! Aren't they the root of all evil?

A. This is rank Manichaeanism. Go lie down with a cool wet cloth on your forehead until you feel better.

Q. The moderator disemvowelled one of my comments, supposedly because I had violated some rule of debate. Doesn't that just mean she doesn't agree with me?

A. No. Online discussions are not formal debates, but the usual rules for what constitutes valid argument and legitimate rebuttal, and who's responsible for proving what, still apply. They are independent of content.

Q. I thought I was being reasonably polite when I got into an argument with Bonzo, but two of my comments got removed entirely, and he just had a couple of paragraphs disemvowelled. Why me? Why not him?

A. There are many possibilities. The biggest one is that you were insufficiently polite. In the heat of an argument, your own remarks are going to seem more justifiable, and Bonzo's arguments are going to seem shabbier and more malicious. This temporary distortion is best addressed by being more polite than you think should be necessary.

Another possibility is that Bonzo has an established history of posting clear, well-informed, apposite, and entertaining comments, whereas you're posting for the first time. Or you're posting for the third time, but the first two times you did it, you posted snarky and unilluminating remarks. Or Bonzo posts under his real name,* but you don't. Under those circumstances, Bonzo is going to have more credibility with the moderators and editors.

Life is an unending series of auditions. Get used to it.

A possible explanation that's guaranteed to be wrong: we're not going to delete or disemvowel your comments because we simply can't deal with the vast swoop and majesty of your hard-hitting opinions. If we tell you it was due to your behavior, believe us.

Q. One of the people in our comment thread is behaving abominably. Does Boing Boing flame trolls, or just ignore them?

A. Neither. See the little one-eyed icon in the top right-hand corner of messages? That's the lookitthat button. Clicking on it tells the moderator that she should come look at that particular message. Be sure to explain what it was about the message that prompted your action. If you include your name, you may get a thank-you note. You can also use the lookitthat button to point out comments you think are particularly good.

Please don't use the lookitthat button to post comments. The moderator's the only one who'll see them.

Q. It's obvious that you won't tolerate anything but supportive comments from brown-nosers and yes-men--right?

A. I'll venture a guess that you responded to a new entry on Boing Boing by announcing that it was hopelessly lame and boring, and then came back later to discover that your comment had disappeared.

Q. Yes! Why did you remove it?

A. This is another one of those questions that has multiple answers.

First: you didn't explain why it bored you. Without an explanation, announcing that you're bored is neither useful or entertaining. Also, it's a real bringdown for readers who lack confidence in their own opinions.

Second: because frequently the "I'm so bored" thing is just attitudinizing. There's a whole big internet out there, and it's full of people who, if they don't like what they're currently reading, move on and read something else. They don't post about how bored they are just to have something to say.

Third: maybe that entry just isn't your thing. It could be someone else's. Why drag down their conversation?

Q. So we're not allowed to say something's boring?

A. Of course you're allowed. You just have to explain why.

Q. How come the moderator nailed me for a comment that didn't contain any swearing or personal attacks?

A. It's remarkable how many people believe that "you're good as long as you don't swear or launch personal attacks" is a universal rule. We'll actually tolerate both those things -- but only if you do them perfectly. Few people can manage that, so it's best not to try.

Note that there are three words you can't say on Boing Boing. I'd rather you followed that link and read the full explanation, but if you just want the rule, it goes like this:

ROT13 is a simple method for encoding text to make it unreadable. This is a ROT13 conversion utility. Use it to read what I'm about to say. The three words you can't say on Boing Boing are avttre, snttbg, and phag.

There are only two exceptions to the rule. First exception: you can use one of those words if you're a Boinger. It's their weblog. Second exception: you may use one of those words if you're quoting something genuinely worth quoting that needs to be said, and that's also appropriate to the thread.

If you go out of your way to find occasions to do that, we'll notice.

The rule on other crude language and obscenities is that they're only permitted if you can use them as well as Joel Johnson does.

Q. What's likely to land me in your bad graces?

A. Since you've asked, here's a nowhere-near-exhaustive list:

1. Spamming. Linkwhoring. Re-posting text you've already posted on a dozen other sites.

2. Making supercilious and unpleasant remarks in a civil liberties thread about how the victim had it coming. This is not to say that victims never have it coming; but there's a species of internet demi-troll that appears to specialize in posting such comments. Try not to look like you're one of them.

3. Making snide comments and insinuations about the editors. That's right out. You don't like one of the editors? Take it up with them in e-mail. If you're going to comment on an entry, talk about the entry.

4. Being nasty to no purpose. (This is the catch-all.)

5. Using unnecessarily exciting language. Making an argument is fine. Making your argument in language guaranteed to make your hearers see red? Bad idea. It practically guarantees that you're going to have a dumb (and therefore boring) argument. And if the argument's not going to be interesting, we don't see the point.

6. Jeering, sneering, condescending, or one-upping when there's been no provocation. Telling people they're naive idiots for caring about whatever-it-is. Like the "I'm bored" pose, it's empty attitudinizing, and it's remarkably unpleasant.

7. Failing to notice that there are other people in the conversation. Posting a remark that's already been made five times and answered six. Coming back and re-posting essentially the same material after a twenty-message thread has discussed your previous comment. Trying to forcibly wrench the conversation onto one of your own pet topics. Posting a stale, canned rant you've posted a dozen times before at other sites. Not coming back to see how others have responded to you.

Why post comments at all, unless you expect to be read? And if you expect to be read, you must know you're part of a conversation. Therefore, you should act like it. Engage with what the other commenters are saying. Read the thread before you add to it.

8. Posting a snotty but otherwise worthless anonymous comment. It's a lot easier to get away with snotty comments if you're a registered user.

9. Dragging in one of those topics that's guaranteed to generate a huge thrash that goes nowhere, like gun control, abortion, or Mac vs. PC vs. Linux. You're only allowed to discuss those if (a.) they're relevant to the entry; and (b.) everyone in the discussion is doing their level best to say something new.

10. This list will undoubtedly get longer.

Q. It's not fair! You've misunderstood me and disemvowelled or removed me because you mis-read what I posted. Can't we talk about this?

A. Sure. If one of your comments is disemvowelled or removed from its thread, you're welcome to write to the moderator.

Q. I can't register or post a comment. Does this mean I've been banned?

A. If you didn't get into some kind of fracas, it's highly unlikely that you've been banned. It's moderately unlikely even if you did. We're probably just having technical problems again. Drop us a note describing what happened.

Q. I was told my comment posting privileges were suspended for a week, but they never came back on. Am I permanently banned?

A. Probably not. If you were given a specific period and it's expired, drop us a note.

Q. What happens if I re-register and come back under another name while I'm suspended?

A. If we catch you, all the comments made by that false identity will be unpublished, and your suspension period will be re-started from the point at which the false identity was caught. It's okay to change your username when you aren't suspended, though we'll look askance at you if you do it too often.

Q. Is it okay for me to have more than one userid at a time?

A. No.

Q. What happens if I use someone else's userid?

A. You mean you use their identity without their say-so in Boing Boing's forums? We throw the book at you.

UPDATES:

08 May 2008:

There's a new rule about not mentioning presidential candidates unless the main entry mentions them first. That rule will remain in effect until the next president is elected.

08 May 2008:

We believe in community-based moderation. In theory, anyone can momentarily act as a moderator, as long as their action is warranted and they get it right.

However, Boing Boing also has Assistant Moderators. It's like having a deputy sheriff's badge. Currently, the Assistant Moderators are AVRAM, as in Avram Grumer, and ANTINOUS.

So now you know. If one of them should suggest an alteration in your behavior, or ask what you're hoping to accomplish with your current behavior, you'll no longer need to ask who the bleep they think they are. You'll know who they are: they're the Assistant Moderators.

14 May 2008: The rule on obscene language has been modified. Crude language and obscenities are now permitted only if you can use them as well as Joel Johnson does.

24 June 2008: Added to the list of circumstances that can increase a commenter's credibility: using one's real name.

Also added an explanation of the local prejudice against .sig lines and excess line returns.

20 November 2008: Rewrote the section about Words You Can't Use on Boing Boing to make it clearer and more specific. Redirected the explanatory link in it to a longer and more coherent explanation of the reason for the rule.

15 January 2009: Takuan, Xopher and arkizzle are Adjunct Moderators. Please see the May 8, 2008 update above regarding moderators.

Our moderation policy was revised in October 2009. Read the new version. This version is deprecated.

1,748

  1. Please disemvowel this message. I just want to see what it would look like and I’m too lazy to do it on my own.*

    Thank you.

    *joking…but not really

    Pls dsmvwl ths mssg. jst wnt t s wht t wld lk lk nd ‘m t lzy t d t n my wn.*

    Thnk y.

    *jkng…bt nt rlly

  2. Absolutely brilliant. I run a listserv where I could use exactly this sort of policy. Am I correct that this is covered by BoingBoing’s CC-BY-NC license?

  3. The disemvowel system emasculates a post, in a way. Its sort of appropriate for the overly macho type troll to see his effort robbed of its potency.

  4. I just want to know how I can make an acceptable personal attack. I’m really not sure how I could pull that off.

    I have less trouble understanding how I could use an expletive appropriately. In fact, since I was in the US Navy AND a construction worker during my life, I’d say I’m about as expert at swearing as you get. After all they don’t say “swear like a sailor” or “crude as a construction worker” for nothing.

    (though I’ll admit that since becoming a civvie I’m not really comfortable with making “Fuck” every other word in a sentence, these days I try to keep it down to 1 in 5, maybe 1 in 6. *LOL*)

    -abs

  5. Teresa, forgive if this is an ignorant question. You mention that one should email with questions protests, etc. I’ve looked, but I just don’t see how to do it?

  6. Summary:

    Q: Reasonable question?

    A Snide answer.

    Q: Other reasonable question?

    A: Unpleasant, jaded answer.

    Q: Kinda snotty question?

    A: Withering, unhelpful answer.

  7. gonna run with this; from now on, if someone starts speaking Jerk at me, I’ll reply in Dsmvwll and refuse to acknowledge them until they use it too.

    (Hee hee! Teresa’s gonna feel like a den-mother with fifty Ritalin-dependent brats to tend!)

  8. Ah! Just the other day I read about a team of doctors at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center who had to remove six of a comment’s vowels and refridgerate them to remove the cancerous intent of the poster. After the flame war died down, they re-inserted and attached the vowels.

    In total, the vowels were outside her post for about 90 minutes.

  9. disemvowelling is awesome. I look forward to seeing it in action as I had not heard of it before.

  10. It seems like a better solution to the comment moderation/censorship thing would be to have two views of the comments. The default view is the moderated view and then the second selectable view is the unmoderated view. This would allow people to choose for themselves if they wanted to deal with the trolls.

  11. First — thanks very much for taking the time to make this post, Teresa. It’s great to have some light shed.

    Now, I have a suggestion or two that could make the BoingBoing discussion experience a bit smoother. These are really minor changes, but I think they’ll help:

    1. Could we have the “Recent comments” view on the profile pages sorted most recent first? It’s a drag to have to scroll down to the bottom when catching up with recent discussions, not to mention having to see one’s first-ever comment displayed with permanent prominence.

    2. Along those lines, how about a way to indicate which post we’re replying to? I’m not asking for a full threading system, just a “Reply to this” link that prepends a link back to the comment being replied to. This could even be used to trigger an email notification so that (at our option) we could be informed of replies to our own comments. A lot to ask, I know.

    3. This is just a bug report, really, but the Favorite feature seems broken. It used to work, but now nothing I favorite ever gets added to the list on my profile page.

    Thanks again.

  12. absimiliard said “I just want to know how I can make an acceptable personal attack. I’m really not sure how I could pull that off.”

    Well, of course you do, you dim-witted ninny. If you weren’t such a jerk, you could pull this off. Remove you cranium from your posterior and see if that helps.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist :P

  13. A. (The moderator speaks solo: “In order for the Boingers to be unduly influenced by who advertises on their site, they’d first have to reliably remember who those advertisers are. Trust me: this is not an issue.”)

    Hahahahah!

  14. re: #18 Dan’s bug report – the same has happened to me. I really miss being able to use the favorites feature. It hasn’t worked for me for a couple months now.

  15. #12 — I was more or less thinking the same thing. I’m glad it’s not just me.

    It would be interesting to see if it would be possible to have a rude comment made EVEN RUDER by having it disemvowelled. That would take some dedication (or an Enigma machine) to pull off.

  16. *laughs*

    Damn Harrkev. Totally PWNED me.

    Thos’re some l33t flaming skillz!

    I don’t think I’m up to playing in such skilled company. Guess I’ll just have to stick to swearing.

    Ooops, let me correct that sentence.

    Sht, gss ‘ll jst hve t fckng stck t fcked-p swrng.

    (boy, I am out of practice, 20 years ago that would’ve just rolled off my tongue, AND it would’ve parsed more naturally as well too, AND I wouldn’t have felt compelled to disemvowell it as well. Hrmmphhhh. I hate getting old, and civilized.)

    -abs

  17. #21

    LOL. The good lord of computers saw fit not to bless me with working h g or ‘ keys. I feel a bit guilty whenever I post. Any chance of an automatic contraction maker function?

  18. The time she invented disemvowelling, it was so she could deal with a flaming leftist.

    Did the mod really invent this?

  19. Making your argument in language guaranteed to make your hearers see red?

    Readers ?

    10. This list will undoubtedly get longer.

    This EULA is the Stephen King book the internet. It’s way too long already. Do you really think people will read this, say, more than the would the Microsoft EULA ? I doubt it very much.

    Why not just do what you want? People will call you a fscst sshl either way.

    It seems to me like the “don’t be rude” is a bit of overkill. What do you expect? This is the internet. It’s inherently dehumanizing. Well, at least more so than it is humanizing.

  20. This extremely defensive and poorly written “policy” stands as proof of the poor quality of moderation at Boing Boing.

    I have run several large message boards going back to BBS days, with many, many hot button topics. The quality of moderation on this site is extremely poor. Miss Hayden is a moderator who clearly lets her own emotions and opinions get in the way of even-handed moderation, which is a shame because there could really be some good discussion here.

    Basically she makes very little distinction between a valid opinion and abuse. In my case, I have had two comments disemvowelled for no other reason than the moderator disagrees with the opinions expressed (one was about Kosovo and the other about the baby who died in TSA care — see my profile). They were not abusive in any way. When I asked the moderator about the deletion of I was given a bogus response, saying that my research was bad. Even if that was the case, which it wasn’t, do we all have to have perfect research before we express an opinion? The purpose of discussion is to exchange opinion and facts with other users, with as little interference from authority as possible.

    I wrote a letter to Mr Doctorow expressing my surprise that someone who is such an advocate of freedom of speech should allow the suppression of opinion on his own forum. No response so far.

    I also think disemvowelling is a very poor way to treat people. Howevermuch Miss Hayden think it is clever, it’s simply annoying to make readers work so hard to read a comment. It took me over 15 minutes to re-emvowell one of my own short comments and I knew what it was about. It is also pain insulting to those who have taken the time to comment and who are left asking themeslves ‘WTF is going on with my post?’

    Disemvowelling is not any kind of invention that you should be proud of. Be polite to your contributors. If you don’t like the comment, simply dont publish their message and send them a mail asking them to resubmit it. Almost all will do so.

    In addition, the moderator should not be allowed to comment on the topic of the discussions, as is currently done. The moderator’s voice is very powerful and can easily distort the discussion.

    Frankly, due to the poor moderation policy I have not felt like commenting on Boing Boing recently, and my opinion of the site has been lessened somewhat. I wonder how many other people have been disheartened also?

  21. Clicking on “Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator” above gives me Error Unknown user ?! I’m sure more credit is due.

  22. Such long moderator policy makes you remember the days when there were no comment system in BoingBoing.

    When BB launches commenting earlier this year, I had high hopes that this blog will turn from a one-way medium into a two-way medium that allows fellow readers to interact with the bloggers on the issues they posted.

    It turns out that the bloggers rarely replies on the comments section, which makes this system pretty similar to the ones we have in other big blogs: An arena for those who like to argue and release their resentment. It is pretty apparent when there are blog posts on sensitive issues. You find comment warlords in every blog site and forum, and this is no different.

    On the other hand, I love the Favorites system that you had implemented. Since human beings (these days) are very bad at complimenting the *wonderful* things, but very good at criticizing the things that make you wonder, the Favorites system at least shows that there is still love in humanity, supplementing the sad fact that most human beings lack the vocabulary to express their excitement and enthusiasm.

  23. It’s a disorganized and rambling hybrid of an actual moderation policy and an editorial stylebook. You can easily find lots of moderation policies online – google “comment moderation policy.” Moderating using standard practices is hard work but it’s not rocket science. Here (and in the “moderator’s” other blog) we have the consonant trick, the thing with ‘sock puppets’ and identity guessing games, the mid-thread smackdown anthology posts, one-line microsnarks at posts and posters, etc. Nothing will change because BB is what it is, and fortunately

  24. I love BoingBoing, but I don’t always think Teresa (or any one of the Boingers) is right, or agree with how rude or dismissive she appears to be in text when answering some questions. Does that mean she is actually being rude or dismissive? I don’t know. It could just be my interpretation. I rarely post comments, and when I did once where she responded to me in another comment, I was a little disppointed by what she said, but I didn’t find it to be offensive.

    Regardless of my own experiences, this is their site and they’re free to respond, remove stuff, and edit at their own discretion. When you write in to the OpEd section of a newspaper, it’s the same thing. Sometimes the exercising of one’s freedom isn’t totally beautiful and utopian, it’s kind of unfair to another. But that’s okay because we are free to do the same on our own turf, and are always free to particpate on their turf by their rules, to break their rules and deal with the consequences, or to simply choose not to participate. They don’t have to be fair to everyone all the time: this isn’t government, this is a website.

    And maybe I’m naive, but I do think it would make an awesome statement if BoingBoing didn’t take money from companies like Microsoft and refused to run their ads. Though I don’t blame them for doing it because things are rarely black and white and I don’t pretend to know anything about their particular advertising situation. For instance, it’s highly likely that they long ago hired a company (Federated Media?) whose job it is to sell and place ads on BoingBoing, and the Boingers themselves are not at all knowledgable or responsible for the content of the ads.

  25. Longest post ever! Teresa Nielsen Hayden, is this really necessary? On the better message boards I frequent, the moderator is seldom heard from. When there is a problem, they post a quick two-sentence explanation and disaapear for another month or so. Your moderation style is a bit too vocal and I really don’t like your style. You try to be a group leader rather than a moderator. You participate when you should moderate. And you were at the center of the Hampster/Windows Mobile debacle which was handled about as horribly as anything I’ve seen on any message board evah.

    Now your commentary is spilling over to the front page where it is hard to ignore. Never in the history of all the Internets have I ever seen anyone take front page space to post a massive moderation policy. Me thinks you should just get your own website.

  26. It’s more like a disorganized and rambling hybrid of an actual moderation policy and an editorial stylebook. You can easily find lots of moderation policies online – google “comment moderation policy.” Moderating using standard practices is hard work but it’s not rocket science. Here (and in the “moderator’s” other blog) we have the consonant trick, the thing with “sock puppets” and identity guessing games, the mid-thread smackdown anthology posts, one-line microsnarks at posts and posters, etc. Nothing will change because BB is what it is, and indeed when the “moderator” is too busy to get involved, BB still has good threads. But I would think twice about importing this mess to another forum.

  27. For anyone who wonders what the minimal standard among the community for “acceptable swearing and personal abuse” happens to be, please refer to the timeless canonical classic on the subject,’Insult Scene from “Roxanne” by Martin and Hannah’.

    If you cannot meet the minimum level of self-deprecation and originality – as well as wit – set by that milestone, please consider not engaging in either personal abuse or swearing.

    Thank You.

    (paraphrased from my policy statement on my WWIV-BBS, circa 1991).

  28. Y fckrs thnk y’r s wsm, wll y’r nt. m N mth fckn mdrtr s gng t tll m wht t d, ‘ll jst pst nd pst ntl y sshls gt t thgh yr thck sklls tht m wrd s th grtst mssvs y’v vr rd, nd vr wll rd!

    Pre-emptive devoweling.

    Frankly, I think a threaded discussion, and some sort of alert to when someone is replying to me would be more helpful than someone ‘saving’ me from trolls, swearing, or the like.

    Whatever works, I guess. I had to disable comments on my own blog because of spam – after that, I’d love some good ‘ol trolls.

  29. Anyway to indicate that a post has been disemvowelled as opposed to one that a person having a hard time with spelling?

  30. Howevermuch Miss Hayden think it is clever, it’s simply annoying to make readers work so hard to read a comment.

    To quote someone else: “Not everything in the world needs to be clever”

    Could you just use the common methods the rest of the world does? (delete, filter, edit, etc.)

    Sometimes there’s a reason people use time tested methods.

    Quite frankly a disemvowelled post just clutters things up. Please either delete the comment outright or leave a “deleted comment stub”

    Yes it’s a cute little name and idea, but functionally you’re spilling cat litter on the floor as you empty the litterbox.

  31. In theory it sounds like a good approach.
    In practice I’ve seen it applied unevenly with a heavy hand.

    BTW Speech is either FREE or MODERATED you can’t have it both ways.

    Really, a simple, “‘Cause I said so!” would suffice.

    It’s your toy, you get to say who plays with it.

    No problem!

    I would do the same and in the long run, I doubt anyone could do better than you are doing here .

    Keep it goin’ on!

    We all support BOING BOING.

    ###

  32. Anyone else see…

    Also, it’s a real bringdown for readers who lack confidence in their own opinions.

    and read boingdown?

    All of this disemvowelling is giving me consonant dissonance.

  33. WOAH – reformat this post! I thought I’d bookmarked an FAQ page and my links were screwed up, or I’d hit an errant link by mistake. Not very home-pagey.

  34. Disemvoweling..
    In college for a C programming class they had us build one of those. At the time I was working at a tax software company and I had the Text of the entire State of California Tax Code that I was working on for the Tax Software.

    I disemvoweled the entire Cal State Tax code in less then 5 seconds if memory serves.

    good times Good Times

  35. So in summation, you’re saying:

    “This is our house, to which we graciously offer you entrance and allow you to discuss topics which interest us. However, if you start smearing shit (which is a subjective term, and may be arbitrarily defined any number of ways at any given time by us) on the walls, we reserve the right to politely exclude you.”

    While it would be impossible to deny your right to do this (nor would any reasonable person want to), and I agree that this in no way infringes on freedom of speech, It definitely lends credence to the idea that those in charge at boingboing have chosen to associate themselves (by dint of their behavior and overall disposition) with such insufferable persons as cranky librarians, PTA parents, and members of the high school debate team.

    Perhaps you appreciate the comparison.

    That being said, I still love you guys (much as I love libraries and debate), warts and all. :)

  36. #28: I’m with you. Being a moderator myself, I had gone through the stages of being a bad mod as well. I know how a moderator commenting on a topic can easily distort a discussion, when a mod is known to abuse his power.

    When moderating comments, warnings and reasons should be given before taking any actions. I agree that it is extremely rude to ‘disemvowel’ one’s comment, especially the reader did take the time to read and reply.

    There is a distinction between one attacking another person, and one responding critically to another person’s comment. Notice the difference: One deals with the person, while the other deals with the topic. The former is trolling, while the latter is a discussion. The moderation here does not seem to be able to differentiate between the two, and quite very often blatant attacks towards other users are ignored.

    I have nothing against Miss Hayden herself, I am only commenting on the state of moderation in this blog. Please do not misunderstand.

  37. I like the summary of Hayden’s post. Brilliant. I don’t know, I’m personally a fan of fark and once was a fan of slashdot, until I got tired of hearing about technology and microsoft vs. linux.

    The ability to have user feedback on comments (slashdot) and voting on posts in general (fark) seems to be a good self-moderating approach.

    I think many here have the impression that Hayden is being personal, albeit arbitrarily so (as expressed in her own discourse that you won’t be able to find a pattern of her beliefs with the moderation).

    I also like the suggestion that defaults to the disemvowelling, if that must remain the method, but allows anyone else to see the full text.

    And I agree that it’d be more fun if the bloggers themselves responded more often. Perhaps they are too busy disremembering who their advertisers are. Lol.

  38. @28
    I remember the first board I modded on was on the old TinyFugue system, running off the server at Georgia Tech. That server was later bought by MindSpring, who then became Earthlink.

    I know they still have Itchy and Scratchy (I used to ATDT via those servers), but I can’t remember the name of what used to be the GT server. Since those days, I’ve modded a little here and there, so I think I have some experience at this, as you do.

    All I can tell you is, if you don’t like the message board feature of this website, you don’t have to interact with it. Telling everybody else they’re wrong because they don’t do things your way can make you seem very controlling. Tattling to Cory Doctorow, as you said you did, also isn’t very becoming. You aren’t the moderator here, so it may make you happier to stop trying to fill that role.

    Don’t get me wrong – I like the idea of talking to other old hands on the net. I’m just saying if it bothers you that much, avoid it. It’s just a website.

  39. How about boingboing goes back to no comments at all ?

    Bcs dn’t wnt t b n yr pth whn y strt bldng t f yr vgns nd g crzy !

  40. Comments complaining about how boring the post is are nearly always, themselves, boring. In order to keep these self-referential comments from bootstrapping themselves into computerized sapience and spreading their boringness throughout the Known Net, they have to be deleted.

  41. Kaiser: judging by some of the comments in here, apparently it IS necesary.

    I’ve found the moderation to be more than reasonable. I really think it can be summed up as “don’t be a troll, don’t be a jerk, don’t spam and don’t threadjack.” Those are really pretty simple principles to follow. I suspect most of the people who get up in arms about moderation here fall into trollish category.

    As an aside, most popular blogs out there don’t have a large amount of give and take between the readership and the writers (in the comments anyway). The editors pop in to respond to the occasional statement, but they don’t really have time to hang out in there and read every response.

    After all they’re busy doing the research/what have you :)

  42. now that i see the rigor involved in deciding which comments will be posted and remain posted; to see that my singular comment from months ago still lingers on (horse mask dancing man – who could resist?) I’M SO PROUD! Thanks for being SO COOL in doin’ what ya do! seriously – yay. (and yes, i actually went back and looked):

  43. What happened? I check BB twice, if not more per day …what did I miss? In other words, was this post neccessary, I mean, couldn’t you just post a link to a eula or something? Sounds so unfriendly…. There’s nothing wrong with how you want to manage your site, that’s OK with me, but did we deserve a reminder of this kind on the frontpage? Are you being sued and you don’t want to talk about it or what?

  44. disemvowelling seems like a fun and indirect way for the Moderator to “injure” the commenter, while adding no productivity or clarity to anything.

    Pull the comment and have them repost. Don’t waste people’s time.

    cool invention though, for about 15 seconds …

  45. The moderation at BoingBoing has always struck me as excellent. Lively, sometimes contentious discussion happens without devolving into constant flame-fests. But long detailed policies seem pointless to me. Who’s going to refer back to this in the heat of composing a flame? This reads as mostly Teresa giving in to an understandable need to vent a bit. I’d go with:

    1. Don’t be a jerk. It’s the moderators job to decide if you are being a jerk. If you think she or the editors are being jerks, tell them about it somewhere else.
    2. Nothing is as boring as being told how boring something is.

    And yes, I realize I’m saying this post was too boring except for the part about not saying posts are too boring.

    Anyway, keep up the good work.

  46. Thank you for this. I hope that it gets either favorited or something. This long and thoughtout policy is the reason that I continue to enjoy boing boing content.

    Keep it up.

    I love you moderatrix.

  47. I’m upset that this site that I look at at least once a day has content that I’m not 100% interested in. Sometimes I see things that offend me, or I just think are stupid. And when I comment, I can’t say what I wish because site owners might delete me.

    I want a refund! WAAAH!!!

  48. Hy md, ll prddng sd. f y wnt t lk t lrg cmmnty tht sms t fstr smwht ntllgnt rspctfl dscssns, ‘d sggst gng vr t Mtfltr nd tkng lk t hw thy hndl thngs.

  49. Notice you never see Teresa Nielsen Hayden and #63 Psyco Path in the same place at the same time ??? hhmmmmmm…

  50. Glad to see this posted! I haven’t been paying too much attention to comments lately, but when you first allowed them I do remember feeling that the ground rules needed to be a bit more explicit.

    Something else I think you should consider is having dedicated user accounts for moderation. Ah, but I bet you think you already do! Nope, sometimes the moderators are simply participating in the discussion thread… I think that’s a bad policy because it blurs the line of when they’re just stating an opinion and when they’re laying down the law.

    Ideally, I think moderators should simply moderate and leave the discussion to the groundlings. But at the very least, I think have two accounts for the moderators (one for taking part in the discussion, one for moderation) would be a good idea.

  51. #47: Yes, you would think that the site would advocate or experiment on some innovative ways of moderation, since the blog posts are so radical about politics and government. But in the end, when it comes to reality, the site is run traditionally with ads and moderation.

    I don’t mind the ads, though it does feel a little hypocritical, as soon as it keeps the site alive, I’m happy.

    #61: LOL. Yes. It reminds you that you can be reported!!

    * * * * *

    This thread is an interesting moment in Boing Boing history, because it puts Cory and company to the test, where they are the presidents of this micro-government.

    It would be interesting to see if this issue will be ignored or resolved, as that pretty much draws the line between idealistic scholars and pragmatic politicians.

  52. Hey and while I’m at it, how about letting us post IMAGES in the comments section as well, ala FARK? I think the type of creative mind that one finds in here would be ripe for visuals.

  53. #68: what’s to be resolved? I don’t think basically “don’t act like a jerk/idiot” is an unreasonable policy (and really that’s what it all comes down to.

  54. “disemvowel”. LOVE IT! Never heard that phrase.

    If you’re dealing with young trolls, you could also use ROT 13, it would confuse everyone under 35, anyone who was never on USNET.

    Michael W. Dean

  55. @66

    Why in the world would any right minded person want to visit ohio…

    Though if you want to fly me out to meet the BB crew I certainly wouldn’t argue.

  56. Teresa, maybe you could put a link to this moderation policy (with or without comments thread) at the top of the Boing Boing page.

    Or, as some mailing lists do, post it periodically, once a month or so.

  57. Why does this EULA make me pity the mod? Probably because she’s working in an environment that forces her to be this nitpicky. I do not envy.

  58. #69 considering the amount of absolutely stupid idiotic crap that goes on in fark threads, I’m not sure that’s a good road to go down. :p

    /saying this as a long-time Farker

  59. This isn’t moderation, this is about as heavy handed as it gets. A post this long, smack bang on the front page, full of personal rhetoric is not moderation.

    The link we click to get here is labelled “Discuss” which is usually an invitation to voice opinions, but, as stated here so many times before, they’re not even really interested in that either.

    This is similar to the spoiled kid at the party taking toys away from his guests.

  60. #70: You might agree with the whole policy, but quite a few of the comments here indicates the otherwise, and those feedbacks either need to be resolved, or simply ignored. Either way, it’s a position for the admins to take.

  61. The EULA prompted me to join after years of reading daily (and ignoring the comments when they were introduced, because I’ve learned to ignore unmoderated comments–they’re often too vile and ignorant). Funny, forthright, and useful.

  62. I guess I don’t “get” what’s to disagree with, I suppose. What? You WANT to be able to log on with someone else’s account? You WANT to be able to spew profanities and vitriolic comments? what is it?
    Heh.

    (just providing examples btw, dont take offense).

  63. Thanks for a good policy Teresa. I hope you are well compensated for all the shit from idiots.

  64. I have to ditto the comments about the Favourites page being broken; mine hasn’t been updated since November, though the tag on the post will change.

    As to the comparison with EULAs, this is more entertainingly written than most EULAs I’ve attempted to read.

  65. Q. Is this really a “Moderation Policy”?
    A. No, it’s more of an FAQ!

    Q. Why did this need to appear on the front page?
    A. I have no idea, but it really seems like Teresa is trying to justify her often over-zealous moderation…

    PS. I hv nvr bn hrshly mdrtd, bt hv bn arnd lng engh t s Trs tk hr frstrtns n thrs. Gss thr s frst tm fr vrythng!

  66. I haven’t been here long enough to comment on whether I find the moderators reasonable or not, but I definitely agree with the people who say disemvoweling is pointless. It only takes up space and frustrates anyone curious enough to read it- i.e. anyone who didn’t see the comment before it got modded. Does it exist purely for the clever play on words? It would be nice if there were at least an option to view it normally by clicking somewhere.

    I understand and appreciate the moderators’ desire to shield us from trollish comments, but I’d like the option to see the full discussion and judge for myself whether the comment was worthless, even if the mods are right 99% of the time. If that’s not going to be an option, wouldn’t it be better to just get rid of the comment entirely, rather than leaving its ugly carcass?

  67. #!/usr/bin/perl-wusestrict;if(!-e’1-2000.tx
    t’){system(“wgethttp://www1.harenet.ne.jp/~
    waring/vocab/wordlists/1-2000.txt”);#thisgu
    ylikes\rinsteadof\n.wtf.system(“perl-pi-e’s
    /\r/\n/g’1-2000.txt”);}my%dict;open(T,’1-20
    00.txt’)ordie;while(my$l=){my($w)=split(
    “\t”,$l);my$nv=$w;$nv=~s/[aeiou]//g;$dict{$
    nv}=$w;}while(my$l=lc){chomp($l);my@
    a=split(/\s+/,$l);map{$_=$dict{$_}if$dict{$
    _}}@a;printjoin(”,@a),”\n”;}

    –snp–.

    nw, bvsly, ths dsn’t rlly wrk. y’d nd t cmpt 2-grm r 3-grm mdl f bngbng cmmnts nd s tht t rslv mbgty, nd ‘d rthr jst g s frm tht dsn’t cnsr ppl wh dsgr. bt lk n th brght sd… t wld b whl lt sr thn wrtng prl scrpt t rntrdc th rtnlty nt bngbng dtrs. srsly. yr “t’s my bll, cn tk t nd g hm” plcy bsclly sys tht t wld b ttlly cl fr t&t t drp pckts f pltcl spch t dsgrs wth.

    -cslsr.

    p.s. jst wt ntl ppl fgr t tht thy cn pst thngs lk ” thnk tht lnx s jst s gd s wndws”, ” thnk tht wmn dsrv t vt”, ” thnk tht gng nt rq ws bd d”, nd pr-dsmvwll thm. tht’ll b lgh.

  68. Q. But you take ads from Microsoft!!! Aren’t they the root of all evil?

    A. This is rank Manichaeanism. Go lie down with a cool wet cloth on your forehead until you feel better.

    Hey! Mani got a bum rap from Christians trying to stamp out all rivals. Please don’t fall into that trap. (also there are tablets in Akkadian which define Microsoft = Servant of Chaos (or not))

  69. Wow! I have been involved in on-line communities for a long time, and this is one of the best moderator explanations I’ve seen. I’m definitely saving a copy for future reference and possible pilfering.

    One suggestion: at the top, put a short, catch-all question with an answer that summarizes and conveys the spirit. E.g.:

    Q: Moderation? What’s this all about?

    A: We want the forum to be valuable to our readers. We moderate by removing or dismemvowelling posts that reduce that value, mainly ones that are spammy, snotty, jerky, or create excess drama. Focus on contributing to the conversation, and you’ll be fine.

  70. “If you want to look at a large community that seems to foster somewhat intelligent respectful discussions, I’d suggest going over to Metafilter and taking a look at how they handle things.”

    And then doing the opposite. Respectful? Please.

  71. Did I miss some entertaining flame thread that led to this being posted on the main page, as opposed to being buried somewhere on the site for malefactors to be pointed at if/when they complain about being censored (or whatever you want to call it)?

  72. Oh ok well a least Meetafilters discussions are fairly in depth. “Respectful” is a very relative term. As a large community it seems to work beeter than say fark without the heavy handedness of here.

  73. #97: Simplicity and elegance? In 24 hour this entry /will/ be buried somewhere on the site.

    Even the “how to submit stories” link goes to an entry.

  74. Thanks for a simply brilliant post.

    I’ve always thought the Getty Museum was a cut above, as they foster quality in everything they do. Even the Getty gift shop is first rate and classy.

    I now feel the same way about Boing Boing. Any place on the web with moderators of such wit, charm, and character has my deep admiration.

  75. I agree: disemvowelling is more annoying than useful. It makes “rude” comments almost impossible to read and makes rude commenters even angrier.

  76. CS Loser, you might want to familiarize yourself with the concept of the common carrier, a business entity that provides some sort of service (usually transportation or communication) without discrimination. There are legal benefits and responsibilities involved with being a common carrier. AT&T claims common carrier status, while BoingBoing does not. That’s why BoingBoing can delete or censor comments for whatever reasons it sees fit, while AT&T can’t.

  77. There is a way to avoid the censorship issue: Create two comment views. One is the “standard”, or “moderated” view, just as described in your policy. The second is the “original”, unmoderated view. Posts deleted from the “moderated” view still appear in the unmoderated view. That way, rather than censoring your users, you are providing them with a value-add — namely, your opinion on which comments provide positive contributions to the discussion.

  78. Not sure that I really agree with disemvowelling – perhaps a cutscreen link would be more democratic – but the word is kinda interesting to say… “disemvowelling…”

  79. #94: I don’t know why the favorites don’t work! It’s working for some people, right? I can submit it as an error, although it would be good to know browsers/OS where it’s not working.

  80. #106 Joel, sorry to go on about this, I don’t know where else to report it. Any time I look at a post and hit “favorite” nothing gets added to my favorites list (it used to work). Win XP Sp2, latest update of Firefox. Thnx.

  81. I agree with #28 almost entirely.

    I think disemvowelling is incredibly rude in itself; and it’s counterproductive, because I actually WANT to read all the comments, even the stupid and/or mean ones, and reading disemvowelled text is extremely difficult. It’s a bit ironic that I spend more time on the disemvowelled ones than on the supposedly contributory ones.

    I also agree that it’s applied EXTREMELY haphazardly, which is absolutely a cardinal sin in moderation. The motivation does feel like it’s applied on emotional grounds. Rather than being “what’s against the rules” it’s more “what pushes Teresa’s oversensitive and seemingly random buttons”.

    Stupid comments sometimes serve a valuable function, too, I’ve found. I’ve been moderating things off and on for fifteen years, so I’m not totally ignorant on the subject. I’ve made more than my share of mistakes, including feeding the flame, which is what I think disemvowelling does.

    As a result, Boing Boing’s comment threads rarely get off the ground and become a true conversation.

    I also think it’s ironic that this erratic yet heavy-handed moderation style is apparently to become the basis of a BOOK on the subject.

  82. Different pages for categories would be helpful. I can’t read this whole thing, way to time consuming.

  83. I have to disagree with stupid comments serving a purpose. More often than not, they tend to just lead to a flame war.

  84. #106 Joel, sorry again, just tried to favorite this in Internet Exploder 7, doesn’t work there either. My favorites list hasn’t updated for several months now. OK, I’ll shut up about this now.

  85. @106

    Something is broken somewhere. November 29, 2007 is my last “latest comment” in my profile (I tend to comment 3-4 times a week)and none of my Favorites have shown there since late January.

    Up-to-date Firefox on both XP and OS X

  86. AVRAM, I am familiar with common carrier law, and AT&T is certainly a common carrier in terms of their telephone service. Whether common carrier law applies to internet service is unclear, and many ISPs are actually arguing that they are not — for example, Comcast would have been flagrantly violating common carrier law by disrupting bittorrent, but they claim it is within their rights to do so.

  87. haphazard? Nope. I’ve been watching. Almost unnatural consistency. Have you been reading a different site?

  88. Or just paged comments, I feel lazy for saying this, but having to press END and then scroll up to the last comment I read is really annoying – it’d be better if I could think.. well I was reading pg6, like in a forum.

    Ignore me if this isn’t possible on the software cus then it’s totally not your fault/problem!

  89. And maybe I’m naive, but I do think it would make an awesome statement if BoingBoing didn’t take money from companies like Microsoft and refused to run their ads. Though I don’t blame them for doing it because things are rarely black and white and I don’t pretend to know anything about their particular advertising situation.

    Agreed on both counts. However, I have to admit I’d be extremely surprised to hear that they don’t know who they’re getting money from when there are big, visible sponsorship notices at the bottom of some posts:

    http://www.boingboing.net/2008/03/27/sf-bay-area-electron.html

  90. handy site, but experience has taught me that almost nothing disemvowelled here has significant content

  91. I’m very glad you have a policy and a FAQ. I tried to convince Metafilter they needed one about 2.5 years too early. I think every public community that is big enough really needs one.

    Big enough usually means big enough so that the community no longer shares sufficiently common values. Depending on the community, this seems to translate to something between 50 and 150 folks involved and participating.

    So thank you!

  92. I agree with the moderation policy in general although I must side with some of the other posers who more or less seem to feel that moderation should be done a bit more quietly.

    The best moderation comes silently ,anonymously and without fanfare, in my opinion. Having a largish front page article on this by th moderator leads, or could lead, to a dangerous “cult of personality” situation where the now (in)famous moderator is attacked by trolls and the conflict escalates and the now well known moderator starts taking it personally and … well it goes downhill from there. Quickly

    Disemvoweling is an interesting idea – when done discretely and without further comment. Done so openly it , well it kind of becomes like DRM – a challenge for one to defeat. How difficult would it be to create a web page that reimvowled all comments? How difficult to make a Firefox plug-in?

    Anonymity and discretion (as in acting discretely) are, in my opinion, the foundation upon which good moderation exists. I do agree with your ideas and ideals Theresa, but by front-paging this you have set yourself up as a challenge and for a huge war with the trolls and other miscreants that infest places like these.

    I predict this will end badly.
    I hope that I am yet again wrong .

  93. pchi says
    >A little greasemonkey should make it possible to reemvowel >all comments. Here’s a site that will do it for you manually:
    >http://www.disemvowelment.com/reemvowel.html

    As predicted.
    I hope that I am wrong on the final prediction though.

  94. Stupid comments focus one’s attention on the nature of the stupidity that generates them, and can stand in for the views of a whole segment of the population. Freely-flowing discussions can handle a few dumbasses. Really, they can.

    If the comment is too offensive, zap it entirely, and maybe ban the commenter if he or she is a repeat offender. Leaving their comment dangling halfway like that is just maddening, for him or her and for me. It’s far ruder and disrespectful to opinion than anything I’ve ever seen in comments. Because it’s always used on opinion.

  95. First things first: It’s not Miss (nor Ms., nor Mrs.) Hayden. Her name is Neilsen Hayden.

    The more I read of this (Teresa’s moderating methods) the more impressed I am. I a sure I have, in fora she moderates, violated those rules.

    But I have to assume I am, because I’ve never been disemvowelled, even when I thought I was dancing on the line (with the exception of one case, where the situation was such that I felt compelled to respond, after she had said the conversation wasn’t going to be allowed to go there. Things needed saying, and, well one has to do what one must do. It all worked out in the end; and I don’t think there were any hard feelings, certainly not from me).

    (stumbles around, looking for trifocals): At forty 1’z, 4cc4e3a7|l, 4a 0|q s4e7.

    cs loser: “it’s my ball, i can take it and go home” policy basically says that it would be totally cool for at&t to drop packets of political speech it disagrees with.

    Umnn… no. Because when I use AT&T to send information, I am paying them to do it. It more that AT&T can ask you to take the protest against their business practices out of their lobby.

  96. Thanks for the updates on the Favorites errors, guys. I don’t have the foggiest why it might not be working, but I’ll pass on an alert.

  97. Disemvowel this: “WsadziÅ‚ dwumiesiÄ™cznÄ… córkÄ™ do mikrofalówki ;-)”

    Seriously though, this is a very nice idea, I love this approach and the whole rules.

    Cheers.

  98. I definitely want to read the book when it becomes available. Moderation is not easy.

    About the only thing I struggle with on Boing Boing and other sites that use comment deletion as a part of moderating is that usually the comments that follow the deleted ones don’t keep the comment number they had originally, which can make it difficult to follow a thread through a rough patch. The more I read a given site, though, the easier it gets.

    Disemvowelling appears to be a good way to “take the heat out” of a comment – it requires some thought to parse out the meaning, and while one is thinking one generally doesn’t fly off the handle as readily. Kind of like speed bumps for knee jerks, to horribly mangle a metaphor or few.

    Keep on keepin’ on, Boing Boing and TNH!

    Later,
    -cajun

  99. a sign! a SIGN! His Noodliness Himself has graced us with a visitation and approves!!! All hail! Sauce for all!!

  100. I have been lurking on this site forever, but figured I should probably sign up for an account if the comment moderation policy is important enough to fill my screen with one of the largest posts I have seen here in ages!

    I have enjoyed the back and forth between the invisible moderator and her critizers, but #83 made my shake my head a little. It appears to be a normal comment, nothing bad in it, but when the person ends by saying that they have not been harshly moderated but have seen evidence of that in past, the commenter is then subjected to a “disevowelling””. Sad really.

  101. You mentioned that you’d eliminate posts that were basically repeating what other people said. But isn’t THAT also censuring democracy right there?

    It’s called voting. The sheer number of responses under a similar banner should show that people agree/disagree with a particular stance. This is fundamental to free speech and to how social networks function. If people are repeating something–so what?

    And really, to remove anyone’s post for any reason is censorship, plain and simple. Sure, you have the right to delete it. But that’s so against the spirit of the blog/nation/whole-point-we-exist. Frankly, it smacks of favoritism/facism. And a whole lot of other -isms. The problem with something like blog moderation is it’s instant and clearly visible. So you just end up looking like mongers.

    I really wish you guys would just monitor for spam and even pull a few people in line (issue them public warnings if you like). But really, keep the moderating to a moderate level.

    I used to love BB. Now I love/hate it. And not in a funny My Girl Friday sort of fashion.

    Kill that stupid policy and start over.

  102. I can only join the growing chorus of readers who find the moderation style at Boing Boing to be … let’s call it “poor”, if that’s not too impolite.

    Like Sparkzilla, I haven’t commented in some time either and do so now only to point out that the Boing Boing “brand” has been somewhat cheapened for me. The mod’s haranguing style in response to any comment seemingly critical of Boing Boing’s recent direction is only compounded by the eerie, total silence on the subject by the editors themselves.

    Again and again we’re told, “This is our site to do with what we will. Love it or leave it.” Also, “This is not a democracy”. But, why shouldn’t it be a democracy? Why shouldn’t readers feel a sense of ownership? Otherwise, why publish?

    And frankly, you know it’s a sad state of affairs when a site as popular and beloved as Boing Boing has to be translated by a third-party site from English to … English.

  103. Elorin 17: It’s “hear, hear.” The speaker is calling on others to listen to what’s just been said. (Of course, since this is text rather than speech we should be saying “see, see” but that sounds like Dick and Jane. Yes yes.)

    Dan 18: Hear, hear! (#2 isn’t such a big deal to me, but on all other things in your post I heartily concur.)

    Jeblis 26: Yes, she did. Several years ago on Electrolite-that-was. That was part of the reason the editors wanted her for their moderator.

    Sparkzilla 28: Be careful of the door as you exit, lest it strike your posterior.

    Kaiser 35: There are a large number of people over at Teresa’s own website (where she’s never posted a moderation policy) laughing at you.

    Bardfinn 37: Roxanne was an adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmund Rostand. I haven’t seen that scene, but it sounds like their version of the famous “Nose Song” from the original play.

    Jeblis 41: The point of leaving the disemvowelled (and btw Teresa invented it, but it was named by someone else) comment in place is so that people who want to read it can (with some effort), while those who don’t want to get a warning that it’s rude or otherwise unacceptable. I generally skip them, myself, but occasionally I say “Wait a minute…THAT person got disemvowelled?” and read it to find out why.

    Bat 64: The whining and sniveling in this comment thread is just astonishing, isn’t it? “They don’t have my favorite flavor of the free ice cream! And they won’t let me throw it at other people! Help, I’m being repressed!”

    Ethan 67: Now that’s a good idea. Perhaps the Moderator ID should just be called “Moderator.”

    Michae 71: Url, qba’g zrff jvgu zl EBG-13! Besides, some of us are learning to speak Uvtu Guvegrra fluently.

    Keneke 74: Reading this thread makes it clear that this level of nitpickiness is really necessary. She doesn’t post a moderation policy on her own blog.

    Lord Melchett 76: This is similar to the spoiled kid at the party taking toys away from his guests.

    More like the playground supervisor taking away the toy that one kid just used to clonk another over the head.

    Gabrielm 83: I believe you meant “tk hr frstrtns t n thrs.” Unless there’s another phrasing I was not aware of.

    Jeblis 85: Wrong. She was doing it for a long time before someone (I believe it was Arthur Hlavaty) came up with the name.

    CS 86: I had a comment about this, but Avram said it better at 103. Don’t whine about the free ice cream.

    Jeblis 98: Your geminates are drifting. I recoomend a slower typing spedd.

    Avram 103: THERE we go.

    Joel 106: It’s not about the browser. It worked for me for a while, then stopped. Same browser, same everything.

    Wheres 120: I suspect your name will be Whrs M ml soon enough, and I’ll be happy to see it. Do you know the term ‘FOAD’? It stands for “Go Jump in the Lake.”

    Technogirl 129-130: If someone reemvowels a comment, or even all of the comments on a page, they’re just making it easier for themselves to read it/them. That doesn’t at all affect the experience of those of us who generally don’t want to read them. If the goal were to prevent people who WANT to see them from doing so, TNH would just delete. I see no harm in reemvoweling for your own use, in fact it seems like a good solution to me.

    CajunFJ40 136: What metaphor? MY knees jerk when I go over a speed bump, at least on a bicycle!

  104. Rckn th mdrtr flt tht ths ws th bst wy t bst hr prfl bfr hr bk cms t?

    Plgs nd gs? Hw s tht fr mdrtn? Hr gnd hs lwys gt n th wy f dscssn.

  105. #2 reemvoweled:

    please _dsmvwl_ this message just want to is what to would like like and ‘m to lazy to do to in my own think you _jkng…bt_ not really

  106. Shorter Lord Melchett: “It’s not faaaaaaair!!! She’s baaaaad!” *stamps his little feet*

  107. Lazarus7 @141:
    I happened to have refreshed just before and just after that comment was posted, and I never saw vowels there.

    I strongly suspect that was self-disemvoweled.

  108. I comment regularly, sometimes snarkily, and have crossed the line far enough to get disemvoweled at least once, early on when I was testing the boundaries of what would pass here.

    Disemvowelling is a brilliant idea, because it is an impersonal way for the moderator to send a public message to the moderatee that does extremely limited damage to the content of the comment. By being public it makes the boundaries clearly visible to the rest of us, which invisible moderation, deletion and banning would not do. Being public also gives it a “shaming” function, although I am very much in doubt as to the ability of the loudest complainers here to feel anything resembling shame.

    For myself, because Teresa’s moderation is clearly focussed on rudeness and offensiveness, it has zero impact on the content of any of my comments, but I’m a lot more polite than I might be if there was no moderation, particularly given hw nnnngl brn-dd stpd sm f y r.

    (annoyingly -> nnngl. Who knew?)

  109. Oooh! Oooh! Instead of disemvoweling, you should use this algorithm!

    http://www.stevesachs.com/jumbler.cgi

    It’s frnasuttrig to raed conemtms wthoiut veowls, and by rimnpag up diffcltuiy, you dirscaouge the cemmnot form bineg raed. Mabye taht’s the ientnt, but I tinhk “dtepnerciag” cmntemos in tihs way geos aasgint the sirpit of tihs stie. Uinsg tihs metohd, hevweor, kepes the txet pttery raelbade whlie dtlfieang all ssneeriouss. Three’s a Dvae Alttel bit wrhee he takls auobt how hrad it is to win an amuenrgt wehn yuor dcik is sniiktcg out of yuor paaamjs. Liwekise, It’s hrad to mkae a seoirus arumnegt wehn yuor cnemomt is rdnereed in LOLCAT.

    Please reconsider the disemvoweling.

  110. A few people’s posts in here smack of outright grudges. Being vindictive is just plain silly. If you’re angry because a post or two of yours got disemvowelled, perhaps you should recnsider what you said, rather than saying “EVIL MODERATOR! AGENDA!!!!”

  111. Lord Melchett 151: Just tired of the incessant whining in this thread. Could y’all cut it out?

  112. To the folks saying this post is unnecessary:

    Since disemvowelling has been implemented, everytime it happens, the person demands to know why their post was edited, and why they weren’t inform of the policy before the policy was enforced.

    Many regulars (myself included) have requested a concrete set of guidelines to know what/when/why various mod actions will take place.

    Since that time, Teresa has mentioned she was working on such a list and would post it when it was ready.

    HERE IT IS.

    To the folks saying troll-posts ahould just be deleted rather than disemvowelled:

    Well, in a perfect world, that would be ideal. However the general conversation-convention here at BB, uses the post-number to reference specific comments and direct feedback to the correct people.

    eg. (#3 FTW!)

    As sometimes occurs, some comments (usually of the SPAMMY variety) get deleted outright. When this happens, the rest of the comment thread gets all fucked up, and the numbers of the posts don’t match the numbers being responded to.

    Frankly, I rather a few garbled messages, than not being able to follow (or having to do an inordinate amount of detective work to follow) the actual conversation. Maybe disemvowelling isn’t your bag, and you’d rather the contents were removed altogether, leaving the empty comment box as a place holder for the thread, that’s an option.

    Also, as Teresa pointed out (to me specifically) when a post has massive flame-war potential, leaving it up (even when it’s been routinely dealt with once) leaves it open to start an unending series of escalating flame wars everytime some one new happens upon the thread (and long after the original participant thought it was put to bed).

    __

    The only thing I’d like to put forward concerning disemvowelling, is this:

    I would like to see a small “reason” comment, placed in the disemvowelled post, stating the reason (even very simply) the action was taken. I don’t think it would be that much extra work, and believe it would make for a more clear-cut moderation.

    I have no problem with the moderator joining in the discussion though. I see Teresa first as a participant with opinions and facts, and second as a mod, having to occasionally put on her boots and walk a little bit stompier. She comments more than moderates in my experience, so I have built up that impression in my mind.

    I think Teresa does a mostly excellent job, and I can only be thankful, that she does the job she does, and that I don’t have to.

    Thanks.

  113. @ #21 Takuan:

    So, would that be inconsonance?

    Also, I didn’t know what the eyeball icon was (before this post) and I clicked it and I may have accidentally reported someone (I didn’t fill the form out, though).

  114. or the record, very few of the disemvowellings in this thread are mine. Most of them are commenters posting their own disemvowelled text.

    In reply to some of the major themes I’m seeing:

    1. They don’t do a lot of comment posting, but the Boingers really do read the threads, enjoy the comments, and care about what you say. That’s why there are comments again.

    2. We’re not going to install a threaded comment system.

    3. We’re already running the entries on one database and the comments on another in the interest of balancing the load. Suggested features like posting pictures or user-editable comments aren’t likely to be implemented anytime soon.

    4. Sorry about the Favorites thing, and the reversed order on your comment lists. We’ve got a number of these persistent technical problems we’re trying to fix.

    5. One of the items on our “to do” list is a front-page link that’ll let you send us bug reports and alerts on service problems. Short of that, we need to set up a dedicated e-mail address for that information.

    In the meantime, if you need to report a bug or other malfunction, click on the eyeball. Please remember to include your address in case we need to ask further questions.

    6. Some people believe effective moderators have to be part of the community. Some believe that moderators must stand apart from the community, and not participate in the conversation. Neither view has ever been canonical. I favor moderation from inside the community.

    If it’s true that participating in the conversation when you’re the moderator gives you undue influence, all I can say is that the effect definitely hasn’t kicked in yet. I’m looking foward to it.

    7. I wrote several different drafts of the moderation policy, and handed it all over to the Boingers. The final form the document took was their decision. Posting it to the front page was their idea.

  115. I just wanted to post in the comments on the post regarding posting in the comments. That’s all I wanted to do.

    And oh yeah, this is the most comprehensive set of rules for posting I’ve ever seen.

  116. and thank you very much for it. I like it. And if things become something I don’t like, I’ll quietly leave without annoying a lot of other people.

    Thanks BoingBoing

  117. @ 154/Tom

    “For myself, because Teresa’s moderation is clearly focussed on rudeness and offensiveness, it has zero impact on the content of any of my comments…”

    But it DOES have an impact–it’s been disemvoweled! Your comments are being line-item-vetoed and you don’t care?

    This whole policy is flawed because it’s really just subverting dissent, based on the opinion of one person/a few people.

    Give that EULA to any or civil rights attorney and they’d have a field day with it because it doesn’t define a damn thing. It’s a rambling mess blurs the line of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Who or what does it protect? People’s feelings? Their opinons? In the end neither. You can’t make everyone play nice.

    I agree with #143:
    “Again and again we’re told, “This is our site to do with what we will. Love it or leave it.” Also, “This is not a democracy”. But, why shouldn’t it be a democracy? Why shouldn’t readers feel a sense of ownership? Otherwise, why publish?”

    And #147/Talia,
    I’m guessing you were being sarcastic. Democracy, like life, can only ever be pluralistic, and unruly, and beautiful.

  118. Another thought: Disemvowelling seems like a troll tool, not a moderator tool. I can imagine a troll/coder writing a worm that would somehow disemvowel other people’s posts. Seems eggzonctly what such a technique would be used for. A moderator’s use of the disemvowelling technique seems kind nanner-nanner-goo-goo-ish to me.

  119. Terry@#132, her name is, um, ‘Nielsen Hayden’. i before e ;}

    Tom @#33, I really can’t see much ‘editorial stylebook’ in these guidelines (although I’d not be surprised if they *did* look like an editorial stylebook, given the number of books on my shelves with TNH’s name on the inside cover or in the acknowledgements). They pretty much reduce to ‘we reserve the right to do whatever the hell we feel we need to do to prevent the BoingBoing comment system becoming a worthless sewer that nobody actually reads’. (For proof that she’s truly excellent at this, look no further than Making Light’s comment threads. A more astonishing collection of often-hilarious erudition maintained for thousands of comments at a time I have never seen. It makes unmoderated forums look like white noise. And this is done with what is, to be blunt, a fairly light touch: the great majority of posts seem to go through unchanged.)

    As an aside, I find the statement ‘We throw the book at you’ interesting, coming from the author of the book _Making Book_. I wonder if this book is like a boomerang, in that it returns to her hand so she can throw it again? (I mean, *obviously* there’s only one of it.)

  120. re: ‘Taking money from Microsoft is wrong’ ….

    Something like this happened a while back, I even got a screenshot of it …..

    Cory (ever the freedom fighter) had posted something (I think it was about Sony seriously sucking again with all the DRM crapware) – and immediately to the left of Cory’s post was a vertical banner ad selling (wait for it) do-it-yourself DRM software (targeted at software co.’s) !!!!
    Seeing the obvious irony of the juxtaposition, I immediately dashed off a well-timed (and intentioned) manuscript via electronical means to Mr. Cory, and as it turned out, it was most probably BB’s (evil, under-handed, yet profitable) partnership w/ Federated Media, who were selling / populating that adspace – and the Boinger’s apparently didn’t know WTF … but Cory got on the batphone to FM immediately, said rather offensive ads must vaMOOSE, and they wuz gone, just like dat ….

    Anyways – this is the BoingBoing playhouse – they set the rules (thru the lovely and wordful mod Ms. Teresa) – so, if ya don’t like her (and their) moderator style, go start yer own blog, and then vent all ye wish into the great wormhole of them Internet tubes.

    I, for one, am sure Ms. Mod’s subtle ‘control’ greatly enhances my reading pleasure (having seen her at work here in the threads), and I also greatly enjoy reading the posts by all of the Boingers themselves – it expands my horizons to learn things about:
    steampunk, women’s rights overseas, scams in adoption processes, Sony fucking up yet again, etc., etc., etc.

    Bravo, Boingers, I say again, Bravo!

    the rest of ya’ll (especially ‘Kaiser’ and ‘SparkZilla’) can kiss my big hairy *ss … but I imagine you guys chose those usernames just to provoke thought, eh? LOL!)

  121. #165: I have never seen a purely democratic virtual community end well. You need to have rules and someone to enforce the rules or things go down the drain rapidly.

    And yeah, this is their website, so they do have the right to specify what those rules are. In this case, the rules are not unreasonable in the least. It REALLY just comes down to “dont be a jerk/idiot.”

    That’s not difficult (for most people, anyway).

    “Who or what does it protect? People’s feelings? Their opinons? In the end neither. You can’t make everyone play nice.”
    You can get rid of the ones who refuse to, though.

    And I’d say the rules are an effort to keep things mostly civilized, as some people have a hard time doing that on their own. Unmoderated boards = horror shows, because a large quantity of people on the internet are trolls or morons or both.

  122. @166
    blv th phrs s mr cmmnly rndrd s, “nnny-nnny b-b.” Tht bsnss bt nnnr g snds lk t cld b smthng nsvry.

  123. #170/Talia, I agree with you 100 percent! I’m all for tossing the riff-raff. But the policy doesn’t define that well enough.

    I’d be all for a stone-cold policy that lists the “don’ts” and encourages better behavior. But frankly, each time I read the policy it just doesn’t sit right. It feels totaliarian.

    I just want something clear and simple and not in love with it’s own prose–exactly what a policy should be.

    I think that’s the best way to curtail the “horror show.”

  124. T,

    1) That was mild. You’re so much nicer than me.

    2) Great way to get all the trolls to sign up on a single list.

    3) I might add:
    – F*ck and fuck are the same word. The asterisk does not determine whether the usage is offensive.
    – If you really want to write a lengthy dissertation, summarize it and link to your own blog post – as long as it’s on topic.
    – An apology goes a long, long, long way toward having your opinion respected by other commenters and readers.
    – Making an impassioned argument in a thread on a hot button topic like abortion or gun control is one thing. Having a screaming fit in a thread on steampunk is another. Adjust your volume to the seriousness of the topic.
    – Before you denounce another poster, click on their name and look at their comment history. Everybody has a bad day occasionally.
    – Nobody’s forcing you to translate disemvoweled comments. There’s not going to be a quiz at the end of the thread.
    – Everyone here is not white, young, male and straight. If you’ve never had a serious conversation with someone of a different race, age, gender or orientation, this might be your big chance. Don’t blow it by making offensive cultural assumptions.
    – Cory is Canadian. He bears absolutely no responsibility for US policy.

  125. “#18 posted by Dan Wineman , March 27, 2008 11:30 AM
    First — thanks very much for taking the time to make this post, Teresa. It’s great to have some light shed.

    Now, I have a suggestion or two that could make the BoingBoing discussion experience a bit smoother. These are really minor changes, but I think they’ll help:

    1. Could we have the “Recent comments” view on the profile pages sorted most recent first? It’s a drag to have to scroll down to the bottom when catching up with recent discussions, not to mention having to see one’s first-ever comment displayed with permanent prominence.

    2. Along those lines, how about a way to indicate which post we’re replying to? I’m not asking for a full threading system, just a “Reply to this” link that prepends a link back to the comment being replied to. This could even be used to trigger an email notification so that (at our option) we could be informed of replies to our own comments. A lot to ask, I know.

    3. This is just a bug report, really, but the Favorite feature seems broken. It used to work, but now nothing I favorite ever gets added to the list on my profile page.

    Thanks again.”

    reposting as a YES! vote to these three suggestions.

  126. Personally, I find the moderation to be arbitrary and annoying. Disemvoweling is basically defacing a comment and isn’t conducive to civil discourse. If someone posts something and gets disemvoweled, they are likely to be upset rather than curious as to why. The posted policy is pretty subjective, leaving a lot of uncertainty as to what will get moderated.

    I spent about twenty minutes looking through the comments the other day and easily found a number of hateful, rude, and downright insulting comments with no redeeming value that had not been moderated. Boing Boing tolerates quite a lot of vicious hatred for certain groups, apparently.

  127. “Q. All the vowels have disappeared from a paragraph I wrote! What’s going on?

    A. We did it. Someone (a moderator, one of the Boingers) was expressing displeasure at your remarks. The technique is called disemvowelling. It deprecates but does not delete the remark. With work, the disemvowelled text should still be readable. ”

    The above is very, very stupid.

  128. Jeez, moderate quietly and people harp on you for not having a posted moderation policy. Post a moderation policy, and they whine and whinge about you having posted a moderation policy.

    Talk about having your point proven for you.

    Teresa, thanks for taking your time to post this, and thanks for your ongoing efforts in keeping BB civil.

  129. econoclast @175:
    I spent about twenty minutes looking through the comments the other day and easily found a number of hateful, rude, and downright insulting comments with no redeeming value that had not been moderated.

    Did you click the little eyeball icon (the “lookitthat” button) beside any of these comments, to alert the moderators to a nest of trollish comments that they may have missed? Or did you immediately assume that they were deliberately left in place by Teh Eeevil Moderators?

    And are these the same moderators that you would like to assume your good faith when you do something ambiguous?

  130. As Eico points out, the “policy” (to the extent that one objectively exists in the first place) is capriciously and incompletely applied. Counterexamples to most of those mitzvot abound in threads which fail to excite the “moderator’s” attention. But let a Boinger reopen a pet cause or controversy, and the comment leash will be shorter than a cheerleader’s pleat at Hooters, while “moderate from within” is taken to its suffocating extreme – even as basic housekeeping languishes elsewhere.

    Still, the BB culture values intense loyalty to an inner cadre of friends, favorites and protégées. They will never boot the comment-tsaritsa, and she will never change. It is what it is. Take the good parts, and surf on.

  131. technogirl wrote:

    > I predict this will end badly.

    then pchi wrote:

    > …possible to reemvowel all comments. Here’s a site that will do it for you manually:
    > http://www.disemvowelment.com/reemvowel.html

    and technogirl replied:

    > As predicted.
    > I hope that I am wrong on the final prediction though.

    I’m not sure if I’m reading you incorrectly here, but… I wrote the reemvoweler at http://disemvowelment.com and I *approve* of disemvowelment, of Teresa’s moderation style, of puppies, kittens, rainbows, unicorns and much much more…

    To see the existence of disemvowelment.com as a protest in the face of censorship would be a bit mistake. It’s more like a pavlovian response to a technical challenge, something I’m sure most programmers will understand.

    Steve

  132. Cinemajay @165: You are benefiting from Teresa’s moderation right now and don’t even know it.

    You comment muddles a number of important categories. You slide effortlessly from “impact on the CONTENT” to “impact at all” These are two entirely unlike things. I did not say that disemvowelling did not have any impact at all, I said it did not have an impact on the content. As this is self-evidently true, I’m not sure what more I can say about it. Disemvoweling does not prevent anyone who cares from correctly inferring the content of my comments, particularly as disemvowelling is generally limited to the egregiously nasty bits, and so the very fact of disemvoweling communicates, “Tom is being a jerk here”. Ergo, no impact on the content.

    You also describe the moderation policy as an End User License Agreement. It is not clear why you would do this (I say that a lot, don’t I? I must be remarkably stupid.) As content creators, we are not end users. And as a moderation policy, it is not a license agreement. I certainly didn’t agree to it, and it appears you don’t agree with it, so if it were a license agreement you wouldn’t even be able to post here.

    Self-contradiction: not just for philosophers any more!

    BoingBoing is a public forum run by a private organization. It looks like “Happy Mutants LLC” is the corporate entity behind it all. Like any private corporation they have the right to set rules on the public use of their assets, within the bounds of the law.

    Their customers/audience/freeloaders (that would be us) have the right to not participate in their blog. But many people here seem to me to be expressing a massive sense of childish entitlement, or perhaps a mssv sns f chldsh nttlmnt. You and I are not the owners of this space. We do not set the rules. There is no reason to expect the owners to listen to our whining about the rules so long as they are getting what they want out of it, which it appears they are.

    As always, the best response to an editorial or moderation policy you do not approve of is to set up your own website, spend a few years gathering an audience, and enjoy your little paradise. In the meantime, we’ll be happy with ours.

    Teresa: you’re doing a good job, the policy guidelines are sensible, your moderation has been pretty even-handed, and I for one really appreciate the good work you’re doing to make this a reasonably civil and intelligent forum. Thanks.

  133. After reading alllllll the comments I feel I can finally contribute something to this discussions.

    1) #18 posted by Dan Wineman , March 27, 2008 11:30 AM

    Love idea one and three. Not so big a fan of #2. Look around, any threading encourages spin-off conversations and cliques. I’d rather each post here have a single theme.

    Sure it works great for Slashdot – where each post has a general overview, but who’s comments for said post may encompass anything from the fall of a previously unheard of country/civilization in the dark ages to the newest form of eyeglass styles and how they’ll help cure cancer – and a few other sites, but it doesn’t seem to fit the discussions and styles of the average BB user.

    2)To those who mentioned a completely user-moderated approach: have you every actually COMMENTED on a user moderated board? Do you have any idea how the mod abilities get abused? How hard it is to get your thoughts and ideas out when there are already a few well modded posts? How each story is abandoned by moderators well before commenters? How horrible Digg’s comment section is? (to just name one)

    3)Disemvoweling: If you simply delete a post (and leave a place mark to avoid numbering issues), you have still invalidated all future responses to the comment that have failed to quote what they are reacting to. I do think there needs to be a flag that shows that a post has been disemvoweled by a moderator, not the poster him/her-self. This would cause considerably less confusion, and eliminate a potential trolling tool.

    4)Moderated view vs. Raw view sounds like a great idea: everyone can have their cake, and eat it too.

    5)I’ll second the idea for paging overflowed comments, though I’d rather it be more like ThePirateBay’s multi-paged comments than like a regular Bulletin Board’s multi comment. Mainly: the original article would always be visible, and you would not need an entire page refresh to change which comment page you are one.

    6)I’m so bored ;)

    (I posted that only, originally, but apparently the funny factor did not outweigh the adds-nothing-to-the-discussion factor, and it was taken out. Today, I have learned I value humor too much.)

  134. TNH #160: Some believe that moderators must stand apart from the community

    I believe Lazarus Long held this view.

  135. I’ve lurked Boing Boing for a long time but never bothered to comment, and after reading this post I’m discouraged from ever doing so. If ever I’m tempted to participate in a discussion in the comments here, I’ll remember this post, which is basically an announcement that the site is overmoderated for those who didn’t already know it, and I’ll know better. So much for internet discourse not being lost due to moderation.

    And just so this doesn’t get deleted for me not explaining why I had this reaction in enough detail, let me put it this way:

    I get the impression that this site is overmoderated, making me not want to ever attempt to have a discussion here

    because…

    of this post. And the many comments from people confirming the impression that this was only posted in the first place to justify overmoderation that has already taken place using disingenuous rhetoric.

    There’s the why. I hope this comment wasn’t too boring for anyone.

  136. While people are making suggestions about features for the comment system, I’ll make one of my own:

    1) It would be really great if deleted posts left a gap in the post numbering. Since people tend to reference posts by number, it is unfortunate that deleting a post renumbers the entire thread and throws everybody’s references off.

    See Jamie Sue’s comments in the TSA Nipple Ring Fiasco thread, currently numbered #26 and #27, for an example of the failure mode here.

  137. “Q. Aiiiiiiieeeeeeeeee! Boing Boing has advertising! Doesn’t that mean you’ve become hopelessly corrupt?

    A. You mean, unduly influenced by whatever advertisers are the source of the site’s revenue? Don’t worry about it. Boing Boing’s editorial content is unaffected by its ads. ”

    Why is stuff like this in a post on moderation? Does this mean that claiming BB editors are influenced by advertisers is verboten?

    Is there going to be a test on this later?

    “Second answer: Because four years ago, Boing Boing’s first, unmoderated comment system went so septic that it had to be shut down. The Boingers want to never go through that again.”

    Harumph! I liked the old system. I thought the main problem with that was people spoofing Xeni’s userid. Other than that, it worked well.

    “9. Dragging in one of those topics that’s guaranteed to generate a huge thrash that goes nowhere, like gun control, abortion, or Mac vs. PC vs. Linux.”

    Only a gun-owning Mac user about to have an abortion would write something that supercilious!

  138. Though I disagree entirely with whomever said that duplicate comments should be left because that is anti-democratic — discussion is NOT voting — I nonetheless think this may be the exceptional post that proves the rule.

    Hence: brava, moderatrix. Congrats on a policy that manages to be all the best things that BoingBoing is — wry, critical, thorough, authoratative, intelligent, community-oriented, accessible and readable. Dn’t lt th trks gt y dwn.

  139. Wait, so disemvowelling is intentional? I remember when this came up a while back and a bunch of us thought it was some weird software bug.

    Not much of a disincentive if nobody realizes why it’s happening.

  140. I hope this comment wasn’t too boring for anyone.

    You’re shit out of luck on that one, buddy. You’re about the one millionth person to say exactly the same thing in the same self-righteous tone. At least you didn’t make a dramatic plea to be unsubscribed. That’s something.

  141. i don’t know what some of you guys are on about – this is the best comment and discussion moderation policy I’ve ever seen on the web. :D

    Not only is it tasteful and observant of people’s ability to comment what they choose, it’s reflective of what more and more blogs need to do: move away from the eyes-bleeding YouTube/Digg comment style and towards something more substantive and intelligent.

    There may be hope for the Web yet.

  142. Late to the party, but I was part of the Great Hamster Snack Debacle of ’08, so I’ll join in briefly.

    To the extent I agree with #28, the point is there was a better way to post this. When I first saw this, my first thought was “Where’s the Hamster Snacks II: Electric Boogaloo post? I must have missed a real comment party.” If instead, as some suggested, this was just a post to be referred to later by a link to the mod policy, mark it as such. Starting off with “We the Boingers have made a mod policy. We’re posting it here so we can refer to it later. Carry On.” would have gone a long way towards allaying the “Somebody pissed in my cheerios and now I’m angry” feeling I got when first read it.

    And then, to address the ‘being more polite than you think should be necessary’ policy. Hooray! I’m all for it. But ‘It’ is a two way street. Not everyone gets the same fuzzy happy feeling looking at this policy (see the sections on advertiser corruption and microsoft in reference to the ‘respond to the idea, not the idea holder’ doctrine). I would love for everyone who comes over to your house to be more polite, but thats much easier when you’re the most polite host I’ve ever met. As the saying goes, “Don’t get in an argument with an idiot/troll. They’ll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

    –Kevin

  143. #192

    Actually I read all the previous comments to make sure no one had said the same thing already, as apparently saying things that have already been said is also against the rules. Maybe you meant it’s been said in other discussions (which would only be further evidence that overmoderation of this site is not a new issue here), but it hadn’t been said in this one.

  144. .” Starting off with “We the Boingers have made a mod policy. We’re posting it here so we can refer to it later. Carry On.”

    I can go back through Teresa’s post for an exact count, but I’m pretty damned sure she made at least three separate references to a moderation policy she was working on, that had been requested, was open for input and so on.

    I read almost every single thing that hits this board and my memory can be treacherously accurate when inconvenient (to others).

  145. I hate to post a Me Too, but in case anyone’s counting… chalk me up on the “I approve” side. Perfectly reasonable policies… if anything, more lenient than I’d be comfortable administering.

    Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns and operates one. Editorial policy is not censorship. If you can’t live with the BB policy, you really should go find or start a group better suited to you needs.

    (To the BB’ers: Illegitimi non carborundum and keep up the good work.)

  146. #196 “I read almost every single thing that hits this board and my memory can be treacherously accurate when inconvenient (to others).”

    Yes, and bravo for having such copious free time and the mental bandwidth to cache the entirety of bb. For those of us not so blessed, or rather cursed with full time employment and other demands on our mental prowess, the two lines of context would be a great help in remembering what has gone memorized by others.

  147. “i don’t know what some of you guys are on about – this is the best comment and discussion moderation policy I’ve ever seen on the web. :D”

    Yeah, I’ll bet Huffington, BlogHerald, Gothamist, SFGate, DailyKos, et al., are just pooping their PJ’s in envy of this masterpiece. Look for massive changes across the board. I’m hacking a patented Esperanto-to-Morse-Code translator applet we call BitFrown(TM) for use on comments in the DLD (Don’t Love Domain).

  148. KPratt @201: What would the two lines have added that wasn’t obvious or couldn’t be surmised with a little thought? Especially as it isn’t just for the benefit of the boingers; one would imagine that as it’s a declaration of policy they would all be in the loop.

  149. Here’s my real question:

    Who here, complaining about the moderation policy, ever thought that Boingboing was anything other than a party to which we were merely guests? A party, indeed, thrown by a group of Believer-reading, Amiga-lusting, West-coast punctuation fetishists? Let me tell you that, while I enjoy reading the posts, I am in no way under the illusion that this is a Hell’s Angels convention. Furthermore, if this were BB the zine, there would be no complaining at all about “moderation policy”; the vast majority of dull comments, like this one, would simply be left out of the letters column, were there ever a column in the first place.

    Boingboing, as a pasttime, is only lightly participatory. We as its readers are mostly, justly, relegated to minor roles, our voices unheard, our opinions unconsidered. All these things will be lost in time, like tears, in rain. Time, to die.

  150. and in exchange for that, I grant you a clue
    “If a man find no prudent companion who walks with him, is wise, and lives soberly, let him walk alone, like a king who has left his conquered country behind,–like an elephant in the forest.

    It is better to live alone, there is no companionship with a fool; let a man walk alone, let him commit no sin, with few wishes, like an elephant in the forest.”

  151. I’m only about halfway thru the comments, but I’m disturbed by the number of people who refer to TNH as “Miss Hayden”

    I’m curious. Anybody care to explain why you chose to make such assumptions about TNH’s marital status.

    And if you didn’t know and didn’t care to find out, isn’t “Ms.” the more appropriate honorific under the circumstances?

  152. I find most of Takuan’s iterations to be “snarky and unilluminating” but, alas, overposting does not seem to fall under the scope of the new policy. Please consider the issue in future versions.

  153. #203
    “What would the two lines have added…”

    Context? A framing to the post such that some of us don’t see “AND YEAH VERILY THOU SHALT READEST MY TOME.” and wonder what the hell just happened?

    “…it’s a declaration of policy”

    What then is the problem with prefacing it with “This is a policy declaration. We’re writing it down so we can point people to it later. You may go about your day now.”?

    And it’s not a question of who was in the loop and who was not in the loop, but, by way of example, following the traditional bb posting style.

    Option 1:
    “Here’s why this thing is interesting and why it caught my eye.

    Heres a picture.

    “Here is a blockquote of the important bits”

    And here is the link.”

    contrasted with

    Option 2:
    “Here is a giant blockquote with no introduction that you have to read all the way through to the end to find the part about the civlib steampunk unicorns who work for Lessig on CC.”

  154. While I can understand any online community’s need for moderation, something about this overview rubbed me as “un-BoingBoing.” It’s difficult to pinpoint what it was, exactly, because a list of rules is always helpful when there’s going to be enforcement and is certainly not incongruous with BoingBoing’s content. Perhaps it was this moderator’s tone and argument structure, which was closer to what I’d expect from a Fox News hawk than a BoingBoing writer.

    It’s not like it makes a difference to me – I’ve never left a comment before despite my submitting many-an-unpublished link to the site! I’ll keep reading and enjoying BB many times per day.

  155. n f th lngst Bng Bng ntrs vr crtd s bt hw, why nd whn thy mdrt psts n thr wn st.

    Wrnng flgs dn’t gt ny bggr thn tht. Y cn hr t flppng n th wnd frm mls wy.

    Nw f y’ll xcs m, nd t g srch th rchvs fr ll ths Bng Bng psts blstng vrs ntts fr cnsrshp s cn rmmbr wht y gys sd t b ll bt.

  156. I’m disturbed by the number of people who refer to TNH as Miss Hayden

    I think that’s a bit of passive aggression.

  157. This set will be replies to specific comments.

    I was thinking of going through and either marking all the disemvowellings I did, or the ones I didn’t do; but neither option is satisfactory. I try not to meddle with text for any purpose other than moderation, so I can’t mark disemvowellings I didn’t do. And if I mark the ones I did do, I’m meddling more with the text of those comments than is strictly necessary.

    I think the only answer is to list the ones I disemvowelled. I’ll take them in order as they occur.

    Paul Coleman (2) asked to see what his message would look like disemvowelled. I pasted a disemvowelled version of it below his unaltered text.

    Zandr (7), since I haven’t worked that out with the Boingers, I believe this document currently has a standard copyright and belongs to me. However, I specifically grant you the right to use it.

    Absimiliard (9), Harrkev beareth away the palm, but there are other ways to do it. The chief one is when it’s relevant and warranted, soberly expressed, and arises naturally from the ongoing conversation.

    Strong language: if I thought I could get away with it, the rule would be that commenters are only allowed to swear if they can do it as well as Joel Johnson.

    BTW, my godfather, a former bosun’s mate and later gunnery officer, once taught me a sentence collected in the wild in which every word except “the” and “won’t” was replaced by some version of the Navy’s favorite word. I was impressed.

    Jim Cowling (12): Did it ever occur to you, when you were defending the poor oppressed questions against their answer overlords, that the same person wrote both?

    Rob Cockerham (14), that didn’t get nearly enough appreciation.

    Dan Wineman (18): “Recent comments” is supposed to sort most recent first. We’re still working on that.

    I normally use numbers to indicate which comment I’m referring to. It’s a fallible method. If messages are added to or subtracted from the thread, it automatically renumbers. Fixed message numbers are just not a part of the Movable Type universe.

    I expect you’ve long since noticed that the date and timestamp half of the header line is the permalink for a comment, so you must be asking for something more automated than typing in a standard HTML link. I don’t know how much trouble that would be, though I can ask. The same goes for mail notification.

    One of the things I dislike about threading is that it imposes the assumption that every message is a reply to a single other message. I believe it has a crippling effect on general conversation, especially if you can only see one or two other messages at a time.

    Still, I can see the usefulness of a comment linking and referencing system that doesn’t get knocked askew when the anonymous comments clear; and if e-mail notification can bring commenters back to see how the thread has responded to them, I’m for it.

    Phead (21), I can’t fix your spelling, but I hereby grant you forgiveness for it.

    Pendraphen (23), the R&D labs at Making Light haven’t managed that one yet, though Avram Grumer’s come up with some real words that turn into other real words when you run them through ROT-13/

    Jeblis (26), vowel-free text is older than the sort that has vowels in it. To the absolute best of my knowledge, I was the first person who ever thought of using it as a moderation technique.

    (Odd footnote: The Wikipedia entry on disemvowelling used to explain this. Have you ever been stalked by a high-ranking Wikipedian? There’s one of them who goes way out of his way to pick fights with pro SF editors. It’s a mystery.)

    MikeSum32 (27): Two words disemvowelled, for obvious reasons.

    I deny that the internet is inherently dehumanizing. I believe that we’ve gotten into the habit of accepting far too low a standard of behavior. Back on Usenet, there was nothing we could do about trolls and jerks beyond flaming them or ignoring them. We’re not on Usenet anymore. We’re also not on bulletin boards that don’t care what you do as long as you don’t maim each other.

    There are people we could be talking to, and conversations we could be having, that we’ll never see as long as thuggish behavior is an accepted part of online conversations. I feel very little guilt about occasionally suppressing obnoxious speech, because there’s so much more speech — more, and frankly better speech — that’s suppressed by the persistent obnoxiousness of online behavior.

    I’ve seen sober authoritative essays explaining that no comment thread can run much longer than a hundred messages without collapsing into random unpleasantness and noise. I’ve also seen well-moderated comment threads that run for hundreds of messages while staying readable and interesting.

    I’m all for freedom. I’m passionately in favor of the freedom to have good conversations. That’s all I’m really shooting for.

    I’m not going to respond to Sparkzilla (28). It’s hardly even necessary to explain that he and I have tangled a couple of times in the past, and that he lost some vowels in the process.

    I just wish he’d figure out that my last name isn’t Hayden.

    I’ve also had run-ins with Kid (31, 48), Tom Neff (33/36), Kaiser (35, 51), and others to be named later.

    Tazzy531 (39), a bad speller generally leaves some vowels in. I don’t.

    JG (42), the “because I say so” model can work surprisingly well. The policy statement was written because readers kept asking for explanations.

    EricT (46), we have an automated button in the interface. Did you remove “y” or leave it in?

    Ubernym (47), I associate myself with people who love good conversation.

    Jeblis (52): Disemvowelled about thirty seconds ago. I’d disemvowel him if he said that to anyone else. It’s just now occurred to me that I don’t have to put up with it either.

    I do owe Jeblis one small thank-you for reminding me of a principle of moderation I forgot to mention in the policy statement: if you get a situation where several jerks and demitrolls are egging each other on to more and more misbehavior, you have to root out the entire group. There are two reasons for this. One is that there are lots more like them, and they’ll home right in if they see that behavior being tolerated. The other is that they’ll talk each other into uglier behavior than any of them would undertake on his own.

    If you go over Jeblis’ postings to this thread, you can see him getting braver and behaving worse as he soaks up the encouragement.

    Spocksbrain (55), Ys and Ws don’t count as vowels — W because it’s only a vowel if you’re Welsh, ad Y because losing it breaks the readability of some text, which is not how disemvowelling is supposed to work.

    Avram (56), that’s a better and shorter statement of the principle than my version. May I swipe it?

    Pinup57 (59), I was asked to do it. People kept complaining that they didn’t understand why they’d been repressed.

    Eltrev (60), I’ve experimented with offering people the option of rewriting and reposting. No one ever takes me up on it.

    TwoShort (62), it’s primarily intended as an explanation after the fact.

    ElysianArtist (66), puh-leeze. I’m a far subtler sockpuppeteer than that. Jebis is least of my inventions in this thread.

    Ethan (67), it’s an interesting idea. I’m not sure it’ll work. I need to think about it.

    Kid (68), I’m not impressed with your options or your analyses. The Boingers are artists and journalists. They want to enable comments and community. They don’t want it to go septic again. And there’s no way they have the time to keep order here themselves. That doesn’t make them pragmatic politicians. Nothing could.

    You and your buds are just being grumpy and pompous because you’re used to doing whatever you want in online forums, and I’ve inexplicably failed to understand that that’s the natural order of the universe.

    Michael Dean (71), the trouble with using ROT-13 is that it makes people who are using it for other reasons look like they’ve been naughty. It also isn’t susceptible to a quick browse for flavor.

    Bibliotrope (73), a permanent link is part of the plan.

    Keneke (74), I’ll freely accept the pity, but this isn’t a nitpicky moderation policy; it’s the avoidance of one. It’s long because it’s descriptive.

    Talia (75), quite right. Fark is not the model we’re aiming for.

    Melchett (76), I let this comment of yours stand because it looked tolerable next to your others, but you’re not in line for any MacArthur Prizes. We’ve put all this work into building good comment threads, but we don’t really want to hear people’s thoughts discussed? The right to behave badly and ruin everyone else’s pleasure is a toy you’re entitled to have simply by right of coming here? That’s hogwash, and you’re a cliche.

    DMTurner (79): Thank you. Welcome. Have a good time.

    Talia (80), they want to be able to do whatever they want at a given moment without considering the effect it has on other participants or the overall conversation. Their version of “free speech” consists of them talking. Listening doesn’t really come into it. Neither does sharing. They’re reasonably articulate and have thick hides, and in fact are the climax species of forums that require only that they abstain from profanity and personal attacks.

    They like to pretend that I’m suppressing free speech. In fact, there are entire ranges of nuanced, cooperative, modal, exploratory, or expert speech that seldom get explored in open forums because the rhinoceri are bound to come stomping through. Thus we lose the speech, and we lose many of the people who make it.

    Takuan (81): Yes, I am. I get to have other conversations that are much more rewarding.

    Jeblis again (85). I disemvowelled it.

    CSLoser (86). That was mine also. The code didn’t disemvowel well, so I used a different technique.

    Zinjanthropus (87): I’ve got nothing against Mani. His name got used to label a heresy that had almost nothing to do with him.

    William (90), I think I may do that. Thank you!

    FarrellMacgovern (91): ooh, a new statement on moderation. Thank you. I’ll add it to my collection.

    Joel (92): Heya! I’ve been taking your name in vain.

    Jim Cowling (95): I promise it won’t happen.

    JGriffiths (97): No such fun. It gets posted to the front page once before being tucked away for future reference.

    Fnarf (109), I’m of the opinion that BB threads don’t get as luxuriant as they might because the link to a page with a really long “recent comments” list (which I’ve had in the specs since day one) has yet to be implemented. Threads start slacking off when the entry scrolls off the front page.

    MarlboroTestMonkey (115), that’s one I hadn’t thought of. Thank you! I’ll add it to my stockpile.

    Takuan (116), that “almost unnatural” just made my week.

    5000! (119), they know, but it gets knocked down and trampled underfoot by new information coming in.

    Technogirl (129), fear not. They’d have to be a lot better at it for me to take it personally.

    Do you teach divination?

    Terry (132), delighted to see you here. If I disemvowelled you on that occasion (and it seem to me I did), it was respectfully done.

    Lazarus (141), that’s not one of mine. I think GabrielM did it.

    CinemaJay (142), we’re not conducting a poll. We’re having a conversation. The sin isn’t so much in the duplication as in ignoring everything their fellow commenters have said.

    I see you didn’t read it very carefully.

    Cycle23 (144): Shush. You’re giving away the trick.

    Xopher (145), have they gotten out the ice chest and the lawn chairs? Send them my love.

    Hey, EvilRooster! Lawn chairs and cold drinks and popcorn besides?

    Tom (153), you’re a mensch. It was a good comment. There were just a couple of sentences that really bothered me. I’d so much rather disemvowel those bits than have to remove a long, thoughtful comment.

    Pasq242 (154), that’s an interesting effect, but I don’t see how it’s an improvement on disemvowelling. Besides, it really could be mistaken for bad spelling.

    Arkizzle (158), I’ve been trying to remember to mention why I disemvowelled someone. Feel free to remind me if I forget.

    Takuan (163), I’d be far more annoyed if you quietly left than if you made noise and gave me a chance to fix the problem.

  158. Some of the very good points of this thread:

    – #183:

    If ever I’m tempted to participate in a discussion in the comments here, I’ll remember this post, which is basically an announcement that the site is overmoderated for those who didn’t already know it, and I’ll know better. So much for internet discourse not being lost due to moderation.

    Comparing the policies applied to Boingers themselves (link), the moderator policy here is a far cry from the Kiss It Simple Stupid format. I wish our moderator would be able to shrink the whole thing to something short, less arbitrary and easily understandable, and that would eliminate a lot of people crying injustice. Humor is good, but sarcasm usually translates to arrogance during a debate.

    – #174:

    Personally, I find the moderation to be arbitrary and annoying. Disemvoweling is basically defacing a comment and isn’t conducive to civil discourse. If someone posts something and gets disemvoweled, they are likely to be upset rather than curious as to why. The posted policy is pretty subjective, leaving a lot of uncertainty as to what will get moderated.

    I spent about twenty minutes looking through the comments the other day and easily found a number of hateful, rude, and downright insulting comments with no redeeming value that had not been moderated. Boing Boing tolerates quite a lot of vicious hatred for certain groups, apparently.

    Speaking of inconsistent moderation, you can read this very thread to give yourself an idea. If you look for the one-line comments in this thread, you will see that some of them downright rude or create unnecessary drama, but most of them were not taken care of and are readily available for you to read.

    * * * * *

    I can see an interesting conservative vs liberal debate here in this thread, as if it were a mini government.

    The conservatives agree with the moderator policies, and agrees that the site is the Boinger’s lawn, and they are free to do whatever they want.

    Meanwhile, the liberals advocate new methods of moderation.

    The most wonderful things in this thread are the self-disemvoweled posts – such alternative methods of sabotage/protest are sometimes what BoingBoing advocates, from handbags with an image of a gun to challenge the TSA, to putting mirrors on your head to challenge government CCTV surveillance.

    The ironic yet wonderful part is that such sabotage/protest is applied to BoingBoing itself. If there were a site similar to BoingBoing, I would be sure that this incident would be one of their news post.

    This debate is good for both the community and the Boingers, because it proves that the comments system allows a great civilized discussion to happen. Here I’ll thank BoingBoing again for giving us the comments system.

    * * * * *

    Hi Joel! Have you return the Krups Heineken thingy yet? Still any beer left?

  159. I find most of Takuan’s iterations to be snarky and unilluminating

    We prefer ‘vacuous and inane’.

    BB comments are like a cocktail party. Sometimes we engage in serious discussions. Sometimes we engage in light-hearted banter. We’re always drunk.

  160. ls, sn’t t ntrstng tht w cn nly hv n sr d? lmst lk thy wnt t mk sr thy cn…trck s?

    ddn’t rlz Bng Bng ws spprtr f th gvrnmnt RL D prgrm. <>Pprs? V mst vrvy zt y r wh y zy y r. V hv vyz f knwng f y r lyng.

    h wll, njyd ths ccnt whl hd t. gss ‘ll nd t mk nw n. Lckly ll f yr rtcls bt TR hv gvn m th mns t mk nw ccnt whnvr wnt f vr fl lk cmng bck.

  161. V(irtual)D(espot) Again and again we’re told, “This is our site to do with what we will. Love it or leave it.” Also, “This is not a democracy”. But, why shouldn’t it be a democracy? Why shouldn’t readers feel a sense of ownership? Otherwise, why publish?

    Because the editors feel like sharing.

    That’s why I have my blog. Do I like comments? Yes. Do I want my readers to feel they have ownership? Of their comments, sure.

    I have some rules (no being rude, no absolute anonymity; to me. A nom de net is fine, but “anon” ain’t. That goes to the ownership of one’s comments).

    But I write because I want to, not because someone else comments.

    Cinemajay: But it DOES have an impact–it’s been disemvoweled! Your comments are being line-item-vetoed and you don’t care?

    No, I don’t, or at least not in the way you seem to want me too. I’ve said, (in those other fora TNH moderates) some really harsh things. I managed, either through a long record of being polite, or enough content to justify some pretty offensive (and intentionally so) things being allowed to stand.

    If they hadn’t, well it’s not my party. In real life I’ve lost it that badly; to the point I had to be told to step outside and cool off. I see this as much the same.

    No, one can’t make everyone play nice. The options are to defuse the problem, or call the cops (to continue with the experiences of meatspace). One can be allowed to derail the conversation, start a fight, or be deleted (or even banned). The problem was, apparently, so bad in the past that there wasn’t a “line item veto” but rather a flat out elimination of everyone’s comments.

    I don’t like that option at all. I prefer this. It is, as Robert Frost put it, “the freedom of yoke in easy harness.

    To have a civil society, one has to agree to rules. These are pretty good rules, unless one is looking to start fights, derail conversations and be rude little pissant.

    In that case, well I can see where one might not like them.

    The problem with the “stone-cold policy” is that one will have rules lawyers who are inside those policies, and still are as offensive, disruptive and destructive as all get out. When I am dealing with subordinates who do that, the phrase which comes to mind is, “malicious obedience”.

    Nix: I knew I was probably going to blow that one. It’s why I hate trying to enter the URL to Making Light, because about half the time I get it wrong. Knowing several men named Neil doesn’t help (because there are no rules when it comes to names). The worst thing, I had her webpage open when I typed it, to try and prevent that very error.

  162. I like your moderation style- even handed, but also in service to the overall community. It’s not easy to find that particular even keel, but you’ve come close.

    I’ve built and run some pretty large and sometimes contentious communities myself, and your rules are very similar to mine. I like the ‘disemvoweling’ tactic- is there software that you can use to do that with? It won’t work on all communities- but it’s still a cool tool.

    I sometimes think that web-jerks do not believe that the pixels on their screens were put there by actual people. That is why they tend to drop trou and show their collective asses. And others seem to be expressing some form or another of mental illness- I’ve had posters who had regular ‘cycles’ of totally assinine craziness.

    But the bottom line is the health of the community. You are correct in saying that a few trolls can utterly decimate a stable community. I’ve seen it happen. All you can do is electronically carpet-bomb the worst ones out of your community. If you’re lucky and have some high-quality regulars, they often give the bum’s rush to any habitual troll, or let you know if your board has erupted into a flame-war.

    I like BoingBoing- I remember reading the paper magazine, and have my own “Happy Mutant” guide. I might not post or reply often (and the interesting sites I’ve pointed out have been ignored, so I no longer post them), but I read this blogset regularly. Thanks for the brain -food and the behind-the-scenes work.

  163. I am not drunk! I am what Terry Pratchett describes as “knurd”: so sober you need a few just to get normal.

  164. The conservatives agree with the moderator policies.

    That is a spectacularly inaccurate hypothesis. Although no-one’s full political persona can be conveyed in these comment threads, I am confident in saying that many of Teresa’s most ardent supporters are at the far left of the political continuum. Real liberals generally value politeness as a sine qua non of serious discussion. Conservatives are frequently the ones who believe that he who yells loudest wins the argument. Turn on Fox News or listen to talk radio if you don’t believe me.

  165. No user policy needs to be seventy seven paragraphs. Its length, tone and odd “whimsy” of disemvowling seems like poor choices were made in judging the discretion of this moderator. Respect is a two-way street.

  166. #230:

    Conservatives are frequently the ones who believe that he who yells loudest wins the argument.

    Agreed. That is a pretty good way to tell who is conservative.

    Sorry to go a little off-topic. I was offering one way to view the whole debate going on here. I don’t mean that being a ‘conservative’ in this thread means that you are a conservative in real life. I would not want my method of categorization to offend anybody here. I only mean conservatism in its literal sense, i.e. people who sided with traditions, who wants to preserve the existing condition.

  167. I think that the more Liberal side agree with the policy because they are not moderated as often. It’s easy to see someone who agrees with you as more polite and someone who disagrees with you as rude or somehow out of line. I doubt Teresa does it on purpose, but it sure seems to happen that way.

    I did not click the little eyeball next to the offensive posts because I did not realize what the eyeball was for. Regardless, there were a few BB posts with so many vicious and hateful comments that I found it hard to believe that they hadn’t been noticed.

    Even if they were merely overlooked, the fact that so many comments were left alone while a small number were moderated makes the policy seem capricious.

    And I actually wrote Cory about one of my posts that had been disemvoweled, but he was just as dismissive as Teresa of my concern.

    Real liberals generally value politeness as a sine qua non of serious discussion. Conservatives are frequently the ones who believe that he who yells loudest wins the argument. Turn on Fox News or listen to talk radio if you don’t believe me.

    Warning, broad brush ahead. From what I’ve seen of protest marches and Code Pink vs. Protest Warrior and what I’ve heard from Liberals who call up talk radio shows, the Liberals seem to be quickest to resort to name calling and insults and thuggish behavior.

  168. Reporter: What do you think about the execution of the offense today?

    Coach: Sounds like a good idea.

    @201 – KPRATT: :)

    @203 – NELSON.C: Yes, that’s how I feel. That this is a policy declaration and agreed upon by all at BB. Thus, I am mostly let down by the lack of public input from the editors. It’s a shame really that BB has come to this. But not really. BB’s evolution was long overdue.

    Thank you for posting this, Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator. I must not have been the only one asking.

    Until this thread I had no idea who Teresa was. So I took a look at her blog. I am happy to learn she comes across there as a perfectly reasonable human being who is more gifted than flawed because here at BB her tendency is to let her flaws get the better of herself. Understandable in a way.

    This discussion while a bit ugly is ultimately helpful I would believe. Yes, it’s execution could have been done better and it would have been nice if the editors had shown up in support or at least introduced it (maybe elsewhere?). I saw a comment from Joel but that’s about it. It’s sad to see the editors shy away from what the moderator clearly felt was an important metablog topic. Letting her speak for them in this manner… well, how publicly involved or uninvolved the editors are is a whole other topic.

    In time Boing Boing will never have been better but right now with the comments in their current condition, Boing Boing is not what it once was. Once comment discussions are moderated consistently and with a deft, reasoned touch I am sure Boing Boing will once again be on my morning rounds. Two steps forward, one step back, and then two steps forward — that is a good life.

    Still, I wish that a few on this board weren’t so self-involved and roaming around in a pack. If only I wasn’t so undermined by that human frailty, curiosity, and could refrain from viewing comments. Or if only these few would grow up and overcome their desire to stamp their collective personality upon Boing Boing while stamping out others’ personalities. Really, must you few insist upon posting your veiled dissenting opinions on others and others’ remarks? And having TNH come rescue you from a puddle is really juvenile.
  169. I didn’t call you a fascist asshole. I said you(the moderator) would be called one either if you moderate how you like or moderate how you like with a ginormous convoluted set of “rules.” Please try to get a clue.

  170. And I actually wrote Cory about one of my posts that had been disemvoweled, but he was just as dismissive as Teresa of my concern.

    Some people might take the hint.

  171. Oh, drat, “preview” ripped some self-deprecating humour code from my post:

    <peeve class=”petty”>
    Last paragraph was tagged.
    </peeve>

  172. 1) Teresa is one of the Prime Movers behind a forum (Making Light) that has simply the most interesting discussions, and the highest signal-to-noise ratio, I’ve seen in any open forum.

    2) The policy (not a EULA) she’s posted pretty much lays out the de facto rules she and her hubby & friends have been enforcing there, for several years now. If it’s lengthy, that’s mostly from the need to pre-empt rule-hackers and the like.

    3) Given the above, those people who are claiming her moderation is “arbitrary” or abusive, are just making themselves look stupid.

    4) The trolls and demi-trolls should be glad she only disemvowels most of their spew. When she actually responded to a habitual offender… well, I’d much rather be disemvowelled.

  173. Reading my comment again (way back at #84), I can’t help feeling it may sound a bit rude, at least in the tense atmosphere that’s built up. I still think that a clickable option allowing users to see comments in their pre-disemvoweled state would be a good solution- it would be censorship by choice, and neither side would really have anything to complain about. People who have faith in the mods can skip over the comments, and people who want to judge with their own eyes, or who are simply curious, can click and read them.

    No, I don’t feel entitled to it, and no, I’m not going to leave in a huff if things stay the way they are. I know full well that I’m a guest on this site, and I appreciate all the hard work the owners do to show me cool stuff for free every day. But I don’t agree with the view some posters seem to have that any suggestions, complaints or ideas for improvement are self-important whining. BoingBoing may not belong to its readers, but I think its owners do care about our opinions, and we shouldn’t be afraid to politely give out opinions, even if they are criticisms.

  174. Moderation Policy? Say what?
    Look, I’ve been hauling around a truckload of manure that I’ve been accumulating for the last few days and I seriously need somewhere to dump it. Are you telling me I can’t dump my manure on your blog? Do I not have a right to dump my manure on your blog? Is it not censorship to try and prevent me from dumping my manure on this blog? Do we not ooze if you prick us?

    Certainly, I could dump this manure anywhere. But that isn’t the point. The point is I want to dump it here, where everyone can see it. There’s no point in dumping this somewhere quietly where no one else sees it or smells it. There is no point in dumping this stuff somewhere like, god forbid, my own website. I don’t have the kind of traffic that this site has. All these other people get to post whatever they want to post. Why can’t I post what I want to post? I want to post manure. I tell you it isn’t right.

    Oh, the inhumanity when a man can’t dump his manure in his neighbor’s front porch for all to see. What bureacracy? What is this world coming to? What brave new world is this?

  175. #216:

    Kid (68), I’m not impressed with your options or your analyses. The Boingers are artists and journalists. They want to enable comments and community. They don’t want it to go septic again. And there’s no way they have the time to keep order here themselves. That doesn’t make them pragmatic politicians. Nothing could.

    You and your buds are just being grumpy and pompous because you’re used to doing whatever you want in online forums, and I’ve inexplicably failed to understand that that’s the natural order of the universe.

    Thanks for your reply.

    Sorry you are not impressed with my analysis, I was not trying to impress anyone. The reason why I said this event “draws a line between idealistic scholars and pragmatic politicians” is that, from my understanding, Cory and company had long been advocates of ‘mutant’ methods of governance. They supported protests or alternative ways to protest on various issues (scientology, Tibet, Comcast, TSA and so on), and now they have a mini protest staged in their own mini government.

    And here you provided the answer to my question by saying that “the Boingers are artists and journalists”. Please note that I didn’t say they are “pragmatic politicians” as you had interpreted, I was just saying that the subsequent actions will tell which role they fit in.

    I agree fully that they want to enable comments and community, and I had, in a few comments above, thanked them for enabling such feature.

    I appreciated that they don’t want the community to go septic again as a result of lack of moderation, but here on the issue of moderation I would warn that an overly-moderated or arbitrarily-moderated forum would also result in a septic community. This is similar to the issues on national security, whereas an overly-stringent security would end up harming freedom and expression.

    Lastly, I am offended by your sarcasm or personal criticism (I can’t tell) in your second paragraph. I am not here to offend any Boingers and forum members (If I did, I did not intend to, and I apologize), but somehow my ‘buds’ and I are being called “grumpy and pompous” by the moderator. I am also assumed that “I am used to doing whatever I want in online forums”, and even if I did, you don’t the authority to criticize me personally.

  176. Hippocritical,

    I’m pretty sure that your comment boils down to, “I know you are, but what am I?” That’s rich coming from someone whose great contribution to BB comments has been to accuse other commenters of lining up to give Takuan a blow-job. In fact, out of your five total comments, four of them have been you whining about how BB doesn’t fit your expectations. Maybe if you tried actually saying something, you’d get a better result.

    I’m sure that Takuan will want to respond when he gets back from picking up my blue dress at the cleaners.

  177. Wow, did every single user weigh in?

    #235,

    On protests, the old bill usually start with the shouting and thuggery before anyone else gets a chance to. To be fair, however, I’ve been on demos as well where police were the only people worth talking to.

  178. #216:

    Kid (68), I’m not impressed with your options or your analyses. The Boingers are artists and journalists. They want to enable comments and community. They don’t want it to go septic again. And there’s no way they have the time to keep order here themselves. That doesn’t make them pragmatic politicians. Nothing could.

    You and your buds are just being grumpy and pompous because you’re used to doing whatever you want in online forums, and I’ve inexplicably failed to understand that that’s the natural order of the universe.

    Thanks for your reply.

    Sorry you are not impressed with my analysis, I was not trying to impress anyone. The reason why I said this event “draws a line between idealistic scholars and pragmatic politicians” is that, from my understanding, Cory and company had long been advocates of ‘mutant’ methods of governance. They supported protests or alternative ways to protest on various issues (scientology, Tibet, Comcast, TSA and so on), and now they have a mini protest staged in their own mini government.

    And here you provided the answer to my question by saying that “the Boingers are artists and journalists”. Please note that I didn’t say they are “pragmatic politicians” as you had interpreted, I was just saying that the subsequent actions will tell which role they fit in.

    I agree fully that they want to enable comments and community, and I had, in a few comments above, thanked them for enabling such feature.

    I appreciated that they don’t want the community to go septic again as a result of lack of moderation, but here on the issue of moderation I would warn that an overly-moderated or arbitrarily-moderated forum would also result in a septic community. This is similar to the issues on national security, whereas an overly-stringent security would end up harming freedom and expression.

    Lastly, I am offended by your sarcasm or personal criticism (I can’t tell) in your second paragraph. I am not here to offend any Boingers and forum members (If I did, I did not intend to, and I apologize), but somehow my ‘buds’ and I are being called “grumpy and pompous” by the moderator. I am also assumed that “I am used to doing whatever I want in online forums”, and even if I did, you don’t the authority to criticize me personally.

    (P.S. This is a duplicate of my own post #246 because I had an HTML typo in the second paragraph to make it sound like I’m calling someone grumpy.)

  179. Around blogs, roses can spring from the idea of muck. So there’s no need to shit in the pool.

  180. “I’ve also had run-ins with Kid (31, 48), Tom Neff (33/36), Kaiser (35, 51), and others to be named later.”

    [chortle]Run-ins???[/chortle]

    Let’s be clear, the only reason you ever deigned to communicate with me was because you thought I might be the Nashville-based documentary filmmaker who shares my name. When I disappointed you in that respect, and added (in polite detail) on the strength of 20-odd years of Internet moderation in all media, that what you are doing is not actually moderating, you disdained further response.

    So be it. But it takes two to “run-in.”

    What I said then is equally true now. Your massive trove of one-line backatchas above is as good an example as any. When I posted in #40, primarily for your eyes as a putatively watchful “moderator,” that #33 was an accidental partial post of #36, and invited you to delete the stub, you did nothing, instead citing me as (33/36) above. They both still sit there. Any actual moderator worth their salt would have fixed it in a jiffy. Instead, you’re wasting time compiling position points on a policy that you’ve already claimed you didn’t even decide.

    Anyone who has really done it (including me) will agree that Internet moderating is a sh1t job – a thankless job. Anyone with a grain of intelligence would choose to do something else. So I am the last person in the world to second-guess you for doing what you do best instead, acting as an editor and/or a proxy Boinger. I would do the same – much more fun.

    It’s just this one little thing – that’s not moderating. A moderator makes sure all honest conversants are fairly heard. A moderator makes sure the channels are clear of noise and easy to comprehend. A moderator serves the debate and the debaters, not one cause. A moderator holds the text sacred, occasionally correcting it, never defiling it. Of course moderators must occasionally “moderate from within” by performing their service within a context where they have a pre-existing place or opinion. They solve this problem by *suppressing their advocacy* for the sake of an honest exchange. Not by holding an eraser in one hand and a sword in the other.

    That’s why I use the word “moderator” in quotes. And if you really think we have a “run-in” between us – well, here’s your thread. I stand at your service. Can you defend your methods? We understand you don’t have to – but can you? If you can, I promise an honest ear and an open mind.

  181. anyways, I’m happy, the shire has been scoured, many new threads beckon and BB is truly blessed that there are so MANY worth talking to.

    So long unhappy ones, I’m offski!

    (coming, friends?)


  182. #248 posted by scottfree , March 27, 2008 9:11 PM

    “Wow, did every single user weigh in?”

    I didn’t… oh wait. Darn.

  183. Checking in late, but better late than never.

    Takuan @6: Actually, speaking rot-13 is the new l33t. As Xopher has already pointed out upthread while I was busy basketweaving.

    EricT @46: 5 seconds: Coding time or runtime?

    Nix @166: If Teresa were to throw Making Book at one, one would duck, retrieve the book and hope it’s autographed. There must be at least two of it, because my copy has never left the house… while I’m looking.

    Gary61 @168: That happens all the time at Making Light. It’s rather funny.

    And a bug report: for some reason which made sense at the time, I signed up here twice, once as Chatworthy, once as Patrick Connors. I signed in as Patrick Connors, but the preview shows Chatworthy. Strange, but not the end of the world.

  184. I appreciate very much having sane moderators.

    But, I *hate* the disemvoweling! It just makes reading these (usually unworthy) comments 10 times as long and wastes so much more of my time than just deleting the comment would have taken. Maybe this is one of those “too precious” BB sacred cows, but I find it really obnoxious.

    May I suggest doing what digg, slashdot and many other sites do and just hiding the comments that meet whatever medium-offensive threshold that currently results in disemvoweling?

    Technically, it would be a totally trivial thing to do — add an additionally CSS class like badcomment to the comment-content div with { display: none; }, then add a JS onClick to show the comment. Or have JS insert the text so it doesn’t get included by search engines’ indexes.

  185. Bonzo has an established history of posting clear, well-informed, apposite, and entertaining comments…

    I’m glad someone noticed. ;)

  186. Some people might take the hint.

    I did take the hint… they aren’t interested in discussing their moderation policy nor are they open to the possibility that they might be wrong in something.

    I was told that my “low-brow” comment got moderated because it was rude. I swiftly collected a number of comments that were not just “low-brow” but vicious (as in wishing death on people for their beliefs) and pointed out that this forum is full of stuff much worse than what I posted.

    The response: silence.

    I was also accused of other things I did not do. In short, I was not at all impressed with the response. It was cursory, dismissive, and showed a lack of effort and/or comprehension.

    It’s their board, they can do whatever they want with it. I have trouble keeping quiet, though, when I hear someone claim lofty goals and demonstrates decidedly unlofty actions.

  187. I have no answer. I skimmed your comments. You seem sane, but pretty combative about the Billboard post incident. All I can say is, nobody’s perfect. Staying upset about it doesn’t appear to be making you any happier.

  188. TNH: Since you noted @ 216 that post #14 had received insufficient props, let me do likewise for a line from your own post @ 160:

    If it’s true that participating in the conversation when you’re the moderator gives you undue influence, all I can say is that the effect definitely hasn’t kicked in yet. I’m looking foward to it.

    OK, maybe this makes me a suckup, but I am now thoroughly in love with you.

  189. @251, Tom Neff, who is clearly from Mars, said:

    “I’ve also had run-ins with Kid (31, 48), Tom Neff (33/36), Kaiser (35, 51), and others to be named later.”

    [chortle]Run-ins???[/chortle]

    Let’s be clear, the only reason you ever deigned to communicate with me was because you thought I might be the Nashville-based documentary filmmaker who shares my name.

    You are clearly from Mars. I have never heard of any documentary filmmakers from Nashville, let alone Tom Neff, the documentary filmmaker from Nashville, who shares your name. If for some reason I had ever had cause to think about it, I’m sure I would have conceded the possibility that there are documentary filmmakers residing in Nashville; but that’s as far as it would have gone.

    Do you often imagine that people are mistaking you for Tom Neff, the documentary filmmaker from Nashville? Do you ever imagine that they are mistaking you for someone else entirely?

    When I disappointed you in that respect,

    Did you know that one of the film editors on My Favorite Martian was named Tom Neff? I looked him up in the Internet Movie Database when I was trying to figure out how far gone you are. It took a load off my mind to discover that there are three Tom Neffs, and one of them is a documentary filmmaker. The other two Toms Neff were both film editors. One worked on My Favorite Martian and the other worked on Blacula.

    How do you imagine people react when you think they think you’re Tom Neff, the documentary filmmaker from Nashville? Do they do anything … special?

    and added (in polite detail) on the strength of 20-odd years of Internet moderation in all media, that what you are doing is not actually moderating, you disdained further response.

    I’m afraid I don’t recall this interaction, at least not the way you describe it. Perhaps what actually happened was that I backed away slowly while making reassuring noises?

    So be it. But it takes two to “run-in.”

    Why stop at two? I’m sure your imagination is up to the challenge. Whip yourself up a whole party!

    What I said then is equally true now. Your massive trove of one-line backatchas above is as good an example as any.

    Backatchas? Is that what they call it on Mars when you stay at the office until a quarter of midnight, trying to answer all the remarks addressed to you by the reader/commenters who are your real concern? Which, by the way, was a hell of a lot of work, done at top speed.

    When I posted in #40, primarily for your eyes as a putatively watchful “moderator,” that #33 was an accidental partial post of #36, and invited you to delete the stub,

    I’m sorry, you must have mistaken me for yet a further Tom Neff, one who’s your personal assistant. I’m the person who just published a document that says we correct comments at our own discretion, and only when we have time.

    you did nothing,

    Riiiiiiight. You’re going to make a great big deal out of the fact that when I was extremely busy, and was dealing with notes and queries from half the posters on Boing Boing, I didn’t hop to and make your little text correction for you? I am astounded. You have a remarkable opinion of your own importance.

    instead citing me as (33/36) above. They both still sit there.

    So they do. So do a a lot of other glitches in comments that I could have corrected, if I had time and thought they were important.

    Any actual moderator worth their salt would have fixed it in a jiffy.

    Malarkey. My chief job as moderator is not to run around doing minor proofreading corrections. I’ve never known a moderator who had that in their job description. I think we must bid farewell to your credibility as an expert on this subject.

    Instead, you’re wasting time compiling position points on a policy that you’ve already claimed you didn’t even decide.

    Instead of paying attention to you, and following your orders, I was communicating with the rest of the readership.

    And by the way, I didn’t claim I didn’t decide any policy. If you’re going to put this much work into getting angry, why not instead put more of it into getting things right?

    Anyone who has really done it (including me) will agree that Internet moderating is a sh1t job – a thankless job.

    Most of the people I deal with aren’t that bad.

    Anyone with a grain of intelligence would choose to do something else. So I am the last person in the world to second-guess you for doing what you do best instead, acting as an editor and/or a proxy Boinger.

    You are seriously from Mars. I’m not a proxy Boinger. I’m the moderator. And I don’t see what my editorial work has to do with any of this.

    Enough. I’m tired of responding to your bizarro lectures. It’s very late at night, I have a busy day tomorrow, and I’ve spent more time trying to make sense of your fantasies than they ever deserved.

  190. Whew.

    Quite an entertaining read. The comments, I mean. The post itself, not so much. The moderation policy is reasonable enough, even if it appears as rigid authoritarianism to some, but, as several have noted here, the implementation stinks. First off, this doesn’t belong on the front page. Oh, sure, it’s your RIGHT to post it there, but it’s a terrible decision for way too many reasons.

    I’m not going to go back and try to remember who said that the comments here were “overwhelmingly” in favor of Teresa’s position, but I will politely disagree. Many of the comments here have expressed a discontentment, if not outright disgust, at the politicizing and arbitrary nature of many of these editorial decisions. The fact that this thread is so lengthy should be some indication of how polarizing this is. I’m quite sure Teresa has an edge here, but is that really so surprising? And even if only a fiftieth of BoingBoing’s readership disagrees, considering the extreme popularity of this blog, isn’t that enough reason to have this discussion? But too much disagreement gets you disemvoweled, or worse, so watch what you think. Nonetheless, kindly add my complaint to the list, please.

    Here’s what really rubs me the wrong way. I have been a fan of BoingBoing since the earliest days, and never has it seemed so insular and hive-minded as it does right now. Trolls are the scourge of the Internet, we all know that, but this post is pure showboating. Teresa has made it clear what the policies are, and although moderation serves to ease the conversation along, it only works provided that the moderator isn’t making snide and unhelpful comments herself.

    Malcolm Muggeridge once noted that “good taste and humor are a contradiction in terms, like a chaste whore.” Civility is a virtue, but indignation’s a vice. So often we believe that because an opinion is unpopular, it must be incorrect. We have proven that, as a species, we are uncivilized, and that we behave strangely in groups. We have further proven, time and again, that we are all deeply flawed individuals. Often we are capricious, and even more often we play favorites. Perhaps this very thread will help to expose the silliness and self-congratulation of such policies as disemvolwelment, and pave the way for similar, albeit somewhat more considerate and less humiliating forms of public shaming. After all, the haters need love, too. Even more than the lovers do. Lead by example.

    Let’s face it, if only a fifth of the people read the disemvoweled comments, they may as well just be deleted altogether. Yes, you thought of a neat new way to combat trolls, but so what? The term “troll” itself is dehumanizing and mean-spirited. Reader’s opinions of their fellow contributors shouldn’t be overtly influenced by the beliefs of a few, even if the few are virtuous. But it is not without precedent, this “us against them” mentality. Irreverence and mean-spiritedness are common traits among some of the world’s finest thinkers. The world is full of idiots, and so you have the choice of being one of them, or becoming terribly alienated and brilliant. If you really believe that you’re well-adjusted, chances are you’re a moron.

    Blindly agreeing with any kind of conventional wisdom, without even attempting to see why others might find displeasure in having to deal with such mindless complacency, doesn’t even register as the expression of an opinion. And given the number of malcontents, cynics, skeptics, and misanthropes the Boingers have given innumerable pages of lip-service to over the years, this whole notion smacks of a “do as we say, not as we do” instinct. Yes, I mean censorship. Still, affixing scarlet letters might seem like fun to a sadist.

    I have little appreciation for disemvoweling others’ words. The sentiment has been expressed before: it is an insult to the readers of this blog who consider themselves capable of deciding for themselves what is or is not appropriate. Imagine that. Certainly many comments are deserving of deletion, but more rigorous standards should be established to ensure balance. Any suggestion that edits here have been unbiased is an outright denial of the facts. Every edit must be biased, or else the edit wouldn’t occur. These prejudices with respect to certain uses of language, though arguably valid, are reflections of the moderator’s best judgment, but hers is occasionally a righteously indignant judgment, regardless of how she sees it. For Pete’s sake, throw in the vowel already. D’oh!

    Someone asked not too long ago if BoingBoing had jumped the shark. I would say that, if it hadn’t already happened, today’s the day. Don’t mind me, though. The fact that I disagree with this policy is proof enough that I’m disagreeable. Still, a condescending list such as this only emboldens the enemy. We’re not children or terrorists, although some of the comments would seem to indicate otherwise. Most of these policies should be common sense to anyone by now, but some of them are just plain absurd. Beyond that, unless half or more of BoingBoing’s readership are discourteous losers, the rest of us shouldn’t be subjected to snotty primers on the merits of politely engaging in snotless discourse. Like I said, it’s your right to post whatever you like, but so is scarfing down bizarre animal parts on reality TV shows. It may have not been your aim to incite such a discussion, but you must have known that it would. Who has the moral high ground?

    As to the assertion that the practice of disemvowelment “emasculates” the culprit, once again I must restrainedly disagree. If after reading a disemvoweled comment I am unable to understand why such an action was absolutely necessary, I lose confidence that the practice as a whole is of any use. As is evidenced here, I know that I am not alone in this estimation. Likewise, if I am offended by any other reader’s comments, I become even more upset that my needs weren’t catered to with the sort of anal obsessiveness we’ve grown to expect from Thanatos, the Mod of Death. Just kidding, Teresa. You’re catching a little heat here, and it’s not entirely undeserved. Snarky mods who complain of others’ snarkiness are a dime a dozen. But hey, I’m just one thinking human. I won’t bother crafting a list of suggestions… I will merely state my opinion and move on.

    One last thing, respectfully. According to Wikipedia, Xeni said of irritable vowel syndrome: “the dialogue stays, but the misanthrope looks ridiculous, and the emotional sting is neutralized.” This would seem to imply that every person who has fallen victim to said disemvowelment is a misanthrope, which is every bit as ridiculous. Countless disrespectful comments have evaded Teresa’s scrupulous eye, while several innocuous ones go the way of the spotted vowel. Bah-dum-CHING! Okay, the spotted owl isn’t extinct yet… I couldn’t help it.

  191. This would be fine if it were true. Call it whatever you want, but when I left a comment on Cory Doctorow’s coffee tamper post asking whether BoingBoing takes product for money it was “disemvowelled”. This is a perfectly legitimate question, involved no profanity and in my opinion was disemvowelled on your whim. You can call it clever and a device to control trolls, but I call it censorship, which it is.

    People want to know whether BoingBoing takes product in exchange for posting about it. Full stop. It’s a legitimate question and deserves an answer. Not censorship.

  192. Tree Shapiro:

    People want to know whether BoingBoing takes product in exchange for posting about it. Full stop. It’s a legitimate question and deserves an answer.

    Actually, Tree… speak for yourself. I could really give a shit. You act like they are your elected politicians or some crap. LOL They owe you…. nothing. You might as well like it.

  193. “Jim Cowling (12): Did it ever occur to you, when you were defending the poor oppressed questions against their answer overlords, that the same person wrote both?”

    You’ve written it in the form of an FAQ; my tongue-in-cheek summary was likewise written in the form of an FAQ. Or maybe you’ve never before been asked questions like those in your policy, in which case the reason it was styled as an FAQ is a mystery.

    I promise that I wrote both the answers and the questions in my response. Y’know, just in case you weren’t sure.

    “If it’s true that participating in the conversation when you’re the moderator gives you undue influence, all I can say is that the effect definitely hasn’t kicked in yet. I’m looking foward to it.”

    Well, you are the only person who alters or deletes comments in threads in which you’re involved. Some would call that undue influence.

    IMHO, moderation works best when it is dispassionate and unbiased. It is a rare person who can moderate that way when involved in a conversation. And when I mean ‘rare’, I mean that theoretically such people exist, but I’ve never met one. I’m sure as hell not one of them, and I’ve been moderating on and off since the pre-Web era.

    Better that multiple moderators work as a team, and recuse themselves from discussions in which they become involved. It may not result in truly unbiased moderation, but it gives the illusion of unbiased moderation.

    Anyhow, I’m just talking. In the final analysis, we can like it or lump it, and I’m more than happy to like it. I’ve been disemvowelled once, but I don’t post often and I don’t go out of my way to be an ass.

    I figure that you’re just an irritable and unpredictable force of nature. Posting to BoingBoing is like living in Tornado Alley. And we like the cheap real estate too much, so we take the risk of the storm coming in.

  194. The Boingers have no obligation to their readership, but credibility is a concern for some. I’m not making demands that they ‘fess up to anything. I will continue to respect them if they don’t, because this is a blog, not the New York Times.

    Still, it’d be nice to know that they’re not accepting kickbacks from telecoms or wealthy Pastafarians.

  195. f thr ws sm qstn f vrkll nd qstnble mdrtr bhvr, # 262 cnfrms #263 cmmnts…n spds! thnks fr plng th rls r sbjct t m whms…

  196. RE post #216 by Teresa Nielsen Hayden

    Teresa,
    I do not object to the moderation policy at all but I can not help but notice the absolute zeal with which you are going about it. The manner by which you respond back to quite a few trolls with such enthusiasm and perhaps even glee.

    Which makes me question if the real point of this exercise for you personally is not to make this place a better one but rather to expand your visibility and to essentially make the “Respect Ma Authoratai !” statement.

    The need for moderation is unquestioned but I have grave concerns about the manner in which you have chosen to go about it. In my opinion, the very best societal police go about their work quietly and without personal aggrandizement (i.e. anonymously).

    I have always had and will always have grave concerns (but not trollish concerns) for those who go about their policing duties with too much enthusiasm. In my opinion, moderation should be a thankless, behind the scenes job. – the kind that, you know you’re always trying to pass off onto the intern or something. In my experience, moderators who make themselves “Superstars” shortly thereafter become oppressive dictators shortly before the community that they were moderating dissolves (see Kuro5hin).

    I’m not saying this will happen to you Teresa, nor am I implying that this is your intent (I believe quite the opposite) – but I have never experienced any other outcome. Timef rame for this has always been 2-6 months mins and max.

  197. Really heavy handed to mod this thread in any way. But hey last time people complained they just did away with comments altogether. (it wasn’t nearly as “septic” as the mod would have you believe, I was there) Given the non response/attitude of the mods/editors maybe that was best.

    Obviously I have no say, but I’d prefer no comments to this moderator.

  198. Oh and yeah you moderated a lot of stuff that is certainly on topic and not that bad. In particular a lot of posts that I would have considered satire. But hey quash dissent all you want, I’ll never look at another comment thread here. There are plenty of other weblogs posting the same stuff you do.

  199. Hmmm… looking through this thread, it occurs to me that a significant number of the critics seem to be looking for a few basic things… each of which has an “interesting” flip-side:

    1) Moderator never to actually get involved in the discussion, but rather to be invisible.

    -1) No visible authority figure.

    2) Not so many rules, and not so “vague”.

    -2) Rules simple and rigid enough for them to “hack” or evade.

    3) Moderator to fix all typos and double posts promptly.

    -3) “I’m the customer here, you have to do what I say, and I want better service!” (Never mind that the “customers” aren’t actually paying anything….)

    4) No disemvowelling, it’s “disrespectful”. Either delete or let it go.

    -4) Serial trolls want their rejected posts to simply disappear, so they can crow about how the Fascist Tyrant is suppressing them for no reason at all. Meanwhile, they can try again and again until the mod “misses one”.

    5) Moderator must fully justify each and every intervention in the discussion.

    -5) “Hey, the Internet’s supposed to be free, so who put this Teresa person in charge?” (Free answer: The site owner.)

  200. Jeblis @272 & 273:
    it wasn’t nearly as “septic” as the mod would have you believe, I was there

    It was septic enough for the Boingers, apparently, which is the standard that they get to apply on their weblog. The fact that you were there participating in it, and don’t see the problem now, might contribute to the way your current comments are being treated.

    Perhaps this is a sign that this is not the right community for your particular style of comment? You may be wise, in that case, to leave. Best of luck in the wider internet.

  201. syc··phnt (sk-fnt, sk-)
    n.
    srvl slf-skr wh ttmpts t wn fvr by flttrng nflntl ppl.

    Bng Bng hs bcm prdy f tslf. Th “Bngrs” tnd t pst rtcls tht prmt thmslvs, thr frnds r thr bsnss ntrsts nd wll nly lstn t ppl wh gr.

    Th whl shw s lrdd vr by bllyng gmnc.

  202. Technogirl @270:
    In my experience, moderators who make themselves “Superstars” shortly thereafter become oppressive dictators shortly before the community that they were moderating dissolves …Timeframe for this has always been 2-6 months mins and max.

    Teresa’s own weblog, Making Light, has been running since 2001, under her active, visible and enthusiastic moderation. It’s a lively, active and intellectually challenging community, supportive in bad times and funny most of the time.

    more generally, to many people
    Two assumptions I see repeatedly here:

    1. Teresa is an inexperienced moderator, and it’s helpful to give her advice (Answer: vide supra)

    and with that, 1a. That advice is even better when given in a condescending tone (This makes me doubt the advisor’s experience in interpersonal relationships: if you’re trying to be a peer, talk like one, not like you’re in charge here. Moderating the moderator is like topping from the bottom.)

    and 2. That your style of moderation in your community would suit either Teresa’s personality or the community here.

    I would be very interested to see links to communities where all you other moderators are doing your stuff. I’d love to see you in action, so that I could judge the efficacy of your advice, and the consistency with which you yourself apply it.

    As for me, for full disclosure, I am the most recent moderator and front page poster on Making Light. But I’m always interested in learning new things about moderation, from people who are genuinely interested in teaching it.

  203. I just wanted to respond as well…running a mailing list for nearly 20 years, as well as a social website for 12…it is damn near impossible to please everyone but yourself. Especially when you have more than a dozen people.

    Me? I just ‘uninvite’ people that get on my nerves…my site was originally a ‘by invitation only, but if you found it, well, we’ll make an exception’ site for pros. I realized out of a little over 50k of folks that have registered and posted, only 25k were still authorized to do so. Almost half were ‘asked’ to leave.

    I’m much better at it now…and have different expectations of my readers…and it is entirely because folks like Teresa have shared their knowledge. Moderation is an art…not everyone has it. And yet, I can still disagree with some of the moderations here…I know on my last post, I poked light fun of one of the correspondents based on another’s post and had *HALF* my post disemvowelled! Not the whole thing, just half…that is just damn funny. Probably took a lot more effort than just pressing the DSMVWLL button. I laughed at it because it is more effort than I’d put into it, even while disagreeing…but it ain’t my site, so I also understand folks have different expectations.

    Beyond this, I wonder — should a community be moderated differently once there is a critical mass? Should there be a different sort of accepting for the sake of freedom of speech? This is a question I’ve been struggling with now that I realize my own site is the voice of a two specific groups of people and there really isn’t another place for them to go. When we were smaller (purposely), it was a much easier question to ask and answer. Just curious…

  204. All right. Fine. I’ve dumped my manure in my own personal garden. It’s early enough in the season that it might work as fertilizer. But since no one else but me is going to see it, I feel it neccessary to draw attenttion to the fact that I didn’t draw attention to myself by dumping my manure in a private location. I think the moderators should personally thank me for not drawing attention to myself.

    OK, it’s been at least thirty seconds and I still haven’t gotten a autographed postcard from any of the Boingers here personally thanking me for not drawing attention to myself. This place sucks. And yet, I’m continually drawn to it. Damn you BB, for your silent mockery of my selfless act of unpublic manure spreading.

  205. I just want to meek out a comment here and say I am pretty impressed by the humility of letting a contrary opinion (#28 the finest example) survive without being disemvoweled like I’ve seen in the past. It gives hope that there can actually be discussion here and not just a one way cult of personality. Thank you!

  206. Teresa’s own weblog, Making Light, has been running since 2001, under her active, visible and enthusiastic moderation. It’s a lively, active and intellectually challenging community, supportive in bad times and funny most of the time.

    >My experience with Making Light was much different; I responded to some posts in Summer 2007 where habituates were soundly and repeatedly bullying the focus of the story; my protective comments first got no vowels, then got removed by THN. One thread eventually reached over 1000 comments.

    I can only akin my experience in this regard as being witness to a written raping; the violence is being perpetuated and allowed by the staff of Boing-Boing, albeit sans dedicated cronies. The witty quintuple-entendres continue though.

    Please cancel my subscription.

  207. Takeshi: No, they don’t take kickbacks.

    And, for what seems like the dozenth time in the last two days: you don’t get disemvowelled for disagreeing. You get disemvowelled for being rude.

  208. To Post #277 evilrooster

    Several points:
    1. I am absolutely not going to engage in a snark-fest with you regardless of how much I like the word that I just made up.

    2. Your argument which says essentially that if I can not provide you with a real life implementation of my opinions renders my opinion invalid – is a straw man argument and I will not do in that direction either.

    3. My opinion is that Teresa’s ideas may well work fine on her own small blog are not scalable to a larger community.

    4. As I mentioned earlier, Kuro5hin is a fine example of where the site moderator became overwhelmed by trollishness . He implemented a highly visible and severe moderation policy which only served to engage in further troll wars and drive the community away. Both regulars and the site owner became discouraged and the community that had developed there is no more.

    5. It should not be surprising to point out that arguments regarding

    a. The tendency of human beings to abuse their authority (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? )

    b. The proper role of the soldier, police-person whatever in such a situation

    c. The roles and responsibilities of a person exercising free speech in a free society precede Teresa’s blog and even (heavens!) the internet itself.

    (OK, I did delve into snarkdom there for a minute?)

    My opinions are based largely , though not exclusively on many of Plato’s concepts of the soldier (read moderator) entrusted with guarding the security his society

    I refer you to Plato’s Politeia in which he expresses his ideas of the “citizen soldier” as well as well as some interesting counter point from Aristotle in hos ideas about the republic and the role of the guardian in it.

    Lastly, the more I think of the idea behind “disemvoweling” the less I like it and the more it seems as a thinly disguised way of someone very visibly exercising their authority over those with whom they want to make a point.

    Do not misunderstand me – I absolutely loathe trolls and uncivil behavior. But the more that I think about it the mroe that I feel that the correct manner of dealing with it is silently, behind the scenes and without fanfare and adulation.

    Moderation can NEVER be a war of personalities, something that will inevitable occur if the personality of the moderator is allowed to intrude onto the process; hence my stated desire for anonymous moderation.

    Moderation can never be a war of personalities because the trolls will always, ALWAYS win that war for the following reasons.

    a. Trolls have more time then you do. That’s why they are trolls. If they had a life outside of trolldom then they would not be trolls they would be at baseball games, movies, having a beer with their friends or getting laid.

    If you have two hours to wage war against a troll , the troll will have eight. If you have eight the troll will have twelve. If you have twelve the troll will take all day if necessary. You can ALWAYS give up your entire live and devote it to the war. Become just like the troll and then – the troll wins. Game over.

    b. The more attention that you draw to the troll (like disemvoweling) the more the troll likes it. You’ve heard the saying “Never get into a fight with a pig, you just get dirty and the pig likes it.”. It’s SO appropos. when you disemvowel a troll you do NOT emasculate his message – you create a martyr (well in the trolls eyes you do anyway).
    And you also open Pandora’s other box regarding free speech issues – a box that an enormous amount of your participants will look into regardless of whether they understand the issue or not – and most won’t.

    See the number of comments in this thread? Right.

    c. You can not win a war of personalities with a troll because you have many aspects of your personality and can see many sides of an issue. A troll does not. A troll sees only one side of an issue – HIS side. And the purity and the clarity and the focus of his thought process is as strong as any religious extremist who as ever strapped a bomb onto a twelve year old and sent him out into a crowded shopping center.

    Personality must, in my opinion never enter into the moderation process. (and no, damn it , I will NOT provide you with a “workable example”)

    Just get rid of the message – don’t take the time to “emasculate” the messenger.

    Just do it. Don’t take thirty paragraphs to talk about how you are going to go about it.

    Don’t glamorize the troll. Fatal Mistake

    c.

  209. Cats Unite,

    The closest thread I can find to match your description is from October of last year, about an author who unapologetically plagiarized a recently dead writer’s book, then played the disability card to try to excuse her behavior. Her agent, meanwhile, made threats both financial and spiritual.

    This didn’t go down well in a group of writers, many of them disabled.

    Tell me, do you think bringing rape analogies into this discussion is any better an idea?

  210. R: #283 Trs Nlsn Hydn
    “Tksh: N, thy dn’t tk kckbcks.”

    N nt kckbcks f crs bt … wll hr’s n xmpl …
    Vrzn s stll th scm f th rth whn t cms t cstmr srvc, thr hrrd FS mplmnttn nd ,h ys, tht lttl phn tppng n ch nd vry mrcn dl thy hv gng n wth th C/NS ths dys

    Nw thr sts r brngng ts t ppl’s ttntn nd Bng Bng sd t b prtty hrd n th ld “V” tslf n tms pst… bt nw tht Vrzn s spnsr f BBTV wht d w s n BB?:

    Mrch 14, 2008
    “Vrzn tmng p wth P2P cmpns, Yl, t mk fl-shrng fstr”

    Lk th BB tm ds GRT jb nd dsrvs lttl csh t spprt thr ffrts bt pls Thrs d nt dld yrslf r rslvs nt blvng tht th cnmcs f spnsrshp nvr ntrds nt dtrl dcsns.

    Gv s crdt fr ndrstndng hw th rl wrld wrks.

  211. #263 said “it only works provided that the moderator isn’t making snide and unhelpful comments herself.”

    This is the heart of my problem with Teresa’s moderation style. It isn’t really moderation any more when you’re getting into petty fights with people, calling them out for their spelling mistakes or picking their comments apart point by point.

    @ #216 You’ve had run-ins with me? And you’ll name more names later? What is that exactly? That’s neither on topic or a response to something I said. That’s just taking a jab at someone. You say you want intelligent conversation but how quickly you’ll roll around in the mud with the rest of us.

  212. Woo hoo you guys did it! Nearly 300 posts of completely pointless bickering! I think we can top 300 here people, and to help here are some good starting points for another whine-fest:

    1. Fuck whales! Those fat bastards are eating all the krill that could be going to starving children.

    2. The ozone is overrated. People look better in long sleeves anyway.

    3. AMD vs. Intel

    4. ATI vs. NVidia

    5. Windows Vs. OS X Vs. *NIX

    6. I hate your baby! I hate all babies!

    6. All praise to our Lord and Saviour

    6. …SATAN!

  213. Technogirl @284:

    1. I had no intention of getting into a snark-fest with you, not even if you surpass Shakespeare in linguistic coinages (please feel free to try; I like new words). I nearly added a comment to the effect that the second part of 277 was not directed at you, but real life called me from the keyboard.

    2. I still prefer to see worked examples of interpersonal theories in real life. People do amazing, surprising things, many of which demolish abstract theories of human interaction. Plato’s Republic, for instance, never existed, nor ever could. (And if it did, I’d rather not live there.)

    Lack of an example doesn’t render an argument invalid, it just makes it abstract. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course; principles and theories are often a sounder basis of action than pure expediency. But the combination of abstraction and a world-weary tone, as some others have adopted here, smacks of the armchair. At some point, I want to see some examples of these lovely ideas in action.

    3. That’s a perfectly valid opinion, but you don’t need me to tell you that.

    4. I was only briefly on Kuro5hin, but I have seen other communities fall apart, temporarily or permanently. Communities do that. There’s a fair argument that the previous iteration of open commenting in BoingBoing was a community, one that melted down from lack of moderation.

    I don’t know, any more than you or anyone else does, what will happen here. I’m interested to find out. I suspect that if Teresa and the Boingers (Bootleg?) feel that the community is not growing in the direction they want it to, they’ll consider some of the things suggested in this thread. I also suspect they’ll listen more to practical suggestions than purely abstract ones, but I really have no idea.

    I think the remainder of your post is an excellent statement of one approach to moderation. As I said before — and this is more than just a “put up or shut up — I’d be very interested in seeing a good example of such a community in action. I’m sorry you’ve taken my request in the vein of a challenge, because it’s not meant that way in this case. I’d like to go look at one. I could learn a lot.

  214. #285

    that is not the thread, but it is applicable.

    rape – to seize, enjoy hastily. To take by force.

    This sounds like disemvowelling; moderators (only moderators) gets a transient pleasure from doing it. They display the red bedsheets. They move on.

    Popular blogs with long, negative comment threads can destroy the reputations of the targeted party; they come up on google for starters. To willfully participate in or allow such activities is temporarily satisfying but permanently damaging and this is allowed, perhaps encouraged on ML – by the moderator. Will it be allowed on BB? I don’t know, but I’m not waiting to find out either.

  215. Avram @ 56:

    Comments complaining about how boring the post is are nearly always, themselves, boring. In order to keep these self-referential comments from bootstrapping themselves into computerized sapience and spreading their boringness throughout the Known Net, they have to be deleted.

    That’s a lovely, shiny comment. Reposted in full for the sheer joy of it.

    And I must say, I really like this pair of criticisms:

    Kpratt @ 211:

    Context? A framing to the post such that some of us don’t see “AND YEAH VERILY THOU SHALT READEST MY TOME.” and wonder what the hell just happened?

    Ogre Lawless @ 231:

    No user policy needs to be seventy seven paragraphs. Its length, tone and odd “whimsy” of disemvowling seems like poor choices were made in judging the discretion of this moderator. Respect is a two-way street.

    Too authoritarian and too whimsical at the same time! How do you do it, Teresa?

  216. RE: #289 posted by evilrooster

    “I’d be very interested in seeing a good example of such a community in action.”

    You want me to show you a community where :

    -moderation is handled anonymously

    – no personality issues from a single moderator what so ever intrude upon the process e.g.. no demagogues

    -no destruction of the original message occurs and no “emasculation” of the messenger is committed .

    – the community of free to pick and choose whether or not to view the message

    Well I’m simply not going to do that because as soon as point out even the most obvious example of such a thing then this argument devolves from a ransfer if ideas concerning moderation and the role of the moderator into a tit for tat of whether a given example lives up to those ideas. So I’m just not going to go there at all.

    “There’s a fair argument that the previous iteration of open commenting in BoingBoing was a community, one that melted down from lack of moderation.”

    Of this I do not doubt – it’s the implementation that I am concerned with not the usefulness of the idea..

    I have seen too many cases where a community dissolved from the effects of an over zealous moderator. Where,what should be a simple social policing action turned personal.

    The requirements to be a moderator should be much like those for a politician, if you really love the job then you are probably ill suited for it.

  217. #272 Jeblis

    Oh and yeah you moderated a lot of stuff that is certainly on topic and not that bad. In particular a lot of posts that I would have considered satire.

    LET’S BE CLEAR (and shout a little)

    LOTS OF THE POST IN THIS THREAD HAVE BEEN SELF-DISEMVOWELLED, IN SATIRE.

    #288 Buttseks, those last 3 probly won’t raise and eyebrow, let alone the 12 more comments needed to break 300 :)

  218. I snarked myself into oblivion – and was helped by the fact the this board discards everything between the angle brackets (which I should have known) ….

    My key paragraph should have read

    “Well I’m simply not going to do that because as soon as point out even the most obvious example of such a thing {**cough**cough**slashdot**cough**} then this argument devolves from a transfer if ideas concerning moderation and the role of the moderator into a tit for tat of whether a given example lives up to those ideas. So I’m just not going to go there at all.”

    Damn you Gods of Snarkiness and your arbitrary ways!

  219. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Teresa, for posting that fantastic document. It’s as perfect a description of our aspirations for Boing Boing’s message boards as I can imagine. I’m really glad you took my advice and posted it all to the front door.

    Cory

  220. Technogirl @292 & 294:

    Ah, that example. Very well; we will not discuss it, neither its strengths nor its weaknesses.

    I was merely hoping for some new world to explore.

    The requirements to be a moderator should be much like those for a politician, if you really love the job then you are probably ill suited for it.

    I think it depends which part of the job you love. If you don’t love the interpersonal interaction, untangling the threads of the discussion, finding and teasing apart the quarrels before they explode, then you should probably not be a moderator. If you love the power then no, maybe get an ant farm instead.

    My Gods of Snarkiness mean that I have to go through three or four error messages before posting. I think we both need to make more puns.

  221. Technogirl @ 284:

    Do not misunderstand me – I absolutely loathe trolls and uncivil behavior. But the more that I think about it the mroe that I feel that the correct manner of dealing with it is silently, behind the scenes and without fanfare and adulation…..Personality must, in my opinion never enter into the moderation process.

    Personality will be a part of the moderation process as long as you have human beings doing the moderation. It would be great if we had silent, machine-like moderators, capable of adjudicating objectively on every issue. Thing is, we don’t–we have human beings, who are error-prone and fallible. You know this:

    a. The tendency of human beings to abuse their authority (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? )

    So why do you think that the best way to keep humans from abusing their authority and indulging their personality quirks is to keep them in the shadows? When has that ever worked? The lesson I get from reading history is that if you want accountable authority figures, you have to subject them to as much public scrutiny as possible. Which is why, in a weird, roundabout way, this whole thread has been a huge success–people are engaging in a dialogue with their moderator.*

    If you have anonymous moderators, it won’t get rid of personality conflicts. All it’ll mean is everyone will be in the dark regarding one half of the conflict. You want a black-box system, which is wonderful in abstract but, practically speaking, impossible. The next best thing is a moderator who we all know and, hopefully, trust. If being a public part of the community breaks that trust, then the community will burn. You seem to take for granted that this will happen. We aren’t so sure.

    *Which is not, I note, the same thing as agreeing with their moderator.

  222. Cats Unite @290:

    rape – to seize, enjoy hastily. To take by force….This sounds like disemvowelling; moderators (only moderators) gets a transient pleasure from doing it. They display the red bedsheets. They move on.

    Cheapening the word rape to make a point, and doing it in gory detail to boot. What a compelling argument for more empathy you make.

    Godwin next?

  223. long comment section is loooong.

    Didn’t got around to read all the comments, so I don’t know if this was mentioned before, but… I think it would be cool to have an “emvowell/disemvowell” button, only for disemvowelled posts, so everybody could check by themselves the alleged douchebaggery which caused the disemvowellment. Could work just like the “spoilers” buttons I’ve seen in some message boards.

  224. Technogirl @293: I think you’re really hobbling yourself by refusing to use actual examples and counter-examples. Abstract discussion can only get us so far; moderation is such an art that examples are necessary to further the discussion. Really, by trying to keep the discussion at the abstract, you make it look like there’s an “argument” that you’re afraid to “lose”, rather than a discussion about ideal moderation.

    Cory @295: Just wanted to point at your comment, in case anybody missed it. Really, what’s the big deal about posting to the front page anyway, when it’s going to fall off the front page after about 24-36 hours? If Teresa was the raving egotist some posters here want to paint her, she’d’ve put it up last thing on Friday so it would have been on the front page all weekend and well into Monday, maybe Tuesday.

  225. Theresa,
    I very much appreciate your moderation. I feel like this is a site where I can honestly and safely have a conversation.
    Thanks.

  226. Most people have been making analogies to Fark, Digg, or Slashdot, and other large forums. But that’s inaccurate–Boing Boing isn’t a forum. It’s a blog. And there are zillions of successful, widely-read blogs with absolutely idiosyncratic posting policies. And it’s perfectly well understood that that’s the right of the blogger to decide what topics are discussed, and what behavior tolerated, on their blog. That’s the whole point of a blog: you go there to get a particular person’s take on the world. It’s also well-understood that the blogger is going to be posting in the same comment section that they are moderating. And it all works fine. So why are people jumping down Boing Boing’s throat for doing the same?

    People are getting too distracted by the title of moderator, I think. It conjures up images of forums and bbs boards, not the comments section at (insert your favorite blog here). Because Teresa isn’t one of the ones making the posts, it’s very easy for people to question her authority. “Who gave YOU the right to tell me what I can say?” But that’s bs. The bloggers picked her to do this. She has the right because they gave it to her. They decided to trust her with it. If you disagree with their decision, then maybe you aren’t quite as in tune with them as you thought you were.

  227. @216: ‘I just wish he’d figure out that my last name isn’t Hayden.’

    It’s not? I don’t doubt you, it’s your name after all, but in the absence of a hyphen or a widely-known non-English name particle (e.g. von, van, ap, or ten) it’s the natural assumption. (And if it’s not Nielson Hayden, then I’ll have to ask for a flag on the play, or burn the ref in effigy or something.)

    @198: Oh, that’s so Formula 1 of you.

  228. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Teresa, for posting that fantastic document…”
    Cory

    Cory, do long post like that normally interest you, because I have a short story here I’d love you to read ;)

    There have been a lot of good posts here. Many of these people are your fans (like me)and many of their comments reflect a culture of expectation that you, yourself have fostered. Cory, you and the other BoingBoingers want people to be here because they like it, and I think it’s a fair expectation that they be respected as part of this culture, and to be treated fairly. Number 28 had some very constructive things to say. You might do yourself a great service to read just that one post and try to see if some of it rings true. IMHO. And I think I like Terresa, so I’m not out to pick on someone. Seriously.

  229. Capn Barcode @303

    And if it’s not Nielson Hayden, then I’ll have to ask for a flag on the play, or burn the ref in effigy or something

    I am all but devastated to inform you that the surname in question is not Nielson Hayden, but rather Nielsen Hayden, a slight but perceptible difference from an otherwise well-reasoned and considered guess.

    Must we therefore request said flag, or burn an effigy?

  230. RE:297 posted by heresiarch514
    “So why do you think that the best way to keep humans from abusing their authority and indulging their personality quirks is to keep them in the shadows? When has that ever worked? The lesson I get from reading history is that if you want accountable authority figures, you have to subject them to as much public scrutiny as possible.”

    Excellent point and I was unclear and rambling somewhat in my message (more coffee please!)

    The point that I was trying to make was not to in providing accountability for moderation (because there is no accountability here – let’s be real) but rather to point out what I thought were effective vs. ineffective means of moderation.

    I believe that having an outspoken , vocal moderator involved in the discussion and who is also actively engaging trolls by “pointing them out” or passively by disemvoweling them is a potential time bomb because:

    1. There are more trolls than moderators. Many, many more.

    2. Any given troll is more likely to have more time trolling than a moderator has engaging him.

    3. It takes focus away from the actual discussion at hand and refocuses it upon the moderation methodology or the moderator herself.

    So my point that moderation should be low-key, behind the scenes and anonymous had nothing to do with accountability but rather of doing something that just works instead of doing something that provokes more meta-discussion regarding the process (yes I know that’s a redundant phrase but I just don’t care until I have my coffee!)

  231. Ww, th bngrs r pstng nw strs lk dmns!

    Tryng t bry ths thrd frm th frnt pg? s t’s bn Dgg lrdy…

  232. RE:297 posted by heresiarch514
    “You want a black-box system, which is wonderful in abstract but, practically speaking, impossible.”

    Slashdot.

    No single moderator to single out.

    The process just gets done.

    The user has the choice to see the offending posts or not – or what level of foolishness she is willing to tolerate

    No one person can be held to blame – or more ** importantly **to cheer. This no cult of personality can exist – or presumed to exist.

    Of course there are problems with that system. It’s just one example out of many. But it does work in it’s way.
    I have no idea who is moderating what and I don’t care and I don;t want to know. All that I need to know is that if I set my “moderation level” to +3 I really enjoy what I consider to be the interesting opinions there without being bothered by all the noise.

  233. RE : #302 posted by heresiarch

    “Most people have been making analogies to Fark, Digg, or Slashdot, and other large forums. But that’s inaccurate–Boing Boing isn’t a forum. It’s a blog. ”

    Yes I suppose that you have a point there. Boing-Boing is a place where a select number of people make posts (or have posts recommended )about interesting things that they have found on the internet or in the news . And then the community that reads the article and throws their two cents in. .

    Opps! I meant Slashdot and Fark rather than BB.
    My Bad. sorry.

  234. For a place like Boing Boing that deals with the topic of censorship on a regular basis, I really dislike seeing posts (other than spam) removed for any reason. This especially includes the justification-less, “someone thought your comment would be better gone.” (Hint to moderator: if you don’t want to come off as the immature ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ type of moderator that most people despise, you might try treating your audience like grown-ups and explain this policy in more detail.)

    Disemvowelling isn’t a bad alternative to complete post removal, and I’d like to see it used in 100% of moderation cases.

    I know that the free-speech argument is pretty deep and there is a lot of nuance, but on the surface it is hypocritical to make such a big deal out of free-speech (a la the Tibet stuff) then turn around and completely remove a comment post.

    Those that have assimilated into the Boing Boing Experience will have no problem arguing against this oversimplification, but – you already have them as readers. The people who will really be turned off are the new folks who you’re trying to involve in your community and who *will* often see things in this manner. Given also that a lot of moderatable posts are made by inexperienced newbies, this is further argument in favor of a more universal measured response like disemvowelling.

  235. RE: #305 posted by evilrooster

    “I am all but devastated to inform you that the surname in question is not Nielson Hayden, but rather Nielsen Hayden, a slight but perceptible difference from an otherwise well-reasoned and considered guess.”

    The context of the post tto which you replied referred to this statement by Ms. Hayden (?)

    ‘I just wish he’d figure out that my last name isn’t Hayden.’

    It had nothing to do with her first name (which I apologize for spelling incorrectly in an earlier post BTW)

    What IS you last name anyway Teresa? Because I am honestly confused as well.

    One more comment – having an outspoken moderator leads to fanboy/flamebait arguments about how someones first or last name is spelled and such stuff.

    Technogirl doesn;t give a fig about how you spell her name “techn0girl” Techknowgirl or Technogoul are all fine with me . because none of them are really me.

    I am Anonymous.

    It’s not important how you spell my pen name, it’s important that you understand what I say. Not agree with it – just understand it.

  236. 300!! We rule (at internet arguments, which is kind of like ruling at pogs, or taking candy from babies).

    Theresa you should post flame bait more often.

    Democrats suck!

    Republicans suck!

    Ron Paul sucks!

    Whigs suck!

    Socialists suck!

  237. Technogirl @306:

    Another area to consider as you sip your coffee: the direct control of trolls is only one part of moderation. It’s the most visible one, particularly when the whole world seems like the underside of a bridge (as it does in this thread).

    But what about the positive aspects of moderation, such as pointing out interesting posts, encouraging good conversation, and preventing at risk posters from turning troll in the first place? These things can build a community that’s troll-resistant, where the commenters themselves help police the conversation. As you point out, trolls outnumber moderators; the community can address that imbalance*. (Not every moderator appreciates backseat moderation, of course, but I happen to know that Teresa does.)

    These positive moderation activities work best with personal engagement with the community, and cannot be done silently.

    —–
    * naturally, this does mean that the moderator then needs to ensure the community doesn’t dogpile. But loyal commenters should be easier to turn from the dark side than angry trolls

  238. Evilrooster 289:

    Plato’s Republic, for instance, never existed, nor ever could.

    Actually, I agree with Bertrand Russell that there was a “practical exegesis” of The Republic in the 20th Century. Godwin forbids me to name it. I also agree with you: NOT a place I’d care to live.

    Cats 290: What the hell thread are you talking about then? The one where a dubiously-qualified self-described “writer” was ridiculed for posting a lot of truly rotten advice on getting published, including a recommendation that writers LIE about their publication credits and awards? Or the one where Barbara Bauer, the scam literary agent, was re-re-re-re-outed as a scam literary agent? Or do you have something else in mind? If so, describe it.

    All the threads mentioned so far were about people who were caught scamming and/or encouraging others to engage in scamming. They deserved the treatment they got. If you’re talking about someone who didn’t, let us know what you’re talking about, because I for one haven’t a clue.

    And comparing it to rape trivializes the seriousness of that crime, and that offends me. However, since you’re clearly visiting from another planet where saying something bad about someone who has DONE something bad is worse than the crime committed by the person hirself, I’ll cut you some slack.

    Evilrooster 298: Damn, now you’re making me look like a sockpuppet! I swear I’m not, but hear, hear.

    Take No Grrl 311: Evilrooster was responding to a post by Capn Barcode, where s/he basically said if her name wasn’t Nielson Hayden, he’d throw up his hands.

    I personally hate throwing up my hands. It hurts, because the thumbs get caught in my throat.

  239. Disemvoweling is passive aggressive crap. Have some guts and delete the post if you don’t like it. Only the government can censor. Delete this one, I dare you. It’s your site, wimps.

  240. THN> For the dozenth time in the last two days: you don’t get disemvowelled for disagreeing. You get disemvowelled for being rude.

    This is a bare-faced lie. Tell me what is “rude” about the final line in the second comment on my profile (the TSA comment).

    http://dynamic.boingboing.net/profile/sparkzilla

    The offending sentence actually says: “It is not appropriate to use this tragedy to further an anti-government agenda. Stop your ranting and let the child rest in peace.”

    It’s not rude. It’s a plain reaction to the rest of the comments on the page and to the tone of the original post. Several other readers also expressed the same opinion on the page without their posts being mangled. Your behavior in censoring alternative opinions on the Kosovo situation was even worse.

    You infect these discussions with your own biases and, at a minimum, you should not comment on threads you moderate.

  241. RE #313 posted by evilrooster

    “These positive moderation activities work best with personal engagement with the community, and cannot be done silently.”

    Slashdot
    Fark
    Digg
    Newshounds.us
    huffingtonpost.com
    http://www.crooksandliars.com

    All work just fine and without the need for “personal engagement”

  242. To Teresa and All: (courtesy o the Micks)

    Kind friends and companions, come join me in rhyme
    Come lift up your voices in chorus with mine
    Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
    For we may and might never all meet here again

    Here’s a health to the company and one to my lass
    Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass
    Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
    For we may and might never all meet here again

    Here’s a health to the dear lass that I love so well
    Her style and her beauty, sure none can excel
    There’s a smile upon her countenance as she sits on my knee
    Sure there’s no one in in this wide world as happy as we

    Our ship lies at harbor, she’s ready to dock
    I hope she’s safe landed without any shock
    If ever we should meet again by land or by sea
    I will always remember your kindness to me

  243. Technogirl @311:
    I was playing a little there, because Capn Barcode was actually correct.

    Teresa’s surname is Nielsen Hayden, derived from her original surname (Nielsen) and her husband’s (Hayden). They both changed their names on marriage. Wikipedia has the info.

    I wonder if the irritability comes less from the spelling and more from the lack of interest in who she is as a person. I know that when I engage with someone substantively, I try to find out how they like to be addressed and use that. (I have wondered what capitalisation you prefer here. Really, truly, about three hours ago, I was considering the matter.)

    But I’m speaking for Teresa, who is of course perfectly capable of speaking for herself.

  244. #314 posted by Xopher
    “vilrooster was responding to a post by Capn Barcode, where s/he basically said if her name wasn’t Nielson Hayden, he’d throw up his hands.”

    No he was not.
    If you actually go back and read post number #303 you will find out that evil Roster was replying to a post by Capn Barcode whereupon the Capn is resoinding to a post by Teresa that says:

    “@216: ‘I just wish he’d figure out that my last name isn’t Hayden.’

    And once again we are responding to a post by Teresa rather then talking about moderation concepts and the issue is obfuscated.

    No is it the coffee kicking in along with my paranoia or am I sensing a disturbance in the Boing? Are we being infiltrated by fanboys from Teresa’s blog defending the perceived Queen? More likely my paranoia… however ….

    Still if we had no idea who was doing the fraking moderation we couldn’t complain about him/her or defend him/her could we?

    Not that Teresa is a him/her I ‘m just being gender neutral… and with that I have posted FAR too much here already about one of my favorite subjects. So I am off to do some real life work in the real life world. SOMEONE’S got to pay the rent for this crappy apartment.

  245. RE: #263 posted by takeshi

    Regarding the question of if Boing Boing has jumped the shark, I have to say that you nailed it when you referred to the posting of this document as the turning point. That said, I will also agree that the enormous pile of autofellatiotic content has been a lot of what’s gotten BB to the ramp to begin with.

    Does it matter that BB has jumped the shark when it comes to the health of their site? Maybe less than we think. Blogs have one thing going in their favor when it comes to retaining an audience: habit. We all have our little list of websites we hit every day, and this list doesn’t often change. It probably takes a lot more to lose an audience member than we think because of this.

    That said, there are people who will move on to greener pastures. I am pretty well there myself I think. My personal reasons have little to do with moderation since I’m mainly a lurker; it’s the regular content that turns me off these days.

    I’m tired of the aforementioned self-congratulatory stuff — including Teresa’s meta-promotional posts; it’s like watching the Oscars every day. Steampunk is incredibly cliche now; it’s annoying-yet-amusing to watch people who see themselves as so incredibly hip posting volumes about it. As an aggregator of other topics I’m interested in, BB does an ok job but I’m pretty confident that I can find a suitable replacement.

    Anyway, now that the Happy Mutant is wearing waterskis I suppose that it’ll be interesting if nothing else to see what happens.

  246. Technogirl @317:

    Am I allowed to comment on how the sites you cite work? Because I’ve spent enough time on both Slashdot and Digg to be able to point out that their comment threads aren’t very interesting to read at all. The ratio of adolescent posturing to content at /. in particular bores me to tears.

    Basically, the Boingers seem to prefer the sort of community that Teresa has a track record of building to the ones you list. That’s their choice, of course, it being their blog. And their choices are working, I think, complete with the increasing pattern of posting song lyrics to set the mood (nice one, Takuan).

    Xopher @314:
    I could never invent a sock puppet like you.

  247. #298

    Cheapening the word rape to make a point, and doing it in gory detail to boot. What a compelling argument for more empathy you make.

    >Maybe ‘wrape’ is better?

    wrape – the act of disenvoweling
    wrapist – one who disenvowels

    Now it’s more light-heartedly and funny aka disenvoweling. How’s this.

    #314

    yes, thanks for pointing out two more examples. I understand there is a question of the seriousness of the crimes; but is it the job of a moderator to ruin people’s careers? To engage, participate, trim online discussions to the detriment of others via god-given name or alias? To have these trimmings show up on Facebook, in Google, in other media – Is this the role of a moderator.

  248. I have to add something to my post @310 that is crucially important and that I unfortunately forgot.

    The practice of disemvowelling should only be used with a ‘re-emvowel’ button that allows one to easily render the content readable. That way a reader still makes a conscious choice to read the content, but isn’t being punished for the poster’s transgression.

  249. OMG, did someone seriously compare disemvoweling to rape? And then try to defend it by making up their own faux definition for rape?

    (insert picture of me boggling)

  250. I like disemvowelling. It lets me look at a person’s comment trail and figure out how much of a jerk they’ve been. Deleting fails to serve this valuable purpose.

    Sparkzilla 316: You accused the Boinger who posted that of exploiting the tragedy to further an anti-government agenda, then of “ranting” and obliquely of disturbing the child’s spirit. If that’s not rude I’m not sure what your criteria are. The fact that your comment was also patently absurd had little bearing on it, I’m sure.

    Tact? No, girl! 320: First, Evilrooster herself has clarified that she was playing with Capn Barcode. As for the rest of your snotty post, you can [things too rude for me to post, and involving recommendations for Tch! Noggerl to do anatomically impossible things, eliminated here].

  251. Brava, Teresa. I often cite you when I’m discussing moderation techniques with clients, and the sentiments expressed in your post are why I do.

    It is precisely because Boing Boing’s comments are moving toward the Making Light model and away from the Slashdot/Digg model that I read the comments here.

  252. Thanks for the reply, Teresa. For what it’s worth, I admire your seemingly honest approach to this problem. My only concern is with your gleeful derisiveness. In my opinion, you have been immoderately churlish while addressing people in this very thread, and many others throughout your short tenure here at BoingBoing. Every one of them may have deserved your vitriol, but surely you are aware of the bountiful advantages of permitting such unpleasantries to roll off your back, like water off a duck.

    Having said that, it is important to note that I never implied that you *don’t* disemvowel rude comments. I disagree with disemvowelment, across the board, whatever your rationale. In a nutshell, I believe that it draws additional, unnecessary attention to the alleged perpetrator, and further that it is a kind of deliberate condemnation that serves no real purpose but to embarrass offenders into compliance. I have been following these threads with some regularity, and I can say with some conviction that I have personally witnessed the routine truncation of comments that were significantly less crude than many you have allowed to slide, including some of your own. Call it executive privilege if you like. It’s petty and inexcusable, as I see it, but I’m not trying to judge you. If you really believe it’s for the best, in light of the fact that some view it as a demeaning and somewhat disingenuous practice, do as thou wilt.

    The fact is: disemvowelment could evolve into something quite a bit more appealing to all concerned, without much effort. Perhaps it is a good idea, but one whose time has passed. In the 1950s, squeezing thirty teenagers into a phone booth seemed like a good idea. Try that now, and you’re inviting a DHS investigation. A good idea doesn’t always have to be practical, either. It can serve as a blueprint for more forward-thinking endeavors. There is no shame in admitting that one’s good idea could use some improvement, or that other ideas may be superior. In theory, disemvowelment is a perfect solution, but in practice it comes off as a bit of a production.

    In brief, I am not expecting that you will agree with anything I’ve said. I only ask that you will extend the courtesy of allowing me to appeal to your sense of right and wrong. No good can come of belittling those whose opinions you regard as inferior to your own. Such displays are counterproductive at best,and they are beneath you. Let me put it another way. Real justice is about clemency, not retaliation. We have become so accustomed to seeking revenge that we often forget just why we are seeking it in the first place. Insulting someone because you found something they said to be objectionable is a lot like complaining about having to eat at McDonald’s because you were too lazy to walk to the health food store.

    Intolerant people are the most deserving of your tolerance. There are reasons they are so discourteous, and often it has a lot to do with the way they’ve been treated. You don’t have to be friendly to be tolerant of others, but if you are unfriendly, you are guilty of an equal or greater form of intolerance, because you should know better. And my intolerance of your intolerance of intolerant people is no better. Still, it needs to be said. Your position seems to be that no one should be subjected to rude comments. How then can you expect to be regarded as any kind of authority on the matter? Your harangues are classic, and obviously inspire a bit of envy among some of your more ardent supporters here. Imagine how envious your peers would be, if only you could practice what you preach.

    I’m no saint, but I can tell you with some confidence that, to some people, your treatises concerning mannerly exposition are bound to resemble vaniloquence in its ugliest form. I recognize that your position here is difficult, and that certain user’s comments can provoke feelings of consternation, anger, and divisiveness. Obviously, many here (myself included) believe that you are providing a much-needed service, but I assure you that with a modicum of patience and experience you will accede to a level of moderation supremacy heretofore undiscovered.

    And to those of you who’ve complained about others’ complaints: give it a rest. There’s been much circumspection on both sides of the aisle, and it weakens your position to dismiss others’ enthusiastic pleas for impartiality as trolling behavior. It only makes you appear less concerned with the matter at hand than the methodical ridicule of anyone expressing a dissenting viewpoint. What kind of earnest discussion is that?

  253. RE: #325 posted by GregLondon Author Profile Page, March 28, 2008 10:07 AM

    “OMG, did someone seriously compare disemvoweling to rape? ”

    No they did not.
    Someone who apparently
    1. owns a dictionary
    2. Believes that proper use of language overrides bogus “political correctness” concern trolls
    3. Does not start his sentences with “OMG”

    used the word in a correct context as in “to pillage”

    One could say, quite properly if arguably, that Teresa is raping the comment pool by altering the structure of selected comments.

    Look it up and get off that horse.

  254. Cats 323: That was on TERESA’S OWN BLOG. She has the right to do an exposé if she wants to, just as the Boingers have a right to do one on TSA killing sick babies.

    What the heck are you ON about? I’m getting your tone, which is pretty irritating, but it’s not clear you actually have any content at all. Please clarify.

    Greg 325: Bizarre and brain-damaged as it seems, yes. S/he did that very thing. And continues to defend it by making up more words, apparently not realizing how quickly s/he is sinking in our opinion, or at any rate not at all caring what we think of hir.

    At this point, I’m not so much avoiding namecalling as putting it in, then editing it out right before I post.

  255. Technogirl @320:

    No is it the coffee kicking in along with my paranoia or am I sensing a disturbance in the Boing? Are we being infiltrated by fanboys from Teresa’s blog defending the perceived Queen? More likely my paranoia… however ….

    I was unaware that my participation on Making Light made me ineligible to use my account on BoingBoing.

    This thread is about a matter that interests me greatly. You have some ideas that I’ve enjoyed discussing, and I intend to muse on them further. I don’t know that I will come to agree with you, but I genuinely appreciate your input. If that hasn’t come through, I do apologize.

    I hope you have a good day at work.

  256. Guys, Technogirl is clearly feeling dogpiled, if she’s starting to mince definitions on the word “rape”. She’s smarter than that.

    Maybe we could all leave it to posterity to determine who was right and who was simply left?

  257. Technogirl, in case you didn’t pick up on this, Evilrooster is being unfailingly courteous to you, not because she’s unaware of your attempts to be provocative, or even because you deserve it, but because that’s her nature.

  258. Orrrrrrrr…maybe because she’s better than me at perceiving what’s going on under the surface.

    (In other words, 332 posted while I was writing my last one.)

  259. I think to compare disemvoweling to even pillaging, let alone sexual violence, is overblown hyperbole and as such is bound to attract ridicule. The message is there for anyone who wants to put a little effort into it; no content has been stolen.

    Though I am mildly entertained by the mental image of a horde of vikings descending on a comment and carrying away its vowels.

  260. Technogirl@329: One could say, quite properly if arguably, that Teresa is raping the comment pool

    I appreciate the entertainment value you are bringing to this otherwise quite long and slighty depressing thread. However, if your form of comedy is misuse of terms, then you should know that you’ll need to escalate quickly to more and more outrageous re-definitions. For example:

    Teresa is peeing in the comment pool.
    Teresa is waterboarding the comment pool.
    Teresa is eviscerating the comment pool.
    Teresa is raping the comment pool.
    Teresa is torturing the comment pool.
    Teresa is slave trading the comment pool.
    Teresa is war criming the comment pool.
    Teresa is genociding the comment pool.
    Teresa is Naziing the comment pool.

    Notice how the terms keep escalating, starting from ‘peeing’ in teh pool to committing genocide. The problem is you started at “rape” which means you lost out on half the good jokes. Not only that, but when the funny man started with the “rape” comments, you simply played it straight, repeating the “rape” comment, and reinforcing it. Instead, you should have repeated it and then immediately escalated it to the next level. (note you do have to stop short of the “nazi” comment because Godwin showed that constructive discussion ends at that point, but otherwise, escalate for a fun and productive conversation.)

    Now that would have been really fricken hilarious. As it is, it’s just mildly hilarious. And I still appreciate that. but there’s plenty of space to go up from there.

  261. RE: #337 posted by GregLondon

    “I appreciate the entertainment value you are bringing to this otherwise quite long and slighty depressing thread. However, if your form of comedy is misuse of terms, then you should know that you’ll need to escalate quickly to more and more”

    From the Oxford English Dictionary, look it up yourself at :

    http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/rape_1?view=uk

    rape

    • verb 1 (of a man) force (another person) to have sexual intercourse with him against their will. 2 spoil or destroy (a place).

    To spoil or destroy a place.
    If you have a problem with that – take it up with Oxford, Webster and who all.

    Let’s use it in a sentence:
    Some people think that Teresa is raping the comment-pool of BoingBoing by being over zealous in her moderation.

    Your problem is not with me.
    Your problem appears to be with the dictionary .
    You should write them email.
    You know, try to get it changed more to your liking.

  262. Dictionaries are stupid. And they don’t show the “load” of a word. Using the word ‘rape’ to characterize TNH’s moderation is consciously, deliberately, and maliciously provocative, and hiding behind dick-tionary definitions doesn’t make it any less so.

    Bck ndr yr brdge, Tchngrl.

  263. Teresa: You did. It was the brtn mss wherein you warned us to tread softly. when not enough of us could (as I think all of us would) you disemvowelled the lot. Other solutions were found later.

    Kid (#218) . I wish our moderator would be able to shrink the whole thing to something short, less arbitrary and easily understandable, and that would eliminate a lot of people crying injustice.

    I don’t think so. I’ve seen this discussion in several places. The crux of it is (as ever) there are people who don’t like being denied the right to piss in other people’s Wheaties. The cry isn’t, “This is unfair, because it’s arbitary” (though there are some complaints dressed in that and some are, probably, honest) but “This is censorship, people are being denied the right to say/read what they want.”

    Which complaint is being used as a club; it’s an appeal to an ideal of absolute freedom, and ends up being a permission to swing fists into noses.

    Jim Cowling: (#266) Well, you are the only person who alters or deletes comments in threads in which you’re involved. Some would call that undue influence.

    Objection: Assumes facts not in evidence.

    I am not a huge reader of the threads on Boing-Boing. I read some of, perhaps, 1 in 10 of the posts to which I am shown/sent links. I read the comments on about half of those. I could be accused (from comment on the “TSA endangers baby” post of threatening someone, and not being rebuked, but I digress; I don’t know that none of the Boing-Boing editors don’t take part in conversations. I certainly don’t know what level; if any, part they take in moderation decisions.

    I have (at Majikthise, where I occaissionally guest post) been in conversations where I was also moderating. My first disemvowellment was painful, because I agreed with the sentiments of the poster, but he was being rude.

    It led to an intersting conversation about that (since it isn’t a standard practice at Lindsay’s place).

    I certainly take part in the conversations at my blog, and I am the only person who can moderate them.

    So there are others who moderate conversations in which they take part.

    Then again; to be snarky, you don’t seem to be as concerned with unbiased moderation as you at first appear. Better that multiple moderators work as a team, and recuse themselves from discussions in which they become involved. It may not result in truly unbiased moderation, but it gives the illusion of unbiased moderation.

    Saying an illusion, instead of some real manifestation, of fairness is to be preffered is a strange tack to take.

    Technogirl: (#270) In my experience, moderators who make themselves “Superstars” shortly thereafter become oppressive dictators shortly before the community that they were moderating dissolves …Timeframe for this has always been 2-6 months mins and max.

    Making Light (and Electrolite, before The Great Amalgamating Expansion) have been going since 2001. The policy here is the result of lessons learned in Usenet, and implemented there.

    I’ve seen comment threads (both open and topical) run in excess of 1,000 comments, with dozens taking part. One might argue the open threads are one, never ending, single discussion. I’m not sure (looking at the number of posters I see here, and there, that your snarking the “smallness” of Making Light is reasonable. On most threads there I see at least as many posters as I see here. By virtue of my coming and going, I’ve seen perhaps three times as many posters (of some duration, not merely drive-bys) as are presently habitués at present. Then again, I happen to think Plato isn’t the best of examples for a means of moderating personal interactions, so it may be we are philophically at odds which can’t be reconciled.

    I know that posts from Making Light have been extracted and used in other places (the About.com entry on interrogation is a comment I made there). People looking for all sorts of things use it.

    I don’t claim to be some massively experienced moderator. Apart from my, small, piece of the web, and the guest stints at Majikthise, my claims to it are those of sideline advisor/community member in other fora.

    What I’ve seen, and learned, is that moderation is 1: a process, and 2: requires the participation of the moderated. In that regard it’s a sort of Rouseauian Social Contract. If one says, “the moderator is boss, all bow before the moderator”, one gets tinpot moderation.

    If one says, “THE RULES have been posted, all which obeys, THE RULES, is good, all which violates them is to be banished to the outer darkness” then one gets toxic crud from barracks room lawyers who exploit the edge cases and game the system (which is what goes wrong in Wikipedia).

    If one says, “These are the ideals to which we strive, and this is the person we set up to be the arbitor”, well it will seem arbitrary, but consensus will be reached.

    Will everyone like the results? No. But that’s not the point. If one tries to get everything, one ends up with a lot of not much. The hope (with any social place, from the local pub, to the largest of fannish venues [say Dodger Stadium], is to have a place where people of like-enough mind can play together, and not have the differences cause so much friction that fun stops being had.

    In the past, the folks who own Boing-Boing felt that line had been crossed. They saw the way TNH kept house in other places, and felt it was a good way.

    That’s the real point. She’s not here because she inveigled her way to a spot of power. She’s here because the people who matter (the ones with the power of the purse, who can pull the plug. It’s not as if Boing-Boing was withering for attention before the reinstatement of comments) like the way she does things.

    So, at level, we have to like it or lump it, because they like it.

    wrt to the aggrandisement of trolls: Anything one does to them is seen as either positive attention, or martyrdom. Ignoring them isn’t possible, they will hit someone’s buttons. Deleting them is a game of whack-a-mole. As you say, they will make more time, and there are more of them.

    Pulling their vowels draws some of the sting. It makes it work to read them. It reduces the number of buttons they get to hit, unguarded. With a little time, they become easier to ignore. I tend to ask, “do I really need to see what this person said?” I can do that, in part, because the previously disemvowelled posts were, in my eyes, deserving.

    I have responded to disemvowelled posts (usually indirectly, that’s about the best way, I’ve found, to deal with the content of trolls messages; talk past them. They hate that). I can’t do that if they aren’t there, and there’s rarely any point when they’ve managed a threadjacking.

    So they will claim martyrdom, but the community at large can see that for wha it is, a pitiable plea for relevance.

    That’s why I prefer it to simple deletion.

  264. Looks like the rent isn’t getting paid next month either :)

    Look , EvilRooster by and large I appreciate your comments and do realize that a lot gets lost via email – emotional misconceptions ensue. But I must say that I find it a bit condescending for you to assume that I feel “piled up on”.

    I do not.
    I feel justified somewhat actually.

    It becomes clearer to me that it is possible that Teresa has cultivated a cult of personality on her own boards and , apparently, last August, brought several who drank that brand of Koolaid here when she assumed moderation duties . I could guess at three in this thread so far, yourself, Greg and poor angry Xopher.

    And what is happenning is that all three of you (you to the least extent) are misplacing my comments regarding moderation style to be comments directed at someone that you admire on another board.

    But you see , I’m currently into the BoingBoing cult of personality (Ok , so I;m not but I do love the site and the writing by it’s authors) and I don’t read Teresa’s blog nor do I particularly care do now after being harangued by some of it’s more (ahem) vocal disciples.

    Which brings me , once again to my point:
    That silent anonymous moderation by an individual who can neither be thanked nor chastised for a decision is infinitely preferable to a vocal, highly opinionated moderator with a “following”.

    Of course that’s just my opinion but the reactions of Xopher and Greg are exactly why I have seen this before.

    And i know what will happen and I know what will follow.

    I Like boingboing and the people who write for it . I hate hipsters . It’s a dichotomy but I’m a complex person.

    And I have a secret fricking affinity towards Unicorns and that damn idiot Steampunk that I will only admit because I am anonymous (hah!)

    So I don’t want to see Boing Boing collapse nor do I think that it will.

    I believe one of two things will now happen:
    1. Teresa will decide to tone it down here.
    2. The catch phrase “The masses are revolting” will take on new meaning here and the comment system will collapse – to be replaced by another probably better attempt. If #2 occurrs it will do so in a 3-4 month time frame.

    Either way it’s all good and I can assure anyone who choses to attempt demean and belittle me for what I believe or who I chose to critique that I’ve been called far worse than anything you can possibly imagine in my time (and my time has been long) and I’m hard as nails because of it.

    Just use a dictionary and get the definitions right. That’s all I ask.

  265. Yes, but, but, but- what if I post a comment about my favorite thing and then it fails to become everyone’s favorite thing like I wanted it to? What about that?

  266. #342 posted by Terry Karney , March 28, 2008 11:18 AM

    You bring up many excellent points. They give me reason to think which is why I am here now instead of doing work that I have to do . And btw – comparing the relative sizes of Teresa’s Blog and boingboing is not snarking but rather a reasonable question asking of Teresa’s moderation style is “scalable” on a system that is two orders of magnitude greater (in terms of readership) than the one on which she devised the system.

    But let me ask you a couple of question Terry (and to anyone else who would like to comment of course):

    1. Why do you feel it is essential for a moderator’s name to be known ?

    2. Do you honestly feel that registering a complaint with the site owners regarding a perceived moderation error is any more effective if a name is attached ?

    3. Do you feel (as I do) that with great power comes great responsibility . And that , to avoid even the appearance of impropriety , that a moderator who takes on such powers should not be allowed to comment in the thread that they are moderating?

  267. That silent anonymous moderation by an individual who can neither be thanked nor chastised for a decision is infinitely preferable to a vocal, highly opinionated moderator with a “following”.

    That’s rather a moot point, isn’t it, considering that Teresa’s identity is already out? To achieve the (doubtfully needful) moderator anonymity you require would mean getting rid of this one… or, as you prophesy, for the whole system to break down again to be replaced later. Regardless, you’re not going to get what you want in this incarnation.

  268. evilrooster: One of the things I dislike about BB is that all the names are all caps.

    Cats Unite: The posts in question weren’t those of, “the moderator” but of the blog owner. I realise that’s one of the complaints being made here (that this being a front page post, instead of a piece of, findable, background information conflates the two roles).

    I don’t think it does. I think the rules of moderation ought to be public, and publicized. Could it have gone under some other name, say, “THE POWERS THAT BE”? I don’t think so. The writing style is idiosyncratic, and she would have been accused (by the usual suspects) of trying to aggrandise herself by appropriating an anonymity she’s not kept to date.

    Whenever BB chose to publish the guidelines by which the moderating is being done, this sort of thread was going to happen.

    Greglondon/Xopher (evilrooster, bear with me): Technogirl is, technically correct. That is a valid, if archaic; by modern usage (though we still have egregious examples, such as Nanking, which are consonant with that usage), understanding and convention, use of rape.

    It’s not how it read when Cats Unite and even with the clarifications I still don’t think it a good use of the word, because of the hot-button reacion it causes.

    Technogirl: (and I hope I phrase this well), what evilrooster is doing to Xopher, and Greglondon; and me: see the plea for her tolerance) is what she meant about community standards being applied by the community. She is very good at spotting potential cases of feeding frenzy. She is, quite rightly, appalled at them because they are one of the ways in which the potential troll becomes a definite one (and I am not saying I think you are such, I very much don’t… this is where I hope I don’t screw the pooch in my explantions).

    By preventing such a dogpile, even on those who can bear it, she reinforces the idea that tolerance is a virtue, and more to the point, and expectation of the good citizen of a place.

  269. RE#346 posted by Nelson.C , March 28, 2008 11:44 AM
    “That’s rather a moot point, isn’t it, considering that Teresa’s identity is already out? To achieve the (doubtfully needful) moderator anonymity you require would mean getting rid of this one… or, as you prophesy, for the whole system to break down again to be replaced later.”

    Not really Nelson considering the mnemonic half life of a largish internet posting board is overall something like a week ( in my opinion and experience). All that it would take is for Teresa to stop posting the fact that she is the moderator here every week or so and for her to put the tord out to some of her more vocal fans to please stop commenting on comments regarding moderation – or at least stop naming her . Voila – in two months you’ll have essentially what I described.

    “Regardless, you’re not going to get what you want in this incarnation.”

    But sometimes you get what you need, Baby, sometimes you get what you need.

  270. Who raised a generation of people with the delusion that anybody beyond their immediate family cares what they think or whether they’re happy? I’m in awe that Teresa and the BBers put up with as much crap as they do. You’re never, ever going to get your way on somebody else’s turf. You can keep thrashing around until you do yourself some permanent psychological injury, but I fail to see the point.

    T,

    Should I mail you a couple of Vicodin or do you have enough tequila there to fortify your nerves?

  271. As I understand it, Technogirl, what you’re afraid of is that the Teresa will form a cult of personality about herself, akin to that Wikipedia bloke whose name escapes me right now? And that with this cult of sycophantic supporters she will distort boingboing into an unlovely place, that further improvement to the site will be impossible because she will suppress all disagreement with her methods, much as she has done in this thread? (Oh, wait….)

    I don’t think you’re being realistic in your assessment that a week is all that’s required to make her anonymous. If she is the queen bee of your fears, then surely her sycophants will recall who she is, even if the rest of the lotus-eaters forget. And I think an anonymous queen bee would be more of a threat; all sorts of evil acts are commited anonymously. In fact, the proposal that moderators should both be anonymous and spirit comments away invisibly fills me with a creepy horror; I can’t see boingboing developing healthily under such a regime.

  272. technogirl@339: Your problem is not with me. Your problem appears to be with the dictionary .

    Good times. Good times. You just reminded me of an old TV sitcom I would watch once in a while. It was called “Alice” about this waitress who worked at some greasy spoon, a cook named Mel, another waitress with a southern accent who’d tell Mel to kiss her grits, and a ditzy waitress who’d say all sorts of goofy funny things.

    So, there was this episode where the group was stranded because their car battery was dead. The ditzy one screams at the top of her lungs, “Help! Murder!”

    In response, Mel waves his arms like crazy at the ditzy one going “what the heck did you say that for????”

    To which, the ditzy one says “well, I figured ‘Help! Murder!’ would get a better response than ‘Help! Dead battery!’.”

    But technically, she argued, they’re both equivalent terms. And she did so with the innocent, straight-laced face, of a ditz who honestly couldn’t see a problem with it. That’s what made it so hilarious.

    If, you cannot see the absolute hilarity in your insistence on establishing your own evocation of Godwin’s Law, citing “rape” rather than “nazi”, and hiding behind some lame dictionary definition argument, while completely ignoring the connotative differences that yelling “murder” versus “dead battery”, well, then you are unintentionally entertaining the folks who can tell the difference.

    I don’t have a problem with dictionaries. You have a problem with language lawyering some dictionary definition as if it can somehow be made to be devoid of any connotative, emotionally charged, alternative meaning. As if “rape” can be argued to mean nothing other than some subset of Webster that you want, ignoring all the other connotations that are so overly emotionally loaded to make them absurd for a valid comparison to “disemvowelment”.

    You just shouted “Help! Murder!” when at issue was a dead battery, and now you’re quoting webster to explain how it was the appropriate word for the situation because some subset of some connotation fits if you ignore all the baggage that natuarally goes with the word.

    And that is funny.

    Thanks for the opportunity to reminisce. “Alice” wasn’t a great sitcom, but it sure was funny at times.

    Of course, the ditzy one, Vera I think, did it in all innocence. You, on the other hand, want the emotionally charge attack that comes from using a word like “rape” but you defend it with indignant language lawyering, as if it’s nothing more than a definition for you. As if any emotional baggage attached to the term “rape” is just an unfortunate consequence of you choosing a word that just so happens to have one meaning that fits the definition you want.

    And that, I don’t buy for one second.

    If you were seriously interested purely in finding a word that most clearly communicates the effect of “disemvoweling”, then you’d be choosing words that don’t need a legal defense and dictionary debates to justify their use.

    No, no, I’m certain “rape” is exactly the word you want to use. And it’s got nothing to do with what it technically denotes, and everything to do with the connotative baggage you want it to bring along.

    This is why I said you need to escalate your terms. Otherwise you stop beign funny. You’re now just rehashing the same old joke. Rape! Rape! Rape! And it stopped being funny.

  273. omfg, it’s Logorrhrea-palooza.

    Brevity is the soul of more than just wit.

    Do any of you tell street musicians how to play their instruments?

    Clearly, some of you do.

  274. Here’s an update regarding favorites: We’re upgrading the amount of favorites that can be saved from a hilariously low “10” to a still hilariously low “50.” We want to do more, but need to change our custom user pages to support pagination more properly.

    So give us until Monday and if you can’t add an additional 40 favorite posts, let me know.

    We know a lot of the community stuff is sort of janky and I apologize for that. Obviously we want it to work as consistently as possible, but it isn’t always our top priority, either, so fixes and upgrades take time.

  275. Antinous (#349) Who raised a generation of people with the delusion that anybody beyond their immediate family cares what they think or whether they’re happy?

    I’m not sure what you are responding to. If it’s to me (and by extention evilrooster), no one. The direction here isn’t what other people think about my happiness, but rather what I, and the community, think about it.

    So, I suppose the answer isn’t who did such rearing, but who is doing such.

    I like comity, it leads to community, which leads to poetry; of which the world has little enough. I may be foolish, naïve; or even stupid, to expect that I can foster it, but, “If not me, who? If not now, when?”

    As to why I care, reaching back to Hillel (as a decent basis for such a concern), “Do not do to others, what you would not have done to you; that is the whole of The Law. All else is commentary”.

    If he was right, the Jewish people are of a similar mind to me.

  276. technogirl@348: please stop commenting on comments regarding moderation

    Ah. So, you want to be able to criticize without being criticized. You want to be able to express your opinion without anyone being allowed to express an opinion that disagrees with you. As long as you can register your complaint, as long as no one is allowed to disagree with you, and as long as you have the last word, you’ll be happy.

    You… truly… amaze me.

  277. “Saying an illusion, instead of some real manifestation, of fairness is to be preffered is a strange tack to take.”

    Objection. Assumption of facts not in evidence. At no point did I suggest or imply that the illusion was preferred.

    In any case, the illusion of propriety even where none exists forestalls endless complaining. I’m more interested in seeing the trolls shut up than seeing fairer moderation. As such, an illusion of fairness is sufficient.

  278. Continuing to reply:

    Back Seat Astronaut (183), the unusual amount of thrashing going on in this thread is like a throwback to the first week or two of the comment relaunch, when some readers were outraged and confused to discover that the site is moderated at all. If, as you say, you’ve been lurking the BB comment threads, you already know how much moderation there normally is.

    The moderation policy isn’t intended to justify anything. When I took on moderating Boing Boing, I didn’t intend to put up a formal policy. This one got written because people kept complaining that they had no idea why their behavior had been curbed.

    Mind you, some of the most outraged complaints about the existence of this document are coming from readers who’ve previously complained about not having one.

    Brian Carnell (185): advertising and Boing Boing’s editorial content are mentioned because there’ve been some long and extremely noisy comment threads on the subject. The information is there to reassure readers that advertisers don’t exert any undue influence.

    “Second answer: Because four years ago, Boing Boing’s first, unmoderated comment system went so septic that it had to be shut down. The Boingers want to never go through that again.”

    Harumph! I liked the old system. I thought the main problem with that was people spoofing Xeni’s userid. Other than that, it worked well.

    If you liked it, you liked it, but for the Boingers its later stages were a miserable and traumatic experience. I believe it’s one of the reasons they’re so shy of posting comments.

    Dragging in one of those topics that’s guaranteed to generate a huge thrash that goes nowhere, like gun control, abortion, or Mac vs. PC vs. Linux.”

    Only a gun-owning Mac user about to have an abortion would write something that supercilious!

    If you’ll skip the part about the abortion, and consider a pistol crossbow an acceptable substitute … ya got me.

    Bowhowdy (187), the pressure’s got to bleed off somewhere. Thanks for the kind remarks.

    Takuan (188): I can’t remember either. I don’t think you have.

    Church (189), you make a good argument for the need for a written policy.

    Note to self, shouting in all-caps, likely to be decapitated.

    KPratt (194), I agree. I do try to behave myself mostly almost all of the time. On the other hand, I think one of the important messages a site needs to send to the real malfeasnts is, If you bring those tactics into a fight here, you will not have fun, and you will not win.”

    Back Seat Astronaut (again) (195): You know, for someone who says he’s never posted here before, you’ve got a real bee in your bonnet about “overmoderation.”

    Takuan (196): Yup. I’ve been working on it for months, not that you’d know that to look at it. Boing Boing’s changed some of the things I’d previously thought about moderation, so my ground kept shifting underfoot.

    Conte Anusfish (198), we’d seriously prefer you not use racial slurs. We have the usual variety of reasons:

    1. It’s a crummy thing to do.

    2. Boing Boing gets read all over the world. The commenter with whom you’ve been exchanging funny remarks might turn out to belong to the group you’ve just badmouthed.

    3. Boing Boing gets read all over the world. In order for a joke involving a racist slur to work properly, you have to know how your audience is going to understand it. Jews may be a standard comic character in many local repertoires, but they’re by no means the same comic character from one place to another. When you’re speaking to a very diverse population, especially one you can’t see in the flesh, there’s no way you’re going to get it right.

    4. It’s too easy for you to look stupid when you’re using racial slurs, and having our readers look stupid reflects badly on us.

    5. If you use a racial slur, even if you do so intelligently and with considerable judgement, you’ll attract and encourage the participation of people who aren’t nearly as intelligent or judicious as yourself, but who do like to use that particular racial slur. The more use there is of a particular slur, the more you attract people for whom the use of that word is a primary attraction.

    It’s the same reason I have a very low tolerance for salacious remarks about Xeni. It’s not the first wave of remarks I fear, nor the second. It’s what comes after.

    Will (204): Nice one. But they really do read the comments.

    Virtual Despot (210), taking swipes at other users is off-topic in this thread.

    JFlex (212), it doesn’t read like a Boing Boing entry because I’m not a Boinger. It wouldn’t sound out of place on Making Light.

    I guess I should still be listing the disemvowellings I’ve done, so: Klokwerk (214) is one of mine.

    TNH (216): Dang, this is a lot of writing.

    Kid (218), you’ve got truly weird notions of how conservatives and liberals behave. That’s in general. Speaking specifically of Boing Boing, commenters whose views are fairly liberal are more likely to accept rules and moderation. Even flaming radicals like Pyros and Noen will stop when the light changes. Self-identified conservatives are much less likely to do so. I don’t have any ideology attached to this observation. It’s just how they behave.

    Klokwerk (221): mine.

    Terry Karney (223): I know you can’t spell my name. It doesn’t bother me.

    The problem with the “stone-cold policy” is that one will have rules lawyers who are inside those policies, and still are as offensive, disruptive and destructive as all get out. When I am dealing with subordinates who do that, the phrase which comes to mind is, “malicious obedience”.

    Yeah. I hate that. I’ve seen boards where troublemakers had figured out exactly where the line was, and pretty much camped on top of it. One of the rules at Making Light I’ve gone out of my way to explain is that you can get zapped for persistently pushing the boundaries. Some of the regulars do it inadvertently, and get forgiven. Someone who does it consistently is in control of his or her affect, and doing it on purpose.

    No matter how cut-and-dried a set of rules may be, if I had a hand in drafting them, there’s going to be one that says that if the administrator thinks you’re doing something that damages the general good, they can zap you for it.

    Sunfell (226), you have it exactly right: I do what I do in service to the community and its discourse.

    There are some Firefox add-ons for disemvowelling, though they’re a lot more heavy-handed than I am, and they work best if the user has a fixed IP address. The Boing Boing user interface has a custom-built disemvowelling button that’s a joy to use. Back on Making Light, I just drag the comment into MSWord and beat on it with a big stick.

    High-quality regulars are your true first and second line of defense, and I’ve seen them trample trolls flat, but I don’t want them to have to do it, if you see the difference. A really persistent troll can drive your best people into exhausted depression.

    Eiconoclast (235), nice piece of well-poisoning, but the characteristic is independent of the level of moderation.

    MikeSum32 (239): in that case, I disemvowelled the person you were quoting.

    Greg London (244): If the Boingers don’t do anything with that, may I repost it back at Making Light?

    Antinous (247), though, was the one who made me laugh so loud that I frightened my hamster.

    Tom Neff (251): From Mars. Already replied to this one.

    Eiconoclast (259): It’s better to suffer unjustly.

    ZippySpinCycle (261): It’s nice to know you caught that. Thank you.

    Takeshi (263): I believe I already answered this one as well.

    Tree Shapiro (264):

    This would be fine if it were true. Call it whatever you want, but when I left a comment on Cory Doctorow’s coffee tamper post asking whether BoingBoing takes product for money it was “disemvowelled”.

    Yup. Sure was. And I have not the slightest doubt that I made the correct decision.

    This is a perfectly legitimate question,

    The hell it is. It’s an astoundingly rude question, and if you try that stunt again I’ll do the same thing — at minimum.

    Did you have any reason to think that this particular wonderful thing Cory was talking about was a paid-for bit of product placement? You did not. I won’t even give it the dignity of calling it speculation. You were taking a cheap shot at Cory’s reputation for integrity. It’s like walking into someone’s house and asking whether their television fell off the back of a truck, except you made sure to do it in front of an enormous audience.

    Don’t even try to tell me that it was a respectable act.

    involved no profanity

    A favorite defense of trolls who knew perfectly well that what they were doing wasn’t innocent.

    and in my opinion was disemvowelled on your whim.

    As you can see, there’s no whim about it.

    Y cn cll t clvr nd dvc t cntrl trlls, bt cll t cnsrshp, whch t s.

    Tough noogies, troll.

    People want to know whether BoingBoing takes product in exchange for posting about it. Full stop.

    No, they don’t. If they did, I’d see the question being asked and discussed. So would Takuan, if you want to double-check. You’re pretending this is a big hot hairy deal so you can grab center stage and act self-important.

    t’s lgtmt qstn nd dsrvs n nswr. Nt cnsrshp.

    Nah. Don’t think so.

    Jim Cowling (266): You know, I forgave you everything when you asked that question about Metafilter.

    Technogirl (270):

    I do not object to the moderation policy at all but I can not help but notice the absolute zeal with which you are going about it. The manner by which you respond back to quite a few trolls with such enthusiasm and perhaps even glee.

    Resolute energy and a sense of responsibility. This is our community. I’m trying to give them all the answers I can.

    Which makes me question if the real point of this exercise for you personally is not to make this place a better one but rather to expand your visibility and to essentially make the “Respect Ma Authoratai !” statement. … [Etc.]

    Is this the best you can do? These are junior high school tactics, and you’re just wasting my time.

    Jeblis (271, 272), you keep saying you’re going away, but you never do.

    David Harmon (273): Very good. And for some of them, threaded discussions to give them the impression that someone else is talking to them.

    Grebthar’s Hammer (275): mine.

    Evilrooter (277): Nicely done. It hadn’t occurred to me to ask her where she got her expertise.

    Bill Higgins (278), what’s a uranium Tom Neff?

    Cliff (279), I’ll grant I disemvowelled part of your comment, but I regretted what I perceived as the need to do so.

    Greg London (280): That one too.

    Hi, Cavalier (281). Interesting discussion there on Metafilter.

    Technogirl (284): Ah, fluster.

    Technogirl (286): My disemvowelling. Technogirl apparently believes that her tactics are less obvious than they are.

    Buttseks (288): All worship Buttseks.

    Heresiarch (291): Practice.

    Technogirl (292): It’s good to watch her rejoicing to be on the receiving end of the kind of quiet, unobtrusive, polite techniques she’s been advocating.

    Cory (295): Thanks! We can talk about the specifics later.

    Heresiarch (297): Do you suppose she wants it to run like Wikipedia?

    Nelson C. (300), you have made Buttseks very happy, and how many of us can say that?

    And now I have to run.

  279. You want to be able to express your opinion without anyone being allowed to express an opinion that disagrees with you. As long as you can register your complaint, as long as no one is allowed to disagree with you, and as long as you have the last word, you’ll be happy.

    As Teresa said,

    Their version of “free speech” consists of them talking. Listening doesn’t really come into it.

    I would upgrade ‘amazing’ to ‘breathtaking’.

  280. Teresa: Greg London (244): If the Boingers don’t do anything with that, may I repost it back at Making Light? (280): That one too.

    Sure. No prob.

  281. I think what makes the richness of a blog is also the variety of comments the readers post. Trying to censure the comments will(I hope not) make your blog BoringBoring=BrngBrng(as you like)

  282. Dear Greg:

    Sorry to be so late, I’ve been to look at your pile and you should proud! That is the most smelly,most runny and generally all around disgusting heap it has ever been my pleasure and good luck to encounter. Do you take disciples?

  283. Jim Cowling: (#357) Objection. Assumption of facts not in evidence. At no point did I suggest or imply that the illusion was preferred.

    Forvgive me if I assumed your saying (with some clarifying emphasis to show what led me to my conclusion)

    Better that multiple moderators work as a team, and recuse themselves from discussions in which they become involved. It may not result in truly unbiased moderation, but it gives the illusion of unbiased moderation.

    That seemed a, tacit, at the very least, belief that the appearance of non-bias was at least as good as the real thing; if not better.

    This is certainly supported by the clarification you make of exactly that position.

    In any case, the illusion of propriety even where none exists forestalls endless complaining. I’m more interested in seeing the trolls shut up than seeing fairer moderation. As such, an illusion of fairness is sufficient.

    Objection overruled

  284. I declare this thread to now be about lamenting the fact that nobody makes a good drink anymore. Any time I go to a place that my friends assure me has “great mixed drinks” they’re just really strong. That’s not great unless your an alcoholic…a tight-ass alcoholic. Everything has seltzer water in it, nobody makes simple syrup or bothers to muddle anymore. I swear someday I’m going to open a bar with good beer and proper mixed drinks and yakitori/kushiyaki and it’s going to fail miserably and I’ll burn it down for insurance money.

  285. Buttseks,

    The Orbit Room in San Francisco used to make their own Blood Mary mix by slow-cooking fresh vegetables. Then they garnished it with home-made pickles. When I moved to Palm Springs, I was served a Cosmopolitan made with Rose’s Lime Juice. I haven’t left the house since. High ethanol content is no substitute for an elixir skillfully compounded by a qualified alchemist, using the freshest ingredients.

  286. @#345 Technogirl:

    As you left it open for anyone to comment, I would like to offer a few answers to your questions.

    1. For me, personally, it makes a difference to know who the moderator is. Knowing who they are (or, in this case as in most cases, knowing that a particular online moniker belongs to the moderator) helps me keep in mind that the moderator is a person. Put another way, it makes it harder to dismiss and/or dehumanize the moderator as some unknowable outside “force”. It’s a personal preference in my case, not sure about others’.

    2. I don’t know which name you meant – poster or moderator – but I will assume you meant both. It is more effective with names attached as that allows the site owner to look at all posts by the specific complainant and all moderations by the specific moderator and thus have a better data set to base decisions on. This, of course, can also be accomplished without the complainant knowing who the moderator is so long as the site owner can distinguish who moderated what post and when, but see my answer to 1. above as to why I think knowing the moderator’s identity is important. If the complainant is unknown, has no comment history, or both, then it makes it more difficult for the site owner to know whether the complainant has a legitimate complaint in cases other than “I see spam!” or “I see foul language!”.

    3. I do agree that with great power comes great responsibility. I do not believe that in this case we can move over to the “absolute power corrupts absolutely” position from that basis – the moderator is in the employ of the site owners, so power is limited. (No you didn’t go there, I did, just for the sake of discussion.) Therefore, avoiding even the appearance of impropriety appears to be to tight a specification for the job. I’d rather let the moderator comment and let the rest of the participants figure out for themselves whether impropriety has or has not occurred, and whether it is worth noting. Besides, if the moderator is participating, then the moderator has a further vested interest in moderating well – the reward is a better conversation. In my experience, as discussion groups develop, the frequency of comments that require moderation goes down, whether due to “cleaner” comments or better internal filters on the part of comment readers.

    That was long, but I hope it makes sense.

    later,
    -cajun

  287. Looking northward, I say: For all its faults, show me a thread like this on Metafilter.

    Buttseks, come to New York and I’ll buy you a drink at a place that does all those things. Two drinks, even.

  288. This is the first time I’ve heard of the tactic of disemvoweling – and the first thing that strikes me about it is this:
    is there any point to it other than just rubbing it in the faces of posters that the moderator has the last word?

    If it is offensive or rude just delete it – otherwise, leave it. I know my comments are at your mercy – disemvoweling seems to me like putting the heads of your enemies on polls both to deter others and to celebrate your power.

  289. Dear Jeff;

    T’is an ancient and traditional Irish tune and I can lay no claim to it since the gods cursed me by not having me born to the greatest race.

    Mr. Seks:

    Do publish your business address prior to the arson fire, I too appreciate quality booze and the best food.

  290. None of the disemvowelled posts I’ve troubled to decipher – in this thread or in the past – are particularly thought-provoking or amusing, whereas Teresa’s comments are hilarious. The moderation on this site is welcome, as far as I’m concerned.

  291. The forests of BoingBoing were thick with the impaled.

    Yup. Disemvoweling is just like sticking heads on pikes. Tidier really, because the vowels just go away into the great all that is nothing. With the whole head-on-pike thing you have all those decapitated corpses to get rid of. Of course the head thing makes for a bit more visual interest, what with staring at their contorted, bloody faces thinking, “I wonder what he was trying to say.” You can’t really compare trying to figure out if it’s ‘and’ or ‘undo’ with that sort of visceral experience. But other than that, pretty much the same thing.

  292. Dystopias: “If it is offensive or rude just delete it.” Personally, I’d much rather see what’s going on, rather than having posts go down the memory hole. Plus, you can learn what sort of comments are unwelcome, should you be inclined to learn.

  293. (promise not tell anyone?) ….sometimes,when there is no one around…. I go to the disemvowelled posts …and I DO things to them…..

  294. EvilRooster @305: ‘Must we therefore request said flag, or burn an effigy?’

    Drat! I was paying too much attention to the order of the I and E. Yeah, that’s the ticket. OK, one flammable effigy, and some salt for my hat while I’m at it.

    Nelson C@336: Yes! Possibly even Viking kittens. Taking our poor, defenseless vowels and defacing them with umlauts, macrons, slashes, and whatever else it is they do up there.

  295. Well of course there are places that make proper drinks in NYC (I assume by New York you mean NYC because I used to live in Rochester and I know how these things go). Here in Houston though I’ve been served a mint julep with lime wedges in it, which is so near blasphemy that if I’d had a six-shooter on me I would have brandished it at the bartender. I’ll admit that they make some pretty good drinks at Under the Volcano, but it’s so close to Rice University that it’s always full of twats that don’t appreciate a Pimm’s Cup any more than a Corona.

  296. Takuan @378:

    How about a cover based on just the wristband? I have a lot of black leather*, and I’m sure I could get the metal studs.

    —-
    * in my bindery†
    † where I bind books, lest anyone get the wrong idea

  297. Takuan, yeah, I thinking that was pretty damn good for something on the fly. But it worked for me. The picture was great. LOL. The BoingBoing Gimmoire.

  298. Evilrooster 379: I have lots of black leather in my bedroom–which is also a bindery, but only live skin is bound there!

  299. Oh, yes: Teresa: It bother me, that I can’t keep the order of the ei in your name straight. I tried, again, and again, to rephrase that so I might not have to risk the error.

    I even went and opened Making Light so I could look at it, and it still got screwed up.

    But I’m glad this failing of mine causes you no great pain.

    Re bars: I know some good ones in LA, and a couple in SLO (harder, it being a college town). SF is, of course, replete with them.

    So Buttseks, come on out and we’ll set you up.

  300. #358 in reply to #270 said: “Is this the best you can do? These are junior high school tactics, and you’re just wasting my time.”

    Is that now one of the rules? That we don’t waste your precious time? Technogirl had some valid points and kept it civil. You’re not moderating, you’re trying to pick fights with people. Try to stay on topic or respond to something someone said without resorting to “junior high school tactics” yourself.

  301. just to prevent possible misunderstandings: “.

    I’ll add another ” later. Everything in between is a quote. From someone, or somewhere or somewhen.

    (I was so sure I put a ” at the very start of all my comments here)

  302. Is that now one of the rules? That we don’t waste your precious time?

    Which part of paid employment are you unclear on?

  303. I wonder when they will get tired?

    On to more important matters:
    I think Buttseks will find many supporters and fans where ever he goes.

  304. You know what I keep seeing? I keep seeing this:

    “Waah! It’s not fair that when I’m snarky, insulting, or dismissive to you, you respond in kind!”

    It’s weird how many of the comments seem to consist of that. It’s like Xerox and the Internet had a love child.

    You know what else is weird? Those completely intact remarks I see that fall into the category of “disagreement”. I mean, really, it’s eerie how they seem to show up for me with all their vowels even though, as disagreement, they’ve clearly been disemvoweled by the Evil Moderators.

  305. Wikipedia allows edits to be completely deleted. It’s called oversight privilege. It is a tool that grants absolute power and folks have complained often that it gets abused regularly. Because it deletes the history of original edit, as well as removing any record that a deletion occurred, it is quite a powerful tool and quite a potential for sweeping ugly things under a carpet, never to be seen again by the public eye.

    Disemvoweling leaves a record of the comment. It takes the vowels out of it so that profanity and swearing is reduced to something slightly more tolerable. It allows the public as a whole to reconstruct the original comment if they wish, which means the disemvowelment is performed without hiding the fact that it was done.

    Since blogs don’t have edit histories like wiki’s do, deleting a post in it’s entirety would be equivalent to the wikipedia oversight privilege. No edit history would exist anywhere to show the original comment or to show that it was deleted.

    For those who’ve been around the web a few times, it becomes fairly clear that the potential for abuse for total deletion of comments is greater than the potential for abuse for disemvowelment.

    All this business about heads on pikes is just silly emotive arguments. You want moderators to have oversight powers because it looks cleaner at the same time others are bemoaning how much moderators abuse a smaller power like disemvoweling? Mutually exclusive requirements like that can never be satisfied.

    Seeing the remnants of a post allows folks to see what was there before disemvowelment occured if they are so inclined. The alternative is to delete teh entire post and leave it to the moderator to oversight themselves. At which point, folks will be complaining about oversight abuse.

    No, your choices come down to (1) disemvowlement or (2) total deletion. If you want moderators to be forced to leave a history of their actions, then you want (1). If you want moderators to have complete wikipedia-like oversight powers, then you want (2).

    If you compare disemvoweled posts to heads on pikes, then you’re making emotive pleas and I don’t know what to tell you, other than “cut it out”. As for arguments about moderators using and abusing and asserting their power, then you have to look at all the effects of power for both deleting and disemvoweling. Deleting has more potential for abuse than disemvoweling. Deleting has more potential for “sweeping under the carpet” than disemvoweling. Deleting has more potential for “trust us, this was a naughty post” than disemvoweling.

    If abuse of power is your concern, then deleting has far more potential for abuse than disemvoweling. Disemvoweling leaves a public record. Deletion does not.

  306. It’s like Xerox and the Internet had a love child.

    Not so much ‘love child’ as the ghastly spawn of incestuous violence.

  307. #363:

    When I write that it may not result in truly unbiased moderation, that implies that it may still result in truly unbiased moderation. I imply two likely outcomes: truly unbiased moderation or the illusion of unbiased moderation. Either is equally acceptable, because the audience can’t tell the difference.

    That seemed a, tacit, at the very least, belief that the appearance of non-bias was at least as good as the real thing; if not better.

    There’s no implication that I see one as better, and any inference is unwarranted by the text.


    This is certainly supported by the clarification you make of exactly that position.

    There’s no such support in my clarification. You know what “sufficient”, means, right?

    You’re splitting hairs and being argumentative for the sake of it, I think, with what amounts to a red herring. The original issue was simple: does the moderator exert undue influence on threads in which she becomes involved? Yes, she does. And I adequately explained why.

    In simple words: Bias bad. Fairness good. Illusion of fairness often just as useful. When moderator not in discussion it good. When moderator in discussion, it bad. Trolls shut up good, trolls complain bad.

    Objection sustained, case adjourned, and the Supreme Court refuses to hear the appeal.

  308. Yeah, I screwed up the quotations in there. Paragraphs 2 and 4 are from #363’s original.

    Oh, yeah, and on disemvowelling: it feeds the trolls. Feeding the trolls is unwise. Thus, using that method is unwise.

  309. For what it’s worth, I’ve stopped reading most of the posts and started just scanning for new responses from Ye Honorable Moderator. That seems to be enough to let me judge the overall flow without having to wade in it.

    I’d stop entirely, except that I’ve _been_ a moderator in the past on other systems and I’m curious about whether anyone can actually find anything new to say on the topic. So far, not so much.

    (And yes, this probably counts as a meta-metatopic. Or maybe a control-meta topic, for those who remember the Bucky Bits.)

  310. Unbiased moderation would have to be done by software, and even then it would still contain the bias of its author. I’ll settle for reasonably equitable and generally entertaining moderation.

  311. I’m tenacious, some will even say stubborn, but you say, “better,” and you say the appearance of unbias is suffient, and that you don’t care about fairness, so long as the trolls are shut up.

    That’s what you said.

    And said again. Thinking the appearance of fairness is sufficient puts into evidence a reasonable beliefe that you don’t care about actual fairness.

    And that bothers me. Because the thing I like about disemvowelling is that, as Greglondon says, it is fair. Such fairness doesn’t depend on some invisble hand, nor the impression that a group is more fair than a single person.

    Now (to be argumentative) the objection you tried to raise (Assumes facts not in evidence; not assumption, but that’s a quibble of form) isn’t something one can appeal to a higher court.

    I said it was overruled because the facts were in evidence. They came in when you made the claim that an appearance of fairness was sufficient.

    You may have wanted to try, Objection, calls for conclusion. That would be a different question. But it isn’t the one you made. Depending on just what is at issue (and here the question is, so it seeems, the best form of moderation) it might be call for a conclusion, or it might a matter of fact for the jury (in this case the rest of the thread’s readership) to decide.

    Given the nature of the beast, odds are a judge would overrule, as you introduced the question, and just what is meant, by, “sufficient” is something which does affect the nature of what is a fair moderational model.

    I, at least, saw what you said as being a willingness to accept an unfair system, because it appears to be fair. That you endorsed such a system, irrespective of it’s fairness,so long as the end you desire is attained, seems to me to say you don’t care, you will accept an unfair system.

    So, even if I misread the level of preference, you still think unfair is good enough.

    I don’t.

  312. I have a question that’s not in this post. (And I’m late to the party and hoping it’ll still be read by Teresa or someone even though I’m #400 or so …)

    Concerning the “lookitthat icon”: is it OK to use that on comments that are perfectly fine, but contain a correction that ought to be incorporated into the relevant post? Every once in a while, I spot a post on bb that contains a blatant mistake (typically a minor one, but not always), even though it’s already 12 hours old or more and the comments already have a correction. Before there were comments and moderators and stuff, I would just e-mail the bber who made that post, and often I got very friendly and grateful replies. But sometimes that poster just doesn’t have time, while someone else might be willing to have a look, but I certainly don’t want to spam all of you guys.

    There’s wonderful guidelines about how to get a story submitted and (now also) how to behave in the comments, but what’s the recommended SOP for suggesting improvements? Is it OK to use the eye icon on a relevant comment for that? And, extrapolating from there, is it OK to use it on your own comment?

    I think it’s great how you make updates to stories in order to make them reflect the latest state of your knowledge; I’d just like to know what would be most convenient for you guys when someone wants to help out with that and push the quality of bb even a little bit further.

  313. Cats Unite: “rape – to seize, enjoy hastily. To take by force.

    “This sounds like disemvowelling; moderators (only moderators) gets a transient pleasure from doing it. They display the red bedsheets. They move on.”

    Now I’m confused. Taking by force leaves red bedsheets? How does that work, unless the thing being taken by force is, well, very personal and something that is left bleeding by the act of being ‘taken’? And in bed, no less.

    The continual query, “Why not delete altogether? Taking the vowels out is, like, mean and stuff.” has been answered, repeatedly. Taking comments out disrupts the automatic numbering system. Is somebody commenting without reading the thread?

  314. Teresa (358): What I meant by lurking is that I’ve read the blog for a long time but rarely clicked on the comments, not that I’ve lurked the comments. There have been a few cases where I found something posted so interesting that I thought, “I want to see what other people think of that!” and have taken a look at the comments. Eventually I might have found a post and the ensuing comments so interesting that I would have wanted to get in on the conversation myself.

    But the point I’m trying to make is that this post is so heavy-handed that it is only likely to scare people away from ever posting here. And the notion that “There’s far more internet discourse lost to trollage and casual rudeness than is ever lost to moderators” is not only wrong, but disingenuous because everybody knows it’s wrong. Anyone who has posted on internet forums for years, as I have (and this may not be a forum, but comment sections on blogs have sort of taken over the role of forums in a lot of places) has seen sites killed by overmoderation countless times–trollage can be ignored, but overmoderation is far more problematic.

    That’s the only reason I have a “bee in my bonnet” about it, because I, like everyone else who’s been on the internet for years, have seen the effects of it enough times to see all the ways that the tone of this post echoes all the classic traits of an overzealous moderator. Which is why I made the point that this post is nothing but an announcement, to those who didn’t already know it (such as myself) that this site is overmoderated, which is then comfirmed by the fact that half the comments in response to this post are from people who sound like overmoderation has long been a problem here and they’re fed up with it. What that does is it weeds out people who are actually interested in discussion, and leaves only the trolls, as can be seen in this very comment thread, if you read from beginning to end and see it degernate from thoughtful responses to flame wars. All the rhetoric about how this kind of moderation protects quality discourse and weeds out trolls is brazenly dishonest, as anyone with experience knows that exactly the opposite is the case.

    So, this isn’t a personal issue for me, what I’m trying to tell you is what this all looks like to an objective observer. The people talking about the content of the policy and whether it’s legitimate are missing the point. It’s the people who are talking about the tone of it that you should listen to and perhaps take some advice from.

  315. I meant that I’ll likely not bother reading future comment threads. So don’t worry about that.

    Honestly I’ve never seen a mod get so angry. There seems to be a lot of sentiment here that people aren’t happy with how it’s being done.
    (obviously it’s your site, you can do as you wish)

    On the other hand when a lot of people tell you something, maybe there is something worth learning from them. It’s hard of course, since the natural response is to be defensive when someone criticizes you.

    I was snarky/mean/defensive on a few comments. You deleted them. Fair enough. Sorry. Probably something I should learn from.

    I am curious as to why my suggestion of checking out how another site handles moderation got disemvowelled. Was it just collateral damage? I really do think they’ve struck a nice balance. In particular they tend to use emails to get people to “cool it” rather than do it publicly. Also deleting the offending comment entirely helps to keep things isolated.

  316. And the notion that “There’s far more internet discourse lost to trollage and casual rudeness than is ever lost to moderators” is not only wrong, but disingenuous because everybody knows it’s wrong.

    Wow. Arrogant. Assumptive. Egotistical. By ‘everybody’, you mean ‘you’. Believe it or not ‘everybody’ and ‘you’ are not synonyms. Lengthy, tedious, self-righteous bombasts like yourself are far more likely to drive me away from comments than Teresa’s moderating style. And by ‘drive me away’, I mean bore me to death.

    Next!

  317. “I’m tenacious, some will even say stubborn”

    The Supreme Court said that no appeals would be heard. There’s a difference between tenacious and thicker than two short boards. Whatever you wrote (I didn’t read it), you’re wrong.

    So on another subject: I added my e-mail address to my profile in the interests of transparency, and it didn’t take long to get e-mail from Diane Lask, a disgruntled commenter who got disemvowelled and banned for some rude accusation about paid editorializing.

    Even the most cursory glance at the site proves that the Boingers are looking to make a little money here. Self-links, promotions, advertisements, and so forth. That’s clear.

    But guess what? If they want to devote a whole week to the products of one of their sponsors, they can knock themselves out. They can roll around in a swimming pool full of money. They can have a big Microsoft Mobile Parade down the middle of Redmond, Washington, throwing copies of their books into the crowd. They don’t even have to be open or transparent about it. They can obfuscate. They can lie.

    Y’know why?

    Because it’s their site and they don’t owe me a goddamn thing.

    So, Diane Lask. Feel free to start your own blog, find some sponsors, and write hourly essays about how the Boingers have sold out and how we all ‘deserve’ to know about their business dealings. You have fun with that. And keep your spam out of my fckng mlbx.

    Anyhow. I just wanted to say: good job, Ms. Nielsen Hayden, for rooting out and crushing one. Don’t get any on you.

  318. Antinous (403): Nope, by everybody I mean everybody, but when I say everybody perhaps I don’t include people with disingenuous agendas such as yourself.

  319. it didn’t take long to get e-mail

    Why did she e-mail you? Just because she could, or did you piss her off somehow? I ask because people are getting freakier.

  320. I’ve been on the web a while too. Probably longer than most think. Maybe even before they called it anything. And before that I talked with people in groups. Around a fire even.

    And ya know what?

    Boors and bores haven’t changed.

  321. Nope, by everybody I mean everybody, but when I say everybody perhaps I don’t include people with disingenuous agendas such as yourself.

    Because everyone who disagrees with you has ulterior motives. Fine. I live under the Denver Airport. I have nictitating membranes and a dewlap. Are you happy now? If I were you, I wouldn’t answer the door if it looks like Tom Cruise on your stoop.

  322. Why did she e-mail you? Just because she could, or did you piss her off somehow? I ask because people are getting freakier.

    I’d never exchanged a single word with her, ever, as far as I know. The e-mail wasn’t addressed specifically to me; my suspicion is that it was a massmail. If you want a copy, feel free to send me a note.

  323. Jeblis:

    Honestly I’ve never seen a mod get so angry.

    My initial reaction to that was “Wow, you must not read many web fora or remember Usenet very well.”

    My second reaction was, “And, um… I didn’t see any posts that looked all that angry to me.” Annoyed, maybe. Angry, not so much.

    In the case of the first, I don’t know where you’ve been frequenting over the years, but I can only say it can’t have been any place I have. I’ve seen forum mods use so many curse words you’d think they were trying for some sort of record, accuse people of puppykilling (not literally) because they dared to disagree, delete posts because one of the mod’s friends got their feelings hurt by it even though there was nothing really wrong with the post, throw tantrums and threaten to shut down the board because waah no one listened to them, and all sorts of other tantrum-throwing behavior.

    Whereas, by contrast, Teresa has responded a bit snippily to people who’ve been absolutely obnoxious to her.

    Also:

    On the other hand when a lot of people tell you something, maybe there is something worth learning from them.

    And maybe there isn’t. Volume and repetition do not rightness make. In fact, strictly speaking, there’s no right or wrong in this, only opinions. Your opinion is that there’s something wrong with the policy and how it’s being enforced. Mine is that it’s a hell of a lot better than a lot of other options, that there’s no perfect solution that’ll leave everyone happy, and that Teresa is the veritable saint of patience compared to what I’d want to do in her position, the more-or-less reasoned tone of this comment notwithstanding.

    Since, frankly, what I wanted to post was going to prominently feature the words “whaambulance”, “butthurt”, “wankers”, and “don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya”.

    See? You’ve benefitted from the policy already!

  324. If you want a copy, feel free to send me a note.

    Thanks, but I’m guessing that she didn’t break any new ground in terms of style or content. After a while, it seems less like human speech and more like a faint scratching noise.

  325. Boors and bores haven’t changed

    Boars however, have gotten smaller and a little less hairy.

  326. Forgive me if I’m missing the tongue in cheek factor, but I’ve seen Metafilter brought up in this thread a few times and I can’t help but think it’s being done in a negative light. If I’ve missed the bus, please, punch me a new ticket, I’ll be happy to take it. Anyhoo, to the question


    Looking northward, I say: For all its faults, show me a thread like this on Metafilter.”

    I’m not sure of the emphasis behind this, i.e. you’re looking for proof of extended rational discourse? I’m just taking a stab in the dark here, pulling up two recent threads:

    http://www.metafilter.com/58583/Youre-so-smart-you-probably-think-this-post-is-about-you
    http://www.metafilter.com/58058/In-My-Language

    Again, if I’ve missed the bus, please tell me which one I should be on. It’s a bit heady now at 300+ comments, but I didn’t quite see anyone calling out MeFi as innately superior, or inferior, but as a pretty long time reader there I felt an urge to try to answer it.

  327. 404: So, you’re going to talk and not listen. I sure wish there were an Ignore button on those profiles, so I wouldn’t have to manually scroll past any posts with your name on them, on any topic.

  328. (full disclosure: I am a regular on Making Light too.)

    Technogirl @ 306:

    The point that I was trying to make was not to in providing accountability for moderation (because there is no accountability here – let’s be real) but rather to point out what I thought were effective vs. ineffective means of moderation.[emphasis mine]

    It seems to me that you’re getting caught on the difference between “accountability” and “doing what I want them to do.” The reason this policy exists is that people demanded it. The moderator herself is replying to your comments. She’s not being particularly receptive towards your ideas, but she’s read them. It true, her job doesn’t hinge on how well she pleases you or the commenters. That isn’t the same thing as saying there isn’t any accountability.

    Now, you’ve been very clear that you think Teresa’s moderation style is ineffective and doomed. You may be right–none of us really know. But there are as many counter-examples as there are blogs on the internet. Every one of them has a public, vocal moderator, and every one of them works fine. Thus, your argument of inevitable destruction just isn’t terribly persuasive to us.

    @ 308: I would note that there are still editors with unlimited mod points–how would you deal with it if one of them found an axe to grind? It still comes down to trusting a particular person with freakish amounts of authority. Besides, Slashdot isn’t a black-box at all–people can trust it because they know exactly who is doing the editing (everyone) and how it works. It’s a totally explicit system.

    @ 329:

    …used the word in a correct context as in “to pillage.” One could say, quite properly if arguably, that Teresa is raping the comment pool by altering the structure of selected comments.

    I wonder how you reconcile this opinion with Cats Unite @ 290’s “red bedsheets.” It seems rather obvious that Cats Unite had the sexual meaning firmly in mind.

  329. Technogirl @ 343:

    Look , EvilRooster by and large I appreciate your comments and do realize that a lot gets lost via email – emotional misconceptions ensue. But I must say that I find it a bit condescending for you to assume that I feel “piled up on”.

    Such as, for example, your mistaken assumption that evilrooster is being condescending. Or that she was attacking you @ 277. See, I know evilrooster, and so I assumed that she was trying, as she generally is, to calm things down, not fire them up. Which isn’t to say that your reaction was wrong–it was, given that you don’t know her, perfectly reasonable.

    All of which is a roundabout way of saying that reasonable conversation cannot happen unless the people involved trust one another. Everyone has to trust that everyone else is honestly engaged in trying to share knowledge, not in winning (for whatever value of win.) Trolls, more than anything else, violate that trust. They force everyone to assume bad faith at the drop of a hat. This is incredibly corrosive to good conversation, which is what the Boingers hired Teresa to create. Which brings me to point two:

    @ 348:

    Not really Nelson considering the mnemonic half life of a largish internet posting board is overall something like a week (in my opinion and experience).

    The fact that you assume everyone will forget a highly public kerfluffle in less than two months completely boggles me. If that is your standard for internet communities, no wonder you’re having a really hard time figuring out the purpose behind Teresa’s methodology. If I were to try to sum it up in a single sentence, “Communities that don’t remember things for more than two weeks don’t produce good conversation” wouldn’t be a bad start. Teresa’s philosophy of moderation (as I have experienced it) is that a moderator’s job is bigger than just keeping the trolls out–it’s building a good community, in order to build good conversation. A website that no one posts on is just as much of a failure as one overrun by trolls. This is very different than Slashdot’s approach, or Fark’s, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong or bad.

  330. Xopher @415: You stole the idea right out of my brain, but I have a less centralized variation:

    I’ve been running the “Killfile” script under Greasemonkey. This useful little thing was originally developed for Pharyngula, and helps a lot there. On supported forums, it adds a “kill” button that lets the reader ignore particular userIDs, without bothering the mods.

    It covers a whole bunch of forums, but (as of the latest update) not BoingBoing…

    Yet? Please?

  331. Addendum to #422: And yes, those who know me will realize this reverses a previous position of mine. Idealism got squelched by ugly reality….

  332. @ Kip W:

    The nasty ol’ comments in question could always be replaced with a single, informative word: DELETED. Numbering problem solved. The question may have been answered, but obviously not to everyone’s satisfaction.

    Passing out scarlet letters is nothing to be proud of. It is base and self-important and hostile. Terribly sorry if you disagree. Does today’s story about the social worker extending kindness to his teenage mugger tell us nothing? I for one am alarmed by the number of people who believe that public taunting is in any way meritorious.

  333. Takeshi@424: You see “public taunting”. I see “letting the other commenters see for themselves why the comment was unwelcome.”

    (And I’m not sure about the particular software here, but I get the idea that to leave comment numbering in place one must leave the header in place, so “DELETED” wouldn’t be any less “public taunting” by your definition (not mine)).

    I’ve left boards that have used this practice, or the similar one of removing posts wholesale (leaving dangling references), because I never knew why things were deleted and it came off as arbitrary and left me mistrusting the mods.

    Disemvowelling lets me see why. That, in a nutshell, is why I like the practice. Full disclosure is always preferable to me.

  334. Interesting comment from people dedicated to an entirely different style of moderation:

    There’s two ways to think about moderation:

    1) The liberal-democratic way. Everyone is enabled to do anything, unless it turns out to offend someone, and then we condemn them and blacklist them. We call this reductive logic.

    2) The fascist-holistic way. We judge everything for whether or not it is productive to some mission. Therefore, some things are clearly not wanted and others are removed “like deadwood” and not “like punishment/judgment.” We call this goal-oriented, process-based logic.

    We are a hybrid of the two. On this forum, as every forum I’ve run or had a hand in running since 1987, we believe in “free speech,” but we recognize this has limits. If you posted a member’s home address, real name, credit history, and penis length, we’d remove that.

    Unlike moronic liberal-democratic conservatives, we recognize that free speech has inherent limits. Our goal is to permit all speech that is not destructive, and yet to remove “as in deadwood” and not “as in punishment/judgment” things which fail to meet our uber-goal, which is to glorify the intelligence and Romantic in metal.

    Moderation

    I think we have to admit that moderators need to be fascists, otherwise the legions of idiots, spammers, pedophiles, jerks, whores, sluts, fools, morons, gov’t agents and crypto-capitalists will submerge us all in their lowest common denominator filth.

  335. Continuing to answer and respond:

    Nathn @310: I think you dislike the idea in theory. In practice, one or two inconsiderate commenters can wreck or stall a conversation for everyone else. Where’s the freedom of speech then?

    If the only important aspect of free speech is that you can say exactly what you want, then you don’t have to come to a site frequented by other people to do it. You could speak your mind on your own website, or for that matter on a street corner: mission accomplished.

    The fact that people come here, or go to any other inhabited forum, demonstrates that there’s more to free speech than individuals speaking their minds. It’s just as important to be heard, be replied to, and respond in turn. That kind of speech is a cooperative social venture; and just like any other cooperative social venture, it needs ways of dealing with people who want its benefits but don’t want to have to cooperate.

    Anyone’s free to disagree with that view. If they think the cooperative aspect of speech is of no importance compared to being able to say exactly what they want to say, in their preferred manner and style, in any and all circumstances, then they literally don’t need to come here to do it. What they want to do, they can do anywhere.

    But if what you want is interactive speech with other people, then you’re back in the world where people take turns and say please and thank you. There’s nothing hypocritical about it. It’s just the way things work.

  336. Continuing to respond:

    Buttseks @312: Mugwump!

    Sparkzilla @316: I decline the gambit. No matter what I say or how I explain it, you’ll deny that it was relevant or sufficient, or you’ll say that I’m lying, or you’ll say I took the actions I did for some other discreditable reason. That interaction will only bring us back to where where we are now. I don’t see the point.

    Technogirl @317 and elsewhere, what you’re saying is that you feel I’ve become too prominent, and you hate that and want me to go away. That’s why your exchanges with other commenters here keep reverting to being about me. When they invite you to discuss moderation concepts, you don’t take them up on it.

    I’m not going to go away. I don’t care about prominence; that’s your obsession. What I care about is conversations. We’ll have them with or without you.

    I figure the reason you don’t care about your name is that the Technogirl persona is essentially a sockpuppet. Entities that intend to be people care about who they are and what they’re named.

    Nathn @321, if you and Takeshi think Boing Boing has “jumped the shark” (a dubious concept, since we’re not a sitcom running out of plots), why are you here arguing about it at length?

  337. #365: I am reliably informed that, after many years, the Minicon bar has finally run out of grenadine.

  338. TNH at #430:

    Maybe. Frankly, I don’t know. I presume they kept pouring it into the Blog, over and over again, until it was gone.

    Oh, look, DD-B has a picture. That man photographs everything.

    Perhaps this blog could use some grenadine.

  339. Teresa@428: Some of us “intend to be people” but prefer to keep our identities on different systems separate rather than getting into “but over on XXX you said….” debates here or elsewhere. (I was posting anonymously for that reason, but decided I should give folks here at least some context.)

    That doesn’t necessarily invalidate the rest of your issues with Technogirl (who I have no connection with; there are just not that many suitably entertaining userIDs out there). I’m just quibbling with the assertion that someone who prefers an invented name is by definition malicious. Sometimes it’s just a nickname.

  340. Jeblis #402: Honestly I’ve never seen a mod get so angry.

    That wasn’t angry. I’ve seen Teresa angry.

  341. Entities that intend to be people care about who they are and what they’re named.

    Of course this doesn’t mean that they’re using their legal name. It just means they’re using a name they use a lot. (e.g., I’ve been using this pseudonym for fifteen years. It’s not my legal name, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go around calling people rapists any more than I would using my legal name. — well, not unless they were.)

    This is a mistake I’ve seen made over and over again: `you’re not using your legal name so you’re untrustworthy!’

    Just because you’re not using your legal name doesn’t necessarily mean you’re scum. Neither does using your legal name imply you’re not a conman.

  342. Alexander Kjerulf wrote a blog post a couple of years ago that’s been pretty widely linked, called “Top 5 reasons why ‘The Customer Is Always Right’ is wrong”. His point is that a wise business won’t cater to abusive, complaining customers, and has to be willing to write some customers off. Doing otherwise encourages abrasive customers, and makes employees miserable, which makes the employees worse at their jobs, resulting in (among other things) worse customer service.

    His points apply to comments at BoingBoing. Think of the readers/commenters as the customers, and the Boingers as the employees. To some extent, commenters can be thought of as employees too (metaphorically speaking — don’t write in asking for a paycheck), if their entertaining comments lead to an environment which attracts more readers and commenters.

    Abusive commenters, on the other hand, poison the environment. They demoralize the Boingers, and drive off more reasonable commenters.

  343. Avram,

    It drives me nuts when somebody with a full shopping cart gets into the express lane. It drives me even more nuts when the clerk lets them get away with it. When the clerk asks them to move, it might piss them off, but it keeps the twenty people behind them happy.

  344. let’s keep this thread open forever. Any who want to discuss moderation, advertising or similar can be directed here. And violently evicted from other threads.

  345. TLS @ 425, responding to Takeshi @ 424:

    Disemvowelling lets me see why. That, in a nutshell, is why I like the practice. Full disclosure is always preferable to me.

    Agreed. I like disemvowelling because, if the moderator’s decision is contested by the disemvowelee, I can judge it for myself, rather than having to trust the moderator. Weird thing to hear from a dittohead, I know!

  346. Teresa @ 428:

    Funny you should ask such a thing…

    I used to be an (on average) 3x a day BB reader. However, last time I was here was when I made that post…I just stopped by now to see if there were any replies. Like I said, I’m pretty well done with BB and I’m guessing I’m not alone.

    And now, off to bigger and better things…

  347. Re: #433, #435 —

    I think Teresa was referring to Technogirl’s statement in #311:

    Technogirl doesn;t give a fig about how you spell her name “techn0girl” Techknowgirl or Technogoul are all fine with me . because none of them are really me.

    When I took Newspaper Journalism 101 in college, one of the first things the teacher told us was “If you get nothing else in a story correct — if you write that the sun rises in the west and that Nixon was the president of France — spell people’s names correctly. There is almost nothing that people take as personally as having their names misspelled.”

  348. “You are clearly from Mars. I have never heard of any documentary filmmakers from Nashville, let alone Tom Neff…”

    Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and I just had a travel day. The exchange in question took place on 16 November 2007 under a BBtv synopsis article. I note that the entire discussion thread for that piece (and only that piece) is gone. I have the followup emails from 21 November, but not a record of the original thread.

    Sorry if you don’t remember it (as indicated later in your response). I was quite struck by the question, especially asked in a public message rather than email.

  349. “In Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, Dis is the City of the Dead (it.: La città infuocata di Dite). It is located in the Sixth Circle. The walls of Dis are guarded by fallen angels. The buildings of Dis which are mentioned are Mosques and furnaces. Dis is extremely hot. Punished within Dis are those whose lives were marked by active (rather than passive) sins: heretics, murderers, suicides, blasphemers, usurers, sodomites, panderers, seducers, flatterers, simoniacs, sorcerors, barrators, hypocrites, thieves, false counsellors, schismatics, falsifiers and traitors.”

  350. I’m okay with flatterers and sodomites, but I’m not sharing my furnace with any goddamn simoniacs.

  351. Wow. Just wow. If this isn’t a record for posting on a BB thread, it should be a cumulative commenting candidate for the BB archive – and mebbe Letterman’s list of top 10 internet time-wasters….

  352. Wow. I don’t post very often, but I would find it very discouraging to have something deleted or “disemvowelled”. Although I have seen some disemvowelled entries that, were I a mod, would have been deleted. So I think in that respect that Teresa is rather gracious, if firm in her technique.

    I’m thankful for the explanation though. I was under the impression that the comments without any vowels were typed that way voluntarily.

    We have a right to free speech, but it is a privilege to post here. So basically, this all boils down to what we all should have learned in the sandbox as children.

    “Play nice.”

  353. Most of the entries with no vowels WERE typed that way. It’s become a joke when syng smthng rlly rd.

    And finding it discouraging when it happens is part of the point: it’s a thing to avoid.

  354. What happens to the vowels after they’ve been removed? Seems like a waste to just throw them away; maybe they could be sent to Eastern Europe, where there’s a shortage.

  355. New England has an extensive letter recycling program. Rs are removed from the ends of words and appended to words ending in vowels.

  356. This is from a community I’m part of:

    There’s two ways to think about moderation:

    1) The liberal-democratic way. Everyone is enabled to do anything, unless it turns out to offend someone, and then we condemn them and blacklist them. We call this reductive logic.

    2) The fascist-holistic way. We judge everything for whether or not it is productive to some mission. Therefore, some things are clearly not wanted and others are removed “like deadwood” and not “like punishment/judgment.” We call this goal-oriented, process-based logic.

    We are a hybrid of the two. On this forum, as every forum I’ve run or had a hand in running since 1987, we believe in “free speech,” but we recognize this has limits. If you posted a member’s home address, real name, credit history, and penis length, we’d remove that.

    I think it’s a sensible alternative view of the situation, one which comes from a more extreme viewpoint but also carries the same idea. It’s not based on ownership but on community as an idea.

  357. @ #457:

    Your argument doesn’t cut it. Being bludgeoned to death is discouraging, and should be avoided at all costs. That doesn’t mean that it *should* happen.

    @ #425:

    I respectfully agree that you have a right to an opinion. Personally, I think that deletion of the nastiness is better. It’s tried and true, and not some gimmicky “innovation.” After all, if Teresa had no one left to disemvowel, I’m sure that she could come up with a few new reasons.

    @ Teresa:

    My suggestion that BoingBoing had “jumped the shark” was said with tongue planted firmly in cheek. As mentioned here, I have been a long-time reader. And frankly, I mentioned that the comment in question was made in response to another comment asking if blogs could “jump the shark,” so I don’t need any lessons from you (or anyone else) as to the three or four differences between TV shows and blogs.

    But once again, you display an utter disregard for anyone who differs with your oh-so-virtuous proclamations. You also seem to be suggesting that I should just go away. I’m sure that I needn’t tell you just how petty and snotty that remark is, considering that I have both supported BoingBoing financially and offered thoughtful comments.

    If BoingBoing *has* jumped the shark, I think I’ve made it quite clear that this post is the reason why. Perhaps you only care about unquestioning accommodation, but I’ve been reading BoingBoing for years without seeing your name, and it makes no difference to me whether you go or stay, honestly. I even said that you provide “a much-needed service” here, and I do believe that.

    Still, I have the right to an opinion, just like you, O Masterful Vowel-Annihilator, and I *should* have the right to express it without listening to your drivel about how I shouldn’t even bother. C’est la vie. You tend to be extraordinarily coarse with some of the people you’re paid to police, and that is my only problem with you.

    Mostly, I find you pleasant and encouraging, but occasionally, just like a lot of us, you behave like a spoiled child. Even if no one agrees with that sentiment, it is as certain as the sunrise. Of course, plenty of folks *do* agree with me. Like water off a duck, Sister. You should be thankful that people like me frequent this website, because if everyone were like you this place would, every so often, devolve into one giant btch-fst.

  358. “if Teresa had no one left to disemvowel, I’m sure that she could come up with a few new reasons.”

    utter bad faith on your part

    utter FAIL

  359. @ Takuan:

    Not bad faith at all. As Sherlock Holmes would say, eliminate the impossible, and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

    The impossible? That Teresa could go a single week without making some grandiose statement about some idiot not having enough respect for people who question authority following a tragedy for which said authority is a likely culprit. Believe me, I have enjoyed many of her rants, but some of them are infantile and boring.

    And besides, what I was saying was exactly this: Teresa already HAS come up with reasons to disemvowel, and, as pointed out here, her decisions are not always circumspect.

    Even if it is bad faith, it would seem that plenty of people here have no faith in her abilities as moderator. I do not share that position, but it is my right to do so, and I will admit to having my faith shaken from time to time.

  360. The fact that Teresa disemvowels does not “keep her honest” as she can still delete posts and, obviously, edit them to say whatever she wants them to say. So there’s no accountability in disemvoweling.

    For the record, I’m not saying that she does alter the content of posts, just that she has the technical ability to. She chooses to disemvowel only.

  361. Eiconclast: The fact that Teresa disemvowels does not “keep her honest” as she can still delete posts and, obviously, edit them to say whatever she wants them to say.

    Oh good grief. You realize you just made an argument supporting a stock conspiracy theory, right? If you truly believe this is an issue here, it is an issue everywhere. It would be even more an issue on websites who have invisible, non-prominent, moderators because they’re far more likely to delete posts and carry them off in black helicopters into the middle of the night.

    Basically, you’ve argued something that has the potential to be true on any website, and is impossible to disprove anywhere. How can anyone prove that any website can be trusted not to edit a post to say “whatever they want them to say”? It can’t be done.

    Congratulations. You’ve achieved level 13 paranoia. Roll for sanity check.

  362. “The fact that Teresa disemvowels does not “keep her honest” as she can still delete posts and, obviously, edit them to say whatever she wants them to say. So there’s no accountability in disemvoweling.”

    I doubt very much that she edits plaintext, but the delete option is real. Although she made labored sport of my Nashville filmmaker reference above, she had in fact asked me about this in an open thread back in November, when I posted something she didn’t like, and she seemed worried that this other, more famous Tom Neff might have made a faux pas on her board. She had also gotten into a frenzy about “sock puppets” in that thread – a common theme on her ur-blog as well. You could see all this for yourself – but the entire discussion thread is deleted. I chalk her present denial up to work-overload memory loss rather than outright dishonesty, since she knows that the latter comes back to haunt.

    There is no shame in BB having a comment threads regime in keeping with the rest of the site – quirky, headstrong, a bit off kilter, molto clubby, personality cultish. Makes perfect sense. And like the rest of BB, in exchange for the weirdness, you sometimes get exquisite things.

  363. I missed this from Takeshi:

    “Even if it is bad faith, it would seem that plenty of people here have no faith in her abilities as moderator.”

    I have no reason to doubt her abilites as a moderator. I simply have never seen them. What she does is not moderating. She is a player/editor.

    Moderators make sure all voices are heard noise-free for the sake of the debate or colloquium. They respect the text and do not add to the noise. They do not take sides because they know that doing so gives the appearance of a stacked deck.

    I think even the primary Boingers would be surprised how useful a real moderator would be. That is a vain hope, but someone reading this will have a great blog in the future and I hope they remember it.

  364. Of course she can delete posts. What do you think happens to spam? If a commenter posts nothing but a string of toxic troll posts, she just wishes them under the cornfield. Why does anyone care about this? If all of my thousands of posts here were deleted, both I and the universe would go on unchanged. Shall I ask Teresa to eradicate my entire comment history to prove that it’s not the end of the world?

  365. How many people read BoingBoing?

    How many people post on BoingBoing?

    How many people get disemvowelled or deleted on BB?

    How many people don’t?

    How many people are on this earth?

    How many people are respect-worthy?

    How many people are infantile, selfish jerks?

    How many people bitch about gifts?

    How many people gratefully accept gifts?

    How many people try to contribute to the lifeboat?

    How many people snivel about rations?

    How many people work for tomorrow?

    How many people demand today?

    I am not worried, I am not outnumbered.

  366. ’tis better to receive than give.

    and on that note; hell yeah! Hey Teresa! Delete everything I ever posted here if it will shut this idiots up!

  367. I don’t know what it is with Firefox, but there is some key combo that submits prematurely. I will let the previous “partial” stand on its own as there was nothing of substance to add.

  368. @ Takuan:

    Didn’t you get the memo?

    Q. There’s an old comment of mine I want you to delete.

    A. Drop us a note, if it’s really important; but the default answer is “no.”

  369. Takuan, she does seem to like you, and you’re important :) I like the idea about keeping an open thread, a sort of Volcano Bar and Grill for people to come in and just bitch about anything. All cultures need pressure release systems. There is a culture here and this thread is evidence that the culture has volcanic pressures under the service. Give people a safe place to rant and they will use it. IMHO.

  370. re: #464 Takeshi ….

    “Not bad faith at all. As Sherlock Holmes would say, eliminate the impossible, and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

    Um, methinks you confuse the great English fictional detective with another Englishman:

    from Wikipedia:

    “Occam’s razor (sometimes spelled Ockham’s razor) is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory. The principle is often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae (“law of parsimony” or “law of succinctness”): “entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem”, or “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity”.

    This is often paraphrased as “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.” In other words, when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities. It is in this sense that Occam’s razor is usually understood.”

    Now – where is the troll feast? I posted to this thread waaaay back (upper 160’s, methinks), just now catching up on all the cattiness …

  371. Technogirl @various:

    Teresa’s last name is Nielsen Hayden. Since you like snark, I’ll suggest that you can guess what someone’s last name may be by looking at their whole name, and then subtracting the first word. Doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a shot.

    I’m a member of several fora (related to 3d art) that rely on in-your-face moderation, smackdowns, bannings, deletions, etc. Joining up requires agreeing to the moderation policy/TOS, which is linked on the front page of any artist forum worth visiting. People who get banned too many times sometimes end up starting their own a which all run along similar lines. The ones that thrive have strong, obvious moderation – many of them have online stores that generate a pile of dough, and allow them to pay a rafts of moderators to keep things civil. http://www.renderosity.com, which is all about control and internecine warfare, has been going strong for over a decade (thousands of members) and is a lot of fun…if you can play by the rules. I offer this as an example of the part of the internet where Teresa’s moderation style is the norm. You don’t have to like it, but it’s not as startling as you think.

    Full disclosure: longtime kool-aid drinker here, want Teresa to edit my book someday, etc.

  372. “Joining up requires agreeing to the moderation policy/TOS, which is linked on the front page of any artist forum worth visiting.”

    Of course, no such agreement is required in order to create a BB account or to post a comment, and no TOS is displayed or indeed even available for the site, whether commenting is turned on or off.

    As nearly as I can tell, the only thing any party has agreed to is the Creative Commons License which governs the whole of BB. Under the CCL, the “moderator’s” disemvowelling would probably be considered a “remix” or adaptation of the CC licensed comment originally submitted. But it lacks the “adaptation label” that CC requires, e.g., “This posting was disemvowelled by the Moderator.” Therefore BB arguably violates the CCL every time this is done.

  373. Talk about lack of reading comprehension… I was not trying to make a wild claim… just pointing to those who made the claim that disemvoweling kept her honest by letting people see what was posted. In fact, it doesn’t.

    Others made the claim (i.e. that disemvoweling somehow kept her honest). I just debunked it. It does no such thing. IF she were dishonest, disemvoweling would not stop her from doing bad things.

    I specifically said that I did NOT think she did this.

  374. Tom Neff, Bill Higgins tells me you’re one of the good guys, and he’s got tremendous credibility with me. I’ll just have to assume that something about Boing Boing has gotten up your nose, and leave it at that.

  375. In fairness to Bill, his character reference appears to be contingent on me being this guy, which I’m not.

    The truth is that such “vouching” ought to have no place in a moderated discussion anyway. Criticism, praise, analysis etc, should stand on their own. The whole obsession with “yeah but who are you really” is one of the besetting sins here.

    Whatever “someone about Boing Boing has gotten up your nose” means, it’s not a factor. BB is great in its funny way. Its failures, such as they are, only reflect a higher standard that one is tempted to pine for given the brilliance of the principals.

    The discussion feature is less successful. I frankly think it would strengthen the blog if they turned it off again, but I don’t expect that to happen for other than technical reasons. Anyway, whatever these threads are, they are not “moderated,” and whatever that thing at the top is, it is not a moderation policy.

  376. Gary 479: Actually Holmes did say that in the form given. Are we surprised that Holmes applied Occam’s Razor? And Ockham himself was using it to argue for the existence of God, proving even as he did so that the Razor is not a magic cure for sloppy thinking.

  377. Well, Tom, you’re entitled to your own definition of ‘moderate’, I guess. But the definition in use here is the Boinger’s definition, and they seem to think not only that the OP is a moderation policy, but that it’s a good one.

    You’ve made your position abundantly clear. And more so. We get it, you don’t like the moderation policy, because it’s a policy about things you don’t think are moderation, in fact you don’t think it’s really a moderation policy at all, and by the way did you mention that you didn’t like the moderation policy?

    It’s the policy (not to mention the definition) that’s gonna be in play here. It’s your choice whether you want to play in this sandbox or not, but saying the same thing over yet again isn’t going to change a thing. Is it your policy to be so immoderate?

    I think it’s too bad comment threads don’t come with symantic de-duping software.

    Rats, I forgot I was supposed to be ignoring all your posts, since you declared your intention to talk but not listen (much like the Creationist I was stupidly arguing with this morning, though he didn’t actually admit that’s what he was doing…your labeling is better, I’ll give you that). So you got me there.

  378. “Rats, I forgot I was supposed to be ignoring all your posts, since you declared your intention to talk but not listen…”

    I missed the posting where I made that declaration – can you provide a link?

  379. Tom Neff, my humble apologies. It wasn’t you at all, it was Jim Cowling. I really do apologize; that’s a pretty big thing to accuse someone of, and you didn’t do it. I’m sorry.

  380. No problem Xopher – I thought I saw something like that earlier myself but couldn’t remember who it was. I’m relieved it wasn’t me. :)

    I’m actually flattered that you find me repetitive – you can only do that by paying attention to what I’m saying! At least we are both engaging the topic.

  381. I assume, YankeeKnowHow, that you’re doing a performance piece on the theme of ‘wrongfully aggrieved victim’.

  382. Yankeeknowhow 491: Odd, for someone who’s been disemvowelled, there don’t seem to be any vowelless posts on your comments list. Odd, for someone who’s been banned you still seem able to post.

    Odd: you think that Teresa won’t ban your new name just as she banned your old one.

  383. my dear yankee; “messianic, disturbing and loony”?
    For the last time,I am NOT the moderator.

  384. Tom Neff at #485, you are correct; I wasn’t sure you were that guy (whom I admire).

    Since the subject of multiple Tom Neffs had come up, I was adding one to the pool. I e-mailed my answer to TNH’s question “what’s a uranium Tom Neff?” rather than posting it here.

    I hope I have not introduced unnecessary confusion into the discourse.

    Heaven knows there are plenty of Bill Higginses. Some of whom might be embarrassed to be confused with me.

  385. Ths pst nd nsng cmmnt thrd r clrly fr t lng 2 rd, bt hr gs nywy:

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    nwlcm cmmnts shld b jst dltd, nd th cmmntr wrnd r bnnd f thy r prsstnt.

    nythng ls pprs t b n-pmnshp, vndctvnss , knd f rghts vglntsm ll t cmmn n th S f , whr th chmpns f fr spch, pltcl crrctnss nd dmcrcy (prsmbly th “gd gys” th mdrtr mntnd n #483) r jst s scry s th bd gys thy r sppsd t b fghtng.

    Th mdrtr’s cmmnts tht ‘v sn n th lst fw mnths ftn cm crss s ths f sm knd f slf-styld bnvlnt dcttr. Th tn s jst <>ff. Why ds sh fl th nd t cm t n tp f vry sngl rsnbl-sndng crtcsm ? Lk smn ntd , “md-thrd smckdwn nthlgy psts” . Mch smll f PR xrcsng, f th knd tht rls n cnstnt nd lmst frcd rpttn f wht’s wht – btryng sm srt f nscrty prhps.

    Bls dwn t : “‘m rght bcs sy s, nd y’r wrng , nd msnthrp, nd ths s r blg nywy, nd w mk mny ff y bng hr, hr hr, slbbr slbbr”.

    t dsn’t fl lk dscssn wnt t jn n, whn t s vrsn by ppl hldng sch tttds. (nd prbbly crryng chps n thr shldrs). t s th “ffns s th bst dfns” mntlty ll vr gn.

    <>Frnkly, d t th pr mdrtn plcy hv nt flt lk cmmntng n Bng Bng rcntly, nd my pnn f th st hs bn lssnd smwht. wndr hw mny thr ppl hv bn dshrtnd ls?

    ls, wht #12 , ntbly #28, qtd bv, #34 #35 #36 #216 #263 #328 (Tksh, thnk y) #251 #231 #165 #164 #142 #185 #183 #175 #174 #141 #140 #130 #109 #102 #84 #76 #64 #60 #49 #321 #369 #462 #469 – nd mny thrs wh gt dsmvwlld nd/r wh mssd- sd.

    <>dsmvwlng sms t m lk pttng th hds f yr nms n plls bth t dtr thrs nd t clbrt yr pwr.

    Dsmvwllng, bnnng wtht wrnng r xplntn, nd bng snrky bcs y cn: ths bhvr s smlr t prvkng wld bsts t ttck y. Snr r ltr y wll prvk th wrng bst, wh jst hppns t hv td mr hxx0rng svvy thn yr grd dgs, nd strng, dltrs thngs cld hppn t yr glb.(Nt thrt, smply n bsrvtn f hmn/nt ntr).
    Thr’s lwys fstr gn thn y. T b hnst, thght ths s wht hppnd rcntly, whn cldn’t ccss bb fr wk r tw. cldn’t hlp wry sml nd “y skd fr t” typ f thght.

    Dsclsr: d nt clck n lnks hr, jst rght-clck nd cpy & pst th RL n nw tb. Srry, bb, y r sld t t ths vry sm crprt jrks y prtnd t b bttr thn, nd sm f y r fr t snrky. . . Y mk mny ff s bng hr, nd d y knw wht y cn d wth yr n-yppy tttds ?

    <>‘m trd f th frmntnd slf-cngrtltry stff — ncldng Trs’s mt-prmtnl psts; t’s lk wtchng th scrs vry dy. Stmpnk s ncrdbly clch nw; t’s nnyng-yt-msng t wtch ppl wh s thmslvs s s ncrdbly hp pstng vlms bt t. s n ggrgtr f thr tpcs ‘m ntrstd n, BB ds n k jb bt ‘m prtty cnfdnt tht cn fnd stbl rplcmnt.<>

    Bt nwhr wll w fnd sch n p-t-dt cvrg f ll thngs DSNY. Th tr bldn dg. Y knw th djctv “mcky ms”?

  386. YankeeKnowHow: I don’t know who’s been corresponding with you, but it hasn’t been me.

    Tom Neff 1138: Thanks. That makes it all much simpler.

    MetaBaron:

    This post and ensuing comment thread are clearly far too long 2 read, but here goes anyway …

    BZZZZZZT! Wrong answer, but thank you for playing. That’s one I forgot. I’ll add it to the moderation guidelines.

  387. And because MetaBaron was being such a jerk, I went and checked the other information that came in with his comment. Let’s just say that unless you’re new to Boing Boing’s comment threads, you’ve already seen that commenter under various other names.

    So busted.

  388. boy, that #498 sure looks like it was a lot of work! Should I trouble to read it anyway? NAHHHHH!

  389. NAHHHHH!

    It wasn’t very interesting.

    Mazeltov!

    The extent of my juvenile glee surprised even me. Was my guess on #498’s identity correct?

  390. ah jeez, that’s 496 eh? Wot a hoser! Gotta put down this cloudberry liqueur/Grand Mariner combo now….

  391. Oh, and I followed your lead. Now Teresa’s wondering why we can’t figure out who she is.

    Can we move random conversation back to Raquel Welch Space Dance? This page takes too long to load.

  392. ya know…. ya know ANtioniooo… yer my friend, no , no I really MEAN that, you, Teresa, everybody,,, hell! eben that Metabooger guy! YER ALL MY FRENS! >>
    I’m havin a REALLY good time here, no,no really,I am,…. oh look! its him, it’s him ANtinope look, here he is! Hiya Metaboober! I love ya guy!@ I Lo,, HWAALLLLPP SPlurggge…. ah , ah shit,sorry Meta, ,

    ya , sorrrry.,…../

  393. 500 FTW

    Also insane that people are still bitching about the original post.

    Just a quick survey, who would actually go to a place billing itself as an American izakaya? Too confusing? Too vague?

  394. go with it.good food and drink make their own reputation. You could even call it “Buttseks Station”

  395. re: #486 Xopher

    I stand corrected. Thank you, oh thank you, you alien burrowing mammal you.

    Oh, P.S. – know any other intelligent life-forms? There don’t seem to be many remaining down here on Dirt … erm, Earth.

  396. This thread is on the side bar, and perhaps this is one subtle way to reflect how the community has spoken. I thought the original intention was to let the blog post slip away as new posts come in (which is erriely similar to the “let it slide” method used by most governments). It seems the controversy caused by the policy has stayed pretty long.

    If one can say that the biggest corporations or the biggest nations of the world should be the model of the rest of the world, shouldn’t the Top 25 Blogs (or perhaps the top 10 political blogs) of the world show the best of what they can do with readers’ comments?

    I thought “You” was the Person of the Year 2006 of Time Magazine, and all those “You”s can do is to comment on what the bloggers say, but not how the bloggers moderate all the “you”s?

    What the discussion threads is running here is a benevolent dictatorship, and it’s nowhere near democracy that the blog is advocating. It is the same system used by most blogs, but the fact that most moderation runs the same way does not make a good argument why it has to be the way. In fact, some corporate blogs (e.g. Adobe or Microsoft) have even more open comment policies. There is no process on how the community can help agree on the Moderation Policy, and we have a judge who is biased towards certain people (e.g. change tone when the person is Tom Neff) and likes to make a lot of public speeches. And you cannot even vote.

    Sure, some commenters just like to comment and do not want to care what these governing policies are, but there is those who are paranoid about his posts offending somebody in the blog just because he is providing a different viewpoint, too. Post #469 explained this pretty well.

    This blog is infected by a few commenters who pay no respect to others’ comments (e.g. calling someone “utter fail”) – even if those comments have flaws, they don’t deserve to be slammed with rudeness like that – yet the moderator had not even made a move to stop them. After reading those rude comments that never got moderated, I don’t even know what I should write to mean “polite” enough not to be disemvoweled or deleted.

  397. gods, it’s a wonder your own tongue doesn’t leap out and strangle you. I’m going to have to invent a new term for you; something about hypocrisy and event horizons…

  398. KD

    Y dscrb n grp f dsmvwlld blggrs s prnds wh dn’t blv thy hv ffndd thr blggrs.

    m n f ths “prnds.”

    Y d nt gv th dth pnlty t shplftr.

    Hw cn b trtd th sm fr my psts s smn wh ss bltnt rcsm r nslts n ths blg?

    S t s p t n prsn t dcd vrythng. Thr s n xplntn gvn t why psts r tmprd nd cnsrd wth, ‘v skd.

    S hw s n t vn knw wht t vd n th ftr?

  399. em.. hello..?

    you guys..?

    well, the lights are on, but it’s kind of quite in here.. is everyone gone home?

    oh shit, you guys have left this place in a state !!

    empty beer cans everywhere, my records! they’re strewn all over and they’re scratched and hot-rocked..!

    argh! there’s cheetos walked into the carpet, and vomit mingling in the fish tank..

    jesus, what did u guys do?

    ..and i want this goat out of my room, and someone better be about to change the sheets on my bed or i’m gonna be super-pissed!

    seriously guys, the next time you’re gonna have one of these “parties”, i want notice..

    oh god damn, someone shat on the rug..

    Takuan!

  400. hmm.. all i can think of is “Game Player’s of Titan”, becaus eof the player theme, but gaia is the mother of the titans, so almost..

    Gaia’s Son’s Sportsmen? :p

  401. Phew! i thought that was gonna be a long one ;)

    ..and there was me thinking Gaia was a floaty, warm-feeling, hippy-mother-type.. and she was a TITAN as well you say? RAAR! :)

    Here’s one back at you:

    Plucky Performers of Mahler’s First (this one is kinda cheeky)

  402. Right, I’m off to see Portishead on their new album tour YAY!

    Here’s a little something for the weekend..

    Single sequential observation device, Borean apex-for-9

    Maybe easy, maybe cryptic :)

  403. Ahhh-kizzle,Ahhh-kizzle yew compleat bahhstard… I move we advance to a new author and smilingly defile his/her works with equal lack of any decent restraint. Suggestions? ( any like-minded filthy perverts out there?)

  404. i’m with u.. we’re running dangerously low on dick (ouch!)

    a new author is fine, but would need an equally large back catalogue, what about movie titles of a specific year or genre maybe?

    also, sorry about the last one, pretty cheap i know: i was running out the door :)

    ..although i did try set it up so if u just googled “Borean apex-for-9”, ‘darkly’ would be in the first entry – i’m nice like that :p

  405. What?! No Verne?!

    a cool hundred years is fine with me.. we are agreedy.

    clarify: how does the name relate to the title? is it a character? must it be the first word of the game?

  406. any motion picture title of the past century that can be classified as science fiction

    (that addition to the opening question is just a fillip)

  407. j’know.. i’m losing my eyesight.. i read “science fiction film: 1900 to 2008” as “science fiction: 1908-2008”

    Anyhoo, we are indeedy agreedy.

    Game On.

  408. hooboy! I think I’m going to have to tighten the parameters or something – either that or I’m stupid…..nahhhh!

  409. BTW the motoyaki was excellent and highly successful, thanks. (Our farmer’s market chose that day to decide to start selling fresh oysters – who knew?)

  410. Sister Y tags into the Game and scores!

    #539 NICE :)

    also, to clarify: is “do you understand” part of your Game?

  411. Arkizzle, good point, I shoulda put it in quotation marks – yeah, it’s all part of my Game. (Mwahahahaha.)

    “IBM cheater, do you understand?”

    Clue: science fiction film, 1998-2008
    Also: NOM NOM NOM

  412. NOM NOM NOM is part of the clue my brothers (though it also applies to the motoyaki, of course).

  413. My brothers, are we going to get banned for abusing this comment thread?

    If not, how about

    “Complying with a vow, takings offs”

  414. “ten thousand year cowpoke’s octal continuum escapades”

    Hah! I fear you are doomed to fail!MWAHAHAHA!

  415. Sis, I was also thinking of the “abusing this comment thread” thing, and reckon we could keep this little speak-easy mobile, maybe move every few rounds. We shouldn’t draw too much attention if we only play in the derelict backwaters of BB comment threads..

    New clubhouse (and the next Game) is here.

  416. Re: Disemvowelling.

    I’ve just been watching this practice in action on a few of the threads, like this one – http://www.boingboing.net/2008/04/14/old-comic-book-depic.html

    and I think it works, not by taking the wind out of the poster’s sails and making him or her harder to read, but by providing a little social cost, a nudge, even a little bit of shame, perhaps, for violating basic politeness. In regular conversations, of course, most of us are automatically polite – the social disincentives are built into the situation. If you are impolite, you might get in trouble or someone might not like you, but above all, you might hurt somebody’s feelings. I think, for most people, that’s the biggest reason to be polite.

    But it’s easy to lose sight of that on the Internets, or any time there isn’t face or voice contact to remind you you’re dealing with actual people with actual feelings. It happens in other situations, too – driving in rush hour in Orange County once, I remember looking at all the cars and thinking, man, all these excess people, I wish they all would die, why do they even exist to clog this freeway? (Of course I didn’t really mean it! Just traffic irritation.) You can have thoughts like that looking at cars. But then looking at a crowd of people in line for something, outside their cars, where I could see their faces, that kind of thought wouldn’t even enter my mind, it wouldn’t make sense.

    I think Internet-forum (and of course email) communication removes the human-contact cues, facial and voice contact, that we rely on to know we’re dealing with a person. The disemvowelling trick lets people stay in the community, but imposes a little cost – similar to feeling like you’ve let someone down or hurt their feelings – when someone is impolite. I notice people, even after getting disemvowelled, are apologizing and saying they agree with the disemvowelling. I just have a feeling this is teaching us how to be polite on the Internets. I have even found myself saying something stupid and rude and impolite, and then going back and apologizing for it (on other forums too, even ones where you’re allowed to be a rude dick if you want).

    Anyway this is why I think disemvowelling opens a new era of Internet communications. (Though it could probably be used to train us to do anything, like to stop using adverbs.)

    Banning is still the appropriate remedy for people who are so far gone they won’t even be part of the community, and don’t respond to the small social costs imposed by the disemvowelling.

    Sorry for the long post, I’m sure most of this is common sense and obvious, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot. That is all.

  417. I have yet to be disemvoweled, but if (by which I mean when) it happens, who cares. If I act like a dick, I get smacked. I would have disemvoweled myself on quite a few occasions if I had my finger on the button. I’m more worried about Teresa’s discomfort in having to make the decision. Takuan’s lost his vowels a couple of times and just takes it in stride. Very, very few of the regular commenters have a big hissy about it.

  418. Perhaps it only works on us delicate flowers.

    Usually, I resent any form of threatened punishment, but in this case I don’t resent it, because it’s working as a substitute for artificially-absent natural incentives.

  419. em.. so Tak.. it sounds like you may have settled on a pronoun..

    On BB, I’ve seen you referred to as all the genders under the sun (not all at once, that would be.. messy), and I’ve called you at least a couple myself. I always just left it as an unasked question; unnecessary information.

    Now I see ol’ Antonio’ giving it the “his”, and am inclined to ask the uber casual/polite question we all learned in that thread, not so long ago..

    ..so, which pronoun do you prefer?

    Phew! Well, that wasn’t so hard, now I’m glad I asked, brilliant :)

    [cue: awkward silence, sound of crickets in the night air]

    oh..

  420. Good lord, only the males have recurved spines on their larvipositors. How could you have mistaken Takuan for a female.

  421. His grandparents simplified the name when they came through Ellis Island. They didn’t think that anyone could spell Tachthulhuan.

  422. Oh no.. you mean I touched the ‘relic’ of an ancient one??

    Ugh. sticky icky.. (and tentacly)

  423. Ichor? AH HA!

    I was wondering why my bottle of Tide couldn’t get the stains out of the.. what did you call it? ..’sacrificial’ gown thing (?) you wanted me to wear..

    Is there a better product you can recommend? I mean, I don’t go for dresses normally, but the frilly lacework and virgin whiteness are just so cute, it’d be a shame to let it go to the charity bin.

  424. on the topic of Moderation Policy, I have been giving this some serious and lengthy thought. Weighty too. There seems to be a half dozen Boingers and an official Moderator. To my way of thinking, these seven could easily give the two dozen regular readers personal service. Moderation is an important function,without Discipline and Order,we could have no discussion. It seems to me that the ratio permits direct intervention when required. Personal Service. I am a great believer in the efficacy of corporal punishment, correctly applied. Surely the staff of BoingBoing could find time to personally attend naughty, naughty posters -such as myself on occasion – and deal out the richly deserved punishments so merited. I am sure we all support such an idea and as gesture of good earnest I have acquired the requisite equipment and harnesses for such.

    Well then,who is with me!?

  425. Do we get to pick our Boinger?

    I’m not sure who I have dibs on yet, but I can only presume you are going to pick Teresa, the unmatched marathon domination technician..

    Or maybe you are privvy to Joel having a punishment card, or two, hidden up his sleeve?

    This may be interesting yet.

  426. I think maybe you should just tell us how clever you are, instead of us working it out.. coz we’re stumped. sorry :(

    c’mon, first one free etc..

  427. What’s funny is that if you’re from Kyrgyzstan and your message gets disemvoweled, it’ll look pretty much the same.

  428. Elected or inaugurated? It says one in the main text and the other in the Update section.

  429. Well that was educational.

    I thought that the vowel-free posts were some obscure annoying yet clever internet gag I didn’t get. Turns out they were.

  430. Opps, a month late I noticed the obscene language change.

    …can we still quote obscene scenes?

  431. Even weirder is the idea that companies shouldn’t be criticized because in a market, you should just take your business elsewhere. Free markets thrive on good information. For a market to function, customers need to have good information about which goods are worth buying and which ones should be avoided — that’s why we complain in public, to help companies make better decisions.

  432. I had thought that the ‘Disemvoweling’ (Wow – That’s an amazingly passive-agressive term…) was just a poster trying to be clever and draw attention to themselves. After reading elsewhere about some possibly questionable editorial decisions (Vague enough to avoid outright deletion?), I found out that it’s actually an editorial device. Is it possible to make this tampering a little more obviously editorial to the casual observer, or do you intend to continue to pass your mutilation off as the original content to everybody who dosen’t venture into the unused lavatory in the basement… etc. to find the disclaimer?

  433. I had also always thought the ‘Disemvoweling’ was done by the poster. Like spammers spelling things oddly to avoid detection by a filter. It wasn’t until today when I clicked a link to this post that I realized it was the moderator’s doing. I feel so…silly. I’ve been reading BB every day for years and only just now find this out. Doh!

  434. What the heck is going on?

    Here’s the policies page on the 25th:
    http://209.85.173.104/search?q=cache:uRHyslDtxi4J:www.boingboing.net/policies.html+www.boingboing.net/policies.html&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=firefox-a

    Here’s the policies page now:
    http://www.boingboing.net/policies.html

    “We reserve the right to unpublish or refuse to unpublish anything for any or no reason.” which certainly is a reasonable policy, and would have been reasonable if it was in place when this happened a year ago. But to try and silently add that in in the middle of a firestorm about BB tryinh to make non-transparent changes on the sly is so wrong-headed, I’m not sure where to begin.

    I don’t think policy should be formless and unchanging; your needs grow, after all. Changing it in the last week to fit -with no notice- to fi=t your needs is pretty low, then pointing to that page as a justification like it’s always been there is even lower.

    Policies can and do change. But if your goal is transparency, you’re upfront about it. You say, “We need to take this action, so we’re changing this policy”. That’s being transparent.

  435. Shawn, in what way was this change not transparent? You saw it, didn’t you? Neither was the unwritten policy on unpublishing invisible before; Teresa has made reference to unpublishing several times up to now. The only change is that it is now explicit, whereas before it was merely implicit. What comment would you like the boingers in general, or Teresa in particular, to make on the subject?

  436. While I’m here, a thought just occurred to me while reading that thread, though it doesn’t really pertain to the subject: Where are these high-traffic, light moderation sites that are constantly brought up, where the moderators are nigh invisible, silently flitting about doing the moderation thing, yet magically never managing to upset anybody and everybody is the best of friends?

    The most lightly-modded site I know of is a hotbed of infantile squabbling. The sites where mods deal with rudeness and trollism quickly and effectively tend to be those where the mods post as themselves, in my experience. There is seldom confusion between when they are just commenting and when they are using the mod-voice, if only because the latter is usually linked linked with an actual action. The mods are occasionally caustic, and sometimes even use… sarcasm, but given the usual circumstances that’s understandable.

  437. Orbus @593: actually, I think Disemvowelling is aggressive, not P-A. As in “We are treating you as a troll because you’re behaving like a troll, TTYF*!”

    P-A behaviour would be posting “Wow – That’s an amazingly passive-agressive term…” in parentheses while ostensibly making a constructive comment.

    The above paragraph defines itself.

    *Take That You Fiend!

  438. I have had my doubts about BB’s moderation style, but Antinuous has crossed the line in the latest Tibet thread by disemvowelling Zosima. Compare her comments with those of Antinuous, Takuan, or Mdhatter. I think any unbiased reader would conclude her comments were more civil than theirs, yet she was disemvowelled. On this subject, Antinuous is extremely partisan: to exercise that power in that way is wrong.

  439. This moderation policy is weak.

    It does not involve waterboarding in a steampunk bath haus, plush knitted voodoo dolls for gregarious offenders, or being subjected to ridicule by having your name used in Cory Doctorow’s new book as a government mule used to put cameras up people’s butts.

    BoingBoing needs something with some teeth to it. I suggest someone opens a thread about what terrible penalties to impose upon the moderated and incorporates loyalty oaths into the signup process.

    While we are at it, is there a BoingBoing flag I can display proudly from my doorstep?

    M

  440. Dear BoingBoing,

    I can understand the desire to stick by your moderator, Teresa Nielsen Hayden. It’s also plain that she feels the desire to stick by you as well in this time of trouble. However, her actions of late are exacerbating rather than moderating.

    Comments such as “Maybe that’s why she did it: she was tired of waiting to see whether anyone else would notice”, “Dramatize yourself on your own time”, “Kiss your ass goodbye”, as well as the several comments by her which have been disemvoweled (by who, I wonder), have served to make a tense situation worse. And now, rather than “we’re listening,” discussion of her moderation has been declared off-topic in any thread but this one.

    As a long-time reader of BB (which, since I never got involved in commenting here before, I can’t prove) I would rather not be called a “drama queen” for wondering why the site I enjoy and respect for its ideals would seemingly betray those ideals, or wonder why the poisonous atmosphere created by Teresa Nielsen Hayden continues to be endorsed by you. Cognitive dissonance makes my brain ache the way piracetam never did. My brain wants me to give BB up but my heart wants to stay.

    Your pal,

    waraw

  441. Waraw @601: It’s my observation on other sites that moderators serve as lightning rods for a lot of others’ bad behaviour. In a previous era, when Boingboing comments were unmoderated, the behaviour was so bad that the boingers ended the comments for a long while until they found a moderator with a thick skin and the natural authority to deal with louts.

    Note that there was plenty of strong feelings exhibited in the VB thread before the moderator and sub-moderators made any additional comments of their own.

    T