Sunday, July 27, 2008

Starting a Post With No Idea Where It's Going: An Experiment. And An Unexpected Coinage In The Bargain!

I'm pretty sure that every time I've started to write a post here, all 409 times, so far, I've known what the point of the post was meant to be...even with the clearly pointless posts. This morning, I'm kind of intrigued by a subject and I want to talk about it, but I honestly have no idea where the conversation will lead...or where my intro to the conversation will end.

Anyway, on to the subject:

These last few days, the internets (at least the little corner I visit), are buzzing about Comment Moderation and First Amendment Rights. Scalzi has a lot to say about it here, and here. Over at Making Light, Jim MacDonald has his own take on things.

First, let's start off by admitting that my blog isn't well known enough to draw many of the foaming at the mouth crowd. I also haven't taken on too many topics that avail themselves to the trawlers.

Interruption to claim coinage!

1. trawler

A person who is too stingy or poor to pay for drinks in nightclubs so they proceed to drink the dregs of any drinks that are left unattended. They usually end up totally wasted by the end of the night, puking their guts up in the loos, because of all the different drinks they've consumed.

"Ann is so poor that when she goes out she's a trawler."

The above is from the Urban Dictionary. My definition is: One who conducts internet searches with the specific goal of finding posts that lend themselves to their own personal brand of being a troll.

Yes! I claim this coinage and deem it excellent.

OK, back to the point (which you'll recall, I don't yet have in mind). I have, if memory serves, exactly two occasions where Comment Moderation might have come into play. The first was a post that I searched for and couldn't find. If I recall, it was something or other about a politician posing for a photo op at a birthday party for Adolph Hitler. The first comment to show up was from some big poobah in the American Nazi Party. I don't remember him having said anything especially offensive, but I deleted him without a whole lot of thought because I didn't want anything here linking back to him or his organization. I'm sure he found me by trawling, (see, it's an excellent and useful word), and he just dropped in to put in his 2¢ worth of, "You're a liberal Jew-loving Yankee and you don't understand anything." Note: Trawlers who find this post due to the preceding paragraph and feel the need to contribute to the conversation similarly will be similarly deleted.

The only other time a topic has leant itself to having comments that might have the rails, as it were, was this past week, when I got all foamy about a comment I had read in another blog. I didn't moderate any of the comments that showed up there, in spite of the fact that the target of my venom showed up right away and tried to shout me down (here in my own place).

His first comment was:

If you think starting a dialogue with "Fuck you Peregrine." is going to get a reasonable response it will not.
Rewrite the post and we'll talk.

Well, the fact is, he was both right and wrong. Me starting the conversational part of the post as I did was clearly inflammatory. But where he was wrong was in thinking that my goal was to start a dialogue. My intention was to tell you (and him) that what he said was 250% wrong and that nothing he had to say was going to change my mind. What he had said already was the direct equivalent (in my mind) of having said, "Fuck you Nathan". As I noted, I thought we were even on that score. I then went and noted his objection in the post and struck out the offending language from the post and replaced it with something more to his taste.

Some of you noted that I had accommodated him more than you would have been willing to do. I would agree with you if I had actually deleted the offending phrases. They were left there for all to see with a line through them and an explanation of why things had changed. And even though I wasn't interested in a dialogue, I was interested in seeing what else he might have to say on the subject. I'd even go so far as to say that the way I accommodated his request was more in the nature of baiting than acquiescing.

That having been said, I didn't find any of his comments to rise to a threshold that would invoke any kind of moderation. I thought most of what he said was horribly, completely and transparently wrong, but that left me and all of you free to call him on it. (I'll also repeat that peregrine is still welcome here anytime. I'd wager that there are other subjects, about which he probably has interesting insights. His conduct while being at the bottom of the pileup was admirably restrained.)

I'm not going to rehash the argument that your First Amendment Rights only protect you from Government regulation. That's already clear to all but the most clueless. I'm not going to delve the depths of the argument that this is my blog and that everything here remains here at my sufferance.

The Big Boy Bloggers who pay for their space have the ability to block a particular commenter from showing up ever again. I don't have that ability (or if I do, I don't know how to do it). So, with that in mind, (and without having come to some Grand Unifying Point), I'll just say that I reserve the right to delete your ass for any reason whatsoever...even something as capricious as not liking your screen name.

On the one hand, it's not some Earth Moving revelation, but it's fairly unambiguous.


kimby said...

I'm of the belief that my blog is my space, similar to my home. When you come to my home, you are expected to follow the rules of the house, and if not, then you are asked to leave.
If you do not know the rules, and inadvertently break one, it will be explained to you ONCE.

That is the way I run my home, and while yes, some of the kid's friends have been asked to leave, it is a small number. People in general follow the rules...those that don't..well...I don't think I really need those people around.

While the readership on my own blog is small, I love the opportunity to exchange ideas in an adult manner.
If I don't think you are following the rules...and you don't know them..I will let you know..ONCE.

Luckily, this has only occurred once in the 5+ years that I have been blogging.

vince said...

It astounds me that there are still people who don't get any of this. I followed the Scalzi comment moderation brouhaha and what started it. Pure stupidity. Yes, Scalzi can get snarky with the best of them, but if you don't like it, don't read/don't post on his blog. The rules are plainly posted, and don't like them, don't play the game.

Different countries have different rules about what people may publicly say/print, and these rules may effect what a blogger may/may not allow in their comments.

Bottom line for us bloggers - they're our blogs, we set the rules. Don't like those rules? Then please leave and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Anne C. said...

I have noticed trawling before and never had a proper name for it. Thanks for coining it, Nathan!

Nathan said...

I'm quite proud of that Anne.

I intend to see that it sweeps the internets.

neurondoc said...

You know, I have been wracking my brain to come up with a screen name that might get me deleted, but I just can't. I don't know what that says about me, but it certainly says something.