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[sticky post]This Blog Is Now Moderated By The Iron Fist of Elizabeth Bennet
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catvalente


In the nearly ten years of this blog's existence, I have employed what one might generously call a laissez-faire style of moderation. I have deleted spam and threats to my person--and nothing else. People have always been free to be colossal dicks in the comments, and that's in large part because my commentariat behaves itself on most (certainly not all) occasions and colossal dicks usually get their asses handed to them by my very clever and awesome regular readership. I have felt that allowing the commenters to police the comment space was the best policy, because the content of the comments, in my ethical worldview, belongs to the commenters, and I believed it was not within my rights to remove their work even for the most egregious of offenses. I left shitty comments up as a warning to others--see the response this person drew. Don't let it be you.

I can count on one hand the number of people I have banned and comments I have deleted. On the same hand.

I've always said: this is an open space. Don't make me sorry for keeping it that way.

Well, it's finally happened. Ten years was a good run, but I have been made sorry and things are going to change.

Iron-handed moderation is the standard on most large blogs, and it's come to my attention that people relatively new to reading this one assume such a policy is in place here--that threads should and will be frozen, comments deleted, users banned. This conflict between what is assumed to be true and what is true has caused significant misunderstandings, and that's at least in part my fault for not having a loudly stated moderation policy. If you assume I moderate like a boss, then it logically appears that anything in the comments is something I think is at least nominally ok. Bad logic, weird logic, not at all appropriate logic when it comes to blog comments, but I can see how, when things get heated, it is a logic that can be leapt to.

But now, especially since my professional name is very prominently placed on the front door of this joint, I'm going to have to stop pretending that this is still a personal, intimate blog shared with a few of my friends. It is not 2003. Time to start acting like a grown-up internet girl and accept that this blog is widely read, and by a lot of people who haven't been here since day one.

So. Welcome to Thunderdome.

These are the rules.

  • Anonymous commenting is, now and forever, shut the fuck off. There are as many ways to sign into Livejournal these days as stars in the sky, and the former policy (of screening anonymous commenting but allowing them because I wanted people to be able to participate in the conversation without declaring allegiance to a website) is not going to cut it. If you want to talk to me, most especially if you want to call me names, you have to use your big-kid words and put your name on it. After all, my name is on it. If one is accountable, all are. (All comments are automatically screened on the main site/non-Livejournal blog.)
  • This is my Freeze Ray. There are many like it, but this one is mine. If I feel that you are being a shithead for no purpose other than because your head is made of shit, I will freeze your thread. (Being a shithead in service of the greater good may or may not be allowed on a case by case basis. And as it is my blog, I get to decide what the greater good is. You can decide it on your own blog.) If I feel that you are trolling or crossing the line vis a vis threatening or otherwise over the top rhetoric, I will freeze your thread. If your conversation rockets past useful and engaging and into fighting for fighting's sake or just being crappy to each other, I will freeze your thread.
  • If you act a fool, I will let people make fun of you. If, for a wild, random example, on a post about how women are not taken seriously and often threatened when they speak online, you decide to treat me like a bleating little girl and say that my post has been elevated to relevance only by a man's notice of it, I will let people take you down like a JV quarterback at the Super Bowl. Because it illustrates a point, I will not freeze or delete it unless it gets out of hand--but a long, long leash will be given to those handling a commenter who proves the thesis of the post. People like to feel like they can do something about injustice and assorted malicious stupidity. If you give them a target, I will let them take their shots. It's called catharsis. Don't make yourself a vessel for other people's catharsis. It's not good for your health.
  • This does not mean that you can't disagree with me. Please do. Disagree eloquently, vociferously, and in good faith. For the purposes of my own goddamned space, I define trolling as: arguing disingenously or insincerely in order to cause distress or draw attention to your own super-awesome self. Arguing is not trolling. Arguing in bad faith because you want to rile people (or me) up is. The other side of that is that, even if you genuinely and sincerely believe, for example, that gay people shouldn't marry or women shouldn't vote, leaving such comments here is still trolling, because you know damn well how I feel about it and that I won't change my mind, so mooing about such subjects has no purpose other than to get attention and incur rage points to your dubious account. Just don't. If I feel that a heated argument has value to the greater discourse, despite its heat and rhetoric, I will leave it up. If I feel that a heated argument has value to the greater discourse, despite its heat and rhetoric, I will leave it up. If it descends to abuse, I will freeze it but leave it visible. But warnings will be issued to argue more in the fashion of Jane Austen than Stone Cold Steve Austin, dig?
  • I will now treat the comments section of this blog as a high-stakes game of Whack-a-Troll. Users will be banned. I have only banned two users in the decade of this blog. Both threatened me with rape and demonstrated knowledge of my whereabouts such that I took them seriously. You will not have to go nearly this far to get banned any longer. I take to heart Tiger Beatdown's philosophy of "Every comment on this blog is an audition." Repeated offenses of the above (or below) variety will get you banned. Stalking or otherwise harassing other commenters will get you banned. If you behave toward me in such a fashion that the mere sight of your username causes me anxiety, you will be banned with extreme prejudice. I am not going to take your fee fees into account anymore. My peace of mind is more important than your right to talk in my space.
  • To this end, comments which veer wildly off-topic will be frozen or deleted. For example, there is no reason to post kitten pics to this post unless it is of my kitten or it is hilarious and contains a macro pertaining to strict moderation. But because kittens are cute and harmless, I will freeze such comments rather than deleting them. Carrying on arguments from previous posts or demanding that I answer for the crimes of kittens everywhere are abusive and disrespectful and stupid, and will be deleted. Repeated offenders will get Whacked.
  • When a user is banned, I will comment saying "You have been banned for unacceptable behavior because REASONS." These reasons may be enumerated or they may not, depending on how much time and energy I have to deal with you. Most will not get a personal note detailing offenses--if you have been banned, it'll probably be pretty clear why. I am not preemptively banning anyone. We all have a clean slate as of today. Make good use of it.
  • If you have something off-topic to say, say it on Twitter or Facebook or put Off-Topic in your subject heading and make sure it is something nice like "I don't think you've seen this YouTube video of a pug filing her own taxes yet."
  • Keep in mind that I do not have a team of moderators. It is just me. I field all comments to this blog, I am the only person with access to it. Given the traffic here, this is sometimes a full time job. And I already have a full time job. Also, I am new at this moderation thing. And I am not psychic, such that I know when you feel your boundaries have been violated or the discussion has gone too far for your comfort. So, in the tradition of the self-policing space that this always was, I am asking for your help. If you feel a comment has stepped over the line, or that a thread has passed usefulness and entered tail-chasing territory, please leave a comment with the words: Miss Bennet disapproves.
  • Yes, you may do this in threads and discussions of which you are a part.
  • This does not actually mean I will instantly freeze and/or delete the thread. It should act as a warning to commenters to slow their roll, and I will determine whether I feel the Freeze Ray needs to come out or not. Commenters who incur Miss Bennet's wrath and modify their behavior accordingly will be given lenience. However, the final judgment lies with me. No one else (right now) has mod privileges. This is Open Source moderation--but I reserve the right to make the final call.
  • Just...try not to be horrible. In return I will also try not to be horrible. We will all of us sometimes succeed at this and sometimes fail. We all have FALLIBLE in magic marker on our foreheads. Or should. I have always chosen to simply not respond to the ugliest comments, and I will continue that, only with more wielding of the banhammer and less patience. This is usually and can be a warm and welcoming space even for dissenters. We can argue and not be insane dick posses to each other. IT IS POSSIBLE. Treat this blog like a campsite: leave it better than you found it. I will try to take this angle with what I choose to post about. Let's all just try to pass our Turing Tests and act like human beings rather than malfunctioning rage robots, shall we?
  • If you have any further suggestions on how to improve the moderation of this blog, please leave them in the comments and I will take them under advisement. I didn't even know how to turn off anonymous commenting until two days ago. I'm pulling together a policy from other blogs I frequent and my own temperament. It may well be that I'm missing something or being too lenient in some area. This policy is a work in progress--if you have wisdoms, I want to hear it.
  • You will find this entry permanently linked from the sidebar and stickied to the top of the page. For further illustration of my New Visage of All-Mighty Avenging Stinkeye Goddess Bearing the Horned Helmet of Divine Moderation (And What She Thinks Of Your Nonsense) see this helpful picture.




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(Deleted comment)
Miss Bennet disapproves of the need for this, but agrees that such need exists.

I hope you don't have to use extreme options very often. I'm not going to say "never" as that would be unrealistic. I intend to stick around long enough to find out unless you'd rather I not.



(Deleted comment)

I approve of Miss Bennet.

willow_aileen

2012-08-05 05:21 pm (UTC)

(Partially because I love Pride and Prejudice). I have always seen this space as an extension of your home, and you have been oh so patient.

Re: I approve of Miss Bennet.

catvalente

2012-08-05 05:27 pm (UTC)

I have also seen it that way. And as such naively expected that people would comport themselves as though it were my home, and if they did not, that the other guests would dump cocktails in their lap and that would be that.

Time to lock up the liquor, I guess.

Never knew that you had an open policy for comments in the first place. Glad you changed it. I can see Nick handling that kind of shit because he loves to get into it with trolls and stupid people. I know that I have banned a few dozen people in the ten years of having a livejournal and turned off anonymous comments the day I got a rather lengthy anonymous comment about how the guy found my old Web site, then spent all day at work trying to find my blog for the sole reason of telling me that he hates me.

I was almost flattered that I could inspire that much effort.

But good for you for being so patient with assholes. More patient than I've ever been. And good for you for knowing when it's time to disengage from that bullshit.

I have always had, yeah. There are some posts where I talk about it, but clearly not enough that new people understood what the culture was.

And I don't enjoy getting into it with trolls or even sincere but hostile commenters. You will never, ever change anyone's mind on the internet in comment sections. Posts, maybe. Comments, never.

The title of this post totally undermines my Pride and Prejudice/Heroes for Hire crossover fic, but it's awesome anyway.

AHAHA.

Lizzie will crush all comers. You know she'd put the hammer down with polite but brutal efficiency. And tea.

Sorry to hear that it's come to this, and due partially to perceived industry standards for large blogs.

The tension between expectation and reality, especially unvoiced and undiscussed expectation, causes 99 problems.

It is sad but true that some people will take a gracious invitation to a conversation to mean "Barge in screaming at people, put your feet all over the furniture, and set fire to the drapes." Even sadder but more true that the internet provides plenty of opportunities for such. Thus any place for conversation needs either a very small and civil pool of participants, or someone willing and able to enforce a degree of decorum.

I think this is a smart step; my whole life became much better when I started banning people from my online space.

Good luck.

Great, now all I can hear in my head is "Two men enter, one man leaves!"

And again the movie fails the Bechdel Test :)

"you decide to treat me like a bleating little girl and say that my post has been elevated to relevance only by a man's notice of it"

Oh, god, I remember that. That was so *facepalmy* that it is forever etched in my brain.

"So, in the tradition of the self-policing space that this always was, I am asking for your help. If you feel a comment has stepped over the line, or that a thread has passed usefulness and entered tail-chasing territory, please leave a comment with the words: Miss Bennet disapproves."

Thank you, btw, for making this part clear. I am sorry that you feel the need to say this - and oh, god, so not happy about everything that has lead up to this - but I know there are times that I hesitate to take idiots like the one above down because I fear I may be overstepping a line and trying to do you job for you. Knowing that you are wanting us to help out not only makes me feel better about some of the stuff I posted in the thread you mentioned above, it means I will, indeed, be more likely to help when I can.

Lastly, lots of *hugs* as well for, well, everything.

I think it's the best way to try to preserve the good aspects of the culture here. After ten years, it's not just my blog, there is an established community, and they have the right to maintain their stake in this space as well.

And a phrase like MBD is innocuous enough to not send people into a frenzy (I hope) while letting them know a warning flag is down. Without using sports metaphors.

And please, with shit like the "elevated" guy, feel free to cluebat. Like I said, it serves a purpose to illustrate the thesis of the post--I just wish people weren't so damned predictable.

I feel that this youtube video may be relevent to the topic

clockworkwasp

2012-08-05 05:55 pm (UTC)

Jane Austen's Fight Club: "We were no longer 'good society'."

Re: I feel that this youtube video may be relevent to the topic

catvalente

2012-08-05 06:03 pm (UTC)

Indeed.

I'm sorry this is necessary. Here's hoping you don't have to send many people to the Gulag (in an oversized papier-mache mask).

I, for one, welcome our new iron fucking fisted moderator overlord.
...curtsies to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and asks politely after her sisters.

The Bennet girls are, as ever, kicking ass, taking names, causing scandal, and mending it. Respectively.

I'm now envisioning Thunderdome with lace curtains, and doilies under the weapons next to the teacups. Thank you for that image.

Miss Bennet has exquisite taste and judgement, and I'm sure the Freeze Ray enameling matches her eyes.

I look forward to continued enlightening conversation in your lovely online home. I enjoy your posts very much, almost as much as your fiction.

Correct on all counts.

Also, two men enter, both can leave provided they are accompanied by ladies of fortitude and have not left anyone pregnant or wounded behind them.

I'm a fan of moderated spaces. It can be hard on so many levels to retrofit community management into spaces which never started out that way, so I'm glad to see you're bringing all this in in one fell swoop.

Fucking humans.

Thanks for all of your support on Twitter through this. I haven't always had the strength to reply, but I felt it strongly.

I heartily & politely applaud the policies enumerated & sentiments expressed. Also, this is my new favorite blog post title EVER!

I'm sorry that it's come to this, but grateful if the new rules keep you writing so beautifully into the vast internet space.

My utmost respects to Miss Bennet, and I hope she will not find herself called upon too often.


An iron-fisted, civilized and literary response to an unfortunate situation. Well played, well played.

Plus I get to use my Miss Bennet icon. But I might have to make a Thunderdome icon -- currently I use 7-of-9 before Federation interference for trolls. (grin)

Dr. Phil

I have always admired your patience and stance on the import of allowing people (even when negative) to say their piece in this space. I am a rather impatient person, and while I cognitively recognize some of the advantages and nice things about open commenting, my personality dictates that I would bring down the hammer so hard and fast Thor would be all, "wtf? yr making me look bad." So kudos to you for investing the time into having a more balanced system, and for also always being so passionate about nurturing this community. We love you, despite having never met you, and this blog has allowed us to know you to some extent. Also, (as my last name is Bennett, and I have a fondness for P&P) Miss Bennett heartily approves. ;)

Fate forfend that I ever become internet famous, but if I do, I will model my moderation policy on this.

cheers for moderation

tsarina

2012-08-05 07:07 pm (UTC)

I don't comment often, but the times I have it has always been an interesting and worthy experience. I support you doing whatever you need to do with your space to encourage thoughtful discussion and cut down the signal to noise ratio that drowns us all in static and madness.

My day job is actually moderation, for commercial websites. (And for fun I volunteer my services to help moderate the website for a popular web series.) Moderation can be thankless and exhausting at times. You will wonder if anyone ever bothered to read the guidelines. I highly recommend a notepad of standard text to use when dealing with emails/comments. A line or two about "you've been banned" or "this is unacceptable behavior because REASONS" or whatever works.

You'll think initially that you won't have to type something five hundred times because surely people will see and get it, or eventually people will learn not to do something. But it comes in handy and makes it much more efficient to deal with certain situations. (Like say, waking up to find three hundred comments in a thread about ridiculous drama... oh internets.) Plus, not all your trolls deserve personalized rejection letters. Fuck 'em.

Good luck in this new chapter of internet life.

Re: cheers for moderation

catvalente

2012-08-05 07:11 pm (UTC)

I will add this in.

What you've written here is entirely reasonable. Here's hoping it leads to a jerk-free journal.

These rules all sound highly reasonable and well-thought-out. I am sorry you had to pull them out, but glad to be part (however small) of a community in which these are the laws.

You have a much greater blog readership than I - but I've had the no-anonymous-comments policy in place for years (partly because I can be a vaguely political target, given my ethnic background (which I do not hide) and my occasional vigorous defense of that against uninformed trolls who always know better than I possibly could, natch.) I also have a moderation layer that only people on my friends list are able to post comments directly - anyone else, even if they do have an LJ account and handle, gets screened FIRST, before they ever see the light of day on my journal.

What happens next is that I get a notification that I had a "screened" comment which I can glance at in my LJ-filter inbox - and if necessary I can simply delete right there. If it's a decent comment by someone who just ddoesn't happen to be on a white-list, I'll leave it up. If not, it's just gone. You're right, my journal, my rules.

Good luck.

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