Comments policy

by John Quiggin on December 12, 2011

Following some discussions among the CT crew:

1. We are amending our comments policy to state (addition in bold) “We respect the preference of many genuine commenters for pseudonymity and will protect their privacy. However, this respect entails an obligation to abide by the rules set out above. In cases of serious abuse, including those of racist and sexist abuse, serious defamation and disruptive sockpuppeteering, we will, if appropriate, publish the identity of such abusers and share their identifying information with other sites.”

2. In the past, we have applied this policy in the most lenient way possible. Commenters who have used sock puppets to make abusive comments, frequently directed at CT members, have been warned off, rather than being publicly exposed. In the future, no warnings will be given. Where sock puppeteers or abusers of pseudonymity are identified, they will be publicly exposed. As a guide to commenters, if you wish to comment on matters involving race or gender, or that might be considered personally defamatory, do not write anything you would not wish to see published prominently under your own name.

{ 103 comments }

1

Ryan Cooper 12.12.11 at 5:06 pm

Amen to this. As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

2

soullite 12.12.11 at 5:13 pm

So, you’ve gone the full internet-feminist eh? Complete with ban-hammering everything you disagree other extreme methods of comment moderation. That should end well.

3

Andrew Smith 12.12.11 at 5:18 pm

It’s pretty depressing that you even have to state such a policy.

4

dsquared 12.12.11 at 5:25 pm

Well, it’s a matter of thinking about the discussion over female bloggers and abusive comments that grew up a few weeks ago, and noticing that the sanctions placed on people who act this way are actually very mild. If you shout offensive comments at someone in the street, you could get bashed or arrested. If you harass someone at work, you could get sacked. But if you post harassing comments on a blog, then at long length, after much soul searching, the worst that happens to you is that you get banned from commenting on that particular blog.

The question in my mind was more whether we should have made it retrospective. There are a couple of people who have used our comments section to carry out the sort of behaviour that would definitely have got them sacked if they did it at work.

5

Watson Ladd 12.12.11 at 5:56 pm

I support this addition to policy wholeheartedly. Sexism is still far more endorsed then racism, and it is necessary to make it clear that it will not be tolerated here. I am however concerned with the second half. Someone whose work puts them in contact with vulnerable populations might have information worth sharing which they must share anonymously. It seems suboptimal to warn them from commenting on CT.

6

Marc 12.12.11 at 6:04 pm

The “no notice” thing really takes it over the top. You should think very, very carefully about this. The broader internet community is not tolerant of outing the true identities of people, even for good cause. And there is good reason for that: basically, you’re stating that you’re willing to try and get people fired from their jobs for comments on the internet that you view as unacceptable. And you’ve defined “unacceptable” quite broadly, and decided not to give any warnings whatsoever. I’d suggest that you do a Google search on what happens to website owners when they do this. It may turn out badly for the person being outed, but it always turns out badly for the people doing the outing.

This will blow up in your face, and it should. I like the community here, and I don’t want to see you self-destruct in this fashion. Reconsider.

7

John Quiggin 12.12.11 at 6:15 pm

An interesting divide between named and pseudonymous commenters (I’m counting DD in the former group) so far. Obviously, those of us who write under our own names and cop a fair bit of abuse (much worse for women than for me) see things differently to those who don’t.

Responding to Marc, I don’t find that outing sockpuppeteers has generally turned out badly for those doing the outing, either when I’ve done it, or in other cases turned up by a quick Google (eg Mary Rosh, Lee Siegel). And, in my experience, serious problems almost invariably involve sockpuppeteering by people with an established (realname or pseudonymous) presence here – driveby racist/sexist comments here get caught by moderation and deleted.

8

John Quiggin 12.12.11 at 6:21 pm

Responding directly to soullite – you have certainly got the point. Our discussion was, in large part, about the harm done to our comments threads by a class of commenters of which you are an archetypal member. Feel free to apply for your free refund on your way it.

9

Rich Puchalsky 12.12.11 at 6:22 pm

I post under my own name — I have no problem with people who use pseudonyms, but my own circumstances permit me to use my name, so I might as well. And I’ve been temporary-banned for what was considered to be a derogatory attack on a (male) poster (e.g. during the Libya intervention discussion) and what I considered to be central to what I was saying. I fully agree that people posting on a blog have the right to moderate comments however they want. But it’s not just “a divide between named and pseudonymous commenters” about what should ideally be permissible. (Well, actually, for the sexist comments, maybe there isn’t a divide. I support getting rid of them too, and if any of them come under the heading of anything that looks remotely like a threat, of outing the person.)

10

Chris Bertram 12.12.11 at 6:25 pm

Marc, I can assure you that no-one is going to get outed for something borderline or a one time bad joke that they’ve failed to think though.

11

chris 12.12.11 at 6:28 pm

I have to say, I find point 2 a bit chilling (in the “chilling effect” sense), because the terms involved are so vague. Roughly half the current front page are “matter[s] involving race or gender” in *some* way (maybe more if you construe expansively), which seems fairly typical, and it’s often difficult to tell who will be offended by something until they have actually been offended by it, especially on the Internet where the audience is invisible.

…of course, if you only intend to apply the new policy to *obviously deliberate* acts of aggression against particular people, then that’s different, but there’s really no assurance of that.

It is, of course, possible that some people would consider it an improvement if I, personally, went from occasionally posting on CT threads to merely lurking on them, but if enough people do that, there’s not going to be much of a discussion left. On the other hand, maybe most people will just blithely assume a sufficiently severe misunderstanding won’t happen to them, and most of those will be right.

12

Marc 12.12.11 at 6:31 pm

@7: I’d expect people who identify themselves to have a different attitude than those who don’t. In my case I’ve adopted a consistent name here for a long time. I’ve also taken the viewpoint of Jim Fallows, namely that I won’t write anything about anyone (either on the net or in email) that I wouldn’t be willing to say in front of them. This is useful advice in any case given public records laws.

But nonetheless there is an actually useful role for anonymous commentary – for example, to avoid harassment at work by third parties on unrelated grounds.

FYI noting the existence of sock puppets is completely fair game. Giving the actual name and address of people who comment here is what I was referring to as a very bad idea, especially without notice or warning.

13

William Timberman 12.12.11 at 6:34 pm

As I have no employer looking over my shoulder, or any need to say things that I’m not prepared to acknowledge publicly, I too comment under my own name. Not everyone can afford that luxury, which is a shame, although it’s perfectly understandable given the way our society works. I do believe, though, that one shouldn’t abuse the privilege, and the behavior JQ describes certainly falls into the category of abuse as far as I’m concerned. Both banning and outing seem entirely appropriate.

14

praisegod barebones 12.12.11 at 6:35 pm

(Composed and left in preview for a while)

John (and perhaps Daniel): I’m glad you’ve made the new comments policy clear to us .

Given that a large number of posts on CT touch on issues of race and gender in some way or another, and given that I’m someone who – for various reasons – wouldn’t normally want to see anything I post on the internet on any subject being prominently displayed under my own name, I find it hard not to treat it as an invitation to leave the commenting community. I’ll be expecting a full refund of my subscription by return of post.

(I should probably add, since it’s bound to occur to someone to suggest this, that I’m trying to claim a right to post misogynist abuse without there being any cost to doing so, that I’m not (and I hope that a look at my commenting history, here and elsewhere, would bear that out.) I’m actually strongly in favour of CT having a stronger moderation policy, for precisely the reasons that John gives. But the one that’s just been announced makes commenting here a significantly higher risk business for me than it was before.)

Incidentally: it occurs to me that I probably won’t be the only one to treat the fact that you’ve left comments open on this thread as an invitation to comment on the new policy. If that’s not what you intend (and it seems at least possible that you don’t), then it might be worth closing the comments thread now.

Added in preview: I think I’m with Marc @ 6 that it’s the ‘no warnings’ thing that bothers me. I respect the judgment of all the front-pagers here. But anyone can have a day on which, for extraneous reasons they make a bad call, and this new policy makes the cost of that too high for me .

15

LizardBreath 12.12.11 at 6:35 pm

10 is reassuring — I had some qualms along the lines of Chris in 11, but if this is being reserved for serious offenses it sounds like a fine idea.

16

Yarrow 12.12.11 at 6:37 pm

I use Yarrow because that’s how people know me – most of my friends have either never heard or long forgotten my legal name. But I’m glad to see a more active comments policy. (More frequent use of disemvoweling, for less-than-ultimate instances of bad behavior, might be useful too.)

17

J. Otto Pohl 12.12.11 at 6:38 pm

I am all in favor of this change. But, then I have always used my real name and have found the claims of professionals in the US to facing the same type of threats faced by dissidents in totalitarian countries if they used their real name to be completely without any basis. One advantage to using your real name is you never have to worry about people finding out about your real identity. I am glad that CT will be bringing a little bit more sunshine to a far too opaque internet.

18

Malaclypse 12.12.11 at 6:54 pm

But, then I have always used my real name and have found the claims of professionals in the US to facing the same type of threats faced by dissidents in totalitarian countries if they used their real name to be completely without any basis.

There was a time a few months ago that several right-wing blogs decided that they knew the real name of Tintin over at Sadly, No. Unsurprisingly, they were wrong, but the effect is that the very real person who was wrongly named now has in effect a google bomb on their name, which is (when I just checked right now) all but two of the top hits for that name. This is what will come up, forever, when that person looks for new employment. Did the Stasi come and arrest that person? Of course not. But they will always have one extra little item that they will have to justify to the HR department at any potential new employer. Or they simply will never get an interview in the first place. Forever.

That is what a mistake in naming someone pseudonymous can lead to.

19

SamChevre 12.12.11 at 6:54 pm

What praisegod barebones said.

Also, partly, what soullite said. Modifying cogent, non-personal, on-topic comments so that they become incoherent and ridiculous is not a style of conversation I enjoy.

20

bob mcmanus 12.12.11 at 6:58 pm

Battening the hatches and circling the wagons, are we? The “sexism and racism” will be mostly an excuse to banish those, like soulite, to the ideological left of the main page. Since the main page considers itself to be at the left limit of civil and sane social democratic discourse, those to their left are beyond the pale.

“Chilling effect?” Temperature is rising, and 2012 will be a year of decision. Oh I think next year is gonna rock, and most everybody will be “outed” in one way or another. Some will get hit in the streets and some will say “We don’t know you.” while they protect their cellphones and commiserate with moderate Republicans..

This is not the place for people who want change.

21

straightwood 12.12.11 at 7:03 pm

It would be better for all concerned if the mental energy consumed by agonizing over hurt feelings were invested in modernization of CT’s feeble blogging engine. Making some concessions to modernity, such as the ability to correct erroneous posts and link images and video would be much more beneficial than legislating the boundaries of permissible incorrectness.

22

Doctor Memory 12.12.11 at 7:04 pm

Sweet elvis almighty, please do not “modernize” CT by allowing image/video embedding. This is not 4chan for academics.

Post-commit editing, however, would be lovely. Threaded conversations even moreso. Disqus is not that expensive, hint hint hint.

23

JanieM 12.12.11 at 7:07 pm

Sweet elvis almighty, please do not change to threaded conversations……..

24

Malaclypse 12.12.11 at 7:08 pm

What JanieM said. Threaded conversations are a tool of the devil.

25

J. Otto Pohl 12.12.11 at 7:12 pm

You know as somebody who is effectively black listed from ever getting an interview for a job at a US university your post does not invoke any sympathy from me Malaclypse. Especially when people like yourself tend to endorse me being black listed. It might have more weight if you or any you or anybody else here actually thought my black listing was wrong. But, that is not the case.

26

praisegod barebones 12.12.11 at 7:13 pm

J Otto Pohl @ 17, Malaclypse @ 18:

Fair enough. Still, not everyone who comments here is based in the USA (or in a liberal paradise such as Ghana).

I live somewhere where a) there’s a law against ‘insulting Xness’, where X is the majority nationality of the country in question; b) what counts as an ‘insult’ can get given a fairly broad interpretation (as a bunch of students who have just spent 6 months in jail for insulting the Prime Minister have just found out); and c) the law in question is by no means a dead letter.

27

MPAVictoria 12.12.11 at 7:13 pm

Am I alone in wondering what comments brought on this change in policy? Maybe I am just jaded from my experience at other websites but I haven’t seen many comments that I thought were threatening or explicitly racist/sexist. Are these comments just being removed before I view them? Or is it that my privilege prevents me from reading the same meaning in comments that others here see? I say this with the full understanding that you are providing this space as a service (a service I greatly appreciate by the way) and you of course have every right to moderate it as you see fit.

/I post under a pseudonym for a variety of reasons. One of which is that I fear that a future employer, who in all probability will be far to the right of me politically, will google my name and discover things about my political beliefs that he/she finds unattractive. I think this is a legitimate choice on my part.

28

Malaclypse 12.12.11 at 7:24 pm

Especially when people like yourself tend to endorse me being black listed.

Otto, your insistence that you have been blacklisted by people like me (who never rose above adjunct, and last taught, or had anything to do with a US university, over a decade ago) is really fairly silly.

One of which is that I fear that a future employer, who in all probability will be far to the right of me politically, will google my name and discover things about my political beliefs that he/she finds unattractive.

This, exactly. And I really don’t care that Otto does not get this.

29

roger 12.12.11 at 7:24 pm

I’m happy with supplying information about myself – Roger Gathmann – including phone number and address, if need be. I’ve never really understood the pseudonym thing except in a Kierkegaardian sense – heteronyms, not sock puppets! Such should be the motto. But… I have a hard time believing that anybody is going to get banned from employment or receive the slightest discomfort from commenting on a blog. That would be too disheartening. I’m vaguely aware that, monstrously, employers now do credit searches – I can’t believe they do comments searches. We not only have a counterrevolution underway in Europe and America, but disciplinary practices to keep employees down that were supposed to have died out in the 1950s.

Luckily, the system is creaking and breaking, and more and more people, with insupportable debt and much cultural capital, joining the unemployed queue, might decide to break out of the comforts of having a CV on tailwagging display anytime a lecturing position for 14 thou a year opens up and express whatever vileness has piled up in their soul, as well as resisting instances of liberal intolerance as foreseen by Marcuse.

30

Salient 12.12.11 at 7:33 pm

Cool, this seems completely reasonable. I’ve trusted you all CT posters with safekeeping of miscellaneous details of my nonpseudonymous identity for years, and continue to completely trust in your good judgment about when and where to take the extreme (but not unthinkable) act of revealing someone’s identity. “Commenters who use sock puppets to make abusive comments” is a very narrow category, and it would be absurd for us commenters to expect tolerance of that behavior in your own space.

One advantage to using your real name is you never have to worry about people finding out about your real identity.

One disadvantage is that you can accumulate stalkers who exploit that information in order to scare the shit out of you for their own amusement.

It happens that everyone I know offline (except relatives) has called me Salient for years and years now, ever since the nickname got stuck on me in a silly discussion section at U.W. So it’s not really the offline people discovering online me that scare me, though I’d feel upset about that on principle. It’s the online people receiving access to my offline self that scares me.

Since that direction seems to get ignored pretty readily when folks discuss abandoning pseudonymity (though it does not seem to have been ignored or overlooked in CT comment policy) I figured it was worth re-mentioning here.

31

bob mcmanus 12.12.11 at 7:37 pm

And tedra and belle, what happens when you ally yourself with moderate males is that they use you to enlarge their privilege in other areas and pretty soon they are making deals over your head and you get Stupak and Plan B restrictions. The radicals will offend you but they will also fight for you.

I think this is probably mostly about Daniel “The C-word is my Welsh cultural heritage.” Davies. He knows what’s coming better than the rest of us.

32

Tim Wilkinson 12.12.11 at 7:46 pm

LizardBreath – Don’t you have a legal background? If so, and against the background of the GWOT, your use of the expression if this is being reserved for serious offenses it sounds like a fine idea is particularly surprising.

MPAVictoria @27 – Am I alone in wondering what comments brought on this change in policy?

I’d say it’s rather obviously down to DD’s macho ‘protect the feminists’ posture, providing some cover for his aggressive response to (a) being made to confront some home truths, (b) finding that an audience which had recently been forgiving to a fault had become distinctly hostile.

(Actually the worst thing about the recent pram clearance comment was The whole debate could do without this sort of borderline conspiracy theory)

I’m banning him until further notice from commenting on my blog. I’ll also be boycotting ‘d-squared digest’ and Aaronovitch Watch. (Oh, yeah. Actually, maybe he’s trying to shut Crooked Timber down too?)

33

Tim Wilkinson 12.12.11 at 7:49 pm

(Hadn’t seen bob mcm’s)

34

praisegod barebones 12.12.11 at 7:50 pm

MPA Victoria: a) Have you had a look at the ’10 Things Siri will help you get’ post? Or indeed pretty much any post by Belle Waring? b) part of the point, I’m guessing, is not just to tackle a problem that’s happening here, but to try to contribute to a general resetting of blogospheric norms (which I would applaud). I take it that it’s no accident that this change in policy comes not so very long after the big discussion elseweb around Laurie Penny, Helen Lewis-Hasteley and the #mencallmethings hashtag.

35

LizardBreath 12.12.11 at 7:51 pm

your use of the expression if this is being reserved for serious offenses it sounds like a fine idea is particularly surprising.

I do, admittedly, have a different sense of the level of due process required before outing an online pseudonym than before legal sanctions are applied.

36

Tim Wilkinson 12.12.11 at 7:55 pm

Indeed, but I’m pretty sure that Chris B won’t be the first to start throwing his weight around on behalf of damsels in distress, which makes quite a fair analogy with politicians giving baseless assurances about how the police (and perhaps courts) will behave.

37

MQ 12.12.11 at 7:56 pm

Marc, I can assure you that no-one is going to get outed for something borderline or a one time bad joke that they’ve failed to think though.

The problem with this is that there is something of a history on this site of certain posters being quick to get huffy and take personal offense for what are by internet standards fairly mild criticisms. There are some delicate egos among the posting crew. When you combine that with the sheer range of stuff that gets called racist/sexist on the web — and this site does not feature very much if any of the truly toxic stuff — I don’t really trust this assurance.

38

dsquared 12.12.11 at 7:57 pm

The whole debate could do without the sort of single-issue bore who think’s he’s delivering home truths.

39

John Quiggin 12.12.11 at 7:57 pm

Tim, I can assure you that your conjectures are incorrect. The discussion that started this wasn’t initiated by DD, and wasn’t a response to his problems with commenters. If you look back over recent posts, you’ll find a series of aggressive commenters being told to stop. It’s been our experience that banned commenters of this type frequently return as abusive sockpuppeteers.

And, while you have to trust us to some extent, I will restate what Chris said, we aren’t going to be outing (or even banning) people on the basis of a bad joke or a good faith argument that some might take offence at.

40

tomslee 12.12.11 at 7:58 pm

If so, and against the background of the GWOT, your use of the expression “if this is being reserved for serious offenses it sounds like a fine idea” is particularly surprising.

It might be surprising if the policy was in any sense a legal document, but of course it isn’t. The common practice of blogs is to have no comment policy except the whim of the host or hosts. Having a strict policy that CT-ers say probably won’t be enforced to the letter (#7) makes a lot of sense to me. Whether I trust our hosts or not doesn’t come into it because every time you enter your email address in a blog comment you are trusting the host of whatever you are commenting on, like it or not.

41

Tangurena 12.12.11 at 8:00 pm

Having run for public election, I can assure you that all sorts of nutjobs come out of the woodwork to attack you. And some folks will be pounding on your door at all hours of the day demanding ponies. If I had to use my legal name, I’d drop off the internet – except for LinkedIn and Monster.

42

John Quiggin 12.12.11 at 8:10 pm

To repeat point #1 “We respect the preference of many genuine commenters for pseudonymity and will protect their privacy”

43

Tim Wilkinson 12.12.11 at 8:11 pm

JQ @39 – OK

44

MPAVictoria 12.12.11 at 8:12 pm

praisegod barebones
“a) Have you had a look at the ‘10 Things Siri will help you get’ post? Or indeed pretty much any post by Belle Waring?”

Yes and I didn’t see any comments that were particularly egregious. At least not in my jaded eyes. Totally to willing to concede that others may see things differently.

45

Michael Bérubé 12.12.11 at 8:20 pm

And tedra and belle, what happens when you ally yourself with moderate males is that they use you to enlarge their privilege in other areas and pretty soon they are making deals over your head and you get Stupak and Plan B restrictions. The radicals will offend you but they will also fight for you.

Tedra, Belle, I agree — Bob McManus is your true friend. Word is he’s also a Nice Guy.® Why, he’s even capable of pretending that he cares about reproductive rights long enough to write an entire paragraph.

46

MQ 12.12.11 at 8:21 pm

But… I have a hard time believing that anybody is going to get banned from employment or receive the slightest discomfort from commenting on a blog.

Anything on google is a threat. I have personally been at meetings where people were rejected / turned down from jobs because of comments they left on blogs. No joke.

47

Curmudgeon 12.12.11 at 8:29 pm

@Roger:

A sizable fraction of US employers will hunt down the entire online footprint–including comments–of potential new hires to exclude people who have opinions or behaviors that are perceived as incompatible with the corporate image. Perhaps half a dozen incidents of people (often K-12 teachers) being fired for posts (typically on Facebook) make headlines a year. It’s anyone’s guess how many incidents don’t get widely publicized.

Given the right-wing bent of most employers, outing someone as a commenter or author of a left-leaning blog stands a very good chance of making them unemployable in some quarters even in the absence of harassing behavior.

Outing somebody as an online liberal is a very much an indirect threat to their livelihood.

Indirectly threatening peoples’ livelihoods as a means of comment moderation is harsh, but that’s just the shape of freedom in the twilight years of liberal democracy.

48

Aulus Gellius 12.12.11 at 8:34 pm

But if you post harassing comments on a blog, then at long length, after much soul searching, the worst that happens to you is that you get banned from commenting on that particular blog.

I agree that this is a problem, and a particular problem with comment sections at CT; but surely the problem is mainly the long length and the soul-searching, no? I think banning is a pretty effective punishment if used quickly and ruthlessly (the extreme demonstration of this is at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog).

The worst I’ve seen here (and I don’t read every thread, so maybe I’m missing something) is interminably long threads full of (a) obnoxious sexism and racism, interspersed with (b) pointlessly troll-feeding expressions of outrage and condemnation, and occasional sprinkles of (c) moderator comments along the lines of “BlatantMisogynistTroll53, your comments are borderline unwelcome, and if you keep it up, we will seriously consider temporarily forbidding you from commenting more than once an hour on this thread.”

Basically, I agree that banning isn’t such a severe punishment, but I think that means you should be more willing to use it frequently, rather than that you should replace it with something more severe. (Then again, I’ve never run a blog, so what do I know?)

49

Aulus Gellius 12.12.11 at 8:39 pm

It’s been our experience that banned commenters of this type frequently return as abusive sockpuppeteers.

This was posted while I was writing, and pretty well answers what I said. Sigh. Also, the copyright symbol in my comment is supposed to be a c in parentheses.

50

roger 12.12.11 at 8:40 pm

Tanguerina, I think it is a good thing that people contact you if you are running for public office. That’s what public office is about.
On the other hand, is there really a parallel between running for office and commenting on Crooked Timber? Are we really supposed to believe that big punishments are in store for those who cross the line? Take Lee Siegel, the most egregious sockpuppeteer in the Internet’s brief history. As far as I can tell, his career, after a brief flurry of interest in his s.p.-ing, seems to have gone on swimmingly. Or Independent’s Johann Hari, who – off for his six months suspension to ethics camp where he can hang his head with other bad boys – will be back in the swim after that time is over, and will just have to avoid adding comments to Wikipedia.
It is very hard if you are white, male and connected to be shot down. On the other hand, if you are black and male or female, your career is over if you are caught out faking, plagiarizing, or, I guess, sock puppeting.
The threat of failure or embarrassment has become a sort of dim memory among the pundit.academic elite, and their internet elite cousins. It works, though, amazingly well on the plebes.

51

save_the_rustbelt 12.12.11 at 9:23 pm

I read here frequently but rarely comment.

Very early on in blogosphering I used my own name and received some pretty wacky emails, largely from those who thought someone on the center-right must really be a right wing loon (I am those days to the left of the GOP presidential candidates) determined to starve babies, re-institute slavery and chain women to washing machines. Wow, some on the left are really touchy. And out of touch.

So when people Google my real name they find a whole different catalog than my pen name.

So I guess I will continue to read and comment very infrequently.

52

Ben Alpers 12.12.11 at 10:12 pm

I think the general direction of the announced change is an excellent one. I share the concern of the some of the anonymous commenters upthread that the “no warning” rule might have a chilling effect. If it were my blog, I’d stick with giving a single warning, even while being quicker to out and/or ban offenders than you have been in the past. But, needless to say, this isn’t my blog.

53

Substance McGravitas 12.12.11 at 10:45 pm

The comments policy change is fine. I know it’s at the top of the page, but you might also want to have a link to it right at the “Leave a Comment” box.

54

bemused 12.12.11 at 11:53 pm

Having reviewed the threads which (I think) occasioned this policy change, I suggest a simpler alternative… just shut the comments off at 100. The signal-to-noise ratio has an inverse relationship to the comment number, and it is pretty universal that a comment thread that long includes at least one troll and lots of people who are having battles with each other.

55

kidneystones 12.13.11 at 1:01 am

The CT comments policy is generally excellent. I could argue that claims such as “all Republicans are sociopaths” is bigotry in its purest form. However, I accept that such rhetorical excesses are part and parcel of blog decorum, and reflect the biases of the site.

I didn’t read CT comments during Sullivan’s defamatory campaign against Sarah Palin, but I’d hope that the community here recognizes that there’s a clear difference between tolerating “all Republicans are sociopaths” and the grotesque, gender-based attacks on Palin’s private life in 2007-8 and after.

I have no problem with automatic banning. I’m banned at Naked Capitalism and at several other sites. At NC I argued that the people who helped elect O owe the world the same kind of apology that the folks who elected Bush do. I also repeatedly took the name of Matthew Yglesias and the JournOlisters in vain. I see this as banning without cause. I do, however, understand my own role in the process.

I think it would be very sad if CT starts banning the shit-disturbers. There are very few good sites that tolerate any real dissent these days. I disagree with a great deal of accepted liberal orthodoxy and I’m grateful to be able to have a place to make my case.

My only real complaint about the CT community is dour tone of so many of the comments. The invective is often dull and windy. We all have our internet voices. I’d like to see a little more whimsy, not that I expect anyone to take my own suggestions too seriously.

Long may CT tolerance continue.

56

sg 12.13.11 at 1:01 am

I don’t see any problem with this policy and I’m surprised, given the number of female posters here (and didn’t this site used to have women commenting as well?) that you’ve only just added the sexism part. Is this being done at other blogs simultaneously in connection with the recent round of debate on this issue? It could be a nice campaign to update comment policies simultaneously to make the point about the nasty behavior.

Regarding anonymity: why are people raising that part of the policy now? It’s not new, is it? I maintain semi-anonymity on the internet, because a) I work in public health, and I occasionally discuss stats or public health ideas that are more speculative than one would use at work, and I don’t want them being connected with my mainstream publications – public health is a conservative field, imho – and b) I have a life and non-nerdy friends and I write mostly about role-playing and fantasy and I don’t want the latter to corrupt the former. But I think my identity can be dug up by a determined searcher on my own blog, so it’s not a big deal.

I agree that it’s important, if you want the privilege of speaking anonymously to someone on their blog, that you maintain some basic decency. I think this often slips on this blog, and more rigorous enforcement of some of the commenting rules would certainly improve the debate. I mean look at J Otto Pohl above, making real-life claims about a person the internet. Do we really need that here?

On the topic of sock-puppetry, I’ve been wanting to change my pseudonym here so it matches my own blog, but I don’t know what the etiquette is. Do I need to post a notice on the town hall square, signed with my own blood? A statement at the end of every comment for a week that I used to be “sg”? Fine print stating “this is not a sockpuppet”?

57

Rich Puchalsky 12.13.11 at 1:17 am

Is there any chance of revisiting the auto-moderation? The auto-moderator reliably picks out random comments to put into moderation for no discernible reason, causing people to start referring to them (and to wonder if they did something, if they haven’t experienced this before). Then the comments re-appear, probably when one of the posters logs in and causes them to re-appear, so that references to comments by number all become wrong.

58

John Quiggin 12.13.11 at 1:26 am

@sg Am I right in thinking you’re Australian? In any case, Australian law is that you can change your legal name whenever you want to, simply by announcing the fact (there is a legal procedure called “deed poll”, but it’s entirely optional. So, if you just run with “X (formerly sg)” for a little while, then switch to “X”, that will be fine

@Rich. Only Kieran understands these things. But I’d like these problems fixed also.

59

Freddie deBoer 12.13.11 at 1:32 am

But if I make fun of Michael Berube with my real name I’ll never get a free MLA tote bag.

60

Down and Out of Sài Gòn 12.13.11 at 2:58 am

As a semi-anonymous commenter (started out pure anonymous, then linked my ‘nym to my real identity), I have no issue with this policy at all. If people are actually at risk of having their true identity published under the new policy, then maybe they shouldn’t comment here, or take great pains to slef-moderate what they say.

I’m also comfortable with the new policy because I trust the men and women of Crooked Timber to do the right thing, which I wouldn’t with (say) some capricious RWDB dickhead from Pajamas Media.

61

MPAVictoria 12.13.11 at 3:06 am

“The CT comments policy is generally excellent. I could argue that claims such as “all Republicans are sociopaths” is bigotry in its purest form.”

I don’t want to get off topic here but surely the fact that Republicans are sociopaths is something all right thinking people can agree on?

62

Enda H 12.13.11 at 3:57 am

Purely from CT’s point of view, there’s an awful downside risk to this. I’m sure you’ve thought of this but it warrants reiterating.

Admin folk can read my email and IP address and cop who I am very quickly, but I’m semi-anonymous because (a) I don’t want Google searches of my name to link to blog comments, and (b) as Salient notes, internet people can be stalkery and annoying.

Now let’s say someone clever undergrad in my department identifies me from my comments and mischievously decides to be a fake sock-puppet. They make a fake email address, browse from the university network, use Hiberno-English phrases, and say things that make me look like a sock-puppet racist. I have no idea they’ve been doing it for weeks. Next thing I know John Quiggin has a publicly posted that I hate minorities.

That’s a big problem from CT’s point of view.

In fact, any time you out someone, expect a law suit. They have a lot more to lose than you do.

Granted I have no idea how much moderation the comments require, but it seems to me that becoming a little more delete-friendly is a better approach here.

63

Enda H 12.13.11 at 3:58 am

And I apologise for the typos in the above post. It’s been a long day.

64

djw 12.13.11 at 4:35 am

We’ve seen a few dire warnings about lawsuits resulting from outing sockpuppetry in this thread from commenters who affect a knowing, wise tone. In light of this, I’m curious if anyone can find an actual example of this happening, let alone being successful.

In general, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for sane people to worry much about the dangers of lawsuits resulting from X, where ‘past lawsuits resulting from X’ is a null set. There’s too many real things to worry about.

65

Down and Out of Sài Gòn 12.13.11 at 5:24 am

Enda H: this may be a problem, but not one to cause imaginary lawsuits. If a troll is posting at CT with some-email@some-domain.org to post serious racist/sexist/homophobic abuse, then CT sends a cease-and-desist/stop it now email in their direction.

If it is the actual troll’s email address: publish away. If the troll is masquerading as someone else, then (a) s/he deserves to know, and (b) can have his/her “comments” deleted.

66

Enda H 12.13.11 at 5:35 am

@Down and Out of Sài Gòn
I’m not sure I understand you. Suppose John pretends to be Jane Does CT email Jane? Obviously emailing John is pointless. Emailing Jane is a good system, but “In the future, no warnings will be given.”

Anywho, the point of me posting was to warn about something that I could see really blowing up in CT’s face. If the powers that be are confident enough in the ability to not be tricked etc., great.

67

Salient 12.13.11 at 5:54 am

It is a pretty disquieting thought. CT’s filter thing does seem to automatically catch when my Name field does not match previously provided E-mail and throw the thing into moderation, so it might be that the faking email thing wouldn’t work due to that… maybe? but if the puppeteer knew and used the correct email, and either spoofed the IP or used a computer that would share the IP… it would be essentially indistinguishable, unless CT collects MAC address info or something. eek. but then, I guess a person that dedicated to hooliganism could just go around posting under my full name making obscene racist and sexist comments all over the internet. Eesh, that’s kind of a chilling thought too.

68

bh 12.13.11 at 6:45 am

I’m more than fine with this policy. This is ultimately a private forum, and it’s not like we’re not dealing with a limited broadcast spectrum — there’s copious space for commenting all over the Internet.

No one’s asking anyone to do anything more than play well with others. Rather than silly GWOT analogies, paternalism fantasies, and utterly unsupported psuedo-legal bs, perhaps a little bit of introspection is in order?

69

Dr. Hilarius 12.13.11 at 6:51 am

Having spent the last twenty-odd years in the company of serial rapists, child molesters, petty thieves and drunks, I suspect my level of jadedness is plenty high. Maybe being that jaded is why I view the CT comments as mostly pretty civilized. Some trolls are annoying not so much for what they say as the fact that they keep on saying it and saying it …

Moderation is a good thing. I don’t even look at comments on Salon, for example, as they are dominated by overt racist and sexist trolls (who don’t even have slight redemption by being clever). But I would hate to see legitimate discussion, even when it’s emotion-laden, being damped down by fear of sudden outing. Anyone with some time on their hands can ID me. Using a pseudonym allows me to maintain some separation among my various interests/personalities and keeps the discussion to things I’ve said on CT. I’d suggest a warning to offenders with the opportunity for discussion with the moderator being outing. Banning without outing might be an alternative.

70

bh 12.13.11 at 6:57 am

More specifically on this legal stuff, can anyone cite a real-life judgement with damages?

The Internet is full of Kabuki legal threats and what-if-they-did-this-and-then-that theories. Both of those are pretty different from actual litigation, though.

71

roger 12.13.11 at 9:03 am

Enda H, the best way, I think, for you to shortcircuit the nefarious student in your scenario is to out yourself. Preempting this student’s potential sexist and racist comments, you, writing under your own name, should make many, many comments expressing your love for all of humanity, your wish for every child to have a happy holiday in the creed of its choice or, if it choses not to have a creed, to celebrate that non-creed as well, your desire that, regardless of the color, sex, sexual preference, shoe size or favorite color of the person, he, or she, or s/he, have ample opportunity to develop his (or etc .) talents in the best of all possible worlds, exercising the right to free speech and association and guns, or perhaps you could skip the last.. Having exposed these views under your own name, the nefarious student would obviously have a difficult time insinuating, then, in faked comments, that your dream dinner would be one in which you got to sit with your heroes, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Charles Manson.

72

J. Otto Pohl 12.13.11 at 10:00 am

SG at 56 seems to be making a personal attack on me. The syntax is so incoherent, however, I can not be sure. Could I at least ask people to insult me in a language I can understand please? Otherwise it defeats the whole purpose of attacking one of the few people actually brave enough to use their real name here.

73

Alex 12.13.11 at 10:13 am

Has Bob ever actually been moderated here? I can think of plenty of other contributors (saying nothing about whether that contribution is positive or negative) who regularly get moderator warnings or even disemvowelled. But I can’t remember an occasion on which this happened to Bob. I mean, he flounces every other day, but that’s purely internally-directed.

74

Belle Waring 12.13.11 at 11:05 am

Bob’s special. He has a special “troll flouncing around the internet” VIP pass. I have a mildly pro-troll bias in general, though I hate to see interesting threads go off the rails because they’ve been diverted by some obvious trolling. If commenters persist in nasty personal attacks I have no problem with 86ing them.

75

Michael Bérubé 12.13.11 at 11:31 am

Freddie deBoer @ 59: But if I make fun of Michael Berube with my real name I’ll never get a free MLA tote bag.

And all this time I thought that was your real name, and I even ordered you a personalized MLA tote bag for that nice thing you said about my account of Habermas v. Lyotard. Now I feel betrayed.

76

djw 12.13.11 at 1:36 pm

J Otto Pohl,

I could be mistaken, but I believe sg was referring to your longstanding practice of accusing academics based at American universities of conspiring to prevent you from getting a job (sometimes because we hate people who publish things, sometimes because you fail our ideological litmus test by not being an unreconstructed Stalinist). On this particular thread, the recipient of that hilariously improbable accusation was that well known kingmaker and gatekeeper Malaclypse, whose power over hiring decisions in history departments is apparently not in any way diminished by his status as a former adjunct in a different field.

77

tomslee 12.13.11 at 1:49 pm

J Otto Pohl: actually brave enough to use their real name here

The pseudonym issue is secondary to this thread, but as many people have pointed out there are good reasons for using pseudonyms that actually have nothing to do with fear of the secret police. The idea that posting CT comments under your own name is a mark of bravery is just silly.

— Tom the bold.

78

J. Otto Pohl 12.13.11 at 1:51 pm

I did not say he prevented me from getting a job in the US. I said he endorsed such a black list, not the same thing. Lots of people with no power support people with power abusing other people without power. I do not believe there is a conspiracy. I believe there are certain unwritten rules for who gets job interviews in the US and it is not based upon merit. It is definitely not based on publications, a claim I see made all the time on the internet. Yet nobody will admit that this simply not true. Every single liberal academic claims hiring is based solely on publications. I know no academic based in the US agrees with anything I have ever written, but I don’t think that is because of some conspiracy.

79

Marc 12.13.11 at 1:51 pm

@71: Good luck doing that everywhere on the internet. Mocking other peoples’ privacy concerns is a pretty obnoxious act; you may wish to reconsider. I’m not noticing a last name and address in your identity.

And, yes, it can be very difficult to determine who is who. A truly determined troll could easily adopt the identity of someone else. In terms of consequences, lawsuits for outing sock puppets isn’t the issue; it’s the online firestorm that would result from actually revealing the identities of people. CT would attract the hostile attention of groups that they would rather not have to deal with (e.g. 4chan, anonymous…)

80

J. Otto Pohl 12.13.11 at 2:05 pm

Tomslee:

I was being sarcastic. I don’ t think it takes a lot of bravery to post under your own name. I do think you have to be pretty cowardly not to. I am not sure where all these super right wing employers who spend hours on google looking for the blog comments of workers on issues unrelated to their job descriptions are residing. But, I suspect most CT commentators don’t work for them and don’t plan to in the future.

81

roger 12.13.11 at 2:20 pm

@79 Last name was in an earlier comment, Roger Gathman. Hey, and you want an address? 20 Rue des quatre fils, Paris. Below is a good link to me on google, plus, if you are interested in what my pretty little face looks like, google my name under images.
Personally, I think mocking people’s moral panic about putting their names on comments on a blog has to be one of the most mockable of things. I guess there may be more mockable issues, like the War on Christmas, but it comes very close.
http://www.google.fr/#hl=fr&cp=13&gs_id=2e&xhr=t&q=roger+gathman&pf=p&sclient=psy-ab&safe=off&site=&source=hp&pbx=1&oq=roger+gathman&aq=0&aqi=g1&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.,cf.osb&fp=aca76e2ac02c51a4&biw=1067&bih=468

82

faustusnotes (used to be sg) 12.13.11 at 2:31 pm

djw, you’re right, that was what i was referring to, and the fact that you understood my point makes J otto pohl’s prior snark look kind of cheap. And J Otto Pohl, I understand that you’re an academic in history. That you don’t get what happens in the world of people who have to work in or with hospitals and health departments – inherently conservative places – is obvious, but given how little you have to lose from broadcasting radical views, please don’t try and pretend that you’re being brave by attaching your name to whatever radicalism you lay claim to. If tomorrow your field suddenly declared that it was going to sack people who stated views dissenting from its norms, I wonder how long you’d remain identifiable? Please spare those of us who might still have to deal with the real world from your angsty claims to superiority.

Thanks for the etiquette advice, John!

83

Dragon-King Wangchuck 12.13.11 at 2:53 pm

Your comment threads = your comments policy.

Here’s my observation, it looks to me like and over-reaction. You’re going from polite requests to self-moderate to outing. Seems a bit extreme.

Also, I’m a bit confused about teh whole sockpuppeteering thing. Aren’t new commenters subject to moderation? Wouldn’t it be fairly easy to check to see if a new comment came from any IP addys that had commented in the past 24 hours?

Well, whatever. So long as bad spelenigs of word liek “teh” aren’t out-able offenses.

84

sg 12.13.11 at 2:58 pm

hey! I took John Quiggin’s advice re: my identity and ended up in moderation for sock-puppetry!

Next, I’ll be outed!

85

Rich Puchalsky 12.13.11 at 3:09 pm

Assuming you’re serious, sg, I think that you just got caught in auto-moderation. According to Salient above, “CT’s filter thing does seem to automatically catch when my Name field does not match previously provided E-mail and throw the thing into moderation”. From my own experience, the auto-moderator also catches some percentage of comments at random, or at least, if it has an algorithm, I’ve never figured it out.

86

chris 12.13.11 at 3:20 pm

Having reviewed the threads which (I think) occasioned this policy change, I suggest a simpler alternative… just shut the comments off at 100. The signal-to-noise ratio has an inverse relationship to the comment number, and it is pretty universal that a comment thread that long includes at least one troll and lots of people who are having battles with each other.

While I think it might be useful for someone to occasionally look at threads and say “okay, this thread is going nowhere, I’m closing it now” (actually, I think they *do* do this occasionally, but could possibly stand to do it more), I think it would be a mistake to entrust that decision to a robot proceeding on a rigid rule. Sometimes actually interesting and productive discussions go over 100, not to mention, if everyone knows that 100 is the magic number you could see people (a) deliberately trying for the last word or (b) composing a post for some lengthy amount of time and then finding that it won’t post because the thread is full. I often take several minutes to consider my posts before posting them (for example my #11 above crossed with roughly #5-10). (b) could still happen in a “thread closed by moderators” scenario, but if the discussion really has degenerated, then it’s probably no great loss.

But that’s a somewhat separate issue from outside-the-site retaliation against people based on what they have posted.

87

John Quiggin 12.13.11 at 3:32 pm

@faustusnotes (used to be sg)

One of our precautions is that all first-time commenters get automoderated. Now that your new identity is approved you should be OK, at least until you drop the parenthetical bit, when we’ll need to reapprove you.

A point that this reminds me of is that maintaining a blog comments section is a lot of work. Disruptive trolls make this both harder and less rewarding.

88

Barry Freed 12.13.11 at 3:49 pm

I support this policy. Putting it mildly, CT threads have gotten tedious of late. It’s part of why I left off reading them and commenting on them for a few years. I hope this, along with some welcome additions to the cast, moves things back in a better direction.

I believe there are certain unwritten rules for who gets job interviews in the US and it is not based upon merit….Yada Yada Yada… I know no academic based in the US agrees with anything I have ever written, but I don’t think that is because of some conspiracy.

JOP, I’ve defended you on this blog as “not a troll” but good god man, don’t you think whinging about it constantly on a noted academic blog under your real name might have something to do with it? [NB, that’s a rhetorical question]

89

mds 12.13.11 at 5:30 pm

It happens that everyone I know offline (except relatives) has called me Salient for years and years now, ever since the nickname got stuck on me in a silly discussion section at U.W.

Wait, that was you?

90

Nine 12.13.11 at 6:28 pm

As a very, very infrequent commentator here (and everywhere else for that matter) I don’t see this new policy affecting me in the slightest. However, one can see where the kind of mischief sketched by Enda H. in #66 can be a real problem, especially if CT outs first and asks questions later. That said, in my estimate, CT bloggers are way, too preternaturally patient with the trolls and the deliberately disruptive more so than any other blog where the author actually bothers to respond.

91

Substance McGravitas 12.13.11 at 6:31 pm

However, one can see where the kind of mischief sketched by Enda H. in #66 can be a real problem

Is there an example of that kind of mischief?

92

Andreas Moser 12.13.11 at 6:39 pm

You ***** **** *****!
(Just kidding.)

93

Martin Bento 12.14.11 at 9:56 pm

The mischief Enda is describing would be made possible by an outing policy, especially a no-warning outing policy. We shouldn’t be so silly as to fail to anticipate obvious problems. In general, CTs information on people’s real identities is going to be quite unreliable, and outing is inviting a retaliation that CT cannot control.

People have been killed, in Mexico, for things said on Internet forums under pseuds that were broken. So far as is known, the government had nothing to do with it. How the pseuds were broken is not clear to me, but breaking pseuds should be taken very seriously. Privacy is a fundamental human right, and people should not have to justify it. Roger’s solution amounts to saying people should voluntarily surrender their privacy to prevent being spoofed. What we need is mores that respect pseuds, or the kind of thing that is starting to happen now in Mexico, where pseudonymous communication is being used to expose drug gangs, will become impossible. I know no one at Crooked Timber is going to break a pseud for snitching on the Zetas, but we are in the middle of a political struggle over anonymity on the Internet and privacy generally, and policies like this should be viewed in that light.

94

Jeffrey Davis 12.15.11 at 1:15 am

Great. I wish more blogs would do this.

95

roger 12.15.11 at 10:18 am

@93 – As Martin Bento has astutely noticed, I am fully on the side of the Mexican drug lords and endorse their murder of innocents – I rejoice in it! The CT policy of outing people who logically connect a woman’s opinion on the design of Apple laptops to her amazingly busy sex life is obviously going to lead immediately to the deaths of thousands in Veracruz – and I will dance in their blood!

96

Martin Bento 12.16.11 at 8:42 am

If you support an unqualified right to keep and bear arms, including military grade munitions, does this mean you support militia movements? Of course not. But you are supporting the mores and laws that enable them to function. Pseuds on the Internet are under heavy attack. Google spies on us all unless you go to great lengths to avoid it, and will not allow pseuds in its network. Facebook is pushing blogs to use it for a comments engine, and also has a real-names only policy, though less consistently enforced. Mores matter in this idiom and the law is also in flux, so the more support there is for breaking pseuds under whatever circumstances, the harder it will be to retain any kind of anonymity for casual users on the Internet. And the consequences of that are quite favorable to the Zetas and ilk, just as strong gun rights are favorable to the militias. People with the organization and resources of the Zetas will have anonymity regardless of mores and laws, just as they have guns in Mexico despite strong gun control there. It’s the people fighting them that need to be able to speak freely without being identified, and that cause is weakened whenever someone thinks it OK to retroactively remove anonymity over a boorish comment. The general political battle now is not when is anonymity OK and when it is not, it is whether it is ever OK. And it’s not like CT is without recourse. They can ban people. They seem to think they can identify people well enough to do this effectively, and if they cannot, then they really have no business breaking pseuds.

97

bianca steele 12.16.11 at 7:24 pm

My legal-name e-mail address is attached to this comment. (I assume it will be shared with the carefully vetted grad students who collate the regular posters’ correspondence, and by the staff of WordPress, though not with whatever the successor to Journolist is these days.)

I thought my “bianca steele” e-mail address was listed on the “About Me” page of my (advertising-free) blog, link above, with an explanation that it’s a pseudonym/pen name and a promise of more information Real Soon Now, but the TypePad feature I thought I used doesn’t seem to exist. This will be fixed soon.

98

bianca steele 12.17.11 at 2:23 pm

Okay, so my previous comment providing the CT admins with my legal-name e-mail address is in moderation (which makes sense), and I will continue to use my “bianca steele” address, when I post here in future (as I don’t see any reason not to). Experimentation shows that one of the benefits of having both pieces of information is being able to find a photograph of my husband, as well as the inevitable Google Maps photo of my house. It was occasionally possible to find me in a web search back when I started using this name online, but not so much comes up anymore. I’ve also fixed my blog so my e-mail address will show up there (the feature I thought I’d used seems not to exist anymore).

Also, one of the reasons I was especially reluctant has apparently been removed from the site in question, so I’m grateful to whoever did that, who is probably not reading here.

99

JW Mason 12.17.11 at 7:01 pm

I suppose this is as good an occasion as any to lay the “Lemuel Pitkin” pseudonym to rest.

When I started using it I was working for the New York Working Families Party, and then for New York City government, in positions that were sufficiently publicly visible that there was a real possibility that something stupid I said on a blog would be used to attack my employers. (This actually happened to me years ago, when I worked for the AFL-CIO and said something silly on Doug Henwood’s LBO-Talk list). So a pseudonym was essential then. But it isn’t now, and I’m inclined to agree with the general belief that it’s harder to be an asshole in these settings if you’re posting under your own name. And I don’t want to be an asshole, so.

To be honest, I’m also still a bit in shock about being banned by D-squared. Makes the “Lemuel Pitkin” identity feel less like someone I want to be, somehow.

100

tomslee 12.17.11 at 7:10 pm

Not that I was following closely, but I was surprised at the Banning of LP as well. Seemed to me to say more about a general sensitivity at that moment on the part of the banner than anything said by the bannee.

101

Bread and Roses 12.18.11 at 5:26 am

I wholeheartedly approve of a change in the tone of the comments here and if this new policy is the tool to do it then good- I am guessing that a change in attitude by the moderators is the actual tool and the actual rules changed is not so important.

I say this for the selfish reason that the last few times I thought of opening up a Crooked Timber tab I hesitated, remembering the unpleasantly cranky tone of the comment threads. I am utterly spoiled by Ta-Nehisi Coates, though.

I don’t like unrepentant sexism or racism in comments but pointlessness, bullying, name-calling, and most strongly, sarcasm, can make comment threads unreadable as well, and drive away all but the most privileged in terms of who feels entitled to contribute a third of the comments and constantly accuse others of this, that, or the other sin or oversight. So thanks for moderating.

102

skidmarx 12.18.11 at 12:54 pm

And, while you have to trust us to some extent, I will restate what Chris said, we aren’t going to be outing (or even banning) people on the basis of a bad joke or a good faith argument that some might take offence at.
Eye of the beholder. And the threat of no-warning destruction of anonymity does tend to militate against placing too much faith in the protection promised in point 1.

I twill also encourage those who wish to ensure the anonymity to stop providing real e-mail addresses for verification.

103

bert 12.18.11 at 1:24 pm

I’d like to speak up for anonymity.
Obviously, sockpuppetry is out of line (“Lee Siegel is brave and brilliant”).
But if you post with a consistent screenname, and engage in good faith, others can judge you on what you write. I don’t see a problem there.
I don’t have any professional concerns about real-world comeback to what I post here. It’s more a case of instinctively bucking against Mark Zuckerberg’s insistence that I feed every aspect of myself into the machine. Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés.

CT has one of the best comments sections of any high traffic blog. It varies by thread, of course, but that’s inevitable. Taken as a whole, the work that goes into moderation here pays off.

Comments on this entry are closed.