Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Discussion Regarding Comments

On and off I think about the comments section to this blog.  The question of “should I moderate” I have answered with a “yes,” and continue to feel this decision is appropriate.

Somewhat more pertinent is the question of “how should I moderate”?  This is, for the most part, a mechanical question.  Thus far, my policy has been pretty simple: no profanity – to which I have occasionally, but rarely, both allowed violations and violated depending on my view of the appropriateness within the specific thread. 

I hold a slightly higher hurdle for any comments posted by “Anonymous,” although I am not sure I have ever had to flex my editorial muscle in this regard.  I have also stopped posting comments from two individuals, but the last one of these was at least a year or more ago.

Recent events, comments, and emails have caused me to consider the question: Should the way I deal with comments change?

So, this is my request of you: do you see that there is a problem in how I handle the comments section?  If so: What are your thoughts about how I should moderate and otherwise productively involve myself in the comments?


  1. Prohibit "anonymous", let those with a name through without moderation unless a specific individual abuses that privilege.

  2. "So, this is my request of you: do you see that there is a problem in how I handle the comments section?"

    I feel you have one of the better moderated sites that I read, I see no need for changes.

    Also, just putting it out there, I've commented Anonymously and it seems you can only do so with a profile logged on the way the site is currently structured.

    The few times I do so is because I want to make points that might be construed as personal attacks and I want to focus on the point itself and minimize the chance that personalities(including my own person) might have in distracting from the points being made.

    The Founders and many others around them knew the merits of anonymous discussion(within the bounds of civility) for a variety of reasons.

    So I'm also for the current method of allowing anonymous posts.

    Overall, I think you do a fine job.

    That being said, it might be helpful if you can give any more information on what "Recent events, comments, and emails have caused me to consider the question: "

    I'm guessing there's a reason you didn't explain further obviously, but it would help if you're looking for feedback.

    1. Nick

      As this may help the dialogue and feedback to my request…

      Over the last year or so I have struggled with how far to interject myself into certain controversial dialogues that seemed to be fruitful; dialogues where I found much to object to, yet at the same time learned much from.

      Occasionally during this time I would receive soft hints – something in a comment or an email – that seemed to suggest I was not objecting enough. Recently, I had several hints, and one very direct email from someone I respect (call him a friend, but no one famous within our libertarian circles).

      Which caused me to pause and drove me to write this:

      I felt I needed a break from this exploration. The break didn’t last long.

      Subsequently I wrote the post: “The Enemy Population.”

      I knew exactly where the conversation would head before I wrote it, and I didn’t like that. But I went ahead with it.

      Sure enough, the conversation went where I knew it would. You can fully satisfy your curiosity by reading the comment thread beginning with my comment at: bionic mosquito September 13, 2017 at 2:45 AM

      So, I was rather direct with my views. And the conversation ended. Maybe it needed to end; maybe it is important both for me (and I do mean “for me,” as in my own well-being and integrity) and for others (as I know not everyone who comes by this site will appreciate fully the conversation – and I know that the conversation held some danger…) that I am more direct on certain topics.

    2. "Occasionally during this time I would receive soft hints – something in a comment or an email – that seemed to suggest I was not objecting enough. Recently, I had several hints, and one very direct email from someone I respect (call him a friend, but no one famous within our libertarian circles)."

      Hmmmm...ok. Well I will reiterate first that I think you've done a fantastic job in moderating the blog based on what I've seen.

      My comment about "more information" was really borne out of wanting context more than curiosity- and you've supplied that.

      You've provided a venue for open/honest intellectual discussions that would never be allowed on many other sites. The parties in question appeared civil in discussions even though some of the intellectual notions discussed could be considered "vulgar", downright "wrong", "dangerous" or a host of other less than positive descriptions- I think it important that they occur as long as decorum is maintained.

      You have to credit discussions for being honest and civil even if some were repelled by said honesty/ideas.

      You as a person, do have a tendency to think the best of people's intentions/positions when it's not clear if that's the case, but I see that as a net positive as being a cynic is draining and not productive often times. (don't ask me how I know)

      So in this regard, I guess beyond continuing to reaffirm the job you do here and seeing no need for change- I'll leave you with one other thought:

      This person you respect highly, obviously had a tremendous impact on you, the question in my mind is once again context.

      I have family members that like Block, lean socialist. There are certain areas in life where I respect what they have to say, and others not. I have one much older friend who is a mentor in certain areas of my life, but is a hardcore Neocon. Discussing anything regarding polity is mostly futile with these people who I respect in other areas. They will not sway me regardless.

      I had once in casual conversation mentioned that "Social Security" was socialism and once sent one set of relatives by marriage into literal orbit. (both were teachers none the less!)

      There are very few things I can say politically speaking that these people don't seem to get offended by/annoyed with. Yet in other areas of life I respect them while only reserving the "verboten" topics for those intellectually and emotionally capable of having them in a productive manner...

      No one has to come to this blog if they don't like the discussions. That's very libertarian too.


      I'll let you in on a dirty little secret: There are some blog posts at LRC that I skip over based on who authors them.(and topics as well!) I selectively read those whose opinions resonate for whatever reason to me at LRC. Maybe I'm missing out, but I usually decide who to pass on after reading 3 pieces or so and I value my time accordingly. In passing over topics, it's usually when I've filled myself up knowledge wise on said topic.

      Anyone can do the same here, the question is this:

      Is the owner of the blog happy with the outcome? (not anyone else, including me)

    3. Bionic please don't change anything, this site is perfect as is. The main selling point of this site for me is that intellectual honesty and freedom of (regulated, polite) speech inherent to this blog.
      Also, it's not only entertaining but very insightful to watch how you spar your opponents sir.
      "You have to credit discussions for being honest and civil even if some were repelled by said honesty/ideas."
      Spot on Nick thank you for encouraging BM it would be a travesty to me if certain discussions were locked down because they are "uncomfortable" for liberals to talk about.

  3. What Does "Bionic Mosquito" Mean by Culture?

    1. Thank you dmitri, I'm sure you encourage BM to keep his comment section the way it is more than most any of the other bloggers here.
      As he once said of Gil, at least trolls like you two give legitimacy to BM's blog lol.

  4. Bionic,

    This is my first comment at this site, although I've been reading it consistently for the better part of 18 months and inconsistently for even longer. I am not one of the persons who emailed you concerning comment moderation, although I recently considered it.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the commentary from you and almost everyone else on (western) culture and its implications and possible necessity for a more libertarian society. However, I think that the overall cultural conversation encouraged certain individuals with certain opinions to be far more open about said opinions than in the past.

    This came to a head in the commentary on 'Do You Hate The State'. It was clear to me, reading between (and in some cases, the actual) the lines, that these certain individuals claim to hate the American State, but their true target is the Israeli State. Now, hating the Israeli State is not a moral transgression. There is much to hate about Israel from a libertarian/conservative standpoint. However, the individuals also found it 'concerning' that Mel Gibson and his Dad might really be Jews. The only thing concerning about this is that someone is actually concerned. Forgive me for making the ready inference about what (and who) these individuals really hate. Now THIS is morally, and intellectually disgusting. These sorts of posts should be moderated imo.

    Thanks for all of your writing!

  5. I think that it is your circus; you chose the monkeys and acts.

    You could "white list" certain commenters with a long history of respectful posts. This will help you with the moderation load.

  6. I think that the following additions to your singular prohibition would be reasonable.

    1 off topic
    2 refusal to answer a direct question
    3 no more than three links to Gary North articles per comment. ;)

    If you'd like us to be able to monitor your judiciousness, you could create a post titled "Trash," or maybe "Censorship Bin," if "Trash" seems to inflammatory. In it you would describe your rules for comments and replys. It'd also be good to have a link in the menu.

    When you decide to not to allow a comment. You post the text of the original post as a comment in the "Trash" and the censored comment as a reply. Obviously, you still get to respond if you choose, but the main conversation doesn't get bogged down.

    Anyone who makes an obvious attempt to detract from the conversation, or attempt to use your blog to their own ends, should go start their own blog.

    I am with Nick. I think you do a great job moderating. I think the recent changes in how you respond to some comments is already achieving what you are setting out to do here.

    1. Jeff I agree with all of your suggestions.
      I especially like the Trash folder idea. Newcomers to the site would have a clear view of what this blog is and where it's going. Also censorship would not occur and all views can be expressed without detracting from the conversation.

  7. All,

    See my replies here: