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Jan 29 2013

This blog is moderated

Aron and I have been debating on the internet for years.  The best discussions even on Christian sites have been moderated.  In fact as a former Christian I changed my mind about evolution on a Christian site with Aron’s help.  The quality of the discussion is important. This is not YouTube.  Bad comments are not going to slip off the page within hours as new comments replace it. Legitimate disagreement and criticism are welcome provided they discuss the topic of the original post and engage in a dialogue not a monologue.  The following types of comments are widely recognized on the net, and degrade the quality of the discussion…

1. Bigotry including slurs.

2. Derailing the topic of discussion with repeated off topic comments or responding without reading the original post.

3. Ad hominems (especially abusive) intended to antagonize another person rather than address their argument.

4. Flaming -there are better places than a discussion on this blog to vent aggression.

5. Sockpuppet accounts.

6. Threatening or Harassing another person.

7. Arguing in bad faith

Most comments that degrade the quality of the discussion will receive a warning from Aron or Lilandra. The commenter has one post to respond to the warning if necessary.  If the warning is ignored and the commenter continues the behavior, they may be blocked.  Certain extreme behaviors will not be tolerated and the commenter may be immediately blocked without a warning.

25 comments

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  1. 1
    Enopoletus Harding

    Missing colon after “http” in link to Wikipedia article on cyberbullying.

  2. 2
    lilandra

    Thanks. It’s fixed.

  3. 3
    Argle Bargle

    Your blog, your rules, although I have no problems with any of your rules.

  4. 4
    Lord Narf

    Hmm, we’ve had some issues lately? Russel just knocked some idiot out of the park, in the comment section of the latest post, over there.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while (since it started, basically), just haven’t paid attention to the comment section. I’ve been active in the comment section of the TAE blog lately, though, and I thought I would check out your comment section for a change.

  5. 5
    Stacy

    But what about FREEZE PEACH!!1?

    (I’m kidding.)

  6. 6
    John Morales

    lilandra:

    3. Ad hominems (especially abusive) intended to antagonize another person rather than address their argument.

    Why do you link to the fallacy when you refer to intent to antagonise?

    (It can only be fallacious if it’s addressing the argument — otherwise it’s but an insult)

    1. 6.1
      lilandra

      I did specify rather than addressing their argument meaning the actual argument. From the link…

      An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an argument made personally against an opponent instead of against their argument

  7. 7
    John Morales

    Yes, you did — thus my question and parenthetical — because you specifically refer to a non sequitur, not just an ad hominem.

    Also from your link (my emphasis): “Equating someone’s character with the soundness of their argument is a logical fallacy. Mere verbal abuse in the absence of an argument, however, is not ad hominem nor any kind of logical fallacy.”

    1. 7.1
      lilandra

      I understand the distinction you are making but insults against the person instead of the validity of their argument can be an ad hominem. Perhaps if they weren’t making any form of argument and you were returning an insult that wouldn’t be an ad hominem and merely an insult.

  8. 8
    rayne

    Not only does your list degrade the quality of the individuals arguments but it also says a lot about their ability to think things through. If you want to argue your points on the internet, then argue your points in a clear and concise manner without resorting to attacking someone. Attacking someone implies you have nothing left to argue and are clutching at straws.

  9. 9
    John Morales

    Thanks.

  10. 10
    John Morales

    [meta]

    PS something’s broken on this site (unless I’m stopping some script) — I am absolutely certain my #9 was a reply to your 7.1, lilandra, and it should have shown up as 7.1.1.

    (Which explains my #7 not being 6.1.1; I thought I must have miskeyed)

  11. 11
    jay

    Re: 7. Arguing in bad faith, with your link to “concern troll”.

    So I completely disagree.

    First, the vast majority of the time, to claim someone is arguing in bad faith as a “concern troll”, requires a mind reading ability I don’t believe anyone has.

    Second, the vast majority of naming of “concern trolls”, is used to police speech, and is used as an ad-hominem attack on the commenter and her argument.

    “I cannot believe there are Democratic women that are against abortion and that you think our pushing to make abortion legal up any time during pregnancy alienates America. Thank you concern troll, your concern has been noted.”

    “I cannot believe there are scientists skeptical of global warming and that think climate gate discovered any scandal that needs paying attention to. Thank you concern troll, your concern has been noted.”

    “I cannot believe there are any atheists out there that are non-racist and dislike Atheism+ and what it might do to atheism. Thank you concern troll, your concern has been noted.”

    There should be a Godwin’s law for “concern troll”. Most of the time the person that yells it has got nothing but needs someway to dismiss the argument at hand, and so they attack the character of the person making the argument.

    Anyway, too much mind reading. You should stay away from practices that demand it.

    1. 11.1
      lilandra

      Your concern about my “mind reading” abilities is noted. As the link states not every concern is trolling. Some like yours are just plain wrong. Let’s test the ability to spot arguing in bad faith to see if it is as hard as you claim it is.

      There is an actual bill in New Mexico that criminalizes rape victims seeking an abortion as tampering with evidence. It has since been reworded to penalize doctors providing an abortion as felons. Is the author of that bill really concerned with prosecuting rapists by forcing rape victims to bear their child? Or is she arguing in bad faith because she really is concerned about making abortions illegal?

  12. 12
    Great American Satan

    Jay… You tempt me to drop mad ad hominems up in this joint. Concern trolling exists and can be extremely vile. Some people expressing concerns may not be trollish in intent, therefore you would be correct that a policy banning concern trolling may catch some innocent people in the blast. I’m sure I’ve been hit with that before. But for you to say “most of the time (it’s unjustified)” seems to me a gross underestimation of the problem.

    And intent isn’t always required for a person to be guilty of an offense. If I accidentally kill a guy while being a dumbass, I’m still going to jail. So “mind reading” isn’t necessary to justify giving someone a boot.

    And your cry for the loss of freeze peach is pretty laughable, given what the self-appointed enemies of FTBullies have done with that right in any unmoderated venue they can get into. Y’all make Westboro BC seem polite.

    By the way, Godwin’s Law can get motherfucked, because until the world finally lacks for ACTUAL NAZIs and people sympathetic to their aims, we need to be able to call them out. I’m sure a lot of people around here disagree with me on that one, but hey, it’s a freethought blog. I welcome a disagreement, as long as it isn’t troll-tailored to give me a case of the red mist.

  13. 13
    glodson

    Maybe I’m too naive, but I kind of just took those points to be largely understood. There might be different levels of insults allowed, for example, on differing blogs, but that seems to be a good template for about anywhere.

    1. 13.1
      lilandra

      In some cases they are understood and still done intentionally to try to disrupt a discussion. Some of the more controversial subjects get automatic disruptive behavior. In other cases someone can conceivably be new to debating on the internet, and need some guidance.

      1. glodson

        I guess there is a matter of degree for some. People can slip into bad logic in on a subject they are discussing, or sometimes lapse into a tangent because an ancillary point. I imagine that a quick note regarding commenting policies for such mistakes would catch people who are acting in good faith. And having this written out gives a chance for those new to this a chance to get up to speed.

        The only one that I can see being a bit more of a hardass on is the policy againt threats and harassment. I can see how someone can get upset and lash out. I can see how someone can make a comment that would be derailing but not really intending to derail. I find it hard to believe that someone can threaten another poster, or an author of a blog, on accident.

  14. 14
    Worldtraveller

    Your blog, your rules. As long as moderating only consists of blocking some commenters (or replacing their posts with something obviously not their words is done (see bunny videos and/or disemvoweling) and no actual editing of peoples’ words to say something else.

    On the other hand, I disagree about insults being gratuitous. Sometimes, an argument can be dismantled, and the person putting forth said argument can be well deserving of mild to caustic insults in addition to said dismantling. Different strokes, I guess.

  15. 15
    Johnnis

    Low quality comments do not lead to a low quality debate.

    Many people don’t have high quality opinions or a high quality ability to express themself. This does not lead to a low quality debate.To moderate a debate leads to a false representation of opinions, and many low quality comments will stand uncontested.

    How is hiding bigotry a good thing? Removing it from the comments on your blog does nothing to remove it in the real world. How ever, to oppose bigotry with exposure and reason will reduce bigotry in the real world.

    I understand it is easier to press delete than to face the slings and arrows of an outrageous world, but by doing so, bigotry will stand uncontested, it will remain and florish in the shadows. I understand that you cannot, nor is it your responsibility, to opose every bigot comment, but by pressing delete you deny others the opportunity to contribute.

    In my mind, a low quality debate is one where low quality comments are weeded out, a debate that does not reflect reality, a debate that takes place in a vacuum.

    For me, the goal of a debate, it is not to reach some high conclution, but to reach the low conclutions and lift them up.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

    1. 15.1
      lilandra

      No one is deleted for simply posting a low quality or bigoted post.If you had read the entire comment policy, you would see 99.9 percent of these types of posts are given a warning and a chance to explain themselves.
      A reminder please read the entire original post before posting.
      2. Derailing the topic of discussion with repeated off topic comments or responding without reading the original post.

      1. Johnnis

        I am glad to see that I was wrong to claim that comments would be deleted, however my issue is not the deleting of comments. I am sorry if I understated it, but my issue is with the idea that low quality comments result in a low quality debate.

        “No one is deleted for simply posting a low quality or bigoted post.If you had read the entire comment policy, you would see 99.9 percent of these types of posts are given a warning and a chance to explain themselves.”

        This is not what the original post says. For example, to my understanding “99,9 percent” and “most” is not self explanatory analogue. And to give a warning is not to address what is actually said. I am talking about dialogue, not accusation (warning) and defense (a chance to explain themselves).

        In my mind, ad hominem disguised as moderating will degrade a debate more than any low quality comment. What matters is the actual claims made and the arguments used, to make a point of who makes the claim and with what motive in mind is irrelevant for what is actually true.

        To give warning to a troll who is acting in bad faith in stead of tackling what is actually said, and at the same time have rules against ad hominem is hypocritical.

        And this is my point, to focus on who, how and why and not on the actual arguments will lead to a low quality debate.

        Any comment violating the points on your list can easily be confronted and undressed with reason and argumentation, I have a problem seeing why anyone would want to replace reason and argumentation with moderating.

        1. lilandra

          If you read this blog you will notice that there are many unmoderated low quality comments and even comments like yours that didn’t read the original post at first. You are mistaken that moderation in any way interferes with argumentation here bad or otherwise. I won’t sacrifice a good discussion to derailing however it is done be it repeated off topic comments or outright trolling. You must not be a blog regular as the few trolls that pop up here were reasoned with ad nauseam to no effect.

          It is eminently reasonable when you are being sincere to not waste time on insincerity. If you like discussions that are trolled to the point that the original topic is derailed there are other places on the internet for that.

  16. 16
    Mark S

    Absolutely fair and sensible guidelines I would have thought.

  17. 17
    Sac longchamp

    Singular

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