Thursday, August 13, 2009

Short Note on Editorial Policy

After thinking long and hard about it (seriously--these comments have been sitting in my "Dashboard" for about two months now) I deleted, rather than publish, two comments from the same Anonymous reader, both of which were in response to my post on Bosnia being shut out of the EU Visa regime while Serbia was allowed in.

The comments weren't particularly vile (although the passing comment that the genocide in Rwanda was a "real" genocide suggests that the author has, shall we say, strong biases at odd with reality), but neither were they insightful, or mindful of the context of the issue.

I have stated in the past that I will approve just about any comment (the moderation was simply to weed out spam) and so I had a hard time bringing myself to reject these comments, since the language was rather tame and there were no overt expressions of hatred or racism. However, the internet is a big place, and anybody is free to start their own blog expressing whatever ill-formed opinions they hold. I have come to the conclusion that I am under no obligation to treat all opinions equally, and from now on I will delete comments I find to be ignorant, ill-formed, or just plain stupid, and I will do so without apology.

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On another note, I do expect this blog to start getting busier any day now. I plan to start another chapter-by-chapter book review, and the previously mentioned Bosnia bibliography has not been forgotten.

4 comments:

owen said...

Kirk, I certainly think you're entitled to put up a warning notice like the one at Srebrenica Genocide Blog.

There's certainly no case for allowing anyone to say anything illegal. A friend who has a blog for a neighbourhood whose lives are being made pretty awful by work on the Olympics is being threatened with a very heavy leaning-on by the Olympics Development Authority who seem to think it worth calling in very expensive lawyers over some incautious comments on the blog by residents driven to desperation.

I think you're also entitled to disregard any obvious deliberate misinformation, particularly genocide denial. My view on wilful lying to a public audience is that it's equivalent to fraud and has no claim to tolerance under a free speech regime.

If your poster was denying the reality of genocide at Srebrenica you've no reason to be apologetic. Trash is for going in the bin, not wasting your readers' time with. Thank you, rant over.

sarah correia said...

I absolutely agree with you. Usually I erase comments without mercy everytime I smell bigotry on it. However it has happened to allow comments that, despite being polite and sounding sincere, reavealed lack of will to reflect bellow the surface. Allowing those comments made me waste some time pointing out the flaws and weak points in their arguments, but, above all, brought other comments that were clearly biased and even racist, until finally I had to put an end to it by outing the people who wrote them.

I don't mind at all that some people think of me as intolerant for not allowing a voice to those who disagree with me. Comments help build a certain atmosphere in a blog, and if I want a certain type of people to feel comfortable in my blog, I have to be strict on this issue even if that means having less readers.

I'm glad you're planning to post regularly again... so am I.

Daniel said...

There is absolutely no justification to argue with facts. The technique employed by genocide deniers is rather old. Instead of using completely untrue arguments, they engage in using "half-truths"; thus far accepting those arguments that go into their favor and blatantly refusing to acknowledge heavy (undisputable) facts that demolish denialist rhetoric.

Rejecting denialist rhetoric is not censorship; it's simply a small contribution we take against the spread of hatred and genocide denial on the internet. I support your rejection of innapropriate comments.

PS: Off topic. Kirk, you may wish to set your blog to display only 1 article per page. This way you may triple the number of hits (or page views) on your blog. When people come to your blog, they are not encouraged to "click" on different artciles, because latest posts are already listed on the main page. Therefore, you end up with only 1 hit in your stats.

owen said...

Daniel, some blog readers appreciate the fact that we're able to read more than one post per page.