Tuesday 11 August 2009

Not feeding the trolls: comments policy

Okay, guys, listen up. The Penny Red trollbridge is getting crowded. Since I instituted the comments policy back in May, the situation has actually got worse, not better. Half of the comments on here now are either pointless personal attacks or ugly, childish misogynist or fascist rants. Some of the best commentators have been driven away, and I've lost count of the number of times I've had people come up to me and say 'I used to visit your blog, but then the comments got awful'.

...Bad trolls. No more snackies for you.

So as of this week, if nothing changes, I'm turning the moderated comments back on. This post isn't moderated, so feel free to chip in below if you have an opinion on whether or not this is the right thing to do.

I really didn't want to have to do this. It makes me sad, because I want to value everyone's contribution. It also makes me mightily pissed off because, in case you hadn't guessed from the number of recent cross-posts, I am up to my tiny eyeballs in work at the moment and the last thing I need is to have to go back to personally checking every comment before it goes live. So here, my friends, is one last chance.

If in the next few days the posts on this blog do not turn up any new misogynist, hateful, pointlessly invective, irrelevant, off-topic or gratuitously lewd comments that don't contribute to the debate, I'll consider keeping the unmoderated format open. Go on, guys. Prove me wrong.

ETA: moderated comments on!


  1. Trolls do it because they have a sad need for attention. Don't give them any. If someone is trolling you should ignore them or, if it's disruptive to others, ban them summarily. No warnings. No dialogue. They do what they do because they want to see posts like this, sadly.

  2. The problem with Blogger, Neuro, is that you *cannot* ban individual comment leavers. It's for that reason why I leave my comment moderation on most of the time too.

  3. The idea that free speech needs to extend to privately authored blogs slightly makes me mad. The comments of trolls and uninformed punters tacked on to the every single article on the internet is beyond counter-productive. When I want to read an idiot being idiotic, I do it in the mutually appreciative space of speakyourebranes.

    Is there no actual plug-in you can use with bloggers to moderate per-user? Surprising. Anyway authors should always have the right to moderate and they can be judged by their moderation policy. And the complainants can feel free to argue their case on their own free blogs.

  4. For "ban", read "delete on sight", then. Or turn moderation on. But I really think you should just decide on something and do it, don't advertise the fact that trolls are annoying you because that's the one and only thing they want.

  5. It's your property so you can do as you please.

    However I'm not sure I've ever really understood this 'troll' concept.

    If you shift to a personally hosted WordPress site you can moderate comments based on keywords. Meaning you could cut out anyone who used words you did not like. It's not a perfect solution but it will help.

  6. I`m still here, so it can`t be that bad.

    Also, the comments section don`t seem that bad to me. Who are these quality commentors and where have they gone?
    I do find wee whiney wetties who run off in search of a safer environment when confronted with a naughty word or two on the internet to be a little odd. I generally just scan through the more bizarre contributions - can`t say I`ve seen anything personally abusive, (but maybe that`s because it`s been deleted).

    So all-in-all... do what you like... but I think you should maintain a sense of humour when it comes to the more whimsical comments.

  7. Oh... except when I`m personally abused.

    That happens fairly reguarly here (sometimes from Reddy Poos herself) - but I try to carry on regardless.

    I`m a little trooper.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Bah! Trolls are people too! You should be more sympathetic to the plight of mythological beings, Penny Red, since you're no better than a petty-Dwarf yourself. Get off your high unicorn! Carry on like this Or it's back to Moria for you young lady.

  10. I don't know exactly what kind of crap you've had to deal with. I have moderation turned on, because I almost never get comments and I subsequently can't be trusted to check for comments alone. Haha... I used to realise I had a comment about 2 months after it was posted! Awful.

    I would say, if you're really uncool about doing as I do, get somebody to moderate for you - surely one of your friends is willing? Trollery Nuker-in-Chief. :-D

  11. I think you should turn moderated comments back on... This is the internet, it only takes a minority of idiots to make things ridiculous, you shouldn't value everyone's contribution, only the valuable ones!!

  12. We need a bit of ridiculousness.

    It`s what makes us British and what stops us from hacking each other into pieces.

  13. There's no option to create a list of approved users or something?
    That'd save time.
    Then a list of users who can't comment, and turning off Anonymous comments. The rest goes into the "To be moderated"-pile.

    Not that I know if there is anything like that, but there should be.

  14. I think only women should be allowed to comment on this blog as trolls are almost always men! Kill 'em all and let God sort the guilty from the innocent, I say!

  15. Sadly, there's a big difference between a bit of ridiculousness and the just plain fcking bigoted and irritating - I'd go moderated.

  16. Illogic - I don't have a blog myself, but 'Wordpress for dummies' informs me that on wordpress blogs, there is a setting for 'Comment Author Must Have Previously Approved Comment'; if they don't then the comment goes to moderation. A blacklist can also be created, and you can turn off anonymous comments. But I'm not sure that is possible on Blogger, which is what this blog runs on...

  17. I've been from two blogs and the New Statesman. They give me the old troll story but really its doublespeak for 'go away y' bastard'. The New Stateman was really funny. It was like .. well it was extra cos I peaked on a psychotic episode.

    The problem is the blog has evolved into more of a literature bog because the number of literature related postings. Consequently there's more creative juices being submitted in the comments box.

    And why Penny are you listening to off-line people talking about the on-line ones? So what? You're at the cutting edge of literature and freedom of speech, and you want to curb it?

    I don't why you get swayed by society. This is where it is happening to you on this blog. Pinter and Dylan Thomas are demanding that you publish the comments of your blog and use them for a play.

  18. Comment moderation seems a sensible step to me. TBH I was wondering why you tolerated some of the commenters on some threads at all...

    Anyone who whines about freedom of speech can easily create their own blog and spend ages writing posts to rebut your posts if it's that important to them to reply. That really is freedom of speech.

    As I'm sure some wise person other than me has said, "freedom of speech does not guarantee anyone will listen".

  19. Yeah i reccomend a migration to wordpress. Its far far better.

  20. Oh you wacky mixed-up kids with your slang and your crazy ideas. When I was young, troll meant someone who came on a thread to be deliberately abusive and disruptive. Now you've decided it means someone with an awkward question; even someone with a pertinent observation which unfortunately casts your wonderful host in a slightly different light to the one which she so studiously cultivates.

    I'll never get my head around your hip new lingo RESPEK DUDES (OK?)

  21. A problem with wordpress is they make you pay a yearly fee to upload video content - at least you can do it for free here...

  22. Oh screw Word press and the other blog websites .. bullshitters the lot of them.

    Why change success? It's coming now for you Penny, it's building up speed, and licking your gravy train. You can almost taste the success of unbridled blog land. There is money and there is publicity: one times by t'other equals more money, more power.

    Little barn-ic-icyles need not impede their boring ways on you. Nay you are of stouter stuff Penny Red and you realise that, on nothing bets, the sky's the limit, and we ride, yes you blooger boredoms, we ride, over the top and into the fuckin, out of the fuckin history books.

    Ged that all you silly pompous moderator supporters.

  23. Aleister Crowley13 August 2009 at 11:55

    Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

  24. Penny Red.

    Decide once and forever who you are allied to?

    The Authority?

    Or Lord Asriel Belacqua?

  25. Well I think Laurie is to be applauded for her brave decision. She's a talented young blogger in a hurry, and as soon as she can get rid of the nasty riff raff the sooner she can assume her place in the great pantheon of the Liberal media elite. (socialist???-I rather think not)

    Once a cushy number at the Guardian has been secured she can get herself a nice little place inside a gated community away from the chavs, pikeys and sundry ne'er do wells who seem to be blighting her career progression at present at pontificate at will about how to fix society.
    You go girl!

  26. Oops...that should be.. "AND pontificate at will about how to fix society". Come to think of it...the fact that I even cast any doubt on Ms Penny's impeccable proletarian credentials makes me a filthy troll. I shall perform an act of penance immediately. No frapaccino or sun dried tofu for a week.

  27. God, you're tedious, peasant. Do you even make yourself laugh?

  28. Valerie Susan Page13 August 2009 at 14:46

    It's really kind of odd.

    When you read this blog about half of the entries are "fan mail" along the lines of "Well done, Laurie. Great writing. Know where you're coming from. Agree 100%. Keep up the good work. xxx" and the other half of the entries are worth reading and are sometimes genuinely interesting. I've looked hard for "misogynist, hateful, pointlessly invective, irrelevant, off-topic or gratuitously lewd comments" and found very few examples of torrid prose, perhaps because they have already been deleted, although I have found plenty of instances of rather zen-like nonsense, harmless nose tweaking, teasing and provocation, as well as chuckled at some of the wit and silliness especially the faux arguments that break out from time to time between one commenter and another.

    I'd love to see this blog moderated for a month or two just to assess how far and how quickly it becomes dull when comedians and antagonists are purposefully excluded. The "trolls" as you might call them I suppose.

    Personally, I would moderate the blog for a month or two, experimentally, just to see how and in what way it changes. I think this would be interesting as a sociological experiment but probably the opposite as far as the quality of future comments went.

    Give it a go.

  29. Buy some batteries for your vibrator the next time you visit the shops! You're all corky and need mechanical release.

  30. Has bien peasant13 August 2009 at 14:52

    @ Bien peasant

    Penny went to private school and Oxford don't you know! She may have mentioned this very occasionally, here and there.

  31. Manuel Stimulation13 August 2009 at 14:54

    @ Dionysis

    Batteries? What do you think fingers are for?

  32. Someone shovel up the foregoing Troll shit immediately and consign it to the compost heap.

    It offends me!

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Comments are open on this blog, but I reserve the right to delete any abusive or off-topic threads.