Comments: ownership/moderation/policy

Posted by @ 3:08 pm on Tuesday 17th June, 2008.
Categories: Blog on Blog, Site update

After reading Jeff Chandler's recent article about comment ownership, where he refers to a discussion over at IntenseDebate, I got to thinking about how I've been treating comments here, and whether I should declare some sort of policy.

Since starting blogging back in Jan 2007 there have been few occasions when I felt I needed to step in and moderate. Most of the time I just let the comments stay "as posted", but there have been a couple of spats between "opposing factions" where I've had to shout "BREAK", step in and state the unwritten rules, then step back and let battle recommence. In another instance, one of my posts was regarded (wrongly) as an attack on the policies of an organisation who I'll not identify here, it attracted so many comments with so much vitriol and insulting profanity that I got fed up of starring-out the obscenities and eventually deleted the whole shebang without due notice or apology. I can and do accept all manner of swearing, but not in an insulting or inflammatory manner. It's a matter of context, there's a big difference between "Oh, f***!" and "F*** off!"

On the lighter side, I've taken the liberty of deleting a few extraneous comments where the author has accidentally double-posted, and I've moved a few comments from pages to posts, as I'm now using a theme that, at present, doesn't allow or show comments on pages (although I hope that this situation will be resolved soon). I don't go around correcting spelling, punctuation and grammar for people (although I don't know how I manage to keep my inner stickler at bay, the compulsion to get out the digital equivalent of the red pen is always there) unless the author asks me to do so. I do edit the email and/or URL on older comments when the author has provided updated information, this ensures that their avatar/Wavatar/Gravatar remains consistent with their identity, and gets around the problem of old URLs leading to dead sites.

So, what about a policy?

Well, that could depend on who owns comments, and opinions on this matter vary as you can tell from the comments on Jeff's blog. For myself, I consider a comment to be similar to a good old-fashioned snail-mail letter - it starts off as yours, then you post it, then I receive it and it becomes mine, then I read it, then I decide whether to bin it, or frame it, or run a highlighter-pen through the juicy bits... I reckon that if you're going to comment on here, the comment belongs to you up to the point when you post it to this blog. At that time, it may well have entered the public domain, but, as it's on my blog, it's under my jurisdiction, even though the content of the comment remains the property of the author. After all, I'm held responsible for this blog, so I reserve the right to control it, on the basis that I can't have Responsibility without Authority. Currently I'm the only person with admin rights to this blog, if I don't have the authority to cut out the crap, who else does? A comment author certainly doesn't, due to my admin restrictions.

Mind you, that's just my opinion, based on common sense, and the law doesn't always see things the same way. Intellectual Property Rights would be a source of conflict.

Anyway, regardless of who owns a comment, or the content therein, here's my draft policy:

I will leave all comments in their intended places and in their unedited forms unless one or more of the following apply:

  • If a comment author asks me to modify, move or delete one of his/her comments, I'll consider making the requested change(s) so long as there's no significant alteration of the context of the comment or any debate associated with it;
  • If a comment author changes his/her email address or URL, I'll make whatever changes I see fit for the smooth running of this blog;
  • If I decide to change the theme or layout of the blog, thus affecting the placement and/or visibility of comments, I'll make whatever changes I see fit for the smooth running of this blog;
  • If any comment contains insulting profanity or other content which I deem to be causing or likely to cause trouble, I'll edit or delete as I see fit, unless Akismet gets to it before me.

I'll try to remember to display the reason(s) for editing comments, so that folk aren't left hanging wondering what happened and why. I'll also reserve the right to amend this draft policy until it's in a form with which I'm happy. You'll find a copy of the latest version below each comment input box.

Oh, and feel free to comment on this if you like!

:mrgreen:

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15 Responses to “Comments: ownership/moderation/policy”

  1. Gordy says:

    This is one of those subjects that can hurt your brain if you think about it too much.

    As a commenter, I own my comment. After all, it is my original work that I have just created. That is, unless I copied it from somewhere else.

    Taken to a silly extreme (as someone undoubtedly will sooner or later) that copyright issue could be a pain in the ar5e for a blogger, but surely I'm giving you an implied licence to publish it by hitting your big [Submit Comment] button, right? Fecked if I know.

    Given that I own my comments, could you sell your blog? If I say so and so shags his granny, who could they go after?

    I try to avoid these thorny issues by ensuring my comments are worthless to both myself and the blog owner. ;O]

    Oh, and always pretend to be broke so you're not worth taking to court.

  2. BG! says:

    "I try to avoid these thorny issues by ensuring my comments are worthless to both myself and the blog owner. ;O]"

    I disagree, MJ. Some of your comments are priceless. :mrgreen:

  3. BG! says:

    Furthermore, I disagree with "As a commenter, I own my comment. After all, it is my original work that I have just created."

    My take on this matter is that you don't own the comment, but you do own the content of the comment. The words may well be yours, and I'd be ill-advised to change them without your say-so, but you parcelled up those words in a comment and sent them to me. What I do with that little parcel is up to me.

  4. Gordy says:

    And already we're at the point of arguing definitions. :O]

    What you're calling ownership sounds more like editorial rights to me.

    Whatever the policy, I think being transparent about it is more important.

    (This comment has been edited at the request of the author, and the comment containing that request has been deleted at the request of the author.)

  5. BG! says:

    "And already we’re at the point of arguing definitions. :O]"

    Oh no we're not!
    Take that back, or we'll have to settle this matter with pistols at dawn.

    Ooops, sorry, how silly of me, I forgot that you can't take that back, as you've no admin rights. :mrgreen:

  6. Counsel for Mad Jim says:

    Re: Notice of Copyright Infringement

    Watch it, beardy. You'll be getting battered.

    In the case of a disagreement, a representative of the party protested will ignore the case for the protest. The representative of the party protesting will then sit down and do as they are god damn told!

    (This comment was found in the spam bin where Akismet put it, but has been rescued by the blog admin.)

  7. BG! says:

    LOL @ Mad Jim (posing as Counsel for Mad Jim) 😆

  8. Scott says:

    In my considered opinion, those folk at Intense Debate have got too much time on their hands.

    😆

  9. Gordy says:

    The same goes for almost everybody on t'internet. :mrgreen:

    If you've an awful lot of important stuff to say about something then publish it yourself and link to it from the comments, I'd say.

  10. BG! says:

    "If you’ve an awful lot of important stuff to say about something then publish it yourself and link to it from the comments, I’d say."

    Well said, MJ.

    That's one of the things that pingbacks and trackbacks are useful for, is it not? The conversation doesn't exactly flow like it can in a string of comments, but at least the commenter retains control of his/her content.

    Of course, it would mean that folk like Scott would have to get themselves websites or blogs. 🙄

  11. Kev says:

    He had a blog but his dugs ate it 🙂

    How's the website comin' along Scott? Is the roof on yet?
    :mrgreen:

  12. Scott says:

    Planning permission was the problem, Kev. You know how it is. I blame Brussels.

    Oh, and forgive me BG if everyone uses this line, but would those be the pingbacks and the trackbacks that your grandad had to sweat so you could buy?

    Sorry.

  13. BG! says:

    😯

    FFS, that's so bad that it really does merit deletion.

Have your say - submit a comment

THE SMALL(ish) PRINT... (updated 23/07/2016)

By submitting a comment to this blog you grant me permission to reproduce its content and to reproduce the submitted name/URL in attribution. I will leave your content in its intended place and in its unedited form unless one or more of the following apply:

If you ask me to modify, move or delete your content, I’ll consider making the requested change(s) so long as there’s no significant alteration of the context of the content or of any debate associated with it;
If you change your email address or URL, I’ll update these details in older comments so that I'm not displaying dead links;
If I decide to change the theme or layout of this blog, thus affecting the placement and/or visibility of comments, I’ll make whatever changes I see fit for the smooth running of this blog;
If any comment contains insulting profanity or other content which I deem to be causing or likely to cause trouble, I’ll edit or delete as I see fit for the smooth running of this blog. I’ll try to remember to display the reason(s) for whatever editing I do, so that folk aren’t left hanging wondering what happened and why. If you can at least try to "disguise" your swearing, it would be much appreciated.

Other things to consider:

Comments must contain at least 3 characters;
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