Posts tagged 'Profanity'

Comments: ownership/moderation/policy

Posted by on June 17th 2008 in 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!


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