Mark Your Calendars -- I Was Wrong Again

A while back on my other blog, Climate Skeptic, I wrote vis a vis my policy not to moderate the comments except for outright spam (which is also my same policy on this blog):

It might have been that 10 years ago or even 5 that visitors would be surprised and shocked by the actions of certain trolls on the site.  But I would expect that anyone, by now, who spends time in blog comment sections knows the drill "” that blog comments can be a free-for-all and some folks just haven't learned how to maturely operate in an anonymous environment....

In fact, I find that the only danger in my wide open policy is the media.  For you see, the only exception to my statement above, the only group on the whole planet that seems not to have gotten the message that comment threads don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the domain operator, is the mainstream media.  I don't know if this is incompetence or willful, but they still write stories predicated on some blog comment being reflective of the blog's host.

Well, I was wrong.  It appears that even in 2009, people who should know better about how blogs work are trying to tar blog proprietors with their commenters actions.  I would put Klein in the "should know better" category, though as a MSM guy as well he may fall into my one exception.  Which would mean I wasn't wrong after all.  It's like that old joke:  I was wrong once ... I once thought I had made a mistake, but it turned out I didn't.


  1. Roy Lofquist:

    This tendency of the traditional media is quite in keeping with their own experience. "Letters to the Editor" are subject to scrutiny and only a very small portion of those submitted are published. Those that are are "approved" by the publication.

  2. Frederick Davies:

    Maybe they just want to make blogs more like themselves by embarrassing bloggers into starting to censor their own blogs. After all, the MSM have been using shame to try and control the political discourse for a long time.

  3. Shenpen:

    I contribute to a fairly popular centre-right community blog in Hungary, and we've been attacked by the Hungarian right-wing media at least twice that "XY commenter wrote such-and-such crap onto that blog, with the silent consent of the bloggers". Silent consent means it wasn't removed, neither challenged or argued with. We only remove extremely hate-filled comments and spam, and we only debate with intelligent people, regardless of their views. Stupid but not extremely hate-filled stuff we just leave there, with the general idea that such comments carry their own punishment: everybody will think the commenter is an idiot, and that's about the correct outcome. There isn't really a point in arguing with stupid people. As a write there said once: do not wrestle with a pig in the mud, because you'll get dirty and the worst thing is that the pig actually enjoys it. Sounds about right.

    Still, some journalists don't get the idea about this gap: that comments without reflection are considered halfways between destructive idiotism (to be moderated, removed) and intelligent feedback (to be answered and debated), they are considered stupid but fairly harmless. They consider it "silent consent".

    What a total utter crap.

    I think the number one problem why journalists can be stupid, be them Americans, Britons or Hungarians or anything else, is that they are simply not used to feedback, they are used to an outdated strictly one-way, author -> reader relationship.

  4. Mark:

    A shorter version of the joke: "Once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken."

    Has a certain zen-like quality to it, don't you think?