Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mind the Moderating Rules

I have a fairly hands-off moderating policy on this blog. At the same time, it is important to me that readers are comfortable participating in discussions without feeling intimidated by others. The policy so far has been to "approve all comments other than spam, unsubstantiated slander, inflammatory remarks, or blatant rudeness," and this will not change. However, I would like to elaborate on some of these terms.

Spam has become harder to deal with, as increasingly I find businesses using the comments inappropriately. Industry members are always welcome to participate in discussions. What is not welcome, is for a business to comment incognito in order to endorse themselves or criticise a competitor. I will remove those comments and will not deal with any company that uses such tactics. Comments promoting your business in response to a thematically unrelated post are likewise inappropriate.

Slander refers to posting malicious allegations against industry members and other individuals. (Example: "I heard Company X uses child labor to make their products." Another example: "Hey, I saw that guy beating his wife after the Podunk Brevet.") I cannot host random slander aimed at companies or persons; please take it elsewhere.

Rudeness seems like an obvious enough concept, but it can be a slippery slope. Criticism in itself is not rude. There are also comments meant to be humourous or tongue-in-cheek that can get misread by those who don't get the joke. I consider comments rude when they outright insult others or address them in a bullying tone.

Inflammatory comments are those designed to taunt a specific individual or to provoke a so-called "flame war." I do not always read comments thoroughly, and may not notice these until a full-blown hostile exchange is in progress. In cases like these, I may go back and remove the entire thread, no matter whose started it.

The way I see it, the less moderating I do the better. I hate being in a position of "allowing" versus "not allowing" stuff. Plus I simply have no time to carefully consider the wording of every comment. Long time readers get the benefit of the doubt more so than unknown ones. I use my judgment. Please use yours and mind the moderating rules.