Comments Policy 66


I am in a quandary what to do about comments policy. This blog has become quite a popular internet forum. It has a very liberal attitude to free speech. But yesterday we had a car crash. It started with someone making some highly personal comments about me, to which I replied but which I was content to leave. It then got much worse as somebody started posting foolish threats of violence, allegedly in my support. I know the thtreats were not meant literally, but that was extremely stupid and hardly contributed to debate.. We then had a racist epithet thrown.

I know because I am standing for election there are bound to be efforts to insult me or discredit me through posting or quoting other people’s comments on my blog. But I can live with that.

I closed comments, appealed for calm, and deleted the worst. But then overnight somebody has started to propound complete nonsense about zionist and illuminati plans, drawing on a long tradition of Eastern European hate forgery.

No comments on this blog represent my own views except my original articles and comments over my own name.

But from now on, comments off topic from the original link will be deleted. And off topic includes “ah, but this is all caused by such and such a dark force which is behind every development in the economy/foreign affairs/religion.”


66 thoughts on “Comments Policy

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  • eddie

    I agree with your general approach but moderating comments may persuade people not to bother posting. However, if that leads to fewer posts about “dark forces” and troof issues all to the good, but probably you and they would like to see less of me as well! It’s a difficult one to balance, because it’s like being a little bit pregnant, you either have free speech or you don’t. Ultimately you own the site so you can do what you like. The debate on these boards can be lively and I like to think it serves a darwinian purpose – i.e. it keeps our brains working and stops us being eaten by tigers or whatever the message board equivalent is.

  • anticant

    Craig, we must accept that there is a great deal more paranoia around nowadays than there used to be. Understandably, I think, because people feel increasingly manipulated by unaccountable forces.

    I would suggest allowing comments, however zany, to remain so that people can form their own opinions of their merit. In this instance, I agree with much of the viewpoint that everything isn’t as it seems (unlike eddie) though not with the attribution of every event to a dark global conspiracy of sinister supposedly all-powerful figures. (Reminds me of Harold Wilson’s “tight-knit conspiracy of politically motivated men”.) I think there ARE some conspiracies – including 9/11 -, but their outcome is by no means as controlled as even their perpetrators imagine. They are the blue touch-paper which sparks off a largely unpredictable train of events.

    As for personal issues, as I’ve said before it is a matter of tone and of making it clear what isn’t acceptable. You are a very open and candid person – refreshingly so – but if you dish out insults here, as you sometimes do, it’s harder to prevent others from doing the same. On my own blog I make it quite clear that I’m interested in discussing issues and don’t welcome mud-chuckers.

    It’s interesting how much the tone of Guido’s blog has improved since the McBride affair brought him a lot of new readers. Previously, it was dominated by puerile name-calling and a lot of very unpleasant homophobia which I periodically protest about. If you want to avoid that sort of thing, you need to exercise some self-restraint yourself, as we all do.

    Don’t worry too much about offbeat comments – yours is one of the most interesting and stimulating blogs around just now, and in general I think we’re all quite well behaved and friendly here.

  • John D. Monkey

    Craig

    I agree with Eddie (!) – delete trolls and rambling nutters, but don’t pre-moderate. Leads to better debate and more contributions.

    One of the main reasons Guido has such a devoted following is it’s the only site that allows people to say almost ANYTHING.

  • Craig

    Anticant,

    I really enjoy the lively debate. But the last few days have been over the top on the weirdness side.

  • Craig

    I would add that I don’t mind insults, which aren’t racial. I don’t mind Eddie’s robust debate. It’s the dark forces, and what often looks to me like anti-semitic motivation but stopping just short of saying so, I don’t like.

  • Chris

    I have to say that I agree with eddie as well!!! and anticant…. it’s difficult one but speech is either free or it isn’t. Perhaps the line should be drawn at racism or excessive personal attack.

    Either way, it’s your call.

  • johnkeep

    I accept that I have posted miscontrued comments here but, whilst understanding that you are intending to stand for parliament, the moderation and arbitrary deletion of messages is the bane of the Internet.

    My suggestion (time-consuming as it may be) is that if messages are deleted the reason for their deletion be noted. Make a list of ten reasons rather than respond to each deletion if you like.

    1. Personal Abuse

    2. Off-topic

    3. Anti-semitic

    4. etc.

  • Rob Lewis

    There’s nothing wrong with pre-moderating, but either way it would probably be a good idea to have some house rules in a visible, easily clickable place. It’s the absence of clear rules in an online community that does the most damage.

    That said, simply given the lay-out of your site, I shouldn’t think you’d want to have too many at the moment anyway. Anything much more than sixty or so would become unreadable. Staines’ gets hundreds and hundreds of comments on his posts, and whatever the culture of his blog, that’s going to attract an awful lot of nutters simply because it’s a completely impractical format for any constructive debate.

  • anticant

    Craig, I understand and share your irritation with the Illuminai/Bilderburger/Masonic conspiracy theorists, but they have been around for at least 250 years, and we must just put up with them, I suppose.

    My quarrel with them is that while they quite often point to significant discrepancies in the ‘official’ surface version of events, they attribute the underlying skullduggery to the wrong, mythical, source. They are a type of secular fundamentalists, akin to religious zealots.

  • KevinB

    anticant,

    I agree with you…..except that I honestly believe that the only things really worth saying are those that are forbidden. I agree with you that 9/11 was an inside job. Therefore, looking back at media behaviour over the last 8 years, the really important things have definitely not been said in the mainstream public domain.

    I agree that Craig is a decent man….but if he gets himself elected he will be an MP along the lines of a more conservative Chris Mullin, who played an important part in freeing the innocent Guildford Four but who went further than Craig would, I believe, by trying to force MP’s to declare their membership of Freemasonry. Mullin failed.

    I hope Craig does get elected. Maybe he’s just a realist. He might do great good for needing persons. He has certainly proved his willingness to stand up for what is right….but while he is closed to even discussing the dangerous roots of our problems, he might embarrass power but I do not see how he can possibly do anything that seriously challenges power (although I understand how he has to present himself to the people of Norwich…..so even ‘going there’ would be a no-brainer for a prospective MP at this time).

    Big money power needs to be exposed and challenged.

    This is not the only thing that matters but it is the only thing that REALLY matters.

    However, I’ve enjoyed this site……but as a member, yet again, of the banned I suppose I’d better play elsewhere.

  • Vronsky

    I can imagine that you are uncomfortable with deleting posts – it is proverbially difficult to know yourself, and so you can’t be sure that you’re removing something because it’s offensive – or just because it is offensive to you.

    Does your blog technology allow a compromise? Instead of deleting things, have the equivalent of a spam folder. It contains things you have received but in your humble opinion miss the point, are mischievous, or for whatever reason should be removed from the main thread. Let your readers see them, and let them petition to have them restored to the thread if they disagree with you.

    That way you don’t censor, you just offer a personal view on relevance and appropriateness, leaving the door open for questioning of your judgement.

    @eddie

    Really think you can chase away Truth by mispelling her name as Troof? Good luck with that, kid. You obviously don’t know women.

  • KevinB

    anticant,

    as one of the above, let me say I don’t necessarily believe all this stuff…..

    ……I just think the material should be investigated honestly rather than banned from public discourse.

    Even if there is such a conspiracy (I do believe there is one or many more actually, but like the Mafia, with competing parties in the game), these people will inevitably lose. Such megalomaniacs are playing a game that cannot possibly, in the end, be won.

  • tony_opmoc

    Craig,

    Moderating a website can very quickly become a full time job. You have got far more important things to attend to.

    My son set up his first website when he was 13 years old. It became very popular and he had over 1 million hits. He moderated it extremely professionally showing a maturity well beyond his tender age. Much of the discussion was about war – and it attracted some incredibly pro war Americans. I was very anti-war – and sometimes I posted stuff that I was very proud to see my son delete when emotions got much too heated.

    Eventually he gave up the moderation and let anyone post whatever they wanted, because it was taking up far too much of his time.

    Everyone accepts that views posted are not a reflection of the website itself, and that on very busy websites it becomes impossible for all comments to be moderated unless several people are employed full time to do it.

    People will post stuff in the heat of the moment, that they later regret – and would like to delete or edit themselves. Such a facility would be useful.

    However, the structure of your website is such that only the most recent topics are likely to be seen and anything a few days old effectively becomes buried and invisible to the vast majority of visitors.

    So in my view you are wasting your time trying to moderate comments. The comments are no reflection on you – except the ones you make yourself. It’s only those you should be worried about – particularly when you name individuals.

    Tony

  • MJ

    Dunno. In principle I agree with eddie, anticant and others about keeping things pretty open. Some of the best and liveliest debates end up being off-topic. There again, as one the regular offenders on that score perhaps I would say that.

    On the other hand Craig has an election to fight and he doesn’t want his chances scuppered by mad comments. That threat of violence yesterday was insane and he was perfectly right to remove it. Should have done so earlier really.

    Craig’s opponents will be scouring this site for ammunition. I wouldn’t put it beyond someone to post scurrilous material purposely in order to reflect badly on Craig. Mud sticks.

    I didn’t see the overnight posts but I would be interested to know if they came from regulars or from newcomers.

  • Abe Rene

    Possibly you could apply a the rule based on the Radio 4 game show ‘Just A Minute’: no Hesitation, Deviation or Repetition. Taking 1000 words to say something that could be done in 100 would count as Hesitation. Holding forth about the Bilderberg Conspiracy when the topic of discussion is wheel clamping would be Deviation (and also insults or any verbal abuse that would not be acceptable over the phone to a secretary in an organisation); and repeating old posts containing the same nonsense would be Repetition. Any of these, and the post could be deleted without warning or appeal and simply replaced by the character H, D or R.

  • eddie

    Another issue is vanity. People like to see their posts up in lights so to speak and they like to see responses to them (I suppose we all have a fear of being ignored!) – if we think that posts may be deleted then it is a deterrent to posting and it would make this site less popular. I know that I have been abusive at times and for this I apologise, but in the heat of the moment etc…the anonymity of the web seems to encourage this and it is a bad thing in my view. In real life I am fairly mild.

  • Craig

    As everyone knows, my tendency is to be open if possible. I don’t mind vulgar abuse or heated discussion. Racist or threatening is out.

    Conspiracy theory is the more difficult question. I am much more open-minded than some – I have actually witnesses flase flag terrorism, so I know tha those who claim it does not exist are wrong. But equally I know that those who claim all terrorism is false flag are also wrong, and some of the conspiracy theories sometimes people bang on about in my view cross the boundary into things no reasonable person could believe, and whcih I do not wish to host. If the comments section looks like a meeting place for deranged obsessives, other potential commenters will be scared off.

    But the key point is they are nearly always off topic – and as I said, I don’t accept the “Aaaah, but it secretly all stems from this” argument to make it on topic.

    So in short, I am going to leave things where they are, but the wilder shores of conspiracy theory will just get straight deleted as soon as I see them.

    And if anyone breaks this, I will tip off the Illuminati, and they will come and get you… 🙂

  • George Laird

    Dear Craig

    I like the fact you don’t do censorship but you might find that since you declared a candidacy that these clowns causing trouble are political.

    If it is racist or even beyond mental then mod it.

    I had 4 halfwits turn up on my blog when it was down for redevelopment and leave comments.

    One happy camper called George Laird stated;

    ‘I am a twat’.

    Everyone knows I am much worse than that so I took it down. The nerve of some people!

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird

    The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

  • Chris

    spot on eddie…. and as I have said before. I apologise unreservedly for those times I have been less than civil.

    Sorry, that might be seen as off topic…

  • nextus

    It’s a tough dilemma, but I think you’ve made another good call, for reasons of pragmatism as much as moral principle.

    The problem with open blogs is that they are vulnerable to hijack by extremists wanting to propagate discriminative misinformation to someone else’s readership. It is better to nip this in the bud early by deletion than to divert efforts to detailed rebuttals of absurd mistruths. The points you raise are politically important and should not be drowned out by external propaganda.

    In the end, these decisions to delete have to be subjective. I strongly concur with the principles you’ve outlined to justify your judgement.

  • samarkeolog

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that free speech is like pregnancy: all pregnancies are independent of each other; all speech is interdependent.

    Like any freedom, it is only defensible when it does not violate others’ equal freedom. Threatening or intimidating speech discourages others’ exercise of their freedom of speech and therefore curtails free speech, rather than exemplifying it.

  • Mark Wood

    Craig. This blog is your virtual persona and as such you have the right to protect that as much as you would in the real world. Dont navel gaze too much mate, we need your attentive mind in places much more important.

    Just cut the crap as you see fit and if we don’t like it then we can go somewhere else. My gut feeling is that most of us share simular values so in general tend to trust your judgement on these things.

  • tony_opmoc

    JM,

    Thanks for the funniest post of the day. In the last 10 years or so, I have posted many thousands of messages on various websites.

    Everything I post on websites such as the Daily Mail – never even appears.

    However on other websites across the World – I have only been banned 4 times and had considerably less than 0.1% of my posts deleted.

    On Craig’s website I think the deletion rate is over 25%.

    But it’s his website and he can delete whatever he wants.

    If I was responsible for moderating this website and in any way potentially liable to be sued, I would delete a significant number of Craig Murray’s comments.

    But that’s why we love him so much – cos he posts honestly – regardless of the consequences.

    If you read his book Murder in Samarkand – you will understand why

    I have massive Respect for Craig Murray.

    Tony

  • ChrisM

    If you really are making a proper run for Norwich North, you don’t have time to moderate all comments, so pre-censor for the next month. That’s the only way you can exercise any moderation at all.

  • tony_opmoc

    ChrisM,

    Considerably less than 1% of the Electorate of Norwich North are likely to read Craig’s website in the run up to the election.

    Unless YOU get off your arse on the road – and put in a massive campaign – with a few hundred other people – actually meeting people in Norwich – maybe just handing out flyers – about CRAIG – AND WHAT HE STANDS FOR AND WHY YOU SHOULD VOTE FOR HIM

    This website may become important in the overall scheme of things on a National and International level with regards to Truth and Justice and Honesty and Morality

    But it is almost completely irrelevant as regards the Election in Norwich – unless a significant proportion of People who feel the same way as Craig Murray – get off their arse – and start Supporting his Election Campaign – by walking the Streets of Norwich and Convincing People Face To Face to Vote For Him

    Tony

  • tony_opmoc

    Incidentally Craig may have met a Former Boss of Mine’s Wife’s Brother

    He kept on losing the Elections – and was on the losing side – but was Respected as the Leader of the Opposition.

    It was a Country in Africa

    This was a few years ago

    I think the Country was Ghana – but I can’t remember his name.

    We will be at WOMAD as normal

    World of Music Arts and Dance Started By Peter Gabriel 27 Years Ago

    Tony

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