Some Rules For Comment Moderation 529


This is essentially a free speech forum. I enjoy much of the banter which goes on between commenters, particularly the dedicated band of people who post on a daily basis. There is an important distinction between my writing, and the comments section. The proportion of readers who leave comments is well under 1%. I cannot know what percentage of the readers read comments, but I suspect it is not terribly high.

In social media I find establishment hacks – particularly journalists and Labour Party functionaries – dismiss my thoughts by referring to the comments section. “Craig Murray – have you seen the tinfoil hats comments on his blog!” being a genuine and very typical example. Well, if people wish to damn me by association with the views of other people, that is sadly an example of the low intellectual standards of the British nomenklatura of our time. The only views on here which are mine are those which I write.

I cherish the diversity of the comment threads and am fond of our little community, most of whom I have never met. I do not value people by the standard of how close their views are to my own. I am sometimes saddened by the personal animosities which arise between people.

We state some rules from time to time. This is the current set, which I just made up:

No racism. Any comment which is racist will simple be deleted immediately. The biggest problem we face is anti-Jewish comment, which I will not tolerate. We are not in the business of stigmatising anti-Zionism as anti-Jewish, but there are quite frequently distinctly anti-Jewish comments. I deleted one just an hour ago.

Similarly, no holocaust denial. I do not believe it should be illegal (I am against thought crime) but I do not wish to have it on my blog as those associated with it often have very unpleasant sympathies. That is not to say the subject of the holocaust can never be mentioned – it will never be possible to ascertain the precise number who were killed, and it is important we remember not only the Jews but the Poles, gypsies, gays, freemasons and numerous others who suffered. But the basic facts are not in doubt. It is surprising how often people attempt to insinuate holocaust denial.

Sockpuppetry. It is in practice impossible to outlaw sockpuppetry without a formal registration system, which I do not want. But the adoption of multiple identities within the same thread is not to be allowed, nor the creation of identities of which the purpose is to ridicule, attack or insult another contributor.

Fair Play. Play the ball, not the man. Address arguments, not people. Do not impugn the motives of others, including me. No taunting.

Relevance

Attempts to keep people on topic are hopeless, but do try.

9/11

We don’t discuss 9/11. There are plenty of places on the web where you can do that. It tends to take over threads.

Contribute

Contributions which are primarily just a link to somewhere else will be deleted. You can post links, but give us the benefit of your thoughts upon them.

No explanation.

Enforcing these rules is necessarily arbitrary and needs judgement calls. Moderators are precluded from explaining decisions online. If you want to complain use the contact button.

Moderators

We have, and have had, excellent moderators over many years. But almost all have found it not only time consuming but also surprisingly emotionally draining. If you are interested in volunteering and are willing for me to know both your real and online identity, please get in tough using the contact button.


529 thoughts on “Some Rules For Comment Moderation

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  • Mary

    Ba’al I noticed that the propagator of the ‘shredded babies thrown out of incubators’ story, the weepy waily Ms Clwyd, was re-elected in May.

    She wrote the story up in – where else? – The Times.

    See -Saddam’s Alleged Shredder – Wikipedia

  • Resident Dissident

    “PS one on here who shall be nameless admitted to be a troll.”

    As I said yesterday the Comrades do not understand irony.

  • jjb

    Daniel, Monteverdi, ask yourself this question: who benefits from idetifying anti-zionism with anti-jewish?
    Exactly
    You are actualy doing the work of the hasbara fellas for them.

  • KingOfWelshNoir

    ‘The simple point I was making was that “one swallow does not make a summer” – just because the MSM do not give much air to alternative theories…does not mean that they dismiss all alternative theories about everything.’

    No, indeed. My point is, there are two categories of blatantly obvious official lie. The first, the media fearlessly challenge and the second they won’t go near. It’s not that they are ‘scared’ to, it’s that they know instinctively not to go there. In their heads there is a mental electric fence. I’m no farmer, but I have always assumed animals just know not to near the fence, without needing to touch it. How do they acquire that instinct? From observing the others. The same goes for any organisation. It has a culture, like a foreign country and when you join you absorb the unwritten rules and end up internalising them such that you aren’t even aware that you are obeying them. If you don’t, you don’t last long in that organisation.

  • Resident Dissident

    “there’s not much to choose in terms of coercive power and its application.”

    As someone who has seen both – and especially the reluctance to question and challenge even among young Russians after the collapse of the Soviet Union I disagree.

  • fred

    “In social media I find establishment hacks – particularly journalists and Labour Party functionaries – dismiss my thoughts by referring to the comments section.”

    I think they dismiss your thoughts because they have come to the same conclusion I have, that you see this blog more as a competition in reality manipulation that an information exchange, like some sort of university debating competition.

    The question over Snowden is simply whether the Russians and Chinese actually did manage to decrypt the files. It would be very difficult and take some state of the art equipment and time but not impossible and to my mind probable. But that would make Edward Snowden a traitor not a whistle blower so must be made untrue whether it’s true or not.

    Then we have the death of Charles Kennedy, you were already on record as saying that No voters are either stupid or evil so reality had to be manipulated and Charles made not really campaigning for the union and the harassment of Jim Murphy, the evidence was conclusive so reality had to be manipulated so that the photo had been obviously definitely unquestionably photoshopped even though it hadn’t.

    The comments section has more than it’s fair share of those who like an alternate version of reality, who tend to manipulate reality to make it more how they would like it to be, for a reason. Yes the commenters on the blog do reflect on the author of the blog.

  • Resident Dissident

    KOWN

    What you describe is not psychological incapability – it is merely learning through experience, quite the opposite.

  • Macky

    No Sockpuppetry & no anti-Jewish comments ?! You have no heart Craig, what are the Hasbara trolls going to do now ?!! 😀

  • John Hilley

    A model set of comments rules and vigilant responses, Craig. Don’t let your fine site be undermined.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    As someone who has seen both – and especially the reluctance to question and challenge even among young Russians after the collapse of the Soviet Union I disagree.

    Not having been there, I obviously can’t argue with that. The habits of conformity die hard, evidently. I’d still say we are just as much conditioned to think in certain ways – and becoming more so – by the economic circumstances in which we find ourselves. The aspirational society which our politicians are queuing to woo values only economic gain. Questioning its value reduces the chance of an individual gaining. Therefore it isn’t, by and large questioned.

    From maybe 15 onwards, young Brits’ main objeective is to get a job, in a fiercely competitive race, whose course has been designed by global corporations, not to be a shelf-stacker. There is no way their questioning the meat-market ethics of this is going to change anything, and they don’t. Which is, I think the bottom line for coercion of all kinds.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    KOWN

    “I second the proposal of Habbabkuk for the post of moderator,”
    ________________

    Close reading recommended, KOWN – I said that I would consider seriously responding to Craig’s call.

    One thing is sure though – the various little tricks that would surely be attempted would not get past me.

  • John Goss

    “I’d still say we are just as much conditioned to think in certain ways – and becoming more so – by the economic circumstances in which we find ourselves.”

    When I went from the University of Birmingham to the Soviet Union in 1982 we had a prep-talk about what to expect: being followed, rooms being bugged, forms to fill in for everything, bureaucracy gone mad, dossiers on every citizen and so on. I believed it, and still believe it, but because I love my country could not bring myself to believe at the same time that our secret services were playing catch-up under Thatcherism. I did eventually wake up but even then did not imagine the scale of intrusion into ordinary people’s lives in the west by those without the right. However long before Snowden’s revelations I already suspected correctly much of what the security services could do, what they were gathering on each of us, and in what way they might use this to blackmail individuals.

    What the west has planned, which is not working too well at the moment, is world domination, a robotic labour and military force, enslavement, imprisonment and mass extermination of the opposition. It is why the US continues to build up its ‘homeland security’ building more and more prisons, ignoring internationally acknowledged laws, openly engaging in extra-judicial assassinations, all to serve the perceived needs of the super-rich. Anybody who cannot see this has not read the small print.

  • Roy

    “No racism. Any comment which is racist will simple be deleted immediately. The biggest problem we face is anti-Jewish comment, which I will not tolerate. We are not in the business of stigmatising anti-Zionism as anti-Jewish, but there are quite frequently distinctly anti-Jewish comments.”

    If you want to delete anti-Jewish comments, its your blog, you can do what you like.

    But such comments are not racist – Judaism is a religion, not a race.

  • John Goss

    Talking about the intrusion into our lives I’ve just read two articles. The first is that if Kiev, under the thieving Georgian former prime minister (now appointed in charge of the Odessa region) continues to pressurise the self-declared state of Transnistria the DPR will go on the offensive to help Transnistrians. Because that is off topic I will not discuss it. The second is about censorship and the lack of objective journalism.

    Since Kiev Nazis introduced a parliamentary decree that Ukrainians could not watch Russian television none of the cable companies carry it (a bit like Virgin Media does not carry Russia Today only worse). This has caused an explosion in the sales of satellite dishes and one company has had to quintruple its staff. According to a spokesman for the company the question on most peoples lips is: “Can we watch Russian TV, particularly Russia-24″

    So, another country where the truth is at a premium!

  • Macky

    Roy; “Judaism is a religion, not a race.”

    Race, Religon or Culture ? According to the Hasbara Anti-Semitic Smearers it can only be Race, because they say so ! So don’t you even think about using the term in any other sense, they control our language just as surely as they can read your impure thoughts & know what your evil unconscious mind is really meaning even if you don’t !!

    Reading this Salon report on the UN’s capitulation on the IDF crimes against Palestinian children, and thinking about the decades long child abuse cover-ups that have corrupted our politics here, brought to mind this song line;

    “Why are children always the first to feel the pain, and hurt the worst ?
    It’s true, but somehow don’t seem right”

    http://www.salon.com/2015/06/16/israeli_military_kills_palestinian_kids_united_nations_whitewashes_it/

  • Dreoilin

    Nice guidelines Craig. I’ll bookmark this post so I can refer back.

    The knotty one (as always) will be the “anti-Jewish” reference.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Judaism:

    Race, Religon or Culture?

    Whichever, or any combination of which, can be most helpfully asserted by those discussing it, of course. A bit like the Holy Trinity in early Church wars. The Jewish State embodies all of them, so criticism of that is de facto antisemitic. Or so we are told.

    However, there is no more a Jewish race than there is a British one. Ethiopian Jews are, well, Ethiopian in appearance, and Belgian Jews, Belgian. You can’t see the mitochondrial DNA if it is present at all. And if your mom ain’t Jewish, it doesn’t matter if you spend your life in schul, you ain’t racially Jewish.

    The uniquely Jewish culture can’t be specified – is it the Central European one, with its strange variant of German, European culinary preferences and Mendelssohn; the New York one with its unique humour, European-derived but enhanced foods and Lerner and Lowe, or the Israeli one, a cross between John Wayne’s and the Palestinian one, speaking Hebrew, invoking all the most violent bits of the Old Testament as policy models, and giving us Infected Mushroom*?

    So it’s really down to the religion. That’s the only true point of intersection in Jewishness.

    I expect there will be disagreement…

  • OldMark

    KOWN writes-

    How do they acquire that instinct? From observing the others. The same goes for any organisation. It has a culture, like a foreign country and when you join you absorb the unwritten rules and end up internalising them such that you aren’t even aware that you are obeying them. If you don’t, you don’t last long in that organisation.

    Res Diss then simplifies the process KOWN descibes as- ‘learning from experience’, and thus transforms a malign, restrictive mental process into something that sounds benign and beneficial-

    ‘This is for your own good really- don’t join the awkward squad’.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Roy

    ““No racism. Any comment which is racist will simple be deleted immediately. The biggest problem we face is anti-Jewish comment, which I will not tolerate. We are not in the business of stigmatising anti-Zionism as anti-Jewish, but there are quite frequently distinctly anti-Jewish comments.”

    If you want to delete anti-Jewish comments, its your blog, you can do what you like.

    But such comments are not racist – Judaism is a religion, not a race.”
    _____________________

    Give it a rest, mate. The last sentence is old, tired and irrelevant: the point is that there are a lot of people out there who are in the business of expressing Jew-hatred.

    Your sort of cuntish remarks are a perfect illustration for why Craig has introduced the guidelines.

    There are lots of other sites where you can be as anti-Jew as you want. Go to them if you can’t cure yourself.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Craig or Mods

    May we take it that the guidelines will kick in as from the next thread?

    I ask because they have already been breached on this one.

  • Macky

    Ba’al Zevul; “So it’s really down to the religion. That’s the only true point of intersection in Jewishness.”

    Perhaps you should consult your new imaginary drinking pal, the anti-Semitic witch-finder general extraordinaire, Resident Dissident ! Yet I fear that in view of your known povs, even your shared Russophobia will not save you from having your drink being tipped over your head ! 😀

  • Daniel

    Habbabkuk, I’m not remotely upset. I agree with the rules set. I suggest you focus your mind reading elsewhere.

  • Monteverdi

    Good Morning Craig ,
    Let me make myself clear . I am an anti-Zionist . I believe ‘ Zionism ‘ is now the primary ideology of those who define themselves ‘Jews ‘ and as such criticism of Zionism will implicitly imply criticism of many who define themselves ‘ Jewish ‘ .
    You can be a Zionist without being a ‘ Jew ‘ and a ‘ Jew ‘ without being a Zionist . Your definition and use of the word ‘ anti-Semitism ‘ implies an ethnicity to those who define themselves ‘ Jews ‘ whether it be culturally or through practicing the religion of Judaism . The Israeli historian Shlomo Sand’s well known book ‘ The Invention of the Jewish People ‘ dealt with many of these contradictions . Judaism is a religion with cultural values , which was highjacked by Zionism and turned into an ethnicity .
    There is no such thing as a Jewish gene despite the desperate attempts that have been made over the years by those who think it of importance to find one . An unhealthy quest with unpleasant historical references to pursue in the first place .

    Now I secondly posed you a question on Holocaust denial in your original response to Ashraf who you said was ” free to post on other genocides and massacres ” . My question to you was why you will accept both denial or revision on this thread to other genocides but not a specific genocide committed during WW2 ? I stated that to accept denial and revision of others but not on one was intellectually contradictory , as it would appear to accept the primacy of one genocide over another . You have so far omitted to provide an explanation for this . This is your blog which I enjoy , often agree with and find informative both with the comments and many of the links they provide . Ultimately this is your blog and it is your right to define the rules .
    My comments were simply to point out the minefield they create and the difficulty of moderation of your own guidelines .

    PS / To answer your question : No I am not ‘ Daniel ‘ and do not post under any other name on this blog .

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Dreoilin

    “Nice guidelines Craig. I’ll bookmark this post so I can refer back.

    The knotty one (as always) will be the “anti-Jewish” reference.”
    _________________

    Me too.

    Re your second thought: you’re probably right because there are clearly some who will be sailing as close to the wind as they can.

    I, for example, – if I were moderating – would be inclined to delete posts which talk about MP X, let’s say in connection with the theme of the NHS, and then go on to remind us that he is a member of the Friends of Israel.

    Or that Y – of whom someone is writing with disapproval – might have a Jewish grandparent or two.

    What do you think – would that be too harsh?

  • Moniker

    I love the idea that journalists judge blogs by the comments! I have just tried it and after a short tour concluded that all corporate media, including the BBC and the Guardian, and all their employees, are a bunch of mad bigots who can’t spell and can’t follow an argument to save their lives. Tcha!

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Tut, Macky. Do you have a rational argument to offer? I fear not.

    More seriously, this business of board allegiances and allegations thereof is tedious. My stated opinions are my own, and probably everyone will disagree with at least one of them.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    well…ok…some of my stated opinions are tongue-in- cheek or intentionally provocative. But usually when there’s a case to answer.

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