Moderating off-topic comments

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Brianfujisan 3 days, 7 hours ago.

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  • #49573 Reply


    You guys are tough. Unnecessarily so, in my opinion. No matter. No harm.

  • #49581 Reply


    It’s pretty quiet at the moment, so I’ll take this one. Ken, your comments are still in the ‘Pending’ list, so you should be able to see them along with the text “awaiting moderation” as long as you’re using the same internet connection.

    They were suspended for a reason and that reason still applies, so they won’t be restored in the comments section. They’re very relevant here in the forum though. You could have copied and pasted them if you so wished. They deserve to be seen, so here they are:

    Topic: A Window for Peace

    2020/01/09 at 10:27 pm

    John Petty – I read your separate comment regarding edits. Frankly, I don’t think there should be an edit team excepting perhaps the most obvious. For example, the last sentence in my own message above has an error and it could be edited in many ways. Odds are after the edit the message itself will be diminished.Ken

    [ Mod: You’re welcome to air your views in the corresponding forum (which will also explain why this comment was suspended):
    Regards. ]

    2020/01/09 at 10:33 pm
    In reply to Buffalo_Ken.

    Jesus this is tiring. “John Pretty”.
    By the way John thank you so much for your feedback and the seeming fact that you also appreciate good tile work makes me think higher of you. I laid down a front porch of tile over brick when I was a younger man and let me tell you I enjoy it every time I walk down those steps.

    2020/01/09 at 10:56 pm
    In reply to Buffalo_Ken.

    Accidents happen correct? OK, so now I’m on topic.
    As a side note, I have another comment to my own that was clearly labeled as “OFF TOPIC” that is “awaiting moderation”. Oh well.

    [ Mod: Same issue. We don’t discuss moderation in threads about politics, as it tends to produce lengthy digressions unrelated to the theme of Craig’s article. However, you’re welcome to raise those issues in the Site Technical Issues and Feedback forum.
    Thanks. ]

    Some moderators are more lax wrt the O/T rule, but generally anything that starts with “OFF TOPIC” is suspended immediately and text is inserted to explain why (see above).

    Keep in mind that the comments facility is for readers to make comments about Craig’s article, not to chat about anything in the news or comment on moderation. A few years ago long threads would always end up in bunfights about a few recurring issues because somebody would introduce a longstanding controversy somewhere along the line, and off it goes again. We offered alternative threads for special topics like 9/11 and the al-Hilli murders. Sadly the regular threads then became polluted by other unrelated topics like climate change and vaccinations. The boss eventually requested a crackdown, advising that O/T comments should be deleted without explanation. Eventually we figured it was kinder to add a mod’s notice about why the comment was being removed, as well as a link to the discussion forum. The threads maintain their focus much better as a result.

    As in real life, some people aren’t happy if they aren’t able to interrupt an interesting conversation to talk about whatever they care about most. Usually that’s just because they care about it a lot, not because they’re rebels, rogues or anarchists. It seems fair to let just one little comment through — but history suggests that those O/T seeds quickly grow and spread, leading to even more people complaining about interruptions and disruptions, rules not being applied fairly, obsessed commenters, conspiraloon crazies, etc. And the theme of Craig’s article gets buried amongst the weeds. It happened far too often.

    It doesn’t matter if objectors want to revoke the rule or just have a little exception made for one issue, please, please. The stock answer is sorry, them’s the rules.

    The rules have a small degree of flexibility though. An important update about one of the blog’s other priorities (eg Assange, independence) just might stay put, depending on various factors including the context, the urgency of the current thread topic, how it’s written and whether the same person is always posting about the same thing. Exceptions are rare — and they are to be decided by moderators, not commenters. Craig is able to monitor what’s happening and intervene or restore as he sees fit. (Sometimes it’s him that does the pruning, and he usually doesn’t bother with explanations.)

    Generally speaking, if anyone is deliberately going to post an off-topic comment then they’d better not spend too long on it, cos the chances of it hanging around are pretty slim. Use the discussion forum: it’s calmer, easier to keep conversations on track, easier to find for people interested in the topic as you can create your own title, and easier to refer to afterwards. There are other options too. Twitter is better organised for blasting out whatever’s on your mind, and Craig has over 70,000 followers. So if you don’t like the forum, then go Twit.

    I hope that clarifies things a bit.

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    • #49844 Reply


      Mod’s Craig…

      Thanks for the time you’s took to post this.

  • #49593 Reply


    Understood. Thank-you. Also, sorry for my “name” confusion elsewhere. It should remain “Buffalo_Ken” henceforth if I post again. This is one of the finest blogs I’ve ever read.


  • #49615 Reply


    OK. Here is an idea. Let me distinguish between editors and moderators. As for moderation, I applaud what has been established here through the best way of learning — time and experience at your craft. I applaud the moderation. As for editors I stand firm on my earlier statement that editing should only be done when obvious. Based on this sentiment I applaud again on the editing (I’ve seen a few on my own messages that I appreciated) with one exception: “Bogs” and “Boggles” are not the same thing and when I said “it bogs the mind” I didn’t mean it “boggles” the mind. Regardless, that is a trivial thing. You know…..just a little thought experiment down the rabbit hole. Have you been there deep down? Oh boy……it makes derivatives seem like a roller coaster ride that you know you will eventually get off. So if you go down that deep in the hole just remember – you may not come back!

    • #49618 Reply


      Hello Ken.

      There is no operational distinction between moderators and editors here. There is only a moderating team. And I’m the moderator who edited your comment. You can direct your ire at me: MB (for future reference).

      To recap: three letters were inserted into a word that you typed in order into make to make the phrase more intelligible: “bogs the mind” > “boggles the mind”.

      It’s important to deal with this issue, as you have now made multiple complaints about it, in the comments section and in two forum threads. Moreover, your “rabbit hole” analogy blows the issue up from what seems to be a minor typo correction into a potential cyber-espionage incident. These are big stakes!

      As you seem to have acknowledged, moderators (or “editors”) routinely correct typos in comments. Normally, this consists of correcting trivial spelling mistakes (“ghe” > “the”) or simple grammatical errors. We do this for two reasons: because contributors don’t have the benefit of an editing facility (so we try to spare their blushes before more pedantic readers can pick them up on it); and because we are conscious there are non-English-speaking readers who are learning the language.

      In this case, you typed “Lastly, it bogs the mind to comprehend the hate between the Shia and the Sunni”. The more conventional phrase “boggles the mind” would have made more sense in the context. I checked online and found a few occurrences of “bogs the mind”, but only in casual sources. The search results also turned up “boggles the mind”, which is a well-known idiom:

      The same source has no entry for “bogs the mind”. Nor has any other authoritative source.

      Accordingly, your comment seemed ripe for an innocuous correction to spare potential confusion of other readers. I opted to do you a favor by correcting the phrase. Whoops!

      In over 2 years of moderating, that 3-letter edit was the most drastic change I’ve made to any comment. I worried about it and checked back frequently. If you had asked for the original version to be restored in the normal way it would have been, without question.

      But instead you used it as a springboard to criticize the activities and intentions of the blog team, and even to suggest there are more sinister motives afoot. What gives, man? It’s like, after finding a small stone in your shoe you then launched a lawsuit against Nike for trying to cripple you on behalf of some foreign government. Or, more appropriately, you discovered that a stone had been taken out of your shoe …

      To reiterate: three letters were inserted into one of your words to make the phrase more intelligible. I can assure you it wasn’t done on behalf of the U.S. government, the Russian government, or any other organization. It was simply to benefit the readers.

      This is a non-issue, or a “nothing-burger” in American slang. If you think otherwise, please send an email to Craig about it, and remember to tag your email as ‘urgent’.

      Warm regards.

      • #49651 Reply


        mods – I’m relatively new here, so I am not familiar with all of the protocols, but I’m learning. The main thing I was trying to say above @01:31 may not have been well conveyed, so I’ll try again. I truly appreciate and applaud the skill of both the moderating and editing displayed here. Just like the conversation — top notch.

        I don’t care about “bogs” (stuck) and “boggles” (overwhelmed) anymore and I wasn’t really complaining so much as I was surprised to see the edit – it is no big deal. Often it is a challenge to decipher an individual’s full sentiment based solely on what they have written.

        To get a bit personal for a moment: I can’t deny these last few days have been draining for me and I suspect many of the readers feel similarly. After the assassination, when the missiles were abuzz and the planes taking off, at the peak climax of uncertainty………well, I’m just glad it is over and I pray for wiser minds to assert themselves towards the goal of peace especially just now in the Middle East. It will be better for everybody.


  • #49616 Reply


    Plus, just to be a bit ridiculous about this in a friendly way. I have printed out two articles from this blog and both times I got a full page picture of Craig in all his wisdom. Now I appreciated the first picture but I honestly didn’t know what to do with the second and moreover that used up a bunch of ink. Oh well, I’m just kidding around and I’m sad that I won’t be able to attend this year’s “Doune the Rabbit Hole” but maybe I’ll get to one in the future. Cheers.

    Now with all that said I sincerely hope Scotland can lead the cause of smaller communities achieving autonomy. Because if they can do it in Scotland then I know we can as well in…… know…..what I said before. A Confederacy for Peace and I’ve already written out my ideas on how it should be based, but that my friends will remain with me as a hard copy because it is no longer published on the web.

    I hate when I say this because I’ve said before and it wasn’t true but “last comment from me for awhile”. Ken

    • #49639 Reply


      No, that’s not ridiculous, Ken. I’m sure you’re aware that this blog is not designed to be printed out, but only to be read online. That said, it’s useful to know that printing it wastes paper. This information will be passed on to the site admin. Some reconfiguration might be in order.

      Bear in mind that previous suggestions have not led to change – including making the blog rules page and the discussion forum more prominent. But don’t give up hope.

      • #49648 Reply


        Thanks for this engagement. Most refreshing especially that we value this website very much and hold it in high esteem. One other consideration is, would it be possible to make the discussion forums more user friendly and less unwieldy than they are? Also would it be possible to keep the threads that are under discussion ‘alive’ longer by highlighting them on the side panels? May be these should be addressed in the blog support forum?

      • #49705 Reply


        I’ve figured out a way to print that makes much more sense and saves a bunch of ink and I’m sure you all could add some sort of “Print” button to make it easier, but that is not a suggestion or even a comment. Just a statement.

        Anyhow, what I did was cut and paste the comments I wanted to save.


  • #49707 Reply


    Please delete my comment that is “awaiting moderation”. Thank-you.


    • #49710 Reply


      Please delete this comment and the one above. In fact, I started this thread didn’t I? Do you think I could request that you delete the whole thing? I don’t think so. I don’t think that is fair and as a matter of principle I don’t ever delete my posts anywhere anytime, but I may once or twice have asked for a change and maybe requested something I wrote be removed from the record. But these days, I don’t expect to ever do that again because I have practiced at my craft and I think I have some good skills to share. There are other sites where if the original poster request deletion then all the messages vanish from current view. I don’t think this is fair.

      Oh by the way, please don’t delete any of this. I do though have a record of my comment that was awaiting moderation because I printed it out for safe keeping.


  • #49708 Reply


    OK, then. As you said above I believe. The following is fair play. Here is my comment awaiting moderation:

    Reply ↓
    January 13, 2020 at 22:20
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.


    I read the article. Thank-you. Whether applicable or not in this situation it was still some excellent information and I feel like I learned something. One of the comments said something to the effect “it would be untraceable”, and I have a hunch, this is not true. Whenever electronics are involved especially hardware, there are traces left behind.

    Anyhow, thanks for the link.


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