Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Blogging About Blogging Spam

I know blogging about blogging is naff as fuck, even if some of my favourite blogs have been doing it a lot recently, but online diaries seem to have metamorphosed, like some future youth, hepped up on growth hormones and stem cell research into these ugly, snide beasts that propagate personal opinion and myth like they are eternal truths.

Why is everyone a political blogger now? Where have all the personal diaries gone? Why do so many hide behind daft names? Why do I care?

Anyway, I thought if esteemed bloggers who are in the 30 best bloggers in the UK at the moment are doing it, then why can't I?

My rhetorical question is: do bloggers have responsibility for what is said in their comments?

The answer for me is an unequivocal yes and the reason I'm asking is that on quite a few blogs I frequent and one in particular, the comments are getting out of hand. Blogger has given us plenty of tools by which to maintain and control comments to stop this; not that I am a fan of moderation at all (as this slows the dialogue and exchange of ideas) but on a basic level, you can delete offensive stuff or, you can close comments all together on a post to stop it descending into an endless tit-for-tat.

At Blurred Clarity, if anyone here uses hate speech in their comments, like racist terms, homophobia, gender bashing, then after a warning, the comment will be gone. I can't let bigotry stand, even in my tiny, tiny part of the Internet. It is a matter of principle.

Some bloggers let offensive comments stand because they support that view but don't want to be caught saying it and can hide under the free speech, anti-censorship stance. Some bloggers let offensive comments stand because they are of the 'give them enough rope to hang themselves' stance, which is all well and good but if the comments go unchallenged it just looks like you condone them. Finally, some bloggers let the offensive comments stand because, no matter what they are faced with, they cannot bring themselves to censor an opinion; which is honourable but makes you a target for exploitation.

I find the best way to kill out of control commenting is to, once all avenues of discussion have been exhausted, to either delete the comments or close the thread.

And I say this as someone who has overstepped the mark in commenting many times before but, as a blogger, you have a responsibility to make sure the comments on your blog are moderated in one form or the other, without repressing people's right to contribute.


  1. Well at the moment, I have deleted a lot of "personal" stuff from my blog because I have become a mini-celebrity where I live for reasons you already know. Before I was writing under relative anonymity, in-so-much that readers didn't know my exact location. Things change and villagers have small minds and spread all sorts of gossip, so I have to be very, very careful over what I write now. The funny thing is that this is the only period of my life where my personal blog would actually make interesting reading. But now I have to make do wittering about my music and guitars and stuff and hope that no-one thinks I am operating a mini musical instrument shop and tries to burgle me.

    I'd love to talk about the nightmare of getting insurers to pay up, how the police have never once enquired about our well-being after the incident, how the rumours continue to spread (the current one is that after all the repairs we are letting the local Co-Op sell newspapers...or something) and how fucking soul-destroying it all is. I've aged about 20 years! There is good news, but I will post that in October.

    In terms of moderating comments, it all comes down to the invidual blog-owner. I personally don't believe in censorship, so I would let any comment stand, no matter how derogatory or inflammatory it is. Give them enough rope, etc.

    I have no issue with racist views being published - again, that's years of receiving BNP literature through my old letterbox, and believe these people should be allowed to speak so that they can be condemned. If you deny someone the right to talk, then you are no better than these people who spread racist propaganda.

    It is a very socialist thing to control communication channels, comrade. Socialists believe in free speech to a point. ;-)

  2. Interesting stuff Darren, as always and I look forward to October's news, is it another wee one perhaps?


  3. There was a time when I would read aghast at some motherfucker's comments left here. I always respected the line you took. It is a fine line ... to advocate free speech and opinion but to censor fuckers who cross a line; and who says you get to have free speech in a comment box. This is your domain. You can shut us up if you want to.

  4. Ellie:

    Indeed, I've had my fair share of idiots here, as have all blogs for a time but the line has to be drawn somewhere.

    Luckily it has been an age since I had problems here, it is just at a few other blogs I visit that I've noticed the destructive power of such things.

  5. You've no worries here at present, it seems. But things can go straight to hell quickly, as happened in 2006 to a blogger friend (and to this day there are still ramifications to that sad incident).

    Whatever you do, don't.post.that.name.

    She g00gles. Then, teh gibbering begins... )

  6. Serr8d:

    I used to hate many concerns but for some time, it's been good with comments.

    Having said that, I've had trouble with people who G00gle their own names and then discover I've writtten about them.

    Legal action anyone?

  7. This is my latest hidden entry at my blog (and yes, you are right about October. He shoots, he scores!):

    "It seems that a subsidiary role of a shopkeeper is to be ripped off by his staff and/or customers (tick as applicable). Sometimes I feel that they think that we are either too stupid or busy not to realise that they are ripping us off. One does soon realise that this type of crime is more about the power to decieve than to make money, and that the money is a secondary outcome, the con is king. Take for example one Sunday news delivery boy who thought it would be a great wheeze to claim his pay from my wife and then wait until my mother took over the till and then claim his pay AGAIN. Of course, no-one knew this was happening for a while until I sat down and did the accounts and looked at the receipts. Then I noticed there were two lots of payout receipts for the same boy. Did he not realise he was going to get caught? Did he think that we didn't make records of our payouts? Did he think we were that naive and daft? Obviously so...

    So I waited until one Sunday and he duly came in and claimed his pay from my wife. Then I jumped on the till and lo-and-behold he returned again for another payout. I duly pulled him up when I showed him the previous payout receipt and I watched in joy when he ran with speed from the shop. He was so fast I didn't even have time to fire him.

    Anyway, this kid comes back about an hour later and I tell him not to come back into the shop until he's paid me the money he owes me for the weeks he has claimed two lots of pay. The kid protests: "How can I do that? You've fired me! I've got no money now." Great logic, kiddo, you should have thought of that before you decided to steal wholesale from me.

    That happened at the beginning of our term at the shop when everyone thought we were too green and believed we could be exploited at every angle. During our first week of trading we had at least four customers claim that they'd "paid with a twenty". The old routine to claim extra change. Of course, we took their numbers and checked the till at the end of the day and we were never in receipt of their extra change. So fuck off, con man.

    Today saw the culmination of a peculiar series of deceptions. One mother of a Sunday deliverer kept claiming that they were missing a particular paper from their round. Of course, you give them the benefit of the doubt the first couple of times and then the routine because that, a routine. So we began double-checking the round in question and today the routine reared its head and my mother said; "No, you can't have an extra paper because I double-checked the round myself." So I make up the rounds and my mother and wife have been double-checking. It is a system that works and I have an accuracy rate of 99.9%!

    Anyway, this woman takes the round out to their waiting car every week and that's where the newspaper mysteriously disappears. My mother calls me at home to tell me that this woman is cutting up rough and that she wants to talk to me. Here's a warning, folks. Never demand to talk to me because I am the line in the sand. Don't think you can appeal to my better nature because I haven't got one. This is business and I am a reasonable man, but when I know someone is screwing me for whatever reason my patience becomes wafer thin.

    We have a short conversation in which the woman can't understand why the paper is missing and the inference is that I've made a mistake. I point it out that she is inferring that I am lying and I am not pleased. I tell her that the paper was there. Again, she protests her innocence and I really don't like her brusque, ignorant Norfolk tones. They grate against my sensibilities. The conversation ends thus:

    "All I know is that you are losing me money, so I guess we'll have to call it quits."

    And with that our working relationship is over. I think Donald Trump and Alan Sugar would be proud of me."

  8. RE: Legal action

    Be very, very careful what you write about someone. Libel on the net is possible and more people will sue once they realise there's money to be had. So if you get any modicum of success, you might find yourself on the end of a retrospective legal fight.

    Remember the rules about libel: you can't libel the dead; if you can prove what you say is true, then it is not libel; if you call someone an idiot or a fool, that is not libel; if you call someone a paedophile or make claim to something that affects their social standing or career, that is libel. For example, I say that you are a complete moron and be in the clear. But if I say that you are illiterate and have to have your girlfriend read your scripts to you, then potential employers might not give you the part because of your "problems". That is libel. The same if I said that you'd slept your way to the top and denigrated your natural talent.

    The greatest defence to libel is comedy or humour. If you write something so ridiculously daft then you can claim it was humour which falls out of the remit of libel. You have to be careful with that defence though, because if you go too far you'll get stuffed.

  9. Darren, I think the bottom line with a paying customer is, he or she is a paying customer.

    My favorite thing to say to my employees:

    "You are here because of our customers, not in spite of them."

    That's worked out very well over the years.

    (In your case, I'm assuming your 'delivery' is delivery of a newspaper? Prolly what's happening is someone else is stealing the paper from the lady in question. I had that happen to me in my old neighborhood; my Sunday rag would disappear before I went out to retrieve it. So, very early one Sunday morning, I waited until the paper hit the driveway. I scooped it up, then filled the bag with old papers and...fresh dog shit, and put the bag back in my driveway. Sure enough, within an hour it was gone. But never afterwards~!)

  10. Darren:

    Thanks for sharing all of that, good stuff as always, grateful for you publishing the 'blog post' at mine.


    Hello again!


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