Friday, December 16, 2011

On whimsical moderation policies...

I've no wish to restart the mini-feud I had with James Mackenzie a few months ago, but given that a few posters here have recently suggested that Better Nation is moving towards a Labour Hame-style moderation policy, I was intrigued to spot this exchange in the most recent comments thread -

Holebender : You’ve just proved to me that you know nothing about the SNP or Alex Salmond.

James Mackenzie : You're wrong.

Davie Park : In response to Holebender’s assertion that;

“You’ve just proved to me that you know nothing about the SNP or Alex Salmond”.

you respond in modest fashion by citing one of your own opinion pieces to demonstrate that
“you’re wrong”.

The piece cited comprises your theories based on a personal judgement of the motivations of the SNP hierarchy.

For what it’s worth, I think that the SNP is a broad church that will, in all probability, have a limited life once independence is acheived. But to make the judgement that the preferred outcome of a referendum for the SNP and Salmond would be ‘Devo Max’, seems to me utterly fatuous. One would think, being a Greenie, that you’d understand conviction politics. Apparently not.

Incidentally, as the Greens are in favour of independence, I’d be delighted to hear your views on why independence would be good for Scotland, James.

James Mackenzie : To be honest, I’m not sure why I approved a comment containing that assertion. Ho hum. But I thought that explaining my own thinking might best be done by reference to my own thinking. Sorry if that’s hard to get your head around. And yes, good challenge at the end there. I’ll do that.

Indy : Your thinking is fundamentally flawed however by your lack of understanding of the SNP or its members. You should read James Mitchell’s survey stuff. That is actual evidence, not opinion.

James Mackenzie : My view is that the members are predominantly genuinely committed to independence rather than office, and that their other political views cover a spectrum broadly from the Tories to the Greens. Feel free to tell me what’s flawed there. I just think the top team love office more, and no survey data or interviews can prove or disprove that. It’s a hunch.

Also, a quick reminder of why other comments have been deleted.

At that point, James links to the Better Nation moderation policy, which reads as follows -

We love a good frank debate here, and we really appreciate your contribution.
However, we will always delete:

Anything we think is potentially libelous,
Anything which is purely insulting, or
Anything spectacularly off topic.

We may edit or delete where comments:

Are neither constructive nor original,

Are ad hominem or otherwise dickish,
Provide supporting evidence for the existence of Godwin’s Law,
Use phrases like “ZaNu Liebore” or “Scottish National Socialist Party”, or
Are longer than the post itself.

The decision of the editors is final. If a comment of yours is deleted and you want to post it on your own blog, do let us know and we’ll be happy to send it on.

Although my experience with the American gun enthusiasts in 2009 led me to the point where I will always defend to the death the right of individual bloggers to determine what comments are published on their own blogs, I've nevertheless become increasingly cynical about attempts to define hard-and-fast moderation policies, especially ones that include humorous or whimsical language, which is typically there to camouflage the catch-all clauses which basically cover "and any other comment we take a disliking to". Bear in mind that the primary purpose of spelling out a moderation policy is to provide a tool to bash people over the head with, ie. "it's your own fault, if only you'd followed these very simple rules your comment wouldn't have been deleted", so if that policy includes rules as meaninglessly non-specific and subjective as "neither constructive nor original" and "otherwise dickish", it pretty much defeats the whole point of the exercise.

There has quite literally never been a comment posted in the whole history of political blogs that could not have been perceived by somebody, somewhere as "unoriginal", "unconstructive" or "otherwise dickish". I'd be willing to bet that the bulk of any contentious deletions have been justified by those rules, rather than the more specific guidelines that few people could have any real complaint about.


  1. ICan'tBelieveIt'sNotBetterDecember 16, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Leave him to it.

    It's my opinion that one of the reasons that the Greens failed to capitalize on the collapsing LibDem vote at the last Holyroods is because of the behaviour and attitude of Mackenzie 'promoting' the Greens.

    'Just a hunch' though.

    They'd do better as an organisation with active members in other parties than being a distinct political party IMO. It think it would certainly help get an environmental message to people by getting past the condescending 'I know better than you so shut up' attitude displayed so frequently by the tattie-heided Green PR guy.

  2. James

    I think you are being very unfair to Labour Hame. The moderation on BN is way worse than LH. Lately LH has been trying to encourage open debate. Though will this continue after the leadership election who knows but I hope so.

    I replied to "your wrong" my reply was "your opinion" which never saw the light of day.

    On the I do not know why I approved that comment, I replied that "you only approve comments that agree with you.

    While I still am a great fan of Jeff, though I do not always agree with him, he will accept criticism and will accept when he is proved wrong.

    Pity it used to be the best political blog in Scotland.

  3. It was always a little too pompous to be a genuinely likeable. Now it is pompous and censorious, so I never read it, and have deleted it from bookmarks.

  4. ICan'tBelieveIt'sNotBetterDecember 16, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    I agree orpheuslyre.

    It's definitley a bit 'up itself' for my taste, and while the views of the main conributors are (supposedly) varied, i find the tones too similar.

    I was (IMO unfairly) modded quite early on while giving it a try, and stopped contributing to comment threads. My visits to the site have decreased steadily since.

  5. Dubbieside - LH has gone moody on me again today. I think that Dunc H turns up the modding when losing arguments - as he is with the thread on prescription charges. He clearly has not let his ignorance of the subject affect his willingness to pontificate on it, and my last reply to a question that he put to me disappeared into the LH black hole.

  6. BN has expressed a policy to me of modding out SNP supporters. I think they are wrong but they seemed to believe having SNP commenters might discourage soem of their posters

    As to Duncan H. I used to think wel of him, now I just seem him as a nasty piece of work. He has taken on too many of the characteristics of the unloveable Tom H.


    Still,could be worse, there are worse posters and twitters on the "Institiutional Left" out there. If only they put the same effort into being genuine lefties

  7. Richard Lucas

    I am getting concerned I think I am on the white list at LH at the moment. Definitely blackballed at BN though. I wonder if Jeff know what his site has become?

    Was the excessive moderation the reason Malc left I wonder?

    I thought that over the past few weeks there has been genuine constructive dialogue at LH, with what appears to me at least to be former Labour voters anxious to find out what Labour truly stands for now.

    How they think some of the dialogue from some of the usual suspects will encourage these people to return is beyond me.

    I used to wonder about some of the Labour speak on the site then it struck me, I had heard it all on old episodes of Citizen Smith.

    P.S. Enjoy your contributions hope you get back on the white list.

    P.P.S. James sorry about using your blog but the only way to reply to Richard.