Here at Daily Nous, comments are moderated. Over the past several months, I have heard some complaints and received some questions about the moderation here, so I thought I would take a moment to speak to these.
Question: Why do you moderate comments at your blog?
Answer: Because I am no fun. Anti-fun, actually.
Question: No, seriously. Why?
Answer: Because I must have complete and total control over all of philosophy. All of it. Have you seen how many Facebook followers I have? That is only the beginning. Now, it is simply a matter of time before you and every other philosopher will be subject to my iron-fisted rule! Bwahahaha—-
Question: I don’t think you are taking this line of questioning serio—
Answer: —hahahahahahaha. Bwahahaha. aha. ha. ahem.
Question: Are you finished?
Answer: Can I say, “Oh I’m just getting started”?
Question: So now that you’ve gotten that out of your system, perhaps you can tell us why you moderate comments at Daily Nous.
Answer: Because philosophers are people, too.
Question: What is that supposed to mean?
Answer: “Don’t read the comments” is the default rule for almost everything on the internet. Why? Because comments threads generally suck. They are often filled with stupidity or ignorance or uninformed guesses; anonymity (which I allow) encourages people to be jerks; and whatever valuable comments are actually posted in unmoderated forums are usually buried under an avalanche of poop.
Question: Are you saying philosophers are prone to making stupid and ignorant and overly speculative comments, too?
Answer: Yes. I mean, have you seen that unmoderated philosophy blog where the commenters regularly suggest that women philosophers and feminism are to blame for all of the problems in the discipline, not to mention their careers? It’s adorable, like when a kid complains about monsters under the bed. But it is annoying, too, like when a kid complains about monsters under the bed.
Question: So, other philosophers are stupid and you are not?
Answer: I didn’t call anyone stupid. People say stupid stuff, and I am no exception. I suppose the big point here is that I want Daily Nous to be worth reading, and my view is that it is more likely to be that way if I moderate the comments.
Question: Have you had to block a lot of comments?
Answer: Fortunately, no. People seem generally aware of the comments policy here, and that helps. Sometimes I write back with suggestions about how to fix a comment so it is publishable here, but that is very time consuming and doesn’t always work. On the latest controversial thread I blocked or asked for revisions on 3 comments (out of 30, so far). I sometimes receive emails complaining about comments that I have approved, so clearly some people out there believe I am not being restrictive enough.
Question: Why bother allowing comments on controversial threads?
Answer: People care about having the opportunity to publicly display their moral superiority, and I am here to serve the people. Kidding! I mean, there is some oversimplification and self-righteousness sometimes, but I find that a lot of the comments here are informative and thoughtful, and I am happy to provide a forum for them and for philosophers to discuss these matters together, publicly. I have learned a lot from my commenting readers, and I am grateful to those who take the time to share their thoughts here.
Question: What criteria do you use when moderating comments?
Answer: Most threads require no real moderation, but the more controversial posts do. I try to discourage: personal insults, anonymous speculation as to people’s thoughts and motives, relaying gossip or hearsay, phrasing that attempts to convey authority on facts that I have no reason to believe the commenter has, the introduction of a tangential controversy, too much repetition, naked photos, threats of legal action, and worst of all, unsolicited book manuscripts.
Question: What about defamation per se?
Answer: Se what?
Question: Is there anything else you want to say about commenting at Daily Nous?
Answer: Just keep the comments coming, and nobody will get hurt.