On Moderation


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: No.
Answer: Fine.

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.

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Cranky Ethicist
7 years ago

If only other news blogs were so forthcoming with their comment moderation process…Report

alethiam
7 years ago

I have never read a post concerning comments as fun as this one. Bravo.Report

gopher
gopher
7 years ago

Hm, but if I know which unmod phlosophy blog you mean (and I think there’s only one), what you say simply isn’t true. People do not regularly suggest that women philosophers and feminism are to blame for all of the problems of the discipline (or their careers). They do criticize feminism, and harshly, and perhaps unfairly, but what you’ve said just isn’t true.
It seems to me that you’re the one afraid of monsters under the bed. And you’re right, it’s annoying.Report

badger
badger
Reply to  gopher
7 years ago

Now it’s adorable like the kid who puts his hands over his own eyes and thinks *we* can’t see *him*.Report

John Protevi
Reply to  gopher
7 years ago
gopher
gopher
7 years ago

Holy shit.

The children that Protevi and Badger brought in with them certainly have learned a good lesson on how to discuss controversial issues with strangers.

Guess I won’t take my shoes off after all, thanks anyway Justin, and I’m a little worried about what your guests put in my favorite beverage under your watchful eye.Report

justinrweinberg
Reply to  gopher
7 years ago

I can’t do better than this.Report

gopher
gopher
Reply to  justinrweinberg
7 years ago

Okay, funny.

But, the fact remains: I posted a factual objection to what you said. There are two comments in response to it, and they both *obviously* violate your comments policy, but you approved them anyway.
I think it’s now pretty clear what your real comments policy is. That’s your prerogative, but it seems like honesty requires you to change the statement on the Comments Policy entry of your blog.Report