Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Comment censorship and comment policies I: Preliminaries

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I have previously written on the danger of censorship, including pointing to the possibility that freedom of speech may need to be radically extended. (More posts can be found by a search.)

Recently, I have seen a number of relevant posts. To deal with some cases and observations, I am writing a new article series. Currently, having had busy day, I have four articles (including this one) that I will publish in short time-span, after some minor polishing; in addition, a fifth article is planned, but may yet be canceled, depending on developments.

While I will leave most of the discussion to the individual case discussions, a few remarks:

  1. Just like unfair moderation can lead to problems, so can e.g. alterations of comments. This, in particular, considering how easy it is to discredit someone even with an out-of-context quote he has made. Even an accidental distortion can have disastrous effect. Deliberate forgeries and distortions, OTOH, are bound to be rare—but the potential for abuse is large. (Notably, this is a particular concern for those who occasionally post on the blogs run by the-end-justifies-the-means fanatics.)

  2. If you, as a blog-owner, decides to block a particular comment or commenter, it is usually a good idea to explicitly contact him with an explanation. There are blogs that have a too large inflow of comments, and there are commenters who simply are obvious idiots (or have built their status as idiots for quite some time); however, in most cases, a notification is appropriate and courteous. In particular, beware of the risk of a misinterpretation influencing your decision to block.

  3. Everyone must have the right to defend and clarify his position, meet attacks directed against him, etc. If you do cut someone off, do so in a manner that does not make him a defenseless victim of an opponent.

  4. Be especially careful with the people you disagree with: The greater the disagreement, the greater the risk that you are being biased and unfair—and the greater the benefit of the doubt you should extend.

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Written by michaeleriksson

July 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm

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