Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Comment censorship and comment policies VI: Distortive editing of comments

with 4 comments

Today, I encountered what I had long feared: Distortive editing of comments to entirely misrepresent what the commenter (me) actually said. The perpetrator of this inexcusable act is one Emvie Martine. I note that several comments by others on the same page have been edited too, which is an indication that Emvie is a repeat offender; however, obviously, I cannot categorically rule out that these edits had a valid reason or that they were non-distortive.

Seeing that this was a Swedish blog (and the topic not close to my heart), I will not go into details about my statements. However, my first comment (for no discernible reason, including length, topic, or anything else discussed in previous entries as potential comment-policy pit-falls) saw half its contents cut away, part of the remainder distorted, and the rest filled with remarks by emvie that further distorted the message of the comment.

I wrote a second comment protesting this behaviour and addressing the one actual point that emvie actually seemed to make in her editing: Whether the German and Swedish Christian-Democrats should be considered the same. I agreed that there were similarities, and then continued to explain that there were also differences. This comment was reduced to a seven word version—containing only the part were I agreed to similarities…

(Later a thoroughly misleading moderator’s note was added, claiming that “silliness”/“trams” had been removed, and that I should be “factual”/“saklig”—despite the fact that I was.)

The first occurrence could have been explained simply by Emvie being highly incompetent or lacking in judgement (Hanlon’s Razor), including being unaware of the standard rules for quoting that are an obvious analogue; however, by so blatantly repeating her crime in direct response to a protest against that crime—that is not merely incompetence but actual and deliberate malice. Further, it is malice of a very childish and spiteful kind.

A third comment demanding the immediate re-instatement of the original version has lead only to the addition of the aforementioned moderator’s note on the previous comment. As a consequence, I am writing this post. In addition, I am filing a formal complaint with WordPress requesting a stern warning. (I sincerely doubt that they will consider this within their jurisdiction; however, there is no harm in asking, and there are behaviours that are simply so outrageously wrong that they must be brought to the attention of whomever could correct them.)

In the big picture, the obvious conclusion is that is impossible to trust what various persons appear to say in blog comments—something which is particularly important to bear in mind in situations like Sweden’s around Sverigedemokraterna or on many feminist blogs, where attempts to severely distort opinions are quite common: What better way for an intellectually dishonest blog owner than to simply edit the comments made? After all, if they already “know” that a certain commenter has a certain opinion, despite claiming something different, then a “clarifying” edit would be a good way to convince those who actually apply critical thinking, listen to what people themselves (not just their opponents) say, and so on.

It would be highly beneficial if there were technical aides to reduce the risks involved, e.g. an non-deletable indicator specifying how many characters of a comment were changed when by whom. In the second case above, for instance, other readers could then at least see that the original version was more than ten times as long and that the edited version was highly unlikely to correspond to my actual statements. Further, an extended notification system, where subscribers (or, at a minimum, the comment author) were notified about post-publishing edits, would be highly useful. This way, the author would at least know about misleading edits.


Written by michaeleriksson

September 15, 2010 at 11:41 am

4 Responses

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  1. You were rude and I still let the part of the comments that were not rude within your comments remain. I also offered you to describe major diffrences, Look at facts, please do, and quote if you like. But be polite!


    September 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

  2. If you can not answer in a good manner or feel misrepresented please ask that I remove your comments and do not return again!


    September 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm

  3. Your current statements are absurd:

    o My first comment was perfectly polite. Your distortions, in contrast, were an act of great rudeness and disrespect. (Note that I write this with the experience and thick skin of someone who has been on the Internet since 1994 and is a frequent commenter on blogs of various kinds—not from the position of someone who just set foot on a blog two days ago.)

    In addition, they were an act of intellectual dishonesty: If comments are edited at all, they must be so in a manner that sufficiently preserves the message of their author.

    Further, your own additions contained several statements that could be considered rude, including (in translation) “YOU ARE WRONG”, or rude and misleading (“I have removed the negative confrontative [content] and think that you should be braver and spread courage and cooperation”—apart from being very hard to understand in context, the implicit accusation is not in anyway compatible with what I actually wrote.)

    o My second comment was perfectly appropriate in the circumstances. Indeed, I quelled my initial impulse to do write a rude comment—your behaviour was bad enough to warrant this, but I settled for a more measured approach.

    In translation, as context for other readers:

    emvie: The way you have hacked my comment to pieces is inexcusable, because both content and intentions have been made unrecognizable. [Cf. above.]

    I really should tell you to go where the pepper grows [a Swedish euphemism akin to using “sugar” as a profanity—I very deliberately refrained from saying “go to hell”], but since at least one thought is visible in your confused commenting: [continuation on Christian-Democrats].

    o Next, unlike you now claim, you did not just censor the part criticizing your behaviour, but removed the majority of the comment in the actual issue—leaving only the part that seemed to agree with your claim. Again, while your first actions may be considered mere incompetence; your second were very obviously done both in a deliberate attempt to leave me as appearing to say the opposite of what I did say and with malicious intent. In addition, the obvious suspicion is that you also wanted to prevent criticism of your previous actions, while creating the impression that I did not object. This is beyond rude—it is simply so outrageous that if blogging required a driver’s license, this would have caused your license to be revoked.

    o My third comment was not polite, but certainly quite justified in the circumstances—and a small patch on your behaviour.

    In translation:

    Emvie: Now you bloody well go too far! Either you immediately restore my comment to what I actually said, or my next blog entry will deal with you and your inexcusable behaviour! Are you a grown woman or a silly little teenager?

    o Your attempts to forbid me from visiting are not only entirely misplaced, but an added insult: Do you honestly think that I would return and risk a repetition of your outrageous, destructive, and disrespectful behaviour? Consider a restaurant that (deliberately and without provocation) throws the food in the face of the customer—and then sends a letter to the his home forbidding him from returning…


    September 15, 2010 at 7:03 pm

  4. […] intellectual creation and typically the intellectual property of the commenter. Correspondingly, distortions of content, disemvoweling, and most cases of partial censorship are unacceptable outright. This applies in […]

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