Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘comment policy

Follow-up on the previous entry/absurd censorship

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Earlier today, I wrote about the comment policy of what seemed like a less than clear-headed feminist (thoughtsunderconstruction). At the time, I had the nagging doubt that I was unjustly jumping to conclusions: Yes, the formulations, the lack of objectivity, whatnot, all gave the impression of yet another delete-everything-that-is-not-perfectly-PC feminist. No, I had not actually bothered to read more than two entries, and there was at least some possibility that I was unfairly generalizing based on previous experiences with others.

I need not have worried: As it rapidly turned out, I had not only been right, but rather understated the case. I had left the following comment on a poste:

Selbstverständlich soll jeder das Recht haben, sich so zu betrachten, wie es ihm gefällt. Jedoch darf das nicht mit einer Zweckentfremdung von bestehenden Wörtern mit einer klaren Bedeutung geschehen, sondern durch das einführen von neuen, passenden Wörtern.

“Geschlecht” bezieht sich auf eine biologische Klassifizierung, die tatsächlich auf XX oder XY hinausläuft. (Mit Vorbehalten für Spezialfällen, wie XXY oder Geschlechtswandlungen.)

Für Bedeutung wie z.B. “gender identity” ist “Geschlecht” schlechthin das falsche Wort. Die derzeit beste Alternative ist wohl einfach “gender”. Dasselbe gilt für entsprechend für Wörter wie “Mann” und “Frau”.

(In short: There is a semantic difference between “gender” and “sex”, and using the German word “Geschlecht”, equivalent of “sex”, in the meaning of “gender” is a bad idea.)

This was originally followed by an unremarkable reply by thoughtsunderconstruction (not one that I agreed with, but nothing that could not be considered a normal exchange of opinion). Hours later the following additional reply arrived:

[ERSTE VERWARNUNG AN MICHAELERKSSON: Bitte an die Nettiquette halten und Sexismus zu Hause lassen, danke! anderfalls fliegst du dich bzw. deine Kommentare selber raus.]
{…}
Ich verbitte mir aber weitere Diskussionen zu dem Thema, da ich keine Fachfrau bin. Ich denke es wäre sinnvoll, dich hierbei an eine/n antisexistische/n Liguisti/en zu wenden. {Underscores turned into slashes for technical reasons.}

([FIRST WARNING TO MICHAELERKSSON: Please stick to the Nettiquette {the presumptuous and misleading name she had given to her comment policy, cf. my previous entry} and leave the sexism at home, thank you! if not you throw yourself resp. your comments out. {Original sentence is even weirder.}]
{…}
I will not tolerate any further discussion on this subject, because I am not a specialist. I think it would be sensible for you to turn to a antisexist linguist. {Original contained stilted attempts to reflect the possibility of the linguist being either male or female. Due to grammatical differences between English and German, this aspect is not translatable; however, the underscores/slashes in the original are easily observable.})

As I returned to the page to make a rebuttal, I found that my original comment had been shortened to the first paragraph—for no valid reason. I note that:

  1. My comment contained nothing that a reasonable observer would have considered sexist, nor against the comment policy. (Indeed, I deliberate was somewhat more conservative in my formulations than really warranted—having seen a similar “warning” directed at another commenter for a harmless comment.)

  2. The formulation used to preclude a further discussion (“tolerate”, resp. “verbittene”) is extremely rude German in this context—despite an alternative formulation like “I lack the interest or knowledge for that discussion, so please save it for another forum.” would easily have been possible. Indeed, the word is normally only used if someone has done something offensive or insulting.

    To make matters worse, the implication was that a part of the discussion (of potential importance) was killed off (in particular, with my comment being two-thirds censored). More generally, if lack of specialist knowledge was an ipso facto reason for avoiding discussions, we would all be mostly ignorant on a majority of the issues around us, because the breadth of knowledge and holistic context would never be formed.

  3. Requiring an antisexist linguist (whatever that may be) automatically ensures that a certain point of view is given authority: Ask a linguist who will give you the answer I want you to hear. Notably, the demand for an “antisexist” expert is made elsewhere on the blog too—apparently “ordinary” experts are not good enough.

    (As an aside, while a layman, I have spent considerable time studying various aspects of languages and linguistic, and have a correspondingly considerable understanding in my own right.)

I left some of these points, together with the statement that she merely proved what I had already surmised, behind in a comment:

Mein Kommentar hat keinerlei Bestandteile von Sexismus beinhaltet—auch nicht die völlig beliebig gelöschten Teile, die nicht erkennbar gegen den Comment Policy verstoßen haben.

Hierdurch wird ledigleich die Eindrücke bestätigt, die ich schon sechs Stunden bevor diesem Eingriff geschildert habe. Vgl. [previous entry].

Es sei am Rande erwähnt, dass sich an eine „antisexistische“ Irgendetwas zu wenden (so es so etwas überhaupt gibt), eine automatische Bevorzugung einer gewissen Position bedeuten würde—und somit für kritische Denker inakzeptabel ist.

I three-quarters expected this comment to have been deleted outright. At the time of writing (knock on wood), however, it is still present. (Nevertheless and just in case, I publish it above.)

In her comment policy, she protests that feminism would be a force of good, but at the same time she provides practical examples of the opposite—including intolerance of non-orthodox opinions, irrational behaviour, and seeing sexism where none is present. (However, even by feminist standards, it must be admitted, this woman appears to be a bit extreme.)


Addendum:

Unsurprisingly, the comment has since been deleted—leaving visible her lying or stupendously ignorant claims of sexism, but neither the alleged sexism (which would have disproved her) nor my protests.

A last comment left, just to tell her my mind:

thoughtsunderconstruction, Ich halte normalerweise einen diplomatischen Ton, aber nach der Löschung meines letzten Kommentars sage ich gerade aus: Du bist nicht nur eine absolute Vollidiotin, sondern auch direkt bösartig—insbesondere, die Art von Vollidiotin, die im Name des Guten Böses tut, ohne selbst zu verstehen, dass sie selbst das Böse ist.

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Written by michaeleriksson

June 7, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Comparison of the comment policies of a feminist and an evolutionist

with one comment

Visiting a few German blogs, I landed on two comment policies within minutes of one another. The extreme difference in philosophy is interesting:

The first, Alles Evolutione distances itself from censorship:

Ich hasse das Sperren von Leuten. Ganz einfach weil ich selbst in diversen feministischen Blogs gesperrt wurde oder meine Kommentare dort – obwohl durchaus sachlich gehalten – nicht veröffentlicht wurden. Das allein führt dazu, dass ich das Sperren und eigentlich auch das Löschen von Kommentaren als absolute Notlösung sehe, die ich ungern jemals einsetzen würde.

(I hate the blocking of people. Simply because I, myself, have been blocked on various feminist blogs or my comments there—even though factual—went unpublished. This alone leads to my considering blocking [of commenters] and really also the deletion of comments to be a stopgap measure, which I would be reluctant to ever use.)

Further, it goes on to request fair debating from the commenters:

Nichts desto trotz gilt aber nach wie vor, dass Kommentare sachlich bleiben sollen. Ich bitte alle Kommentatoren daran zu denken.

(Nevertheless, as previously, comments should remain factual. I ask all commenters to consider this.)

The second, Thoughts Under Constructione, makes statements like:

Respektlosigkeiten akzeptiere ich nicht. Dazu gehören individuelle Beleidigungen sowie gruppenbezogene Menschenfeindlichkeiten. Da sich die Anzahl der -ismen und -phobien dauernd vergrößert zähle ich sie nicht auf.

(I do not accept lack of respect. This includes individual insults and group based misanthropy. Because the number of -isms and -phobias are ever growing, I do not list them.)

While this may not seem bad at a first glance, it still is. Such policies almost invariable go together with extreme intolerance, including denouncing this-and-that as sexist or racist without a legitimate reason—and the application of specifically the author of that blog shows exactly this problem. Cf. e.g. the post I originally landed one. It is further noteworthy that the reason that number of “-phobias” is growing is not that people have changed there opinions, but that the politically correct are ever keen on inventing new labels to put on their opponents. In its core, this quote amounts to a censorship based on having the “wrong” opinion—not actually discussing in e.g. an ad hominem manner.

(Additionally, it is proof of hypocrisy, seeing that she is herself far from respectful towards commenters.)

Kommentare, die Feminismus als überflüssig, gefährlich, sexistisch, männerfeindlich etc. bezeichnen, sind überflüssig und werden gelöscht.

(Comments that refer to feminism as superfluous, dangerous, sexist, misandrist etc., are superfluous [odd choice of word in the original] and will be deleted.)

In effect, a number of common criticisms that are largely true are blacklisted. The worse, because so many of us have grown up with a naive image of feminism as peaceful and benign equality movement, and it is important to reveal the truth about (at least political, gender-, etc.) feminism. Irrespective of truth, this restriction would be highly dubious already because it censors opinion, not method.

An interesting factor is the threat of blocking for

dass ich bestimmtes Vokabular in dem Zusammenhang inakzeptabel finde

(that I find a particular terminology unacceptable in that context)

In her defense, this does not apply generally, but only where sexual violence is concerned. However, at the same time, enforcing or forbidding a particular terminology is highly dubious to begin with. Doing so without being explicit in advance as to what is allowed or not allowed, is worse. I note that some statements made by her in the linked-to page indicate a less than thorough grasp of terminology.

Written by michaeleriksson

June 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Comment censorship and comment policies VII: An interesting discussion on another blog

with 4 comments

A very interesting discussion on this topic has arisen on another bloge.

A few issues of note:

  1. A number of commenters feel that it is in order to delete comments that are too rude, lacking in constructiveness, or fall in e.g. the category of racism.

    To a part they are correct; however, great caution must be taken to avoid over-interpretation and highly subjective deletes. Deleting based on opinion (e.g. alleged racism) is something that I emphatically advice against (see previous entries); in particular, as this is a highly subjective area and an area where many systematically abuse accusations of e.g. racism or sexism to distort the debate.

    As one commenter succinctly expressed it:

    (enleuk)

    Nobody knows the truth. Therefore it’s wrong to disallow any opinions at all. You should debate to reach constructive insights instead of making subjective assumptions about what is right and wrong.

  2. An illustrating quote that shows the common sentiment of “my blog; my rules”:

    (thomaschalfant)

    I delete absolutely any comment that I feel like deleting, and I allow absolutely any comment I feel like allowing, and I don’t feel even slightly, remotely, even a tiny little bit inclined to justify or defend it anytime in any way.

    Conversely, I don’t feel that anyone is in any way obligated to post any of my comments to their blogs (including this one). In the same way that you can walk up to me in a bar and start talking to me but I don’t have to listen, and vice versa.

    What this overlooks: A comment on a blog is not (generally) a statement made to another person, but to the public. It is, in particular, not something that must be directed at the blog author—often the target is the readers of the blog. By restricting the opportunity others have to express their opinions on the matter, the public suffers. A better analogy would be a speech in a public place: The speaker has his say (the blog entry), invites the world to voice its opinions (the comments)—and when someone has an opinion that is unsuitable, poorly expressed, or similar, a “The world, but not you!” comes from the mouth of the speaker. (Other reasons why this attitude is problematic is discussed through-out this article series.)

    As a general rule of life: That one has the formal right to do something does not automatically mean that one has an ethical right to do so—let alone should do so. A blogger should feel free to consider himself an aboslute ruler; however, he should make sure to be a benevolent dictatorw—not an arbitrary tyrant.

  3. The topic of spam comments comes up repeatedly. The need to delete spam, however, is a different issue from deleting “real” comments—sufficiently different that they are likely best off being discussed separately. Consider, in the above analogy, that the speech is ended and someone stands up to say “Beautiful speech! Now that you all are here, I would like to invite you to my store where you can buy glass figurines for only $199.99!”—just a different beast.

I made a few comments myself, including two points that I likely have failed to emphasize enough in this series:

  1. I have spent much time reading various discussions on various topics, including the talk pages on Wikipedia. I have found that it is often the back-and-forth, the contrast between different ideas and opinions, arguments and counter-arguments that best help me build a better understanding of the topic.

    This does require a receptive reader and it does require reasoning and knowledgeable debaters; however, when it works, it works extremely well—far better than a one-man pulpit.

  2. We should, as bloggers, have the humility to recognize that we have something to learn from our commenters. Disabling comments increases the risk (emails notwithstanding) that we miss what they have to teach.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 26, 2010 at 7:20 pm

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

Comment censorship and comment policies IVd: Wrap up

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The blog entry by Antje Schruppe that forms the basis for installment IV of this article series has proved a great source of material, both to illustrate my own thoughts and to discuss new areas—largely through exactly the kind of clashes in opinions that feminist blogs so often try to suppress. However, some two weeks after the initial encounter, it is high time to wrap things up. I will try to condense the remaining loose ends into one post, even at the cost of wandering between topics and not working everything out in deserved detail.

Originally planned, as a first follow-up to my original discussion, was a post with the preliminary title “To comment or not to comment—that is the question”. Let us start with the half-completed draft of this post, with some minor comments in square brackets:

Developments have left me with an unpleasant dilemma—and a good illustration of why the statements made by Antje are misguided.

To give a brief re-cap of comments (as far as relevant for the current post):

  1. There have been a number commenters expressing similar sentiments to mine.

  2. The overall tone has been reasonably pleasant and one recurring visitor has offered that Antje’s blog is an exception to the feminist standard. This has the dual complication that the commenters above (including me) may be unfair regarding specifically Antje (but not feminism in general), while she, in turn, may be unfair towards the commenters her original post was directed at. [With hindsight, my interpretation may have been too generous towards Antje, cf. the following topic.]

  3. One specific commenter seems to follow a more traditional feminist agenda and/or have a poor understanding of the underlying issues.

Specifically, this last commenter was of the kind that more-or-less necessitates answers: They (as a group—judging any individual in this regard may be too far-going) simply give a distorted image of what their opponents say, what scientists say, and generally appear to be more opinionated than informed. They are particularly common among feminists (but do occur in all camps). Naturally, a debater who has an interest in correctness will give answers pointing to e.g. distortions or misunderstanding of opinions, factual errors, and mistakes in reasoning—and will try to expound on his own position for clarity, use larger examples, try to point to issues in a bigger picture, whatnot. (In addition, the question of fairness and intellectual honesty can also arise. The recurring reader will know that I have, at least occasionally, defended even those whom I do not agree with in this regard.)

Making such corrections do not only affect the transgressors (in fact, they will typically not be affected at all, through their resistive mentality), but are valuable in that an uninformed or easily lead reader is given a less one-sided perspective. Additionally, they can be highly beneficial both for the author, himself, and for any critical readers looking for a more solid understanding.

I strongly suspect, however, that exactly this type of clarification is what many of the feminists confuse with e.g. “wanting to have the last word”, “mansplaining”, or similar—to the detriment of themselves and their readers, and to the annoyance of those who are unfairly given the label. (Notably, there is a large difference between a constant repeating of the same arguments in louder and louder tones and an actual elaboration, clarification, and extension.)

Feminists to a large part provoke the behaviour they legitimately complain about, e.g. through their censoring of and attacks on the behaviour they illegitimately complain about.

Similarly, I once had a boss whose standard reply to feedback during meetings was “Let us save that discussion for a smaller circle.”—a reasonable suggestion, except that these smaller circles usually never happened, and, when they did, almost always consisted of a standard group of “yes men” (rather than those who could and were willing to contribute, including the original issue raiser). In his case, I strongly suspect that this was deliberately ploy to sweep things under the carpet without being too obvious.

Notably, many feminist blogs work on a guilty-until-proved-innocent principle. [Cf. my previous entry or the case of “blue milk” for extreme examples. Beware, however, that the same overall tendency is quite common, even if less obvious, on less misandristic feminist blogs.]

The dilemma mentioned was this: A previous comment by Antje read

@Michael – das war jetzt übrigens die „zweite Runde“, von der oben in meinem Blogpost die Rede war :) –

(@Michael—that [my preceding comment] was the “second round” that I discussed in my blog post :) –

Her original discussion of “second round” could be summarized as

dass ein Kommentator immer das letzte Wort behalten will und dadurch die Diskussion in eine bestimmte Richtung drängt und auf ungute Weise dominiert.

(that a commenter always wants to have the last word, and thereby forces the discussion in a particular direction or dominates it in an ungood manner. [The German word “ungut”, unlike “ungood”, did not originate as Newspeakw, but seeing that it only survives in the expression “nichts für ungut”/“no offence” the literal translation is the most fitting—and the reference is a striking, if likely entirely unintended, match in the context it appeared in.])

I now saw myself caught between two alternatives: Either I would let statements that should be confronted stand unconfronted—or I would provide “proof” that Antje was right by enabling her to talk about a “third round”. (This type of “damned if you do; damned if you don’t” situations have been relatively common in my own experiences with feminists. Whether they use it as a deliberate trick to preclude objections, is unclear to me.)

At that time, I decided not to comment, but instead to discuss the general problem in the originally intended follow-up. Some discussion of why the blog owner is, in fact, wrong is present in the quoted draft. (Further, arguments can found in previous entries or e.g. in the Wikipedia article on selective exposure theoryw.)

As time went by, other topics surfaced, and I chose to comment on one of these—after all, to claim a third round based on a different topic would be absurd. Shortly after submitting this comment, I received a notification email that another commenter had made a similar reply (meaning that Antje was at that moment moderating); however, my comment was for some reason not let through. I now grew suspicious, bearing in mind a previous statement implying that comments were possibly being held back:

Für mich selber seh’ ich nun leider auch nicht, wieso z.B. der letzte Kommentar, den ich hier ( zum Thema „Moderieren“ ) geschrieben habe, nichts mit dem Thema zu tun hätte, oder sonst etwas, so dass er gelöscht werden musste.

(For my part, I do not see why, for instance, the last comment that I wrote here (on the topic “Moderation”) was considered off-topic, [or otherwise was unsuitable], and had to be deleted.)

(http://antjeschrupp.com/2010/07/25/warum-es-hier-keine-netiquette-gibt/#comment-2485e)

Before choosing my next action (or, possibly, non-action), I decided to investigate the “second round” issue—possibly, my interpretation, with several days between the mention in the post and the mention in a comment, had been too optimistic.

Indeed, a few sentences later in the post, Antje says:

Ich handhabe das inzwischen so, dass ich nach der zweiten „Runde“ weitere Kommentare des Betreffenden dann nicht mehr freischalte.

(By now, I have a policy of not approving more comments from [the person in question] after the second “round”.)

This lead me to re-publish the comment on my own blog (further information is present on that post).

Written by michaeleriksson

August 12, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Comment censorship and comment policies IVb: Discussion of a semi-reasonable motivation for censorship

with one comment

In my last entry, I provided a verbatim quote in German of my answer to an insight-giving pro-censorship commente. Below, I will discuss the core points of the latter comment (in my interpretation and from my perspective).

  1. There are feminists who believe that they have heard all relevant counter-arguments, and simply do not accept them.

    With this I will not argue, but I will note that the lack of acceptance is not typically rooted in reason, but simply in stubborn instance that a pre-formed opinion is the correct one—even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

  2. They have the conviction that neither they nor their opponents can be converted.

    To a large part, this too is true.

  3. They do have a wish to debate related topics with like-minded people—not just as the “club of mutual admiration” that I have so often observed, but also in the legitimate wish to deepen an understanding within a particular framework of feminist thought.

    Again, a legitimate statement. It is questionable, however, how often it applies. Indeed, most feminist discussions I have seen have had a different character, most notably as an attempt to convince others, propagate the feminist world-view, or to just gripe about this-and-that.

  4. These discussions are visited by non- and anti-feminist, who bring up arguments already known and rejected, which, basically, “spoils the fun”.

    (See the “cherry example” below.)

  5. Censorship allows the blog owner to focus the conversation on the subset of issues she wants to debate without the framework it self being questioned.

    While also true, this is very often misleading.

    For one thing, a blog debate is not just something for the participants, but also for other readers, and by suppressing dissenting voices, these readers are given a flawed and distorted view of the overall situation. This is particularly serious, because many feminists state their opinions as facts, misinterpret or misstate statistics, or otherwise act in a way that could easily fool the unwary. Indeed, I was myself long an innocent believer in factually untrue claims such as domestic violence being something pre-dominantly committed by men onto women.

    (Notably, with e.g. the situation in Sweden in mind, it is very important that these dissenting voices are heard, lest the extreme dominance of feminist and politically correct views in media are supplemented by a similar dominance in other channels of information.)

    For another, the debates are often cut off in such a way that the feminists “win”, e.g. by letting the anti-feminist make a statement, allowing the feminist a convincing sounding come-back using a factually flawed argument, and then censoring the anti-feminist when he points out that, how, and why this argument was factually flawed.

Based on these points (notwithstanding the critique given above; in particular, as the counter-arguments I give apply to the great mass, but not necessarily to individual cases) my overall impression of the comment was highly favourable—something that actually broadened my understanding of the issues and perspectives involved. Unfortunately, the general tone of the comment contained several highly derogatory and misleading statements and one highly faulty analogy. This analogy will be discussed as a conclusion:

Wenn ich mich auf den Marktplatz stelle und Kirschen verkaufe und jemand zu mir kommt und mit mir über Gott diskutieren will (irgendeine Sekte), dann schicke ich sie weg. Und wenn sie nicht weggehen, hole ich die Polizei.

(When/if I go to the market to sell cherries, and someone wants to discuss God with me (some kind of sect), then I send them away. And when/if they do not leave, I get the police.)

This is her version of an analogy about blogging and debates in public/private that another commenter introduced. While it may seem plausible on a casual glance, it does not hold up to closer scrutiny:

Comments by dissenters on a blog cannot be compared to being pestered by a sect when selling cherries. A better analogy would be starting a free-for-all discussion in a public setting (which is the case with e.g. a blog, but not, say, emails going back-and-forth between two individuals). Now, in such a public debate, would someone consider it acceptable to call the police against a participant whose only crime was dissent? Hardly; and the common feminist tactics of insults and censorship would be equally appropriate. (Note that while there are cases where calling the police may be justified, e.g. if the dissenter also threatened other participants, this does not affect the analogy—I have nothing against censorship of, e.g., threats on a blog either.)

On the contrary, in order to justify such, it would be necessary to keep the discussion explicitly or implicitly private—in Internet terms, to use email, a mailing list, a blog not open to the public (not hard to set up on WordPress), or similar. Notably, those who only want to stand on a podium and scream into a microphone, with no risk of contradiction, can also put up their own website or write a blog where commenting is simply deactivated.

Written by michaeleriksson

August 2, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Comment censorship and comment policies IV: A German feminist’s take on comments

with 7 comments

Today, I stumbled upon an entry where a German feminist expressed her opinions on comment moderatione. Her statements included:

Auch an dieser Stelle waren die besserwisserischen Männerkommentare in feministischen Blogs ja schon häufiger Thema, ebenso wie das Phänomen der Trolle.

(Here too, the besser-wissery man-comments on feminist blogs has been a topic, just like the phenomenon of trolls.)

Apart from the overall connection and formulation being less-than-polite, my own experiences indicate that this is an opinion that feminist bloggers tend to have about any and all comments by men that are not positively “sucking up”. In particular, the whole besser-wisser issue is basically their explanation for the presumption of pointing to actual errors in reasoning, statistics that do not agree with The Official Feminist Truth, and similar. Cf. also the earlier discussion of “mansplaining”.

Dass es sich für feministische Blogs empfiehlt, eine relativ strikte Kommentarmoderation zu haben, hat sich inzwischen herauskristallisiert.

[…]

Sondern es ist wichtig, um den Raum der Diskussion frei zu halten für die wirklich interessanten Debatten und attraktiv für diejenigen, die gerne konstruktiv mitdiskutieren wollen, aber keine Lust auf langweilige oder sich im Ton vergreifende Diskussionsstile haben.

(It has turned out [original idiom untranslatable] that it is recommendable for feminist blogs to be relatively strict about comment moderation.

[…]

Instead, it is important to keep the room of discussion free for the really interesting debates, and attractive to those who want to participate in the discussion, but have no wish for boredom or discussion styles that are off in tone [ambiguous phrasing].)

This is a similar distortion of the “only those who agree are constructive” kind. See also the comment I submitted to the actual post (below).

Eine weitere Unsitte, wie ich finde, ist es, das eigene Anliegen bei jedem neuen Thema erneut vorzubringen. Also zum Beispiel die Meinung, dass es heutzutage gar nicht die Frauen, sondern die Männer sind, die benachteiligt werden, oder dass feministische Analysen nur dann Relevanz und Bedeutung haben, wenn es gelingt, Männer von ihrer Richtigkeit zu überzeugen.

(Another deplorable behaviour, in my finding [opinion], is to bring out an own agenda [pet issue?] again with every new topic. For instance, the opinion that, in today’s world, it is not the women, but the men, who are disadvantaged, or that feminist analyses only have relevance and meaning [or importance], when it is possible to convince men about their correctness.)

And again, dissenters have no right to speak. Superficially, it may seem that it is wrong to bring up such issues again and again, but the point is that these issues are of fundamental importance to the discussion—and the turn-around in male and female fortunes will also undermine very many feminist arguments and discussions. Ignoring these arguments (and if they were not ignored, there would be no need to restate them) is tantamount to discussing biology in a Creationist framework.

Und allen, die dann „Zensur“ rufen, sage ich: Das Internet ist ja zum Glück groß. Ihr könnt also jederzeit ein eigenes Blog aufmachen. Hier aber entscheide ich.

(And to all, who call “censorship, I say: The Internet is, fortunately, large. You can start your own blog anytime. Here, however, I make the calls.)

This dictatorial take has already been discussed in previous entries.

The comment I left there, in full:

Ich kann jetzt nicht spezifisch für Deinen Blog sprechen (noch werde ich verleugnen, dass es auch unter den anti-feministen schlechte Kommentatoren gibt).

Gegen den Grundsatz muss ich mich allerdings mit Nachdruck wenden:

Was ich immer und immer wieder sehe, ist dass feministische Blogs eine selektive Moderation, Personenangriffe, o.ä. benutzen um Andersdenke zum Schweigen zu bringen. Ich habe gar Aussagen gesehen, die in der Richtung „Deine Ansichten stimmen nicht mit der Majorität der Leser überrein, so verzieh Dich.“ gegangen sind.

Eine „interessante Diskussion“ ist dann öfters auf ein gegenseitiges Zustimmen beschränkt, während eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit Sachargumenten, eine gegenseitige Erleuchtung über den tatsächlichen Inhalt unterschiedlicher Standpunkte, usw, nicht stattfindet.

(Im Übrigen habe ich selbst erhebliche Zweifel an die ethische Seite von dieser Art von gezielter Moderation/Zenzur.)

S. auch (auf Englisch) https://michaeleriksson.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/unfair-argumentation-methods-iii-intermezzo-on-rape-debates/ für ein Beispiel von den Methoden, die einige Blogs benutzen.

(I cannot speak specifically for your blog (nor will I deny that there are bad commenters among the anti-feminists too).

I must turn [dissent/object] against the principle [of the post], however:

What I see, time and time again, is that feminist blogs use selective moderation, personal attacks, and similar, to silence dissenters. I have even seen statements in the direction of “Your opinions do not correspond with the majority of the readers, so take a hike.”.

An “interesting discussion” is then often reduced to mutual affirmation, while a critical examination with arguments ad rem, a mutual enlightenment about the actual contents of different views, etc., does not take place.

(In addition, I have strong concerns [lit. “doubts”] about the ethical side of this type of targeted moderation/censorship.)

S. also (in English) https://michaeleriksson.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/unfair-argumentation-methods-iii-intermezzo-on-rape-debates/ for an example of the methods some blogs use.)

I will also distill a spot on comment by another commentere:

  1. The interesting thing with blogs is the exchange of information and the possibility to find weakness in ones own opinion.

  2. Feminist blogs tend to strike exactly those comments that disagree with the underlying opinions of the authors.

  3. Those arguments that tend to convince non-feminists (listed are fellow party-members, co-workers, and family) are those that are deleted.

  4. By this feminism becomes a question of faith.

Finally, a quote by yet another commenter:

Biologische Argumentationen, sachlich vorgetragen und durchaus von einer Mehrheit der jeweiligen biologischen Fachrichtung vertreten, führen auf feministischen Blogs sehr schnell dazu, dass Kommentare nicht mehr freigeschaltet oder gelöscht werden.

(Biological arguments, [even when] brought in a factual manner and supported by a majority of the respective [sub-field of Biology], have the speedy consequence that comments are not approved or are deleted.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 27, 2010 at 10:06 pm