Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘comments

Comment censorship

with 6 comments

I have repeatedly reported about censorship on the blog hypocritically named Aus Liebe zur Freiheite (“For/due to the love of freedom”)—indeed, I first became aware of that blog through discussing its destructive and uninformed comment policy. I was going to ignore the fact that two factual and highly relevant comments of mine had recently been censored, but I will not, seeing that another commenter just wrote the following eloquent complaint (my translation is suboptimal):

James T. Kirk:

Sehr geehrte Frau Schrupp,

ich fände es schön, wenn Sie mal auf meine Argumente eingehen. Warum haben Sie so große Probleme mit sachlicher Kritik?

Es ist sehr befremdlich, daß Sie so viele sachliche Kommentare löschen. Ist das die ideale Welt, die Sie sich vorstellen? Haben Sie Angst, sich sachlicher Kritik zu stellen?

Es ist mir persönlich schleierhaft, wie man solch ein Verhalten vor sich selbst rechtfertigen kann.

(Dear [highly formal version] Ms. Schrupp,

I would appreciate it, if you would spend some time on my arguments. Why do you have so great problems with factual criticism?

It is very strange that you delete so many factual comments. Is that the ideal world, that you imagine? Are you afraid to confront factual criticism?

I have problems comprehending how one can justify such a behaviour to oneself.)

Ms. Schrupp has indeed proved again and again that she has a very destructive take on comments—which she combines with enough arbitrariness that the poor souls who try to counter her many misstatements, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations are led to still comment in the hope that this particular comment will go through and provide at least some counter-weight to her pseudo-intellectual, uninformed, and one-sided prattle. (While I usually try to remain ad rem and show some degree of politeness, my patience with the feminist branch of intellectual dishonesty has been very sorely strained lately—and Ms. Schrupp is worst than most. When push comes to shove, the success of feminism is largely based on being able to build strawmen, spread factually faulty statements, perpetuate false or misinterpreted statistics, whatnot, without sufficient contradiction. It is relatively easy to convince people when they only see one side of the issue—it is very easy, when the one-sidedness is complemented by unprotested distortion of the truth.)

My two comments:

Diese drei Punkte stoßen bei mir auf Unverständnis—denn gerade hier ist ja die Debatte normalerweise zum Vorteil der Frauen gewinkelt. Dies vorallem bei 2., wo immer und immer wieder versucht wird, natürliche Geschlechterdifferenzen kategorisch auszuschliessen, um alle Verhaltensunterschiede mit „Strukturen“, „Patriarchat“, o.ä. zu erklären. Auch 1. und 3. sind jedoch sehr zweifelhaft—ist doch eine von den üblichsten Beschreibungen/Schlussfolgerungen, dass Männer etwas falsch machen und Frauen richtig, bzw. dass Frauen nur was Falsch machen wegen „Strukturen“, „Patriarchat“, … (das Thema kehrt wieder).

(Points out that the central claims of the post are strawmen or otherwise incorrect.)

Ich wollte gerade zu deinem letzten Kommentar einwenden, dass die Mehrheit dieser Punkte im Grunde Strawmankaraktär haben. Hierbei muss ich leider feststellen, dass mein voriger Kommentar, der sachlich eine ähnliche Observation zu deinem ursprunglichen Beitrag machte, ohne erkennbaren Grund zensiert worden ist—und dies auch nicht zum ersten Male.

Unabhängig von deinen Beweggründen sind diese Art von Eingriffen grob unethisch und die Debatte verzerrend. Widerspruch ist keine legitime Grund zur Zensur.

(Further statements are strawmen. My previous comment has been censored without a legitimate reason.)

For my part, I will stay away for the future—but I also publicly declare that Ms. Schrupp is narrow-minded, intellectually dishonest, and has far more to learn from her commenters than they from her. Her blogging brings a net damage to the world—and it is women like she who ensure that feminism remains a force of evil.

Advertisements

Written by michaeleriksson

June 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Follow-up on the previous entry/absurd censorship

leave a comment »

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.

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

Publishing of a censored comment I

leave a comment »

At the beginning of February, I encountered a very prejudiced and depressing blog entrye titled “Någon har fel på internet!” (“Someone is wrong on the internet!”). The contents depended heavily on a naive and long disproved view of a “tabula rasa” human; the equally naive and dangerously faulty conclusion was tantamount to denying children the right to develop their own interests, chose their own toys, etc.—after all, feminists “know” that we are all identical and that any difference in choice is a sign of evil. Indeed, contrary to what science actually does say, the author (Rebecka) hypocritically and ignorantly accused her opponents of e.g. “De angriper forskning och vetenskap med sina känslor” (“They attack research and science with their feelings”)—a prime example of reversing the accusation.

At that point, I wrote a factual comment (unfortunately, without saving a copy) pointing out that there is solid scientific evidence that the reality is far more complex and the author’s take on the issue would do more harm than good.

After this comment, for no other discernible reason than dissent, was censored, I let matter rest until the discussion started over and further highly naive statements were made—including, absurdly, comparing sticking to actual science (as opposed to the distorted image of science that author apparently had) to racism. I then saw myself forced to re-iterate my statements at somewhat greater length:

Då jag redan har blivit censurerad utan giltig anledning har jag egentligen ingen lust att skriva mer.

Dock, med en blick på diskussionen mellan Rebecka och Emmy, måste det än en gång betonas att det finns vetenskapligt välbelagda biologiska skillnader mellan genomsnittsindivider av dem olika könen. Sedan har vi stora individuella variationer och ett kulturellt inflytande, men varje försök att uppfostra barn genom att utplåna dessa skillnader är lika illa som, i många fall värre än, en fostran som ignorerar den individuella variationen. Vad vi behöver är friheten att utvecklas som vi själva vill—inte som någon samhällsgrupp pga av en föråldrad världsbild anser att vi borde utvecklas. (Detta gäller oavsett om vi talar om ett medeltida synsätt eller 1960-talets ”tabula rasa”- tänkande.)

Jämförelser med tex rasism är helt missvisande, framförallt då ett av huvudproblemen med rasism är ignorerandet av individuell variation. Tvärtom kan man argumentera att en mycket stor del av världens ondska har uppstått just genom försök att förvandla människor till någonting som någon har tyckt att de ”borde” vara, inklusive mycket av det som nazister, kommunister, och religiösa fundamentalister har ställt till med. För en lättillgänglig parodisk behandling se Terry Pratchetts ”Witches abroad”.

(In brief: Science has clearly shown that there are differences between the average male and female individuals. Trying to exterminate these differences can do untold harm. Much of the evil of this world has come exactly through trying to force people to be what they “should” be, rather than letting them develop as they actually are.)

This comment, unsurprisingly, was also censored—to which I add two statements: Firstly, those who censor are almost without exception those who are evil. (Even when they imagine themselves to be good guys.) Secondly, someone is wrong on the Internet, Rebecka. That someone is you.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 21, 2011 at 1:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

A guide on how to handle comments (for blog owners)

with 7 comments

A few thoughts on what to do and not to do with comments:

  1. Do not reply to each and every comment. The result is almost invariably low content and low quality, something better left unwritten. Reply when there is an actual reason, e.g. to clarify a misunderstanding, dispute an issue, acknowledge an error, … Thank-you replies should be limited to those comments that have truly brought value. (Other rules apply if an off-blog relationship to the commenter is present.)

    Yes, there are blogging experts who claim the exact opposite. Their idea is to maximize “followers” by making everyone feel welcome (or similar). This idea is flawed in several regards, most notably that maximizing followers should not be the goal for the typical blogger, but also that quality usually beats quantity and that those readers who actually contribute with insightful comments are not impressed by low-value replies.

  2. Allow for a threaded discussion. Doing so makes it easier to keep an eye on who has said what to whom on what sub-topic. The WordPress default depth of three is well chosen between the wish for good threading and the need to avoid comments that are just a few words per line; and is also a good choice for minimizing confusion—too shallow and too deep threads can both be very confusing when several parties discuss. If you deviate from three, four is likely the second best choice.

  3. Use the “reply” function. Do not, absolute not, add your answer to the original comment. Doing so makes it hard to keep a threaded discussion going, more or less excludes any third party in advance, and screws up the email notifications about new comments.

    If the addition is partial or interspersed in the original comment, there is high risk that other readers will be confused as to who said what. Note that a change in e.g. color, bolding, or similar, will not always be clear to other readers and will not appear at all in the email notifications.

    Do not answer using a “non-reply” comment, for the same reasons as why threading should be enabled.

  4. Think twice about editing others comments at all. If you do, make it very clear what you have changed and why you did so. Be particularly vary of “helpful” language improvements. Not only is there a risk that the change accidentally distorts the original intention, but there is also a great many opinions on what is considered correct/better. If the comment is hard for third-parties to understand, but you feel that you have understood it, then simply write a reply with a paraphrase and inquire whether you are correct.

    Think thrice before deleting selective parts of a comment—and if you do delete make very, very certain that the contents are not distorted. (Valid partial deletions can occur e.g. when a comment contains severe rudeness towards another commenter, but also makes a good point or gives a good argument along the way.)

    There is a special circle in Hell reserved for those who deliberately alter the meaning of someone elses comments.

  5. Err on the side of too little censorship.

    This topic has been discussed in many other of my posts (search for e.g. “censorship”.) As to date, I have myself kept back a whole of two (non-spam) comments in almost a year of blogging—both of a kind that there would have been nothing left if I had tried to selectively delete parts of them (cf. above). 210 have been published.

A very good example of how not to do it can be found at [1]e (no threading, low value replies, replies in the comments, censoring of dissenters). Another example is [2]e (partial in-comment replies and confusing changes to comments in bold).


Addendum:

As I have observed time and again after writing this post, there is another very important rule:

If a blog owner edits one of his own comments (or, in some cases, the original post), he should do so in a manner that does not alter the meaning, extend or shorten the text, or otherwise make changes that moves the comment away from its original state in a non-trivial manner. (Correcting typos and grammar errors, replacing an unfair slur written in heated moment, and similar changes are usually not a problem.) In particular, to deliberately publish a comment in a half-done state (as an equivalent to a save-operation in an editor) and then continue editing, borders on the inexcusable—use an external editor for such purposes.

The reason is that other commenters may read and answer to the original email notification (even editing offline or using a “reply by mail” mechanism), and changes can cause considerable extra work for them, make the reply unnecessary, cause them to give a reply that does not address all relevant aspects or is confusing to other readers, or similar. This applies even more strongly, and for similar reasons of consistency, to comments that have already received replies from others.

A better way is to add a new comment with a clarification or retraction. This way, the original email notification remains relevant and additional notifications are (automatically) issued for the new comments.


Written by michaeleriksson

January 6, 2011 at 12:37 am

Muslim Creationists lacking in intellectual honesty

with one comment

I recently commented on a Muslim blog claiming to have rational evidence for the existence of Gode. (They did not, not even close.) I left a brief comment there—this comment, and those of others, appear to be censored in a grossly intellectually dishonest way.

I quote from what the blog owners say in their own comment:

Es fehlt uns die Zeit allen, welche bei diesem Thema einen Kommentar hinterlassen haben (es sind ca.10), zu antworten.

(We do not have the time to answer everyone (there are about 10) who has left a comment to this topic.)

There is no need to individually answer all comments and not being able to answer is no excuse for not publishing—on the contrary, it is far worse than publishing an unanswered comment. I further note that there is not an excessive amount of work per head involved for several people to answer ten comments (should they see the need). For that matter, why was the solution not chosen to pick a smaller number of comments and reply specifically to these.

The true reason, then, is in all likelihood the suppression of dissent.

Bei allen Kommentaren haben wir gemerkt, dass man gar nicht auf die Punkte eingegangen ist. Eher hat man mit anderen Punkten abgelenkt und lediglich behauptet, dass die Punkte, die erwähnt wurden, nicht stimmen. Bewiesen hat man es jedoch nicht.

(With all comments, we have noticed that no-one has discussed our points. Rather, they have distracted with other points and only claimed that the points that were mentioned were incorrect. Nothing was proved, however.)

Firstly, it is who he makes a claim who has to prove it—not those skeptical of the claim. Further, no-one prevented the blog owners from starting a dialog in the comments, requesting/allowing evidence. Secondly, if the points (all two of them) are wrong, there is no reason to discuss their contents before there correctness has been discussed. Thirdly, even a discussion of the correctness is a discussion and not a distraction. Fourthly, bringing in other points is not wrong (as long as they are reasonably on topic). Fifthly, if all commenters were unanimously in agreement that the points were wrong, then that should be cause to stop and reconsider: Could we be wrong? Have we explained ourselves too poorly?

Wir zwingen keinen daran zu glauben. Doch wer ein offenes Herz an, erkennt die Wahrheit.

(We force no-one to believe this. But who has an open heart, will realize the truth.)

The blog entry alleged to give rational proof. This having convinced no-one, the issue is suddenly made a matter of faith. Further, the reader is insulted through the implication that his heart would not be open.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 19, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Trolling or honest interest?

with 2 comments

Every now and then, I encounter a particular type of commenter who puzzles me:

She (women appear to dominate) asks a vaguely formulated (or otherwise open to interpretation) question, without giving any actual input to the discussion, awaits the resulting answers—and limits her involvement to statements like “Please clarify.” and other means of eliciting further reactions from other readers. Often this is combined with a statement of having an “honest interest” in others opinions.

Now: Is this a subtle form of trolling or really a sign of honest interest?

To give a specific example: I am currently semi-involved in a Swedish discussion on objectification, how women’s looks affect their career chances, and similare. A late-comer to the discussion is the commenter “Tanja”, whose three comments to date (in translation, no attempts to improve the original language) consist of:

I have not had managed [bothered, had the endurance] to read all the comments right now, but I wonder one thing. You men who are annoyed [angered] about good-looking women having advantages – how much time, work, and money do you invested in looking good? [I contend that she has misunderstood what the men actually say, but that is a different matter.]

Michaeleriksson:
The thinking with me is that there is obviously an opinion that men are disadvantaged in the area “get advantages for being good looking and sexy”. I wonder how many of the men who complain over not having access to a lot of privileges like good-looking women have themselves tried to look good. I am genuinely curious.

AW:
As exalted as over what? Feel free to explain.
Besides this I still would like to have an answer to my question.

This with regard to a long comment thread and three comments (two by me) explicitly addressing her—the shortest of which is longer than her own longest.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm