More moderation policy stuff

For those of you who didn’t follow all of the comments following Heart’s post, Heart in the end decided not to try out radical-feminist-women only threads on “Alas.”

I’ve also decided that my previous scheme to restrict MRAs to particular topic categories was simply too convoluted to work. (My belief is that no policy that takes more than twenty seconds to explain will be workable in practice.)

Instead, I’ve decided to experiment with marking some posts as “feminist, pro-feminist and feminist-friendly only” threads (such as yesterday’s transwomen & feminism post). This is similar to Heart’s proposal, but it’s not limited to radical feminists, and pro-feminist men are allowed. Also, I’ve decided to be freer about kicking MRAs and anti-feminists off (although I still don’t take requests, so please don’t ask). Hopefully, this will address the concerns of folks who felt “Alas” has become too MRA-dominated. We’ll see how it goes, and make further adjustments if necessary.

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52 Responses to More moderation policy stuff

  1. Pingback: Shiny Ideas

  2. Pingback: feminist blogs

  3. 3
    Bitch | Lab says:

    Amp, you’re a pretty cool bloghoster! Thanks for all the hard work.

  4. 4
    ScottM says:

    I’m glad you’ve come up with a system that works for you. Thanks for educating us.

  5. 5
    Bonnie says:

    Well, that does sound less complicated and more workable. What I’m thinking is that you’ll have to monitor your threads a lot more closely to catch the idiots in the act, and I’m wondering if you’ll have time to do that.

  6. 6
    Bonnie says:

    Also (if I may stick in two more cents?) I really liked most of what Heart was saying. Now that P.A. is gone, I believe you need a more rad-fem viewpoint here. Too bad she didn’t think it would work.

  7. 7
    pdf23ds says:

    3: I dunno. Encouraging people to just ignore posters that break the rules until Amp moderates them away might work. If people don’t feel like the errant comment is just going to sit there unanswered forever, they might not be as tempted to take the bait.

  8. 8
    James Q says:

    Well, being a mildly pro-feminist person (I believe in a number feminist issues and positions, but have differing view points with others) I am like this new policy for a couple of reasons.

    1. It gives a place where the underlying foundations of feminism, such as questioning simply whether feminism is good or not or necessary and/or if domestic violence is equal problem for women and men or not, is not debated so that conversations can more easily occur outside that framework.
    2. People, who post unfriendly feminism comments mistakenly or not, derail threads, and trolls can be easily identified and the following actions can be taken…

    A. Being at first politely informed that this thread is feminism friendly; therefore, there comment is off topic.
    B. If they continue to persist they are then trolling the thread and can be ignored and/or banned (temporarily or forever).

    I do have one suggestion Ampersand, perhaps in addition to feminism friendly threads you can also explicitly state for various threads that deal with domestic violence and rape whether the focus of a particular thread is explicitly on women (female victims) or not. Reason why I state this is that I notice that there is a significant debate whether bring up male victims in these threads is causing derailment; therefore, explicitly state a thread is about female victims would help clarify the issue.

    One question I have whether middle of the road comments are allowable in feminism friendly threads or not for instance…

    A debate not that female victims are the primary victims of domestic violence, but that male victims are underrepresented.

  9. 9
    devia says:

    This is the first time I’ve made a comment within your blog, I respect that it is your blog.
    See fit to do what you decide, it is your own space. You’re never going to please everyone, those that try more often then not go against their own choosen morals.

  10. 10
    Kristjan Wager says:

    Amp, your moderation policy sounds pretty good.

    I have one question. Do I qualify for participating in such threads? Given the back that I have a pretty different background (Danish man) from most commenters here, I am unsure if you would prefer me to stay away from such threads.
    If you prefer not to answer publicly, please feel free to email me the answer (public@kristjanwager.dk).

  11. 11
    Barbara says:

    I’ve only loosely followed the moderation issue, with holidays, baby, illness, etc., intervening. I trust you will find a workable solution, but one thing to consider is to enforce a limit on the number of posts per poster per hour, at least in threads that devolve into tedious, fractious dialogues that go on and on and that drive everyone else out. A blog hostess at a different blog I used to read did this every so often and it seemed to work by making it too much effort for trolls to seize hold of the thread and giving space to other posters.

  12. 12
    Aegis says:

    Ampersand said:
    Instead, I’ve decided to experiment with makring some posts as “feminist, pro-feminist and feminist-friendly only” threads (such as yesterday’s transwomen & feminism post). This is similar to Heart’s proposal, but it’s not limited to radical feminists, and pro-feminist men are allowed.

    Amp, do you mean that these threads are for posters who are “feminist, pro-feminist, and feminist-friendly” in general, is it enough to simply hold “feminist, pro-feminist, and feminist-friendly” views on the subject of the thread and be willing to discuss it from a feminist perspective? There are many posters (like me!) who agree with feminists on some issues, and disagree with them on others. If these posters happen to agree with feminist positions in one of the threads under question, are they welcome to post on it?

  13. 13
    deleted says:

    Spam deleted by Amp.

  14. 14
    Kristjan Wager says:

    Reason why I state this is that I notice that there is a significant debate whether bring up male victims in these threads is causing derailment; therefore, explicitly state a thread is about female victims would help clarify the issue.

    Hasn’t Amp being that? Or am I imagining things? I recall at least one post where he made it clear that this was not about male victims, and such comments were unwelcome and would be deleted.

  15. 15
    furrycatherder says:

    How do people contest being slandered by posters here?

    In particular, my posts to the Dad’s Divorce website were never “anti-feminist” in any sense of the word, except in the sense that Cheryl is opposed to father’s having any kinds of rights, as well as her attacks against transsexuals on a wide variety of boards.

    I am, and have been, a avowed feminist for 25 years. Whether I’ve been a contributor to such lists as “Abigail’s Rebels” (go look that one up if anyone doubts my credentials), a contributor to “Catt’s Claws” (another list owned by the same woman — Irene Stubner, former NOW president of Arkansas), a participant in, or dues-paying member of NOW from the mid-80′s through fairly modern times (I didn’t drop my NOW membership until a few years ago when I dropped all memberships, regardless of orientation, including Emily’s List, ACLU and ADL).

    Cheryl’s (Heart) attacks on me on this board, and others, aren’t based on anything anti-feminist that I’ve written, but on my absolute refusal to be cowered by a woman who simply hates transsexuals.

  16. 16
    Jimmy Ho says:

    [Ampersand, you'll probably see it, but the "Guangzhou online" comment #11 is copy'n'paste spasm (taken from James Q's comment #6).]

  17. 17
    cicely says:

    I write to confirm that furrycatherder is indeed a feminist. I have known her online at the michfest forum for almost a year, and there is absolutely no doubt about this. It would be an injustice to keep her banned from this blog on the grounds that she is not.

  18. 18
    furrycatherder says:

    Cicely,

    I appreciate your support. However, Heart has escalated this conflict to the point that I feel it’s best if “FurryCatHearder” just dies. The harm she’s done to me personally makes it unsafe for me to keep opposing her.

  19. 19
    Ampersand says:

    The last thing I want is for “Alas” to become yet another venue for transplanted fights from the Michboards. All of you are going to have to either decide to attack arguments, not posters, while you’re here; or not post here.

    For now, FCH is welcome to post on “Alas,” just not on the threads marked “feminist only.” If I change my mind about that, it’ll be based on what FCH posts here. I’m genuinely sorry if this is unfair and an injustice, but I think occasional problems like this one are the price of having some “feminist only” threads.

  20. 20
    furrycatherder says:

    Amp,

    I’m certainly sympathetic to your concerns about fights being transplanted. And I’m happy to see that at least Cicely has vouched for my feminist credentials.

    I didn’t mean to attack Heart in the sense of “Heart is a big meanie”, but rather to show that people can hold views which don’t look precisely “feminist” when taken out of context and which don’t reflect on the overall feminism of any given poster.

    That said, given that Heart has posted my real name out in the blogosphere I don’t feel safe posting to any board using the name “FurryCatHerder”. So I don’t know how I’m ever going to prove I’m anything other than what’s been said about me by others.

    If y’all would like to see something more explicitly “feminist” that I’ve written over on that website, might I suggest Things Feminists Say About Men. It was a defense against a claim that men somehow “need” anti-feminism to offset feminism.

  21. 21
    Ledasmom says:

    From my point of view as a frequent reader and occasional poster, the main effect of declaring a thread “feminist, pro-feminist and feminist-friendly only” is to produce posts debating whether so-and-so is feminist, thereby slowing up the discussion, it seems to me, much more than a few unfriendly posters would. In addition, ought posters to be judged by what they write elsewhere or by their conduct here, and what is the actual working definition of feminism that’s being used as a standard? As we’ve seen from recent discussions, reasonable people can disagree on what feminism is or should be.

  22. 22
    furrycatherder says:

    L,

    If you read the referenced post it actually speaks about some of that disagreement. To wit, do liberal feminists have to put up with the accusation by radical feminists that we’re not actually feminists?

    And to apply radical feminist analysis, who benefits by the conflict created by radical feminists against liberal feminists? Men. Men benefit because instead of radical feminists and liberal feminists attacking patriachy from a diversity of perspectives, we’re stuck wasting time defending ourselves from some pretty nasty assertions. Which means (tada!) that the interdisciplinary conflicts created by radical feminists support patriarchy.

  23. 23
    Robert says:

    Which means (tada!) that the interdisciplinary conflicts created by radical feminists support patriarchy.

    Yeah, although I wouldn’t assign the blame specifically to one faction.

    I’m not nearly as much in favor of just keeping the patriarchy as I used to be (daughters’ll do that), but this remains a sticking point. Whenever we see feminists, we see them arguing with one another and creating splinter cliques from splinter cliques. If y’all can’t unite when you’re being crushingly oppressed by a hostile force, then what kind of clusterfuck will the world become if these politically incompetent people actually get power?

    (Maybe there’s some secret population of politically capable feminists, but I’m not seeing many.)

    By politically capable, btw, I don’t mean in the sense of being able to pass legislation or what have you. I mean being able to sustain a group with more than a fraction of its members over a period of time in the fact of real setbacks and opposition. That’s hard when every fifteen minutes someone is being exiled or called a tool of the patriarchy or huffing off to start their OWN blog or what have you. The only group I’ve seen with similar dynamics are the conservatives in Britain and the capital-L Libertarians in the US.

  24. 24
    Ledasmom says:

    Ya know, Robert, I can’t imagine why anyone finds you hard to get along with when you say things like that.
    Quite simply, as to feminist-friendly threads, I’d much rather see people arguing among themselves in threads as to who’s a feminist, than arguing to Amp about who shouldn’t be there because they’re not a feminist.

  25. 25
    Myca says:

    posting to any board using the name “FurryCatHerder”.

    Just a quick off-topic comment: I swear to god, before this post, with each of the words in your username capitalized, I honestly thought you were just misspelling “FurryCatheder,” and, as you can imagine, I was disturbed. I blame it on Hysterical User Name Blindness.

    Furry Cat Herder is much better.

    —Myca

  26. 26
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Just a quick off-topic comment: I swear to god, before this post, with each of the words in your username capitalized, I honestly thought you were just misspelling “FurryCatheder,” and, as you can imagine, I was disturbed. I blame it on Hysterical User Name Blindness.Furry Cat Herder is much better.

    A lot of people have that same mis-reading. But, yanno, “catheter” has a “t” instead of a “d”, which says you’re probably more “aural” than “visual”.

  27. 27
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Quite simply, as to feminist-friendly threads, I’d much rather see people arguing among themselves in threads as to who’s a feminist, than arguing to Amp about who shouldn’t be there because they’re not a feminist.

    I’d much rather see less arguing amongst feminists about who is a feminist, whether it occurs in threads or in appeals to moderators or blog owners.

    I think that feminists argue amongst ourselves about “Who is a Feminist?” in part because it’s one of the few areas in our lives where we have the illusion of any kind of power. But also because feminism has a long and illustrious career of women’s energies being sapped by other movements that we’ve aligned with. No clearer example exists, I think, than the Abolition movement in the 19th century and the way in which women were tossed by the wayside once slavery was ended. But that, it seems, is a mistake we’ve learned from and I’d think we can move forward with an awareness that we have to hold allied movements accountable to women for the energy we contribute to those movements.

    That said, when non-allied feminist denominations — meaning, not “Eco Feminists” or “Pro-Pr0n Feminists” or “Save The Males Feminists” — fight it seems like a pure waste of time and energy.

  28. 28
    Myca says:

    But, yanno, “catheter” has a “t” instead of a “d”, which says you’re probably more “aural” than “visual”.

    *grin*

    Tooshei!

    Er . . . I mean . . . Touche.

    —Myca

  29. 29
    FurryCatHerder says:

    *grin*

    Tooshei!

    Er . . . I mean . . . Touche

    Heh. Yeah, and y’all always seem to skim over the “r” in “Herder”, too.

    One of the blogs I post to doesn’t allow mixed-case user names and I have the most trouble there with my name. Of all the names I’ve ever had on-line, this is the singularly most controversial.

  30. 30
    alsis39 says:

    Robert wrote:

    By politically capable, btw, I don’t mean in the sense of being able to pass legislation or what have you. I mean being able to sustain a group with more than a fraction of its members over a period of time in the fact of real setbacks and opposition.

    Because you have not seen them, they do not exist. Got it. (Oh, hell, Robert. Go look at some of the organization links on this page.)

    That’s hard when every fifteen minutes someone is being exiled or called a tool of the patriarchy or huffing off to start their OWN blog or what have you.

    Thank You again for proving what most women in this space know. One can be “civil” as the day is long and still repeatedly demonstrate that they have little respect for and understanding of the issues they insist upon discussing.

  31. 31
    Robert says:

    Alsis, I don’t pretend to have complete knowledge of the femisphere.

    But I do have complete knowledge of what I have myself experienced. And that is that ever feminist group or space I’ve ever seen – from womyn’s studies groups in college up to the present day – has a strong tendency to disintegrate due to infighting. Some groups survive – by constantly cycling new members in as old ones leave. The members of these groups themselves generally seem to recognize the problem; it’s often attributed to outside forces. And that’s a reasonable thesis, because there are certainly a lot of anti-feminists out there who would like nothing more than to break up feminist groupings and sow dissension. But when we look at spaces where that isn’t the case, the same phenomenon exists. What was the first thing that happened when Amp decided to have some feminist-only space for discussion? A huge fight, with some feminists walking out.

    I am not sure how my observations demonstrate a lack of respect; surely the phenomenon either exists or does not exist. A lack of understanding, it could easily demonstrate. The org links don’t really help because they don’t present objective data; organizational web pages don’t usually have as the first article “yet another schism as our inability to unite continues” even if that’s happening. Help me out; what feminist groups do you know of whose membership has been largely stable and accruing across time, where infighting and discussions don’t regularly lead to people leaving or being booted out, where arguments and grudges don’t persist among cliques, propagating from group to group to group?

  32. 32
    alsis39 says:

    Some groups survive – by constantly cycling new members in as old ones leave.

    But isn’t that normal in a college environment ? Most folks don’t remain in college for more than four years unless they get a graduate degree at the same school they got their bachelors in… Or stay to teach or work on staff or… The trouble with using that as a measure of feminism’s health is that it doesn’t track what the student takes away into the world at large with her. It doesn’t track what she uses of her college experiences in the world at large.

    I realize that you will probably now acuse me of “moving the goalpost” again, but honestly– I don’t think using a stable staff in a college Women’s Center is an acurate measure of the movement’s health. I do envy all the women who had such a center on their campuses in college. I didn’t.

    But when we look at spaces where that isn’t the case, the same phenomenon exists. What was the first thing that happened when Amp decided to have some feminist-only space for discussion? A huge fight, with some feminists walking out.

    If you’ve been following the two most recent giant threads, though, much of that has died down, and not everyone who wanted to leave at first did leave. Piny, for instance, is still here, for which I am grateful. New folks who say that they have previously been too timid to do anything but lurk are now also posting some damn interesting stuff, for which I am grateful.

    I am not sure how my observations demonstrate a lack of respect;

    “Huffing off to start their OWN blog…” sounds like some kind of backhanded slam at P-A and bean, if you ask me. “Huffing off,” implying that they are just foolish little girls who used some trivial incident on this board as an excuse to damage The Movement by wanting their own space.

    (Tell me, Robert, do you feel that you are damaging Libertarianism by having your own board, and not subsuming it into some larger board run by some more prominent and popular Libertarian whom you nonetheless don’t find yourself in 100% agreement with ?)

    Then again, you seem to like to make backhanded slams at me in the middle of sundry threads, too– Implying that my grouchiness and fondness for some Socialist writings are evidence that I’m a closet admirer of mass murderers and/or not playing with a full deck. Maybe I should just take the “judge me by my enemies” tack and leave it that. Maybe P-A and bean should as well.

    Help me out; what feminist groups do you know of whose membership has been largely stable and accruing across time, where infighting and discussions don’t regularly lead to people leaving or being booted out, where arguments and grudges don’t persist among cliques, propagating from group to group to group?

    That would depend on what you meant by “across time.” The Ms. Boards survived multiple traumas before they finally disintegrated. The Ms. Foundation and its publication have certainly been around awhile. Though it’s not a group or a mindset I have any patience for these days, I don’t fault them for wanting to survive. What about various local women’s shelters like Bradley-Angle or Raphael House or the one in your town ? Would those count as enduring feminist institutions ? What about Planned Parenthood ? Women in Trades ? CLUW ? A group need not satisfy every requirement in your list to endure and provide for women.

    I don’t know how long The Margins has existed. As with Ms., it’s not a group I want to be part of, but I know that Cheryl/Heart set up her membership with the goal of preserving the space and avoiding blow-ups. If what I’ve read here and elsewhere is any indication, it may also be a mistake to equate disagreement with instability. Some people consider it a mark of respect to disagree, rather than to sweep differences under the rug, even though it’s risky to do so. Sometimes they’re even right about that.

  33. 33
    Robert says:

    Alsis, college was 20 years ago. That was the first of many exposures, not the bulk of them.

    You’re right; “huffing off” was a disrespectful choice of wording. I withdraw it.

    I’m not damaging libertarianism by having my own blog; but then, I didn’t used to be part of a bigger libertarian group that I couldn’t get along with, either. I do not know what Bean et al’s motivations are in setting up their own shops, and I wasn’t intending to specifically call them out as exemplars.

    Thanks for the examples. I’m not sure that they really undermine the idea; the explicitly feminist groups you list either have savagely destructive infighting or are tiny splinter organizations. You are quite right that this doesn’t mean they can’t provide good services to women.

    If you don’t perceive my original observation to be true, that’s fine. I wasn’t intending to start an argument, just to agree with another poster about the level of dissension.

  34. 34
    alsis39 says:

    You’re right; “huffing off” was a disrespectful choice of wording. I withdraw it.

    Thank You.

    I’m not damaging libertarianism by having my own blog; but then, I didn’t used to be part of a bigger libertarian group that I couldn’t get along with, either.

    But not every feminist on this board is literally a card-carrying member of any organized group, either. Some are, some are not. Some of us –like me– donate to feminist causes but unfortunately don’t really have other skills to contribute. That would be the difference between a blog run by me and bean’s blog or Countess’ blog. I would be the first to say that in concrete terms, both of them are doing more of the difficult, dangerous grunt-work of feminism than I ever could. But we’re all still feminists.

    Oh, and the woman who has neither marketable skills nor room in her wallet to donate ? If she strives to live as a feminist and works as best she can toward the day where she CAN provide some kind of support to other women, she’s a feminist, too.

  35. 35
    Barbara says:

    Robert, there is a group known as Emily’s List that has appeared to survive. They don’t qualify as radical feminists, but they do recruit women to run for public office as pro-choice Democrats and otherwise try to get women involved in public life. It’s been around for a decade. One reason why many groups disintegrate (not just feminist ones, but others as well) is that many groups don’t “do” much — they just talk among themselves, and eventually people get tired of just talking. A group with an active mission that focuses on its activities rather than its mission statement can survive. This can be true of church committees as well as politically motivated groups. I don’t think feminists stand out in that regard, other than that many women find it appealing to form groups in the first instance in order to try to address one or more issues.

    http://www.emilyslist.org/about/

  36. 36
    piny says:

    Off Our Backs and The Lesbian Connection come to mind. So does MWMF.

  37. 37
    Robert says:

    Good point, Barbara. I notice that the successful groups that Alsis lists are mostly people who have some non-general action agenda.

  38. 38
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Barbara sez:

    Robert, there is a group known as Emily’s List that has appeared to survive. They don’t qualify as radical feminists, but they do recruit women to run for public office as pro-choice Democrats and otherwise try to get women involved in public life.

    Emily’s List isn’t a group in the same sense that N.O.W. is a group, it’s more of a Political Action Commitee that isn’t actually a P.A.C. (though the Radical Political Wrong (heh) keeps trying to screw them over like they are one …)

    The really cool thing about Emily’s is that they send you stuff in the mail about women candidates and then you do something about it. And hopefully after the election, you see the results. I think this “however much you can be involved is OK” approach is a big part of their success. That and their goals are much simpler — elect like-politically-mind women to office.

    (The really uncool think about Emily’s is that they seem to sell their mailing list …)

  39. 39
    alsis39 says:

    The really uncool think about Emily’s is that they seem to sell their mailing list …

    The other really uncool thing about them is that they don’t support women who run outside the duopoly. >:

  40. 40
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Robert, there is a group known as Emily’s List that has appeared to survive. They don’t qualify as radical feminists, but they do recruit women to run for public office as pro-choice Democrats and otherwise try to get women involved in public life.

    Apropos what’s good about successful feminist groups, I believe they don’t support independent candidates because independent candidates often have squat for a chance to win. My recollection of Emily’s candidate selection criteria is that the candidate has to have a fighting chance at winning and they have to have the correct political credentials. I don’t think Emily’s will recommend a candidate that everyone knows is going to get smooshed.

  41. 41
    alsis39 says:

    Thanks for the Circular Logic 101 lesson, FCH. A woman can’t hear it too often, let me tell you… :p

    What’s the old saying ? Don’t vote for freedom and justice, because you might not get it. Vote for tyranny and fear, because THAT, you’re sure to get. ;)

  42. 42
    Myca says:

    The ‘third party candidate debate’ is an interesting one, and a debate that’s worth having, but maybe we shouldn’t have it here?

    I’m not trying to play ‘subject cop’ or anything . . . it’s just that I was about to write a response to you, Alsis39, and I suddenly had a burst of prescience and saw that if I did, there’s a good chance of serious topic derailment.

    —Myca

  43. 43
    alsis39 says:

    Don’t worry, Myca. I’ve spoken my piece on that for today.

  44. 44
    FurryCatHerder says:

    The ‘third party candidate debate’ is an interesting one, and a debate that’s worth having, but maybe we shouldn’t have it here?

    Do I run screaming for the exit now or later?

  45. 48
    Ledasmom says:

    What the hell is that on top of an otherwise-blameless custardy or flannish thing? I mean, it looks like Dessert Coming To Life.

  46. 49
    FurryCatHerder says:

    I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be. It reminds me a bit of a stylized rendition of the Jerusalem skyline on the bag for my prayer shawl (tallit). The photo was taken in a Morrocan / Sephardic restaurant I visited two months back. I picked that photo after Alsis pointed me at pics of her cats playing with dreidels, so that’s how I was hoping she’d see it.

  47. 50
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Amp,

    Have I sat in time-out long enough?

  48. 51
    Lostchild says:

    “The comments of this thread are open to feminist, pro-feminist and feminist-friendly commenters only”

    While, I agree with you and all that I really have one question. How can we be any better than our opponents if we won’t even hear arguments from them, however stupid or ill thought out they may be. Just asking.

    [I moved this comment to this thread, to avoid the chance of the other thread being digressed. --Amp]

  49. 52
    Ampersand says:

    Lostchild:

    There are many threads on “Alas” in which we hear from our opponents. There’s also a whole wide world, outside of this and other blogs, in which we hear from our opponents. Our opponents, after all, control three branches of government and much of the major media; we’d have to be hermits NOT to hear from them.

    Having a few isolated threads in which we’re allowed to have a discussion amongst ourselves, is not logically the same thing as utterly closing ourselves off from hearing our opponents, in all circumstances.