Moderation Policy Question(s)–Need Feedback?

I’m trying to revamp the moderation over at my site, Rachel’s Tavern. As I frequently mention, I get many racism apologists, unorganized white supremacists, organized white supremacists, and colorblind racists stopping through my site. Once they are combined with the random misogynists and general bigots, I have about a million haters.

I was thinking about doing the same thing as Amp does with threads that are open only to feminist and feminist friendly posters only applying it to race instead. Maybe I could do threads open only to anti-racists or anti-racist friendly posters. I realize that many regular commenters get frustrated and scared away when too many of these racism apologists/white supremacists/colorblind racists start coming around. It is frustrating because that is the desired effect of these haters–to shut this site down and scare people away. I am happy that at this point I have a bunch of spunky commenters who take these people on, especially since I can’t be sitting around at every moment responding to all of them.

But what do you think?

Certainly, one of the problems I’m going to face is that nobody ever thinks that they are a racism apologist/white supremacist/color blind racist, so I might have to change the wording. Any suggestions?

I’m also curious how well people think the feminist only/profeminists threads work here at Alas. Do you think it works?

I should note that I am not making any suggestions for changing Alas. This is for my site Rachel’s Tavern, but I feel it would be nice to see what others think about how this has worked over here at Alas.

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40 Responses to Moderation Policy Question(s)–Need Feedback?

  1. Pingback: Thinking Girl

  2. 2
    sailorman says:

    I find the “_____ only” approach dishonest and problematic.

    It’s dishonest because it hides what you’re trying to achieve by using a code word. It’s also problematic because then you get into perfectly reasonable discussions vis a vis who a ___ instead of focusing on the matter at hand.

    Instead you should just say what you mean: if you have a “feminists only” thread and you define feminists for that thread as “people who are prochoice and want to discuss abortion access issues with that in mind”… well, just say “prochoice posters only”. And if you have a race thread talking about AA and reparations and you only want posters who are on the same page as you wrt those two issues then say so.

    Where those classifications go wrong is by trying to make a broader, secondary, point–and not expecting people to respond to it. It’s like a post saying “true Americans only.”

    Besides, it’s confusing. I have advocated for rape victims; I support improvements in rape laws to make convictions stick, etc etc. But I don’t necessarily support criminalizing, say, “bugging” someone for sex. Do I post on a “feminist only” thread discussing rape? Some of them view me as a good participant; others view me as a rapist waiting in the wings. Why would I want to waste ANYONE’S time posting on the latter threads?

    When people have meta-discussions about classification, it’s widely acknowledged that it’s insanely difficult to classify “feminists”, “race advocates”, etc etc. So why start a thread and assume all your posters will instantly agree on what it means AND that their definitions will match yours?

    As a not-especially-radical sort who occasionally doesn’t meet the “cutoff” I can assure you: Everyone would be happier if everyone knew up front what those classifications meant. It’s a pain to write a post in a ‘feminists” thread only to find they really meant a “women only” thread.

    It would require you to be really truthful about what you do and don’t want to hear. And sure, you’d get some flak for “stifling dissent”. But hey, if you ARE going to ignore/delete/chastise posters for saying things, may as well be up front about it.

    Think of the difference between a “should the U.S. fund abortions through health care” thread limited to
    “feminists”
    “prochoice people only”
    “advocates of socialized medicine, prochoice or not”

    and so on.

  3. 3
    Rachel S. says:

    Thanks for your feedback sailorman.

  4. 4
    SamChevre says:

    I’d be inclined to agree with Sailorman. When “who’s feminist” is a still-open discussion, saying “feminist-only” is much less helpful than saying “pro-choice only”.

    For example, I’ve commented in the past that it is important, when considering white reactions to affirmative action and to legacy preferences, to realize that those who are benefited by legacy preferences, and those who perceive themselves as harmed by affirmative action, are usually from different ethnicities and social classes, even when both are white. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, that may or may not be helpful; saying “anti-racists only” doesn’t really help me decide.

  5. 5
    mandolin says:

    It sounds like a great idea to me, with different phrasing. Sometimes the discussion has to move on from “but is science denying the fact that black people are just less intelligent than white people?”

  6. 6
    Myca says:

    I tend to agree with Sailorman’s suggestions . . . be as specific as possible so as to avoid people saying, “but I’m not . . .”

    The other comment I’d have is that, were I you, I would avoid quoting/criticizing/critiquing the posts of people who are not allowed to respond, or at the least, to make an exception for them specifically to respond. It doesn’t really affect me one way or the other (got no blog, want no blog ;-> ), but I’ve always sort of thought of it as a little sleazy. “Haw haw haw, I’m going to say all kinds of crap about you that you’re not allowed to argue with, haw haw haw.”

    Now, granted, even in that situation, I think the pile-on of racists can be avoided by specifying that the exception to the normal commentary rules is just for that person. If they want to some comment without their normal racist possee to back them up, well . . . good luck.

  7. 7
    trillian says:

    I agree with others that you need to be careful in how you word it, but I think that in general the policy is largely an effective one. It starts to be difficult or near-impossible to have any substantial discussion about the finer points of feminism or race relations while defending the conversation itself against the persistent idea that women and people of color don’t have a personhood to examine. I think that Amp has generally been pretty understanding of the myriad definitions of feminism, and seems to use that moderation setup as a way of keeping threads from being actively (sometimes maliciously) derailed, not so much to keep the viewpoint totally homogenous.

  8. 8
    trillian says:

    hmm, or what mandolin more pithily said ;)

  9. 9
    Rachel S. says:

    Thanks folks,
    This is exctly what I struggle with. I want a diversity of opinions, but I very frequently, get the “but white people are the victims of racism” type arguments, which are generally irrelevant to the discussion. I wouldn’t mind having a debate about that at some point, but it is usally brought up at the wrong time.

    I can try to stop thread derailement, but sometimes that can go in good directions.

    I suspect one of the problems if I used the term anti-racist–I might get 3 or 4 people who feel that applies to them.

  10. 10
    FurryCatHerder says:

    The problem I have with “feminist-only” requirements are two fold –

    1). No one is out there certifying who is or isn’t a “feminist”, meaning, anyone who wants to claim they are a feminist can do so. “I support disenfranchising women because it will save them so much time learning how to have a job, and that’s pro-women”. We’ve seen some pretty whack things presented as “feminism” that are clearly only being advanced because the person wants to cause trouble.

    2). Which “feminism” are we talking about? I’ve watched a number of “feminist-only discussions morph into “Radical Feminist only” or “3rd Wave Feminist only” or “You’re not a feminist because you’re the wrong kind of feminist” or even worse, “You’re not a feminist because XYZ Feminism isn’t feminism” (and XYZ Feminism is a mainstream, well-regarded school of feminist thought) or “You’re kind of feminism is obsolete and if you knew anything at all, you’d be an XYZ Feminist” (where then is no agreement that XYZ Feminism has replaced anything at all).

    Better would be to list those beliefs / theories that are off the table for debate. I saw Sailorman’s post before heading out to lunch and based my response originally on his response when it was the only one, so I’m not picking on him, I’ve just not spent as much time thinking about anyone else’s responses. Apropos his comment, I think “All forms of pressure for sex is wrong” is one thing, and I think stating that as an “off the table” point would prevent debates about whether or not “bugging for sex” is wrong. Doesn’t mean “bugging for sex” is universally agreed to be something that should result in jail time, just that “bugging for sex” isn’t agreed to, and doesn’t have to be agreed to, as something that should result in the “bugger” going to prison. I think marking the boundaries of acceptable debate would help prevent thread derailment, and that’s a good thing in the blogosphere.

  11. 11
    Joe says:

    I agree with sailorman. I support with much of what I’ve read on alas (sometimes with real acts.) but I don’t agree with everything. I don’t think I’m a racist/MRA apologist/whatever. I enjoy debating or discussing a ‘close call’ and hypothetical. All that said I don’t want to derail a thread or start a fight. If I knew more specifically what was open for discussion I’d be better able to respect the boundaries. I agree with sailorman. I support with much of what I’ve read on alas (sometimes with real acts.) but I don’t agree with everything. I don’t think I’m a racist/MRA apologist/whatever. I do enjoy debating or discussing a ‘close call’ or hypothetical. All that said I don’t want to derail a thread or start a fight. If I knew more specifically what was open for discussion I’d be better able to respect the boundaries.

    Labels are problematic. If you’d put a label on the uconn post saying “non-racists /no apologists’ I’d have posted. If you’d put a tag on saying that you only wanted comments from people who saw the racism in that party I’d just have lurked.

    I also don’t see that as ‘stifling’ debate so much as focusing it. If you want to have a high level debate sometimes you have to tighten the scope. I read on another blog (I think it was greg mankiw’s) that [professionals/experts] don’t like to comment on blogs because it’s like trying to shout in a crowded room.

    Another idea is to have a separate place for anyone to comment as they like. That way you’re not shutting anyone out, you’re just trying to keep the conversation intelligible.

    anyway there’s my 2cents.

  12. 12
    RonF says:

    One thing I would say is to not concern you with getting too legalistic. No one has a right to post comments on your blog – it is a privilege you accord them. If you think someone is a negative influence on your blog, ban/block them. I see a moderation as a guideline, not a legal document. Just because you follow the letter of the guideline doesn’t mean that the moderator shouldn’t feel free to say “You may follow the letter, but not the spirit – clean up your act or you’re gone.”

  13. 13
    trillian says:

    I can try to stop thread derailement, but sometimes that can go in good directions.

    It absolutely can; I should clarity that by “active derailment” I specifically meant those trollish arguments that are intended to hold up discussion, not well-intentioned tangents. Like the inflammatory racists the post mentions, or asswipes who pop up on rape threads to say bitchez wantd teh sex.

    Spaghetti Monster knows I’m not one to talk about tangents…

  14. 14
    trillian says:

    or, I should clariFy, not clarity…Hey, I’m two for two on parenthetical double posting today, sorry!

  15. 15
    mandolin says:

    Maybe start with a post on what you think anti-racism is, and then let people build on that definition? And once that conversation’s been had by the community frequenting your site, maybe it will give a framework for creating vocabulary — or at least links — that could help people decide whether they might identify as anti-racist on your terms.

  16. 16
    drydock says:

    Rachel can you unblock me?

  17. 17
    Susan says:

    I second what everyone has said about being more specific.

    Take me. (No, don’t. That’s just a figure of speech.)

    Am I a “feminist”?

    Well, for starters I’m a woman, which ought to count for something but maybe doesn’t. I’m a lot older than most of you-all, and I went to law school when that was unusual for a woman. After that, I forced it down the throats of the big firms that they outta hire me, and they did. And I made a buncha money doing that, and when I got tired of them eating my life I went out on my own and I made a buncha money doing that. And I stand down to no man or woman for being a mean bitch, I don’t take no crap from nobody. To say that I think women should have rights equal with men is to throw roses at it.

    Nevertheless, I am not enough of a feminist for many, maybe most, posters here at Alas because I very often do not hew closely enough to the Received Wisdom on a number of topics. (That’s how I got where I am, remember? by not hewing to the Received Wisdom, and not letting other people do my thinking for me.) For example, I am not pro-choice.

    In my experience, being a “feminist” at Alas (I don’t know anything about your blog, Rachel) is a lot like being a Roman Catholic at the extreme right-wing RC blogs I also frequent. ONE STEP OUT OF LINE from the Ruling Orthodoxy, and you’re out in the outer darkness.

    So. Am I OK on posts limited to “feminists”? That depends on what you mean by that, yes?

    Tell us what you want. You’re the blog owner, we post by your sufferance only.

  18. 18
    Rachel S. says:

    Drydock, from my site??? Rachel’s Tavern?

  19. 19
    mandolin says:

    “I very often do not hew closely enough to the Received Wisdom on a number of topics.”

    That phrase implies that the rest of us do not have logic to support our positions. So any position you don’t “hew closely enough to” is therefore Received rather than deduced, inferred or considered?

  20. 20
    Susan says:

    Mandolin

    The phrase “I very often do not hew closely enough to the Received Wisdom on a number of topics.” implies nothing of the sort. It says only that I don’t necessarily agree with Every Single Tenet of feminism as defined by the omniscient whoever.

    You may well have logic to support the positions upon which we disagree. And I may well have logic to support my position. Everyone should be able to think for herself, no?

    What I have found here, in some cases, is Orthodoxy, As in, you agree with us or you are a bad person. You agree with us or you’re not a “real” feminist. (According to Our Totally Knowledgeable Definition.) Or whatever.

    I’d like to argue some of the assumptions here, but when I try to do that, I’m a Bad Person.

    But that’s OK, I’m familiar with that attitude, from any number of other Orthodox (in every meaning of that word) sites. All good. I’m not interested in beating other people over the head. I’m just pointing out that in this particular area, there are Received Wisdoms which it is hell to challenge.

  21. 21
    Susan says:

    For further example:

    I got into a fight here some months ago (and accordingly wrote this site off for a very long time) over a statement that “x% of women are raped in the course of their lives.”

    It was a high percent. Approaching half.

    I had the unmitigated temerity to challenge this number, saying that in my experience and in the experiences of the women I knew the number was a lot less.

    Without citing any reputable data (real evidence is the sworn enemy of Right Thinking) the Orthodox here told me I had my head wedged, and that further I am of corrupt personal character and in league with rapists for challenging this statement. Practically a rapist myself in fact. And I was called a number of ugly names into the bargain.

    Well, it is what it is. My experience, the experiences of the women I know personally, are of no account, because The Received Wisdom is that X% of women are raped, and if we real women disagree, well that proves we’re out of line and out of touch with what is “really” happening according to the knowing. And probably bad people, in league with rapists, into the bargain.

    That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. And that is the root of my request that statements about who-all is qualified to comment on any particular blog on any particular thread be m0re specific than saying “no non-feminists need apply.”

    Please to be more specific.

  22. 22
    drydock says:

    Yeah, I can’t post there.

  23. 23
    maia says:

    Rachel – I also find this really hard, balancing a desire to have a discussion vs. the desire to create a safe-space for the powerless (on my own blog it’s relatively easy, because the NZ blogsphere is so full of gutter dwelling cretins that I just use my delete key to solve the problem).

    What I find most frustrating is the way certain topics almost always promote the same sort of debate, whatever you say about them. I don’t want to see every post about abortion turn into a debate over the moral status of a fetus, every post about fat become a debate about the dangers of not being thin, every post about rape to become a lawyerly discussion on whether or not a particular rapist would be convicted.

    I don’t find blanket ‘feminist only’ warnings that useful, because there may be people who identify with those sorts of analysis who want to have those sorts of debates. I’m moving more towards being quite specific about telling people what sort of debates I don’t want to have (except I always forget to include the warnings, but I’m getting onto that). I suspect that would be more useful if I wasn’t asleep during the American working day, which makes these things hard to police.

    So maybe on your site you could have something basically saying that racism against white people is only on-topic in a thread where you specifically say it’s on-topic, and so on.

  24. 24
    Susan says:

    Part of the question is what kind of discussion you are trying to further.

    This is not an easy line to draw. On the one hand, do you want trolls to take over the discussion? On the other, are you trying to host a “discussion” amongst people who already agree with you on every point? I’m assuming you’re in the middle. But, how to establish and defend that middle point?

    Again, I’d suggest that you be very specific about who-all is qualified to post. “Feminist” is WAY too broad. That’s everybody and anybody.

    If your criteria about who can post are too narrow, you won’t get a discussion, you’ll get a mutual back-patting session, which may or may not be OK with you.

  25. 25
    wayne fontes says:

    Anyone who is willing to debate with facts should be allowed to post. You should save some of the really offensive racist emails and do a thread on those.

  26. 26
    RonF says:

    real evidence is the sworn enemy of Right ThinkingAnd often of Left Thinking as well.

  27. 27
    mandolin says:

    Hi Susan,

    I read that thread. My take on what happened is not your take on what happened, but I respect your perspective on what happened.

    My problem was with the word “Received” which I thought you were using in the sense of “Revealed.” Thank you for clarifying.

  28. 28
    mandolin says:

    “Again, I’d suggest that you be very specific about who-all is qualified to post. “Feminist” is WAY too broad. That’s everybody and anybody. ”

    Just a different perspective — it gets people who are willing to identify as feminist.

    So, you miss out on the people who think feminism is a dirty word, but you get the sincere liberal white dudes who really really want to argue that it’s practical advice to tell women to wear long skirts, not blaming the victim at all — or women whose interpretation of feminism is different from what’s considered standard (like you, Susan), but who are interested in the concept of equality.

    And then you can always ban people from there if they turn out to be “feminist” with a capitol quotation mark and to believe in the dude laws or something.

    I don’t know how well this applies to anti-racism, though, since anti-racist’s not a commonly used word.

  29. 29
    curiousgyrl says:

    yeah, i kind of don’t buy the refrain on this thread–” I don’t like the feminist-only posting because I’m a maverick who questions the great feminist dictators.” I want to speak up and say that I dont think “feminist pro-feminist” works perfectly, but that is because intentionally obtuse people abuse it.

    Its not a code word–its meant for YOU to decide if you are a feminist, and its usually also meant to discourage specific things which have been specifically listed. Nobody would ever get called on not being feminist enough if they weren’t at that moment going for th obviously anti-feminist argument that the pro-feminist label was specifically trying to avoid. I’ve never seen “I agree with you totally, sailorman, about women’s health care, but since you’re not *really* a feminist, better hold off on this thread,” more like “please stop derailing this thread about women’s responses to being raped to be a discussion about why men accidentally rape women. ive asked you to do this several times. this is a feminist only thread so please dont post here again”

    Overall, its helpful to do both. I think you should say anti-racist only AND list whatever it is you want to avoid for that post eg, “no arguments about how affirmative action is racist on this post. we are trying to discuss xxx”

    Its okay to define some ideas (like color-blind racism) outside of anti-racism even when their proponents might not. they don’t have to agree with you, they just have to not post.

  30. 30
    sailorman says:

    curious’ answer is a great example of the problem I was trying to explain.

    I’ll continue to use choice as an example, mostly because it’s simple and y’all know I’m prochoice in real life:

    If someone says
    “sailorman, please stop posting antichoice stuff on this thread; it’s for prochoice posters only”

    then the polite response is “ok!” and most folks would give the polite response. All they are doing is setting the ground rules for a thread.

    but if they say
    “sailorman, please stop derailing this thread about funding of clinics to be a discussion about the morality of choice. I’ve asked you to do this several times. this is a feminist only thread so please don’t post here again”
    it’s quite different. THAT statement tries to do three things:
    1) set ground rules
    2) establish that only prochoice folks are feminist
    3) establish that since I’m not prochoice (which I am, btw) I’m not a feminist.

    Is it any surprise the latter statement gets fewer “oh, OK!” responses? It should be obvious as to why. Because if you diss someone AND make a global sweeping characterization t the same time you claim to “narrow the focus” of your thread, it never works.

    So
    A “trans only” thread will work; a “only people who really understand gender–which is to say, trans” thread won’t work;

    a “adherents to, or students of, critical race theory” thread will work; a “no racists–which is to say, nobody who disagrees with the tenets of crt” thread will not;

    and so on.

  31. I get a smaller number of the kinds of commenters you mention but probbly in the same proportions. I usually take it as an opportunity to laugh at and mock them mercilessly. And I encourage my other commenters to do so as well. But then, my site is all about being snarky and bitchy and that’s not everyone’s style…

  32. 32
    mandolin says:

    “So
    A “trans only” thread will work; a “only people who really understand gender–which is to say, trans” thread won’t work;

    a “adherents to, or students of, critical race theory” thread will work; a “no racists–which is to say, nobody who disagrees with the tenets of crt” thread will not;

    and so on.”

    At the same time, feminism is not so elastic to be meaningless. It doesn’t really encompass complementarianism of the strict gender role type, for instance, so if someone comes in claiming it does, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say “I don’t think that’s a feminist stance.”

    I realize that it’s sticky to say who is and is not a feminist, but if the term is really used to apply to any position out there — that *is* silly.

    Anyway, this is why I think definitions are good. If there’s a discussion on Rachel’s site, for instance, about what anti-racist can mean, and how elastic it is, then that’s the definition that would be useful for Rachel’s site. It doesn’t stop other people from having different opinions they use elsewhere, but it also gets us a bit away from this concept that words have endlessly elastic definitions. Abstract terminology may have fuzzy boundaries, but not infinite ones.

    Boundaries of what is liberal may be fuzzy, but if I believe welfare is part of a nanny state, I’m clearly not liberal on that issue.

    I think people are saying here that they feel they fall into contested territory, which I’m here calling fuzzy, and I think that’s a valid thing to discuss. At the same time, I don’t think it invalidates the concept ‘feminist.’

    Again, though, since more people will refuse the label feminist than accept the label racist, it’s certainly not a one to one correlation with Rachel’s site.

  33. 33
    mandolin says:

    Quoting m’self:

    “I’m clearly not liberal on that issue.”

    Hmm. I’ve never heard anyone say “I’m not feminist on that issue.” A feminist identity — unlike a liberal identity — is sort of treated like an ‘on’ or ‘off’ rather than a continuum of belief, isn’t it?

    As is racist. (or, probably, anti-racist)

    Hmm.

    That construction could be fueling antagonism on both sides of the contested territory. For instance, I think Sailorman is feminist in many ways, but I don’t personally find his views on rape very pro-woman or consistent with gender equality. Yet when he’s told not to post on rape threads, he interprets that as saying that he’s not feminist at all, rather than “not feminist on that issue,” in contrast to curiousgyrl who’s mentioning that no one’s chastising him, for instance, on views on health care.

    So is curiousgyrl, like me, looking at feminism as a constellation of many subjects, where one can be feminist about health care but not necessarily feminist about another subject? Whereas sailorman is looking at feminist as an identity to be given or withdrawn wholecloth?

  34. 34
    sailorman says:

    I tend to think I’m either feminist or not; racist or not; liberal or not.

    I ALSO sort of think one can hold “feminist views” or ‘racist views” or “liberal views” on a particular subject. But that’s a metaquestion with its own problems: if one is considered to be feminist on subject a and not subject b, there has to be some “standard feminist” who is feminist on both, yes? otherwise how did those get to be considered “feminist” views? and then we’re back to “what is feminism” again.

    (yes some things are obvious. but those never seem to be the subject of argument)

    But WRT to mandolin’s spot-on comment, and continuing to use myself as a helpful scapegoat example: if I’m told not to post on a rape thread merely because they don’t like my typing, or for any other random reason: no problem. If they tie it to not being feminist, not caring about women, being a secret rapist at heart, etc etc, they violate what I have begun to think of as “no derailment rule #1″: Do not insult people who you want to leave, because this creates a new area to discuss.

    Yes, I know, it’s tempting to combine the “please don’t post here any more” with an explanation: “..because your views don’t help endangered species at all even though you think they do”. But it DOESN’T WORK for most folks.

  35. 35
    Lu says:

    Its not a code word–its meant for YOU to decide if you are a feminist, and its usually also meant to discourage specific things which have been specifically listed.

    Good point, curiousgyrl. I pretty much know by now, or can get a good read by looking at a thread and/or other threads on similar issues, what topics and views are or are not out of bounds on a given thread, and I self-censor accordingly. I for instance am not pro-choice enough for a lot of people here, so I read but don’t comment on a lot of feminist-only abortion threads. If in doubt, you can always email the OP and ask.

    I must admit that, while I was a bit thrown the first time or two I saw it, I rather like Maia’s approach of saying, “you are off topic, this is the topic I’m trying to address, please either get back to it or refrain from commenting.” It helps that Maia is quite tolerant of disagreement with her views as long as it’s on topic. (By “tolerant” I mean allowing dissenters to comment and arguing with them vigorously, not agreeing with them.)

    Two things I’ve seen here that I really find distasteful: flaming people who express dissenting views; and after commenter A posts, commenter B says “I know commenter A and they are not a real feminist (or whatever) and you shouldn’t let them post here.” I would let a person’s comments speak for themselves: as everyone else has already pointed out, it’s possible to hold feminist views on some subjects but not others. (Standard disclaimer: of course the blog owner and/or OP is free to set whatever ground rules they want, ban whoever they want, and so on.)

  36. 36
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Apropos Susan’s comment about rape percentages and what challenging them often means in a feminist discussion about rape.

    My experience is that there are a lot of people (and that includes men, and it really especially includes men) who won’t admit to having been raped / sexually abused / sexually molested (and I put it that way because different people use different language to describe their own experience of “rape”), except to someone else who’s had the same experience. Part of why, again just my experience, is that there are these people out there who say “Oh, it’s not as bad / frequent / whatever as that!” and then there’s a big discussion about just how bad / frequent / whatever it really is, completely forgetting that there are people in that discussion who’ve been told that their rape / sexual abuse / sexual molestation didn’t happen, wasn’t the way they claimed it was, or whatever.

    And the same thing happens with racism and sexism.

    Contrary to bean’s comment, in response to Susan’s, I think there is a bit of a Hive Mind at work, but also perhaps in agreement with why the Hive Mind doesn’t tolerate dissent from the conventional wisdom on whatever topic, I’m just not sure who benefits from “No, it isn’t really that bad!” discussions. My experience, and again this is just me, is that the people that the discussion is intended to benefit certainly don’t.

    Not saying facts are a bad thing or make someone un-feminist (or a big meanie racists or whatever) for bringing up facts, but there’s a time and place and too often “facts” are what trolls throw out as a way to derail threads.

  37. 37
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Oh, the sneer quotes around the last instance of “facts” should be read to include both true facts and false facts. For the purpose of “derailment” and “trolling” both kinds of “facts” are often used to identical effect.

  38. 38
    Sharon says:

    I think that something-only threads can have their place. Sometimes there is a topic where you know that the discussion will hare off into the usual controversy over that topic, or end up one group verbally fighting another group, and sometimes you want a break from that, to allow space for thoughtful discussion of the topic of the post itself, rather than the usual controversy.

    However I’d also say to use it with care, don’t over-restrict, you might be silencing people who would otherwise have relevant comments and are perfectly prepared to speak them in a polite way. It depends really – are the discussions on your blog good/productive? Or are they stifling the other discussion you’d hoped to facilitate?

    The third point I have is important however you do it, though, and that’s to be crystal clear about any moderation policy for that particular post. And obvious too, don’t hide it in the middle of a post, put it in a one-liner at the bottom or top. It’s not fair removing people’s comments if they weren’t against either the general blog moderation policy or the restriction stated in that particular post. (I’m not saying you don’t have every right to remove whatever comments you want, I’m just saying the effect isn’t nice, and comes across as unfair.)

    As far as Alas goes, I like that sometimes there are these “safe haven” restrictions put onto blog posts, but sometimes I’ve felt that they might be a bit more restrictive than I personally would have thought necessary, e.g. a “keep it polite and on-topic” would have covered it, in my opinion. And sometimes I’ve seen a moderation policy that didn’t match what was said in the post. For example I remember one post that had some kind of a restriction like pro-feminist posters only, or similar, and then people were getting their comments removed (or being banned or something) simply for being offtopic, for heaven’s sakes. Discussions naturally drift from topic to topic! If the original poster wanted everyone to stay closely on topic then it should have been stated clearly in the blog post in the first place.

  39. 39
    Brandon Berg says:

    Why not just post a list of propositions with which you must agree to participate in the thread?

  40. 40
    thinking girl says:

    Hi Rachel -

    Sorry, I’m late to this post, but I wanted to say that I have thought a lot about this approach as well in terms of directing a discussion. What I LIKE about the “feminist-only/pro-feminist” disclaimer is that is causes folks to stop and think for a half-second before they respond, to think about whether they are going to be contributing helpfully to a discussion or whether they are there to be asshats and steer the course of debate in their own anti-whatever direction.

    However, I also think that I agree with what’s been said here: who is a feminist anyway?