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A Bit on Comments, Leading to a Bit on the 90's

Alan and I have made the decision to turn off commenting at Command Post until we can install Type Key. I have a feeling that even Type Key will not dispell the acrimonious air that pervades the comments over there at times. There are certain commenters (some left, some right and some moderate) who have set the tone and ruined what used to be a pretty good open forum on the day's news. Warnings, deleted comments, a new comment policy and bannings did nothing to stop the hate and ugliness that pervaded the comment section at TCP. I know the comments are what a lot of people came to TCP for. Not many news sites have such a place for open exchange of ideas and civil discourse. Of course, the discourse became rather uncivil and we will sacrifice our hit counter (which directly affects our adversting and credibility, especially in terms of getting press credentials) in order to clean out the house. Like Alan says, it's just getting to be a pain in the ass to read the comments in order to police them, rather than reading them to enjoy them. It's time consuming, especially when most posts garner over 100 comments. It's eventually going to happen here as well; I'll either start with comment registration or Type Key or move to no comments and a bulletin board type place instead, where I will take no responsibility for the comments within. As it is, ASV is my home and if you do not wipe your feet before you come in here (that goes for righties as well as lefties, no free passes), I'm going to end up shutting the door to everyone. I don't want to end up having to approve comments; that leaves too much room for people to claim that I am crushing their dissent or whatnot. It mostly makes me laugh when people say that, or call this site an echo chamber. A quick walk through the comments on any political post will prove otherwise. However, the level of civility in the comments here is shrinking down to nothing and I feel it's just going to get worse in the coming months. I'm giving it another week before I decide whether ASV will follow the lead of Command Post. Of course, one way to get away from the ugly commenting is to post about something besides war and politics. Which is why I was thinking about resurrecting the video game awards from last December. I think it would be a good distraction from the underlying current of antagonism that usually permeates this place. That's not to say I won't be writing about the news and politics, it just means that I'll be concentrating mostly on my new idea: In honor of VH1's new series I Love the 90's, I'll be staging the Pop Culture of the 90's Award Show. Well, not really a show so much as a lot of polls and a lot of posts on the subject. Look for the start later on today or tonight. If that goes well, I'll think about doing the 80's. I just need a fun distraction and this just might be it.

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» Comments on Blogs from Outside the Beltway
Michele has announced the end of comments at Command Post, at least for now: Alan and I have made the decision to turn off commenting at Command Post until we can install Type Key. I have a feeling that even Type Key will not dispell the acrimonious ai... [Read More]

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Comments

Works for me. CP is a news wire, not an opinion blog. There's not much value to comments, really, especially when there are so many contributors who can post alternate stories or corrections.

Dear Michele,
I am a daily ASV reader, but I rarely comment. I read ASV because I enjoy your view on things. It makes no difference to me if you discontinue comments -- if I (or others) wish to share our views with the rest of the world, we can start our own blog. And, I agree with James Joyner's comments re TCP -- I go there for news summaries, not commentary.
all the best,
John

Michele,

As a liberal I've found your site to be one of the few conservative sites that allow liberals to post. Most of your commenters are thoughtful and respectful people. I hope you are able to continue allowing comments on your site.

Oh no! Just when I was starting to have fun. Damn!

If you do it, please, oh please, oh please go to TK. Don't do the BB-thing. The firewall at work is VERY good at catching and blocking BB software....

Michele,

I'm not sure the level of civility here is any lower than on many sites, and I have to agree with Riesz Fischer that even though I disagree with most of your views on the war, you are very reasonable about allowing comments that contradict you as long as personal attacks are not involved. I wonder if you might try the classic uncertainty approach, wherein you establish a policy that any comment maybe be deleted for lack of civility, make a few examples of particularly rude posters, and just give people time to get the message. Then you can let your review of comments sort of gradually taper off, until you're only occasionally deleting the worst of the worst and reminding people to keep the ad hominem to a minimum. Then again, considering the topics under discussion, and the general loss of civility in political discourse in the country as a whole, I'm not sure how much you can expect. I guess it's worth a try, though.

wiping my feet off real good before I enter

Michele, it was never my intent to force you and Alan to shut down comments at the CP. I never planned to "be ugly" when I first came there, but it became an ideological battlefield I couldn't retreat from.

Thousands of "readers" enjoy coming to the C-P, not just because its a "News Wire", but to hear and share POVs with others. It was a brilliant concept, and you were rewarded with enormous traffic levels.

Nobody hates war and death more than me. I dream off a day we can all live in peace, and only worry about video game awards. (btw two words Far Cry) But the very title "Command Post" and the subject matter is bound to attract a pro-war commenting audience.

In attempting to allow all POVs to be represented there, you have allowed OUR enemies to have an equal voice there, in War time. Ignoring their threats to our country and way of live is just too much to expect from the many patriotic "readers" you have attracted there.

The partisan name-calling that occurred on your bandwidth merely reflected the "real world" animosity that exist in our nation today. And I believe you are correct to assume comment registration will not stem the flow of hate.

Alan banned Victory for gloating about killing Marines in Iraq, then he praised his POV when he continued to post there despite his banning. That sent a message to many "readers" that he was sympathetic to the enemy. I know you want to maintain a neutral bias at that site, but its inevitable that you will be forced to support a particular side, both in the "War on Terror" and the ugly ideological battlefield you helped create.

I really hate to see you punish all your readers, and yourselves, for the actions of a few. Why couldn't you just PERMANENTLY ban the offenders, not shut down the entire intellectual discussion because the tone didn't reflect your personal POV.

How will Minerva interpret your decision.

Again I apologize for my honest ugliness, my intent was not to irritate you personally, but to defend my ideology to the many enemies of my way of life you allowed to comment there.

The situation at CP had become untenable. Discussion became impossible. Most, I believe, would attribute this to the arrival of the trolls and far left posters who simply posted without engaging in debate. When they did their replies were usually couched in one line assertions.

I left last week. I could get breaking news from other sources without the aggravation. Sad.

Lately, some friends of mine have been playing a game we call "Proximate Cause". The game assumes that we are looking for post bellum causes of the "Second Civil War". The more absurd the assertion the more points it gets. That's sad too.

RT- the ugliness did not just come from those gloating about soldiers' deaths. It came from all political spectrums. Sometimes it was started by those on the left, sometimes by those on the right. Permanently banning the violators works for a bit, but there's always more where they come from. It was too hard to maintain the comments for Alan and myself. We both have jobs; we couldn't be monitoring the comments all day.

Also, you have several people who think we shouldn't let anyone voice dissent at all. Someone who just voices dissent is NOT our enemy. There are ways to do it and many people did it in a civil way, yet they were taken to task by other commenters for that. The same goes the other way. Pro-war people voiced dissent to anti-war statements and the anti-war people wanted them banned. It was too hard to please everyone.

I think you are the only one who got the impression that Alan was sympathetic to terrorists for allowing dissent to be posted. Every email we have received on the subject has been supportive of our decision.

Contrary to what you believe, we DO NOT have to fall in line one way or the other. By getting rid of comments, we can now just post news without being branded as a biased site. The Command Post has become a second livelihood for Alan and myself. I don't think we are going to risk all of the good press and good reputation we've garnered to please a few people who think that only one point of view should be heard.

Understandable, I have gotten hundreds of e-mails from lurkers and Commentators supporting my POVs over the last several months. Including several this morning reflecting the opinion that Alan is too fragile. ( Not my words, but theirs )

Michele, I am not suggesting you should change the CP to reflect my views. I understand it your house to run by whatever rules you see fit.

But Jeffers helped make the CP the excellent source of Intel that it was. Where as your fine list of contributors merely cut & pasted news stories, he provide unpublished Intel and analysis.

Look I know my POV disgust you. I don't want to keep offending you here at your personal blog either. I just want to thank you for the last several months of learning and arguing, and for turning me on to the world of blogging. I wish you success at all your endeavors.

And to tell you again how sorry I am, that I played a major role in your decision.

RT, just because someone supports your point of view, as Jeffers did (and yes, he was a valuable source of intel for us), doesn't mean he should be able to get away with things you would not allow your "opposition" to get away with.

As for Alan being to fragile: First of all, we made all the decisions about banning and deleting and eventually ridding TCP of the comments together. Also, one has to admit that we have been very, very lenient in the long run. We put up with a lot. It is not about being fragile, it's about being taken advantage of.

Don't think this is all about you, RT. There were many, many commenters from both sides of the political spectrum that played a role in this.

Wouldn't be a shame if shutting down the Comments is what the trolls were after all along? Post incendiary comments to lure equally incendiary responses = No More Public Discourse = Reliance on the Media = Cherry-picked information = Non reporting of events. Yeah, a real shame.

How does shutting down comments on TCP turn into non-reporting of events?

FWIW...if I really, really want to comment on a persons blog, be it personal or collaborative, I have no problem filling out a registration form. Even if I were a member of "the opposition" I would have no problems providing you with some personal info like address and phone number (provided I could expect a certain amount of discretion) in exchange for the privilege of being able to voice my point of view.

I'd never give my phone number to DU or Free Republic, but TCP enjoys a much better reputation than they do.

Cujus regio, cujus religio.
Whatever you want to do with your site, do.

Michele,

Could this WaPo story on press credentials have anything to with it?

In any case, I agree with it. Dealing with comments takes much of the fun out of blogging.

Michele - By "non-reporting of events" I was referring to the end result of a stream of consequences that occurs when all we have to rely on for information is what the media "decides" to tell us. The Internet is a way around that. The CP, in particular, provides a venue for information to be shared that would otherwise not be easily available - not just commentary but links to other sites and articles that one might not be aware of. So, the information that is shared is multiplied by the added references. Like any source, you have to weed through the diatribes and the nonsense, but in the end it is worth the effort.

As one of the above posts said, it's your site and your decision. Obviously, I think that the dialog and information provided through the CP comments is interesting and important, and so would urge you to find a way to keep that feature.

Perhaps enabling comments only on posts that explicitly call for them, like caption contests, "what do you think" or polls?

I'd look to Michelle (with 2L) Malkin as an example. Most posts are disabled for comments there, but every once in a while she calls for comments in something that absolutely needs them.

You have a life, and a love. Don't compromise either. Do what works for both.

I won't stop reading - I enjoy it way too much.

When people start referring to blog comment threads as "ideological battlegrounds," where they feel compelled to "defend" lest the "enemy" "win" ... wow, it's time to Just Click No (to "Comments Allowed?"). All over the blogosphere.

Because that means people have tremendously inflated the importance of blog comment threads, and could likely find far more productive ways to keep their hands busy.

This has been going on for months (at least, that's when I started whining about it ... as someone in the center it's been most obvious and painful to watch), and once you've heard both sides endlessly describe what a Big Loser the other guy is, all you've end up convinced about is that we have a choice between Two Big Losers.

Nice job, folks. But you're done now.

What will you do for an encore?