Letter From The Editor: On Commenting Culture

Let me start with an announcement

A little over a month ago, Maribou informed me that she would like to transition out of her role as comment moderator. It was initially going to happen sooner than now, but several conflicts with our domain host have taken up most of my Ordinary attention and I asked her to delay, which she happilly did.

While the response has been somewhat mixed, it’s difficult to fully convey how good and important it was that she took this task. I’m not exaggerating when I say that she might have saved Ordinary Times. When Burt announced his intention to step aside, no one was very enthusiastic about taking it over, including myself. I won’t get too much into detail, but there are a lot of things that needed (and need) to be done on the back-end to keep this site going, our traffic was not what it once was, and the comment threads had become less pleasant and more acrimonious over time.

Don’t get me wrong: I love you guys. When I approach new writers, I brag on you guys all day long. You can ask the new writers: When I pitched the site, the commentariat was somewhere in the first four sentences or so. We have the best commenting section on the entire Internet, as far as I’m concerned. We consider it a central part of the site and if it weren’t for you all, writing for this site would be a lot less worthwhile and rewarding.

At one point, we considered blowing the site all over, putting it palliative care (changing the name and mission), or what we would do with the archives if we just took it down entirely. Then Maribou volunteered to take over comment enforcement and an opportunity to try a new vision. That, in turn, allowed me to focus on other aspects of the site which suddenly no longer seemed so daunting. But not only that, it gave us an opportunity to shake things up in a way that I believe was needed. We considered a lot of things, but continuing the status quo wasn’t one of them.

That’s what I mean when I say she saved the site. So from the bottom of my heart: Thank you, Maribou.

It was a dramatic change, but I think that’s what we needed to get out of some of the habits we had gotten into. What I hope we all gained from her time as the moderation chief is changing the way we communicate with one another. That desperately needed to change, and whatever happens now we can’t go back to the way it was before. I know that for my part, I spiked many comments on the basis that it might put Maribou in an uncomfortable position… and it’s actually a good thing I did because most of them were far more heat than light. As we loosen up comment enforcement, I hope that the recalibration has a lasting effect. One of the questions I ask myself before posting a comment is whether or not it adds to the conversation or distracts from it. That’s what I want us to all be conscientious of.

Maribou’s more interventionist policy cannot continue to exist in large part because there is nobody to run it. She didn’t just get the job because she offered, but because she is among the only people I trust to intervene regularly and fairly. I don’t even trust myself, as far as that goes. Partially because such interventionism runs against my instincts. We cannot go back to the way things were before she took over because my instincts weren’t working for this site anymore and we needed to change. The good news is that Maribou’s tenure has been very instructive in some respects, and hopefully her legacy will be the ability to lighten up on our moderator intervention without going back to full-bore commenting warfare (at least, by OT standards).

And, apart from the ways I have adjusted my own commenting behavior, perhaps the most important thing is how she has shifted us by thinking of our comment section as one that needs to be guided more by culture than by rules. We need to talk briefly about what that culture is and is not going to be, going forward.

Our commenting culture has long had a conflict between two different objectives: embracing diversity of personnel vs diversity of opinion. The conflict has arisen when the two are in conflict: What do we do when diversity of opinion means people who believe that other people on the site are mentally ill? Or, for that matter, a good Third Reich German over mainstream political disagreements? I fear our ideological diversity has never been as great as we wanted it to be, and even the diversity we’ve had has strained in the Era of Trump.

On the one side…

We don’t have a great many conservative commenters, and that’s a shame. I am personally kind of saddened when some contested issues go uncontested whichever side of them I am on. A lot of the ones we have are great and I genuinely hope nothing I’m about to say chases them off.

Going forward, ideological diversity will exist within the parameters of our ability to have a conversation and a willingness to accept some basic social norms. The broader political environment has put a fork in the road and the only way forward is to walk down one path or the other. Otherwise, we’re just congregating out front in perpetuity and getting nowhere.Imagine a site of Evangelical Christians discussing theology. Now imagine someone coming in and saying “But there is no God!” in every single conversation. That ends up preventing more conversations than it enables, at least as it pertains to that community and the things it wants to talk about. Not everybody in the conversation has to believe in God as envisioned by Evangelicals, but to some degree it does have to be assumed for a lot of the conversations to occur. We at Ordinary Times are not as narrow as a religious sect, nor a political faction, but there are tenets that we must agree to in order to converse and if you can’t at least superficially accept them then this may not be the place for you.

What this means in practice can be tricky, but while you don’t have to believe in the current liberal conception of gay rights, there are a lot of related issues that you either need to approach delicately or not at all. We can discuss marriage or adoption, wedding cakes and employment law, but we’re not going to actively discuss questions of fundamental dignity. We’re not going to countenance suggestions of perversion or mental illness. Every editor here is past that, and we make no apologies at the altar of ideological diversity for that. You don’t have to agree with us on the major or minor points, for the most part, but if you think every conversation about gay rights (or trans rights) needs to start at the entry point of fundamental dignity, we’ve already chosen our path on that and then this site may not be the place for you.

If this leads to further political imbalance, to whatever extent that is mathematically impossible, I am no longer willing to consider that our problem.

If none of this applies to you, then I’m not talking about you. I’m not writing this with current readers in mind so much as people we’ve had and people we will have again as we loosen up.

And on the other…

We are a place where ideas are going to be discussed. And by “ideas” I don’t mean “How best to beat Republicans” or “Republicans what Nazis amirite?!” That fork in the road I mention above does not include allegiance to the Democratic Party. I understand the inclination to say that Trump has changed and this site needs to change to adapt to that new reality, but I only agree with that up to a point. I strongly considered whether this site would be better off if we simply submitted to O’Sullivan’s Law and took it to its logical conclusion of this site being an outpost of the resistance. Depending on your perspective or your metrics, that might be a better site. But it’s not one that I am qualified to run (and frankly, not one I care to participate on).

In the spirit of that, we have to countenance disagreement. Disagreements can’t be regularly chalked up to crypto-Trumpism. Suggestions of bigotry need to hang on something more specific than having the wrong position on conventional political issues when there are other explanations we can work from.

If over a sprawling host of issues you do not believe that people disagree with you in good faith, or at least aren’t willing to act on the basis that they might, this site might not be the place for you. If you want to dig in your heels because you don’t think there is any productive conversation to be had anyway, this site might not be the place for you. Or, at least, maybe not the political side.

If somebody comes in talking about Mexicans being a bunch of rapists and murderers, hit the report button and we will hopefully take it from there. If their position is that we need less immigration, don’t reply under the assumption that they’re really talking about rapists and murderers. If we’re talking about abortion, don’t frame their arguments as being about punishing women for sex unless that’s the argument they present. And if we want to look at it from the other direction, unless they’re saying all Trump supporters are racist to a man, don’t assume they’re saying that just because they’re speaking in general terms, and every criticism of the Trump voter can’t pivot to liberal elitism towards “the common man.”

Ascribing universal (and negative) motives is usually a bad idea that takes us further from a productive discussion, even as we may discuss general tendencies. Avoid shortering altogether. Are we going to redact people who do otherwise? Usually not. They will be allowed to hurt the site, if they wish. I mostly ask you not to join them.

If you think somebody is consistently acting in bad faith, make your case to me or the editors. I haven’t decided what the decision-making will look like, but I will say that one of the changes from the pre-Maribou structure is that we’re not going to let people hang out in some bad faith DMZ where as long as they don’t cross the line we can’t take action. That means, however, that I would like those that remain to be treated in as good of faith as you can muster. And if you can’t, to simply ignore them. I’m not asking you to do anything here that I don’t do every single day, and haven’t done for most of the last nine years I’ve been associated with this site. We even have a tool to help you do just that, as well as one to bring our attention to unacceptable behavior.

Long story short, it’s not always easy to get along with people that disagree with you. But while we don’t explore all disagreements, that’s what this place is for. We have our own squishy libertarian-minded upper-left-centrist mainstream and things you say out of it – whether against immigration or abortion on the right or the importance of the deplorability of Trump supporters on the left – are going to get varying degrees of pushback. If you see someone putting themselves out there (and they’re not being an asshole about it), please keep in mind how much pushback they are already getting. Likewise, though, for your own sanity’s sake, pick your battles when it comes to expressing and defending unpopular views.

In Conclusion

The last point, which applies to all of the above and more, is that we do need you to work with us on this. Especially during the transition period and even after, we will not be quick to pull the punishment triggers. I hope most enforcement will be redaction and shutting down threads. But if there is one thing I am going to start coming down harder on, it’s being in out-and-out opposition towards us. I have a really low tolerance threshold for “I’m going to say what I’m going to say and you do what you have to do,” and the fastest way to a long-term suspension or ban is sockpuppeting while on suspension.

Most of this is aspirations rather than the laying out of rules, but everything falls apart without that last bit. In the coming weeks, I will come up with a more formal system since it can’t be me trying to do what Maribou did. There will probably be a panel. Until we have a more firm idea of what the above looks like in practice, I’ll be pretty patient with anyone who is interacting with us in good faith.

But the bigger thing is this: If we’re relying on the rules, we’re already losing. Not just because we just lost our chief enforcer, but because of the rules-lawyering that occurred before she took over. This entire project relies on a sense of community, and no set of rules can give us that. Despite how many times I said “maybe this site is not for you,” I hope that you all decide it is, stick around, tell your friends, comment more, and try to make this site the best it can be.


Editor-in-Chief
Home Page Twitter Google+ Pinterest 

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

78 thoughts on “Letter From The Editor: On Commenting Culture

  1. Thanks to Maribou for the immense amount of patience and work. It did help the comments immensely i think. I certainly hope we can keep this project going. While i don’t comment as much as i used to i do read almost every post and comments. There is something useful here since, as has been stated, almost all comments sections are far less than optimal. For all the conflict here at least we don’t have up and down vote buttons.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  2. Hi all –
    I just wanted to note that while “It’s not you, it’s me” is a cliche, in this case it’s also quite true – or rather, it’s not even *me*, but just a bunch of life-related stuff, requiring a great deal of attention and emotional energy, that makes it nearly impossible for me to thrive in the role of moderator at present.

    I may be a bit absent in the comments for a while as I a) adjust to the shift in roles, b) deal with said life stuff, but I’m not *gone* – I mean, I’m still the managing editor of this joint. I’ll still be proofing and scheduling posts most every day, and helping out Will however he asks me to, in conjunction with the rest of our editors, of course. And if anyone who already occasionally checks in with me to let them vent or talk them down about things, website-related or otherwise, wants to email me, that’s still most welcome. Or if someone wants to talk to me about website stuff generally! I welcome those conversations.

    It’s just – I won’t be doing more than advising Will et al about moderate-y stuff, and not even much of that. Too full a plate in other ways, and most of what I felt desperately needed to be done has been done. For the most part, and not without some grievous errors, but still. I’m good.

    The rest is up to y’all.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • Coming in rather late, but thank you for all the work you’ve done here. Since I comment only sporadically based on when I have the time, I can’t imagine how you managed what seems it would be a much more than full time job, and with an amazing degree of grace.

        Quote  Link

      Report

  3. I just want to say that, without this site, the internet, or at least the internet I care about, would be a much smaller, much colder, place. I hope I don’t get to see a day OT is not up and running.

    And for that, thanks to all Editors and Moderators, past, present, and future, from the bottom of my heart

      Quote  Link

    Report

  4. Maribou – You’ve done a stunning job with the comments and I’ve learned a lot from you. Your diplomacy, grace, and thoughtfulness is truly amazing. Thank you.

    As an aside I’d like to mention that my intention is to comment more (from a conservative-ish viewpoint) because I agree with Will, too many arguments are being left unchallenged and one or two people are having to make arguments single-handedly against several comers. However, I often feel that conservative commenters on this site are manipulated into playing the role of the stooge to give a few of the more vocal liberal commentators a set up. Then they and others tag team the person into exhaustion and/or do obnoxious virtual chest bumps with each other. I don’t enjoy being on the receiving end of it, nor do I have the amount of uninterrupted time to follow up with the argument as well as I could – which is even more frustrating because I’m aware I’m not making my own case effectively. So while I do hope to comment more often I will likely not always be able to follow up on responses as thoroughly as some others because it is just too upsetting for me.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • I find your view fascinating, and perhaps evidence of the unfixable problem that the website continues moving closer toward, because whereas you see a few conservative commentators against a wave of liberal commentators, I see the opposite: a small group of conservative commenters who relentlessly troll liberal posts, chasing away more liberal writers and commenters, and generally insisting that they are owed far more respect than they are willing to give to anybody else. It is the national political crisis playing out on our extremely small stage.

      There is, perhaps, no reasonable middle ground, and maybe there never was.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • There’s some truth to each of these, and they actually sort of feed into one another. Which is to say that conservatives who like to chat find this site really daunting and it’s hard to get them to stick around.

        On the other hand, this site can be a goldmine for rightwards who specifically like to get a rise out of liberals. These are the people I am referring to when I talk about the DMZ. A couple of the worst offenders (the ones who immediately come to mind) have already gotten the boot.

        We’re fortunate, I think, to have the conservatives we do that are not in that category. I think that sometimes people don’t take enough care to distinguish one from the other. Which feeds into the above dynamic.

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • It would, perhaps, be easier to distinguish one from the other if there was any light between the two. It is extremely difficult these days to distinguish one from the other, given the remarkably rightward lurch of our politics. In other words, “Of course black guys publicly carrying anything deserve to get treated wildly differently than conservative white guys carrying guns!” might be genuinely felt conservative politics, but it sure looks like explicitly racist cheerleading.

            Quote  Link

          Report


          • I have never seen anyone make that argument, ever.
            I don’t have to ask where you come up with such ideas.
            But I find it odd, to say the least, that you haven’t, at least, thought the matter through enough to consider other alternatives.
            There are plenty of people here to help you with that.

            Granted, I saw my best friend, a black man with an Arabic name, shot and killed by the police as I stood, helpless, some eighty feet away.
            I saw how that whole thing played out afterward.
            A big part of the reason I am on the path I am on.

              Quote  Link

            Report

          • “Of course black guys publicly carrying anything deserve to get treated wildly differently than conservative white guys carrying guns!”

            Like Phaedros, I’ve never seen this here, either. Certainly not from any of the regulars. What I have seen, over and over, is you grossly mischaracterizing the arguments of people who disagree with you, in precisely this manner. Occasional misunderstandings are inevitable, but with you it’s a consistent and reliable pattern of behavior.

            I don’t know whether it’s intentional, or just a result of poor reading comprehension, but it’s not okay. You need to do much, much better.

            The standards and ideals you lay out in the OP sound good, and it’s great when they work as advertised, but it’s counterproductive, and a bad look all around, when one of your regular contributors so consistently and egregiously falls short.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • One of the areas I do intend to keep a closer eye on going forward is shortering and mischaracterization, which is one of the reasons I singled it out. Here, though, Sam doesn’t actually cite anything specific nor does he name anybody. Which actually works in this case since this is a thread to talk about our commenting culture and the perception thereof, and that’s Sam’s perception. It’s also more than fair to criticize that by pointing out that, as far as we can tell, nobody has actually made that argument.

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • Sam sees as much as he is able.
                Perspective can be adjusted.
                This is about to happen in a big way.
                I am at work right now, and have to tap out comments on a phone; but I will be home later.

                Sam has an irreplaceable quality: He actually cares.
                That is what makes the endeavor worthwhile.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

                • I agree with you about notme. He was a gross-ass racist and a shameless apologist for egregious police violence against people of color, and I don’t for a second believe that the two were unrelated.

                  For my first year or two here, he endlessly trolled his ass off, and contributed a great deal to my negative feelings about the comment section here.

                  But he was banned quite a while ago.

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

                • In neither case is he saying what you quoted above. The first one was about Tamir Rice in particular, which is a bad opinion but not the same as carrying “anything”… and in the second case he’s saying that people who turn themselves in shouldn’t get shot, which I agree with.

                  Now, if you take everything Notme has said over the course of his commenting career here, I don’t think your inference is all that wrong, which is in good part why he was eventually booted.

                  (This is actually an example of what I talk about in the OP of the DMZ. He had a way of going right up to the edge and camping out there, not crossing an actionable line. That’s the sort of thing we’ve stopped tolerating.)

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

                  • The combination of both comments is the argument: that it is reasonable for police to kill unarmed black kids (because they thought he was armed, and perceived him to be a threat) and that it is reasonable for police to not kill armed and dangerous white men (who are armed, but are not perceived to be a threat).

                    The point presented was that nobody has ever made these arguments. Notme is a counter-example. If I need to find a still-active member of the commenting community who has made similar arguments – who has simultaneously justified police shootings of unarmed individuals and argued for police not visiting similar violence onto armed white individuals – we can do that too.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                    • On a first point I will say that we shouldn’t say it hasn’t happened because nobody sees every comment and we’ve definitely had some bad eggs around. So I’ll go with “I do not recall seeing it.”

                      That said, your example isn’t an example, in my view. They were two different cases with two different sets of facts that went beyond race. Different responses there isn’t “Of course black guys publicly carrying anything deserve to get treated wildly differently than conservative white guys carrying guns!”

                      That said, your example and follow-up to explain the disconnect. If you’re talking about people responding differently in one comment thread than in another comment thread to another incident… I could see that happening and it would be easy to miss.

                      So going forward, next time you see someone taking different positions like that, ask them what they think the difference is. If they say something like what you wrote, or say it’s because black people are scary/scarier or that police are reasonably more scared of black people or something, then let me know because that’s a problem.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                      • @will-truman For the record, the commenters who take those positions will not say that, just as those opposed to gay marriage will only very rarely say that they are motivated by animus toward gay people. I’m happy to point it out the next time I see it – police will, somewhere, no doubt engage in precisely the same sort of violence that they routinely do – but I should perhaps do the better, smarter thing, which is to stay out of the comments entirely.

                          Quote  Link

                        Report

              • On :”shortering” and mischaracterization:

                There’s usually a way to avoid these and still get one’s point across. One can say, “what you say, if taken to its logical extreme, would mean [whatever bad thing]. Do you agree with that [bad thing}? If not, what is your limiting principle?”

                I firmly believe that most of us, maybe all of us, harbors many beliefs that if taken to their logical extreme, would lead to undesirable, even horrific outcomes.

                It doesn’t have to be beliefs, either. It can be approaches. Maybe if one settles on one thing being horrid and bad, it’s possible for someone to assume too quickly that any means to combat that horrid badness is justified, even if it means short-circuiting what in normal circumstances is considered civility or common courtesy. Sometimes that’s called for. But it’s rare, and when it is indeed called for, I’d say we’ve already lost something–call it comity or respect for people as ends in themselves–important.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

      • Please allow me to translate for you here: When Sam says ‘troll’ what he actually means is that those people take positions he cannot fathom, which makes him mad, so he assumes they made him mad on purpose i.e. trolling.

        One of our old writers, Elisa Isquith, used to accuse me of the same thing. Then he and I hashed it out, he realized that sometimes people can intelligently arrive at contrary opinions without ill intent, and we got along from that point forward.

          Quote  Link

        Report

          • Augh, I’m so sorry, I did not intend to start anything. I’m simply really embarrassed that I can’t stick it out with the arguments like others can. In light of what Will had mentioned in the above post, I simply wanted to explain why I kept “hit and run” commenting. This is a tough crowd and I just can’t be taking care of little people while getting upset over ongoing internet arguments because the latter makes me cranky with the former. This is not a natural form of social interaction for me and I take things more to heart than a lot of others seem to.

            Yet I do think I have something of value to offer and so I chime in when I can. I want to continue to try because I do think we have common ground, we just need to find it and in order for that dialogue to happen, somebody has to be willing to stick their thumb out to possibly be hit by the hammer. I just have to do that in the way that I am able to, thats all.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • I completely understand that and I always appreciate your comments. Maybe especially when they get me hot under the collar because I think “ok, but that’s KRISTIN saying that, she’s really thoughtful, I need to understand that people like her can think such things too, breathe already…” It’s educational for me and helps me to deal with living in a majority-red town in a more open-hearted manner. And to be completely honest, convert more of my majority-red town to my way of thinking on particular issues :D.

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • That would largely be my goal – to put a human face to the right (I guess, because I really don’t consider myself “the Right” in any definition of the word.) I think most kind/thoughtful conservative people simply choose not to put themselves out there at all ever and don’t engage in cross-cultural communication. That leaves the people who enjoy conflict and trolling and stirring the pot to represent the views of an awful lot of people.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

        • This at least borders on “shortering”

          It is easy, however, to assume that positions that don’t make sense to you is either operating with bad motives or is trolling. There is, as you point out, a long history of it at the site.

          Which is another reason to clear people from the DMZ. It’s harder to blame people when there are people who are actually trolling, which we have had our fair share of.

            Quote  Link

          Report

      • I personally refuse to believe that liberals and conservatives can’t find common ground.

        I was under the impression that this site was non-partisan in its conception. I was invited to take part in it because I did lean conservative/libertarian and it seemed my viewpoint would be an addition, not a detriment. If that has changed over the past year or so then I think that’s a crying shame.

        Wishing everyone the best of luck with regulating the comments in the face of the complexities of modern politics.

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • That absolutely hasn’t changed, and if anything Will will be even carefuller about that than I have been, because I grew up in a country where different matters aren’t political any more than what’s still political here, and because where I’m fiercely, personally protective of many of our writers (of all political stripes) who have left the site or greatly dialed their participation back because of people being truly, bitterly awful (there really have been a lot of them!!), which sometimes clouds my perspective … Will cares about those folks just as much, but he has a lot more equanimity than I am capable of. Also, he is much closer to the right than I am on almost every measurement, and holds many conservative positions himself.

          Hopefully the OP gave you a clear idea of the vision for the site. I think it did since it encouraged you to mention you were planning to comment more.

          We’re all both writers and commenters here, including those of us in some sense “in charge” — and sometimes it can be confusing to distinguish editors’ personal opinions from site-wide policy…

            Quote  Link

          Report

        • An interesting thing about this site is that the principal division isn’t really along the lines of ideological content but more between epistemic certainty and epistemic humility. Nearly all of the commenters on the “certainty” side are on the left, and most of the commenters who are categorized as libertarian or maybe conservative on the political spectrum aren’t ideological members of those groups but just generally more skeptical about the correctness of liberal views.

          Probably the discussions would be less contentious if the folks on each side mostly just talked with their nearer neighbors — it’s usually no more fruitful trying to have conversations from opposite sides of the certainty spectrum than from opposite sides of the political spectrum.

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • I’ve often assumed that the more bitter disagreements on here reflect the narcissism of small differences more than unbridgeable divides. I’m an optimist though, despite my best efforts.

            Anyway, cheers, and thanks
            for all the bloody work in the trenches, you’ve been great at it.

              Quote  Link

            Report

          • That rings true to me, . The only caveat I’d bring is that I bet most of us probably see ourselves as “epistemologically humble” and yet are not as humble as we think. I like to view myself that way, but I sometimes find that I become stubbornly certain on things about which I oughtn’t. And there are undoubtedly times when I don’t recognize how “certain” I’m being even while I profess humility.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • Personally, even at my most self-aware, I think of myself as being epistemologically humble on SOME things and righteously, unquestionably certain about OTHER things. An epistemological mixed state I guess ;).

              (Seriously, , while I might quibble with your analysis around the edges, that is a really interesting way of looking at things.)

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • I might quibble too — I started having doubts about my thesis right after the Edit timer expired on the comment box. Luckily I included the weasel words “most”, “nearly all”, etc. And it’s true that on any given issue we could be on very different locations on the certainty spectrum.

                Oh, and let me add my voice to the chorus — thanks much for all your hard moderating work! I may have chafed at it a bit initially but it definitely reduced the level of vitriol here.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

                • I’m glad to see you admitting some quibbles. I’d say that epistemic certainty is seen in equal measure between people who hold obviously false beliefs and people who rely on evidence to justify (what they view as) obviously true beliefs. Epistemic certainty may be problematic in a community constructed on dialogue and a free exchange of ideas, but its a fully general problem irrespective of what’s being argued or discussed.

                  I mean, like Wittgenstein, I’m *certain* that 2+2=4. But what the hell does that mean?

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

          • It seems to me this is likely a byproduct of the ideological skew, human nature, combined with relative costs. In discussions with significant skew the minority parties usually must show significant allowance of the legitimacy of the majority position. Taking a stance of certainty or absolutes as the minority often gets ignored or drummed out of the conversation. Taking a stance of certainty or absolutes as the majority usually just gets ignored or tut-tuted.

            Many folks here push back against those results. This seems part of why there is still are minority views and it has not devolved into a complete echo chamber.

              Quote  Link

            Report

  5. Thank you thank you thank you ! Both for the amazing work you’ve done here in the past months, and for your willingness to continue supporting the site at a somewhat greater remove. Thank you especially for the times you have called me out. I will try to retain and enact those lessons.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • FWIW, at least in your particular case but definitely in a few others, if I didn’t think you were so great in the first place I wouldn’t bother to challenge you on things. Now that I’m not moderating you can be even *more* sure of that :).

        Quote  Link

      Report

  6. Thank you for taking the job of head cat herder. It has clearly been no easy task.

    Thank you to everyone who makes this place happen , all the great writers and editors, folks who show up and participate. This site has been net additive to my life and almost certainly to the internet and the world.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  7. Long time reader, but I don’t comment much unless I feel I can add something useful to the conversation, and the commentariat here usually has my view on things well-covered. And while that is the case today, I gotta add my kudos to all of the others. Comment moderation with tactful respect for those being called out is a rare skill at which Maribou obviously excels, always careful to emphasize that it’s the way it is expressed, and not the difference of opinion, that is causing issues. You have my admiration and respect for a job very well done.

    This site has always had (since way back into the LoOG era) and continues to have the most well-behaved and courteous open comment section on the internet in my experience. That’s not to say there haven’t been problems – after all, besting the average blog at comment courtesy is a low bar to clear. But the problems that have arisen have consistently been dealt with, often in highly positive ways, always cautious not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I’ve seen other blogs (that desperately needed moderating) moderate away all dissent and it has completely ruined them for me – echo-chambers are for intellectual cowards. It’s a hard balance to strike but this site consistently does it far better than any other blog I’ve frequented. I’m only now starting to realize just how much hard work goes on behind the scenes to make it so, which of course causes me to appreciate it all the more. Many, many thanks to everyone on the OT team.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  8. I’ll join everyone else in thanking for the under-thanked works she does, and both her public and private support of me and many others as we contribute and participate.

    I was one of those that Will pitched the commenting section too, and before contributing I did quite a bit of lurking and reading of the comments to get a feel for the site and the people involved. I do not comment as much as I like, and join and others in intending to do more of it in the future as time permits. But with what Will shared here I will add one thought.

    I rather like the pushback and intelligent level of the folks here. While things can get heated at times, by internet standards it is still fairly restrained. Like points out, I tend to engage more when there is a closeness or at least an opportunity to bridge a gap. I don’t feel a need to fight every battle or defend every position, especially if it falls on the “heat” side of Will’s “heat vs light” scale. The goes for both provoking and being provoked. I worry far more about truth and doing the right things than which side those might fall on and under what labels it all neatly fits. I enjoy this place and hope to continue to do so, and thank you all for being what it is, and look forward to what it will be in the future.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  9. Being a comment-moderator sucks. Moderating boards sucks. I know, I’ve done it, I gave it up one place I used to do it because it stressed me out so much (and one person tended to attack me if I called them on being rude to other posters, even after they drove a poster away)

    So, thanks, Maribou, and I hope we can keep this place going without you watching out for us putting our figurative feet in our figurative mouths. I would miss not being able to comment even if my comments are never very substantive.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  10. Sorry to see you go. I second or third all the positive comments to you. I’ve always enjoyed this site since finding it. The intelligence and rationality in arguments were always better than anywhere else I visited. I don’t post much anymore since I cannot access the site during work hours and frankly, even this site has been way more Trump than I want. I get enough of that from the daily news on my commute.

    Best of luck to you with all that “life stuff”.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  11. Thank you for your work as a moderator.

    The ideological journey of Ordinary Gentleman/Times has been one of the more fascinating in blog history. It started off with a mainly conservative/right-libertarian reader base along with a few leftist contributors and commentators like Freddie De Boer or Chris. Reading most of the early and mid-years is really like reading another blog when it comes to the comments and ideas expressed. It slowly started to shift to a more mainstream liberal position, losing both the most conservative posters and the far leftist posters too. Right now most of the posters are well within the mainstream of Democratic thought along with a few libertarians and conservative posters. I’m not sure if any of the original commentators or contributors are even around anymore.

    Mixed ideological blogs are hard to maintain. The earlier incarnations of Ordinary Gentleman might have seemed like a more congenital place because while the conservatives, right libertarians, and leftists disagreed with each other, they could all agree on not liking the Democratic Party at all. When more posters who like the Democratic Party started to join, the blog got more heated.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  12. , I join the chorus of thank you. You have helped me to think more about where the line is and try to keep on the right side of it as well as making it much easier for me to step back across on those occasions that I have crossed it.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  13. I’ll join, if belatedly, the others congratulating and thanking Maribou. The sheer amount of work and time that was necessary in order to do what she has done and do it well is astounding.

    As with Will, there have been with me numerous times where I almost said something and stopped because I knew it was something Maribou might (rightly) call out. So thank you.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  14. I’ll join the chorus in thanking for her labors. I’ve met her in person (and really hope I get the chance again!), and she’d just as interesting in the flesh.

    I didn’t always agree with her moderation, and, at least to me, the discussion doesn’t seem as freewheeling as it once was, but I’ll take Will’s word for it that it was a necessary function. I remain deeply conflicted about whether the role should even exist, but my skin is pretty thick, and I can easily pass over the more bothersome stuff without a second thought. I’ve never thought any discussion got too derailed when the comments were a bit less than civil, and it was great entertainment.

    I’ll remain an avid reader.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • I’ve never thought any discussion got too derailed when the comments were a bit less than civil, and it was great entertainment.

      This expresses my own thoughts on most discussions, even the heated BlaiseP / Prof. Hanley debates of old.
      In that case, it was not the comments section, but how it affected the participants, which was the real problem. Unfortunately, our acts are limited in such cases.

        Quote  Link

      Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *