Monday, 16 August 2010

Comment policy changes

We've been having a bit of a behind the scenes discussion about comments, particularly but not exclusively in light of recent difficulties on abortion-related threads. Moderation here has evolved quite a bit since the comment policy was written, and although we have kept within the spirit of it it seemed timely to consider some new ways to handle comments given the larger numbers and the sensitivity of some of the topics under discussion recently.

Specific page for debating the morality of abortion
This is not up yet, but will be sometime soon. Some commenters want to turn every post about abortion into a discussion about morality, when that isn't necessarily the point of the post itself. So there will be a specific page on the site with links to some of our posts addressing the moral dimension of abortion and allowing comments there on that topic. It's not that we don't want to discuss morality, or that we think there's no moral case for abortion, as we do (and there'll be a statement to that effect on the new page), just that we are getting a bit fed up with having to have the same argument over and over again, sometimes in multiple threads simultaneously, and we think many readers are too.  New posts on abortion and morality may be written, and it'll be up to individual authors whether they want comments on those posts on the morality issue, or whether they want comments made at the new page.

Comment direction at the end of posts
Authors will also now be adding comment directions at the end of their posts, when they want to.  This might be something like "Feminist-friendly comments only" or "Please stick to issue X with your comments."  Comments which don't abide by the comment direction of the author may be deleted, at their discretion.  I did this on Friday with the post sharing my presentation on why abortion needs to be legal, to give you an example.

Anonymous comments will need a handle
Comments should be accompanied by a name, or a consistent internet handle. In general, people using the 'anonymous' comment function should sign their comments with a consistent handle (e.g. put an initial/name at beginning or end).  There are times when people wish to share experiences anonymously, and we will respect that anonymity.  However, anonymous comments which are not anonymous for reasons of personal privacy may be deleted.  This is at least partly because it gets difficult on threads with multiple anons to respond to the right person.


As I work through updating the blog over the next week or so some other changes, to help with this and for other reasons, will become apparent too, and at the end of the reconstruction the comment policy will be updated in full. For now I'll just be adding a link to this post on that page.

Hopefully this will decrease moderation for us and increase the value of the discussions in comments for all!


Captain Pugwash said...

So is it only comments claiming abortion as immoral that need to go to the specific page? Or are posts making a positive moral case for abortion destined to be deleted too?

Julie said...

I guess it will depend on who ignores comment direction. You seem to have misread the post above already, so things aren't looking that great for you.

To make it crystal:
1. When a post is on abortion;
2. And the blogger writing it puts a comment direction at the end of it;
3. And that comment direction says something like "please focus comments on issue X, if you want to debate the morality of abortion go to the Abortion & Morality page";
4. And then someone insists on trying to debate morality in the thread of that post, and not at the page;
5. Then that comment is likely to be deleted, or the aspect of it about morality ignored.

We'll have to see how it evolves, we haven't tried this before.

Bel said...

Thanks for all the time and effort you all put into this blog - I hope it goes well with a few guidelines in place.

I'm sure those that get the most out of the content of the posts will have no problem with the policy :)

lenore said...

Thanks Julie, there have been many a time when I have written a comment but not sent it because I feel too angry about the hijacking of the blog from the information you are presenting. In a blog world where people have plenty of sites to air their (I could put in lots of expletives here) views, they can raise their views somewhere else.

Julie said...

Thanks Bel and lenore for the kind words. It will be interesting to see how this experiment goes.

Carol said...

Thanks to Julie and the HM team for all the work on this site,and for the clear posting guidelines. I like the new look.

Doughnut said...

In respect to:

<"Feminist-friendly comments only" or "Please stick to issue X with your comments.">



I understand there is a wider context to these comments- discussions on the morality of abortion are bound to do that,

However, I think that these two comments represent an 'own-goal' for The Hand Mirror.

I don't read these blogs to confirm my own viewpoints, I read them to glean interesting perspectives, to learn new facts and perspectives on an issue.

And, on the odd occassion in which I comment, it is not because I want to tell the world that I think 'I am right and you are wrong', it is because I think that your view on a matter can be complimented or persuaded by new fact or perspective.

In respect to the abortion argument, for instance, I am pro-choice- but from the perspective of a medical practitioner whom believes in 'harm-minimisation': I believe in the concepts of 'non-viability', 'borderline-viability', and the 'unconscienable persistence of severe disability in children (and/or women)'. These are pro-TOP views, which are far more likely to become a part of future abortion law reform than purely feminist perspectives.

So, in conclusion, I think any attempt to insulate yourselves from the broadest possible perspective or your readers, will damage this blog (akin to I/S no comments) and will demote your postings to a sad effort of perpetuating your own worldview.