I really appreciate the free nature of Blogger. In the five years plus that I've been using it, here and elsewhere, there have been significant improvements and personally I haven't had to pay a cent, or put ads on any sites. html is not even my second language, so a platform that can do a lot of that tricky stuff for me, through widgets and a little bit of coding, is necessary for us to be able to provide a site that can allow posts and pages and pictures and blogrolls and comments and linky loving and so much more.
But there are some definite downsides to Blogger for those operating in a commenting environment that can at times be hostile and difficult to moderate, in particular:
- No ability to identify IP addresses or similar for any commenter, let alone the anonymous ones
- No facility for banning specific people, whether they are anon or have a profile
- Can't filter which comments go into moderation - meaning it's either every comment into moderation or none, on every single post. And the same with Anon comments - have to allow everywhere or nowhere.
- No help available for dealing with abusive commenters, even if they are making threats
- Can't edit anyone else's comment (even my own), so disemvowelling and similar are not troll-ridiculing tools we can use here
You probably won't have noticed that we have been getting some troll attention again for the last three weeks or so, because we've been pretty handy with the delete button. The comments are awful, mainly targeted at myself and Anjum, and quite uninventive so not even worth leaving up to take the mickey out of. They are not political at all, not on the borderline of "well I can see what they are trying to argue, it's just the way they are saying it is Not Ok." It's just name-calling and threats, and serves no conversational purpose whatsoever. This is true true trolling - aimed at shutting people up through those two chief weapons; fear and annoyance.
They made a stuff up on Saturday and I now know they are someone we had troubles with back in mid 2008. Emails have been sent to various authorities over the weekend (not Blogger though, only interested in hate speech in actual blog posts, not threats of violence in comments, oh and of course copyright infringements, bah). I have a couple of other leads out there too. We shall see what fruit the new week brings.
I'm also interested in bringing this person's various handles to the attention of other feminist blogs who may get targeted too, so if you are a mod or blogger who would like a bit more info so that they can't just reinvent the wheel elsewhere then feel free to email me and I'll let you know what I know. I can be found at the Mail of G by my firstname dot lastname.
It would be very easy just to turn off anonymous comments or restrict who can comment even more than that. But I don't think that would be a win. So many of the valuable conversations that happen here involve people who don't blog, or don't blog with Blogger, and so they don't have a profile, at least when they begin to engage. There are times when someone needs to share something anonymously, and I'd really like it if we could maintain that facility.
Ultimately though this blog is not run by me. We are a collective here, in that no one is In Charge of anyone else. I do a lot of the back-end stuff, but not all, and if I'm not writing blog posts I'm generally not reading the comments in a timely fashion either, as it'll be a paucity of time behind my silence. We moderate our own threads, although anyone can do some moderating anywhere that there is a clear breach. As the only moderation tools we have are rather blunt - deletion or a comment by ourselves asking for people to do X or Y or Z - what tends to unfold can sometimes seem strange to the reader. Some of us get all the comments emailed to us, and Blogger now keeps them too, so nothing is ever totally lost. This is very handy for emailing abusive comments through to relevant authorities, for example.
Thank you a thousand times and more to all the many awesome peeps who comment here. Not everyone has the same approach to blogging as me, but for me a big part of it is the conversation that may occur after the post is out there - your thoughts and feedback. Thanks for sharing that.
* This is not to be taken lightly. Current number of laptops wrecked by my three year old = 2. One screen crunched (on a two day old laptop, luckily quickly replaced by the employer with no questions asked, phew), one totally fried by water spillage (only discovered in the last fortnight and appears irreparable, which is particularly galling given I recently spent $500 getting it fixed to limp through for the next year or so until we can afford a decent new one.) Yesterday he broke the handle off my favourite mug and the Porridge Making Bowl. Apparently we have to go get a new one from the Porridge Making Bowl Shop, which is next to the Food Shop where you get the porridge, or so I've been reliably informed. He's not at all concerned about replacing the handle on my beautiful blue mug though.