Joe P, a blogger out in East Knoxville and one very sharp guy, said something in a comment today that I swear I just spent two hours hashing out with a good friend. He said this:
I was amazed the management simply did not close the comments section down on Brit’s last post, that none of the new crew bothered to say “we reluctantly accept her resigination.” Or if not close the comments for that post, then how about editing it to remove the I Hate Southerners comments and the She’s A Bitch noise.
All that seems to point to either a deeply inexperienced management or one that hopes to kill of NiT altogether.
The key word there? Editing. Not censoring, but editing. The reason this resonated so much with me is that I have been saying that removing comments that distract the reader from the issue at hand seems like good stewardship to me. Call it disinfecting, like heating a needle before using it to remove a splinter. If you remove a viewpoint simply because it is not your own, sure, thats myopic and I guess censorship if you care to cling to one of these definitions of the word…but I think most people don’t want to plow through this “noise” of arguments not germaine to the original topic, and might ultimately come to embrace the practice of deleting personal insults or off topic rants. I might even say that this method of staying on topic might help save the blog community from self-destructing. I’m actually kind of proud to be a part of this message form, I might even call us cutting edge. But the carnage that took place last week over at TCP and NiT was a bit of an embarassment. Smart people missed some fundamental points. For instance, there were commenters who were clearly well-spoken, but still didn’t get that Brittney didn’t write the offending post. That tells me that they were screaming so loud they couldn’t hear the person talking into their ear. I argued all day today that the introduction of “sexism” to this issue distracted everyone from the point , which was whether or not Brittney should have linked to it at all, or if she should have been clear that she did not “endorse” it. Maybe a discussion about whether or not a WKRN sponsored blog has a different set of rules that apply to their blog than an individual blog owner does. I clearly do not have the answers to those questions, I have an opinion, but I know that it would have gotten lost amidst the righteous indignation and real or manufactured outrage.
So, I was glad to see that Joe P wasn’t afraid to offer that up as a solution to threads that get out of hand. I’ll admit that a “slippery slope” argument could be made, since there exists a huge possibility for abuse. However, I think if I visited a blog long enough to see that the owner was reckless in this practice, I would simply move on. I suppose the “moderation” of comments might work, but that slows down the discussion, and I’d be concerned that people would move on too soon out of frustration with the lag time.
I don’t have any hard and fast rules here, at least not that I post as some sort of disclaimer or guideline, but I’m not sure I won’t adopt some in the future. I realize that I am but a speck in the blog-world, but who knows, if enough people did the same, would it become the de facto standard? If you have read something about this, and have a minute, drop in a link for me to read.