A tale of moderation

Having slept on this, I am still driven to vent. Yesterday, after noting that Nick Cohen’s cogent argument in The Observer was not – under its ‘Comment is free’ online label – open for comments, I was – unusually – drawn to Barbara Ellen’s page. I say unusually… because I usually try and avoid the type of writing that is to journalism what Bercow is to Twitter. That is to say, a substandard and unnecessary embarrassment. Which is what Ellen was letting us have her considered views on. Which is why I went there.

But it quickly degenerated into the usual pattern of prejudices aired. In an article slating tweets that reads as though constructed as a compendium of them. I wondered that it might attribute Bercow’s comeuppance to her not being a vegetarian (though I have no idea whether Bercow is or is not a vegetarian). Anyway, comments here were open. So I posted (something like, though I didn’t consider it necessary to preserve a copy at the time, so am re-writing from recall) this:

”Comment is free’ is not the same as ‘Comment is worthwhile.’ Why is this patronising, extended tweet-like inanity open for comments when Nick Cohen’s important piece is not?’

Which sat there fine, garnering the approving clicks of a number of recommenders, until about three hours later when I noticed it had been replaced with:

‘This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.’


I re-read some of the extant comments which I still considered, relative to mine under my own name, far more ‘troll-ish’, if troll-ish was how I had been deemed. And I clicked on that link to ‘community standards’ and argued to myself: i) I’ve not breached these; and ii) these are worded so as to cover all interpretative bases for infraction, giving a moderator justification to remove whatever.

So, irritated, I jeopardised my dignity by flaming another couple of comments querying the moderation of my original, walking straight into a certain breach of guideline # 8, and was predictably removed within minutes without trace. I sat for a while, drumming my fingers and pondering my original comment, which was not directly insulting the author, but a critical remark on the article she’d written; and I considered that several other commenters are far harsher and further ‘off-topic’ than I. What is ‘Comment is free’ for?

Maybe the link to the Cohen piece was considered wandering ‘off-topic.’ But it is actually my main motivation here… ‘cos, like, I’m not actually wanting to draw attention to what Ellen eructates. As I write,  her patronising, extended tweet-like inanity remains open for comments, if you feel the need to put in. However, I’ll doubt you’ll learn little you don’t already know. I recommend instead, if you haven’t already, going across to Nick Cohen for an informative take on the ramifications of last week’s madness. You won’t be able to comment, however. Unaccountable moderators’ stomachs apparently don’t allow that.CIF

Update 28/5/13:  Yeah, right.


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