Fair comment

I RAISED an eyebrow on reading Guido today. His blog, though the most popular political one in the country, is used by many strange individuals to post the most offensive and defamatory comments about politicians.

Now even Guido himself seems to be losing patience with the foamers and in the new year will introduce a new system whereby the most brainless and half-witted comments, though still to be published, will have less prominence than those comments which have had some intelligent thought put into them.

Given that I have only a fraction of the traffic that Guido and Iain Dale get, the moderation of comments on this blog doesn’t take up any significant amount of time at all. Nevertheless, there still has to be a policy. Lately I’ve been a bit more ruthless in deleting comments which have no relevance to the original post but are obviously being submitted by visitors with a bone to pick with the government.

But WordPress’s spam filter has proved invaluable. One person whose comments used to be published quite regularly recently submitted a blatantly racist comment, presumably in the hope of shocking as well as offending. I stopped publishing any comments submitted by him, so he changed his name. When I noticed the IP address matched exactly with the original racist comment, I spammed his comment. Now anything submitted by that particular racist gets automatically spammed and deleted without my even seeing it.

But despite a clear comments policy, I am amazed by those who still submit comments with swearing or personal insults – against me or other MPs – and who still expect to be published. They aren’t and they won’t be.


Filed under Blogging

12 responses to “Fair comment

  1. richard

    I do try my best to stay on topic. It’s very hard sometimes when you’ve deliberately avoided posting about an important issue of the day though(Labour resignations tend to go unremarked, for instance)…

  2. John

    Tom Harris is a bounder and a cad, and worse still, uses George Orwell’s 1984 as an instruction manual!

    (Easy tiger! Just testing! 😉 )

    I agree with you btw. Comment moderation is an invaluable tool for any blog that wants to be taken seriously, particularly as political topics are by definition almost always heated and will lead even the most even tempered individual to occasionally type in anger. Add to that the individuals that always type in anger, or those who’s sole aim is to cause offense, then any argument against comment moderation becomes very difficult indeed.

    I think it’s clear you’ve struck the right balance here though, especially all the hostile yet constructive comments you let through during the George Orwell 1984 “incident”. You had more comments in those two posts than Guido and Iain Dale combined! :p

  3. Donkey Kong

    Very surprised to hear that you actually read Guido’s blog. What do you make of him referring to your party leader as the Prime Mentalist? We need to know…

  4. Andrew F

    You kind of make it sound like the comments are a nuisance.

    I quite like commenting on this blog – but if we’re just an irritation, I can procrastinate elsewhere.

  5. ani

    Guido is well overdue to get it sorted out. Most of the remarks there are just putrid.
    If he did a proper job and completely spammed the rubbish he wouldn’t have many comments, and that’s his real dilemma.
    Another pitiful site is McGuire’s. For a Labour blog (joke) it attracts half a dozen regulars, and they’re as bad as Guido’s lot, if not worse.
    Still, they perform a public service in gathering all the idiots together, and allowing them to perform.
    Before anyone dives in – I enjoy going there occasionally to marvel at their blatant silliness, which has the tonic effect of making even me feel superior. ;0)

  6. Johnny Norfolk

    Tom. I think you are more than fair. You have published some of my comments I thought you would not. When you have not published some of my comments I have probably gone a little to far and I accept that.

    It must get on your wick many of the things I say but you publish. If your government behaved a little more like you then we would not be in the mess we are in. There I am off again.

  7. timbone

    Yes Tom. Dear Kerry, bless her, has had to start moderating. A very fiery but trusting young lady who kept her blog open. She then began to get all sorts of stuff, and realised that she would have to moderate.
    I have to admit that there are some who leave comments who are bloggers themselves. They have strong opinions, and they are genuine and not ‘trolls’. I have even been to their blogs and been impressed by some of their points of view. Unfortunately, they are too agressive and use language which doesn’t get the point across to me, just offends my sensibilities.

  8. Johnny Norfolk

    However Tom I think there is room for some blogs that are not censored. Some of the posts on Guido spoil his site in my opinion. But if you go there you know what you will find.
    We should be prepared to sometimes read things that make us feel uneasy, but you realise just how nasty many people can be and that is the real world.

  9. Paul Williams

    I think you get the balance about right here, I’m actually impressed by the type of hostile comments you do allow through.

    It comes to something when even members on the ARRSE (I’m not trying to swear honestly Tom) Army forum seem taken aback by the level of swearing on Guido. Although it did amused me no end to learn that Ed Balls apparently gets angry about the abuse dished out.

    Regarding IP addresses, it never fails to amaze me by the number of people who think they’re being crafty by changing their name but never think of the IP address. Changing or disguising an IP address is a relativity simple process. But then I suppose if you write comments that are in breach of a clear comments policy and expect them to be published, then using your brain is not going to be your forte

  10. Johnny Norfolk

    Paul Williams

    Giving away information like this about IP addresses is likly to bring the LTP to your door.

    Be careful.

  11. Mr. Charlie

    Fact is, Tom, a lot of people feel powerless to affect events any more, they feel angry, and they just want somewhere to SHOUT at the people they feel responsible for appalling state this country is in.

    So it’s no surprise, really. I’m utterly pissed off with your shower (core Labour voter for decades, me. No nay never no more, no Sirree), and blogs provide light relief by giving hoi polloi a voice, and a place to hang out together.

  12. Mr. Charlie

    @ Paul Williams December 19, 2008 at 9:47 am

    It comes to something when even members on the ARRSE (I’m not trying to swear honestly Tom) Army forum seem taken aback by the level of swearing on Guido. Although it did amused me no end to learn that Ed Balls apparently gets angry about the abuse dished out.

    To which, one can only respond

    “So what?”

    Man deserves all he gets. Everything under his command a steaming, disastrous pile of cack, and yet HE is never responsible for any of the problems.

    Tom – do tell Ed, with rights come responsibilities. I know that, ‘cos that nice Jack Straw told me so.

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