Sunday, August 9, 2009

A New Policy for Commenters at Progressive Alaska

Beginning Monday, commenters have to join to comment here.

Although anonymous comments will no longer be allowed, you needn't use a real name. You merely have to create a nom de blog to differentiate yourself from others who might or might not be willing to sign their comments with a real name.

I'm looking for ways to elevate the discussion, and to avoid confusion about who has posted which comment. Maybe this will help.

There is probably no way to verify where the large number of very negative commenters here over the past week have come from, but other progressive blogs around the country have experienced similar explosions of vitriol. Some blogs claim this eruption to be related to paid astroturfers clogging the discourse on the health care debate. Some friends and supporters have written to me, claiming it is a mark of the desperation of advocates of the crazy woman who thinks President Obama wants to kill her mom, pop and kid (or grand-kid, depending upon which of the scenarios you accept).

Thanks for your cooperation on this.

Update - Monday 3:15 Alaska time: I've tweaked the settings on "comments" on my dashboard a couple of times. If the setting I've now changed to doesn't fix the problems, I may go back to allowing anonymous commenters, or may switch to wordpress.


Kat said...

Great idea Phil! Thanks!

HistoryGoddess said...

Thank you for doing this. "Anonymous" posts were confusing to me. I tended to think it was one person posting, when actually it could have been several different people- a bit like trying to have a discussion in a room full of people wearing white sheets.

The anonymous posts weren't all bad, but I admit that lately, I just skipped over them. They were distracting and I don't remember any raising the level of discussion.

Aussie Blue Sky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aussie Blue Sky said...

I guess I figured out what the little trash can was for. What a pity the spam doesn't go there.

the problem child said...

Well, it's a bit of extra effort, but probably worth it to reduce confusion.

freeper said...

It's a slippery slope to be side-hilling censorship.

One can substitute the excuse of 'not elevating the discussion' for any number of other justifications.

Registering anonymous accounts won't prevent multiple posting by people using multiple anonymous accounts.

One only need look to the Anchorage Daily News to see the other side of such supposedly well intended censorship.

Comments which aren't welcome in an ideologically controlled environment are routinely excised not because of their content being profane or rude, but excised merely because the comments might challenge an editor's belief system.

Yes,it's bothersome to put up with those whose aim is disruption, but on the other hand, one who censors runs the risk of limiting the free exchange of ideas and/or concepts.

Again, if one raises legitimate concerns that run counter to the editorial ideology, who's to say those concerns should be arbitrarily quashed?

At the Daily News, if one raises points that run counter to the editor's discretionary desires, those points don't see the light of day, aren't read by others, and that cannot result in 'elevating' the discussion, it only controls what is or is not being discussed or defined.

Once you control the definitions, you control ideas.

Proceed with caution, it's not a large step from here to there.

KaJo said...

I think more blogs should adopt this policy. Good for you!

Philip Munger said...


asking people to take a couple of minutes to register is not censorship, beats the hell out of me why you think that is the case.

frsbdg said...

It's funny how the bastions of conservative blogging (RedState, Free Republic, Little Green Footballs) actually ban anyone with a differing opinion. It's not much of a debate when everyone sits around agreeing with one another. And arguments about whether Obama is a socialist or a Nazi really don't count as discourse.

Wolfe Tone said...


All the Birthers and Healthers call Obama a "Socialist Nazi."

They see no incongruity in that schizophrenic concept.

Anonymous said...

I think everyone should move to WordPress (you know each comment came from on the backend). However, it looks like your commenting options (improved in Blogger) are better than at other fora.

HistoryGoddess said...

freeper- not sure I understand part of your post, but I will say that with a "name" attached I at least read what you wrote. Not sure where you got the idea Phil was censoring, but perhaps that is common on many of the other sites you may go to. Phil is just requiring people register and use some type of identifier. Could people register several differenr names? Maybe if they really wanted to go to that effort. But that isn't what Phil is addressing.

I don't understand what side hilling censorship means in your first sentence. In your second one, did you mean to include "not" in your example?

I appreciate your attempt to bring up the serious issue of censorship of thought. Requiring people to identify themselves before sharing their thoughts just make good conversational sense, though.

Our country's strength comes through civil discourse that allows for alternate opinions and respectful questions. With the right to speak, however, should come responsibility and accountability. And to me, that starts by not hiding behind the collective "anonymous." On that, I think we would both agree.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the comment I posted Saturday?

Anonymous said...

It's not working. The last comment I posted, I was still able to do so anonymously. But the one I posted on Saturday, (which was NOT anonymous, by the way) did not show up on the Health Care Town Mauls discussion.

tomandlou said...

It looks as if we have a new age of intimidation toward anything democratic or logical!It's unfortunate we have regressed to intimidation of not only our politicions but also our seniors .I left a comment on Lynnrockets that I was moved to do what the GOP sais will uthinise me," A LIVING WILL" Im 72 its more then time to do it anyway. I would expect that no one will knock on my door to tell me its time to die.

Anonymous said...

"All the Birthers and Healthers call Obama a "Socialist Nazi."

They see no incongruity in that schizophrenic concept."

Umm, hate to tell you this but the Nazis were actually National Socialists, so although I don't think that Obama is a Nazi, the concept of "Socialist Nazi" isn't actually schizophrenic.

clark said...

i totally recommend wordpress.
it seems to handle comments well, and does a lot nicer job with photos, as well. [i switched my mt view blog to wordpress a long time ago. seamless transition and importing of the archives.

Anonymous said... winkum, dinkums being picked on across the country?



Anonymous said...

Oh is poor little Shanster turning into a chickensh*t. I wouldn't join your vile blog anyway but it was fun posting while I could. How's that lawsuit goin girl?

Anonymous said...

No problem, it's your blog.

But I won't be registering any time soon. Not that you would miss me talking about the creepy left.

I will still be grinning anyway. Just won't be able to tell you about it.

sauerkraut said...

Do what you gotta do, Phil.

Wordpress, btw, has similar issues.

Anonymous said...

First, as to what does or does not comprise censorship.

Obstructions, no matter how insignificant one may consider them, nonetheless do result in decreased participation.

Any number of people, for any number of reasons, be they credible or reasonable reasons. or not, will just either neglect to register, or will refuse to register, and therefore, that segment of the whole will no longer be participating.

Any action that restricts the free exchange of ideas is a form of censorship. Any action.

And history goddess, you're very wrong on at least a couple of points.

For starters, you're very wrong to make the supposition that I would agree to your pretentious and ill-conceived presumptions, and allow me to enumerate.

Rather than try to lecture anyone about what constitutes our nations strength, perhaps you should view the factual realities instead of trying to substitute your personal preferences, preferences which are not based on any factual reality. Those preferences you propose aren't representative of any history, but are merely representative of you're own arbitrary personal desire.

Free and totally anonymous political speech, (in the form of anonymously authored and freely distributed 'pamphlets') was the genesis of the social action that came together to form our nation.

Those anonymous pamphlets both motivated, and and can be said to have led directly to the formalized organization of those who eventually joined together to propose the documents that underpin the foundations of our nation.

No less than the Supreme Court has ruled that anonymous political speech is a sacrosanct legal right, and a legally protected form of speech.

There is no reference to such 'accountability' you may personally desire. No mention whatsoever about your wish that you could impose arbitrary constraints masquerading under the heading of 'responsibility' or 'accountability'.

You may envision yourself as some kind of 'goddess', but you'd best drop the reference to history because you've demonstrated you would offer up some revision of history to suit your own self-generated personal preference and alternative.

You're trying to lecture someone about something you obviously haven't yet comprehended, and that is that free speech means no one gets to decide what is or isn't free speech, nor does one have the ability to decide who can or cannot have free speech.

There is no precedent in American history to support the ill-founded notion that there has to be some accountability or responsibility attached.

Totally anonymous, freely distributed political speech was the very seed that began the public exchange of thought that evolved into the combined ideas and social movement that underpins the greatness and strength that is this American nation.

Censorship, in any of it's forms, is simply un-American.