I’ve seen Cory’s post about comments moderation in several other places, but I wanted to post a link to it here because Fear of Trolls is a subject that’s come up a *lot* among women bloggers (and has been one of the most-attended panels at the Blogher conference, I’ve heard). Cory’s primary “troll whisperer” example in this article is, of course, Teresa Nielsen Hayden.
The last time I posted about comments moderation, I brought up the great example of TNH, as well. I even brought up TNH during The Great “Kameron Hurley is a Straw Feminist” Debate of `05.
There are a lot of great places for feminist discussion. Pandagon does pretty well, but I recently spent a big chunk of time reading a whole thread over at Twisty’s place, and I was really impressed. You can engage in a radical lesbian feminist discussion there without being radical, female, or lesbian.
It’s a safe space for productive discussion. For everyone. You just need to actively *add* to the discussion. If you’re just there to be an asshat, you’re not going to see your asshatted comment posted. Twisty’s even got some guidelines. From what I’ve seen, if she doesn’t like what you have to say, she’ll just delete your post. Or make fun of you. Or make fun of you and then delete your post.
Be civil or go home.
That’s been my approach to comment moderation since I started this blog. Be civil or go home. If you’re not interested in having a productive discussion, go play somewhere else. I’ve had some hate mail and a number of inappropriate comments, but I just deleted it all. I’m lucky in that traffic is low enough that I don’t have to employ the use of spam filters yet, but those help too, particularly the ones you can use to filter posts that contain certain words.
One of the blogs that, I think, failed to community build properly was Feministing. I remember spending some time trying to comment there, and finding the comments section filled with self-proclaimed “Men’s Rights Activists” who, like many MRAs, used there personal grievances against their wives and girlfriends as excuses to rail against feminists in general and take over feminist discussions. I learned pretty quickly that Feministing wasn’t somewhere you’d go for discussion, just news (it’s one of those sites that could even subsist just fine *without* comments).
You don’t have to engage with every poster. You don’t have to air the flighty, non-relevant, asshatted ramblings of every poster. I think that a lot of self-described “liberals” have a lot of problems with the idea of deleting comments cause they see it as “censorship.” But think of it this way: I wouldn’t tolerate somebody calling me a dick-sucking straw feminist in “real life,” so why would I put up with it online? I’m didn’t create this space so I could be somebody else’s doormat.
Moderation is an exercise in community building. You figure out what kind of community you want, and you encourage it.
For women who are still terrified at the idea of hate mail and sexual harassment in their threads, well, just know this: it’s going to happen. It happens because you having a voice threatens some people, and the best way to kow-tow is to shut up again.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of kow-towing to asshats.
So blog away. Just remember it’s your space, not theirs. You’re not here to be “nice.” You’re here to be heard.