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Posted by on Mar 29, 2010 in At TMV | 151 comments

Discontinuing Self-Published Reader Comments

While many of our readers publish comments that are constructive and well-mannered, we are experiencing a growing number of comments that are mean-spirited, foul-mouthed, ad hominem attacks. The frequency of the latter now requires approximately two hours every day of monitoring and mediation, in keeping with our comments policy. That’s too much time — for anyone — to spend on such activity, especially at an all-volunteer blog like this one.

Of course, we could just do away with our comments policy and ignore the bad behavior, although doing so tends to generate even more complaints and takes up even more time. Alternatively, we could ban the most persistently offensive commenters, and we have done so, on rare occasion. But lately, it seems, there’s always another offensive commenter to fill the void.

And so, after carefully considering this reality, evaluating options, reaching out to other bloggers and readers for their opinions, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue readers’ self-published comments on a three-month trial basis, starting in the late evening of Tuesday this week, March 30. After that date, TMV authors who wish to continue receiving reader comments will provide a way for readers to contact them. Here’s the approach I’ll use, as one example …

Do you have a perspective or related information to share on this topic? Email me at abel-DOT-reply-AT-gmail-DOT-com. Please write “TMV Comment” in the subject line. I won’t be able to respond to all such emails, but I will occasionally publish follow-up posts, featuring the reader feedback that I find the most germane, compelling and/or persuasive – including feedback that disagrees with my conclusions.

Thank you.

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  • shannonlee

    Not that I don’t value the articles, but I get better information from the comments section. A lot of the time those great comments come from TMV authors, but not always.

    By killing the comments sections, you might end up really hurting this site…much more than the meanies that don’t always place nice.

    If I have to email my comments to an author…I really don’t know if I will bother commenting at all or reading for that matter. Just the truth.

    And…you should probably make this a sticky post so it stays on top of the site.

    • $199537

      Not that I don’t value the articles, but I get better information from the comments section.

      Bingo. I haven’t found anywhere else that offers the quality of discussion here. This will be a big loss.

      But as I often remind myself this isn’t my website and the owners can run it however they see fit. I do think a little more willingness to ban commenters who continually use bad language or attack others would have helped.

      • Jim_Satterfield

        I had to give you a like on that one, DG.

    • I agree – it’s the comments as much as the authors that make this site. I for one will visit much less.

    • ProfElwood

      16 likes (as of this post). shannonlee, I think if anyone deserves the title “moderate” here, that would be you. If this is truly our last days (shades of Good Friday), then I must nominate you for that honor. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen that many likes on a comment, so let it be an appropriate memorial.

      On the internet, no one can see you grab a tissue.

      • shannonlee

        Thank you for the compliment, but I’ve been put back in moderate check numerous times on this site. Even when I write I sometimes think….

        What would Prof, and other people, reply to this comment?

  • JSpencer

    How unfortunate. But I understand the reasoning. Good luck with the new system. And good luck with our democracy here in the USA – such as it is. Too bad it isn’t as easy to remove the negative elements in the real world as it is in the blogosphere. 😉

  • Personally, I think this is a bad policy change. Comments are at least half the reason I come to this site. While I understand that moderation can be a pain, this step strikes me as too drastic. There must be another way.

  • JSpencer

    Shannon makes a good point about the usefulness of the comments section and how it contributes to the site. I’m sure it gets tedious sifting through all the chaff though. I wonder why the increase in inappropriate comments. Has it coincided with the election of Obama?

  • JSpencer

    Maybe DaGoat is right about a greater willingness to give repeat offenders the boot, an idea I’ve taken issue with in the past, but if the alternative is banning ALL comments, well then… perhaps the idea has merit.

    • Schadenfreude_lives

      Maybe DaGoat is right about a greater willingness to give repeat offenders the boot

      Certainly when I got banned for getting overly abusive it had an effect on me.

      I was allowed to return under a new name, and toned down my comments while still remaining strongly opinionated. I can see how for posters/commentators that had not been here as long as I had, and therefor not as emotionally attached to TMV, that it might not have had as positive a result.

      However, if banning were used more often (with some kind of “one-time reprieve” like I was given), and openly acknowledged as occurring, then people would be much more likely to take the edicts more seriously (see, there is that Conservative “crime and punishment as deterrent” mentality of mine, coupled with a bit of Liberal “punishment as rehabilitation” as well!)

  • Schadenfreude_lives

    To the extent that our input will have any effect, I strongly encourage the team to re-consider their decision. Despite the perceived incivility that is driving this decision, as compared to your contemporaries, TMV is a civil site, with a wide array of viewpoints.

    Too many sites are mono-thematic in their comments, and make the VAST majority of the overwrought posts at TMV pale by comparison. No-comment sites, IMHO, fare better when they at least provide the viewpoint of the site owner or a single editorial slant, which would be a change that is not compatible to what has made TMV a special place.

    That leads to why I personally think a deep mistake is being made by the decision-making team at TMV. It is the comments section that makes TMV a unique place to visit. There are frankly many sites that provide a group-post front page that consist of primarily links to and comments on posts and articles from other sites, with a smattering of original writing, but allow no comments. This simply puts TMV into the ‘another one of them’ category.

    I would also point out the number of front-page posters and editors that have come from the ranks of the commentators. Without that comments section, the influx of new ideas, viewpoints and talent cannot be seen and encouraged.

    I have no hope this will make any difference to the initial decision, and I sincerely hope (but not maliciously) in this case the experiment fails dramatically, readership and page-views plummet, and that TMV is forced to return to the gathering-place for wide-ranging discussion it has been for its existence.

    It is with a saddened heart that I see, from my selfish viewpoint, the end of TMV as we have known it.

    AustinRoth, aka Schadenfreude_lives

  • derHundepo

    Count me as among those who would be disappointed by the change. I seldom comment myself, but in a majority of cases I genuinely enjoy the give and take that can occur within the comments. They add a broader understanding of the issue at hand, and even create new debates of related topics (I will use the recent engrossing discussions originated by Elrod regarding the debate of “What are Rights” and the tangential Ethics topic that sprung from it as prime examples). Sure, there are those who get out of hand a bit, but for the most part, I know when to simply ignore them. If politics has taught us anything it’s that there are Arschlöcher in every crowd, and while we shouldn’t condone their behavior, we also shouldn’t go to the other extreme and let it ruin a fine forum by shutting things down completely. And really, when you shut down comments, don’t the terrorists win? 🙂 sorry, couldn’t help myself.

    Then again, as DaGoat has said, I’m just visiting.

  • mariaycorazon

    I think it would be a mistake to stop the blogging portion of this site. Part of the value of these comments is to gauge the sentiments of the general public on various topics. I think it would be far better if you consistently barred any bloggers who post even one negative comment and allow the free exchange of ideas among the rest of us. Otherwise you may render this site useless as a way to express the “voice” of the people as well.

  • ElZagna

    I would be sorry for TMV to go to no comments. Comments are essential to a site like this I understand the hassle of policing the comments section, but isn’t that what the “Flag” link is there to help with? Maybe you could involve the readers more by having not just a “Like” button, but ones for “Dislike”, “Snark”, “Ad Hominum”, etc.

  • StockBoySF

    I will miss the comments and I think AR has a good point about giving a “one-time reprieve” to those who, for whatever reason, can not follow TMV’s guidelines (which are fully reasonable). There are times in the heat of a discussion people say things that they otherwise would not. Personally I’ve found it to be a great exercise for myself personally, not that I’ve succeeded all the time.

    At any rate, as much as I will miss the comments, I understand that you need to make this change. Since more and more people are coming to the site I can only imagine how burdensome it is to monitor comments. The price of success!

    Anyway, I’ll continue to visit and read; there are great contributors on here and I need my daily TMV fix (even if I don’t post comments).

    By the way, I enjoy the community the comments encourage. It’s neat to see all the different personalities on here. I think having that community where everyone knows everyone else and newcomers are welcomed is special.

  • I have to agree with the sentiments of other commenters, though I completely understand the problem. There are times that the comments are so predictable and aggravating I wonder why I read them. But then the discussion is often fascinating, and certainly more diverse than at more monochromatic blogs.

    That said, I already use Disqus’ email system for comments that respond directly to mine, so I would not find an email comment system much of a problem. I’m certainly willing to try it. It could generate much more thoughtful comments if they only appeared based on merit.

    • kathykattenburg

      GD, can you explain what you mean by “I already use Disqus’ email system for comments that respond directly to mine”?

  • Don Quijote

    If you want to kill this site, remove comments…

    If I can’t comment, I ‘ll spend my time on some other sites…

  • Zzzzz

    Banning the comments would definitely be a loss. I think it would be much more reasonable to ban repeat offenders. That would certainly cut down on the time involved in monitoring.

  • Silhouette

    Why do I smell Dr. C-E all over this decision?..lol..

    Look, the comments ARE the TMV. This place is popular only because of them. Don’t flatter yourselves too much site people. There are hundreds of political chat sites that people will migrate away to with articles that are at least on par with the authors here. The entire purpose of TMV is to inspire commentary. Might I suggest a more intolerant banning process? Third offense and the poster is out for a week/month/year whatever.

    And what exactly is offensive? How much do words really have the power to destroy? Words are just words and the people who read something here and become offended so easily are really the ones who are operating on the fringe.

    Lord knows I’ve received enough harassment for my positions. Endless in fact at times. That’s what I expect though since I know that my positions often challenge people to think more deeply than usual and when this happens, the denial systems kick in and “offense” is cited. The whole reason we challenge each other is to inspire deeper thinking.

    What I do when I come across something that fringes on the totally absurd or someone on the attack is I IGNORE THE POST. It’s amazing, the personal power involved in not-reading..lol..

    Again, this just reeks of the leftist shut-down I personally experienced over at TalkLeft. For posts way more tame than the ones you see here, just merely surficially challenging the uberleft ilk, I was banned without notice or ceremony. The fringe right boards do EXACTLY the same thing. So the “moderate” voice no longer is. Goodbye advertising money. Have you run this by your advertisers yet? I bet not….This mistake is like Coca Cola deciding to discontinue its present formula and only offer non-carbonated cola from now on…

    Lunacy.. [What? Did I offend someone with this post?…lol…]

    • kathykattenburg

      Why do I smell Dr. C-E all over this decision?..lol..

      Um, maybe because Dr. Estes is the one who spends at least two unpaid hours of her day, every day, moderating these comments? How about showing a little gratitude?

      That goes for Don Quijote, too.

      • Don Quijote

        That goes for Don Quijote, too.

        Sorry if I sound ungrateful, but what makes a political site works is the comments… I used to go to a couple of blogs on http://www.theatlantic.com, after they removed the comments, I stopped visiting, and despite the fact that they have been put back, I rarely go there…

        The point of reading a political blog is to comment, without comments I might as well be reading the Times and the WSJ’s op-ed…

        • chipsilicon

          Don, We’ve mixed it up a little bit here, but I agree with you 100% on this point.

          Having said that, I’ll add that the “shadow” of dr. e’s intervention may have stayed the hands of a number of us, so we can’t simply look at the overall history of posting and conclude that this ban is an overreaction. On the other hand, I don’t recall seeing anything that got posted and then banned that seemed particularly over the top.

          Whatever, the site owners get to call the shots. I’ll take this opportunity to thank Don Q. and Green Dreams for some good verbal tussles. Adios.

  • gcotharn

    The comments, and the close monitoring of inappropriate comments, are what make this site. There is reasoning at work in the comments section. There is give and take. And intellectually shutdown refusal to take. And more give and take. Rare.

    This is an interesting look at the economics of blogging at this moment of internet existence. How much will page views be reduced b/c of the reduction of ease of commentary? How much will that reduction in page views reduce ad revenue? Is said ad revenue worth 2 hours of highly skilled labor per day? If not, then commenters have no gripe.

    Which is different from having no grieving. I will miss reading many of the commenters here. I much enjoyed the view into your reasoning process; much appreciated your taste and grace. You are the main reason I visited this blog. Best luck to you.

    If you ever wish to say hello, I can be found here: http://theendzone.blogspot.com/ , where I stand ready to delete your derriere for inappropriate commentary! [“delete your derriere” = TM phrase]

    Greg Cotharn

    • kathykattenburg

      Greg,

      You and I have had more than our share of disagreements and harsh words, but I have to tell you how sorry I am for the loss of your sister-in-law. I decided to say this here, rather than on your blog, because maybe other TMV readers wouldn’t have clicked on that link just at this particular moment, and then they would not have seen your post.

      I have no doubt of how much you loved Lisa, as well as the rest of your family, and really, my heart goes out to you. I hope God gives you peace and strength to bear up under this. (And yes, I do believe God exists!)

      Your fellow human being,

      Kathy

      • shannonlee

        Greg, sorry for your loss.

        • gcotharn

          Thank you, shannonlee, for the condolences. Appreciated.

      • gcotharn

        Thanks Kathy. Gracious and kindhearted. Also, it’s reassuring to know for certain that you consider me human – as opposed to subhuman!

        • kathykattenburg

          Aw, Greg, I never considered you subhuman. Inhuman, maybe…. JUST KIDDING!!

  • DLS

    The comments are the soul of this site. I suspect you’ll learn that and bring them back eventually, and if it’s not too late, I suggest you reconsider, Pete.

  • Ms_ChaosNG

    OK, I really never comment, but I ALWAYS read the comments. That’s probably at least half of why I come here. I think making them e-mail only will only serve to let the trolls win!! Why reward them?! (Feeding them is bad enough!)
    Don’t do it!

    • shannonlee

      With a name like that, you should have commented more 🙂

  • rachelmap

    It’s no skin off my nose, but you may want to consider this: if you do this, the trolls will have won.

  • $1690528

    Sad,

    This was probably my favorite site for reading current event commentary. Without the comments, it will not be.

    I wish the managers good fortune.

  • Silhouette

    Totally true. What has been de facto announced here is the operative end to TMV. Trolls can be ignored. As to volunteering all your time, how much does it cost to own this domain each month and how much revenue are you raking in from the dozens of ads run here? Someone is making some coin..that’s going to be lost when the hits suddenly come to a screeching halt..

    • Schadenfreude_lives

      Sil – you obviously have NO idea of the economics of running a blog site such as TMV.

      I would bet you paychecks (if you indeed are employed) that this site is a negative cash-flow and money-losing site, and always has been.

    • As a blogger myself I seriously doubt anyone is making any “serious coin” on this blog – very few do. That said as a blogger myself I find that I quote commentors more than the authors at this site. I will repeat it is the comment threads that make this site – sorry about that authors. I have occasionally cross posted here at TMV and have appreciated the comments.

  • I was originally attracted to TMV a number of years ago due to the content of the articles. During that time, I’ve seen a number of iterations for the site, including shifts in its reporting focus and comment abilities. I currently use TMV articles as a “foil,” if you would, against other news sites which may be farther to the edges of the political spectrum. That won’t change under the proposed changes in the comment system.

    I agree with many others, in respecting the decision any private owner may have over their site, and the time (and money) volunteered by many people to make such a site possible. As such, TMV has and continues to do a wonderful job in providing important news perspectives in a reporting environment that does not always reach the same bar.

    But what is it that provides the level of quality which TMV has reached? As with any system, there have been checks and balances over the years. The current makeup of TMV’s check and balance system has a 4-point system, in my opinion: (1) the editors; (2) the contributing writers; (3) other blog and news sites; (4) the public comments attached to each article. The editors (and owner) are the main driving force behind the reporting focus of the site. The contributing writers provide the (pardon the blunt wording) grunt work in research and original reporting or opinion writing. While other blog sites may offer verification of stories, these tend not to be as active or frequent as internal methods.

    This leads to the last, the comment system. TMV runs the risk of having their articles be overshadowed by abusive and/or negative public comments, or even more popular commentators than the main authors. This can be seen on other sites, such as Dailykos.com . As others have mentioned, TMV’s commentators, on the other hand, have more often than not provided a healthy amount of political context centered around the main articles. As the site has become more popular, more negative commentators have appeared, and attempted to subvert the articles for their own gain – but the affect, to me, has been exceedingly limited in its scope compared to the information revealed by the more positive and open-minded commentators which have benefited TMV.

    This community of commentators has also been rare in that it tends higher on the mature, even-toned responses. One-instance trolls are (usually) quickly ignored, and even psychological opposites can have very engaging and healthy debates. It would be discouraging to see this aspect of TMV be lost, when what has been achieved is exactly what TMV promotes as a goal for other news sources to aspire towards.

    Aside from appointing a general moderator, as someone separate from contributing writers, I don’t know what other options may have been looked at to maintain the current community and spirit. As stated, I do support TMV – especially given the volunteer basis that it arises from – and hope that any changes in the future keep the quality of writing as impressive as it has been now, as well as the community that has risen up in support.

  • mariaycorazon

    One more thought I want to share…some of us lead fairly isolated lives and this venue is our only option for intelligent discourse with other readers. You will be doing your readers a disservice if you shut down the blogging portion of this site. I, for one, rarely get the chance to exchange ideas with such an intelligent group of people. Negative commenters excluded…but I do find their statements interesting because I think they too can be illuminated by the conversation here. Something needs to be done to raise the consciousness level of our general population..don’t you think!

  • Wow.

    I find this new development to be extremely unfortunate, and has taken me completely be surprise.

    As many of the commenters have already pointed out, I think that we learn as much from the comments as we do from the posts themselves.

    As a sometimes poster here at TMV, the only reason I even post at all is to receive feedback from TMV regulars.

    I find it very unfortunate that this decision has been made by TMV, and while I understand some of the reasoning behind it, this will almost assuredly lead to:

    1) less posts by TMV authors (since posters will have less incentives to write posts)
    2) less thoughtful and accurate posts by TMV authors (since posters will no longer be able to be challenged in a public forum
    3) less collegiality among TMV posters/commenters (since commenters will no longer be able to express their views, and neither commenters or posters will be able to see what others are thinking)

  • Dr J

    I understand the burden of policing the comments, but what would ending them leave? A bunch of “Republican Hypocrisy Exposed!!” posts that no longer spring into interesting conversations but just sort of lie there like leftover meatloaf? If it were my site, I would be reluctant to bet it on those.

    I might recommend a “Report” link on comments as an alternative to proactively policing them all.

  • tidbits

    Speaking as one who has just made the transition from commenter to contributor/commenter, the absence of direct comments will be a loss. Many a useful discussion has been had between commenters. I know that I have used comments as inspiration for articles, value the points of view and research links, and have had many learning experiences as a result of TMV comments.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to be the one who has to volunteer hours a day to reading every comment, looking for offenders of the comment policy, then trying to exercise the discretion necessary to respond to each offending comment.

    In his announcement, Pete offered one option and invited other options. Here is one that I will offer. For articles I write after the new policy goes into effect, I will offer a direct link to a dedicated Disqus powered comment page where those who wish to comment and discuss can link over, comment, then use the “Back” button to return directly to TMV.

    Like many who have already commented on Pete’s article, I hope TMV will find a way to reinstate comments after this experiment with safeguards against offensive use of the comments section and without causing a volunteer to spend hours a day on enforcement. Until then, let’s be creative in finding ways to maintain contact and continue our valuable discussions.

    Elijah Sweete

    • mikkel

      can I piggyback on this too?

      • tidbits

        Mikkel,

        “can I piggyback on this too?”

        Yes. I have an “open mic” comment page at my blog, http://elijahssweetespot.com/?page_id=54 , which can be used for this purpose, and I can add additional open comment pages if necessary.

        Comment policies are similar to TMV with a three strike rule for offenders. Strike One: warning; Strike Two: 30 day suspension; Strike Three: banning.

        • DLS

          “Strike One: warning; Strike Two: 30 day suspension; Strike Three: banning.”

          These and similar decisions have always been the moderators’ perogative here.

          * Thread and site suspensions and revocations of posting privileges.

          * Suspensions — two days, two weeks, 30 days, 90 days, etc.

          * Word limit or posting limit (frequency or total posting activity)

          etc.

    • kathykattenburg

      Speaking as one who has just made the transition from commenter to contributor/commenter,

      Um, did I miss something?

  • Before it goes away entirely, I would just like to stop by and say that I see in this thread a number of the commenters who frequent my own bombastic, self-serving screeds which I’ve been publishing here for years. I just want to thank all of you for a great ride. I happen to agree that you were the heart and soul of the process and I enjoyed the debates, agreement and screaming matches we engaged in together, as much as I enjoyed reading all of your comments on the days when I was too busy or lazy to participate myself. If the system goes back to this routine some day, who knows? We may pick up where we left off. Until then, my thanks to you all, liberal and conservative alike, and adieu.

    • Rambie

      I too will miss the comments here at TMV.

      I would suggest maybe a Tumbs-Up/Thumbs-Down type system used at Digg and other sites. That way posters can help moderate bad posts. That too can be abused, but I’ve seen it work.

      • This is an excellent idea. Yahoo actually minimizes the comment if it has too many negative votes. It gives you the choice if you want to read the comment. I believe that is the best approach to handling this situation. I love reading the comments.

  • adelinesdad

    Wow. Of all of the blogs I’ve seen, this site has the most constructive comment section. I didn’t notice the increase in inappropriate comments, but that’s probably because of the hard work of the moderators. I have to say I knew in the back of my mind that it was only a matter of time before the trolls found this place and took over. I’m just sorry to see it happen so soon.

    Here’s hoping this is an early April fool’s joke, but if not then thanks to TMV and its contributors, commenters, and moderators for the interesting discussions. They will be missed.

    • Silhouette

      Oh yeah….

      It IS getting rather close to April 1 now isn’t it? hmmm….lol..

      Tell you what is really offensive here, while we’re on the subject. The ads. “Your perfect girl”. “My gun spot”. “No kidding, you’re th 100,000 visitor, you won”. “Kill the Bill”.

      Ban your advertisers, some of them. Or do your priciples and consternations end at the petty cash box?

      • Rambie

        Sil, “It IS getting rather close to April 1 now isn’t it? hmmm….lol..”

        Oh, that’d be low!!! But would be a funny April Fools joke after the fact. 🙂

  • HemmD

    Let’s see if this comes out right.

    TMV without the ability to comment, without the ability to debate, or the ability of two sides reaching mutual understanding? That’s not TMV, that’s just another dime-a-dance url to add to the list of places that spout unchallenged opinion. Does anyone here actually feel their particular article adds some unique slant to a subject that can’t be found in 50 other sites?

    I for one don’t come here for any one who writes articles here, I come for the conversation that occurs once a subject is brought up.

    • $1690528

      HemmD and I rarely agree in a thread but I wholeheartedly endorse the sentiment.

  • casualobserver

    Ditto to the general sentiments expressed above……..including he who pays the bandwidth gets to call the tune.

    Nonetheless, the law degree in me suggests you are shrifting due process here. As someone who has been here 3 or so years, I don’t share the view on the volume increase. When didn’t a Shaun Mullen post beget anything but all 3 of your violations in every post and comment?

    Nor is your charge of “mean-spirited” and “ad hominem” really a selective indicator. Remember as soon as someone types “conservatives/liberals are” or “conservatives/liberals were responsible for”, they are making an ad hominem attack. And if you think those same sentences are being posted in a spirit of beneficence, I suggest you are being overly naive about human nature.

    In the 3 years of reading, I will submit only 3 people remotely qualify as non-violators…..pacatrue, dr e and sparrow……..and that’s becasue they generally just avoid the overly political threads.

    Good lord, this is politics, man. We have proven time and time again, there really are no centrists here, at least not when you measure it issue by issue. Of course it is emotionally inflammatory. Find me one that isn’t.

    While you didn’t say it, for those that suggest there are “trolls” here, I think you are severely mistaken. I accept everyone here says what they believe as opposed to saying things just for effect.

  • mimms

    This will be a big loss to TMV’s quiet people too. I don’t comment here, but I read the comments regularly.

    I like to examine and expand my views. Can’t learn much at sites I totally agree with; can’t stomach much reading of sites that are completely opposed. At TMV I appreciate the range and energy. I occasionally have my mind changed which is great. A lot of that movement comes from the commenters. Often begins with the blog posts – but usually as amplified by comments.

    I can understand how ennervating it would be to spend 2 hours every day cleaning off nasty comments but I hope there is a better solution than discontinuing comments or publishing a select few. Maybe the direct Disqus page link will work…

  • If a TMV post is written in a forest and no one is around to read it, does it make a sound?

  • Schadenfreude_lives

    I will ask the question to the powers that be at TMV that is underlying almost every post here about this change.

    Is there nothing that we, the community of commentators, can do to to convince you to reconsider this decision?

  • If I may: the commentators in this thread, even knowing that commenting might be completely gone in the next 24 hours, have still remained civil and respectful regarding a topic that, on the whole, they disagree with. It’s been refreshing to see this level of discourse on the net. I hope to see it again, someday.

  • pacatrue

    I must add my two cents to the chorus. First up, it is the moderators’ site and their time, so I respect whatever they decide to do. No one owes anything to me.

    That said, I won’t stop by much without the comments. It is the dialogue at TMV that frequently happens that makes the site worthwhile. With a few exceptions, most of the opinions can be found just as well elsewhere. It’s the fact that the opinions get to talk to each other that’s beneficial.

    For instance, I was thinking of writing up a guest post about searching for non-governmental ways to accomplish tasks. The purpose of the guest post was not really so that everyone could be enlightened by my stunning words. It’s so that I could get feedback to the ideas through comments.

    Best wishes to the TMV crew either way.

    • Schadenfreude_lives

      I was thinking of writing up a guest post about searching for non-governmental ways to accomplish tasks.

      That is too bad; it would have been an interesting discussion.

  • EEllis

    It may not be a big loss to the site but why would anyone read the majority of posts without comments? Few if any (Dr. E tho I’m not a huge fan has a unique and poetic style) post anything but retreads of other sites stories. So much more info and ideas occur during the discussions vs the original posts. I hope you change your minds because without comments it won’t even be a mediocre site.

  • JSpencer

    Since we don’t seem to know what’s going to happen here with regard to comments, I’ll just take this opportunity to extend my good will and gratitude to everyone here, writers and commenters alike. I especially want to thank those I’ve disagreed with since they have provided chances to re-examine and consider viewpoints. I can’t think of anyone here I feel any animosity or ill-will toward, and if I’ve ever caused offense to anyone here, please consider this an apology. I think you’re a great bunch. While I frequent many blogs and news sites, this one has been my favorite for some years now.

    Best wishes ~ Joe

    • Schadenfreude_lives

      Well put, JS.

  • StockBoySF

    Sil, I think this site is a labor of love for Joe G and his entire staff. I know they request contributions from time to time and that the writers bit only donate their works, but also their time and money to keep it going.

    I can certainly understand why someone who volunteers their talents and so much time, expecting constructive comments, would find it frustrating that they now need to spend more time being police.

    Perhaps a more robust commenter registration system, not to ban anyone, just to ensure new commenters are serious about posting constructive comments, is something to think about.

    At any rate, the trolls only win if we let them and we turn away from this site. If we don’t want to let them win then we should continue to support TMV and hopefully we, as a community, can make suggestions to Joe G and others at TMV and solve this problem. It will take a few months and committment but if all of us truly feel that readers’ comments ARE that important then we’ll stick around and find a solution. If the site is good then it’s worth fighting for. The trolls may have won this round, but let’s not give up in the first round. We already know that the folks at TMV ate committed to making this the best site, so hopefully the ideas already generated in this thread will be helpful, and let’s offer more ideas. But we also need to stand by them and not leave the site during the next few stages. We can do this.

  • DLL83

    This is a sad day. I’m afraid I will have to go find another site where the majority of comments intelligently represent both sides of every issue (in case you don’t know, that’s not going to be easy). The discussion is what interests me and makes this site valuable. I think of the articles as a kind of “this is what we’re going to talk about” intro, and the comments section as the part where we actually talk about it.

    I do, however, appreciate the site’s moderators for their hard work up to now. Sorry it has come to this, and thanks for your volunteered time.

    • Schadenfreude_lives

      I will have to go find another site where the majority of comments intelligently represent both sides of every issue

      If you find one in the next 24 hours, please share!

  • Leonidas

    Agree with pretty much all the sentiments above, but I also understand the decision which is basically one of everyone taking a bit of a vacation for a bit and see what happens. Maybe the lack of comments will diminish the traffic, I certainly suspect so, but maybe it will also give folks a chance to breathe in a bit of fresh air for a few months and appreciate more what is temporarily unavailable and come back with a lighter heart when they return embracing their friends and foes among the other regular commentators a bit more warmly.

    While it might not necessarily be a good decision, it might not necessarily be a bad one either. I think the staff on this blog is the very best out there and I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on their decision. I think the same general fairness and openmindedness that they have shown in general will once again be in play when they get a chance to evaluate this new policy either in the near future and/or down the road a few months later. I might not like the decision, but I trust the decision makers. I don’t begrudge them a vacation, I just hope they have a happy one and that everyone is refreshed and back better than ever when it is done.

  • sandymchoots

    One pattern I think I’ve noticed is that certain articles seem to induce better comments than others. I suggest to the operators of the site that a useful exercise during the 3-month hiatus might be to see if my casual impression is correct. If it is, then perhaps there could be some two-way policing.

  • archangel

    dear commenters; just a note, as I can see that some don’t realize the way moderation has worked at tmv for the last couple years. Often commenters and readers would not likely see at all perhaps 60-70% of, well let’s just say, comments veering off way into the paint. As a way way night owl, many would be gone from site before you ever saw them. And some of them I should have called hazmat for. lol. Have to sleep sometime, and so some way out of bounds items would make it through the net for some time on the site, til I had enough java to see, and I dont mean developer’s. Without taking more space on that, just know there are many layers of moderation and the time for back and forths with irked commenters privately is pretty profound, including some of our regulars who wanted several ‘so and sos’ banned to Siberia (never happened by acclamation, just kept trying to mediate politely even when some were acid), and it takes time to listen to people’s interests seriously, but also set limits. None of this shows above ground, nor should it. Just required, and incidentally, without complaint, to keep a civil table. As you know from my recent posts in comments over the last couple weeks, I have seen TMV table of civil commenters as an oasis for many others. Personally, I read all comments before it was my job to read all comments, because I like to learn from others who often have something in addition to opinion, to teach. I’ve engaged with many of you in comments on my articles and on others’. Invited quite a few to be guest voices or cobloggersI personally dont know enough about software and apps to know where to/ how to set up a space and place for comments for my own articles now. But I will miss the table and all our weird wonderful strange odd lovable family around it. Including me as one of the maybe not wondrous, but certainly weird strange, and odd family members.Some cobloggers, as you will see, one by one and far more able than me (have never had a site), appear to be setting up their own commenting sites at present with cross postings to TMV, with comments going to their personal sites. No doubt many current commenters can post comments there. If there are more or other options, I will let you know as soon as I know, or editorial will post an article. I believe I understand most of the various thoughts and ideas on this comment thread, and appreciate the support you can give, have given in the past. Some comments on this thread made me sad, and others encouraged, and some, both. Time will tell. The ways and means of excellent commentary software bells are not my area of expertise, and as our Managing Editor, Pete says, closing comments is a three-month experiment. I send a blessing on everything in you that has need or want of blessing toward goodness… with the exception of passion and particulars: most of you are already in an exultation of those, and merited. In the meantime, I and my cobloggers I’ve spoken with personally want you be well and to take care.With kindest regards,dr.e

    • GeorgeSorwell

      Dr e–

      Many thanks for all the work you’ve done.

      And do.

    • kathykattenburg

      Dr E, of all the people I have ever known, you embody more than any other the Christian admonition to “turn the other cheek.” Given the tone of some of the comments in this very thread, I can only marvel at your talent for living out that philosophy. God knows, I don’t (although I’m not Christian!).

  • HemmD

    One final thought:

    The master of the blog will need to edit their mission statement.

    “(10) Comments under posts are not censored if they disagree with a given writer or the general opinion of writers on the site. But commenters are expected to follow our posted commenting guidelines which, among other things, prohibit racist comments or bitter personal attacks against writers or commenters on this site.”

    It appears that this plank is no longer applicable.

    As to the stated reason for this decision, it reminds me of the movie Patton when he finds he has been relieved of duty because he struck a soldier. Scott said quite simply, “I wished I’d kissed the SOB.”

    For any and all I may have ticked off, insulted, or merely bored, here’s a big kiss for each and every one of you.

    peace

  • JWindish

    Dear commenters, I value each of the comments you have made on my posts. In some ways it feels like this decision came just as I was getting up to speed and winning some of you over! I have saved most of those comments on my own (Evernote!) so I do want to thank all of you and let you know that I sincerely appreciate the time and energy you put into them. I am richer – and tougher – for it.

    [ADDED MOMENTS LATER: Dr.e and Joe and Pete and Tyrone, all working behind the scenes, have made all of this possible. I appreciate their hours of time and energy, too. And with that I completely understand the need to try a “no comments” policy. Disqus is cool software, but it doesn’t solve the moderation problem.]

    So let’s look at this as an opportunity to try something new. Pete has proposed one way of keeping the conversation going. I will join him in that. And Green Dreams has made a generous offer to extend conversation on Disqus. I will follow there, too. But what I will also try to do is extend our conversation to Twitter. That will keep us together (#TMV) and open us up to others.

    One line from this OJR post, if you can’t manage comments well, don’t offer comments at all, stood out for me:

    At this point, people in your town have plenty of places online to discuss your publication’s articles: Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, community blogs and forums, etc. The one thing – the only thing – a discussion on your site about a specific article or post has that they don’t is the author of that article or post.

    I’ll be on Twitter, standing behind what I write here – and responding to what others have to say about it there. I have not been a big presence on Twitter up ’til now. This may be the push I (we?) need. One thing I know for certain is that blogging helps me focus my thoughts. And commenters keep me open to thoughts I wouldn’t have on my own. Let’s please keep the conversation going.

    • Rambie

      I use Twitter, but it’s not the same. It wouldn’t feel the void that the comments here at TMV will create.

      • JWindish

        I understand, it’s not the same. And I hate change, but change happens. When one door closes, another opens. [Insert your favorite cliche here.] I think Twitter CAN pick up SOME of what’s here. And maybe add something new, too. I’m going to give it a shot. I’d like it if some of the commenters here could help show me the way.

    • kathykattenburg

      And Green Dreams has made a generous offer to extend conversation on Disqus.

      How does one do that?

      • tidbits

        Kathy,

        “How does one do that?” I don’t know either. When someone does a Reply to one of my comments, my Blackberry pings and the Reply comes in email form (sometimes up to 12 hours later) and allows an email reply in return. How that starts without a comment to Reply to or converts to general discussion I’m not sure. If GD knows how to do that, I’d be interested.

        As to your other comment,…….hmmm, guess I need to write more interesting stuff.

        • kathykattenburg

          Okay, maybe then it’s something that only be done on a Blackberry — which I don’t have.

          And re writing more interesting stuff, that’s not it at all. I just didn’t realize that Elijah Sweete was you. I only realized that after I posted my comment, when I saw the link to your blog.

  • ProfElwood

    I think we’ve got a pretty good, mutually respecting (though not agreeing, which is what’s made this fun) group here. If there was some way to let us help police this site, I, for one, would be glad to help. It was totally by accident that I discovered this place — this crazy mix of politely stubborn writers who aren’t afraid of believing in their causes. I would miss it sorely without you guys.

    • Rambie

      That’s why I hope they’ll look at a tumbs-up/down type system. Let us readers help moderate the posts.

      I was talking to a co-worker about it and there are a few gaming sites he reads, he said the more negatives the comment gets the more chance the comment will get hidden. It “fades” out he said. I checked out one site: massively.com

      • casualobserver

        Given this is a website of differing political views, I would imagine the thumb mechanism would simply become a partisan voting machine as opposed to an apolitical censoring mechanism.

        Note the content of dr e’s explanation…..while apparently spam-purging is a large piece of the job, it also seems that there was an equal amount of time having to deal with one side lobbying to banish the other side to Siberia away from the light of day.

        You shouldn’t come to a political forum if you can’t handle opposing viewpoints on your own.

        • Rambie

          I would think that at first too CO, but gamers are also a divisive group and it’s worth a shot if Joe and gang would like to try it. Granted there would probably be a need to modify the rules as the voting buttons wouldn’t delete the posts, just bury them.

          I come here specially to get the opposing viewpoints. It would be boring to read a sites that didn’t challenge my opinions.

    • merkin

      I second ProfElwood. I am so sorry it took me so long to come to this site and now I feel like I am losing it. The diversity on this site and time and obvious though that goes into the majority of the comments is unmacthed in my admittedly limited experience. You see very little of cut and paste type of commenting you see so frequently on other sites.

      I am disabled and a shut-in. I certainly could help and am willing to. I generally spend more time during the work week on various economic blogs but I am sure you can appreciate that they have recently degenerated into mere light entertainment. I would be willing to give them up.

  • How sad. . .The bad guys won again . . .

  • Schadenfreude_lives

    “Odd how much it hurts when friends move on and leave behind only silence.”

  • CStanley

    Wow, I didn’t see this coming.

    I can’t really add to all that has already been said- I’m in 100% agreement with all of the comments. And boy- that’s never happened before! If nothing else, how cool to finally have found a topic on which we all agree!

    And to those who’ve expressed apologies for potentially having offended others- what a good gesture (I noted JSpencer and Hemm in particular saying this- and I noted that I have been, not actually offended, but sometimes feeling friction with each of them and myself at times)…and I will add my own apology because I know I’ve ruffled some feathers too.

    And although I really don’t have anything new to add to what’s already been said…my main reactions are:
    – How sad
    -Understandable that the policing of comments is too difficult/time consuming
    -The fact that none of us realized how much trolling and flaming was going on in the background is a HUGE tribute to Dr. E …so, thanks for doing a thankless job!
    -Agree with one or two of the commenters who mentioned that the more immoderately written articles IMO seem to trigger more ‘high emotions’, although I don’t know if that’s where the majority of the problems were occurring or if they were seasoned throughout all posts (it could be that we regular commenters get more heated up by the rhetorically heated articles, but there could well be hit and run type trolling going on randomly too
    -I don’t think I’ll be visiting nearly as much, and though no offense is meant to any of the bloggers, I agree with those saying that we come for the comments. That’s partly because of some of the individuals who contribute great comments, and partly because the give and take is far more important than the initial articles IMO. That part isn’t really a reflection of quality of writing- it’s just that there’s a dynamic quality to the posts when they trigger debates, and if that’s taken away you’re left with something different altogether (like reading a newspaper instead of an interactive blog.)
    -It does occur to me that visiting much less frequently will be good for my need to kick my blogging habit
    -Assuming this change will be implemented, I’ll say thanks to everyone, the bloggers and editors and commenters (those I’ve agreed with and those with whom I’ve had respectful disagreement, and those who have ticked me off and those who I’ve annoyed. It’s been enlightening and fun.

  • Guest

    That’s too bad! I hope you reconsider.
    It seems to me that that is what “we the people” want, is to be included in what is being talked about and what is happening to our country. This is what the politicians in DC do. They block us out after the elections are over and invite thier corporate bosses, their true constituents and ask them if they can have permission to throw “we the people” a bone or two and get on with thier bidness of further corporate enrichment at our expense! Not that this is what you are doing. But what the few do, we all take a hit because of it.
    It is great to be able to read the comment sections and take part. It gives me an idea of where people in the country are about anything that comes out of our government or is happening in our society by actually reading what average Americans are saying. It’s clear that many Americans are frustrated and angry at what is going on, and a few make it harder on all of us. I think the ability to comment is one of the main reasons why many go to such websites, to tell you how they feel. As far as emaling authors, it is a waste of time. I have done so on other blogs but never get a response so I don’t do it anymore. I might suggest some leeway here and come up with a better solution? but it is your website! Good luck!

  • This may seem like an incredibly dumb question, and maybe it is, but I have to wonder why it is that our moderators are spending so many hours taking the time to read every single comment that is posted at TMV?

    People need to take responsibility for their own actions and their own words. If someone writes a bigoted and/or hateful comment at TMV, none of the other TMV commenters should be held individually responsible for this one individual’s bigoted and/or hateful remark, nor should TMV be held collectively responsible for this one individual’s bigoted and/or hateful comment.

    I understand that what is posted at TMV indirectly reflects on all of us, since a failure to address a bigoted and/or hateful comment might be construed by visitors as the TMV community condoning such bigoted and/or hateful ideas. However, the way to deal with such comments, it seems to me, is on an individual basis.

    Usually when a crime is committed, the sequence goes like this:

    1) A perpetrator commits the crime against a victim.
    2) The victim alerts the authorities to the crime that has been committed.
    3) The authorities investigate whether a crime has been committed.
    4) If a crime has indeed been committed, then the authorities decide what actions to take against the perpetrator of the crime.

    Under such a scenario, if a commenter makes a bigoted and/or hateful comment towards another individual, it should be the victim’s responsibility to alert the authorities (moderators). That way, instead of the authorities (moderators) taking the time to read and inspect every single comment, their time is better focused on only the questionable comments that some people have had a problem with.

    If the victim of a particular bigoted/hateful comment cannot even bother to take the time or effort needed to alert the authorities (moderators), then it becomes questionable to me whether the victim suffered any real harm in the first place, and hence, whether the victim was a truly even a victim. And if there is no victim, then there is no crime being committed, unless you subscribe to the notion that there are such things as victimless crimes (which most of you must know by now that I do not).

    It utterly baffles me that the TMV moderation model seems to have adopted the pre-crime model, where moderators are sent out to inspect every single comment, looking for a crime before the crime has even been committed. This would be tantamount to the government sending police officers to every single house in a particular neighborhood on a daily basis just to insure that no crimes are being committed, when obviously, the more reasonable (and far more efficient) method would be for the local police to respond only to those situations in which a crime has actually been committed by a perpetrator against a victim.

    Obviously, this isn’t my website. I don’t own it. I don’t pay the bills. I don’t spend the countless hours that it takes to moderate the site or fix internal bugs. So what I think is or is not fair is ultimately irrelevant. I’m just operating under the assumption that we’re all rational human beings at TMV, and the current moderation policies seem (to me) to be irrational.

    Unlike some of the commenters here, I’ve been commenting here since at least 2006, and I can tell you that if you think some of the more recent comments have been “uncivil”, then you haven’t seen anything. I can remember back during the height of the Iraq War, when some very nasty comments were made by posters and commenters alike–comments which would make the more recent “uncivil” comments seem like casual small talk.

    Somehow we managed to survive that very tense period four years ago without banning comments, so I’m kind of confused why we’re banning comments now, at a time when the comments are generally more civil, and the uncivil comments are far less common.

    And if anyone here seriously doubts my contention that the recent “uncivil” comments are no more uncivil than what we had four and a half years ago, I invite you all to explore the TMV archives. Or better yet, google “themoderatevoice” AND “Iraq War” or “themoderatevoice” AND “Hurrican Katrina” and see what I mean.

    • archangel

      dear Nic, re moderation, there’s no ‘looking for crimes about to be committed.’ No ‘inspection’ of anything. Not even close. Just reading through. The archives wont contain many by half of the objectionables because they were way off and never got paper for more than a bit. Moderation was done according to the commenter’s rules on the home page which have been present since the inception of TMV. The point of moderation was to make a table where many kinds of commenters could comment, debate, discuss, teach with civil tone, no matter how passionate.

      Thanks Nic, As you and I spoke sometime back, I’ll be looking forward to running more guest voice on Libertarian party, as I have here at TMV in the past.

      dr.e

      • Jim_Satterfield

        If this sticks and the comments section goes away then an easy way to share a TMV article on Facebook or our own blogs and a way for this to be linked to seems like one alternative.

      • dear Nic, re moderation, there’s no ‘looking for crimes about to be committed.’ No ‘inspection’ of anything. Not even close. Just reading through.

        But Dr. E, if the posters and commenters were to take responsibility for the identifying of posts that contained abusive language and then notified moderators, wouldn’t that (in theory) reduce the amount of time moderators needed to spend policing the comments section?

        It seems to me that the recent spat of abusive comments isn’t even the underlying issue here.

        If it is the possibly of TMV to have moderators read every single comment that is posted on TMV, there will be problems regardless of the content of the individual post.

        For example, if TMV were to become so popular that we had 50 posts per day, and the average post received 100 comments, that would be a total of 5,000 comments per day! That means that even if every single one of those 5,000 comments were civil as could be, the TMV moderators would still have the impossible task of having to read through 5,000 comments per day.

        It seems to me that TMV moderators have imposed impossible standards upon themselves. I realize that the 5,000 comments per day is extremely hypothetical, but there’s no reason to believe that with growing success that TMV would not be able to one day achieve that many comments. So it seems to me that the continuing popularity of TMV was bound to one day become the constraining factor over moderating comments, regardless of the content of the individual comments.

        I would hate to see anyone be banned from TMV (even if I did find his/her comments to be extremely offensive). But it seems to me that having posters and commenters share the responsibility of policing the comments section and then having the moderators ban repeat offenders for a period of 30 days (or whatever amount is deemed fair) would be a far more efficient use of the moderators’ time.

        • ProfElwood

          I know that I’ve flagged a couple of comments that seemed to be nothing more than advertisements. Perhaps if it got a moderators attention after two more flags, with an inappropriate flag being the equivalent of flagging yourself. There’s got to be a way to us commenters to police the blog. I think that there’s enough people here that care more about civility than oppressing the opposing view that it could work.

          • I think that there’s enough people here that care more about civility than oppressing the opposing view that it could work.

            What it all comes down to is Who watches the watchers?

            In other words, if the people who were flagging the inappropriate comments had to identify themselves as the flaggers and were held responsible for their own policing actions, then I think, as you say, we would be able to have a system of self-policing in which commenters would be able to flag inappropriate comments without needlessly censoring the comments board.

          • ProfElwood

            Ah, how libertarians love civilian justice! I think that it could work, with our guardian angel (Dr. e) needed only as an appeals court.

  • mccloud1

    I have been reading for more years than I think I have, but have only posted in the last two days, spurred by what I viewed as over the top (especially for TMV) comments about race.

    I have been reading long time contributors both left, right and centrist, agreeing or disagreeing but not having to post because someone almost always responded in the way that I would have. I have come to appreciate even the opposing points of view, because the arguments were made with some critical thinking and I found that I sometimes agreed with points made by persons who are at the opposite end of my political spectrum.

    I have noticed a more rancorous partisanship since President Obama’s election. It is probably just a mirror of the larger culture. Still, “Neener, neener, neener,” and ” Oh yeah, make me,” playground level comments are numbing no matter where they are. I have seen too many of those here lately.

    I have always held with the motto `I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ unless it is racist, sexist or just downright hateful. However I am annoyed by left or right wing echo chambers and while supportive of free speech, find my brain getting get numbed by the echo.Try Sarah Palin’s Facebook for example… There are extreme left sites that go too far as well and that’s why I often come here for balance.

    I like spirited discussion and even well expressed disagreement and have always liked the comparative moderation at TMV. Maybe a break will do some good, but I do come for both the articles and the posts. If an article looks like it will annoy me I tend to pass it over, so do some of my own filtering.

    I agree with others on the three strikes rule and have seen other sites shut down their forums and then beef up their monitoring and reopen. Indianz.com had to do it for a while then they came back after a few months.

    Hopefully this won’t be forever. Hopefully a way to allow comments, but to filter out extreme views, can be found.

  • mccloud1

    One last URL to offer. Ironically this came up at the top of Inidanz.com ‘s message board about Ward Churchill. No chance to agree or disagree but it speaks to the ideas around free speech and what its freedoms and limitations might be.

  • mccloud1

    Yikes. I only got part of the URL in. I meant here:http://64.38.12.138/boardx/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=40041

  • casualobserver

    How about this……..charge a $25 annual membership fee……..no drive-bys are going to cough up any amount of dough and the proceeds can give dr e a decent part time wage to buy coffee for those owl hours.

    • Jim_Satterfield

      This site is about the only place that I would pay a membership fee for and do it gladly.

  • shannonlee

    “While many of our readers publish comments that are constructive and well-mannered, we are experiencing a growing number of comments that are mean-spirited, foul-mouthed, ad hominem attacks”

    Not to point fingers, especially at the person that started TMV, but did nasty comments happen to jump after TMV received a high ranking on a national blog ranker and a certain someone started doing CNN panels? I’ve asked a couple of nasty one post wonders how they found TMV and never got an answer. Please don’t view this as finger pointing. I’ve been wondering where these people have been coming from for a couple of months now.

    Is this the price of success?

    And a quick thank you to everyone here, esp Dr E (who I once wrote an unfair comment towards, sorry). I have learned so much and grown because of the knowledge passed around this joint and the great debate and writing that I have read.

  • pacatrue

    Speaking of Twitter, one possibility would be a Facebook group page for TMV. Facebook can load the blog automatically (albeit with a delay that can take a couple of hours) and then people could comment upon the loaded posts there. It would largely require losing anonymity. That can be a negative. At the same time, assuming no one takes the time to moderate the Facebook page, a lack of anonymity could cut down on some of the comments people would be unwilling to make under their own name. (Pros and cons to that, of course.) If anyone is interested, I could theoretically set up a TMV page — um, in a couple of weeks. I literally have to turn in my 300 page dissertation in about 10 days. I’ve never actually created a Facebook group, but there are so many inane ones, it can’t be horribly nasty.

    And thanks to Dr. E for all her hours and hours of work!

    • shannonlee

      Not to be a doubting Thomas, but I have been on forums that have been shutdown before. The core communitte, a group of people that would gather together at least twice a year, created their own forum and then another and then eventually died. I fear that shutting down comments here is the beginning of the end.

      • vey9

        I’m with you, Shannon. I think the youngsters call it “synergy” or something like that. Once it is lost, it is gone.

  • DdW

    Before the “curtain falls,” to all of you who have honored me by reading my posts and, even more, who have taken the time, effort and interest to comment on them, whether in agreement or in disagreement: Thank you!

    Maybe, we’ll talk to each other again, sometime, somewhere…it’s small and very connected world.

    Take care

    Dorian

  • RiDuvessa

    Just wanted to thank all the moderators for the great comments section. I really enjoyed reading them.

    Thank you to everyone here for great insights.

    I never commented before but I have been reading this site for about five years now. (I think) I hope the site stays as interesting without the comments section. I guess we will see.

  • JSpencer

    I don’t do twitter, facebook, or the like, nor do I intend to since the computer takes me away from the “real” world enough as it is. In fact I have this fantasy about trying harder to culture a lower tech lifestyle. Plus it’s almost spring so I’ll be outdoors more. The thing is, this has been the best blog for interactive commentary I’ve seen in years, so I don’t know what I’d replace it with. Funny how much you can enjoy bantering with people you’ve never met. Shoot, maybe I’ll just have to become apolitical. 😉

  • jeff_pickens

    I echo all those who agree that somehow TMV is different–special. Amazing to see how many people just stop by and read, without comment.

    I sort of looked at this site as a little reprieve from hyper-partisanship that permeates about everything else in my small life–thanks for the labor of love given freely over the last several years, and for bringing in such a wide range of opinion, and for allowing comments for so long.

    I’ll still drop by and read my daily TMV fix, but will honestly and earnestly miss comments from the regulars here.

  • I think the fact that this comment thread reached 100 comments in only 12 hours provides all the proof one needs as to the importance of the comments section.

    I would wager that on this day, TMV visitors have spent more time composing thoughtful replies to this post than they have reading all the other 20 posts combined.

    One can only imagine how much different the TMV will be a week from now when visitors casually spend five or six minutes skimming through the day’s posts before promptly moving on to the next website.

  • ksb43

    A sad day. Sorry to hear this.

    It will probably be the end of the site.

  • alphonsegaston

    So sorry to hear this. I like this site for the comments and the stories. I will not be visiting very often. I know that foul mouthed posters are a problem, but without public input your site will not be in play.

  • WagglebutII

    I’ve only joined your on line community within the last few weeks. I’ve really enjoyed it. The posts written by the contributors and the comments by the participants were veritable feasts of different ideas, attitudes and demographic cultures. The articles kept you up to date and the commentors kept you on yout toes. Some of the the discussions really rocked! I got into a few squabbles and was scolded for prattling and hazing. I deserved it. There were some folks that waltzed in that danced a different step. It was wearing to site overseers. You did a great job. Thank you! I will continue to read your articles. I’ll miss some of the comments, but it’s your party. Enough of the funeral talk! You guys are a class act, all of you! Au revoir!

    • ProfElwood

      Enough of the funeral talk!

      I hate to say it, but that’s exactly what it feels like. We’ve shared a lot of things that we can’t elsewhere. For as much as our beliefs are different, our ability to respect, and desire to know, others opinions is something that we share.

  • JSpencer

    Sorry you didn’t get here earlier merkin. I’ve found your comments to be consistently thoughtful and perceptive.

    Also I agree with others who have suggested they would be glad to pay a membership fee… fwiw.

    Schaden, I didn’t know you were Austin. We get along so much better now. 😉 Life is funny…

  • Schadenfreude_lives

    **Sigh** This just plain sucks.

    I guess I should do my final mea culpa’s while I can.

    To the people I directly attacked when they didn’t deserve it, I am truly sorry. If I am being honest, there are a few commentators here that I feel no need to apologize to, though.

    To those who were not in my line of fire, but found what I said offensive, or maybe how I said it, for that too I am sorry.

    This site has so many people that passionately and truly believe in their cause, and emotions spilled over at times from all sides. But it was healthy. Strong disagreement and violent verbal challenges and exchanges are NOT a sign of incivility per se, but reflect the true philosophical differences in the world.

    This is (was) the most intellectually stimulating political site with which I have ever been involved. You had better really believe what you say, and be ready to defend it against vigorous retorts, or you will get torn to shreds.

    Again, this is not a bad thing, as it helps oneself clarify and polish their beliefs, and understand WHY they believe as they do. Ideas must be able to stand up to strong dissent to be worthy of defending in the first place.

    I will miss almost all of you very deeply, or as Bilbo so eloquently put it (edited and updated):

    I shall not keep you long. I have called you all together for a Purpose, to tell you that I am immensely fond of most you all, and that six years is too short a time to comment among such excellent and admirable people. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. I regret to announce that – though, as I said, six years is far too short a time to spend among you – this is the END of TMV for us. We are going. We are leaving. GOOD-BYE!

    AustinRoth

    • $1690528

      Austin,

      Anyone who quotes Tolkien is a wonderous being in my book.

      To add my favorite doggeral which I shall remember on my death bed.

      “All that is gold does not glitter
      Not all those who wander are lost
      The old that is strong does not wither
      Deep roots are not reached by the frost
      From the ashes a fire shall be woken
      A light forth from the shadows shall spring
      Renewed shall be blade that was broken
      And the crownless again shall be king”

      My time on TMV was relatively brief and I had my share of tussles. There were some here I read and said “YEAH”. And yet, the strongest learning always came from those who disagreed (sometimes strongly and passionately). Learning is about finding the grain of truth in a perspective you reject. It’s usually there if you look hard enough.

      For any I offended (I’m sure there are a few), peace be with you.

      For the many I learned from, I offer you my thanks.

  • merkin

    I suppose it is a bit late but I don’t particularly need someone to shield me from offensive comments. Remember, sticks and stones can break your bones, . ….

    OK, that was childish.

    • Schadenfreude_lives

      Remember, sticks and stones can break your bones, . ….

      But whips and chains excite me!

      • merkin

        But whips and chains excite me!

        I always wondered if you knew what your screen name means auf Deutsche. Obviously you do.

        • Schadenfreude_lives

          Yes, I do know what it means, but the quote was more for the picture. Remember, schadenfreude means taking please in the misfortune of others, not the pain of others.

          But I explained a while ago why I chose it after I was banned as AustinRoth. It was self-referential to my old name.

  • Bye for now. . . hope we meet again dear friends. . .

  • jchem

    Well, considering that everyone here has made their plea, might I just add that I am truly going to miss the raising of the bar that tended to happen here. I can’t for the life of me count off how many times Joe linked to a post that highlighted how stupid some commentary became, lowering the bar to the level of the sewer. In this way I always found solace in coming here, whether I disagreed with someone or not. At least I was challenged.

    I can only hope that TMV goes back to what made it special. I truly appreciate all of the time and hard work Dr E and Tyrone and others put in to making this place what it was. Of course, there are others, especially all of the commenters I have come to know (at least in this virtual space) over the past 4 or so years. Who knows? Maybe this whole thing will come back to where it started…but if it doesn’t, I can only wish all of you the best. Times are certainly tough, and we really never get a chance to share our personal situations. But to all out there, remember this, we’re all in this together, however much we disagree. Best of luck to all.

  • mlhradio

    125 comments down, I’m not sure if Pete or any of the TMV moderators are still reading this thread. But add me to the nearly-unanimous chorus that thinks that cutting off your nose in spite of your face (e.g. disabling comments) is A Bad Idea. I understand the reasoning behind it, but there *has* to be a better solution available.

    While I have never been a prolific commenter, I have been here for a few years. I’ll be sorry to see the TMV *community* disappear.

  • I continue to believe that the disabling of comments is bad idea.

    However, if the threat of disabling of comments (and how I wish it was only a threat) was merely a ploy concocted by the TMV crew that was meant to bring all of us together who normally disagree with one another and to consider how much we shall miss one another’s verbal companionship, then it was an incredibly ingenious one.

    • shannonlee

      “However, if the threat of disabling of comments (and how I wish it was only a threat) was merely a ploy concocted by the TMV crew that was meant to bring all of us together who normally disagree with one another and to consider how much we shall miss one another’s verbal companionship, then it was an incredibly ingenious one.”

      I thought the exact same thing when I first read it…is this a ploy to get us to appreciate the ability to comment? Something inside me said it was best to keep that thought to myself…glad you wrote it 🙂

  • archangel

    Pacatrue, 300 page dissertation, wow, good luck and wind under your wings for certain. Seriously, smoke ’em.

    Greg, I join the others here in asking that you and yours be comforted in your loss. Went to funeral of a good friend just this morning wearing black dress, pearls, ankle strap high heels, black lace mantilla. Old school, all of us mourners. My friend was a 59 year old man with the heart of a child and a goodness that would not stop. My mantra was, ‘not going to cry, not going to cry.’ It wasnt the beautiful Ave Maria that threw us all over the edge. It was that many of us shared a love of science fiction with our friend… and we all began weeping when the priest quoted Arthur C Clarke’s headstone as a analogy for our friend gone too young: “Here lies Arthur C. Clarke. He never grew up and did not stop growing.” I loved that. And lend it to your loved one if it fits for her too.

    Nic: I think: suggest you email Pete on your thoughts. I’d just add that the beyond the pale remarks have been plentiful enough, way over the line, and I do not mean smokin’ red keyboard disagreements. Please feel free to contact our managing editor Pete.

    Kathy the Kat: “Dr E, of all the people I have ever known, you embody more than any other the Christian admonition to “turn the other cheek.” Given the tone of some of the comments in this very thread, I can only marvel…” Kathy, I’m dedicated to creating peace for certain, but like all of us, can decide to have purposeful lapses too. lol. The older I become the more I see wisdom in reserving true umbrage for those who maim and murder at will. On another note altogether, one of the commenters irked at my stance at tmv once wrote that I should go knit doilies. I replied ‘good idea, I could knit a nice doily to keep my conceal-carry glock warm. ‘Cept I dont know how to knit. But I do know how to shoot.’ lol. Isnt it true that you never know people completely until you know them.

    George Sorwell, the thanks is mine to have your forebearance. I thank you so much. I dont know why exactly, but you and serveral other ‘veteran commenters’ at tmv seem, in my mind, as though you could be litter mates; each different, but each strong…yet somehow related in high spirit.

    To all: I note the appreciations from many of you, Jchem, Chipsilicon, Cstanley, Jspencer, Casual O., George, Mikkel, DdW, Jer, Pacatrue, sparrow, EEllis, Austin, and so many others here on this thread given to our editorial staff for their time, money, effort and care put into TMV over these years. It means alot, and I thank you in behalf of all. Right back at you.

    I have to go now before I remind myself of my mother and aunts who used to stand in the doorway with their coats and hats on saying goodbye over and over for two hours straight…

  • Schadenfreude_lives

    BTW – Pete made the announcement. dr.e has commented a few times on this thread.

    It sure would be gracious of Joe to come share his final thoughts with us.

    • archangel

      Dear Austin: Thanks. It’s a particularly demanding time right now. Joe has been away on the opposite coast from where he lives caring for his 88 year old mother and trying to give some meaning to her days, as well as being on the road earning a living with his show and taking care of other members of his family. It’s part of the issue for all of us: wanting to be everywhere, but cant always be there in timely ways and also care for family, work, and health challenges. I wish it could be otherwise, or at least one thing at a time with some breathing space, sometimes.

      • SteveK

        Dear Austin: Thanks. It’s a particularly demanding time right now. Joe has been away on the opposite coast from where he lives…

        I think Austin has a very valid point and I too am a bit puzzled with Joe’s decision to use what little ‘free’ time he had yesterday writing four posts on minor political happenings instead addressing the thoughtful and heartfelt comments in this post. Say something… Anything to the are many, many people of all political persuasions who have helped make TMV what is today.

        Not meaning to make less of the quality of the mix of authors here at TMV it’s the ‘value added’ by the commentator’s that has always been my primary reason for coming here.

        I didn’t comment yesterday because I was in shock that TMV seems to be changing from a moderate “Voice” to a political pulpit with no room for any of the voices in the congregation. That, imo, is a real shame… I’ll miss you all.

        Thanks tidbits, DdW, kathykattenburg, mikkel, DLS, Jim_Satterfield, Ron Beasley, shannonlee, archangel, StockBoySF, JSpencer, Zzzzz, Don Quijote, GreenDreams, DaGoat, Andy, GeorgeSorwell, ProfElwood, JWindish, HemmD, Leonidas, EEllis, pacatrue, Shard, nicrivera, casualobserver, adelinesdad, ordinarysparrow, Rambie, Jazz, Dr J, gcotharn, merkin, VeratheGun… I’ll miss you all.

        Goodbye all,
        Steve Krome

        PS – I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with some with whom I never thought I’d have that opportunity… There’s a chance for you yet! 🙂

        • archangel

          dear steve, re joe and other cobloggers and their articles. I know many working aspects about TMV dont show on the surface… most of us are working on articles days and weeks ahead of posting them; most of our cobloggers have stacks waiting in partial or near complete form on our unpublished ‘back page’ of word press, waiting for final touches. We clear out that cache every few months because it takes up so much of our space available. Some of us could post 20 articles a day with minor updates, given the backlog that is ever in process. Thanks Steve. I’ll never forget you or your move you made with family. May all your golf balls soar magically just to where you want them.

          • Schadenfreude_lives

            dr.e – Joe has the right to do or not do whatever pleases him. However, you are simply being an apologist for his decision to ignore us and this thread of true outpouring towards TMV.

            His posts the past two days were not in-depth, long-worked and edited posts. They all revolved around breaking news stories, and the Micheal Steele narrative changed throughout the day, and Joe even made a second post as new developments occurred.

            I do not know why he chooses not to address us, and as I said it is his absolute right to do as he pleases, but it sure is turning into a slap in the face to those who have supported and loved TMV through all these years.

          • archangel

            dear austin, I’m sorry, I thought I was being clear that I was just putting forward a fact I do know about most all our cobloggers, that we warehouse articles. I thought that was a possibility. Our editors live in all different parts of the country and we dont always know where they are or what they are doing. I imagine Joe will, as Tyrone has, put up a post of his own. I can’t say yes, for I dont know for certain. I got the magic wand as detailed in my comment above, but they revoked the mind reading license re friends. Thanks Austin.

  • aficionada

    How sad … This blog is so interesting (articles and comments) indeed an “oasis” is the right word. I apologize for those who have been offended by my comments, and hope that solutions will be found.

  • Marsh

    Another “seldom commenter” here just popping in to say goodbye. I’ve nothing much to add to what already been said so eloquently and at times passionately. I don’t know what effect this decision will have on my viewing habits so I’ll withhold comment for the time being.

    It’s “ugly” time in the great nation and perhaps this decision will turn out to have been prescient. With that said, I’d like to thank Dr. E and the other folks who have devoted their time and effort to making this a great site. To those authors who took the time to respond to the commenters, kudos. You gave the “ordinary” people voice but more importantly, that interaction indicated you were also listening. I shall particularly miss Dr. E. whose articles, IMO, transcended ordinary political labels and views.

    I’ll miss the comments section and particularly the voices of CStanley, Tidbets, CasualObserver, Shannonlee, Ordinary Sparrow, Jazz, Austin, and JSpencer as well as . . .all the the others I’ve forgotten.

  • Don Quijote

    I have now seen it all: Cats and Dogs living together, Republicans and Democrats agreeing, Conservatives and Liberals agreeing…

    I believe it’s unanimous (except for a handful of cranks), the readers and commenters like things just the way they are…

    • ProfElwood

      We’ve had some good jabbing sessions, but of course, nothing on the order of DDuck and Father_Time (where are those guys?!). I’m going to miss your racism-ism.

    • DLS

      Well, this announcement _is_ kind of like 9-11…

  • garyknowz1

    This is indeed a shame. I had pretty much thrown in the towel on blogging/commenting on political issues about two years ago. Rational debate had become—and still is—largely impossible in our increasingly hyper-partisan environment. That was until I found this site, and slowly I began to raise my head from the proverbial foxhole. TMV remains one of the few conduits of moderate debate available. It would be a shame to lose it.
    Nevertheless, I understand how taxing moderating can be (having done it myself in years past), so I can sympathize with the decision to drop it. So, if tomorrow Armageddon comes for the comments section, then I bid you all a fair and fond adieu.

  • Guest

    Well, everyone is saying their goodbyes…

    As an ordained Christian minister, I feel like I’ve had something to contribute from a conservative (and hopefully) kind perspective. But much more than I’ve given, I’ve appreciated what I’ve received. I’ve especially appreciated Tidbits (Elijah Sweete), and will probably come back to read what he is writing. Though I remain opposed to gay “marriage,” I’ve found myself becoming more understanding on homosexuality in general, and even adopting a “wait and see” attitude on DADT, even though in 1993 I was vehemently opposed. As for abortion, I’ve appreciated KK’s sharing from her heart, and feel like we’ve had some good exchanges, even though neither of us has changed positions. And Jefferson Davis has been something of a soul mate, the only other admitted conservative Democrat on this site.

    Well, here’s to hoping that in 3 months, this will be just a “blip” on the radar screen and the commenter community will be restored, and even broadened. I suspect that the crowd here is more educated than at other sites, if spelling and grammar are any indication.

    Hoping this is just au revoir and not adieu

    P.S. — Thanks Dr. E. for all your work. We probably should have said it sooner.

  • Last day? A few final thoughts. First, Kathy, I was just talking about the ability to receive an email of replies to my comments, to which I could reply by email. I often do that. Of course, if someone says “Greendreams is a nimrod” without directing the comment to me, I wouldn’t see it.

    As for an idea about how to fix this, I would direct your attention to the other three-letter-acronym political blog with a T and an M in it, Talking Points Memo. I know it’s bigger, and I don’t know the behind the scenes details either, but here are some features.

    Comments are turned on or off per post by Josh, presumably. So on the main page, in many if not most cases, there’s no comment thread. There’s a “Reader blog” called TPM Cafe, to which any registered person can post. All of those have comment threads. The best of them rise to the top 10 via “recommend” clicks, and appear as “best reader posts” on the main page of TPM Cafe. So, someone has something to say about a main post, (s)he posts a comment as a post. If it resonates with other readers, it gets recommended into a position where it is likely to be seen, and commented on.

    I don’t know if their staff spends a lot of time moderating.

    Just a model of how a similar site handles this.

  • Schadenfreude_lives

    If you post into the abyss, the abyss will no longer be allowed to post back.

    🙁

  • Schadenfreude_lives

    And a couple of really nice quotes for all of us to move on with:

    “This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”

    “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

  • I am extremely sorry to see the comments go AND I empathize enormously with Joe, dr. e, Pete and all the co-bloggers regarding their sentiments about the situation. Having written a personal political blog for six years, I’ve been hit with pretty much everything as far as threats and inappropriateness go – including trips to the police station to report those threats and apologies when this one-dimensional medium really didn’t do justice to what commenters were trying to get at – and I wasn’t able to understand.

    A few additions:

    1. I worked hard to stick in there with every post I wrote via the comments because I always believe that I can learn something from anyone, anyone. Don’t know how it will come about or what it is but there can’t be learning if there’s not active engagement. I think this is what, as others have written, I will miss the most, and what I deem to be the biggest benefit to me that the commenters provide (and for which I thank each of you – many of you who have already commented in this thread).

    2. When you blog, you open yourself up to everything. If you’re not willing to accept all that that means, then you should think twice (or more) about whether is blogging is for you.

    BUT – and a big but – that being said, people who cannot play nicely, no matter how the blog authors seek to curb the enthusiasm that gets out of line, can be ignored- I do it all the time when I read other people’s blogs, but as the blog author and host, there’s a reputation, an environment to shape and maintain. If it begins to get both poisoned and outrageous to maintain, the pleasure and the benefits are vastly diminished – and it becomes crazily unfair (esp. to people like dr. e).

    This is a tragically unfortunate thing and we all deal with it in one form or another – consider how political groups form and re-form when they start to feel that others are “ruining” it for them because they’re too fringe or too moderate or too anything that one group doesn’t like.

    But this is also what forms the basis of reaching a social compact of sorts, to maintain and prolong and deepen the connections we build here. Yet, when that compact is broken, we have to decide, now what? And it seems that TMV is simply at that juncture in trying to figure out, now what.
    But it does force us to draw lines, check our guts and then perhaps recalibrate – as so many here have suggested, with some very legitimate and doable ideas.

    3. I’ve always believed that the explosion of blogs has been a reaction to the feeling that no one has been listening and so we’ve found these places to go. I happen to think that that is great, but we don’t all come from the same place when we find a place that’s hospitable to commenters, and particularly anonymous commenters. I’ve had a real issue with anonymity and at times in threads I’ve brought that up – I put myself out here and if someone is going to pick at me and pick on me and pick me apart, and remain anonymous all the time, they better be someone with whom I’ve developed or can develop an intimacy with, something that is NOT easy to do simply by exchanging comments, but can be done, I know it can be done because that is what TMV has done for so many of us commenting in this thread.

    However, it’s the misuse of that privilege here or right more generally speaking to speak one’s mind that then leads to where I see us today in regard to this decision to shut down the comments.

    Some people are born to provoke and provoke for the sake of provoking, yet here on TMV we’ve strived so hard to keep the comment threads relevant. I think this decision to shut down comments for a bit reflects a desire to maybe help us all re-focus on what it takes to keep a post and a comment thread relevant and not attractive to those who provoke at will in ways that don’t enhance.

    I believe at the core that Joe G et al continue to want this to be THE best site and certainly the best it can be. I see this experiment as a way to figure out what that means in these times.

    I share everyone’s best wishes to everyone else, I share the thank yous to you for engaging and I share optimism that we will figure this out so that active, public engagement with one another – posters and commenters – can re-start sometime soon while also enhancing and not endangering the discourse.

    Thanks everyone. 🙂

    Jill

  • ProfElwood

    So … how do you group hug on a blog?

    • ProfElwood

      Thanks. I guess that’ll have to do.

      • 🙁 Sorry – maybe Tyrone can help us out- I tried a few different html things but they didn’t seem to work.

        • archangel

          I think Jillzie, dont hesitate to write Tyrone personally. I too am a little bewildered by how to, what to do re mirror sites et al. Thanks for your long comment above; I appreciate first person your noting police reporting, trying all kinds of ways to hold the circle so it doesnt become a kill ring but a table of nourishment (albeit with food fights and a crazy uncle or morbid aunt, sometimes) , etc. I’d only add to Tyrone and your comments, that when site and personal emails are hacked, it’s also a bad day at black rock. I nonetheless hold hope. If I were queen of the world, (which I am not, although I do have a magic wand made of a tomato stake with a blue glittered paper star on the end of it… seriously) I would create the most awesome piece of commenter software that would robot its way through, have a personality with humor, and nose print all comers including cobloggers. Ok, kidding about the nose print (they do that on a high tech farm I recently visited). And also, the commenting software would have a virtual slot machine attached to it, so that ‘the likes’ would cause hundreds of quarters to ring and tumble and clank onto the keyboards of especially erudite, funny, insightful or strange comments from roving ewoks.

          my heart is we’ll talk more, all of us. somewhere in time and place.

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