Another post on blog moderation

There’s not really any good resource on the web for how to moderate blogs; at least, not that I can find and I have looked. But I have come to learn a few things over the past few months which I want to write about for my own benefit and for anyone else who may be interested.

I am not always consistent in my moderation but I feel that I have logical reasons for this, most of the time anyway. Sometimes I’m just having a bad day. But those other times I have reasons for the decisions I make and here’s my outline of those reasons.

The main purpose of moderating a blog – to my mind – is to cultivate harmonious discussions. This essentially means that people have to be nice to each other. So if someone calls someone else participating in the discussion an idiot, it will be moderated. But what if person X calls person Y, who is not involved in the discussion, an idiot? I will apply different rules depending on who person Y is. If person Y is involved in climate change discussions, particularly in the blogosphere, then it will likely be moderated. If person Y is high-profile, it will likely be moderated. If person Y is some random person with no connections whatsoever to climate change discussions, then I am more inclined to let it stand. My reasons are as follows: Calling someone you are having a discussion with an idiot is not going to foster a good debate and my role is to foster the debate. Calling someone you are not having a discussion with an idiot, but who might read what you have said, is also counterproductive. But a person completely unrelated to climate change discussions probably won’t read the comment and so I am more likely to let it stand in these cases.

Sometimes I am stricter than at other times. I have a reason for this too, although I do confess that it may just be that I’m having a bad day. But my reason is that if things have spiralled out of control, then I feel a heavy-handed approach is needed. If things are mostly civil, then I will be more relaxed.

Something else I find useful is to contact the commenter privately to let them know what I have done. No-one likes to have their words edited and I can understand that, especially when they’ve put thought and effort into writing a comment. So an email explaining why their comment has been edited can help to quell the flames.

What about situations where rather than calling someone an idiot, a commenter describes another commenter’s actions as idiotic? This is less clear and I don’t have a strict rule on this one but I would prefer such statements be avoided. What I would rather see is the commenter demonstrate what it is that is idiotic. Describing something as idiotic does not make it so. There needs to be an explanation why.

I have more recently decided not to include reasons for moderation in a moderated blog comment as this seems to encourage a discussion about the reason. What works better is a private email to the person whose comment has been moderated. No-one else in the thread needs to hear this discussion.

Statements that are potentially defamatory are moderated. If a charge of defamation is made, then all publishers of the comment may be liable and this includes the blog author as well as the commenter.

One last thing I feel the need to explain is why I tend not to moderate the word denier. It’s true that depending on how this word is used, it can be an ad hominem. If we say that person Y is a denier so therefore their statement can be disregarded, then it is an ad hominem. But I think context is important here and most often the word denier is used simply to categorise, in the same way that contrarians use the word warmist to categorise me.

There’s much more that I could say but this is getting long so I’ll leave it here. I welcome constructive criticisms if you think I’ve got something wrong, but please do so respectfully.

63 thoughts on “Another post on blog moderation

  1. So if someone calls someone else participating in the discussion an idiot, it will be moderated.

    I wonder if calling someone an idiot is worse as called someone a [mod, snipped].

    If possible, it may sometimes be best to remove the entire sentence.

    1. That’s a good point, Victor. I have wondered about that myself. It’s a conflict between doing as little editing of people’s words as possible, while also maintaining the civility. Sometimes I think the “Y is a [mod: snipped]” adds a bit of humour to the thread and so in these cases, I think it’s ok. But if you think I’ve got this wrong, then do let me know.

      1. I was thinking of: “Are you really that [Mod: snipped]. … Part of me thinks you really are that [Mod: snipped].” Where it does add some humour that the host is moderated. 🙂

  2. I am yet to find a comment from an [mod : snipped] that has a lot of thought put into it. Mindless repetition of already much debunked canards is thoughtless and …… idiotic.

    1. I was motivated to write that bit because this morning I deleted what can only be described as a long essay in one comment. This comment was huge and must have taken a bit of time to write. It was full of conspiracy theories and “it’s the sun” nonsense, hence I deleted it. But I still understand how frustrating that must feel for the author.

  3. Hi Rachel

    Yes, your snipping of the host of AndThenTheresPhysics made me chuckle.

    Incidentally, I do find it mildly intriguing that you moderate that blog with your identity known, even though it’s not your own blog, whereas the host remains anonymous. Potentially this might mean you are more vulnerable than the host if someone posts something particularly controversial or defamatory – which is perhaps why you’re stricter at moderating?

    Or maybe ATTP is your alter-ego…? 😉

    I guess it all adds to the interest….!

    1. Richard,

      I don’t think I would be liable in an actionable defamation provided it was not one of my own comments that was defamatory. I could be wrong about this though, but I believe it’s the author of the comment, the blog owner and in some cases the ISP. And if this were to happen then AndThen would not be able to remain anonymous anyway.

      Why am I so strict? I think I’m probably just taking my job a little bit too seriously. When I’ve missed things in the past and people have become upset, I’ve been disappointed with myself and so have become stricter as a result.

  4. Personally I would be a lot stricter, especialy with regard to a scientic debate. Simple strict criteria: Comments barred if they contain any derogatory remark about the commentator or the comment. Point and counterpoint only. Umpires decision is final.

    Otherwise moderator becomes mediator and then kindergarden supervisor and sucks the energy out of you.

    :mrgreen:

  5. I am uncomfortable with the idea that anyone other than the writer can edit anything written.
    What if you write on someone’s blog “I don’t understand your conclusion and I wonder if you could cite your sources” and the owner of the blog changes that to say “Yes, you are absolutely right.!”
    Now, you and I would never do that, but the fact that, theoretically, we could, troubles me.
    I do believe that the owner of a blog should be able to delete a comment. But not change it.
    In my several years blogging, I have deleted only one comment and that was because of vulgarity,
    I responded that if he wants to argue against my position, do so, but clean it up. I can’t remember whether he cleaned it up and reposted.
    I do think that wordpress should allow writers to edit their own writing (as Flickr does). I can recall
    occasionally hitting “post comment” and then noticing a misspelled word or clumsy sentence structure or something that I’d like to correct but I can’t.
    In short, I believe the writer should have the ability to edit or delete their own comments, but no one should be allowed to edit another writer’s comments.
    Just my thoughts …
    Helen

    1. I hear what you’re saying, Helen, and I dislike the idea of editing someone’s comment too. If I think that editing the comment will change the meaning then I will delete it instead. In my experience though, people prefer to have their comments edited slightly than deleted altogether. I get more complaints from people who have had comments deleted than from people who have been edited. I’m talking about a very busy climate blog which receives hundreds of comments daily and where tempers flare and opinions clash on a regular basis so this is not something that happens on my own blog which is fairly quiet.

  6. I agree with your post completely. Moderation always involves some thought as to whether or not something has crossed some kind of line. Some think you just have some kind of policy and stick to that, but it’s never quite that easy. It’s quite nice to see that you have the same uncertainties as I do 🙂

  7. sorry Rachel but warmist (not that i use even that label even, because Prof Richard Klien objected to it, though Betts, Edwards were ok with it.) is an awful lot less offensive than denier..

    even if you try to define ‘denier’ just to mean the other side, or denying basic physics, it has an awful lot of baggage associated it it. Lucia described it as ‘fighting word’

    some of the baggage here:
    http://www.populartechnology.net/2014/02/skeptics-smeared-as-holocaust-deniers.html

    I will challenge anybody that call me a denier, for the very good reason I have been in a derogatory manner elsewhere, an example (from a Skeptical Science contributor – Mike Marriott)

    http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/?s=woods

    and people saying oh I ‘don’t mean that about you, well other people do, and it does grate.

    how would you react, if people carried on using alarmist, watermelon, communist, or eco-fascist to describe people ion your supposed side, would you accept it.. even if they said, oh not you, lets be civil, don’t be ‘sensitive’, don’t fake your emotions, or accused of ‘concern troll’ tactics, when you politely asked them not to?

    One commentator on the Andtheres blog, is thinking about how the population will chase sceptics with cricket bats in the future.. not conducive to a civil debate

    The Guardian style guide about ‘climate denier’, says it is polarising,

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/mar/01/climate-change-scepticism-style-guide

    if any ‘sceptics’ are attracted to the Anders blog, they will pick up on ‘denier’ and will either just dismiss the blog and go away. or challenge it, or just react in a combative manner.

    I had a chat with GPwayne that you might find interesting, my offer to him (lunch) still stands,
    http://gpwayne.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/when-our-passion-leads-us-to-eschew-intellectual-rigour-we-end-up-fighting-ourselves/

    but he thinks i’m pretending to be concerned, I know I’m not. I recognize his ‘passion’ he does not seem to think mine is equally so.

    1. Barry,

      I’m not bothered by warmist. I don’t particularly like alarmist, watermelon, communist or eco-fascist though.

      I agree that “climate science denier” is polarising and so I don’t use it personally. I am not convinced that it should be moderated though especially if it is used *not* to describe a person but a collective group of people i.e. “climate science deniers frequent blogs like WUWT, BishopHill etc”. I would not moderate that. If I felt things were going to degenerate because of the word and how it was used then I might change my mind. It depends a bit on context and the people involved. Some contrarians don’t mind the word.

      1. If you moderate “alarmist” but not “denier” than you are a hypocrite.

        No skeptic approves of “denier” and anything you read about as such was highly sarcastic or mocking.

  8. I have 2 comments at the Anders blog not yet approved, am I not welcome or just because the comments have url’s in?

    I did leave completely (at the blog owners request), I think in mutual frustration/irritation!/misunderstanding (lunch first would have been better, as until you meet someone, you can’t hear their ‘voice’ when reading them) but was invited back to respond to Willard, who kept complaining that I would not respond

    1 comment was a quick response to the ‘cricket bat’ comment..

    I’ll reproduce the other here (if that is OK)

    my comment @theresphysics pending:

    “There are clearly some very passionate people who I imagine like ‘gingersouth’ really believe what they are saying is correct, but as somebody (who has written at WUWT) who might be included in that thinking, ie frog marched of to the Hague, etc,etc I have concerns about it and would respond.(just observed this one)

    There is a choice to be made, whether Anders supports those statements, or in the interests of being civil, moderates them..(moderating, because leaving it up, will cause an equally strong reaction back, and completely sidetrack everyone, into an argument)

    to some people climate change is all important, and being nice and civil, when the planet is mistake, is bordering concern trolling, that people (that they believe are dis informers, ie deliberately spreading false information) being giving space.. There are those, that get accused of this, who know they are NOT doing this (may be wrong,but NOT deliberate mis-informers), who get upset about being labelled this way, and calls for them to be suppressed (by a few) and who react strongly back.

    myself included, see a very good discussion between myself and GPWayne, as usual it got side tracked by language, (I’m utterly sure he is completely sincere, but we have different passionate priorities to what matters to each of us, and thus are at cross purposes)

    http://gpwayne.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/when-our-passion-leads-us-to-eschew-intellectual-rigour-we-end-up-fighting-ourselves/

    but I still hope he takes up my offer for lunch one day. (that goes fro Anders and Rachel – though that might be tricky, geographically)

    so, if a civil debate is required, it is hard to have one, if a few people are calling for Torcello’a argument and Gingersouth’s, for effectively some of the people to be excluded from the debate, and it leaves bloggers like Anders and moderators like Rachel the dilemma to have to choose..

    which is why I much prefer (now) to meet people or chat with them away from the blogs or comment sections, where other (less informed people, like the Guardian commentator, that called Graham Wayne a ‘denier’ !!) people can get in the way. “

    1. Barry, I assumed this would be obvious after our last interaction. Just to avoid having to interact with you ever again (whether I remain anonymous or not), let me make it completely clear. You’re not welcome.

    2. Barry,

      There is a choice to be made, whether Anders supports those statements, or in the interests of being civil, moderates them..

      AndThen did two things: he moderated the comment AND he publicly expressed that he did not agree with it.

  9. Your blog offers a lot of information/opinion on current events. You often give ideas that I would never think of and I usually always agree with you and just give a like. If you post about your outings with your kids, I am more likely to comment.

    I think you really enjoy the discussions and thrive when people respond to you whether they agree or not. You read their feedback and probably would change your mind on a topic if well presented evidence was given.

    I suppose you have to expect some name calling on an open blog, but you don’t have to accept it. It is good to have some plan to deal with it.

    I guess it depends on the purpose of your blog. I consider my blog to just be entertainment. Although some might comment, “You are an idiot if you think you are entertaining.”

    While I don’t offer any opinions on anything, I assume anything written in a blog could be considered an opinion. Perhaps my silly poems are opinions in disguise. The court jester can get away with saying things to the king that others can’t.

    The closest I really get to expressing an opinion I suppose is my atheist song/poems. And they are not written in an “I dare you to respond” attitude. I have received only 3 negative responses to them. The first comment I got made me very upset and I responded semi-politely and wish I had ignored it. The 2nd one I ignored. The third one seemed to preach at me and I just deleted and no longer follow the person.

    Why I am commenting about this I don’t know. lol It probably is the longest comment I have ever written. Maybe it’s because I have not blogged for a month and am making up for missing your other posts. 🙂

    1. mixedupmeme,

      I do believe this is the longest comment I’ve seen you write! Thank you.

      Words can be upsetting, I agree. Sometimes it’s not always clear why some comments are and some aren’t. If a comment does push buttons, I think it’s best to step away and wait a while before responding. Deleting and ignoring them is also a good strategy.

      I always enjoy reading your poems. So keep ’em coming!

  10. It’s fairly simple. If you run a blog with the headline “Trying to keep the discussion civil” and then accept comments ranting about Goebbels and frogmarching Anthony Watts to The Hague, you are going to get ridiculed.

    1. Paul,

      I think the ability to change our minds is an admirable quality to have especially for a scientist. I also admire people who can accept when they’ve made a mistake.

      What matters is that he moderated the comment AND he publicly disagreed with it.

    2. I just also want to say that moderating a blog is a tricky balance between not wanting to censor anything and not wanting to offend people. It’s hard to get the balance right.

    3. A nice double-bind can be played by Paul & another freedom fighter, say Shub:

      As soon as an inflammatory comment is not moderated, Paul goes on “tu quoque” mode, as usual.

      As soon as it is, Shub whines about censorship.

      What fun contrarians have.

  11. Something I should have added to my post was that there’s also an element of democracy in blog moderation. The recent frogmarching comment is an example of this. If a comment is not moderated initially and the masses complain, then the moderators will listen and reevaluate the comment. This is perhaps the blog equivalent of the “flag media” button in twitter.

  12. I would be interested to know what Barry and Paul think about Anthony Watts linking to the address, phone and email of an anonymous commenter? Particularly when that link is included in a post that is likely to anger the readers against this commenter. And the fact that this information is in the public domain for those who know where to look is not the same as handing it to the angry mob on a platter.

    1. At the end of the day, I’m certainly not going to take morality lessons from people who seem to have no problem with Delingpole arguing that climate scientists should be executed. As I see it, we’re dealing with people who will find some way to justify these things when said by someone they typically agree with, and will never accept anything when it involves those with whom they disagree. For what it’s worth, I find the extreme rhetoric objectionable when said by anyone, irrespective of whether I broadly agree with their scientific views or not. It’s fundamentally unpleasant, and certainly doesn’t help the discussion. Continually harping on about moderation, and other related issues, is likewise unhelpful. It’s all just ClimateballTM.

      1. AndThen,

        For what it’s worth, I find the extreme rhetoric objectionable when said by anyone, irrespective of whether I broadly agree with their scientific views or not.

        Me too. In fact, I often find myself more upset about bad behaviour from those I agree with than from those on the other side.

        I read a short article in the Philosophers’ Mail yesterday about Why we don’t allow comments. Here’s a bit:

        The Comments section are like people’s journals. In journals, we write all sorts of things down in extreme moods; we want to kill the friend who let us down, the whole of our lives has been useless, we don’t really love our partners, we’re lonelier than we have ever been, we want a lover. Then the mood passes – and we feel very glad indeed that no one has read the diary and is taking what we said there as the definitive truth about us.

        Unfortunately, the Comments are not like journal entries. They stay up, everyone reads them and they come to seem like the truth about the personalities of others. This drags us down and can make life feel intolerable. Overall in a society, people need to be able to think reasonably well of their fellow citizens.

      1. Oh God, I know what you’re going to say now. “He didn’t really call for their execution, he said ‘It ought to go without saying that my answer to all these questions is – *regretful sigh* – no.'”. That’s alright then. Okay, technically, he didn’t. It was just satire, right? Sure, okay it was just satire. Not very good satire, but satire nonetheless. I should have phrased my point more carefully. “I’m certainly not going to take morality lessons from people who seem to have no problem with Delingpole discussing the execution of climate scientists”.

        And of course, I presume there’s some reason why this comment (which is still available) is fine

        I’d be quite happy for climate liars to literally feel the noose tighten around their necks……..

        I suspect, anyway, that we’ve discussed this before and I’ve already violated my “never interact with you again” rule. A point that I was making (and which I’ve yet to see refuted) is that I don’t intend to worry too much about the views of people who will harp on when those they disagree with don’t quite do things as they would like, while virtually never criticising those with whom they typically agree. It’s tedious and extremely irritating. Plus, my tagline is Trying to keep the discussion civil, and on many occasions have acknowledged how that may well have failed, no thanks to those who don’t bother trying themselves and then complain and the lack of civility.

      2. I like your “I know what you’re going to say”, AT. It shows you start to think ahead. That’s very good.

        You still get caught by plausible deniability, though:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plausible_deniability

        Not that Barry never uses that trick, mind you. That Delingpole discusses the execution scenario is not that different than what you find offensive, AT. And while that trick is important, it is not the one Barry uses here, which is to ignore most of your points to focus on a single one when he could, in principle, invoke plausible deniability.

        The trick is to dodge your claim that”continually harping on about moderation, and other related issues, is likewise unhelpful.” Since addressing this would may defeat his peddling, so I guess it’s normal that he ignores it.

      3. Barry,

        No, I’m not going to provide a link because I think what he’s done is wrong. It’s his “quote of the week” post about Gingerbaker’s comment.

      4. Okay, I’ll acknowledge that my response to Barry was because I misread the threading and thought he was responding to my Delingpole comment and not to Rachel’s address comment. Apologies.

      5. AndThen,

        I was a bit confused by your comment. I changed my blog theme yesterday because I was horrified to discover that I had the same theme as Brandon – and this just won’t do – so I picked something quickly and I find the font on this is huge and so the comments are really spread out and hard to follow. I might have to do some tweaking again.

      6. Too late! I wasn’t very happy with that theme anyway. I have a lot of trouble choosing a theme and there’s always something I don’t like: fonts too big, fonts too small, page width too narrow or too wide, no search box, too cluttered…..I might change this one too 🙂

  13. Well – here is me condemning James Delinpole use of ‘watermelon’ are arguing against all labels,
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2011/9/28/dellers-on-reason.html
    long comment section, James joined in, as did Tamsin Edwards (James blocks me, for disgreeing with him about this type of thing)

    so I am not one of these people. I utterly reject Delingpole calling for ‘executions’ (however satirical some people think it was) , I utterly condemned anybody, whoever they are that send abusive email (and I have supported Dr Katie Hayhoe, in light of emails she received) I interviewed Leo Hickman, Guardian, about the abusive emails he had received, when Morano published his email address. And Leo, trusted me enough to allow the interview.

    I wrote to Morano at the time asking him to stop doing this..and had a long argument.
    Dr Katie Hayhoe has said to me, if anybody can change Morano’s mind on this, it would be me.
    and she vouched for me, when Tamsin contacted her., correspondence here:
    http://unsettledclimate.org/2012/02/02/clarifications-and-how-better-to-communicate-science/

    I also wrote to Heartland and Morano, when Peter Glieck had his ethical lapse ,and told them to stop publishing Gleick’s email address because I was concerned about his personal welfare.

    so I am NOT one of those people that, have ‘no problem’ with bad behavior..

    1. > I am NOT one of those people that, have ‘no problem’ with bad behavior..

      That could certainly be acknowledged, with the caveats that it applies to what Barry perceives as bad behavior, that this claim lumps together all kinds of bad behavior, and that this follows from acting all smarmy all the time.

      Barry peddles these stories from one blog to another all the time, oftentimes at the expense of topicality. Have you noticed how Barry’s stories include him all the time? Just reading this thread should be enough.

      If only Barry stopped pursuing his own hagiography, I’m sure he could connect with AT’s smarmy side. Perhaps then they could even dine together.

      1. Reading the responses at our beloved Bishop’s is wonderful. It shows two things. First, that Barry may have a hard time selling his smarmy policy to many from our beloved Bishop’s in-crowd, including Josh, geronimo, Pharos, Shub, and the Dellers himself. Second, that getting the proper wording right is an important in Climateball ™ for contrarians: it is a word placement discipline, after all.

        Now to Barry’s response:

        > Name calling whole groups of people just brings considerable Collateral damage. Flimsin might understand the distinctions. But would any of her colleagues…

        My emphasis on the hagiographical details. So Barry does not dispute that there are distinctions say between “heaters”, “watermelons”, and “deniers”. After all, intelligent and likeable people like Tamsin may understand them. But that’s not what matters, what matters is something we may call Da Public.

        Now, in what endeavor can we witness “collateral damages”?

      2. I believe SimonH’s pseudo-descriptor won the thread. Here’s how he describes “useful idiot brigade”

        the middle-class noble-cause clan, who have become secular on the grounds of reason and rationale, but who have marched eyes-wide into a new religion, whose prophets are the scientists who tout their computer models (rather than lines of observational evidence) and their “novel” statistical methods as having “special knowledge” – they claim to *know* the god Gaia personally, have taken her pulse and who know precisely the sacrifices we lesser mortals must make to satisfy her.

        http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2011/9/28/dellers-on-reason.html

        Josh found found this an “useful thought.”

    2. Also note how Barry starts his first comment at our beloved Bishop:

      > Whilst I completely understand where James is coming from […]

      http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2011/9/28/dellers-on-reason.html

      Here’s how the second paragraph starts:

      > Whilst James had a point about the politics of it all, the un, ngo’s jumping on an agw bandwagon, to pursue many other agendas.. […]

      Here’s how it ends:

      > My daughter was voted onto the Eco team, my sister in law, is a green party press officer. How will this help.

      Note again the biographical details. My emphasis on the smarmy rhetorical question Barry may share with AT. Nevermind that “ngo’s jumping on an agw bandwagon to pursue many other agendas” may not be that helpful either.

      Instead of using labels, I guess it’s more helpful to use non-negative pseudo-descriptions like “ngo’s jumping on an agw bandwagon to pursue many other agendas”.

      Perhaps was it only a way to tame our beloved Bishop’s audience?

  14. This is all way out of my league Rachel but I read it with fascination and also all the responses. My blog doesn’t attract this kind of interaction but I have had a few comments awaiting approval that I’ve deleted which seemed to be more like spam than anything else and shouldn’t have slipped through Akismet’s net.
    One of my posts was once tracked-back to a very strange blog which ranted about the bible and sex!!! Go figure! But the most troubling thing that has happened to me is this: Some months ago, a WP blogger signed up to follow me but didn’t leave any likes or comments. I went over to her blog and took a look and discovered that she had obviously found me through a couple of other blogs that we mutually follow.
    Back in those days I tended to, for the most part, ‘follow-back’ but only if I actually really liked their blog obviously. So I did so and I left a comment to thank her for the visit and for the follow and to comment on her About page. Not a day after doing this, she ‘unfollowed’ me. I was perplexed by this but it was when I was having a lot of problems with losing WP followers (WP glitch if you remember) so I wrongly assumed that it might have been because of that and I commented back to let her know that I was having a problem in that regard in case she was too.
    She moderates all comments and I was shocked when I saw that my comment was chopped and changed so that it read, for all the world to see, that I was asking her to follow me because I was following her which was completely false and not what I said at all!!
    She then left a very sarcastic comment on my blog which I didn’t allow. I unfollowed her and there was nothing more. Recently she followed me again but with nothing to say!!!! Now I don’t automatically go over to someone’s blog when they sign up to follow me without introducing themselves. I got burnt once and don’t want to do so again!

    1. What a very strange interaction, Sherri. Changing the meaning of your comment is exactly what Helen was talking about above and that is very uncool. I think I’d probably ban someone who did that from my own blog. Have you done that? Especially since she returned to leave a sarcastic comment.

  15. To finish off with our audit of Barry’s link to our beloved Bishop’s, here’s how Barry’s last comment starts:

    > James I agree with very many thing you say, including your analysis of the politics, ngo’s, etc. Look at the other Bishop Hill article today, about Bryony Wortington.. cast iron proof of what you describe.. and my thoughts a year ago about bryony at the bottom….

    Here’s how Barry’s comment ends:

    > But, James who is going to buy and read your book, just your existing audience?

    So “collateral damage” may be defined as “the audience you won’t be able to reach,” if we may paraphrase what has not been made explicit.

    ***

    If I may ask one question to Barry, it would be this.

    Was Delingpole’s use of “watermelon” bad behavior, or simply counterproductive to get market shares?

    Reading that thread at our beloved Bishop’s does not seem to indicate, at least on cursory reading, how Barry’s concessions about Dellers’ use of “watermelon” preserve his initial claim that it was “bad” in the sense of wrong. What we can read is rather Barry’s usual “yes, but how it is going to help” peddling trick.

    If my reading is correct, then it refutes Barry’s claim that this is evidence that he’s against bad behavior, at least in the sense that Rachel seems to have intended.

  16. These are good rules to live by with your blog. I, fortunately, have not attracted much trollish behavior to my blog, but I like to keep things clean and collegiate. You can challenge someone’s ideas without calling them and idiot or using profanity. When I see the attacks start to become personal, that’s when i step in 🙂

  17. I understand James, does not mean I agree with him….the contrary, I asked him to tone it downs (trying to be diplomatic) to cut out the silly rhetoric and shall we say, we fell out, big time.

    Rachel, please read my contributions in full, I Was disagreeing with the majority of those in the comments there, at Bishop Hill (ref that conversation) not just cheer Willard’s cherry picked ‘auditing’
    I stand by them, made in good faith at the time, and my thinking has moved on since, more hardline about poor conduct

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