Thursday, May 25, 2006

Comments moderation has been turned on

About a month or so ago, I became aware of a new Blogger feature of comments moderation:

[Graphic: "It's the law," University of Wisconsin- Parkside]

Blogger Comments Moderation to Control Spam Blogger has now introduced the ability to moderate comments on your blog. This is a wonderful way to control comment spam on your blog and a much desired feature. Now you can approve or reject posted comments before it goes live on your blog. And catch any comment spam before it reaches your page. You can choose to moderate your comments via either email or from The feature needs to be enabled from the Settings | Comment tab. Comments that have already been published or rejected are removed from the moderation list. Rejected comments are deleted and cannot be recovered. Only blog administrators will be able to moderate comments.

I decided at the time that I would switch that on, if another time-wasting or abnoxious comments poster turned up on CED. Such a time-wasting (not necessarily obnoxious) poster (who is well-known to me, and I to him, from our previous debates on a number of discussion groups) has turned up on CED (see comments here, here, and here). I have therefore now turned comment moderation on.

I have accordingly modified CED's one and only policy as follows:

1) Anyone can comment, but comment moderation has been turned on. Low-quality, time-wasting, off-topic, spam, nasty, or defamatory comments will be rejected.

PS: the following long quote, which I have posted before, expresses very well my view of the difference between comments on a blog and replies on a discussion group, i.e. "The word comment for weblogs implies that the author does not need further participation to reach a goal - comment if you want."

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
`Evolution Quotes Book'

"Worlds are colliding, people. Your friendly neighborhood message board is not alone in the online community world any longer. This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the message board. Since that time, interfaces have improved, email has been integrated, but comparatively little has changed regarding the basic structure and intent of the message board. However, in the last few years, we've seen the arrival of a new set of tools and processes that offer additional opportunities for message board-based online communities. The appearance of weblogs have left many observers, including me, wondering about the differences between the two technologies and how they will be used inside online communities. Are weblogs really that different from message boards? How? Note: Below I make assumptions and generalizations about message board and weblog design. My goal is to discuss what I think are standard practices across the technologies. I realize that the assumptions below may or may not match with your experiences and I present them as suggestions. .... First, I believe that weblogs and message boards are different .... Perhaps the most compelling difference in weblogs and message boards is the locus of control. Weblogs are individual or small group resources- the control of content and value is driven by a single person or small group. Message Boards are group resources- the control of content and value is shared equally across all users. ... The locus of control matters most in defining who can post new topics, which drive the content of the resource. In weblogs, this role is centralized, with new topics being presented by a defined and focused person or small group. This centralization facilitates focus and direction on behalf of the webloggers. In many message boards, all members usually have the ability to create new topics. This decentralization allows for more emergent and unpredictable directions that may reflect the group's desires as a whole. ... The centralized vs. decentralized nature of the technologies fit nicely into two distinct intentions. With weblog authorship being centralized inside a community, they can easily become news sources, where trusted individuals provide accounts of events and information. The decentralized nature of message boards works well to accumulate group input and facilitate collaboration and group decision making. ... Weblogs and Message Boards both allow for responses from the community - new topics can be responded-to by others. Weblog topics have comments and message board topics have replies. This subtle difference in syntax reveals a difference in the roles. The word comment for weblogs implies that the author does not need further participation to reach a goal - comment if you want. Reply, on the other hand, implies that participation is explicitly requested by the poster. A discussion is not a discussion without a reply. ... The order and presentation of topics across message boards and weblogs relate another difference. Weblogs are consistently arranged with the most recently posted topics at the top of the page, regardless of new comments. With a message board, the posting of replies can govern the presentation of the originating topic - topics with new replies are often presented at the top (but not always, of course). This illustrates the relative importance of replies in message board discussions. Replies can keep a discussion alive and at the top of the page for months or even years in some cases. ... Since a weblog depends on a single person or select group, the likelihood of off- topic or inappropriate topics (or responses) is greatly reduced. Further, as discussed previously, weblogs do not depend on responses to provide value. So, in situations where spam or flame wars are a problem, weblogs can turn-off comments and depend on new topics from the webloggers for value. Being group resources, message boards do not have the luxury to turn off replies, but do prevent problems with moderation of each new topic or response. ... How topics are archived and organized provides another look at the differences. Often, each new topic in a weblog is assigned to a category that is used to organize the topics for future reference. A single weblog may have many categories that archive and organize posts that were originally presented on the weblogs' front page. Message boards are often presented with multiple starting points for creating a new discussion. The member chooses the appropriate location to post a new topic, depending on subject matter. In this way, message boards create multiple "front pages", spreading the presentation of new topics across locations/content buckets in the community." (LeFever, L., "What are the Differences Between Message Boards and Weblogs?," Common Craft weblog, August 24, 2004. Emphasis in original)

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