Last week over at XYZ magazine, editor David Hiscox finally reached his limit as regards to the commenting on the site. He banned two high level contributors to the site, (as in writers, not commenters), from commenting further as well as deleting a large number of comments and setting out a series of rules similar to my own.
I contribute on a regular basis to XYZ but over the last few months the comments section there had turned into a toxic waste dump of epic proportions, to the extent that it was undermining the site itself. So this was a much needed move by David to restore some semblance of balance and control to his site.
His site, not the commenters’ site. It takes a lot of time and effort to build up a platform such as XYZ magazine or my own site. But that can be seriously undermined by a few determined individuals who believe that any attempt to moderate comments is akin to the Stasi bashing in the front door.
This sets a dilemma for people such as myself and David who believe in freedom of speech and letting everyone have their say. It takes time for that to be bashed out of you by idiots trolling the comments section. Thankfully in David’s case he regained his senses before they destroyed what he had built up.
I believe that this is a tactic by our enemies. To undermine and discredit a site by poisoning it with toxic comments and memes. I believe that this is done by individuals on the left, (for obvious reasons) but also by individuals on the right who simply get off on the power that they are able to wield. They are also deliberate wreckers because they want to be the only nationalists in town.
After I instigated my own comments policy last November I have seen the number of comments on the site drop by a third. But interestingly the number of views is up by almost 20% over that period. As a blogger you can fall into a trap of believing that comments are where it’s at. Comments are nice and I appreciate every single one of them, but it’s views and clicks that count far more than the number of comments. The views and clicks are your reach; the comments are the gravy. But if you’re not careful the gravy can spoil the entire stew.
Over the last week I have had a little troll attempt to insert himself in my comments section. He began by posting a comment on an old article which broke the number 1 rule of my comments policy up there on the top sidebar:
Any first time commenters who comment on threads that are over a few weeks old will be automatically banned. This is due to the fact that this is a favorite tactic of spammers and scammers. If you are commenting here for the first time the solution is very simple – comment on a new thread first.
If you can’t even be bothered to get that right why should I help you? But the truth is that I do wield a fair amount of discretion in this regard and I have approved a number of comments from first time commenters who have broken this rule because I could tell that it was a genuine oversight. But in the troll’s case there were a couple of red flags that gave him away, flags that I am not going to mention here so that I can continue to use them as a filter.
He commented a second time a few days later with a polite but passive-aggressive comment about wanting to know if my site was worth commenting on because he didn’t wish to waste his precious time. The comment went in the bin.
Yesterday he attempted to post 2 comments. This one in the late afternoon:
HI COWARDLY FAGGOT
And then this one a few hours later:
Awwwww the little baby cowardly faggot deleted my comment because it hurt his feelings……better crawl back to your safe space FAGGOT
So my troll identification skills just went up one experience level. This sort of thing is not unusual. It’s part and parcel of running a site like this. But as David found out, if you leave your site open to unmoderated commenting then the commenters will most probably wreck your site.
To all those who take the time to contribute thoughtful and interesting comments here on a regular basis, you have my sincere thanks and appreciation. To those who wish to ruin what some of us have taken a very long time to build up, take your best shot. But if the above example is anything to go by, you’re shooting blanks.