The recent decision by popular comic blogger Valerie D’Orazio to adopt a new comment policy on her Occasional Superheroine blog has led to some discussion in the comic book community about the merits and pitfalls of comment moderation.
In her announcement post, Ms. D’Orazio states:
It happens with a lot of blogs…especially, strangely, a number of blogs run by women.
After a rash over a period of months of being pelted by “overly relentless and negative commenters who occasionally cross the line,” the owner of the blog decides to either
a) Take away comments completely
b) Moderate the comments.
At some point, comments might be unmoderated again, but right now this is what suits me. I sacrifice my ever-dwindling free time to write this blog. I get little-to-no compensation for it. To have the comments section resemble the decorum on the Newsarama forums on a bad day both disgusts and discourages me. At least Newsarama can ban or force out users — and apparently, they do.
In a discussion in the comments of one of her recent posts, Johanna Draper Carlson understands:
Pedro, you make good points, and I’m not trying to defend Valerie against all criticism — I disagree with her on several things that it’s not important to get into now — but I do think that moderating comments is a necessary action for ANYone running an active internet site, and it doesn’t mean the moderator can’t take criticism.
I’ve been running fora since 1992 in one format or another, and without moderation (for behavior, not ideas), I’d be insane and/or long gone. Most people are fine, even when disagreeing — but there’s that 1% that are viciously poisonous, and there’s no need to put up with it.
Now, some people do go overboard and use it to silence perfectly polite, well-behaved people because they can’t tolerate being disagreed with (ex. Byrne, Ellis), but I don’t know if Valerie is doing that or not. Based on my own experience, I take the complaints of those booted with a big grain of salt — they can’t all have been the perfect little angels they claim to be.
While Rick of Bent Corner disagrees:
Allowing a free flow of ideas is an important part of the blog equation. When a blogger employs comment moderation and uses it to filter out opinions that differ with their own, they might as well ditch the blogging platform and just write Word documents. It’s dishonest. It gives the false impression that everyone reading and commenting agrees with the author. That very well might not be the case. Bloggers shouldn’t be afraid of people not agreeing with them. Bloggers shouldn’t be afraid of someone pointing out that they are wrong. They shouldn’t use comment moderation to discourage dissenting opinions. In fact, they should be encouraging people to weigh in with contrary opinions.
So what do you think?