Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Little Bit Back

We had a hard decision to make. I was scheduled to do to days of training up in Timmins and I knew that people were coming from long distances to come. I was still really sick, coughing constantly, having sweaty nights sleep. We talked briefly about cancelling. But then, people had arranged their schedules, booked travel, organized their weeks - it seemed just wrong to cancel. Besides, I had two days to yet get better. And what's the difference between sitting in a car and sitting on a couch (turns out it's quite different)? So we headed out the door yesterday. I hadn't left the apartment since Friday so it was nice to be outside.

As we drove up the 400 I grimaced as we passed the exit to my office. Important stuff had happened over the last two days, things I had organized, I missed the whole thing. But I had team members who stepped in and everything that needed to get done, got done, without me. There's an uncomfortable lesson there I think. But I resisted the urge to feel guilty, I was really sick, I didn't want to make others sick. So I simply waved and we drove on.

We arrived in Sudbury, where we were staying - the half way point, and I got into the room and back into bed. I don't know if the jostling around made any difference at all, but I was feeling better. Now, this morning, I actually felt like writing a blog. After having been laid up for several days, I don't have much to say, but still, I wanted to get back to some kind of routine.

When I'm sick, my judgement is cloudy. So I wonder if I could ask your help. I've received three odd comments on the blog I wrote on World Down Syndrome Day called  Choosing Sides. Be prepared because many of you are called names (and so am I). Now, I don't delete comments. But are these spam? I delete spam. They have me thinking I should develop a comment policy - I don't mind being attacked or called names, but I don't like it when you all are. So let me know:

1) Are these spam?

2) Should personal attacks be deleted?

As many of you will know I've been attacked for my view before and I've left the comments up because I've always thought that the anger behind the attack is instructive. People on the 'other side' feel just as passionately as we do. Never underestimate others. But these, for the first time, have me rethinking that.

I apologize to those of you who are named in these attacks. PREPARE YOURSELF before reading.

27 comments:

Alison Cummins said...

The first comment was routine spam prmoting a business.

The last three were the spammer coming back to complain, which is not at all routine!

John R. said...

Dave,
Glad you are "a little bit back"..hope you continue to feel better.

I think that this community of commenters to your blog is very much protective and probably able to deal with some levels of the attacking commentary from "the other side". However, when the comments are ignorant, based in hate and clearly abusive, especially to specific members yes, I would say that a monitoring of the blog be done. I admit, I was a bit attacking to Dr. Pram..sorry...

But, if we can help people on "the other side" understand a bit more about the diversity of disability and the pride of difference..then let the comments roll...it is all about constructive engagement and debate...

It is ultimately your choice how you want the commentary to transpire but this is my take on it.

John R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John R. said...

oh..I forgot....the last comments on the blog you mention are absolutely disgusting and need not be on the blog...I assume they are a "troll" spammer....they are useless, mean and make me (and probably others) upset regardless of the source and I would say those can be gone and you can delete those type of comments as the moderator...

Marna said...

I can't tell you where to draw the line, but ... if you never delete a comment, this is basically an unmoderated space.

It is my experience that unmoderated spaces end up like untended gardens: the weeds and the junk tossed over the fence will always overwhelm the flowers.

As long as you don't delete comments like those (or disemvowel them), you're letting your smart, decent vulnerable commenters be vulnerable to anyone from anywhere who for any reason might feel like disrupting the conversation or abusing the participants.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Mama, I do moderate in that I delete spam. I've never had these kind of comments so it's a first for me. And with not feeling well, I decided to ask for advice. At the end of the day, if most agree that they aren't suitable, I'll delete them. I can't believe they are real somehow.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

It is good to see that you are on the mend.

As for the comments - thank you for deleting those kind of comments. The very first comment by the doctor about preventing Down Syndrome through appropriate counselling is not spam - it is very much misguided but respectfully stated. The last 3 comments - are disrespectful and add nothing to the discussion.I appreciate that you delete that type of comment and I think if you do not then they will increase and negatively impact the community you have built here. I am only sorry that you have to read them.

Hope your recovery from the nasty cold is speedy!

Colleen

Happy said...

The last set of comments, with swearing and personal attacks, are not spam. They're trolls - trying to be provocative on purpose in order to get a response. They should be deleted. They do not represent the other side of an argument - they merely represent ugliness.

Happy said...

Also, I think you're right in considering a comment policy. Something like "Spam, obvious trolls, and personal attacks on other commenters will be deleted. Respectful disagreement will stand." You don't owe commenters a place to be disgusting bullies. If you wouldn't let someone talk that way to your face, you shouldn't let them do it in your blog space either.

Dave Hingsburger said...

You will see the new policy above. I am going to leave those comments up for a couple of days so that people can see the 'why' behind the new policy, then they will be removed.

Tamara said...

Glad you're feeling better. I'm not sure what to say about the comments. Other than the threatening tone of some, they were so irrelevant and ridiculous, all I could do was laugh ...

joanne said...

Good policy Dave...I must say, though, that the extent of hate was a learning experience....but learning does not occur through name calling and bullying.

Glad to have you in the north and that you are feeling better: the clean and refreshing northern Ontario air is something we like to market! :)

Hope you feel better and don't have too much trouble on our largely inaccessible, snow covered streets...will keep working on the accessiblity but don't have much control over the snow-fall :)

ivanova said...

I also prefer a moderated comment space. Many people behave on comment forums the way they never would do in real life. I think moderating comments shows care for readers. The final comments on that post have no content other than hate speech and ad hominem/ad feminam attacks. Although you may not mind being called names, I don't like seeing personal attacks in comments because it makes me feel unsafe. (A feeling, not a reality, but I'm just reading a blog for pleasure, so I'm not going to do it if it's painful.) So I would prefer if all personal attacks were deleted, including ones toward the blogger. I feel like I already know how passionate and angry the haters can be, and I don't want to think about it all the time. To tell the truth, after the World Down Syndrome Day post I decided to stop reading this blog every day and only read it when I was feeling particularly brave, detached, or in a fighting mood. You should consider the first comment spam only if you don't want commenters to advertise their own personal web pages or services in their comments.

ivanova said...

And, hope you feel better!

Anonymous said...

I think it is fine to introduce an anti-bullying/name calling policy. But you might want to make your blurb above the comment box shorter. (People who know the way I write are laughing at me now because this is advice people have to give me all the time too, because brevity is not exactly my strong suit!) Perhaps revise to something like this:

"Thank you for your comment! Disagreement is welcomed and debate is encouraged. However, name calling and bullying are not. I and most readers here embrace respectful, passionate debate."

I think those last few comments on the post you reference are, as others here have said, basically "trolls" looking to provoke a reaction. No need to encourage them.

The first comment there might well have been sincere but probably came from someone who doesn't actually read your blog--I'm guessing it might be someone who googled blogs that talked about Down Syndrome day then just went around leaving comments that she/he probably thought were positive and well intentioned ("I'm going to help prevent this 'tragic' birth defect!") without understanding that some would still find it offensive.

Andrea S.

Mary said...

The first thing I'll say is that it's your damn blog. Which means that you get to decide what the rules are, within the fairly loose confines of the Blogger ToS.

We come here to read your writing. You are not under any obligation to provide a platform for other people's views alongside your posts - that's why you have the option as administrator of the blog to delete comments that you do not wish to have sitting next to your writing, or to which you do not wish to expose your audience. There's also an option to prevent further comments being made on posts that attract a particular level of spam or abuse.

It's not a freedom of speech issue, as offensive individuals are entirely free to display their opinions on blogs of their own.

But the second thing I'll say, is that the last few comments on that post were neither spam nor personal attacks - they were RIDICULOUS! Assorted "Professors" using the sort of language you'd expect to hear from primary school children. Honestly, I predict the next one is going to be the Professor In Charge Of The Dinner Queue calling named commenters "smelly smelly poo head".

Dave Hingsburger said...

Andrea, I do plan on shortening this in a few days. For those who have been coming for years, I want them to know why there is such a big switch in policy here. I like your shortened version and may just use it. Thanks

Dave Hingsburger said...

ivanova, I'm sorry that that post (or the comments, I'm not sure which you meant) has caused you to re-think when you visit here. I knew as I planned for WDSD with a series of posts that it would go one of two ways. Even so I wanted to add my voice to the chorus of those who believe that people with Down Syndrome are an essential part of humanity.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Mary, I agree ... and I await the 'smelly poo poo head' comment myself!

wendy said...

Hi Dave,

Whether they are Spam or not they should be deleted. There is, I think, a difference between allowing people to disagree, even vehemently, and allowing people to hurl ridiculous insults that involve name calling. Had those involved been actually contributing to the discussion in a meaningful way I would say let it stand, but they weren't. Just my two cents worth.

Joyfulgirl said...

to me they read like an "internet troll" and are purely meant to cause offence so I for one would definitely would agree with their removal

liz said...

They are spam, delete them.

And thank you again, for your help with my post.

Barb said...

Dave, I've been following your blog in my feed reader, though this is my first comment here. I want to thank you for a terrific blog. I hope you're feeling better soon.

Of course, as others have said, it's your blog. I know that a lot of people consider the definition of blog spam to be posts that are promoting a business without adding to the discussion.

I consider abuse to be spam as well, but in my blog I have the policy of no spam and no flames, which some would call those abusive comments. They were definitely abusive and uncalled for as part of the discussion. All they added to the discussion was mindless insults, when it had been such a reasonable discussion before that. IMO the most reasonable people were the ones insulted.

The first post, while it does promote the Dr., isn't necessarily spam on its own, since it is on-topic and to some degree helps understand some of the discussion that follows (comments that mention the Dr's comment). But it would be even more on-topic if the Dr. had explained what he meant by proper counseling and indicated what his opinion is. As it stands, it's really just on-topic advertising.

If it was that same person who came back with the abuse, we now know his opinion of women who speak their minds, so maybe that's explanation enough of what he might consider proper counseling. Perhaps the first comment should be deleted as well, to completely ban the spammer including his more peaceful comment, and you could edit in an explanation of the discussion and his behavior to the post itself. Who wants to advertise free for an abuser?

Shan said...

Are you feeling spanked by Indians?

Truthfully, all I could do was laugh.

Chin up! Feel better soon.

Cole said...

Those last 3 were just bizarre trolls to me. It's your blog- and you've alwys emphasized standing up for yourself and defeating bullies. Somehow letting those comments remain on the blog seems like a win to the bullies to me. As someone pointed out earlier- in terms of freedom of speech- they can do their own blog. They don't seem to have much to do with anything. You are one of the strongest adocates I know- and there is a difference between being willing to engage in controversial but thoughtful discussion and letting someone just "yell". The latter does nothing for the discussion.
If you saw a person in real life saying those things to those people- I can't picture you just not responding. That doesn't seem like what you are for either. Your new policy seems fully appropriate.

Glad you are feeling better!

Ettina said...

I don't think the first comment on that blog should be deleted. It's expressing an opinion that many of your readers consider offensive (and rightfully so) but it is *not* spam - it's clearly related to the topic of the post and not just strings of nonsense or an attempt to sell something. I'd say it falls under disagreement, not spam. (And it's an opinion many doctors have, one I've seen in respected medical books.)

Besides, all the replies to it will no longer make sense if you delete the comment they're replying to.

Dave Hingsburger said...

I have removed them and any further on that blog will be monitored. Thanks for the feedback.