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Question of the day - holiday spirit edition

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2006

The State Journal-Register’s online comment section has been a joke for quite a while. They’ve allowed way too many cranks and morons to post and now the place is way out of hand. In frustration, the online editor has announced a stand-down day.

…So, in celebration of the holiday spirit, here’s the plan: For one day — Wednesday — sj-r.com will host the first-ever “Peace and Goodwill Reader Comments Day.”

From 7 a.m. Wednesday through 7 a.m. Thursday, the only comments that will make it onto the site will be ones that follow that old saying from mom: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

That means no being critical, cynical, sarcastic, whiney or otherwise Scrooge-ish. We’ll still allow some debate on the issues, but you’re going to need to be really, really nice to each other. As always, the decisions of our screeners will be final.

Depending on how this goes, we may host more of these “Peace and Goodwill” comment days throughout the year. I’d be happy to hear your feedback — as long as you’re nice about it.

Question 1: Since they didn’t open comments on the declaration, I’ll let people comment here. What do you think of this idea?

Question 2: We’ve managed to run off most of the really strange ducks from our blog, but we still get pretty intense in debates. So, would you like to see a similar one-day event like this here?

…Let’s add another one.

Question 3: Should I delete more of the aggressive-type comments?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

54 Comments
  1. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 10:21 am:

    Isn’t question 1 and 2 pretty much the same question?

    Oops, I meant to say that nicely.

    Um. It is fantastic to see how well you worded both questions in a manner to express what could be considered similar thoughts!

    Hugs and Kisses,
    VanillaMan


  2. - Snark - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 10:28 am:

    I thought your comments would get back to normal after the election, but I have been surprised by how bad things are here still. I don’t know that it’s entirely accurate to say that you’ve run off most of the strange ducks.


  3. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 10:30 am:

    Two points, Snark:

    1 - If you think the comments are “bad” here, go look around the interwebs a little while and you’ll see how bad things can get.

    2 - If you think the comments are “bad,” you should see the ones that don’t make it through the filter.

    lol


  4. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 10:36 am:

    I probably qualify as one of those mallards mentioned, but I find most of the angry comments amusing.

    Most of mine are pretty tongue in cheek (although I suspect that some people don’t pick up on that)and even when people respond in anger I don’t take it personally.

    Debate should be fun even when it is pointed or angry. The moderation has always seemed pretty reasonable.

    Stay the course!


  5. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 10:41 am:

    ummm…no cynical or sarcastic posts would pretty much be the end of comments.

    Like this one.


  6. - George Ryan's Cellmate - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 10:43 am:

    Rich,

    You do a great job running off the loons and goons from this blog under your current policy. Sure, folks get passionate and maybe run a bit hot, but this is a site about IL politics, and Illinoisians feel passionately about their politics. (I just wish more writers would post under a screen name and try to submit more constructive rather than destructive comments. The “XYZ is an idiot” posts from Anonymous really don’t add much.)

    Keep up the good work, and thanks for doing it.

    Merry Christmas


  7. - Scott Fawell's Cellmate - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 10:47 am:

    First, sorry for the duplicate posts. (My comments weren’t so brilliant they needed to be repeated ! :) )

    Second, in the spirit of the season and your QOTD, perhaps you’d like to post links on the sideline to some worthy charities we’ve discussed this year, e.g. veterans support groups.

    We could turn our hot air into some cold cash for some folks who need it.


  8. - Snark - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 10:48 am:

    I don’t dispute either of those points.


  9. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 10:49 am:

    Yeah, that’s a good idea, SFC. I’ve been thinking about that one, but wasn’t sure about the right way to go. Maybe I’ll do it for tomorrow’s QOTD.


  10. - He makes Ryan look like a saint!!! - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 11:01 am:

    Rich, you are right, the SJR has gotten completely out of hand. The smoking ban pro vs cons rants on there, while somewhat comical is just brutal.

    I like the way it is here, while you allow some barbs here and there you dont let it get out of hand.
    thanks! Happy Holidays


  11. - Robbie - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 11:04 am:

    Rich, I think you do a great job in policing the idiots. I think there is a distinction between moronic comments and a regular commenter getting a bit steamed. Its all a part of earning your keep in my mind. If you can come to a blgo and prove you can contribute then you earn a little leeway in being an asshat. (hope my curse doesnt ruin my comment)

    As far as your specific questions:
    I think it might be a good idea for the SJR to get things under control. But I think its a bad idea in general and only necessary because things in that situation are fubar. I don’t think it would be good here because taking the emotion and flare out of comments often defeats the purpose. I think you are doing a decent job of comment moderation, but I personally think that you should requrie users to register. Everyone loves to post stupid crap when they can be anonymous. But holding someone to an identity decreases their idiocy in my opinion. Since you arent starved for readers and commenters like many of us small time bloggers, I think you could successfully integrate that without destroying the blog.


  12. - The Ghost - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 11:05 am:

    1. Who cares? The SJR comments section is a disaster.

    2. No

    3. No (unless it’s the Guv, I mean Bill gushing his Blago propaganda - delete away).


  13. - C$ - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 11:09 am:

    Eh, I’d rather see what people want to say. I’m perfectly capable of skipping over a comment if I don’t like it and moving on to the next one… I don’t need somebody filtering content for me.


  14. - Mr. Ethics - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 11:12 am:

    Agree with ArchPundit. If everybody makes nice, why have comments. The agressive comments should stay as long as it isn’t profanity or character assult without merit.
    Thanks Rich for this great blog.


  15. - HappyToaster - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 11:15 am:

    As long as you continue to take a hard line on St. Louis posts it’s all good.


  16. - Objective Dem - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 11:20 am:

    I don’t mind critical, cynical, sarcastic, negative, whiney or agressive comments if there is a point to the comment or it is truly funny. My biggest complaint about every blog I go to is the number of meaningless stupid comments. In any group conversation you always have someone making side comments. The problem with blogs is all of these side comments get posted and they can dominate the site. Capitol Fax is actually one of the best I have run across for having decent conversations.


  17. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 11:22 am:

    One of the reasons I like coming here is most comments are pretty good an usually have good reasoning even when I think the writer is nuts. Debates get heated, but they are controlled well. Been on many of the other blogs. This place is darn right civil. To steal the phrase: “stay the course”. The loons will come and go.

    As an aside, thanks for the great music suggestions that pop up here occassionally. May I suggest The Blasters “Live” reunion with Dave Alvin. Goes well with beer.


  18. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 11:26 am:

    With regard to the amended posting:

    It is not the aggressive posting that should be deleted. It is the odd racist rants that should be deleted (when the “notify me of comments via e-mail” feature is working, those comments do come through to e-mail). You are right that there is no place for those.

    I also would advise you to keep monitoring it for slander type issues, especially in light of the Kicker Thomas verdict. Even though there probably is no liability, why risk it? Our Supreme Court changes its mind on issues relativey often and given verdict potentials you really don’t want to be on the wrong side of that line.


  19. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 11:55 am:

    ===As long as you continue to take a hard line on St. Louis posts it’s all good.

    You talking to me? I feel insulted and personally offended.


  20. - Little Egypt - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 12:04 pm:

    I will admit to being technologically challenged. However, I’m pretty sure that when I post under my usual name here, Rich knows it’s coming from my computer. Likewise, if I choose to post using a different name, he also knows it’s coming from my computer. Occasionally the other half of Little Egypt will post using a different name and it is written in such a different grammatical style that I’m sure Rich recognizes the difference. When I’m out of town and using another computer posting with the usual Little Egypt, I will tell Rich is it me.

    My complaint with the SJ-R is that I have personally read postings before that have used my name and have absolutely not been generated by me. That is a little infuriating. I wish they had a system as good as this one that could tell the difference or at least employ someone knowledgeable about this blogging stuff to catch these things and ban the sender’s computer. I don’t know if that can be done but it would be much appreciated. I’ve read some really mean spirited things supposedly written by me and there’s nothing I can do about it.

    As for question 3, Rich I applaud you for this blog. I think you lead the pack in blogs for this state and I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t gain big national recognition. I’m just glad to be posting here before the day comes when I say “I knew him when….” and this party comes to an end. Please don’t let that be the case. If you have to be aggressive and kick people off, so be it. It’s your blog, your rules and if we don’t like it, we can go post elsewhere else.


  21. - Little Egypt - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 12:06 pm:

    Oooo, bad grammar last sentence.


  22. - Matts - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 12:27 pm:

    A large newspaper once decided to only put “good news” on the front page. That lasted only a short while. We do look for the bad, the ugly, the prurient - to some degree, but to disallow human nature is to try to repeal the laws of gravity. Years ago I listened to Rush L. - he is successful, unfortunately, because he gets to the lesser side of our natures too often. It’s immaterial to say life would be better without him, but overall, I do think his “thing” is more debilitative that restorative. Yet, I would use his insuperable support of the free economy, and encourage people to tune him out as I did.


  23. - PalosParkBob - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 12:52 pm:

    Overall, thoughtful and passionate debate seem to rule the day here, unlike the vitriolic, nonsensical spewing at some other blogs.

    There’s a big difference between bickering and disagreeing debate. Disgreeing debate is perhaps the most informative means of political education, while bickering accomplishes little.

    The only other comment I’d make is that when posters claim other posts are “lies” or “misleading”, but make no attempt to provide what they claim to be the accurate info and sources, they should be filtered out.

    When they call other posters “liars” without factual correction, it’s no more than a malicious and personal attack more appropriate for talk radio or the evening news!


  24. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 12:55 pm:

    I shan’t comment for fear of overly aggressive moderating.


  25. - Tom - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 12:57 pm:

    I enjoy your site, Rich. While comments occasionally get heated that’s the nature of politics. People here know where the line is, and when it’s crossed you delete comments. Keep up the good work.


  26. - Snidely Whiplash - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 1:42 pm:

    1-Oh, yes, I think that’s a WONDERFUL idea! :)

    2-Oh, yes, yet ANOTHER lovely idea! :)

    3-Oh, no, that wouldn’t be fair. Mean people need love, too! :)

    Honey-dripping sweetness to all you lovely folks. :)


  27. - Larry Mullholland - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 1:50 pm:

    I think factually inaccurate comments should be deleted. It is most frustrating to read inaccurate comments or lies that are itended simply mislead to promote and agenda or candidate. I think you have done a fair job of pointing out when some commenters are not being truthful.

    You have a fair amount of people who post because they can do so without repercussions. It apears that many have no other outlet that matters. Matters in that, you Rich, have the power of the pen and seem willing to call it like it is.

    Debate is healthy. With an open mind we can all learn from a factual debate. Healthy debate, while it may include attacks on individuals is healthy and should not be impeded in my view. Bring it on!


  28. - Justice - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 1:55 pm:

    1: It would be nice to see some good spread about. We can sure use that salve of kindness to help heal a few wounds on the SJR blog. Some days it like a bucket of boiling a holes. 2: I believe this forum is a bit more “intelligent” not necessarily including myself, but certainly others do provoke a different twist on the issues. I don’t see the hate and belligerence here so not convinced that would be necessary. Most of us either agree or respectfully disagree, but I don’t think there has been too many shots fired. 3: Gee, I certainly hope not. We all need to feel the pulse of our daily lives through different levels of rhetoric. As long as it’s not hateful and hurtful, we need to know what people are thinking. What is the real mood of the day? Rich, you are patient, deliberate, and fair. It’s working well!!


  29. - Bridget Dooley - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 1:56 pm:

    No snark and ridicule = NO FUN. I like the debate. Rich, I think your current policy is working nicely.

    Though I do think it would be hilarious to make everyone be sugary sweet to each other for one day.


  30. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 1:58 pm:

    Larry,

    You honestly expect Miller to be a fact-checker?

    Welcome to America. If somebody’s facts are wrong, point them out.


  31. - maggiemae - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 2:26 pm:

    Justice - I couldn’t have said it better.


  32. - Belle - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 2:31 pm:

    Quack honk,
    Quack quack honk honk honk….honk quaaaack aflack honk HONK!
    QUAAAACK QUACK!


  33. - Matts - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 2:52 pm:

    Belle the incompetant physician….a quack whose starting to honk me off!


  34. - anon #1 - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 3:01 pm:

    I like things the way they are here. Sometimes you need to vent (but no cursing).


  35. - The Conservative - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 3:22 pm:

    The only strange ducks are the Democrats and they quack me up.


  36. - Mr. Luxury Yacht - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 3:36 pm:

    I say, leave it to the Richmeister regarding when to delete mean or offensive posts and when to keep them in, in the interest of real and spirited debate. I mean, I’d think Shaw or Twain or Vonnegut or Wilde would trip an unyielding snark-o-meter with regularity but a human(e) traffic cop can strike a good balance.

    Which our fearless leader does quite reasonably, it seems to me, and if you find him too limiting - or too lenient - (initial rude comment deleted by the author), er, um, choose another option for your Internet Illinois political opinion forum!


  37. - The Horse - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 3:41 pm:

    1- lets all join hands in a rousing version of kum-bay-ya ( sjr posts are a joke and make me miss Junior High School)

    2- these are pretty entertaining, generally thoughtful and not too nasty/personal. If thats the result of your censorship… nah.. you are one of those 1st amendment, FOI types… You wouldn’t… (would you?)

    3- bite me. (rofl)


  38. - Crimefighter - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 4:35 pm:

    One man’s idiot is another man’s Einstein.


  39. - Joannie - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 4:38 pm:

    Although, I don’t often post here, I do read it daily and enjoy it very much.


  40. Pingback Spfldbloggers » SJ-R not pleased with commenters. - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 4:44 pm:

    […] Update: Capitol Fax Blog chimes in. […]


  41. - Tessa - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 5:12 pm:

    I don’t care what the SJ-R does, although I’m amazed at what people comment on there. I often read it for the humor I find. Some people do need to find lives.

    As for this, Rich. Yours is the best blog I know of and I like how you manage it. We may get to each other from time to time, but we are also adults and should know by now how to play well with others. Sometimes we just forget and need a little reminder.

    Sorry I didn’t get a chance to send that fax yet, had to go out of town on a family emergency and life’s been hectic. Just got the e-mail printed yesterday….


  42. - Citizen A - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 5:29 pm:

    You run an excellent blogsite. I enjoy the “free” exchange of viewpoints. Your occasional admonitions about flaming and out of bounds commentary seems effective - You must put a lot of time reviewing the posts. Thanks for the forum and effort.


  43. - 'Lainer - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 5:55 pm:

    I guess I wasn’t the only one who felt kind of dispirited and discouraged after reading the sj-r blogs almost daily. I have only lived in Springfield less than two years and was beginning to wonder “Yikes, are there really THAT many jerks here?” But that is the nature of blogs, like letters to the editor, people are more motivated to speak up when they are not happy than when they are content. This blog has always been well run and I read it for a long time before I started to post. Keep it up!


  44. - Bill - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 6:25 pm:

    Thanks a lot, ghost!


  45. - Papa Legba - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 7:07 pm:

    Rich,

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! You have great site.

    People:
    Quit dissin’ Bill. He’s probably the most focused person commenting here. You have to admit it. Even if you don’t agree with what he has to say. Besides, if you read his posts early in the day, they can really get your blood going ;)


  46. - DOWNSTATE - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 7:17 pm:

    Up to date and well maintained most of the other blogs are a week behind.I have read news here a day ahead of most papers.If it gets to rank delete it.


  47. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 8:07 pm:

    I can’t believe the SJ=R lets that nonsense go on, particularly when the paper is for sale. IMHO, makes the community and the paper look stupid and ass-backwards. They are not advancing a noble purpose by running a comment section that is about the equivalent of putting out cans of spray paint in front of public buildings and running ads that say “tell the Government what you think.”

    Rich, I’ve noted before that you have done a great job on this blog, esp. given your day job. Old AA would have blown a fuse and pulled the plug a long time back.

    I second Papa Legba’s post. Even the part about Bill.

    XXOO,

    AA


  48. - YNM - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 8:15 pm:

    You think the comments on SJR are bad … the Pantagraph might give them a run for their money.


  49. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 8:57 pm:

    What can I say that’s nice?
    Gee, the SJR’s move really seems like a nice form of censorship.


  50. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 10:07 pm:

    Blogs are online societies. They need community policing, not a police state.

    People have a natural drive to want to belong. They respond to peer pressure. And we have a good set of peers here.

    Occasionally Rich needs to step in and play good cop or bad cop or both, but turn it into a police state and folks will either revolt or leave.


  51. - Da Guy - Wednesday, Dec 20, 06 @ 10:25 pm:

    I think your moderation works pretty well. I would hesitate to change it for fear of losing the spirited debate.

    I wonder if you could come up with a way commentors could rate other comments. Kind of like a QB Rating.


  52. - Way Northsider - Thursday, Dec 21, 06 @ 12:03 am:

    Debate is fine. Just having “positive” comments makes it an almost worthless blog - definitely singing to the choir takes all the fun and usefulness out of it. Personal attacks and outright racist/sexist/homophobic type rants should be stopped but no discussion and disagreement over issues.


  53. - State of Farce - Thursday, Dec 21, 06 @ 1:07 am:

    I think you worry too much about moderating and “inappropriate” comments. You remove comments that aren’t rude at all. You seem to be overly sensitive about certain subjects of some posts. Its your perogative of course, but it doesn’t make sense sometimes.


  54. - Angie - Tuesday, Dec 26, 06 @ 8:46 am:

    Every blog has a unique “culture,” and most people get the culture (how loose they can be with language, and so forth) after being around a bit, so people probably learn to adapt a bit on their own. If it gets too heated, Rich puts out a warning, which is pretty sufficient to let everyone know that they are going berserk on a particular topic and to knock off the flame wars/tone it down.

    That said, people who complain about the moderation forget that this isn’t any old blog. It is sometimes easy to forget when debating something, but really–everyone reads Cap Fax! Carol Marin just wrote something about Tony Rezko being the Abramoff of Illinois, and I could swear that same thing was posted here on Cap Fax recently.

    So, with that in mind, it makes sense as to why Rich would be more heavy-handed on the moderating, but I wouldn’t heavily censor just for being a bit sharp. Some people are just blunt by nature.

    I think poor Bill needs a break, though. We’ve picked on the poor fella enough, to the point where he wouldn’t even let his face be photographed for the snapshot that was posted on the blog.

    Poor Bill. lol


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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* Nokia 2 sales on from today at Amazon and they’re hot
* U.S. Justice Department Files Lawsuit to Block Merger Between AT&T and Time Warner

* White Sox add five to 40-man roster, remove two
* Sox add top prospect Jimenez to 40-man
* Thome joins Hall hopefuls in 1st time on ballot
* Podcast: The calm before the storm
* New Prolight 59Fifty Spring Training caps are in
* White Sox Arizona Fall League recap
* Hello spring: Schedules are out


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