A New Approach To Comments At View From The Wing

I love the idea of comments to my posts. I love that you can criticize me, disagree with me, and ask questions. I love that some of you have insights to offer each other, too.

And I’ve always been loathe to moderate comments. I’ve really only removed extreme misogyny, graphic sexuality, and non-public information about individuals (like the full name and address of another commenter who uses a pseudonym).

Part of it is that I don’t think I’ve especially sagacious as a moderator. If I start moderating ‘hostile’ or ‘off-topic’ comments, it’s a pretty thin line to start seeing comments critical of me as either hostile or off-topic. Wouldn’t the comments be much nicer without their invective? Wouldn’t it be nicer without the commenter who says I’ve got no idea what I’m talking about?

My general approach is that ‘it’s the internet’ and that what someone writes reflects more on their own character than on anyone else. And I grew up online in the pre-internet era, I’m still a little bit naively optimistic from those times (even though I saw the cesspool that usenet became).

I’ve never once gotten an email from a member that I can recall thanking me for having such a light touch in the comments. I’ve gotten many emails questioning the value of the comments section that flows from such a light moderating touch.

And the truth is I don’t love reading my own comments section. When I wake up in the morning, after several hours off-line, there’s a lot to go through. It’s not the first thing I usually want to do. The truth is I do want people to be able to disagree, to offer their opinions, and most of all to offer comments that are useful and constructive.

So I’m going to be a bit more aggressive in trying to ‘clean up’ the comments section, as an experiment.

  • Expect to see more trolls banned. There are people who come to the comments to try to rile up other commenters. They do it under several names, sometimes to make it look like their controversial (often racist) opinion is widespread. And they do it under pretty thinly-veiled pseudonyms if you stop and think about it. In the past I might have blocked their IP address, so they’d use another. There are other tools at my disposal and I will use them.

  • More comments will need pre-approval before going live. This won’t be most comments! But if your response to a post about a points transfer bonus is to point out that award travel has gotten more expensive under the (Biden/Trump) administration, expect that to go into a queue for my review. And don’t expect to see it approved, either. There are plenty of things in travel that are inherently political, and it’s fine to react to those things. But off-topic politics and racism? Nah, not so much.

That said, I do get emails from time to time saying “I can’t believe you support X, because I saw it in the comments!” It’s a funny sort of reaction. Just because a comment was posted to the site 30 minutes ago doesn’t mean I’ve seen it. I have meetings! I have dinner with my family! I do sleep (sometimes).

And this site is just me. I write the content. I manage links. I look over the comments. There are no employees. Sometimes I miss things. But you’re always welcome to email me if you have questions or concerns.

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