Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
 
Votes are in

So the votes are in, and the overwhelming majority is for keeping comments on, with comment moderation. So that is what I'll do. Here are some of my comments to your comments in that poll:

its your blog after all
Not 100%. Without readers this blog would be nothing. That doesn't mean I need to listen to every vocal minority, but listening to the wishes of the majority is certainly a wise thing to do if I want this blog to prosper.

That said, I will say that there is something definitely missing with the delay caused by moderation. In my case, on the west coast of the US, no comments are approved after Noon. The net effect is that the topic is pretty much closed and very few replies are posted after that break. You DO need to sleep, so it's completely understandable. But it is different -- and not in a good way. Still, some comments are better than none -- which I suspect is your point here.
My apologies for the delays in comment moderation, but they are unavoidable. I sleep, I work, I play, and in the breaks between I moderate comments.

allow for trackbacks (links to here from another blog)
Trackbacks are on, you can see them in the "Links" section at the bottom of the post. But they are automated by Blogger, and I sometimes think that doesn't work very well.

Wasting your energy on the drama and fallout over not publishing comments is not worth your time. You dont have to explain to anyone why you choose to publish a comment or not.
Will do. The unfortunate consequence is even stricter moderation, because now I don't just delete the offending comment, but also the comment complaining about the moderation.

I would prefer the comment not to be moderated beforehand and any black sheeps picked out afterwords because as it is now the possibility to get a conversation going is a bit limited.
I tried that before. The problem with this approach is the delays in moderation as mentioned above. As I mentioned before, my main problem with bad comments is not that they are insulting to me, but that they tend to derail the comment thread. Somebody says "You WoW players are all just idiots", and then the WoW players respond with counterattacks, and by the time I come to moderate I have to delete 90% of the comments.

I very rarely read the comments. The vast majority of the time I only read what shows up in the RSS feed.
You sure aren't alone there. According to Feedburner and Google Analytics, half of the people reading my RSS feed never visit the site itself. You can read the comments via RSS feed as well, but either you get a feed that isn't sorted by thread, or you have to manually set up a feed for every post, neither of which is a good option. Nevertheless the other half of readers, who do visit the site and not just the feed, apparently prefer the site WITH comments.

I don't really enjoy reading these blog-about-the-blog metaposts, which are almost exclusively about the comments.
This blog isn't exclusively about MMORPGs, it is also about remotely related stuff that interests me. So sometimes there are reviews of board games, or I talk about a single-player computer game, or if I buy a new computer you'll hear about that. Now blogging, unsurprisingly, is a strong interest of mine. As it occupies a good portion of my thoughts, I will never stop blogging about blogging. I think some people read too much into those posts; yes, they are personal and self-reflective, and some people get uncomfortable when reading somebody else's more personal thoughts. But these posts aren't really as negative as some might think. By talking about the problems of blogging, I am dealing with those problems. If you want a blogger who never has problems with blogging, you'll need to look for a blog written by a machine.

As an alternative, you could add a few of your more trusted readers as authors, with the understanding that they won't create new posts but will only serve as moderators.
There is no technical way to hire somebody as moderator only, without giving him the possibility to also post, delete posts, or do something else with the blog. Thus getting another person in is equivalent to giving somebody else your userID and password for your MMORPG account, including access to the guild bank. That *can* work, but it also can lead to disaster. There is nobody I trust that much. And I don't think anyone would want to do that job on a permanent basis, hired hands on a blog will realize quickly that opening up their own blog is the better option for them.

I also think in general you worry far too much about what other people are saying about you.
Agreed. I guess that is part of my character, and unlikely to change completely. But that vote in favor of comment moderation helps me feel more secure about dealing with the trolls. In the end it is a two-part deal, I need to learn how to handle the negativity, you need to learn how to handle my sensitivity. Because the alternatives, which are no comments or no blogging, aren't what either of us wants.
Comments:
Hi Tobold. :)

Just wanted to say that I'm happy you're keeping comments open, even if it it's in moderated form.

Hopefully, we'll have more thoughtful discussions in the future on this blog. :)

-Victor Stillwater

PS. Not sure if you got it, but I sent you an email to see if you were okay. I do hope you're doing well. :)
 
You do know, that you asked commenters whether they like to comment, do you ? :)
 
You do know, that you asked commenters whether they like to comment, do you ? :)

Not quite, because there was the distinctive restriction of asking whether they wanted MODERATED comments. I agree that the question is loaded, and is likely to produce votes in favor of comment moderation. But on the other hand if I don't ask the question, the people who like moderation stay silent, and I only hear the voices of the vocal minority who want unmoderated comments and keep complaining about "censorship".
 
you have to manually set up a feed for every post
Blogger does create a comments feed for every post automatically, it's just that your custom layout doesn't have a link to it. Browsers that autodetect feeds can still see it, though.
 
Blogger does create a comments feed for every post automatically, it's just that your custom layout doesn't have a link to it. Browsers that autodetect feeds can still see it, though.

I know, but a link on my site wouldn't help, because the people who only read my feed wouldn't see it. I was talking about the problem of setting up your RSS feed reader in a way that it would show you each post plus its comments, without visiting my site (in case it's blocked by your work firewall).
 
What I learn from this is that Blogger needs to add comment moderation.

In sites such as slashdot/stackoverflow/... the community can vote a post up or down. If it becomes downvoted enough the message won't show. Stackoverflow has an even better system which will pull the best comments to the top of the page for everyone to read.

And turning of comments? A blog isn't a blog without comments.
 
But on the other hand if I don't ask the question, the people who like moderation stay silent, and I only hear the voices of the vocal minority who want unmoderated comments and keep complaining about "censorship".

Yes, but you didn't give people an option to vote for "comment w/o moderation" vs. "comment w/ moderation" either, for a real comparison. When someone says, "hey do you want a diet soda or a punch in the face," I'm going to take the diet soda even if I really want a regular one. That aside, comments with (limited) moderation is probably a good way to go.

btw if you haven't seen, the-blogger-who-must-not-be-named wrote an apology for you.
 
btw if you haven't seen, the-blogger-who-must-not-be-named wrote an apology for you.

Saw that on Victor Stillwater's blog. Then saw that Syncaine's apology was preceded by a post attacking me for my apples vs. bananas post. Funnily enough the banana post wasn't even all about him, except for the "Blizzard pays him" accusation. So I guess I'm not the only one being overly sensitive about what other people say about me. Well, if he just stops making posts about me, that would already be nice. Doesn't help if I stop reading his blog if he is then quoted on other people's blogs.

I don't think we will ever see eye to eye. Not because we have different preferences in games. But because we fundamentally disagree how the discussion about games should look like. The whole confrontational, go-for-the-throat personal attack style of game discussion is abhorrent to me, and I don't think that sort of discussion ever leads to new ideas.

And the idea of having to take sides, to be a fan of some MMORPG and "defending" it, doesn't stand the test of time. Where are all the fans of games like WAR now? Just like a lifetime subscription, betting your reputation on still being a fan of the same game in 5 years is probably a bad deal. I wonder what will happen when Mortal Online comes out. If you are just for the idea of PvP, you'd support Mortal Online. But Mortal Online being a direct threat to Darkfall, people who think of themselves as Darkfall fans and not as PvP fans might react rather negatively.
 
Tobold, perhaps it's time to bite the bullet and switch to a blogging service that offers you more control over comment moderation?

WordPress for instance let's you decide from a poster's very first comment whether you would like to block all subsequent comments or not. If they become abusive later on, you can block them then.

You might also consider a comment voting system. Something that would cause non-constructive comments to sink like a stone.
 
P.S. If Syncaine leaves me alone as promised, then maybe he'll find a new sparring partner in sid67, whose WoW tourists don't exist post looks exactly like something Syncaine would like to respond to with passion.
 
I was talking about the problem of setting up your RSS feed reader in a way that it would show you each post plus its comments, without visiting my site (in case it's blocked by your work firewall).
Getting comments to show up together with the post in the feed reader is doable. Blogger allows you to specify a post feed footer which is shown after each post in the feed. Usually this feature is used for advertising, but it could also be used for an AJAX widget that fetches the comments.

Unfortunately, that widget's web traffic would be blocked just like the user himself would. While one could use something like Google Wave or the venerable NNTP to get the discussion past the firewall, fighting the sysadmins is ultimately a losing battle. It's not as if we're sneaking democracy past the Great Firewall of China. most of your audience probably can wait until they get off work to read your blog in entirety.
 
I'm also one of those that sometimes feel the delay break the flow of the conversation. Sometimes you want to reply to another comment or someone reply to yours but it's a day later and i'm 10 blog posts gone and forgotten.

I can only suggest for the future is consider a "digg effect" whereby posts are voted down by you/others and HIDDEN automatically based on a negative rating. Can even consider making it "drop from view" entirely under certain circumstances.

I understand it's most likely a technology barrier of the blog site though and not something you can implement on here...
 
I like the fact that you moderate comments.

Posting a thoughtful comment, having you approve it, and seeing it up there for other thoughtful people to read as part of the discussion is fulfilling to me. Keep up the good work.
 
I understand it's most likely a technology barrier of the blog site though and not something you can implement on here...
Actually, blogging platforms like Blogger and Wordpress are somewhat modular, and one can disable the built-in commenting and replace it with a third-party addon like HaloScan or IntenseDebate.
 
The Links section is not a true trackback. When you click the "Create a Link" link it takes you to a page where you can blog about the entry on your Blogger blog. It doesn't support other blogs.
 
For the comments in line w/ the post - using Thunderbird as my RSS reader (using a conglomorate feed setup from Google Reader) I can see all comments in line with posts as long as I open up the entry in a window (non tabbed, the tabbed window shows the 'Excerpt' blurbs). I guess it sort of works like a web browser access but its an option for folks who use thunderbird and read your blog.
 
I for one enjoy the meta-blogging. Not quite as much as I enjoy reading posts about games, but I do like to see the gears in the head of the man behind the curtain. I am attached to the blog in that I read it often, and perhaps there are changes that would make me visit less (meaning fewer visits... your insistence on using "less" for quantized amounts really gets to me, but apparently not enough to make me stop reading:), but I accept that I have very-little-to-no control over the direction of the blog. Thus, I don't let the little things bother me much (except grammar, which is an irrational bother; eventually, there will be even "less" uses of fewer until it disappears completely, but people will still be communicating). I'll try not to mention it again!

Back on topic: asking for votes seems to get more comments, but are they the same people who usually comment?
 
Re: metablog posts,

I meant that I didn't like how they affected Tobold, and his writing, because they were less about the mental process and more about his reaction to the latest negative comments from the previous day. I should have clarified that. I (and others, I'm sure) will still enjoy to hear how you decide what to write about.

I apologize for the confusion. I only blame my poor writing skills.
 
...and the overwhelming majority is for keeping comments on, with comment moderation...

Well...not exactly: That was the overwhelming majority of the options you presented. However, you didn't present the third option, which is the one I employ on my blog: Zero prior restraint (except that which is done by my anti-spam add-ons).

Granted, I have neither the level of readership nor commenters you have, so I can do that without much fear of asshattery. On the other hand, much bigger blogs than mine OR yours, in terms of readership and number of comments, do the same.

By the same token, I have no qualms whatsoever about IP banning problem commenters, and the list of such banned IPs in my .htaccess file is quite lengthy.

Perhaps you can find a middle ground, such as that used by WordPress, that once you've approved a commenter, their comments are no longer held. It would certainly make your life a lot simpler.
 
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