Tobold's Blog
Thursday, February 25, 2010
 
Fake GevIon

So my blog in record time since dropping moderation has acquired a resident troll, the "Shitty Goblin" Gev-i-on, who because he uses an uppercase i in the middle of his name makes people confuse GevIon with Gevlon. In what I can only suppose is a form of protest against the real Gevlon, fake GevIon takes the objectionable sociopath tendencies of the original to the next level, and uses them for very effective trolling. As one commenter remarked, half of the comments in one thread were either by or about fake GevIon.

So some other readers are shouting that I should ban fake GevIon from my blog. If only that was so easy. Banning him based on his IP not only isn't supported by Blogger, it also is extremely easy to circumvent. Software to mask or change your IP can be had anywhere, and in the worst case scenario you just go to a different computer. My IP changes every time I reset my router.

The second problem is that banning fake GevIon would just ban one of thousands of potential trolls. Even if I succeeded in banning one, another troll would take his place. And obviously many of the methods Blogger offers to battle comment spam would not work on fake GevIon or other trolls like him: Turning off anonymous commenting simply wouldn't do anything, as fake GevIon has a registered Google account and posts using that account. Turning on captchas wouldn't help either, I'm pretty certain that he is clever enough to enter a word into a form field if forced to.

Thus banning fake GevIon basically means turning comment moderation back on. I could either revert to the previous version, where I approve comments before they appear on the blog. That would completely stop GevIon and his fellow trolls, but then I get complaints about censorship and a lack of transparency, and comments would often wait in limbo for several hours while I for example sleep or work, before I get around to approve them, which is bad for the flow of discussion. The other option would be to use "after the fact" comment deletion, which in Blogger can either be done completely, or with leaving a "this comment was deleted by admin" message. The disadvantage of that is that I *still* have stretches of several hours in which I work or sleep, so a troll comment could be visible for hours and result in the thread being derailed. And of course in either form of comment moderation I would have to make judgement calls about who is and who isn't a troll, and that always results in some people complaining about censorship.

The internet is a terribly cynic place, and nobody accepts anything at face value. When I said that I moderate comments to keep the conversation polite and on topic, very few people believed me, and I was accused of all sorts of ulterior motives. People also complained that I was talking about comment moderation too often. But the simple fact is that I don't have a good answer to the question of how to best moderate comments on my blog. And I don't think my readers have either. I get a lot of unhelpful advice that I should "just find the sweet spot" and only moderate out exactly those comments that this particular reader finds objectionable. Don't you think that I would have done that long ago if I knew where the sweet spot was? No two moderators would delete exactly the same set of comments. Fake GevIon for example, while an effective troll and good at enraging my other readers, is actually keeping his language relatively polite, and would even under my previous strict moderation guidelines have been a borderline case of whether to delete his comments or not. I'm sure some people find him amusing.

But if you want me to end my free speech experiment, go ahead and tell me in the comment section how exactly you think I should moderate comments! Should I allow anonymous commenting, should keep anonymous commenting on but then delete comments from those who didn't type a name in the name field, or should I turn off anonymous commenting completely? Should I manually moderate comments? And if yes, should I moderate them before or after they appear on the blog? And if I moderate them after they appear, what should I do with the comments responding to the troll comments, should I delete those too? All these are extremely difficult questions, and I don't have a perfect answer for them. The only thing I'm sure of is that somebody will complain about whatever answer I choose in the end.
Comments:
I say at the very least turn anonymous commenting off so I don't mistake the 20 anon posts as the same person.

Also if you could atleast ban the Gevion name it would be nice. I can deal with the troll, I just hate seeing people duped into thinking he is the real Gevlon.
 
Create your own definition of troll, put it where we can find it, and then delete all posts which troll or respond to trolls. Post that rule where we can find it as well.

Shitty Goblin is a pretty weak anti-Gevlon. He doesn't make any arguments. It's like putting a Hitler mustache on Obama and acting as if that's somehow an argument against him.
 
Tobold, have you considered that perhaps it is time to start a forum, have moderators, and move to a platform that is meant for omnidirectional communication? I'm all for you running your blog however you wish. But at the end of the day, blogs are about you sharing something with the world, not allowing for anyone to participate. A proper forum (vBulletin, Invision Power Board, PHPBB) would go a long way to fix the troll problems, allow anyone to participate without trolling, and even let you sleep without putting the world on hold.

Seriously though, I think your issue here is more of a square peg in a round hole than a troll infestation.

E-Mail me if you like the idea.
 
You know, I thought of commenting on your last post to say that actually, as trolls go, gevion was mildly entertaining. And then I decided better of it because if I'd said anything I'd have been feeding the trolls.

Which then makes it rather ironic to jump back online and find this post Tobold; while I'd talked myself out of throwing a peanut to the troll you've laid out a feast in his honour.

If you're only going to encourage the trolls with this sort of thing, then you're creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and because of your approach the only solution is going to be to return to strictly moderated forums.

/sigh

It was fun while it lasted.
 
@Flex: That was unfair. I didn't intervene at all yesterday. Instead it was the commenters who choose to feed fake Gevlon, thereby encouraging him, up to the point where it became clearly a problem. Instead of just blaming me, why don't you contribute something positive and tell me how you think I should stop trolls? Your "don't write about them" approach is obviously a failure.
 
If you can stop the name GevIon from being used on your comment section, that would probably fix it. I don't mind trolls 99% of the time, because I just ignore their idiotic ramblings. But GevIon isn't just an idiot troll. He's an idiot smurfing a name of another blogger who posts here. To me, that is much worse than just saying something dumb and having people respond to it.

Looking back to most of the comments the last few days, besides the "Anonymous" posts, and the idiot smurf GevIon, everything ran pretty damn smooth in my opinion. If nothing else, let the experiment go on, and just block the name GevIon.

Honestly, if the posts were made by some random name and not a smurf of Gevlon, most people would have either ignored it, or not focused on them.

Smurfing another Blogger who posts here, to me, isn't acceptable at all. Saying something dumb and trolling is just collateral damage to public blogging.

Or, find people who you trust, whether other bloggers, commentators, or IRL friends, and let them help you moderate. If the software allows it, just allow them access to remove posts, so that they can't really break anything, which also leaves you the final say as to what does and doesn't get posted.
 
Honestly, when I saw that first Shitty Goblin post and went and looked it over, the thought did occur to me that maybe the real Gevlon was doing this either to poke fun at his own detractors or maybe running some type of social experiment to see if people were capable of telling the difference.

Pretty sure it's just a troll after seeing the comments I missed.
 
Turn anon commenting off. No reason for it IMO as having some validated ID is fine.

Secondly dont't feel as responsible as you do for policing the comments. Your commenters can handle themselves fine without you. Babysitting is not in the job requirement. You can always delete questionable stuff well after the fact and no one will care.

I think what you do need to consider is how you want to handle personal attacks against yourself. In my mind those are the real trolls. If you can handle the heat until you can delete then allow real time posting. Otherwise you need to moderate each comment prior to it becoming public.
 
I'm of the opinion of minimal (or no) moderation and letting the people who frequent the blog make up their own minds what constitutes trolling. Straying too far towards moderation risks ending up like Gevlon where he alone determines what is "trolling" (which is often someone who disagrees with the basic assumptions he made while crafting the post).

In the end of the day, it is your blog and you will have to take the responsibility to decide what is best for it. But asking your readers what to do means that their opinion (and hence comments) are important to you.
 
It's your blog my friend, I have always believed you are sincere when you say you are moderating for X reason or Y reason.

Two extremes discourage me from reading blogs.

1) The censorship is so tight that even perfectly polite and intelligent posts get deleted where they don't follow the "party line". (eg Greedy Goblin)

2) The trolls are so rampant that any well-thought out post is drowned in a sea of tldr, u suck, and stfu whiner posts like the WoW forums.

If you can place somewhere between those extremes without placing undue burden on yourself it's fine. Remember a blog is an unpaid labour of love, if it becomes a chore then it's time to rethink.
 
@Tobold:

>@Flex: That was unfair. I didn't intervene at all yesterday [...]

Why don't you write with this flair more often? I think I very much like this side of you.
 
Please don't stop the experiment so early. Only one thread derailed.
I guess that the Gev-i-on will get tired (he is too lazy to build his blog, even though he has a concept: parody of a well-known blog) ; and we (the readers) will loose interest in his posts and stop feeding him as well.
 
I think Jormundgard voiced my feelings six weeks or so ago, when you were considering turning anonymous comments off.

"...But I think the better solution is to just ignore them, develop your own message, and stop feeling like you need to react to the more visceral ones."
 
Thanks for the analysis of the issue Tobold. Unfortunately, you're trying to solve an insoluble problem. You cannot solve the issue through moderation; its impossible for all the reasons you mention.

The only way to stop trolls would be if everyone commenting on a trolled blog/forum was able to make a very mature judgement on what is/is not obvious trolling, and then entirely ignore the troll. Just carry on the conversation as if the troll didnt exist. Trolls live for attention, so if you deprive them, they cannot survive.

I see many people in the last thread were cabable of recognizing an obvious troll, but many were incapable of ignoring the bait. The existence of trolls is the responsibility of all of us commenting on a blog like this - they're not your responsibility alone, Tobold.

Imagine what the troll would do if nobody even as much as acknowledged its existence? The perverse pleasure would quickly evaporate, and the troll would vanish.

Now you may say "who's to judge?". Well, you have to judge, otherwise you'll be mired in this sort of thing forever.
 
Turn anon commenting off. No reason for it IMO as having some validated ID is fine.

I have a bunch of e-mails and comments (when I allow anonymous commenting) from people saying they can't or won't use a validated ID. Thus turning anonymous commenting off prevents a number of legitimate comments. What I would like is that people use the Name/URL function, but Blogger has no way to only leave Name/URL as option and not Anonymous. And, as I said, turning anonymous commenting off doesn't help against fake GevIon.

So I was wondering if I could leave anonymous commenting on, and just warn people to use Name/URL, with borderline comments being deleted when anonymous.

Why don't you write with this flair more often? I think I very much like this side of you.

I find constantly defending myself not a good solution, as it feeds the trolls, and only adds to the derailment of threads.
 
Above all: register "Tobo-i-d" before someone else does.
 
Scott hit the nail on the head.

You're fighting a war of self attrition with the lack of proper tools to do what you want to do with your blog. I suggested a while back that you break free from the confines of this limited Blog existance and set yourself up a proper website where you can publish to the main page with a "link after the jump" to a dedicated forum spot that would allow proper communication and control on your part.

It's obvious that you are unhappy with the shortcomings Blogger toolset, so why not stop beating yourself over the head with these moderation issues and switch to something you can use and be happy?
 
Can't really tell you how to do it. This is what I do:

- I allow anonymous comments so people don't have to sign up for accounts just to comment.
- I delete viagra spam and troll comments as soon as I notice them. So the "censorship" if you should call it that is a bit delayed, not preventing anything, just weeding out a bit.

Trolls are thankfully enough rare at my blog. I count the fake Gevlon as a troll. I'm probably much more annoyed by him than the really Gevlon is.

I don't count people contradicting my views as trolls. As long as they express themselves in a polite manner I have no problem with it. However: a comment like: "/unsubscribe", which I got once will be deleted since it doesn't provide anything that assembles to an intellingent discussion.

So far I'm managing, although I know that I miss some of the spam adds. When they target old posts I lock them for further comments.

I don't know if this is the way to go for you. I guess it's determined by the amount of comments you get and how much time you have at your hands to manage them. I can imagine it's a bit ovewhelming for such a big blogger as you are.
 
Make a filter for it. A sort of Voight-Kampff moderation. Then you would root out replicants like Gevlon and he`s likes.
 
I totally agree with N1ck: Ban GevIon for smurfing the name but not for the content of his comments. In that case I would delete the comments after they appear and leave a "comment deleted by admin" message. Probably with a reason, too.
 
I like Scott's suggestion of a forum with moderators. That would help take the load off you.
 
In your case, I really think adding some moderators would be best way to go. If it's not possible to add some for your blog, a forum like Scott suggested would probably the best solution. Especially as you have enough readers to justify it :-)
 
What gets annoying is when the replies derail. I liked it better when you would moderate before hand.
 
Tobold, have you considered that perhaps it is time to start a forum, have moderators, and move to a platform that is meant for omnidirectional communication?

I have considered and dismissed the idea. The problem is not so much technical limitations, but philosophical and manpower limitations:

- I do not want to run anything more than a one-man show. Having to deal with other people moderating stuff in my name is a far bigger potential nightmare than doing it myself.
- If moderating comments on my blog already eats up a lot of time, imagine how much more time comment moderation would eat up on a forum where there are far more threads.
- There are already a lot of forums about MMORPGs, what would be the interest of having a "Tobold forum"? To discuss Tobold posts the blog is sufficient, so what would you be able to discuss on a Tobold forum that you can't discuss on any other available forum?
- Forums tend to attract even worse commenters than blogs. Do I really want to run anything that ends up looking like the official WoW forums? I don't think so!
 
I think you should go back to what you were doing a year ago.
 
I think the real question is who actually dispises Gevlon enough to troll using his name and making fun of him? Well, I for one believe that is ol' Marko after he was rejected by Gevlon publically and confirmed by you here on your site.

As for as moderation, a blog is for you to express your thoughts. They definitely work better if people can post freely, at least to generate open conversation, but you sir have moved beyond a simple blog status and I do not have a problem with you approving comments before they post.

It is after all your blog and things that distract and pull the focus away from the actual content are annoying, but you are in a damned if you do and damned if you do not position. Good luck with your decision.
 
Do whatever you want, turn off comments entirely, edit them yourself, employ a team of moderators, but (and this is the important bit) shut the fuck up about it 'cos a blog about your moderation policy really isn't very interesting.
 
shut the fuck up about it 'cos a blog about your moderation policy really isn't very interesting

Dear Anonymous, I don't give a shit whether this is interesting to you. It is interesting to me, and that is all that counts. Have you considered to rub your two braincells together and come up with a brilliant plan like not reading the posts that you aren't interested in?
 
I think the real question is who actually dispises Gevlon enough to troll using his name and making fun of him? Well, I for one believe that is ol' Marko after he was rejected by Gevlon publically and confirmed by you here on your site.

Interesting theory, but I don't buy it. If you visit the Shitty Goblin blog, the template used suggests that fake GevIon is Spanish. The times he posts also suggest that he is in Europe. Marko is American.
 
Well, so a few people fell for the "fake" Gevlon. I don't see the big deal, unless you pay for the comment space by the kilobyte. I regard the discussion (which I watched mildly amused, but refused to participate in directly) to be a good lesson for all involved. :)
 
Bite the bullet and swap to WordPress.
 
Tobold, from reading your blog on and off over the past couple of years it has become apparent that you are obviously a smart and kind man. The good people in your audience know this and don't care about the trolls and grumps. Do what you want, the people who know and like you will keep reading, and the others will, with luck, drift away.
 
Tobold,

I'll cease the "trolling" comments. This was a sort of experiment and it went pretty well. If i try just a little not to be too stupid, people would be believe i'm the real Gevlon. That doesn't say much about me - anybody can do it - but it does say much about the House-wannabe: you can make any argument using the keywords "social" and "ape subroutine" and people will take you seriously even if it doesn't make any sense. Since we can't actually discuss with the House-wannabe in his own blog (he deletes all the relevant and most important counter-arguments; he calls them trolls - they aren't) i've used this method to show people how empty and false Gevlon is. He's an anti-social who has a blog, plays a MMORPG, posts screenshots of his achievements with his guild, gives advices, has built his circle of fans...

Well, anyway, i'll stop it. Maybe i'll comment a thing or two, just for the fun but no more spamming.

But, hey!, you have to admit that some things and some reactions were really funny :D

People who have been fooled: are you angry at me because i've fooled you or are you angry at yourself for not being able to tell the difference without checking the profile? ;) That certainly has it's value...

Best regards, Tobold. Keep up the good work.

p.s. - I still can be Gevlon and this can be me cracking under pressure. And me saying this can be my way of making you believe i ain't. Or not. You socials figure it out.
 
"Interesting theory, but I don't buy it. If you visit the Shitty Goblin blog, the template used suggests that fake GevIon is Spanish. The times he posts also suggest that he is in Europe. Marko is American."

This may be true, but he is also savy and the timing was to coincidental. Perhaps not he, but someone who is a loyal follower. Oh well, the joy of a good mystery.....kind of.....

Cheers!
 
Maybe you can change font used for "profile name" instead?
At least that would make attempts at "impersonating" other bloggers more obvious.
 
I don't know about this Blogger system, but self moderation through "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" like youtube does it, is really working great for me. Any post with at least x "thumbs down" is automatically hidden and a little "show" link allows people who so desire to still have a look at the rubish underneath.
 
I enjoy this somewhat chaotic climate which has developed during the experiment. Tobold has the upper hand with writing skills when it comes to battling various aggressors.

The relevant question is if it is worth the effort or not.
 
Fake Gevlon isn't just a troll, it's an impostor (which is worse than a troll imo) and a spammer. I think these kind of persons can safely be treated as an occasional annoyance which should be dealt with separately from the default moderation policy. This post of yours is the evidence (though exactly the opposite of what should have been done immediately when he made his first post).

Anyway, I enjoyed reading the comments a lot more when you were personally evaluating them before making them public.
 
"I have considered and dismissed the idea. The problem is not so much technical limitations, but philosophical and manpower limitations:"

Tobold,
I'm not sure I understand your objections to moving to a more suitable technical platform.

- "I do not want to run anything more than a one-man show"

The problem as I see it is that you personally are in favor of allowing anonymous comments, but don't want the spam/trolling that comes with it. I agree
in principle that the more comments, the better. A moderated system *allows that to happen* without almost any work by the forum head (you). What "potential nightmare" are you talking about?

Please note, there are a wide variety of moderation types available, from slashdot's or wow.com's "anyone (with points) can moderate" to "trusted pre-assigned people". I believe mmo-champion recently took on several forum moderators.
So if you think one form will lead to problems for you, you might consider another form of moderation. But the system you are using now (Tobold sole moderator) is not scalable.

- "If moderating comments on my blog already eats up a lot of time, imagine how much more time comment moderation would eat up on a forum where there are far more threads."

Why would there be more comments? Just because the platform is called a "forum" and not a "blog"?
OTOH if the system works well enough to support more comments, that should mean *less* work for you as the moderators will take care of the s/n ratio. Of course you might be worried that with more comments you will waste more time reading them for fun instead of writing new posts. That's a different problem :)

- "There are already a lot of forums about MMORPGs, what would be the interest of having a "Tobold forum"? To discuss Tobold posts the blog is sufficient, so what would you be able to discuss on a Tobold forum that you can't discuss on any other available forum?"

The forum would not be an addition to your blog but rather a replacement to it. People would post there for the same reason they post currently on your blog. Also, if you *did* want to expand it to allow posts by other people yet still keep the "Tobold" brand I'm sure you could find a smart way to do it - see World of Matticus or The Pink Ponytail Inn for good examples of how to do this. See wow.com for a bad example :D

- "Forums tend to attract even worse commenters than blogs."

Simply replacing your site from a blogger backend to a - for example - slashcode backend (http://www.slashcode.com/about.shtml), will not *magically* attract "worse commenters". But even if it does, you'll have your better comment moderation system in place to combat them :)


...


Having written all of the above, I just remembered a very relevant post I read recently:

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2010/02/welcome-back-comments.html

Jeff Atwood is one of my favourite bloggers to read regarding programming issues, although he's no where near as verbose (in number of posts) as you are :)
His posts used to get literally *hundreds* of comments per post, all in a flat structure, many anonymous. Try some of his older posts (before the period where he disabled commenting) to see what I mean. Even if you don't like the direction he went for (I'm not sure I do), the comments to the above post are still worth reading and include more insights into this problem. For example I thought the link to:

http://intensedebate.com/

Was interesting. I haven't checked it out myself (I don't have a big blog :)) but I thought the front page looked promising.

Hope this helps :)
 
I have to admit, reading the comments section has been incredibly funny this past week. Yes Gevion is a troll, but I get what he's doing, and while I don't approve of him spamming your blog it is pretty damn funny to see him at work.

I don't really comment on these types of posts, but when do I always say the same thing.

It's your blog Tobold. Do whatever makes you happy and to hell with everyone else. If you want comment moderation do it. If you want no Anon commenting do it. If you want no comments at all do it.

People will always cry and moan no matter what you do, so why bother trying to do the impossible?

I find it funny how people come to a personal blog and feel like they are entitled to anything and then proceed to make demands on what you should do.
But hey, it's 2010, everyone feels like they are entitled to something these days.
 
I thought the whole Gevion issue was actually pretty funny; that's worth something.

The reason I read this blog is to be entertained, and when I learn or experience something that I did not know before it makes it worth coming back.

Thanks for the effort Gevion it was fun!

As for Gevlon, the real one; he's got nothing to be worried about either, imitation is a way a flattery after all.
 
How much whining about comments are you going to do? You talk more about the comments section then video games lately. That can't be interesting for you. I'm sure some comments bother you, and for some reason you want everyone to be happy. I say if they aren't happy with the way you do it, fuck em. But please go back to posts that I can at least read. I appreciate your opinion on MMOs, game design, etc. But I couldn't care even a little about these topics.
 
How much whining about comments are you going to do? You talk more about the comments section then video games lately. That can't be interesting for you. I'm sure some comments bother you, and for some reason you want everyone to be happy. I say if they aren't happy with the way you do it, fuck em. But please go back to posts that I can at least read. I appreciate your opinion on MMOs, game design, etc. But I couldn't care even a little about these topics.

The one who is doing the whining here is you, Mr. Anonymous. How many more posts am I going to write about commenting? As many as I bloody well like!!! At least as many as it takes to conclude the free speech experiment, and find out where about the "sweet spot" of comment moderation lies.

You don't like it? Tough luck, chuckles. You have absolutely zero rights to tell me what to write about. And I'm not even remotely considering following the advice of somebody who A) Is too stupid to be able to write his name, and B) Can't come up by his own with the brilliant idea of skipping those posts he doesn't like reading.

It is nice to hear you appreciate my opinions about MMORPGs, but I don't appreciate anonymous opinions about my blog at all.
 
Why would there be more comments? Just because the platform is called a "forum" and not a "blog"?

Maybe we are using different definitions here, but I would say that a platform is not a forum if there is only me who is allowed to open new threads. In a forum I (and the forum visitors probably too) would expect that everybody can create new discussion threads. More discussion threads results in more responses, thus my assumption that there would be more comments in a forum.

The problem as I see it is that you personally are in favor of allowing anonymous comments, but don't want the spam/trolling that comes with it. I agree
in principle that the more comments, the better. A moderated system *allows that to happen* without almost any work by the forum head (you). What "potential nightmare" are you talking about?


As I said, no two moderators would delete exactly the same comments. The reactions to fake Gevlon ranged from "ha, ha, funny" to "immediately ban the imposter". How could I possibly find a moderator who would delete exactly those comments I find objectionable, but nothing more? The nightmare is ending up with a forum moderated by somebody else in my name, where on the one side there are people complaining about comments I personally would consider valid having been deleted, while on the other hand seeing comments I personally wouldn't allow left standing.

I think one thing the free speech experiment already proved is that comment moderation shapes the resulting discussion. If I let somebody else do that shaping, is the result really still "Tobold's MMORPG Forum"?
 
All I know is that when a blogger requires some sort of registered account to post comments, I don't comment on that blog. Even when I really want to contribute to a conversation.

I'm ambivalent about moderation; I'd agree with the idea that it must necessarily stifle legitimate conversation to some extent, but I don't really have a problem with throttling trolls before they can even get started either.
 
"Maybe we are using different definitions here, but I would say that a platform is not a forum if there is only me who is allowed to open new threads."

I was indeed talking about a forum where only you were allowed to open new threads.
Many forums systems have sections where anyone can open a new thread and a section where only approved people (admins) can do so. I was thinking of a forum with a single section for "Tobold Posts" where only you can post a new thread.

It is still technically a forum, just limited.

"I think one thing the free speech experiment already proved is that comment moderation shapes the resulting discussion. If I let somebody else do that shaping, is the result really still "Tobold's MMORPG Forum"?"

I think it is, yes.
Because IMO the original post (your post) carries much more weight than the comments to it. Therefore a comment being deleted or not might shape the discussion, but that discussion does not have the same importance as the original post.

"How could I possibly find a moderator who would delete exactly those comments I find objectionable, but nothing more? "

Put that way, you cannot. We live in an imperfect world :)
However there are two ways you could go about which would still give reasonable (IMHO) results:

1. The slashdot way - comments from registered users start out with a value of 1 point, non-registered with 0. Moderators are chosen randomly each day from the pool of readers with people who post more comments getting chosen more. Each moderator gets 5 moderation points and can up-or-down vote a comment as well as add a "type" from a prepared pool - "assigned", "funny", "troll", "flamebait", etc. Thus you the reader can seperate 5-star comments that are funny from those that are insightful.
Each person reading starts out seeing only messages with a score of 3 or higher but can change the setting to see a different threshold.
The system works actually pretty well but is more suitable for such a large site (slashdot has been known to take down sites about which is posts stories due to the number of readers, the famous "slashdot effect").

2. Interview (by email or your preferred method) prospective volunteer moderators and see if their world view matches yours to the degree you require.

Really the bottom line is, you may never get perfect (in your eyes) filtering. But if you're looking for something "good enough" which will allow anonymous posts and promote discussion instead of stifling it (e.g. have each comment wait a long time to be approved manually by you), there are solutions out there. But the Blogger platform apparently doesn't really have the capability - you'll need to move to something else.
 
Tobold, what's with the aggressiveness? What's with the lashing out and unprofessional behaviour?

I like your blog as much as the next, but if you're talking comment moderation maybe comments like these should be moderated out of your own comments.

"I don't give a shit whether this is interesting to you."

"Your 'don't write about them' approach is obviously a failure."

"I'm not even remotely considering following the advice of somebody who A) Is too stupid to be able to write his name."

Either that, or those were from a fake Tobo-i-d?
 
Do whatever makes you comfortable, Tobold. I've always believed that you moderated comments fairly rather than for some nefarious evil plans, but at the same time, I know that doing so can be a big hassle for you.

I'm fine with just ignoring idiots to save you time, but I use a validated ID, so just go with whatever floats your boat.
 
Maybe it's time to go to a blogging platform that actually supports your type of blog: A large reader base that comments frequently, but also has annoying trolls. WordPress users see virtually no live spam, and banning trolls is as easy as adding an IP address to an .htaccess file.
 
And I agree with Epiny: Turn off Anon commenting.
 
Tobold's blog.

A blog mostly about the comments made on the blog and the moderation of those comments.
 
@Tobold

" How could I possibly find a moderator who would delete exactly those comments I find objectionable, but nothing more? "

I'm not sure that's even what you want. What you need is someone who would delete the comments that (with a few months hindsight) you would find objectionable. Part of the peril of running a popular blog is that you attract people who are personally critical of you, which can be infuriating at times. Someone who is a little more emotionally detached may actually be a better moderator than the person being insulted.
 
Tobold, what's with the aggressiveness?

The aggressiveness is the alternative to comment moderation, as I explained in the post that set up the free speech experiment. Either we *ALL* are forced to be polite, or none of us is. A situation in which any anonymous fuckwad can insult me all he wants, but I'm prevented by rules of polite conversation to respond in the same style isn't feasible.

Even if I allow them at the moment, I do NOT like commenters hiding behind anonymity. And I always hated the entitlement kids kind of people who think that they can dictate to me what I am allowed to post or not.

One anonymous guy in this thread told me to "shut the fuck up". And you say *I* am too aggressive and not polite enough?
 
This is the sort of scenario that user moderation can solve, where trolls get moderated down to oblivion by site users and their comments become hidden (but still can be accessed). Massively, Slashdot, and many other sites do a similar thing. It's not foolproof but it does mitigate the impact of trolls without requiring extra work from the site owner.

I don't know whether Blogger has such a feature. If not, it's a shame, because it would be quite useful.
 
/shrug.

Ultimately it is your blog, Tobold, and your personality and writing will attract or detract the readership you get.
 
I have a bunch of e-mails and comments (when I allow anonymous commenting) from people saying they can't or won't use a validated ID. Thus turning anonymous commenting off prevents a number of legitimate comments.

I fail to see why that should be a concern for you. The average quality of an Anon post is FAR below the quality of a normal post.

Granted, you might lose the occasional lurker who feel strongly about a specific topic. Or maybe you won't. If they feel strongly enough, maybe that's the impetus for them to sign up for an Open ID and post more regularly in the community.

The barrier to getting a validated ID is low. It's not even hard to set one up that is completely fake (fake email, fake username).

My suggestion would be to turn Anon commenting off and draft a standard response to where/how they can set up a fake account if they truly want to protect their anonymity.

If that eliminates 80% of the problems, isn't that a better solution than complete moderation?
 
@Tobold

I am not suggesting you let your work be moderated, but perhaps newcommers need to register and get their first 10 posts approved before they can be instantly posted. You seem to have a lot of fans here too, so I bet you could find volunteers of a similar mindset if you wanted to make a go of it.

As for who would want to read it? Anyone who reads your blog already could still read a section you setup for you to blog in. As for all of the people who regularly comment, or suggest ideas for discussion... I bet most of them would enjoy the benefits of having a forum as well.
 
I'm not very familiar with the turnkey commenting systems out there but one of the best options I've seen is the "Web2.0" solution of lettings users rate comments and having downrated comments disappear over time. If you combine this with a simple message at the head of all your commenting sections like "Please don't encourage trolls. Reply to and offer constructive feedback," I think you'll fare much better.

You could even go so far as to secretly weight the feedback of certain regular commentors who can then act for you as proxy moderators.

For now, I don't think there is a comprehensive, elegant solution that will please everyone. In time I think we'll reign in the anonymity of the internet, either by creating mechanisms that make it technically harder to be anonymous, or by collectively valuing transparency much more than it is today.
 
It is your blog Tobold and that means you have to do what you think is best. If this means removing troll-comments, then do that. Most important is that YOUR message comes through. In my opinion you should moderate the trolls and ignore those who talk about censorship and free discussions. This is a blog, not a discussion forum.
But at the same time, comments are an important part of a blog, so disabling comments would probably not be such a good idea either.
Anyway you can't please all your readers, even trying to do so will probably just wear you down.

Keep up the good work Tobold!
 
I want you to do whatever you need to keep writing your blog.

Moderate, don't moderate, moderate moderately...switch it up as often as you like.

Just keep writing it.
 
The current idea is to let the free speech experiment run until early next week, and then choose something close to the fabled "sweet spot" of comment moderation. And yes, that means there will be another post about comment moderation at that occasion, too bad for you if you hate those.

Right now I think that sid67 had the most convincing argument about how that sweet spot should look like when he said "The average quality of an Anon post is FAR below the quality of a normal post." But I'm listening to those of you who tell me that pre-approval of comments disrupts the flow of conversation. Thus anonymity off, but comment moderation only *after* posting is right now the most likely future.

I'd love to hear feedback on whether you like that solution.
 
Sites like stackoverflow.com & slashdot are great because they allow their communities to moderate, close, edit or downgrade bad posts.

I don't think that it's possible with blogger though.
 
@Tobold

"Thus anonymity off, but comment moderation only *after* posting is right now the most likely future.

I'd love to hear feedback on whether you like that solution.
"

It may not be flawless (for the reasons discussed above), but that's the best option in my opinion.
 
@Tobold

I'd love to hear feedback on whether you like that solution.

I'm fine with whatever you decide to do. I'm a registered Blog user myself, and many of your long time commentors are already registered in one way or another. The issue here is a simple one since you have already stated that switching to another type of Blog or forum software is out of the question, so make do with what you have and be comfortable with whatever decision you make from here on out.

I thought this was a done deal already when you made the last post requesting input from commentors on how comments were to be handled a week or so ago...sooo

[troll]
Mmm...waffles....
..But thanks for all the fish!
[/troll]
 
I kind of feel like this isn't a great experiment. You basically threw down a gauntlet and told the trolls they get to determine how you're going to run your blog based on how comments go this week. Due to the size of your blog, you probably already have a target on your back, but this feels like you gave it a new coat of bright red paint so it's more visible. It's sort of self-defeating for them to blow the experiment up, but then again self control is not a typical troll quality. You might have been better served by just turning moderation off quietly and observing the results.

I think this whole thing boils down to practicality vs. idealism (which you surely already acknowledge in your desire to find a "sweet spot" of moderation). In an idealistic sense, registration means nothing. I know the average person can invest a lot of themselves in an internet persona, but that persona can still usually be dissolved at will. As the blog author, you are probably the least anonymous person here and could still just drop it all if you wanted. People are either civil or they are not. So I have a little bit of trouble taking seriously the idea that anonymity is the actual problem that needs to be tackled.

Practically, registration is a barrier to entry--and that being the case I can absolutely believe that it's more expedient and less work for you to flat out reject anonymous commenting. And that's fine. You presumably have goals for the blog, and if they cannot be met in a non-moderated environment, then you have to do something about it.

I figure I'm in the minority, but again, I personally won't be commenting in the future unless I can choose the Name/URL option (I'll still read though). I'm fine with moderation. I'm just not getting yet another dang account somewhere with a login/password and all that jazz, I have enough of those in my life already. If your "sweet spot" of moderation leaves me out, I'm sure we'll both be fine, but you wanted feedback and that is mine.
 
There is a very simple decision - white list moderation. Anonymous commenting are off. All comments by unknown users must be approved by the moderator.

But after someone leaves 2 (or 1 or 10 - not so important) approved comments he moves to the white list - and his comments appears immediately without approving.

It solves both problems with flow of discussion and trolls.
 
Switching to another blog software might be a pain, but I think a Up/Down vote of comments by registered commentators could be a good thing, with a show option, like Youtube has.

Trolls don't bother me, and I think would be ignored by most of your users. But someone acting like another blogger is a more potent troll who is going to end up getting responded to, as he was, and derail a post a lot faster and more efficiently than a regular idiot troll.

Either way, do what you like. I can deal with lag between comments, but wish there was some sort of sweet spot that allowed instant commentating, and moderation of trolls and idiots.

And, definitely turn off anonymous comments. There is absolutely no reason not to use a logged-in form of an identifier. Anonymous is what 99.9% of trolls are going to flock to.
 
I haven't read all the comments here, so I'm probably just repeating something already said. I hope Tobold gets to my comment, though!

Tobold: This is your blog and you can do with it anything you want. I don't get "free speech" or "censorship" arguments that some readers seem to think apply here. There's plenty of free speech available on the internet. Go start your own blog.

The people wanting you to shut off comment moderation so they can get their points out amaze me. They want to put their comments here because you already have a large readership and want to exploit that for themselves. They get upset if you decide not to give them that platform.

Well, turn on comment moderation and let people cry about their lack of free speech and your "draconian" approach to moderation. It's your blog and you can say and do what you like with it. (within legal limits!)
 
For what it's worth, I would point at that I didn't think Gev-i-on derailed the PVP topic, despite his large post count (and replies). The intelligent discourse continued unabated. Gev-i-on was at worst, annoying, and at best, an amusing distraction.
 
Its your blog. Do what suits you best.

We are here because we found value in what is being said. If the comments section is filled with a bunch of dribble then I would avoid it completely.
 
The simple fact that you try to be reasonable about your moderation means that you get closer to that "sweet spot" all the time. Of course, the definition of where that spot is differs between people, so it's kinda useless to discuss anyway.

I'm pretty neutral on commenting at the moment, since I don't have time to follow the discussions in comments right now; I just read your posts. That said, I didn't mind how things went with anonymous off and trimming bad posts after the fact. Trolls don't bug me much, even if they distract the person I'm trying to discuss with.
 
No. I definetly think I screwed up by feeding the troll.


Obviously it just gives people evil ideas.

My fault, guys.
 
And there it is, the fake Tobo-i-d comment...
 
i think it's time you pack it up buddy. you can't seem to pull your skirt up an take criticism of any kind. personally, i think you are way too thin skinned for this. you had a good run....but at this point, you are just as bad as the people you spend so much time and energy condemning.
 
Short answer? Who cares about trolls? Who cares if a thread gets derailed? The people who care about the original topic will stay on topic. Using the Internet requires good filtering skills. That isn't going to change, so I'd suggest getting used to the fact....
 
Anonymous said...
"And there it is, the fake Tobo-i-d comment..."

Should've taken Gevlon's advice, Tobold! I completely missed that this was a fake Toboid comment. :)

Tobold said...
"Thus anonymity off, but comment moderation only *after* posting "

Sounds good to me. It takes what... 1 minute to create a google account?
 
By the way, a simple phrase search will help distinguish the difference between GEVLON and GEVION.

CTRL+F is your friend :)
 
Ridiculous swearing/discriminatory language should be moderated. Just about everything else is fair game. Purposefully masquerading as a different user is grounds for banning imo.
 
"Right now I think that sid67 had the most convincing argument about how that sweet spot should look like when he said "The average quality of an Anon post is FAR below the quality of a normal post."

Very, very true.

There's just something about knowing a comment has been made by a Male from Belgium that makes it all the more valid and compelling.
 
^
!
!

Fake Tobo-i-d
 
Hey Tob, out of curiosity, why do you still use Blogger? You could migrate to Wordpress easily and cheaply, and have much better control over commenting.

Your blog is crazypopular and it surprises me you still use blogger.
 
Because a good part of that crazypopular is Google pagerank, and I'd lose that when I would move.
 
"I think a Up/Down vote of comments by registered commentators could be a good thing, with a show option, like Youtube has."


I'm way late to this party, but maybe Tobold will still see this comment.

An up/down vote for comments is a horrible solution. If you spend some time looking at the wow.com comment voting, you'll quickly realize that it's a case study in groupthink. Any comment that is even remotely critical of WoW or wow.com's article will get downvoted into oblivion. It's a horribly broken system that rewards lazy, simplistic "yes-men."
 
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