Tobold's Blog
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Back, with new rules

Thank you all for the excellent feedback you left during my absence. I've considered everything, and thought a lot about the various proposals. As much as I laughed about the "Dread Pirate Roberts" idea, in the end I rejected all proposals that would require the cooperation with another blogger, as this is a very personal blog. And as the goal is to foster intelligent discussion, while keeping the trolls away, I also dismissed the ideas of stopping to blog or completely disallowing comments. So, after long consideration, this is the new blog rules I've come up with:

Comment moderation: This is the main change, I'm using a Blogger feature called comment moderation now. That basically means that every comment *first* arrives in my mailbox, and only makes it to the blog after I've approved it. That makes posting hateful or derailing comments a lot less attractive for the trolls, because nobody but me will ever see them. The disadvantage is that as I'm not always online, the flow of the discussion will be less smooth, with lots of comments appearing at once, when I find the time to review them, and thus less reader-to-reader interaction. But this is the best compromise to keep the intelligent discussion on the blog, and the trolling off it. This is my place, your right to free speech is limited here. You are free to express your opinions on the subject, whether you agree or disagree, but you aren't free to attack or insult me or the other commenters, or to derail the thread. If you feel I unjustly rejected your comment, feel free to e-mail me, maybe it was just a technical problem or mistake.

Anonymous commenting is back: As I'm manually moderating comments now, I don't need the previously used identification method to prevent anonymous trolling and spamming any more. So you can now post comments without logging onto anything. But *please*, use the Name/URL option instead of the "Anonymous" checkbox. You don't need the URL part, but by typing a name or alias of your choice, you can let me and the other readers know who is posting. Note that if a comment is only borderline acceptable, it is more likely to be rejected if it is completely anonymous, with no name attached at all.

No facts, only opinions: Not much of a change, but an explicit confirmation of something which always worked this way: This is a blog, not a news outlet. The added value (if any) is in the opinions I post, which might be about gaming news, not in the news reporting itself. I might get things wrong, and I'm going to use best guesses for the kind of numbers for which I don't have an exact source. So if you think I got some facts or numbers wrong, feel free to correct me, but don't harrass me on how I should double-check every obscure source. Also this blog isn't going to be, and never was, balanced. I like certain games more than others, and the amount of coverage depends on how much I play the game in question. I'm under no obligation to give equal opportunity and coverage to all games. If that short-changes your favorite game, tough luck!

More personal: Well, still not going to post much about my life, I really don't see the use of twittering about what I had for breakfast. But with the trolls unable to shout me down, I'll excert less self-constraint in occassionally posting about whatever I like or how I feel, even if that leaves the subject of MMORPGs. If me expressing emotions, or posting about touchy subjects like politics is not to your liking, I propose you just skip reading those posts.

Less regular: While I probably still will post a lot, I'll not make a conscious effort any more to post every day. I'll also drop the "Open Sunday Thread" feature, because with comment moderation on it doesn't give me a day off from blogging any more. So from now on, if I have nothing to say, I'll say nothing. Please use the e-mail link on the top right of the page to send me your questions, personal comments, suggestions, or subjects you wish me to cover in a post.

Well, that is it. I'll still be rather busy today, having just come back from holidays, but I'll restart regular game posting this week.
You don't have to post this in the list, but I just wanted to tell you, SWEET! You have been missed. All the changes will only improve the space.
Welcome back! And hope you had a good holiday :)
Welcome back, Tobold! I kept you right in my RSS reader, ready for your return.

It's a shame about comment moderation, but I suppose it had to be done. Trolls happen no matter what happens (. . . that was a terrible line) and I can't blame you for wanting to be rid of 'em entirely.

I'm also happy that you're going to keep writing on "touchy" subjects. If I disagree with you on politics or whatever, I really don't care because I'm not you, and as you're a terrific writer I enjoy reading what you write on pretty much any subject.

Welcome back!
Welcome back, Tobold. I hope the new system works out well for you.
Looks like you're heading in a good direction. I especially like the fact that you're not forcing yourself to post daily. More time to think about the topics your writing about will be a huge step in improving the quality of your posts.

Besides, now you have time to do more fact-checking! (j/k)

Have you thought of letting someone else help you moderate the comments? (I don't know if this was the "Dread Pirate" idea.)
Welcome back, Big T. Any chance we will hear anything about your fun while away?
Welcome back Tobold!

I like the new rules. Hope you don't get that many trolls anymore. :)
Welcome back, Tobold! Good to see you start back up after your holiday... things were getting boring without your posts!
I like your new rules. It's your blog, so you get to control the discussion. One of the things I've always liked about your blog is that it isn't like talking on forums where eventually everyone is flaming everyone else.

While I think that your personal moderation of individual comments may make the discussion lag somewhat, at the same time I respect your decision to keep the comments and discussion on track.

Democracy requires that everyone be able to speak their mind. But almost every single democratic government that has ever worked has required moderation of the views that are expressed. That's you.

I also welcome your opinions on subjects other than MMOs, which I know you've been wary to give previously.

Ultimately, I'm glad you didn't decide to give up, and am looking forward to your blog continuing, with the possibility of you bringing up for discussion many topics outisde of MMOs.

Welcome back!
Welcome back. It's suprising how quickly the time went.

Rules wise, you just need to do whatever keeps your sanity.
It'll be good to have you back.

You definitely add something to the MMO discussion that can't be found elsewhere.

Furthermore, I think we can all live with the new rules.
I never thought of the "no facts, just opinions" thing as a problem because you were reliable about linking back to where you got your information, meaning if we were skeptical, we could just look into it ourselves.

Good to have you back to posting. We need more level-headed people on the internet.
Welcome back! The regularity of this blog always amazed me, and its probably a good idea to restrain yourself a bit. The new approach of only posting when you really have something to say sounds wise to me, and it will help keeping blogging FUN for you (instead of resembling work).

As future subjects go, i read an interesting post on Keen's blog about games needing focus and 'perfection' before innovation. This view became relevant to me when i entered the Aion beta: while this game doesnt offer anything different compared to its main competitors, it does have a very high degree of polish. And to my surprise this proved to be extremely important for my enjoyment of the game: i still liked it alot despite the same-ish gameplay.
It's good to hear you're back!
Hi Tobold, glad to see you posting again and your new rules are entirely reasonable.

I'm not sure if Blogger has a feature that lets you put particular posters in a 'trusted' category, thus allowing them to comment freely. WordPress has something similar, where after approving someone's first post you don't get asked about them again, but then there is nothing stopping a seemingly cool person from turning into a troll later. I guess at that point you could take them out of the trusted category.

Anyway, something like this might reduce your administrative burden, while also allowing a bit of discussion when you aren't around.
Welcome back! :)
Good to see you back Tobold :-)
Good to have you back mate.

Big yell from Australia, keep up the good work.
Great to see you back, Tobold! The comment moderation feature is a really good idea - plenty of other bloggers use it and it seems like the best way to stop trolls etc.

Look forward to reading your future posts!
Welcome back Tobold, hope you had a nice vacation :)

Regarding comment moderation - considering the number of people who comment on each of your posts, I think you're setting yourself up for a lot of headache here, followed perhaps by eventual burnout.

Just consider the load on you to read, decide on whether the comment is okay or not, and finally approve or delete, each and every comment you get. Add the fact that you are once again enabling anonymous posting, which might flood you with gold-sellers trying to get their site mentioned.

> "The disadvantage is that as I'm not always online, the flow of the discussion will be less smooth"

I agree, the back-and-forth between your readers added a lot of value and it will be hurt as you said. That's a shame.

This is your blog Tobold and you're free to do whatever you want with it, but it seems to me as if you have not realized what a load this new scheme will put on you.

Really, there is no easy answer (in terms of work load on you) if you want to moderate the discussions here in any form by yourself.

The only thing you can do IMO is still use only non-anonymous non-moderated commenting as you have till now and manually delete any posts which you deem too out-of-line, without getting emotionally involved in the process. Bad comment seen, bad comment deleted - end of story, no justification or discussion needed. I think you can ban repeat offenders from commenting at all on your site, based on user-name - not sure.
Well, looks like a lot of people beat me to it, but Welcome back, we missed you :-}
I don't generally post but ur blog is something I always enjoy to read, so I'm stoked ur back!
Thank Elune you've returned.
Hope you had a great break.
Don't forget the golden rule "Ignore the trolls"
Welcome back!
Welcome back Tobold!!

Hope your break had revitalised you. Id be interested in hearing your thoughts on Champions Online and how successful you think it will be. There has been a few announcements etc that Id love to hear your opinion on such as RMT etc
Welcome back!
Good to see you decided to keep blogging, seeing a new post from you on my blog reader has been a little highlight for me for quite a while.

Back to lurking now, just figured I should show my appreciation by posting this. :)
Welcome back.
Glad to see you're back.
I've missed clicking up you're thread every morning for a good read.
Hey man,

Just get you a Wordpress install. You can import every one of these blogs here to it, keep the same web address, and not only control spam easier but you can ban IP's, set the terms for banning, and even send them to some other address if they show up.

Wordpress is it. It's SO easy, looks better and works better for comments.

Anyway, good luck!
Glad to have you back
You should at least experiment with turning off comments altogether. You'll find it liberating, I'm sure. People will still be able to email you their thoughts, and if you find some more compelling than others you could post them. Or alternatively, you could change the Sunday format to a email bag, where you respond to specific emails from the previous week.
Good to see you back, T.
I just wanted to make my first comment ever, to say that it is nice to have you back.. My husband and I quit playing WoW a while ago, and we're keeping our eyes open for a new game that would be fun to play together. You are a good source for that kind of information - since you post reasons for liking or disliking a game, I don't have to agree with you and still get valuable information - so I've been eagerly awaiting your return. Plus, apart from useful, I also find your blog well written and highly entertaining, so I'm very glad you decided to keep writing. Thank you!
Whatever works best for you is the best system. Your break left a hole in my normal day, so no breaks=the best solution imo. :)
It's so great to have you back Tobold
Hi Tobold.

I can understand why you're changing comment moderation. There can be a lot of idiots disrespecting bloggers.

However I will say that it's a shame that you're dropping the Open Sunday Thread, because that was honestly my favourite part of your blog.
Great to see that you're back. :)
I'm glad you decided to continue. I originally found your blog via Raph Koster's blog and ever since I've enjoyed reading your opinions. I'm glad that you'll continue providing them.

Undoubtedly you will still receive negative feedback with the sole purpose of getting under your skin - just like you will find "griefers" in any game you play - hopefully it won't be much of an issue in the future.
I for one welcome my new overlord and will be beneficial in rounding up others to slave in his underground sugar mines.
Welcome back! :)
Glad to have you back Tobold. You've been missed :-)
Ahh, good to have you back. Lunchtimes haven't been the same recently!
Welcome back Tobold.

Comment moderation is a touchy subject, and I personally never use it. I'd rather deal with a troll head on in my comments and try to turn him into a valued commenter than shut him out entirely.

One thing you need to be careful of: don't let this site turn into an echo chamber by moderating out people who disagree with you, even those who do it vehemently. If they stoop to personal attacks then I guess that's where the line should be drawn - but strong disagreement and tough argument is important, and helps you (and others) fully explore topics. THAT is the true value of blogging.
Welcome back! Look foward to reading your commentary again!
don't let this site turn into an echo chamber by moderating out people who disagree with you, even those who do it vehemently

I'd claim I never did this, but then that is a matter of perspective. I did delete one-liner posts like "your post is crap / bullshit", and will continue to moderate those out. But I'm sure the person who sees such a comment of his deleted will claim I suppressed his valid disagreement, when I'd claim I deleted some profanity which added nothing to the discussion.
Good to see you back, Tobold!
And I'm glad for Anonymous posting as well.

Welcome back! Your blog and its discussions greatly improve the quality of the internet. At least the part of the internet that deals with game discussions for semi-casual gamers.
Very nice to see you back ! Looking forward to more insightful posts ;).
Hey Tobold! Welcome back kid. :)

"I'd claim I never did this, but then that is a matter of perspective. I did delete one-liner posts like "your post is crap / bullshit", and will continue to moderate those out."

Not suggesting that you did.

I've seen moderation misused in the past, and wanted to express my concerns.

Keep blogging =)
Welcome back Tobold!
Welcome back! I missed your blog quite a bit. I have always enjoyed all your posts - you have a wonderfully analytic mind and pose such interesting questions. In fact, I wish you would do more "off-topic" posts. Thank you for making my days that much better.
Yay! Welcome back.

Comment moderation is a good thought. Since this isnt a discussion forum it isn't essential that there be a natural ebb and flow to the conversation. Plus some heavy handed moderator always steps in with the hammer anywho.

Onward you go!

WELCOME BACK! The other bloggers just don't satisfy me like you did. :)
Again, welcome back. I really agree with moderating posts. Some say it's censorship, but I also believe in enforcing a quality standard of content.

I have been blogging for and have had some yokels try to raise a ruckus by calling me names, etc.

I just made it clear that I will "regulate" and edit any comments that I feel will damage the image of the site. And prompty deleted those posts, although I feel like I'm breaking some amendment somewhere I get over it. Tis is teh Internetz!

'nuff said,
Just wanted to say welcome back. It's great to see you posting again!
I look forward to future arguments. :)
Wow, I go away for a week and suddenly Tobold is back and kicking! Great news that you've decided to continue blogging on your own terms, and looking forward to going through all the new posts :)
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