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A proposed banning policy.

by Colman Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 11:09:59 AM EST

It's come up in discussion among the front-pagers recently that we don't have an articulated policy on banning disruptive users other than obvious spammers, which are just banned out of hand and all their "work" deleted. We're proposing the following for persistent grossly abusive, racist, sexist, etc comments or diaries. We'll take into account the number of zeros and ones people get for their comments.

  1. First a clear warning on the site and to the users e-mail address approved by two or more front-pagers.
  2. Second, another clear warning on the site and in e-mail together with a weeks suspension of posting rights.
  3. Banning from the site, which will be reviewed on request after one month.

If you're not going to stay minimally respectful towards people we don't want you here. Disagree all you like, but stay within the limits of what's acceptable.


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This is a public service announcement from Nasty Colman.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 11:11:50 AM EST
A policy is always good, but have there been any problems with, uh, anti-social behaviour?

I haven't noticed any.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 11:44:27 AM EST
Someone has been giving the hidden comments a lot of business lately.

It's pretty appalling stuff, Africans as savages, advocating eugenics, as well as comparatively innocuous things like calling other contributors evil, and being a bit too eager to express hatred for entire nations, etc...  I personally think ET is walking on thin ice by tolerating some of this stuff, though I understand the desire to err on that end.  

Just because a somewhat intellectual argument can be made for something (though I think there is a bit too much of the visceral in these comments to preserve any intellectual integrity they may have) does not mean ET should be obligated to provide a platform for them arguments.  And the rest are just sophmoric attempts to ignite flame wars.  Kudos for those who don't take the bait.

I don't know just where I stand on banning.  It hasn't set well with me in the past. Doesn't ET have a mechanism like DKos where if you are troll-rated enough times you can no longer comment?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:41:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, ET doesn't auto-ban.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:06:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that might be a good thing.  At least this way Admins can make clear to someone what exactly they think is inappropriate.  There are lots of people who've been banned from DKos after they've been troll-rated for meanness who go about declaring they've been banned for daring to disagree with Markos.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:18:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the personal touch for as long as we can keep it. I understand the dKos problem though.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:53:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just before everyone over there puts on their on their pink jammies with the cute little rabbits feet (A Christmas Story) and toddles off to bed, wanted to get in a few thoughts.

the dKos problem:

Major problem over there right now is that the young Kossacks who self-appoint themselves to enforce the FAQ (the jaded among us refer to them as the Kostapo) are not learned in the law and the FAQs are not drafted with legal precision.

If ET goes this route, I suggest that a Code Jerome be drafted by a team of lawyers, where all offenses to the security of the Realm, both felonies and misdemeanors, be very precisely defined, with copies of the Code distributed to each reader.

Trial as well as appelate procedures should precisely spelled out also.

I much prefer the English system, but unfortunately the jurisdiction is apparently France.

Perhaps this conversation could lead to a second thread about what we see as positive going on here.

That would be nice too.

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:41:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the preponderance of those of the fairer sex among the enforcers, I've a friend who's coined something slightly less politically correct, along the likes of Kos' Keystone K---s, with the unspelled term usually spelled with a c, and translated into espanish as coño.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:51:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I really hate that word to be used as an insult, don't you?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:54:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.

That's why I can't spell it out in english, it's very crude.

I got his point, though.

I don't really get why one would invoke it as an insult though, seems to go against everything a heterosexual man in good health and spirit stands and strives for. Oh well. (In french of course it's another matter; though the word is invoked often, the content it carries is so far divorced from the original term that it carries no signifaction for the user; perhaps it did long ago, but its new meaning was reified so far into the past that the etymology is no longer relevant. Not so in english.)

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 03:07:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't really get why one would invoke it as an insult though

Well, apparently you "got it" enough to find it worthy of repetition...  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 03:14:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. It's kinda hard to miss.

And if the word is wholly inappropriate in all circumstances, if one were to hypotethically allow for its usage in english, then this might actually be that application given the antics of more than a few over there.

Other than that, have I expressed to you just how much I enjoy pies of all sorts?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 03:33:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since the very beginning at DK, there have been groups that form to be "troll hunters".  Periodically they get slapped around by the rest and slink away.  Bide a wee, the McCarthyites will get their "have you no decency" pretty soon.
by HiD on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 03:52:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ET does not fahren, fahren, fahren auf dem Autobahn?

How unKraftwerkian.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 06:23:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
God save us.

They want to throw people under trucks on the Interstate?

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 06:40:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I personally think ET is walking on thin ice by tolerating some of this stuff, though I understand the desire to err on that end.

What kind of water is under that thin ice? If t ose comments were in any way anonynous I'd see a reason to worry  ore. But tge hidden comment mecanism is quite good at preventing the casual reader from seeing them, and that should preclude the need for banning.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:33:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I didn't say we don't know how to swim. :)  

I just think it cannot help the reputation of the site, or encourage readership, when it seems that each time I pull up the recent comments list, there is something offensive to read.  And not offensive in some ideological sense, but simply sophomoric.  The hidden comments only work after so many people have rated a comment.  I understand you and I probably see more of the recent comments than the "casual reader", but comments are comments.  I often visit other blogs I know nothing about and try to judge from the comments what the vibe is there.  If someone who is mean seems to be dominating threads, I probably won't go back.

But some of that is a matter of taste too.  For example, I think Lana is funny, even though she can be mean.  But she's also not contributing almost every other comment either...  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:47:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Taste or being sophomoric are not grounds for banning.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:03:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you believe there are any grounds for banning?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:08:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Disruptive behaviour with utter lack of content. Poemless list of objectionable behaviours seems a little excessive.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:35:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please don't conflate that which I find objectionable with that which I think is grounds for banning.  If you'd read my comment, you'd know I'm not even sure if banning is a good thing!

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 02:40:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bannez-les tous; Dieu reconnaitra les siens.  ;-)
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 03:16:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL.  But that would leave ET and heaven terribly quiet and boring places. ;)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 03:38:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Um... two American sandwiches walked into a bar and one was a salted...

I'm against any banning policy. This site has got a troll-rating feature and a God-given right (what's an atheistic version of this?) to ignore any posts/diaries, wouldn't it be enough? But then what do I know, being a citizen of a country where freedom of speech doesn't really exist and everything is being censored???

:)

BTW, mr R Kulisz (is that him the last nasty offender, right?) may well be a Pole living in the Evil Twins Country or recently left it and is now experiencing a cultural shock. Then you may want to greet him with an authentic Polish word "Kurrrva" and he'll be happy.. or not

by lana on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 03:15:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
good breeding is*everything*

your uniform looks very smart

<znarque>

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:00:44 PM EST
I support this policy. It is best to have something in place, so if we have problems with someone of this sort, we can know how to handle it. I hope it never happens, but best to be prepared...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:33:35 PM EST
What you might want to add is the decision-making process in step 2 & 3. Step one already has it - "approved by two or more front-pagers" - but in making a policy for future use it might be good to include it in 2 & 3 too.

Otherwise it is a good proposal.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 01:34:02 PM EST
When I was training to be an umpire an older hand gave me a bit of advice

"Never threaten to throw a bad actor out of a game.  If it's already at that stage, just throw them out".

I doubt that any bad actor will not have recognized that the people here are pissed by the time it gets to a warning stage.  When 2 front pagers agree, put them on the bench for a week straight away.

by HiD on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 03:44:47 PM EST
I've been on a couple of sites where some of the most frequent posters are obviously sociopaths. It's not so much their political outlook which is the problem, it's that they are so insistent (and persistent).

Several mature, thoughtful, posters have gone completely overboard when they found themselves engaged in repetitive discussions with these people. A good example (please don't comment on this topic) is that of the 9/11 conspiracy believers. I think Kos has a blanket prohibition on this topic, but on several other sites I've seen sane bloggers go berserk when confronted by these people. In one case the blogger was someone who was covered by debris on 9/11 and is thus already hyper-sensitized to the issue.

In cases like these the usual steps are ineffectual. These people are immune to logic, appeals to good behavior and feel a sense of their innate superiority which makes them insufferable to others. For these cases the only course of action is to limit their participation.

In the past I've suggested several ways to do this, but most blogging software doesn't seem to have this capability so banning ends up being the only option. For the record, options could be limiting the number of remarks made per day, or per thread and preventing them from starting topics of their own.

Fortunately the number of such individuals (on this site at least) seems extremely small. Unfortunately many of these sociopaths are now running the US government...

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 04:47:37 PM EST
ET is an amazingly civil, tolerant, and thoughtful environment. This quality seems to be maintained largely through social pressure from established participants and self-selection by potential participants. These mechanisms make the question of banning mostly irrelevant to what goes on in the community....

But only "mostly". A few noxious outliers in the human spectrum will neither self-select themselves out nor respond to social pressure. They can damage the appearance of the community and the experience of participating. I see no reason why they shouldn't be tossed out, and I think that the proposed mechanism offers more procedural protection than an offender could expect.
-----------

However, it is wise to think carefully before constraining freedom of expression, even within a small, voluntarily assembled community. I will offer some thoughts which mostly express what I think we already think.

In considering what I see as our implicit standards, I see a distinction between freedom of adversarial expression that is intellectual, vs. forms that I would call "person-directed" and "raw-emotional" hostility.

"Person-directed" hostility obviously includes both name-calling and accusations of deliberate falsehood or bad motives. The latter, however, have no sharp line of demarcation to separate them from intellectually valid criticisms that I regard as acceptable if politely stated: for example, suggesting that a person's views seem to be aligned with a body of thought that includes specific, convenient untruths, or with one that advocates specific policies that don't stand up to moral examination.

By "raw emotional" hostility, I mean (for example) rants expressing ones hatred for something, as distinct from expression of reasons why one hates it.

The hardest judgements to make involve adversarial intellectual expression and the problem of classic trolling behaviour. In this area, a lone adversarial statement can seldom be judged as problematic, given that ET isn't a feel-good motivational site for political troops. Judgement of a commenter rests instead on a combination of three criteria:

  1. Wrongness: The comments have adversarial content that is based on factual or ethical premises that are, by ET consensus, wrong.
  2. Persistence: This content is expressed repeatedly, despite rejection, without new and plausible support.
  3. Proportion: A large portion of the poster's comments are of this sort, with no balancing contributions of sufficient value.

Criterion (1) is risky because it favours echo-chamber disease. Criteria (2) and (3), however, can moderate (1) to a degree that makes this risk acceptable.


Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 05:09:47 PM EST
This strikes me as an extraordinarly well-thought-out comment with which I entirely concur.

I also would like to go on record as generally agreeing with the banning policy as proposed, while adding that I fervently hope that implementing it will rarely be necessary.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 05:20:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thank you, and I agree with your assessment of the proposed policy.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 12:50:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know I've written this before but I'm going to keep saying it everytime this topic arises -- so get over it :-p

Posting here is a privilege not a right.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 06:20:23 PM EST
skipping step 1 and going straight to step 2.

The point about crazies is that they're crazy. They want attention, and a warning counts as attention. I'd guess that anyone who gets a warning is most likely to respond by posting endless screeds about how persecuted they are.

So for the occasional crazies a public reprimand might temporarily decrease the signal to noise ratio, and will probably lead on to step 2 anyway. So I suspect step 1 is redundant in practice.

The only real reason for banning people is if their idea of debate is an endless stream of ad hominems and very little else. I don't much care what people believe as long as they can produce a coherent more or less reality-based argument to support their beliefs, and can express it without attacking anyone personally.

No one should be banned for believing the wrong things - only for not debating with civility.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 10:29:56 PM EST
NOBODY expects the Spanish inquisition!
by Trond Ove on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 01:45:03 PM EST


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