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Should Moderators at Progressive Blog Sites Uphold Progressive Values?

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Thread: 

From time-to-time, moderators of various versions of FireDogLake's community blogging web site (The Oxdown Gazette, The Seminal, and now MyFDL have banned posters who have substantive disagreements with the site moderators, or with the primary thrust of FDL opinion as expressed by its leading blogger and the site owner, Jane Hamsher. We've seen that happen, most notably, in past years when community bloggers expressed support for single-payer health care reform and criticized FDL efforts in support of the public option “compromise,” which finally went down to defeat because, evidently, even the highly imperfect was the enemy of the good. Some of the community bloggers involved were banned outright, others were invited out and accepted the invitation. Still others simply stopped blogging at FDL in silent protest against the moderators and FDL leadership.

Another area of conflict has been the extent to which FDL should support third party efforts or efforts to primary the President in preparation for the 2012 election. Postings and commentary on third party efforts vs. primarying have been passionate, with FDL moderators clearly emphasizing the practical aspects of party work, its difficulty, and the need for a long-term commitment to activism within the Party, rather than a third party alternative to the two legacy parties. Recently a conflict erupted over a Diary posted by Rusty1776, one of the most popular of the community bloggers, who isn't also a moderator. Commentary on his post elicited responses from him that were repeatedly censored by the moderators. This behavior spread to threads on other posts, when Rusty tried to comment in other places to get by the moderators, and make his case to the community. Then Rusty was banned from FDL, his profile was erased, all of his blogs, many of which were quite beautiful and inspirational, were seemingly deleted. It was as if the moderators were trying to destroy evidence of his existence.

There were replies to these actions of the moderators. Michael Kwiatkowski, posted here in support of Rusty. Lengthy commentary on the issues may be found at a “watercooler”post by one of the moderators, Bill Egnor. Commentary and questions on moderator behavior and site process issues are provided for in FDL rules, in reply to “watercooler” posts. Many comments offered were in reply to Bill's post in support of Rusty's position, and some in support of the moderators, reflecting a split in the community. I posted the following comment.

Generally, I’m very much opposed to banning posters from community web sites like this. It does reek of censorship and is profoundly undemocratic. As far as I can see, Rusty1776?s original post was fairly moderate in content. It did contain statements that were critical of Jane and all of us. Here’s a quote:

We need to primary challenge Obama. Refusing to primary challenge him is immoral. I’m talking to you, Jane. I’m talking to you, Firedoglake. I’m talking to the front-pagers, I’m talking to the editors, I’m talking to the moderators, I’m talking to the diary writers and the readers, I’m talking to all of you. Morality is not irrelevant, it’s not meaningless, it matters, it matters more than anything else.

We all have the blood of the innocent on our hands, we’ve all been complicit in the crimes of that “government” in Washington, but we don’t have to be complicit any more. We can start washing that blood off our hands, we can begin atoning for our complicity and moral cowardice, we can take the first step down the road to redemption by primary challenging that pretty-word-peddling-puppet of the oligarchs.

Now, I’m not at all offended by this. It’s an opinion, and an exhortation, and a completely legitimate expression of opinion at a progressive web site. It should not have been deleted at a web site that claims to be progressive and to value democracy. You can still find it
here, and can judge for yourselves.

Following Rusty’s post, a vigorous and at times bitter discussion ensued and some hard words were said. The conflict spread to this post of Bill Egnor's and also to Michael Kwiatkowski’s post, and I guess to one of Kelly Canfield’s posts too, which I’ve not yet read. Rusty became increasingly outraged at what he thinks is unfair treatment by the moderators. To me, having read the threads, but not had access to the comments deleted by the mods, it does look unfair. Part of the unfairness is that Rusty was banned from the site, and his often magnificent posts were removed and lost to all members of this community who have admired them and found them uplifting.

Another part of the unfairness, or at least appearance of unfairness, lies in the lack of transparency of the moderation process. We do not know why, exactly, Rusty was banned. We don’t know what important rule he broke, and why breaking that rule was so unforgivable as to require the banning of one of our most valuable members.

We don’t know whether those who banned him did so from a position above the fray, or whether they were the very people he had started to call out as treating him unfairly, and who were opposing his point of view intellectually, as well as acting to silence him politically at FDL. If they were the same person or the same people, then they acted particularly reprehensibly, because, given their opposition to the content of what he was saying, they should have recused themselves from the process of evaluating him, and then sanctioning him. They should have done this in order to avoid winning the argument by using naked power, and not by offering the best argument. We all know that, and it is to their lasting shame that they have acted in this way.

Btw, if anyone wants to communicate with Rusty you can find him at: rustad2@aol.com

Now, turning to a comment on something Bill said:

Politics can not be about absolutes. It falls apart when it is. I have no objection to people having this own ideas about what is moral and not, but a to use them as a litmus test without out looking at the totality of a politicians actions or the consequences of their defeat is to be a bully out to shame those who disagree with you. It is bad enough when the Right does it to the Left, it is worse when the Left does it to itself.

Argue that a policy is bad because of its affects, argue that it is illegal under our system of law, hell, argue that it is wrong headed because it affects you adversely but stay away from judgments of morality. That is for philosophers and theologians.

Well, first of all, I agree that we ought to look at the totality of a person’s actions before we view him as immoral. But I see no evidence that Rusty hasn’t: done that in Obama’s case, evaluated Obama’s actions as President, concluded that many of them are immoral; and that it is therefore a reasonable inference for him that Obama is an immoral political actor. I don’t think this is an unreasonable judgment, though Bill may not share it.

Second, on looking at the possible consequences of primarying Obama, I’m sure Rusty has thought about the possibilities inherent both in Obama’s victory and his defeat, and that his moral judgment about what we ought to do in this situation takes account of his thinking about the various possibilities he sees. Rusty seems pretty rational to me, so I’m pretty sure he’s done this thinking. I doubt that his analysis is the same as Bill’s, but I also think that their differences about what to do are not due to Rusty’s failing to look at likely effects of primarying Obama.

Third, Bill says that it’s OK to argue that a policy or action has:

1) bad effects;

2) is illegal under the law; or

3) will affect oneself adversely

but that it is improper to say that a policy or action or person is immoral, and he further thinks that we should leave this to the theologians and philosophers.

Well, I’m afraid that what Bill is expressing in this argument is just another philosophy, and it is not a philosophy I agree with. The reason for that is that when we oppose something for reasons in categories 1) 2) or 3), it is very easy for anyone to say so what? Who cares about current law? Who cares if it affects you adversely? Who cares if it has effects that you say are bad? When the “so what?” question is asked, we have to be able to go beyond “so what?” and reference higher principles of value theory, or Democratic Theory, or the Theory of Justice if we want to explain our views in a way that people can understand.

I agree with Bill that our ideas on these things vary all over the place and that we have no easy way to arbitrate conflicts over value and moral judgments. Nevertheless, we have every right to our theories and judgments of these kinds. In fact, we cannot escape them. We need to make them explicit, and, in my view, we need to make decisions in concrete situations in terms of an assessment of what the right or moral thing to do is in that situation.

Rusty’s theory, which may well be wrong (I’m a moral fallibilist myself) is that the right, i.e. moral thing to do next year is to primary Barack Obama. I’d like to hear a lot more about his thinking in this area, because even though he may be wrong, he also may be right. I certainly think that we deprive ourselves of the chance to learn, if we take his views off the table by banning him from this site. Even more, we also deprive ourselves of seeing whether the view held by many here, that we ought not to primary him, can stand up to the criticism that Rusty and others would provide.

Finally, I have to say that I think Bill’s position above, that we should not use our ideas about what is moral, non-moral, and immoral as “a litmus test” in deciding whether to do something or not, goes against a central tradition in western civilization in ethics. It is a very radical and controversial claim which in an earlier age was known as sophistry or sophism. It leads to the view that “Justice is the Interest of the Stronger.” This is not, in itself a valid argument against it. After all, it is ad hominem.

But considering our current context, is Bill really saying that we wouldn’t have been a lot better off if the banksters had used that litmus test before they made the decisions that ruined the world’s economy? Is he really saying, that we wouldn’t have been better off if the Bush Administration executives had used that litmus test before they decided to lie to the American people about WMD in Iraq? Is he really saying that we wouldn’t we better off, if this Administration had asked themselves whether it was right to have imprisoned Bradley Manning and thrown away the key before they did those things? is he really saying that we wouldn’t be better off if president Obama had asked himself whether it was right to insulate the banksters and fraudsters from prosecution because we needed to look forward and not backward?

I think my point is that there are a number of aspects to any human decision. They include cognitive (perception, thinking), affective (emotional), conative (intentional, purposive), and evaluative aspects. The last, evaluative, component involves morality. None of us can do without it. The only question is what moral values, and attitudes will shape our thoughts, emotions, and decisions in the here-and-now.

I call for the immediate reinstatement of Rusty1776. An injustice has been done here. If it’s not righted, it will echo through the future history of FDL. I also call for discussion of new moderation rules, a kind of constitution for the MyFDL community. these new rules would constrain posters and commenters, but they would also constrain mods. The rules I propose are here.

Please consider them as well as other proposals for a MyFDL constitution.

Later on, after my own and other comments supporting him were posted, FDL restored access to Rusty1776's diaries, his profile and his link on FDL friendship lists. It also became apparent, that the moderator who had been continuously censoring Rusty's comments was either Bill Egnor or Ruth Calvo. If it was Bill who so vigorously censored Rusty's replies to criticisms, then his actions seem particularly inappropriate, since Bill's watercooler post expresses a very strong disagreement with Rusty about the appropriateness of making public moral judgments in politics, and so, Bill clearly had an appearance of bias in evaluating Rusty's comments. Also, later on, I added this comment to my previous one:

Once again, I propose rules to constrain the moderators. I’m well aware that there are rules now. But there’s also this one:

“Our moderators reserve the right to take down any post or ban any user.”

That right must be constrained by clear rules to prevent future arbitrary action. We must know the post takedown or member banning offenses. It cannot simply be left to moderator judgment. There’s too much chance for bias to enter into the moderation process. For example, if Dean Baker or Cenk Uygur posted here in a similar vein to Rusty1776, would they have gotten the same kind of static from the moderators? Forgive me, but somehow I doubt it. FDL needs to do all it can to take the personalities out of the moderation process, especially since the moderators are themselves posters with very strong opinions. When it comes to the expression and evaluation of opinion on something identified as a community site, some ought not to be more equal than others.

As of this writing, according to Rusty's information, he is still banned from posting at FDL. I call for his posting privileges to be restored immediately. I would post this at MyFDL raher than Correntewire, except, as far as I know, MyFDL members, other than the moderators cannot file “watercooler” posts. So, I would be breaking FDL rules if I posted this there.

The actions of FDL moderators raise the larger question of free expression rights at progressive web sites. Clearly there is no right to come to such sites and to “troll,” i.e. to hijack threads by manufacturing name-calling, labeling, and ad hominem contests with other bloggers. Everyone recognizes that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.” For that matter since progressive blogosphere sites are private, not public, and are owned by the bloggers who established and maintained them, there is no legal obligation to provide constitution-like guarantees of free speech/press to community members.

However, in the end, to retain one's credibility, one must uphold the principles one says that one believes in. The question in the title of this post is a rhetorical one. Of course, progressive web sites must uphold progressive values in their own practices. A site that doesn't do this, and that lets “the iron law of oligarchy” work unimpeded, is just not a progressive web site, no matter how loudly and frequently it proclaims that it is, and no matter how many “progressive candidates” it supports.

The progressive and open society values at issue in the banning of Rusty1776 are free press and free expression, transparency, political inclusiveness, and the right, nay the citizenship obligation, to evaluate and criticize those in authority. Jane Hamsher and the moderators at MyFDL can determine that they will uphold these values and be the thing they espouse, or they can refuse to uphold them and give up the name “progressive.” They cannot, however, have the name and act contrary to the values in their own backyard.

Restore Rusty's posting and membership rights! Clearly specify posting and banning rules and remove the moderators' right to take down any post, or ban any user, even if a post doesn't violate any rules! Give all members of myFDL a constitution! Be the progressive site you aspire to be!

(Cross-posted at All Life Is Problem Solving).

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Submitted by windy on

to Kwiatkowski's first post is broken, there's an extra quote mark at the end. Great post btw!

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

for letting me know, windy.

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Submitted by letsgetitdone on

their moderation, won't change Jane's judgments about the practical course for FDL, but it may persuade her to be careful about getting a reputation that's in conflict with progressive, open society values.

Submitted by jawbone on

I finally had the experience of having a comment removed by an FDL moderator.

It was last Sunday during the Book Salon for Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson's new book, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer -- And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.

Pierson gave a reply to an early question which suggested that Obama would have been more himself, or something, if he'd had more support from the Hill. Several people asked questions about this, including me.

Pierson's reply, #32:

We do not see it as one big club. We argue throughout the book that there remain big differences between the political parties. The tax policies that you get from Obama are not the same as what you get from Bush (or at least they wouldn’t be if he got more backing on the Hill). Same with health care, same with financial regulation. What we say is that on these issues “the Republicans where Black hats, the Democrats wear Grey Hats.” That is, both parties have been changed by the increasing imbalance of economic power in Washington, but they are not identical. The problem with the Democrats is that while some push for genuine reforms their strength is insufficient. There are many Democrats who are part of the problem. And the party as a whole is too conflicted and too much in need of financial and other forms of support from business to express an effective message of economic reform. Saying that is not the same as saying the two parties are the same. (My emphasis)

My question was not directly replied to, :

Reply from Prof. Pierson:

The tax policies that you get from Obama are not the same as what you get from Bush (or at least they wouldn’t be if he got more backing on the Hill). Same with health care, same with financial regulation. (Underlining added)

Could you explain a bit more about the lack of backing for Obama from the Hill? On tax cuts, it appears to me that Obama not only agreed to compromise with the Republicans, it was reported that the R’s actually were happily amazed that he gave them more than they dreamed they could get. And it was done between the R’s and Obama et al. Not within the Senate or House.

On health insurance reform, it was Obama who took single payer “off the table,” who offered the Romney/Heritage Foundation plan to ensure Big Health Insurers would continue to get big profits through mandating purchase of their products. Any attempts from the Hill to make the plan more liberal were soundly swatted down…by Obama et al. It was Obama who gave the management of this profit protection plan to Baucus and put Baucus’s former chief of staff on Obama’s WH staff.

And…Obama wanted stronger financial regulation but the Hill would’t let him? Puh-leeeze, this does not compute. Just look at HAMP and the new plan being floated to offer the bankster fraudsters’ clemency on their mortgage frauds for a mere $20B!!

Help me here: What am I missing? What did Obama really have in mind, had he been able to constrain the conservatives…or something?

But, in replying to others, Pierson stuck to his guns, that Obama was very different from Bush and would have done things differently if he'd had more support.

A commenter whose name I can't remember then listed about 14 or 15 things that he believed showed Obama's actions to be very similar to Bush's. That comment is now gone. In fact, after Cujo359 replied to it with a link to Hugh's post here at Corrente about the Obama scandals reaching 200, I was looking up the post, came back to write something about it, but by then Cujo359's comment and the link was also wiped out.

I wrote that I was looking for the link to Hugh, but it had disappeared. Did anyone know what had happened to it, etc.

Then, that comment went into moderation, but there was an italicized line saying the moderator thought the comment was off topic.

Next thing, my comment went poof.

Since both the listing of Obama actions which appeared to the commenter to be very similar to what Bush had done was very much on point, asking Pierson to defend his earlier contenttion to the opposite, and Cujo's link to Hugh made the question to Pierson even more clear, it was pretty amazing to me to see what the moderater had done.

At the time I almost posted here on the colloquy which disappeared, but RL intervened. The comments by Hacker and Pierson were very interesting in that they come to many of the same conclusions we here do about how Washington is doing the bidding of the rich, but they are absolutely unable to see any agency by Obama in these outcomes.

However, this censorship has bothered me. I had never seen this kind of removal of statements at FDL before. I'd heard about it, and then, wham bam thank you m'am, there it was, affecting little ol' me. But, what it really affected was the discussion between the authors and the FDL commenters. A topic many commenters thought was important was, well, censored.

I really like FDL for many things. OK, it took a hell of a long time for the leadership there to realize Obama had played them, but, gee, there's still really good stuff. And now they get what Obama did, in not only health care but financial regulation, union support, etc.

This incident, however, gave me pause. How does a commenter know what will set off a moderator? At least Jeralyn at Talk Left, who runs a very tight ship, makes clear, usually, what ticks her off, where a commenter has crossed lines she's asking them to within. Lambert here will ask a commenter to explain why something is germane if he himself does not see a comment's pertinence.

But, just wiping things out? Way too arbitrarily authoritarian for me.

Good luck, Lets, in getting some improvements in the moderation regimen.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

telling your story. It's important for everyone to know how the only occasional hand of the FDL moderators is impacting the dialogue over there.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

I don't remember that chat quite the way jawbone does. I reacted to someone else's comment on Hugh's list, which then disappeared. I'm not too sad my own comment disappeared, because it was little more than a one-liner, but Hugh's list was, or should have been, part of the conversation.

Removing the comment I was reacting to affected the conversation, not to mention that doing so leaves a false picture of what the authors chose to ignore during the chat, which is sometimes as revealing as the comments they make.

My own opinion from that chat was that those two authors were deluded at best, and morons at worst. I wrote comments that were a reaction to what they'd written, and they ignored those, also. Would they have if one of my comments hadn't disappeared? I have to wonder.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Cujo. Doesn't surprise me that Jacob Hacker is deluded. He certainly was deluded about health care and did us all great damage in that area. So why not deluded in this area, too. It's important to get stories out about how FDL moderators are manipulating opinion on their site. They shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.

Submitted by lefttown on

but I no longer see the point in wasting my energies there. The big guns attack people personally, they kick people off, or they "moderate" people. For me personally, FDL was one big stomach ulcer waiting to happen. I got off that tightly-run merry-go-round, and I haven't regretted it since I waved good-bye. There are so many fine sites that welcome the opinion of others (like this one).

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

But I post there to spread the word around; and I didn't want to stay silent when Rusty was getting fried. A bunch of us here were either thrown out or driven away by FDL. I've stuck it out, but, in my view, it's even more oligarchic now than when Jason Rosenbaum was running the Seminal.

Submitted by lefttown on

stood up for Rusty. I stood up for him before I left, too. The people in charge there are just too authoritarian to appreciate what a gem they had. I sometimes wonder if the moderators there don't get their marching orders from the WH.
And it's good to spread the word around. Goodness knows, it's needed there.

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Submitted by letsgetitdone on

But he seems to be down on blogging right now, and just seems to want justice from FDL.

Michael Kwiatkowski's picture
Submitted by Michael Kwiatkowski on

I don't know what happened to that idiot Rosenbaum, but his departure certainly did not change FDL for the better. He was too openly insulting and condescending as the editor of the Seminal. Now the moderating is done more covertly. At least before, we knew more about who was doing what.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

about morality. Morality is vital in leading a moral or harmonious and just life amongst other people. Rusty sounds like someone I would like. Life is about the decisions we make each and every day. If we don't have a fully developed sense of ourselves, then we remain children. It is what David Korten in "The Great Turning" calls the imperial consciousness unlike the more evolved social and cultural consciousnesses. The imperial conscience gives one a sense that one can get away with things. Kind of a narcissism that allows you to cheat and lie without punishment. Sometimes we refer to this as lack of empathy. Korten says that poor sociopaths go to jail. Richer ones end up in Washington and as heads of companies.

Martin Luther King, Jr said "One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right if the head is totally wrong. Only through the bringing together of head and heart--intelligence and goodness--shall man rise to a fulfillment of his true nature."

Before there was a department of political science or psychology most everything including economics fell under one study; philosophy.

How do we decide matters of right and wrong? What is a right policy or a wrong policy?
A dialectical approach of using head and heart seems to be the best idea. This is a Western idea that has worked for a long time. What these moderators are advocating sounds more like Confucianism. Loyalty to the company or family comes first. Each person has a role in the hierarchy. And each role has duties. This approach likes an authority figure. To point out that the ruler is immoral is a huge deal and probably frightening for some. But it is a courageous thing to do.

A discussion of politics without the context of ethics and morality seems like a wasteland.

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Groucho Marx

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

A discussion of politics without the context of ethics and morality seems like a wasteland.

And so it is, MM!

cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

So we're supposed to wait for theologians or philosophers to make pronouncements regarding morality.

How damn lame is that.

The next time I judge a given act to be morally disgusting it appears I should withhold my own thoughts on the matter and wait for the high judgment of a theologian or philosopher. Apparently, on my own, I couldn't possibly decide what is or is not moral.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Bill, didn't exactly say that. Only in politics is there no place for moral judgments, as I read him.

Submitted by windy on

Egnor in the watercooler thread:
"I think that introducing morality as a criteria is reprehensible."

Isn't that a moral judgment?

Submitted by hipparchia on

see rule #1.

All the commenters in all the sections of fdl, and all the diarists at oxdown/seminal/myfdl are providing free, unpaid work for jane hamsher. in return, you will get some visibility for your opinions/work that you might otherwise not have been able to get on your own.

corrente is kind of the same ["community" blogs pretty much have to be, and i can promise you there's no way to design, ahead of time, a moderation policy that will cover everything that could possibly happen], but without the ruthless exploitation. the metaphor that comes to mind is the difference between lambert slowly and experimentally turning his yard into an organic garden - a little compost here, a little sheet mulch there, a little winter sowing here, a little woodchuck fence there - and jane as the blogger equivalent of a typical big ag farm - acres and acres of a few roundup-ready gmo monocrops in neat parallel rows, all tilled and planted and harvested with the latest, shiniest technology.

i'm a firm believer in the idea that if you don't like the direction/theme/policies of any particular blog, you can always go start your own. whoever puts in the bulk of the money, time, work, etc that goes into running a blog gets to have the final say.

that said, yes, i really liked rusty's writings and comments.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

We have civil discussions here. They're sharp sometimes; but it's all good!

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

i'm a firm believer in the idea that if you don't like the direction/theme/policies of any particular blog, you can always go start your own. whoever puts in the bulk of the money, time, work, etc that goes into running a blog gets to have the final say.

perhaps it is because I am currently reading the history of the reformation. splintering is a natural phenomenon. Hamsher has the right to run her blog as she pleases. No one likes to be attacked on their own blog. She offers a high traffic blog in exchange for volunteer posts. At some point you have to accept that you can't use her blog to promote anything too lefty.

Submitted by jawbone on

I almost included in my comment that site owners are, well, site owners and can run their sites as they see fit.

But, as remarked above, FDL in general is certainly showing clear growth in evaluating Obama.

And, in the example I used, no one was attacking anyone! (Er, maybe Obama's actions and hypocrisy....) Indeed, Jane herself is now pointing out, iirc, the descrepancies between Obama's words and his actiions. Perhaps the moderator didn't want the two authors to feel uncomfortable about their perception of Obama as a well-meaning, if a bit feckless, liberal. Who knows?

Submitted by hipparchia on

Perhaps the moderator didn't want the two authors to feel uncomfortable about their perception of Obama as a well-meaning, if a bit feckless, liberal.

i think this is probably right on target.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

rights. The "owners" of a site have the right, technically, to kick off whomever they please, but a LOT of the value of sites like FDL come from the commentators. FDL would be a whole lot less popular and get fewer hits and less attention if commenting wasn't part of the community there. So commenters contribute value to Hamsher and her moderators, but have no rights of their own, no protection against arbitrary behavior, and no say in the overall gestalt of a site. Some sites, and I'd put both TL and probably FDL in this category, get a very large part, if not most, of their value from the commentators. In any case, it's symbiotic relationship, but only one part gets the rights. Yes, you can always go somewhere else, but that's not really the point.

We all can exercise our various rights (such as they are), but you can also exercise your rights very badly. Or, depending on your philosophical orientation, immorally. The moderators at FDL seem (well, some of them) to want to be the ref and the player on one team at the same time.

I think the value of Lambert's moderation is not so much that it's low-key as that the rules are clear, non-arbitrary and mostly content-neutral (the one exception being no right-wing talking points). But everyone has notice, which gives us all the ability to decide up front (before becoming part of the community/contributing value) whether we want to participate.

Because the problem is not that we have too little condescension from our tribe. -- okanogen

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

But the rights you're talking about are all legal ones. I think the commenters and bloggers who contribute to community sites and give them value have moral rights if not legal ones. I also think that moral people who run progressive sites should grant those rights in the form of constitutional rules. That is just because a web site is a capitalist monarchy, doesn't mean it can't be a limited monarchy.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Jane's legal right to run her blog the way she pleases, only whether she can call her blog "progressive" if its internal procedures are authoritarian.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Rusty can go elsewhere. he can even come here. But that's not the point, hipparchia.

The point is the obligation of progressive blogs to act progressively, both in their external advocacy and action, and in their internal procedures. FDL's not doing that with its moderation policy. That's the simple point. I'm calling for change and also calling for justice for Rusty. Do you really disagree with that?

Submitted by hipparchia on

since when is 'progressive' synonymous with 'non-authoritarian'? as i noted in my 'shallow thought' comment, the original progressive party was a split-off from the republican party. and i'll just add that that party appears to have been to the left of today's average career progressive.

i agree that rusty was treated badly, but i feel that fdl is redeemable in about the same way that many people feel the democratic party is redeemable. it's entirely possible that i'm wrong about that, and so i applaud your efforts, especially those on rusty's behalf, but jane hamsher is doing well and does not need me.

as for moral underpinnings, it seems to me that rusty has won [or lost] the lottery. i confess that i'm not sure if it's more moral to stay there and try to change the fdl community or to walk away.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

that's right! No one has the authority to define "progressive" as non-authoritarian. The word means many things depending on who you talk to. But I propose that a definition of progressivism ought to include support for open society including non-authoritarianism.

Also, I didn't write this because I thought FDL was redeemable, but just to raise the question in the title and point out that FDL was answering it in a negative way, so that in my view it shouldn't be described as a progressive blog site.

Submitted by hipparchia on

and in my view, they are the quintessential progressive blog site! :)

my gut feeling is that you'd lose a lot of 'progressives' if you redefined the term to include only non-authoritarianists.

i'm less concerned about who gets called what then i am about trying to figure out whose business models are what.

on fdl in particular-- my guess is that if jane were to run myfdl along the lines that you'd like [and i agree, i'd prefer your way] that it quite possibly would not fit with her goals/way of doing things. my further guess is that if she were more transparent and open about those goals and how she sees the rest of you as forwarding them, the fdl community would be less vibrant [and i really like a lot of the people there], and a less vibrant community would not help her reach her goals...

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Perhaps I'm just not a progressive! But something else entirely.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i'm not sure what i am either, some mix of anarchist, democratic socialist, and liberal, i guess, but i've found this to be a useful framework to always keep in mind.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

really follow Ian. Every time I've read a post of his I've liked it. Thanks for the link, hipparchia.

Submitted by Hugh on

Came late. What is so pernicious about FDL's censorship is that unless it happens to you or right in front of you you don't know it's going on because the evidence is erased. It's very Kremlinesque, you know those old photos of leaders watching parades from Lenin's Tomb, where some figure fallen out of favor was simply airbrushed from the scene.

This really isn't about who owns or doesn't own FDL. It's about the nature of what a liberal/progressive blog is. A real liberal blog simply would not act this way. The who owns the blog calls the shots is a false issue. You can not be liberal/progressive and run your operation like a pipsqueak Stalin. The two are antithetical. And to be clear it is not just censorship at FDL. It is the opaque way the FDL community is cut out of decision making or even many of the discussions about what goes on at the site. Jane et al are constantly asking for donations from this same community. So how small d democratic is that that she is willing to take money from the community but as far as any meaningful input goes she tells them to fuck off?

And there is the site's editorial policy. Again Jane publicizes her site as progressive but if you go through the posters and moderators, you find that many of them have far stronger ties to the Democratic party than they do to progressivism: Blue Texan, Phoenix Woman, Bill Egnor, Jason Rosenbaum, Rayne, Tbogg, and even David Dayen (especially if you catch him talking about California politics). There is also the issue of their being part of FDL but also acting as ordinary commenters. If you read FDL threads for any length of time, you no doubt have seen them "swarm". One of them will have a post, a commenter will take issue with it, sometimes very effectively, and then others of this group will pile on, defending their own and deriding the commenter who had the effrontery to question one of them. This isn't discussion. It's a ploy to manufacture consent.

Jane put these people on her payroll. She's about as progressive as Obama is socialist. And that's OK if she were being honest about it but she isn't. She sells her site as progressive but mostly it isn't. And that's wrong because it siphons off resources that should be going to actual progressives.

I have often thought, since leaving FDL, that if it did not exist Obama and the Democrats would have had to invent it. It sops up progressive resources and energies and expends them in unproductive and ineffective campaigns. It is why I describe FDL as a Trojan horse. It's main aim seems to be delay and prevent the formation of a left independent of the Democratic party.

As for what happened to Rusty1776, he has my sympathies. I don't have a doubt in the world that Rayne who is the MyFDL editor was behind it. She's a hardline Democratic operative. It's more or less her job to weed out progressive voices at the site, especially those that remark on the fact that FDL is progressive for marketing purposes only. But again as others have noted, Jane is the boss and Rayne is only doing what Jane wants her to.

Hugh

sporkovat's picture
Submitted by sporkovat on

FDL is perceived as less of a groupthink, Democratic Party online outreach forum than kos, but that is partially because their censorship and purging is rather discreet.

shout out to Hugh - he knoew how to handle himself when the swarm came down.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Hugh really knows how to handle swarms of angry trolls.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

You can not be liberal/progressive and run your operation like a pipsqueak Stalin.

Loved that one! -:) -:) -:)

Submitted by hipparchia on

aside from checking dday's news reporting occasionally, and stopping by southern dragon's caturday, i don't read fdl much, but yes, pouting baby should be about ready for training pants by now, i would think.

sporkovat's picture
Submitted by sporkovat on

Shining some light on what FDL would like to keep in the dark

The policy they seem to have settled on for me was:

(1) Complete banning from the frontpage writings of Jane Hamsher and Jon Walker

(2) capricious, ad hoc indefinite detention in moderation of comments on diaries and on frontpage articles by other writers. My comments could be "pending moderator approval" for between 16 hours and 2 days, but eventually they would appear, too late to influence the conversation.

I would observe a couple things - banning and censoring by gatekeeper sites like FDL should be seen as a badge of honor, because it means they are scared of the increasing prevalence of hetrodox or heretical opinions towards their preferred Legacy Party.

I was writing acrid comments at FDL, against (D) complicity in the wars and police state encroachment, since 2006, at least. I was vociferously opposed to the nascent Obama adulation, and equally opposed to a continuation of a Clinton dynasty.

But, I noticed the censorship became more prevalent when views like mine became more popular - certainly through 2009 and 2010, cresting with that whole health care charade that drove a lot of us over to Corrente.

Not to go OT, because the subject of your post is very much worth focusing on, but I view FDL as enforcers of an outer perimeter of acceptable thought within the legacy party system, and they are staking out and defending the meme that somehow Obama and the rest of the national Democratic Party are not 'real' Democrats, like the FDR of seventy years ago.

Critique and venting within that framework is allowed - ridiculing that framework gets you banned.

See what other perimeters you find - have fun and don't forget to copy/paste your comments into a local text file, and/or take screengrabs!

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Hi spork, Very good analysis of what's going on there. I suspect it's largely right. They haven't done very much with me in terms of censorship. In fact, I can't even remember an incident of that kind. I knew about some of their censorship of others. But the replies to this post are bringing out the comprehensiveness of it for me.

TheMomCat's picture
Submitted by TheMomCat on

The Stars Hollow Gazette and Docudharma, I have major problem with deleting comments and entries. We have a strict policy at both sites about it, we don't. It's hard to argue your case when the evidence has been erased.

I found that some if the comments by the moderators in both entries at FDL, claiming that Rusty1776 violated the rules, had little, if any, credibility because of the lack of evidence. They also failed to even site the rules he broke.

Moderators directly involved in disagreements should not be involved in disciplining their adversaries, that goes to bias and they should not be allowed to delete comment or essays, no matter how egregious. (The caveat to that is revealing someone's personal information)

Rusty1776 was quite upset and angry about this and has been in contact with one of my administrators and is assessing his options.

I very rarely read MyFDL entries and even more rarely read comments, I find the format a pain. The only reason I read the comments in Rusty1776's entry is because of Michael Kwiatkowski's essay at Docudharma, otherwise, I'd know nothing about this.

I absolutely agree with you last paragraph.

Restore Rusty's posting and membership rights! Clearly specify posting and banning rules and remove the moderators' right to take down any post, or ban any user, even if a post doesn't violate any rules! Give all members of myFDL a constitution! Be the progressive site you aspire to be!

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I noticed the exchange today at docudharma. It was a pretty good conversation. I love Rusty's posts, which were the best of that type to appear at MyFDL. I've been commenting there in defense of Rusty, every chance I get.

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

I am in no mood to defend or belittle fdl in any way... That said I moderated there for years - many thousands of hours. It was a great experience until it wasn't.

I haven't clicked over to fdl more than once or twice a month since leaving last summer., so I have no idea of the current pulse.

Unless things have changed dramatically.... most posters had no interest in or ability to moderate comments.. though they may (which was extremely rare) point out something to moderators for consideration.. Removing comments involves way more than ever seen, including extended layers of multiple crew conversations (far longer than this post and thread) and great pains to not censor people. If someone gets under your moderating skin... there are multiple layers of detached people that need to agree with a need to moderate.

Now hypothetically, can someone come in and irritate everyone? of course. I saw lambert do it at open left and FDL during the end of the health looting debate. And I personally agreed with Lamberts sentiment, but he made it hard to defend by agitating. Perhaps Rusty accomplished the same ire but met a different end game. Agitating hat tip goes out to Spocko too...)

This all may simply be the price rusty pays for extended agitation. So be it... we need more agitation among complicit immoral Dems.

Book salon/ live guest post are uniquely tricky... off topic is a huge consideration unlike any other time when it really doesn't matter. It's quite difficult to tell if that's what happened in the mods head from conversations above. I certainly know and have great admiration for Cujo and Hugh... the kinds of commenters who made me love FDL. Cujo and others (jawb) may have been deemed off topic.. i don't know.

Moderators are human.... it's no small task over there. Though it's no small task for lambert here I am sure... FDL even in slow times is an entirely different beast. To compare small blogs to big ones in terms of demands and mechanics of moderation is just silly. And I think the inherent progressive nature of the big firedogs is excellent when it comes to moderation.

Now I will speculate on something i did not see. Something is terribly suspect.. if indeed old posts were deleted so long after the fact... there is much more wrong about Rusty- with proof behind the FDL scenes than meets the public eye, foul or violent language or something much worse. No way are they going to do that without lots of work, time, evidence... you have no idea. I know I would never have helped out over there if it would have been slightly as authoritarian as some here are willing to speculate it is/was.

Rusty needs to move on... it's a big internet... pick your battlefields. We need to pick on and shame people for being in the D party to be sure, but you should expect to be run off for doing so from centrists, political sports players, office workers with nothing better to do at the keyboard, veal pen profiteers without a moral compass that you/we can possibly comprehend. Important points are being made about progressive hierarchical nature, but the most important issues probably will best be made elsewhere... like here, third parties and in the streets, etc.

I think FDL moderators deserve both scrutiny (which they are getting) and slack... and despite the weird nature this kind of rare *deleted commentary* causes... trust me, you really don't want to see or fret over 99.9997963 percent of the shit that disappears.

FDL had a chance to be leaders in the arena, but they ceded it. As Ian Welsh says so well about D players on the left... we have to be willing to leave them/play hard ball.

Health care for all, ending wars, looting.. and systemic criminality unprosecuted is far more important. These issues should be nonnegotiable - especially when the D's are playing you like a two dollar banjo, not negotiating with you or on your behalf. If you are considering playing nice with the Obama/Clintons of the world you are quite content with the idea 99 percent of progressively moral issues will continue to be tortured.

I really don't know how anyone can consider themselves remotely liberal, left or progressive, much less moral and even be willing to debate whether or not Obama should do anything but step down like Mubarak. Now!.... including the rest of the admin, both the entire senate and house ... and both major monied parties.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

for anything at all. If anything, it goes to how hard FDL is willing to work to limit the conversation to particular viewpoints; and is a negative, not an excuse or a justification. As Lambert often points out, lies are expensive to maintain, and that applies to self-designated progressive blog owners as much as any party's propaganda efforts.

Yes, it's mildly interesting to know that the mechanics of banning someone/deleting their work is not as easy as it seems, the difficulty level doesn't really weigh into it. I think it's assuming what you're trying to prove to assume that because they went through all the hard work to erase Rusty's work, they must have had a good reason. There's no reason to assume that ab initio, and the fact that most of FDL's moderation went on behind the scenes weighs against it. You don't become less of a veal pen just because the work is so hard.

There are reasons why trials are public and why we don't let judges adjudicate cases in which they have personal or financial interests. Not that FDL is part of the legal system, but the principles transfer.

Now, if FDL were to start advertising itself as the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party and soliciting $ for themselves and behalf of others on THAT basis, the whole Rusty-can-go-elsewhere might have a little more credibility.

Because the problem is not that we have too little condescension from our tribe. -- okanogen

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

it would be impossible to keep up with the sheer volume of discussions and constant management of moderation work flow. WOuld require a large blog in and of itself, which would cost a lot and never be read. FDL mods do it so the readers don't have too. YOu really should go read zero hedge comments, among other blogs if you really want threads without moderation. Death threats, vitriol, never an on topic moment. I can do that from time to time, but not for long. I suspect most here are similar truth be told.

i do think rules and reasons for decisions should be made clear, reiterated, discussed/explained more in times like this by folk at fdl (when possible)... and it's not always possible for a number of good reasons (confidentiality, or refusing to wrestle in the mud with a pig because you and your readers get filthy and the pig loves it).

I didn't expect to change anyones mind here. I only participated/witnessed it damn near seven days and nights a week for years on end. And I would have raised holy hell (which i did a time or two when i thought things might be going astray) or left had what many suggest here been the way things were run. When I left it had nothing to do with overhanded moderation. The suspicion of iron handed moderation at fdl day in and day out is unfounded.

I challenge anyone here to start a small blog and post on controversial issues for a while and see how long you can go without moderating. Now imagine getting big or being effective on occasion and having to deal with an armada of paid troll etc.

FDL is not a public blog. None that I know of are.. we don't know it's funding sources or much of its policy... anyone, including myself always knew that and always remained a bit wary because of it.

Perhaps what's needed is a completely open blog.. with all funding, policy etc.. and anarchist streaming comments... but i doubt it would last long or accomplish much... wingnuts alone would revel in making sure it never had a sane moment. If somehow they failed monied D's would certainly help them.

Shit like this happens, but it's what, once in thousands of posts, millions of readers/comments? The ratio of these occurrences by any reasonable scrutiny of many folk with a wide range of passionate opinion is fantastic. It was simply astonishing to me over the years it happens so little.

Seminal or whatever it's called these days.. has certain unique properties.. which i am not nor was i privy to specifics... but it was quite clear as a reader the veal pen had direct conflicts of interest if not paid for folk like Jason (and perhaps now Bill) to run things in that branch... maybe that's taken a harder tack.

As long as LL and Letsgetitdone and the Gorrillas guides folk, etc. can and do post there it will still be invaluable for many.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

I haven't wanted to comment here, because I felt it would be better to just keep my mouth shut. Although we didn't overlap too much at FDL, and I was there very early on, I have to say your comments about being a mod and related ring absolutely true. I finally had to comment because I have no doubt you know whereof you speak.

I don't read FDL anymore. And, I have no idea what's up with the Seminal (or whatever it's called these days!), but hiring (?) Jason was a really really bad veal pen decision. That's all I'll say.

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

Nice to see you. Goodness, it's been many years between the two of us. I hope at least a few take us to heart... fdl, of all things, is not a censor monster! Boo! :)

I probably should have refrained from saying anything too.. but I'm glad i did this time.

You've got email kitty pics...)

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Shit like this happens, but it's what, once in thousands of posts, millions of readers/comments? The ratio of these occurrences by any reasonable scrutiny of many folk with a wide range of passionate opinion is fantastic. It was simply astonishing to me over the years it happens so little.

The problem is that when one sees it happen to people like sisterkenny, and more recently, missling, and Rusy1776, and when you see how it happens, it's hard to believe that it's just "shit happening." In the sisterkenny case, Jane took unnecessary, in my opinion, offense at something sisterkenny said. sk's remark was a little bit over the top, but wasn't near discourteous to have earned her an invitation out. Missling was a recent arrival at the site who put up many and interesting posts in a short time. She was given to overstatement, a bit. But nothing major, or, again, in my view terribly discourteous. With Rusty, you have someone who unfailingly posted diaries that were inspiring. They were increasingly becoming a valuable feature at FDL. Rusty's comments were sometimes very much out there, but when things started going off the rails in relation to the comment thread on his last post; the moderators just showed no forbearance. Admittedly, Rusty didn't either. But, I think he could have been saved rather easily a valuable member of the community.

Also, why does "shit" always seem to happen with people who are "left" of the FDL position at any given time. Why aren't people who are consistent with that position ever subject to "shit happening"? If these events were just random, we would see bannings and censoring of people like that too. I'm not saying that there's a conscious policy to throw left bloggers out. But I do think that moderators aren't making allowances for the fact that positions that are further out there will naturally elicit more conflict, and that the resulting censorship and banning represent failures of the moderators to resolve those conflicts peacefully.

Having said the above, I agree with much of what you say above and I think our overall positions are very close.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

and crappy, authoritarian moderation. I'm not suggesting no moderation as an alternative, so the evils of that aren't really relevant.

Balancing the interests of transparency, fairness, notice, process and effort to achieve these is not some new thorny problem unique to political blogs, and certainly not to FDL. All communities, large or small, real or virtual, struggle with how to regulate and balance the interests of their communities. There are literally thousands of models across thousands of years for how to do that, and "but they try so hard!" can't be the excuse for failing to follow a good one.

No one is arguing in favor of allowing trolls and spoilers on FDL, but calling out substantive, issue-based censorship. If the moderators at FDL can't distinguish between trolls and the longstanding commenters with opinions that don't quite fit their business & party loyalty model, then they have a very very large problem. And if some minimum amount of transparency so the community can see the rules and how they are applied is so much work that it's beyond FDL's abilities, then as a political site it probably deserves a lot less respect than it gets.

Again, our justice system makes mistakes all the time, and not just a few of them are the result of bad actors within the system. Overall, the rate of 'bad justice' is relatively low, though, but we don't argue that the system is above criticism just because injustice could happen more often but doesn't. Actually, I've worked in the court system and my experience was that the vast majority of people were well-intentioned and oriented toward fairness and doing the right thing. But when justice fails, no matter how good the intentions, it still deserves (all) our criticism.

Lets has the right of it to call them out for being authoritarian and at the same time suggest the principles by which to avoid such by calling for: 1) transparency; 2) more general access to participating in the process; 3) a separation between participants and the evaluators of the process; 4) constraining the process by rules rather than personal judgments of the evaluators; and 5) allowing people subject to the process some say in who the people are who have authority over the process. (note, this is just positive rewording of lets comment below).

There's a lot of interesting stuff that goes on over at FDL, but I spend little time there. Having heard about a few too many non-random bannings, I can never quite trust that the direction of discussion genuinely reflects the opinions of the participants rather than the business-model/Dem party loyalty-rewards line of the moment.

Because the problem is not that we have too little condescension from our tribe. -- okanogen

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Thank you so much for your perspective ES. I really appreciate having it and knowing what your impressions are based on working inside. You said:

Moderators are human.... it's no small task over there. Though it's no small task for lambert here I am sure... FDL even in slow times is an entirely different beast. To compare small blogs to big ones in terms of demands and mechanics of moderation is just silly. And I think the inherent progressive nature of the big firedogs is excellent when it comes to moderation.

Now I will speculate on something i did not see. Something is terribly suspect.. if indeed old posts were deleted so long after the fact... there is much more wrong about Rusty- with proof behind the FDL scenes than meets the public eye, foul or violent language or something much worse. No way are they going to do that without lots of work, time, evidence... you have no idea. I know I would never have helped out over there if it would have been slightly as authoritarian as some here are willing to speculate it is/was.

I too think that moderators are human, which is one of the reasons, that I'd like to see some "constitutional rules." Rules like that would lessen the the burden of judgment. I also agree that some angry e-mails or other communication may have been sent by Rusty during the process of escalation of this incident, But I also think that this was most probably a response to the combination of critical swarming behavior and censorship of his attempts to reply to criticism. When you're in the middle of that kind of process, it's terribly frustrating to have people direct what you think is unfair criticism at you, and then when you try to answer have some mods come in and censor you. Again, these kinds of conflicts might be handled much, much better, if ad hominems, labeling, and personal attacks were prohibited. Rusty was subject to those, and when he responded in kind, he was censored.

This is like a basketball game in which one player commits a foul which the referee doesn't see, and then a second player retaliates and gets called for the foul. If the moderators had rules about what was permissible and were impartial in their deletion of offending posts, then I think the anger expressed by many would be far less than it is today.

On speculating about the authoritarian nature of the moderation, I take your point that much sensitive and reasonable discussion occurs among mods at FDL behind the scenes, before they decide to censor or ban someone. However, I don't think that the sensitivity and benevolence of the modes means that the process is not as authoritarian as we think. That is, any process of evaluative judgment that can result in banning and/or censorship is authoritarian if 1) the process is not transparent, 2) access to participating in the process is restricted to only a few, 3) if the evaluators of the process are also participants in it, 4) the process is unconstrained by rules and is wholly based on personal judgments of the evaluators, and 5) the people given authority in the process aren't selected by the people subject to the process. It seems to me that these 5 criteria apply to the moderation process and that's why I say it is authoritarian.

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

See my reply just above your reply to me for some thoughts i wont repeat.

1) the process is not transparent, A) certainly could be more than now, but would risk losing lots of readers due to extreme boredom.

2) access to participating in the process is restricted to only a few. A) It is restricted, but you and anyone who wanted had their say... and it was read by many... i'm sure of that.

3) if the evaluators of the process are also participants in it. Not all of them... and maybe none of them. A) It's not set up like that at all. Let's hypothetically assume Bill was discussing it all with mods... that's fair enough for someone who works there. Not one mod i knew wouldn't tell bill he was wrong if they thought so. He certainly couldn't Bully his way through any number of people involved even if he tried.

4) the process is unconstrained by rules and is wholly based on personal judgments of the evaluators, A) but it isn't, there is lots of structure and layers of people to weigh these things with each other.

and 5) the people given authority in the process aren't selected by the people subject to the process. A) Sure they are. I was a mere commenter, so were most if not all who do this work, asked to help out. I have never met one FDLer in person. I never had loyalty to an FDL person over and above my progressive morals. I mean we were all there, working like dogs, loving it, for the great progressive experiment. :) just like you.

It seems to me that these 5 criteria apply to the moderation process and that's why I say it is authoritarian. A) If the fact it is possible to come to a decision which moderates or bans someone.. than yes it is authoritarian... but as i said in another reply.. i think it's always been that way at fdl and wont change... that experiment will have to occur somewhere else.

It's a double edged sword, trying not to have too many rules, and failing to make them clear to newcomers... despising the fact someone comes along and makes you , an inherently anti authoritarian type enforce a rule. To that end a rule at all is authoritarian, especially if it's enforced. As a progressive I have no problem with Rule of Law...) As a natural born rebel... well that's another post.

It's a human run joint.. they did it far better, with sincere determination to moderate as little as possible - and truth be told it was very, very little... I really do think the values you mention are in everyone of the mod teams mind/spirit.... certainly at the admin levels too.

Ian Welsh's picture
Submitted by Ian Welsh on

they speak. I would also add that moderation was handled mostly separate from the editorial process, at least when I was there. (Things may have changed). That isn't to say that Editors or authors have no say, but they don't usually get all that involved. I remember people whining about comments removed from my posts, blaming me, and I had nothing to do with it the vast majority of the time. Authors rarely are involved in those decisions.

Likewise, as ES says, the volume of offensive trolling and spam at FDL is at least a magnitude higher than anyone who runs much smaller blogs sees. Absent fairly aggressive moderating it would be a sewer.

None of this is to say I always agree with either FDL's editorial policy (even when I was the managing editor) or their moderating policy, but it's often much less personal than you might think: except when it isn't. ;)

That said, the important thing to remember about FDL is the simplest: "freedom of the press belongs to those who own one."

At the end of the day, Jane is in charge. Period. FDL reflects that, especially in the post Christy/Pachacutec era.

The era of blogging as an important wedge in politics is essentially over, anyway, though, so I wouldn't get too worked up over it. FDL does, imo, more good than harm, but, again, just remember: it isn't your blog. It is Jane's, and no one else's, just like Huffpo belonged to Arianna at the end of the day.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I believe that Bill was involved in the moderation. The FDL FAQ of that date identified Bill Egnor and Ruth Calvo as the moderators. Rayne also indicated in one of her comments that she was not involved that day. That leaves either Bill or Ruth doing the offending moderation. I've dealt with Ruth on a number of occasions, and it's hard for me to believe that she would have dealt with Rusty in the way he reports was done. On the other hand, Bill denies that he moderated his own post. So who the moderator was who let this escalate isn't completely clear.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

I am grateful I posted so much at seminal when I did and appreciated those who both supported and inspired me like you. I particularly miss the book salons. I learned a lot and loved engaging with the authors.

I felt so confused when we single payers became the enemy. Why did we bring down so much wrath or disdain, when universal health care should have been a mutual ultimate goal for all progressives, even if the "pragmatics" believed it was too high a dream for now, why did that make us on a different side from them, in their eyes? It showed for me a profoundly limited moral imagination. Jane H. really missed an opportunity for being a true visionary leader had she joined forces with us. Her imagination seemed more political than moral and thus she missed it.

Our fight for single payer was as I saw it helping them, not hurting them in their quest for saner health care, too. It still perplexes me. They fell right into the divide up and conquer game. Why vilify those who are doing the spade work for the big goal just because you maintain its time has not come but we all want it to happen, don't we? I still don't get it. Why make those on the same side as you but using a different strategy your enemy when you are both fighting such a huge and ruthless enemy? I am still confused on that one.

Egoism and group think occurred, imho. Group-think can seduce.

I once wrote about Palestine on Huffpo when I tried them and got zapped. I thought there was a technical error. I tried to post 3 times before the lightbulb lit. I also wrote about Palestine on the Guardian and got zapped. I didn't think I was saying anything seriously provocative. But when it happens to you it is jarring and makes you gulp and realize things are not as wide open and free as you assumed. You feel the power of dangerous group-think out there and realize there are profound walls of prejudice.

I am so grateful for corrente and its assertiveness re the Obama administration as well as in other areas, including health care.

At my workplace, there seems such little political consciousness, the Obama thrall seems to prevail even among close acquaintances there. When I go to a Greens meeting I feel like, yes, everyone in this room is more or less on the same page as me. It gives me hope. We need sources for support and evidence that others are calling out evil and oppression.

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. (Japanese proverb)

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I knew you'd be commenting on this one.

I felt so confused when we single payers became the enemy. Why did we bring down so much wrath or disdain, when universal health care should have been a mutual ultimate goal for all progressives, even if the "pragmatics" believed it was too high a dream for now, why did that make us on a different side from them, in their eyes? It showed for me a profoundly limited moral imagination. Jane H. really missed an opportunity for being a true visionary leader had she joined forces with us. Her imagination seemed more political than moral and thus she missed it.

Our fight for single payer was as I saw it helping them, not hurting them in their quest for saner health care, too. It still perplexes me. They fell right into the divide up and conquer game. Why vilify those who are doing the spade work for the big goal just because you maintain its time has not come but we all want it to happen, don't we? I still don't get it. Why make those on the same side as you but using a different strategy your enemy when you are both fighting such a huge and ruthless enemy? I am still confused on that one.

I feel exactly the same way.

And now we're beginning to see posts like this one from FDL paid bloggers, actually supporting Medicare for All, even using the phrase itself. I'm glad too see them coming over, of course. But it's pretty clear that the previous stance for the PO was purely political.

Btw, I can't remember, were you banned by FDL moderators, or did you leave in protest over sisterkenny's banning? It doesn't really matter, except that if you had a banning experience, then please share.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

I left pretty fast in protest at sisterkenny's ridiculous banning though I made some serious shots across Jane H's bow there at the end due to the graceless personal tone coming from Jane at those speaking their single payer minds and hearts. I thought Jane was about to open up to us and was trying to connect which she had signaled to me and then wham wham wham. WTF?

Again, I was so confused at the willful disharmony coming from those in the upper crust majority there and I think their personal loyalty to Jane made them less democratic and resilient to differing opinions ... it became overly personal for them because it was overly personal maybe to Jane, or they thought it was even more than I suspect it was. Why were we such a threat to them, anyway, and now looking back it was we who were the non-naive ones not they. Our little band of purists.

Thank God for the "purists". RFK, who asked "Why not?" That is what we were doing. The PO Trojan Horse. We could have and should have been on the same team fighting for sane health care. PO people were the media darlings who helped shove single payer out of the conversation entirely, which worked so well for the Obama betrayal agenda.

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. (Japanese proverb)

lizpolaris's picture
Submitted by lizpolaris on

So, to sum up - FDL believes in freedom of speech for Westboro Baptist Church but not for their own commenters. Lovely place. How's that health care party-line 'compromise' working out for them? Good to know they haven't abandoned their principle of enforcing strict adherence to approved 'Democratic' doctrine.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

your own experience at FDL, once again, Julia.

sisterkenney's picture
Submitted by sisterkenney on

in this blog (scroll down to about #120 for the gist-sorry, I can't do blocks tonite, puter acting up bigtime), and, FYI, Jane knew Darn well I was referring to the Tasini PAC, which at the time DID have only 9 donors, of which I was one (temporarily), and when I tried to reply to her charge, all of my subsequent comments were WIPED. I don't feel that I was overly hostile or aggressive in ANY of my comments, but see for yourself:
http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2009/12...
And for a contemporaneous take, see Vast's blog here (TY Vast :-) :
http://vastleft.blogspot.com/2009/12/sin...
You all can judge for yourselves how the moderation has been, and is being done there.

"Rule number one: pay attention"-Ded Bob

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

hypocrisy is a very widespread sin. But Bill does seem remarkably unaware of the contradictions in his position. Perhaps that's because he won't let anybody give him moral advice without having an angry reaction. It's hard to see your own hypocrisy when you won;t open yourself up to learning about it.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

good work than get into it on blogs that are going in the wrong direction. If the medicare for all blogs had higher hit counts, I guarantee you that the high traffic blogs would reconsider their views. When the voting machine critics began to leave Kos for other blogs, that is when other group blogs began to highlight problems with the voting machines. Firedoglake got much of its growth from refugees from Kos. Corrente grows because some people are tired of FDL.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

we can accelerate that process?

Submitted by Hugh on

There are different levels of moderation, or should be. The mods cleaned up a lot of the really bad stuff but I also remember that Jane tolerated some fairly obvious trolls. I rather thought she considered it a plus to let commenters mix it up with them. But with the sisterkenny, rusty1776, and cujo episodes mentioned in the post and thread, these were established members of the community. They were known not to be trolls. So really their comments belong in a different category. As long as they weren't advocating violence or flaming another commenter, something it is unlikely they would be doing, their comments should not have been censored, period. That they were disrespected the FDL commentariat as a whole and indicated that they were being censored/banned for political reasons and questioning the FDL party line, you know the one Jane keeps saying they don't have.

Hugh

Submitted by Hugh on

A few final points. The reason that no one can say for sure who was involved in many of these censorship incidents is due to the deliberately opaque way FDL is run. But, as people keep saying, Jane calls the shots at FDL and these episodes have her blessing. Rayne is Jane's chief enforcer, and she is editor of MyFDL. She sets the tone and executes Jane's policy. I have to say that in those diaries I have read where there have been moderator warnings and deletions they have almost always had Rayne's name attached. And Rayne's ties to and belief in the Democratic party are well known. She wrote about them many times. As ES has noted, FDL has an active back channel, possibly more than one, where matters like these get discussed. So it is highly improbable that Rusty1776 got banned without her knowledge and consent.

But the central point in all this is that FDL portrays itself, sells itself, as a progressive site, and it isn't. It isn't in its views, its ties to the Democratic party, and in the way it is run. Oh sure, there is a patina of progressivism. There are criticisms of the Democratic party but not a rejection of the party itself. Even then, most of the time most of the energy is directed against how crazy those Republicans are, not that the Democrats are just as bad. And how tired is it that they still use the line over and over about what Obama and the Democrats need to do to win back the base, etc. like after all this time that is ever going to happen.

Finally, there was the healthcare debate. As stomach turning as it was, I used to say that the one thing it did accomplish was it showed us once and for all who was who and what was what. Single payer was not some extreme left wing position. It is the norm in industrial countries. So its adoption by progressives in this country should have been a no-brainer, but we all know how it and supporters were treated at the supposedly progressive FDL. We all saw how Jane put a veal pen lobbyist in charge of that area of the blog which was supposed to represent the voice of the commentariat. In the healthcare debate, Jane did not lead. She dictated. She was bought by the very veal pen she helped name. She became their agent. She excoriated the very progressives she said she spoke for. She tried to foist what was an obvious political sham, the PO, on the FDL community and progressives generally. She acted badly and vindicately when they did not fall into line.

The thing about the PO was that from the start it never had a defined content. You could read anything you wanted into it because there was never anything actually there. This allowed politicians to say that they supported the PO, even a "robust" PO because a thousand times nothing is the same as ten times nothing. Most of us here have been through this many, many times but just consider, progressives were asked to forego a tried and proved option, single payer, for an alternative that never had a set of clearly defined principles attached to it, ever. We heard incessantly about what the PO should be or might be, but never what it was. Indeed we only learned of what the PO was by what it wasn't, as Obama and the Democrats whittled what it might have been down to the nothing it really was.

Jane likes to say she supported Obamacare until they ditched the public option, but this isn't really true. Jane stuck with the PO to the bitter end and even a little beyond. By the time Jane came around to opposing Obamacare the parameters of the PO, again its possibilities, not its reality, had already been reduced to a pathetic shell. It really was only when some of us began to point out that she was seriously eroding her credibility not just on this issue but generally that she finally moved into opposition. Even so, after it all was over, Jane and many of the FDL frontpagers were angrier and more bitter toward the single payer supporters than they were toward the Democrats who had conned them and stabbed them repeatedly in the back. So in the end, Jane really didn't even manage to salvage her credibility. I stayed for a few months after that before leaving because of a censorship episode in which I was involved, but I did so mostly because of the commenters and, as lets does now, to try keep a progressive fire burning there in spite of Jane and the increasingly Democratic posters there.

Hugh

ralphbon's picture
Submitted by ralphbon on

The thing about the PO was that from the start it never had a defined content.

Certainly, the most misleading aspect of the public option was the word "the."

ralphbon's picture
Submitted by ralphbon on

... by "public" and "option." But these had validity, at least, in the early aspirational visions of the PO--the bait before the switch.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Hi Ralph, How 'bout a few posts here. Corrente's old Ralph fans are all missing you.

ralphbon's picture
Submitted by ralphbon on

Blogging was easier when I was self-underemployed through 2009. Now logging on through my company's servers would be perilous on several counts, and I'm pretty wiped on the off hours.

On the current topic, I would counsel deep breaths all around. I regret the relatively short list of bannings to which I've been exposed, although only a minority of those (eg, sisterkenney's), were completely unprovoked, in my view. I'd like to see all those mentioned here unbanned...but let's get a grip. We're not talking about home foreclosures here; we're talking about a goddamn blog.

With luck, the wave of people power surging across the globe will kick us all out of the comment threads and into the streets, rendering moot the views and actions of blog moderators.

Submitted by hipparchia on

With luck, the wave of people power surging across the globe will kick us all out of the comment threads and into the streets, rendering moot the views and actions of blog moderators.

Submitted by Randall Kohn on

.

JFK has been shot, we miss him a lot
He always knew what to do

-- Philly Cream

Submitted by Anne on

at FDL before it was the huge thing it is now - back when TRex was in the house and Christy was still in the picture; I think Valley Girl can also speak to this time period.

I got involved in a situation where a commenter was led to believe that the reason her comments were not being posted was some internal glitch in the software, when, in fact, it was simply Jane deciding she had had enough of this person and wasn't interested in allowing her the ability to comment any longer. But God forbid Jane be honest about it.

I got caught in the middle, spent a lot of time trying to make the case for some semblance of honesty - but didn't make any headway. Eventually, I got tired of the games, was completely over TRex's misogyny and decided I did not want to be involved any longer.

Don't for one minute think that decisions aren't being made for wholly personal reasons - they are; what was happening before FDL conglomerated into what it is now is certainly still happening.

I read there from time to time, but I don't read the comments much; when I do, I see that the gang-mentality is still driving the whole operation: if you can't speak the party line, no one wants to hear from you.

Whatever FDL started out to be has been lost to some extent in Jane's business plan; I have no problem with someone creating and running a business, but I do have a problem when someone misrepresents that business as being about speaking truth to power when we can all see that power is what that business wants to be about.

I guess I am more cynical than some, given that I have been behind the curtain; whatever was going on when I was there has almost certainly not gotten better in the years since I left.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

Yep! You and I remember the same episode, back in the early days. You worked your heart out to be fair, but you didn't know the whole story, until you did. I knew a bit more than you did as this was raining down on the heads of the mods, as I had an extra level of behind the curtain access. I emailed Jane again and again, saying "please sort this out! please tell people (the other mods) what the deal is!" She never responded to any of these emails from me. And, then uh "someone" and certainly not me spilled the beans. No wonder the mods were pissed off.

This is an episode from the past, from the early days, but it was one of the most salient indicators to me that Jane had no interest in being transparent.

As to the rest of your comments, well, I agree, mostly, except I'm not sure about the party line thing. I can see two meanings. One would be Party with a capital P, as in Dem party. I haven't paid enough attention to FDL of late to know about this one. The other meaning would be small p as in "the FDL party line", and if that is what you mean, well, I heartily concur.

Submitted by Anne on

I was trying to work with Christy to get Jane to just tell the poster in question what was going on - and Christy, to her credit, understood the larger problem and was doing what she could to resolve it. Ultimately, though, it was all up to Jane, and no one wanted to cross her.

As for the "party line" thing, I was absolutely talking about the FDL party line - at that stage, it wasn't so much about the Democratic party.

It really used to get to me that so many people were so obviously writing comments to engender a positive response from Jane - it got way to "groupie" for me after a while, with people just clamoring for her approval and the whole blog losing its mission.

It was quite an experience, and I'm glad to have it behind me; I'm sure you share that feeling!

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Thank you Anne and Valley Girl for rounding out the picture, and making clear Jane's malign influence on the internal functioning of FDL. Top-down organizations always rot from the top down.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Thank you Anne and Valley Girl for rounding out the picture, and making clear Jane's malign influence on the internal functioning of FDL. Top-down organizations always rot from the top down.

Submitted by lambert on

.... showed up at Corrente, and after giving years of their lives, too.

There's a message there, for somebody, could they but hear it....

As far as moderation, I don't have oodles of time go meta, even if -- kudos, Corrente! -- this is the only interesting and useful meta thread I can recall reading. [Also, if I were good at human interaction, I wouldn't spend all my time online, so if I'm missing any implicit criticisms of moderation policies here, feel free to be direct.] But I will say:

1. I have always wanted Corrente to be all about the writing. Good writing and good writers should win, and bad writers and bad writing should lose. Now, the argument could be made that Corrente, using this standard, could end up infested by conservatives who write well. Ancient rhetoricians raised a similar issue, asking: "Is the good orator also a good man?" I would answer yes (for some definition of good, I grant) and would instance the public option as an example: No one could write well in support of the public option because it could be, and was, shown to be intellectually dishonest position from the very beginning. Hence, if we throw that writing against the basic tests of evidence and reasoning, or more sophisticated tools like the taxonomy of logical fallacies, the writing fails, the writers fail, and at some point, if they persist in their bad writing, they'll run afoul of one of the moderation rules, get tired of being beaten up and go away, or get banned. Alternatively, bad writers can display adaptability, and abandon their indefensible positions. And if this makes the threads seem like a high school debate squad in action, well, there are worse ways to be.

2. Hence, as a moderator, I think of myself more as a curator than an administrator; I curate writers, and if I don't like the way somebody writes (and that includes makng me invest time moderating them) I .... Well, I offer them the chance to display adaptability. Now, to be fair, and just like FDL, Corrente is or at least has not been a democracy. Linux has linus; Python has Guido; Perl has Larry Wall; Drupal has Dries... And Corrente (on its own much smaller scale) has lambert. In other words, there is an online tradition of more or less benevolent more or less dictatorship that can be shown to have delivered quality work that many people use.

3. So the moderation rules were painfully evolved to produce writing that I felt was good. (In part, this reflects my own evolution as a writer over the last several years; at this point, I'd rather be "the greatest swordsman in Japan" who never has to draw his sword at all. However, you'll notice that rule 9 is, exactly, benevolent dictatorship. In practice, it applies only to sophisticated players who've set out to game all the other rules and then pretend innocence. I've seen it all... And we are not playing games here....) And you'll notice, also, that it isn't conservative ideas that are banned, but conservative talking points. That's because: (1) the talking points are well known, and so there's a bright line to apply; and (2) the talking points are, by definition, bad writing. Now, again, I think that the corruption of conservative discourse is so complete and pervasive that there is no other kind of conservative writing, so the possibility of a conservative writer at Corrente is remote (though, personally, I'd welcome one such). There aren't equivalent rules for so-called liberal talking points because none of that crowd hang out here (we've got cooties) and so I never invested the time.

So that's another explanation of how I moderate. And although I've disappeared for the last few days (more anon) I'm extraordinarily pleased that matters haven't spun out of control and that people have been self-organizing and self-regulating.

NOTE Also, thanks very much to those commenters who've moderated on a larger scale; it's interesting to think that I'm writing for an audience of moderation connoisseurs. I have to say, though, that I think the approach outlined above would scale to a larger site, because most of the rules have bright lines and can be easily validated in an almost mechanical fashion (repeated refusal to supply evidence, for example). Mechanical rules scale, and the hard cases turn into an issue of editorial judgment which, if not exactly without arbitrariness, at least can be framed as not tribal (unlike la Hamsher).

UPDATE Oh, and so my answer to the question posed in the subject line is a '"Yes, but..." I don't think that "progressive values" can be moderated for directly, except in absolute edge cases like "hate fuck" or whatever that was. There are no bright lines to be drawn such that a user can know, in advance, what rules they are violating. So what kind of moderation system would that be? Arbitrary, tribal, you're in or you're out. Just like FDL, and all its endless behind the scenes discussion. However, we can moderate -- and I believe I have shown -- for writing that expresses progressive values by testing for proxies of those values (like evidence and reasoning; I mean, if you think that neo-liberalism can be supported by evidence and reasoning, have at it, eh? In fact, neo-liberalism fails purely considered on its own terms; it does not back up claims made. Bad writing, again.) Now, it is true, again, that the spectre of Rule 9 (arbitrary authority) lurks behind all this; but I do try to rattle before I strike, Basically, if I start quoting rules at a commenter, I'm considering exercising my curatorial function, so... Shape up!

UPDATE I suppose what Hipparchia calls Rule #1 applies here just as much as it does at FDL, at least in terms of control (I certainly hope not in terms of helping) except that I have a wildly different idea of what's worth controlling.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

wendy davis's picture
Submitted by wendy davis on

Good piece, letsgetitdone; and so much history and ID of the players at FDL and My.FDL in the comments. I like the framing of your title, and now see that Rusty’s banishment was of a piece with history there. Of course the answer should be , “Yes”, but as a couple commenters offered, it’s Jane’s House, so the practical matter boils down to “shoulds won’t matter much” unless she/they are incentivized to change their policies and/or actions, or open them to readers/diarists to debate them. Aside from writing here, do you imagine anything we can do to cause Rusty’s reinstatement? Or any others who might desire it?

Disclaimer: For what it’s worth, I don’t have the attachment to the place you all do. I’m not only new there, but I haven’t really found it satisfying as a blogging home. I left my long-time BH because it closed, tried another refugee site, and have largely left it voluntarily; I won’t digress as to the reasons, they likely don’t matter here.

I value Rusty as a diarist there, and find it foul that he’s been banned and we don’t know why, or who banned him. That said, I didn’t care for his morality-Obama blog, but I sure wasn’t offended, and asked why some were, but most of the answers seemed Crap to me, and some backed themselves into corners you mentioned, as in ‘policies shouldn’t be held up to moral scrutiny’. To me Rusty’s style and content in that one was almost guaranteed to have gotten the site owner and administrators in a defensive mode given who they seem to be.
It was the ‘right between the eyes’ approach, as opposed to the ‘sliding under someone’s defenses’ tactic, which is usually more effective with those with such well-defined and fully-gelled personalities. ;o)

What you described about the moderation reminded me of Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘This week in unnecessary moderation’ in which the moderation itself makes even an innocuous comment look bad; only these weren’t about humor, but something different. And yep; it would be nice to know what it was. I like your points about separating that power from those with obvious bias, and that open and progressive values should be valued there. One of the primary reasons I blog is sharing in the free marketplace of ideas, and when that’s limited in such a biased way, it loses its appeal to me, and we are all the poorer for it.

I had an innocent question removed from one of Jane’s diaries; I posted it again, and I did mention the first one ‘hadn’t taken’. ;o) It may have happened before and I didn’t notice, but I have been smacked a few times by Rayne and Jane.

I really don’t mind when Rayne or other mods drop into a post the site disclaimer about not sponsoring third party movements or violence; it seems to me to be a fair way to deal with their understandable anxiety over those things being used against them.

Reading the many good comments here has me a bit more depressed about the possibility of getting Rusty and the others reinstated, and it doesn’t seem likely that we can provide enough incentive for management to announce publicly what the rules really are, and who enforces them, and why. But I’m willing to push back if anyone’s game. I wrote most of this three days ago, but there was some lag getting approved for an account here. (I’ll skip the easy self-deprecating jokes here…)

My FDL seems like a tomb this week, and I wonder if all this banning/faux-moderating has caused it. I can’t want to post there right now, and I stare at Bill’s Watercoolers (now that I know that’s where we’re ‘allowed’ to make objections to management and ask for answers, but it does seem futile to weigh in unless there is a wider movement for it.

I find FDL to be pretty humorless, and I’m coming to believe that the folks like Canvas who believe that disarming humor is one of the most effective tools to make a point, and I wonder if that might be a good tone to take: showing the absurdity of their control with ironic humor. Though right now I’m not feeling a bit funny, so I’m unable to provide examples.

Anyway, let me know. It’s even possible no one will read this by now. Sorry for being so very verbose. ;o)

Submitted by lambert on

They show up in sidebars, and also in various lists of posts and comments accessible from the menus up top (though some don't update as fast as they might). For example, the poster here should be able to see that this post has changed with new comments.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by hipparchia on

thanks for writing it. and no need to apologize for being 'verbose'.

I wrote most of this three days ago, but there was some lag getting approved for an account here. (I’ll skip the easy self-deprecating jokes here…)

hehe, it took me nearly two weeks to get approved for an account!

approving accounts is like moderation, it's just one of the many [usually invisible] tasks associated with running a blog. there are basically only two ways to do this: 1. let everybody have immediate approval and then go back and weed out the bots and spammers later, or 2. weed out the bots and spammers first and then only approve the ones who seem to be real people.

wendy davis's picture
Submitted by wendy davis on

Well I seem to have fooled him for now. But you? Hipparchia???He probably spent the two weeks wondering if you would be Writing While Nekkid! Bad Form for most blogsites. But then perhaps he had a 'what the hell' moment and approved you.

I won't ask about your blogging attire...

Submitted by hipparchia on

like that of the original hipparchia, is mostly the same attire that the dudes of my era [generally] wear. i'm not doing this in stockings and high heels [not that there's anything wrong with that :) ]

i registered during the primary warz, so there were a lot of people trying to get in the door at the same time.

wendy davis's picture
Submitted by wendy davis on

to refresh my memory of Hipparchia. It mentioned 'undress' more often than 'male dress'; it cracked me up. And heels?? Whazzat? ;o)

I totally get the registration; I was telling folks I must have flunked the 'prove you are human' essay question.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

has lambert regretted that decision.

Submitted by lambert on

... all who are human are approved. The purpose of the "Turing test" on account application is to screen out the spammers and SEO weasels, period. (Well north of 80% of account applications are not legit, and this is after the Captchas.)

So, all humans get accounts, and all posts are front-paged (and not silo-ed off into the water cooler or some such). However, with trust comes responsibility, and I trust the Correntians to force bad writers to display adaptability and survive by writing better, and the moderation rules (and the moderator) are there to provides the environment for that to happen. That's the theory, and on this scale it's held up pretty well so far. The very rare exceptions who beat the system play games, but I know all the games, because, before I became the greatest swordsman in Japan, I played them all. So they get sorted too. There may have been some rare cases where I got that wrong, because le stile c'est l'homme, and "playing games" can be pretty subjective. But the quality of discourse at Corrente is all important for the blog to survive, so erring on the side of caution is best.

I don't know if this process would be more democratic or progressive if it were done by committee. And I don't want any kind of thumbs up or thumbs down concept, as at Kos, because the social dynamics are hideous; people gang up on each other.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by hipparchia on

after the captchas?? i had no idea it was that bad.

Submitted by lambert on

Not really bots, either. Humans from Bangla Desh or Sri Lanka, paid a few pennies to get an account and then post a link to a home decorator shop or a plumbing supply business.

There should really be a better way to feed them and make real sales....

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Thanks for your thoughts. I doubt whether Rusty can be re-instated. But if you're really displeased blog about the incident elsewhere. If a bunch of us make a fuss about it and FDL has to endure that going on in other blogs where they control, they will know there's a at least a small price to pay for engaging in this kind of behavior and may hesitate next time. In any event, I'm all for people paying prices when they act unfairly.

wendy davis's picture
Submitted by wendy davis on

Rusty via email has been upset by my lack of support there, but by now we both have calmed down a bit (grin). We swapped messages today, and I told him that I would see what anyone here wanted to do in terms of a group effort. After reading the comments here, I can see that his (and others) reinstatement seems highly unlikely, but I do wonder if the whole event isn't what's keeping so many away from the site. I have little wish to write a diary write now, and have even resorted to commenting at (the ********) dagblog. ;o)

I told Rusty I'd be glad to paste in a message for him here, but haven't heard back yet. He wanted to get loads of new progressive bloggers to sign in there to tip the balance. My reply was that none of my friends I enticed there stayed. We got spoiled by TPM, and the long conversations we were able to have; some would go on for days. There were some flame-wars, but in general, some of the best writing got done when bloggers needed to make their arguments COUNT.

I'm looking out the solar windows at a thick snowfall coming down; I am engulfed by ennui, I guess, and can't fathom what part I might play at fdl; as I said, I have always felt like a stranger there.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

you'll feel part of things in no time at all. So, I hope you get your motivation back and start blogging here soon.

Submitted by lambert on

I had no idea the comment threads at TPM were good for anything at all. It's a big blogosphere, isn't it?

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by lambert on

This, again, is in the moderation rules.

1. In general,* content is not removed (except from spammers or SEO weasels). Even if an account is banned, the content remains, whether posts or comments.

2. In the case of "cancel my fucking account," the account is actually deleted (instead of merely banned, meaning no permission to do anything, including log in) and as a result, the accounts content becomes attributed to "anonymous." That's a technical outcome from the way Drupal is designed, but I think it's fine as a policy, too.

* The exceptions to #1 are very very rare, like two digits rare, over the life of the blog. "Hate fuck" was one, IIRC

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Rusty is aware of this thread and I've invited him to come to Corrente. Now it's up to him.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

nt

Because the problem is not that we have too little condescension from our tribe. -- okanogen