Today my webmaster has informed me that we posted our 300’000th moderated comment, which is quite a remarkable milestone! And at this occasion, I want to thank all the moderators, past and present, for the absolutely *crucial* service they have provided us.
Your job is both an extremely important one and an extremely difficult one. I know because before you came to help me, I did it myself and I remember how hard and often exhausting this work was. The best proof of how difficult your job is can be found by simply looking what is happening elsewhere on the Internet. We have two basic models:
Model 1: no moderation whatsoever. These are the websites/blogs which don’t really have any moderation. Some of these will block clearly illegal posts, calls for violence, etc. but short of posting something truly over the top, your comment will be posted, no matter how stupid, illiterate, nasty or otherwise unhelpful. In my experience these websites/blogs *always* end up being hijacked by the worst of the worst of the trolls (paid or not), nutcases and otherwise nasty characters. Frankly, the Internet is the ideal place for the expression of all sorts of nasty sentiments because of the relative anonymity and impunity even the nastiest of trolls can usually hide behind. Furthermore, there are a lot of bona fide nutcases, truly insane people, who seem to believe that a comment section is the ideal place for them to post even the most idiotic or nasty things. We have one such troll here who continues to try to post his crazy racist rants (mostly directed at the UK for some reason) in spite of being banned for years already. Either he/she never checks his/her posts, or he/she is truly completely insane, or what we are dealing with is some computer-generated “commentator” which is programmed to flood the comments section with silly posts. Whatever may be the case, it is my belief that an unmoderated comment section rapidly turns into the worst can of sewer where intelligent conversations simply become impossible.
Model 2: no comments section. That is often found on website/blogs whose authors are so fed up with the constant stream of nastiness and stupidity that they decide to pull the plug on the entire concept rather than having to deal with it. Were it not for you – our wonderful moderators – this is probably what I would have done a long time ago. But thanks to you, I did not have to do that. And so, thanks to you, we can enjoy what many believe is one of the best comments section on the blogosphere. Now I want to address one very important issue here.
We have all seen the accusations: This is censorship!! The Saker blog is censored!! The Saker only allows sycophants and groupies but any dissenting opinion is immediately censored!! In fact, there are quite a few folks out there who were moderated here and who were infinitely offended by that and who now spew anti-Saker hatred in many comments section elsewhere simply because they cannot do that here :-) Furthermore, since the Saker Blog is one of the very *few* blogs out there without a clear ideological allegiance (just check the amazing diversity of opinions and guest authors we have!) these accusations are outright funny.
In truth, this is all baloney. The reality is these folks are absolutely furious because they have been told 1) to behave or, if not 2) to leave. Somehow, they feel that they are entitled to write anything and everything and God forbid anybody would tell them to “can it”. The sense of entitlement and even outright narcissism of these characters never ceases to amuse me. Both Herb and myself (yes – in spite of moderation rule #0) have had to deal with many emails of outraged folks who *demand* that their comments be posted “or else…”. The “or else…” is usually limited to them whining about being mistreated on the Saker blog (especially on blogs which dislike me or what I write, for whatever reason).
What you – the moderators – never see are all the emails I get expressing gratitude and admiration for the way the moderators keep policing the comments section and fostering intelligent discussion. But I get these emails all the time. Furthermore, in my experience, for every one person being really angry and slamming the door with a parting “if that is so then I am leaving” there are typically many more who are deeply grateful to see the nasty character being shown to the door. They also seem to believe that if they leave in a fit of rage, millions will follow them. They don’t :-) and, in reality, for all the accusations, the truth is that our blog is booming and that it does so thanks, at least in part, to the superb performance of the moderators!
Finally, what most people forget is that the choice is not between “no moderation” and “perfect moderation” because the latter simply does not exist. We all are humans, with our individual weaknesses and biases, and no form of moderation is truly perfect. The real choice is thus between “no moderation” (which leads to chaos and what I call the “sewer”) and “imperfect” moderation. I challenge those who complain about our moderation to volunteer and do better!
[Important sidebar: for those who are not aware of this, here is how moderation works on this blog: the moderators never “censor” a comment by themselves. What they do is this: when they see a comment which looks obviously fine, they clear it for posting. Any other comment, including dubious ones, are placed in a special category where I, the Saker, personally review every one of them before taking the final decision. This means that IF your comment was intercepted, two things happened: first, a moderator flagged it and, second, I then agreed with the decision of the moderator and sent that comment to trash. Furthermore, at least two people, the moderator on duty and myself, agreed that your comment was a problematic one. So you can say that the moderators are like cops: they only intercept comments and bring them to me; I act like the judge and pass the final sentence on each flagged comment. In other words, if your comment was intercepted, blame only me and not the moderators. ]
In conclusion, I want to express here my immense gratitude to all the moderators: you have done an absolutely superb job and the only reason why we have a comments section to begin with (and a very good one!) is you! If you were not here, I would have to close down the comments section as I simply don’t have the physical time to moderate anything myself. I know that you get a lot of flak from “unhappy customers” but I promise you that there are many, many, more who also share my deepest gratitude for you and your superb work. As to those who are angry at us, they probably don’t realize the kind of stuff which we – you and I – have to deal with on a daily basis and the many tens of thousands of fantastically nasty, rude, stupid and otherwise nauseating comments we have kept away from our comments section.
So, dear friends, THANK YOU for all you have done and for all you are doing!!!
Hugs and cheers and tons of thanks,