While I am in the process of fully re-involving me with the fulltime work on the blog, I wanted to share a few things with you.
First, now that I am fully back, I want to ask our guest authors to return to the practice of sending me their contributions to the usual email address: [email protected] and not to my assistant Amarynth as we have been doing over the past 3 months (and for some even before).
I want to use this opportunity to thank Amarynth for the immense work she has done so superbly for the blog, especially during my leave of absence. We all owe her a debt of gratitude for all she has done.
Second, I need to share a “good news, bad news” thingie with you. First, the (apparent) good news: during the early months of this year, the blog served over 10 million pages a month. Then, when then Russian SMO seemed to produce less “breaking news”, this number gradually began to go down, and even more so after I had to take my leave of absence. I asked our chief of IT and webmaster Herb, and he told me that we are down at about 5 million now. That is about half of our max, but much more importantly, this is STILL way above are usual “cursing speed” of about 1,5-2 million pages served per month. Is that a good or a bad thing? I will let you judge after reading this:
First, this huge visibility resulted in a very sophisticated attack against our servers. While in the past some script kiddies did try a few things, this time it was clearly a well coordinated, sophisticated and carefully targeted attack, which points to some source of big money, probably a private group hired by a state actor. Thanks to the superb and critical job of Herb and one more person, we eventually bounced back.
Still, all this means is that those who tried to silence us will try to do so again.
The problem is that this explosion in readership brought A LOT of new commentators who are not regular readers of the blog and whose comments were often quite disruptive of the normal mood of our comments section. So alongside plenty of very good commentators, many with true expertise, we good flooded with all sorts of very unhelpful types, including for example these:
GROUP A: the sincere (however misguided) ones
- “Drive by commentators”: they leave one sentence, such as ” this author is an IDIOT”. No argument, nothing, just an insult.
- “Preachers”: they have some agenda, say that nuclear weapons are an invention and do not exist. They will not even bother reading the article, they will just plug their slogans.
- “Jew haters”: for these folks, Jew and only Jews, are responsible for all the bad things in creation, so all they can talk about is Jews, Jews, Jews and more Jews. These are the folks who will use that stupid trick of writing trick (((Raevsky))) around the name of anybody they suspect might be a Jew.
- “Religious nutcases and assorted Bible-thumpers”: for them it is all about quoting Scripture ad nauseam no matter what the topic is. The worst of those are those who *think* that they know something about Christianity but, in reality, not only know close to nothing, but the little they know, they wholly misunderstand. They will bombard you with scriptural quotes to try to hide their own ignorance of the Scripture and its meanings.
- “Brainwashed corporate media drones”: they will say that they read in, say, the so-called Institute for the Study of War, Foreign Policy or even CNN/FOX that the Russians are out of ammo, Putin has cancer, and the latest US Wunderwaffe will turn the tide and defeat Russia.
- “Self-advertisers”: they just want to use the comments section to “plug” their website, book, ideology, etc.
- “The offended ones”” these are the folks who are offended by something a guest author or myself have written and they are on a vendetta to get back to me/us.
- “The entitled ones”: they believe that commenting on the Saker blog is a God given right, even if they don’t bother reading the moderation rules, and if their comment is not posted, they get seriously offended.
- “Idiots”: these are folks who are too dull to realize their level of ignorance and incompetence. They think that they have the “right” to their opinion and they deliver their inanities with great gravitas and pomp. When their comments get intercepted, they go into rage.
- “Sloganeers”. They are under the mistaken impression that a few disjointed sentences brough together in a paragraph amount to an argument. Typically, here is what they would write like this: “Putin is just a WEF puppet. The Russian army is getting hammered by HIMARS. Russia will soon run out of aircraft. So-and-so is a scumbag (and probably a Jew). The US F-22s and F-35 can quickly defeat the Russian forces.” 5 slogans, separated by period, no factoids, no substantiation, nothing but slogans. And BOY do they get offended if you tell them that they need to learn how to think before sharing their “gems of wisdom” with the rest of the planet.
There are many more, but I will stop here.
GROUP B: the deliberate trolls
- Technique one: they flood the comments with questions/statements which are aimed at pushing the discussion within the confines of the official narrative. For example, they will repeat mantrically that the Ukrainians have defeated Russian forces in this or that location.
- Technique two: they wait for a new post, and then the pounce like a pack of wolves. The idea is that if under an article the 10 out of 12 comments are very negative, then the article probably deserves that. That is an old psychological trick (read up on the Asch conformity experiment for interesting details).
GROUP C: computer generated trolls
- These are trolls which don’t exist, they are just paid PSYOP operators supported by AI machines. One of the things which gives them away is that they never check if their comments are posted. We have had some of these which for YEARS post 3-10 comments PER DAY even though we banned them many years ago and none of their comments ever get posted. Yet they still continue.
Now, I would argue that the only perfect comments section is one which does not exist. For any other comments section, even a very well managed one, there will always be “leakers”, that is just a fact of life.
I do not want to close the comment section simply because for all the problems and frustrations many of us, including myself, have had with it, it represents something important to our readers and the Saker community. However, I do feel that due to the sharp increase in readership and the proportional sharp increase in “troll attacks” (let’s call them that), I want to make the following changes:
First, I want to restrict the comments section only to those who have signed up and where given login credentials, that is a username and password. And just to clarify, you do NOT have to use your real name so your anonymity is not threatened here. The goals for this measure are:
- Make “drive by comments” impossible
- To easily eject any of the types of commentators I described above in “GROUP A”.
- To inject a sense of responsibility into those commentators who think that the comments section is their private and personal trash bin into which they can spit, or worse, with no regards for others.
- I want to reduce the workload for the moderators. Without giving our any real figures, I can tell you that the number of intercepted comments on a daily basis is typically over 30 and often higher than that. As for our list of banned trolls, it is over 100 entries long.
IMPORTANT NOTE: even after this change, all the rules of moderation will remain in place and the moderators will STILL parse every comment. I do hope, however, that their workload could be eased and brought back to more manageable numbers.
Second, from now on (well, after a transition period of maybe a week or two), I want to give each guest author the option to chose “I do want comments under my article” or “I do not want comments under my article”.
Why? Because some of our authors are literally persecuted by various groups and interests who try to pollute the comments section under anything these targeted authors write. The goal here is also to provide each author with a “safe and clean” place to share his/her ideas.
To me this measure is a no brainer and uncontroversial. Think of it as a courtesy to our honored guests :-)
Now a last comment about yours truly: when I came back to the blog, a week ago, I did not expect two things to happen. First, as Murphy’s law would mandate it, I got sick with COVID, and in my case, pretty severely. So I was “out” from Monday until Friday. Now I am happy to report that I am doing well again, I just need a few days to get over the residual exhaustion of my body (slept 14 hours last night!). But, again, I am 100% fine, no need to worry or advise me on meds. However, that explains why I did not write anything since last week.
Second, when I came back there were quite a few administrative problems (including the comments section issues I mention above) which also took the little time and energy I had to deal with them first. I am dealing with them now and I am confident that at the end of this process, things will be better than before. I just ask for two things:
- Please be a little more patient during this transition/reorganization period
- Forgive me for a slower than expected transition to fulltime writing as I will have to spend a lot of time dealing with “behind the scenes” before I can fully dedicated myself to writing analyses.
Right now all of the above is our plan, and we will keep you posted. There might be a few false starts and kinks to deal with, but the bottom line is this: we are simplifying/optimizing how we work behind the scenes and this will only benefit the blog and its readers.
That’s my news update for the day.
I wish you a great Sunday!