As promised, I am now sharing with you the reasons which prompted my decision to initiated a reform the comments section and the solutions I am thinking of. Most importantly, I ask for your input as this should be a community-wide discussion.
But first, sorry, I need to vent. There are a few things which I have mentioned in the past, but I feel that I need to get them off my chest even if this triggers yet another outcry of outraged protests.
Dealing with the left side of the Bell Curve:
Simply put – I am sick and tired of stupid people.
And I don’t mean “stupid” as in insult here, I mean it in the sense of people with evidently low-intelligence. I am especially frustrated with those who never read what it says, but who somehow read ‘into’ what they think a text says. This might be the result of being, well, stupid, or a lack of education in logical thinking, or both. But these are the folks who when you write “most Bolsheviks were Jews” conclude that “most Jews were Bolsheviks“. Then they typically add something like “in other words all Jews are evil” or “so what you are really saying is that Russians played no role in the Bolshevik revolution“. These people frustrate me to tears. I often feel like screaming at them from the top of my lungs “I wrote what I wrote because I wanted to write what I wrote!! If I wanted to write something else, I would have written something else!!” and then proceed to bash their faces into a pulp with a brick. Okay, I usually clam down in seconds, but yeah, this kind of people drive me crazy, they have been the bane of this blog since day 1 and by now I just want them to go away. Most of their “contributions” to any discussion are worthless sophomoric ad hominems, logical fallacies and straw man arguments anyway…
I want to this blog to be aimed at 1) adult 2) intelligent and 3) educated people (and I don’t mean “educated” in the sense of having some academic degree, God knows there are plenty of idiots out there with PhDs; I mean educated in the sense of “taught how to think logically”).
Dealing with narcissistic homosexuals
A much smaller group that the one above, they are, however, a much more tenacious group who truly and sincerely believe that they have to constantly preach for the “non-discrimination” and recognition of “homosexuality as a normal and healthy variation of human sexuality”. These are the folks who are deeply convinced that their sexual psychopathology is a sacred cow to which the entire universe has to bow in awe and admiration. Well, screw them (metaphorically, of course), I think that I am going to follow the example of the city of Moscow and ban “gay pride parades” (in the comments section) for the next 100 years :-) And if somebody wants to think that this is an expression of my “homophobia” (i.e. fear or hatred for homosexuals), then that is their problem. These folks have abused my patience and it is high time for me to show them to the door.
Dealing with false categories such as “The Jews” or “The Muslims”
That is a big one. As I have mentioned recently, in some people – including often Jews themselves – the word “Jew” seems to trigger an instantaneous disconnection of the cerebral cortex combined with a simultaneous outburst of hateful rage. As a result, many simply shy away from ever mentioning the “J” word. I don’t think that this is the right approach. Jews have played a huge role in the 20th century, they still are playing a huge role internationally, and Jewish ideologies such as Zionism, Trotskyism, Neo-Conservatism or Rabbinical Talmudism (aka “Orthodox Judaism”) are still playing a major and extremely toxic role in modern politics. To ignore this would be crazy. Alas, there are also those who wish to blame anything and everything on “the Jews” as if such a category even existed. Saying “the Jews” is as stupid and ignorant as saying “the Muslims” or, for that matter, “the Christians”. These categories make no sense whatsoever other than, maybe, being “conceptual containers” for slogans and fallacies. They should not be used on the Saker blog.
Dealing with colors
Friends, there is no such thing as a White person. No such thing as a Black person either. Some of us have lighter and darker skins, that is true, but to use colors as cultural or, worse, racial markers is simply counter-factual. Of course, there are powerful political interests out there who want to frame the debate in terms of White vs Black, but why should we, intelligent educated adults, agree to this? Does it really make sense to take a Bayaka, a Tutsi, an Amhara, a Tamil and a Torres Strait Islander (all with very dark, black, skins) and call them “Blacks”?! How about an Icelander, a Slovak and a Portuguese?! So let me get something else off my chest: the only reason why the categories Black and White are so often used in the USA is because of an almost total lack of any other true cultural affiliation. If the so-called Blacks and Whites in the USA had kept their European and African cultures they would never have endorse any Black or White identities. This is, if anything, a tragedy, but we don’t have to start using these clearly meaningless categories simply because so many Americans are rootless. So (skin-)color based comments should not be used on the Saker blog.
Dealing with bona fide trolls and paid hasbara propagandists
They exist, no doubt about that, but they are, I think, still a minority, at least on this blog. When I coined the expression “Anglo-Zionist” I did get a lot of pressure from what I call “anti-anti-Semites” to stop using it, true. And then, for a year or so, I have been getting a deluge of emails accusing me of both being an anti-Semite and a “Jew lover” (as if loving anybody could ever be a bad thing!). I also got tons of emails from a category I call “offended Nazis” who felt that I was being unfair to the Nazis or that I was buying into Jewish propaganda. But now I think that both sides have more or less given up in total disgust, and that’s good. But yeah, they still resurface here on a regular basis and post their usual inanities. We need to do something to further discourage them.
Bottom line: I am sick and tired of all of them.
Now that I (finally!) got that off my chest, I want to stress something here: I posted the above solely to share with you my frustrations, to give you a context for my current thinking. I do not, repeat, NOT want to open the floor for a discussion of stupid people, homos, false categories, colors or trolls and propagandists. Again, let me repeat this, you are not invited to discuss any of that, not right here and not right now.
Right now I want to solely focus on the tough question of what to do about these problem.
My first inclination was to allow comments only by registered people. I would not demand that anybody reveal his/her real identity, but I would demand that anybody wanting to post a comment first create and username and a password before posting.
My webmaster, Herb, has advised me against it. Not only that, but I think that he might have come up with a much more elegant idea:
What if we created a “Gold membership” or something similar? Commentators would be given the option to apply for this status and, if accepted, it would give them the right to post comments without going through moderation. Not only that, but we could offer each visitor the option to view the comments section with either “show all comments” or “show only Gold member comments” activated. This way nobody would be forced to sign up for anything, but those commentators who provide the best and most interesting comments would be rewarded (and encouraged) by being given this special status: no moderation, instant publication and high “visibility”.
Let me immediately add that obtaining such a “Gold membership” status will not be automatic or even easy. I would be the only person deciding to grant/deny this status and it could be removable at any time. And to get it you would have to prove that you have a history of non-banned comments, but of quality non-banned comments.
Furthermore, there are a few problems with that concept which we need to discuss.
My deputy webmaster, Zapek, as warned of a potential problem “if a gold member replies to a non-gold comment, the context is lost“. To which Herb replied “could post a shadow comment acting as a placeholder for non-viewable comments … then it would be up to reader if he wants to switch to view all or just keep viewing gold comments“. Zapek then replied “For threaded conversations I don’t think there’s a solution at all. The question is if people are willing to see replies made to void. Personally I wouldn’t. An alternative would be to hide the empty comments (non-gold users who haven’t been replied to) but then it gets more complicated“.
So, bottom line, I personally like the idea a lot, but we are still in the initial stages of discussion and a lot of things need to be ironed out. So, please let us all know what you think about this idea.
Other possible options I might want to look into include:
- Completely or partially re-writing the moderation policy
- Be much quicker in banning aggravating commentators
Let me make something unambiguously clear: commenting here is not a “right” and I owe nobody anything. I see commentators as invited guest whose contribution is appreciated and add an immense value to this blog, but that means that I also want to make darn sure that my guest remain in good company. Frankly, the way I see it I have a substantial, but not huge, number of regular commentators whose contribution is superb and most appreciated. Then I have a very large number of commentators who rarely comment, but when they do their comments are always interesting to read and make good points. These irregular but good commentators should not get penalized in any way. And then there is a small group of highly driven and individuals who act like spoiled teenagers: ignorant, not very smart, but extremely arrogant and self-centered. These guys simply don’t belong here. What I need is a fair way to “separate the wheat from the chaff”.
Please help me make that happen.
Every single time I asked our Community for help in the past you guys delivered, every time. I have no doubt that this time around you will also help me take the correct decision.
Please let me know what you think and what you suggest I do. Let’s give it a week or so until everybody has been given enough time to post his/her comments, does that sound like a reasonable plan?
I don’t want to take a “top->down”, unilateral, decision if I can avoid doing so. While I am the host here, morally this blog “belongs” to you all, the Saker Community, and want to make sure that you have your say.
Thanks a lot in advance, kind regards, cheers and hugs to all,