• There’s no hidden agenda on comments

    Every so often someone accuses us of blocking comments because we object to opposing points of view. Because you’re not privy to comments that aren’t approved you can’t know how far from the truth this is. If you trust me, you’ll believe me that it is very far. It is, in fact, false.

    But you don’t have to just trust me. One way to satisfy yourself that we don’t weed out opposing views is to read the comments that are approved. You’ll find many that push back. For instance, John Goodman has offered many comments in opposition to points we’ve made in our review of his book. All of them have been approved. Just ask him.* John is not an isolated case. There are many opposing voices in the comments on TIE. Just read them, and you’ll see. If we were afraid of opposition, you’d not find these. If we were afraid of opposition, we’d have an awfully hard time participating in the health policy dialog. If you haven’t noticed, it’s rife with strong, opposing views.

    Another way to satisfy yourself is to read the comments policy. It enumerates exactly how we moderate comments. We adhere to that policy. The backstory explains why: that policy, as well as our methods of application of it, was developed to make blog administration more transparent to potential funding organizations that cared that we were as fair and open to all voices as possible. I explain this to demonstrate how seriously we take it. If we applied a viewpoint filter, we’d be foolish not to disclose it in the policy. I say “foolish” because imagine the difficulty we’d be in if a funding organization discovered that we were filtering comments in a way that wasn’t transparent. That would be very embarrassing and might jeopardize a good opportunity for us.**

    To be sure, applying the comments policy involves a degree of subjectivity. For example, what is “rude”? Well, that’s up to us, it always will be, and it is not subject to discussion. This is our house, and applying a comments policy of our choosing in our own way is our privilege. We make it as transparent as possible, but we can’t define all the ways people might be rude, vulgar, belligerent, etc. When we block comments for these reasons, we are not taking away your voice! We’re just asking some of you to express yours elsewhere. If you wish to be those things, you are free to start your own blog and fill it up with any content you like and administer comments as you see fit. That is your privilege.

    I’ll let you know right now, anyone who accuses me of filtering comments to weed out views I don’t like is, in my view, rude. If you came into my house and told me I was biased and unable to listen to other points of view I’d feel the same way. Though I’m open to opposing points of view, I am not open to other people telling me that I have ulterior motives. If you came into my house and suggested as much I would not invite you back. Get it?

    * Full disclosure: A week or so ago, we had a technical error that led him to submit multiple, similar comments. In consultation with John, we worked out which of those similar comments he wanted us to approve, and we didn’t approve the redundant ones.

    ** The blog currently receives no financial support, but we have in the past. When we are receiving support for blog content we disclose that on our About page.


    • In my experience, those who complain that comments are being blocked are usually more interested in arguing for arguments sake than in having productive discussions.

      I find it hard to believe you’re blocking comments from opposing views. I say that as someone who’s posted more than one comment that is not in direct agreement with what’s posted here.

      Keep up the good work and don’t let the **** get you down.

      • I always appreciate your comments, foosion. No matter what you’re expressing you never come anywhere near the lines suggested in the comments policy. You are among the regulars whose comments I don’t even have to read to know they’re not violating any of the guidelines. (But I read them anyway!)

    • Almost 4 years ago, I too began a wordlpress blog. As a Primary Physician for now 37 years, I can only imagine the comments that might have shown up. Anticipating the resultant exposure, I decided to close the comment capability. The underlying angst of your post is palapable. You have my admiration for the continued commitment to foster transparency, trust and collaboration – all too rare these days. pjn

      • It’s the nature of the internet that the rules are even necessary. I bet that the vast majority of inappropriate comments would not be made to our faces. That people don’t get this and are upset when we have to block their comments does pain me. It’s sad, really.