Thin skin – ctd.

I thought the discussion in the comments of my prior post was worthwhile. One thing it revealed is that comment censorship on moderated sites is not a search good (you can’t know if your comment will be censored in advance). It’s, at best, an experience good (if you experience it and understand why) and, for many, a credence good (unobservable or incomprehensible).

That’s what makes censorship — or potential censorship — troublesome from the consumer (commenter) point of view. It’s also troublesome from the producer’s (comment moderator’s) perspective. It’s a highly loaded charge — not unlike that of “bullying” — that’s costless* to make, yet impossible to disprove.

This is not ideal. So, here’s my proposal to you: if your comment doesn’t appear after a few days, send it to me by email along with the date and time you posted it, as well as the handle and email address you entered on TIE upon submission, and I’ll indicate why it hasn’t been posted. This requires you to keep a copy of your comment. I insist on this because (a) I don’t want to go digging through the voluminous spam, (b) the spam/trash bins get emptied and your comment could very well be gone, (c) I have other things to do. We’ve had comments mysteriously disappear before, by the way. Technology isn’t perfect. One other stipulation: each individual is only allowed to send me, at most, one such comment check request per day. Even then, allow me some time to look into it. If you pester me, I’m not going to be very responsive. Them’s the rules.

(Oh, fine, one more rule. If this doesn’t go well for some reason, I’ll stop the service and possibly turn off all comments, quit blogging, and move to Canada. That should go without saying.)

When you send me such an email, I won’t engage in a back-and-forth on it, but will just reply once to highlight the relevant part of the comment policy you were judged to have violated. You can then clean up your comment and resubmit it, accept our judgement and not, or decide we’re wrong and stomp off, with the freedom to post it elsewhere, of course.

This offer converts the comment moderation/censorship credence good into a potential experience good for anyone wishing to avail themselves of the service. I’m willing to make this offer because we actually don’t reject very many comments, as I said. Also, even for the few we rejected, I bet the authors know why. (Some are grateful.)

I also think this is a very strong signal that we’re not in the business of the censorship of ideas. We just don’t like rude and inappropriate comments and behavior that wastes our time and energy.

* It’s not entirely cost free if you consider the possible response of the individual or institution against which the charge is made. It being potentially trollish and rude, a response that might be considered a cost (like banning you from participating in the forum) is always possible.


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