I don’t typically get a lot of comments on my blog.

Partly I wish that I got more, but partly I am glad that I don’t get too many comments because it means that I don’t often have to deal with too much spam or too many trolls. There is a whole lotta crazy out there on the internet. I don’t think that it is possible to be a part of the internet culture without having to deal with a little bit of spam or without getting riled up about an inflammatory comment (whether or not you choose to respond to either), but it is one thing to sort through missives from Nigerian princes who desperately want to transfer their fortune into your account and it is quite another to have someone comment on your work or your opinions with language and concepts that you don’t agree with and sometimes make you feel like chum.

Personally I try to moderate the comments that come in on my posts as little as possible. I believe that in general everyone has a right to their opinion and if it doesn’t agree with mine then I should try to take it either as constructive criticism or as a reminder that my own opinions are not the be-all-and-end-all of how the world works. Also I get so few comments that I value getting any response at all because it means that someone felt strongly enough to share their thoughts with me.

So the bottom line is that I try to moderate comments that come in on my blog without censoring them.

Sometimes this is easier than others.

Recently I received a comment that I am 90% sure was spam and I marked it as such, but I wasn’t 100% sure and that worried me. The comment was longer than my post- almost two or three times longer- and seemed to put forth a strong opinion on… well, I wasn’t sure what. Every third or ‘fourth’ word was in ‘quotation marks’ which could either have ‘been’ for emphasis or for some ‘kind’ of search engine keywording. To me it read like William Shatner reading a transcript of someone switching radio stations at the far left hand end of the dial.

The trick, I think, is knowing when it is Moderating and when it is Censoring, and this incident made me re-think how I defined the two. Since I am writing this blog as a personal blog and not as a representative of anyone or anything besides myself I believe that both the posts that I write and the comments that I receive are reflections on myself. Therefore I believe I have the right to approve or deny any comment that I want.

However, I also believe that I am responsible for deciding whether the comment is valid even if I disagree with it or if it is just meant to get people upset. It is a value judgement, not an objective fact-based decision, and I try to be as openminded as I possibly can while still staying true to my own opinions.

It isn’t a game of extremes; it’s an exercise in moderation.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on March 24, 2013.

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