Monday, June 20, 2011

A Slight Change to the Unofficial Comment Policy

About a year ago, I wrote this:

a little while ago, in a discussion thread concerning some content I lifted from some other blog, someone left an anonymous comment about the author of that other blog that was about 80% vicious invective (much of which was empirically false) and about 20% actual content. The person who was the topic of this comment wrote to me to ask why we would approve a comment like that, when it was so obviously a personal smear and made such a negligible contribution to the debate.

I told this person that I published the comment mostly because of the 20% of it that I thought was worthwhile. I also said that I think that sunlight is the best disinfectant. I think that there is a huge value in letting the dickheads have their say. I think there is no value at all in maintaining a public illusion that there are no dickheads, and I think there is a tremendous value in allowing the dickheads themselves to demonstrate once and for all that they have nothing of value to contribute to the discussion.


I still think that at the time, that was the right policy, although there were certain things I was not in love with about it, even then. While it seems to me that at that time the advantages involved with demonstrating the existence of sexism and racism in the profession and the demolition of these sexist and racist views outweighed the disadvantages, I never liked publishing those comments, and I never liked the idea that this blog was a place where a person could come to express those views.

Since that time, my views about the value of these comments and the role this blog should play in publicizing these issues have changed. A primary reason is that the What It's Like blog has come along and provides far more compelling evidence of the existence of sexism in our profession than the small number of douchey anonymous comments left here could ever hope to be. A secondary reason is that dickheads have a way of taking the fun out of things. I would rather have a more fun blog with a more restrictive comments policy than a less fun blog with a less restrictive comments policy.

As a result, my comment-approval philosophy has changed. I will not approve douchey comments. I will not approve trollish or needlessly quarrelsome comments. I will not approve comments that make unfounded claims about how easy it is to be a woman in philosophy, or how hard it is to be a white man in philosophy. I will not approve comments that, in my judgement, do not meaningfully add to the discussion or move it forward. I will not approve comments whose purpose is for some anonymous dickhead to piss on other people's good time.

Unless it's funny. Funny comments will get more leeway.

I will try not to be as heavy-handed as the moderators at some other blogs. I will allow people to be mean to each other, as long as they are mean in a way that is on topic and advances the discussion. I will not shut down comments overnight to give people a chance to cool off. But I am going to keep the assholes on a shorter leash.

--Mr. Zero

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like you have found the right time to let this all go. Give up control of the thing -- just like the blog moderators from the Philosophy Job Market blog. It's time for you to give it to someone else, and become an anonymous commenter.

Part of my thinking stems from my own blog that I had to give up. Some days certain comments don't bother you, and then they do.

I think your previous comment policy was the better one, but it is your blog. Good luck with it.

W said...

I agree with Anon 10:17, this sounds like an idea you came up with when you were having a bad day.

Sure you get douchey comments, the internet is rife with trolls, that is just the nature of the net. Often they couldn't pull a single positive comment or constructive criticism out of their arse if they tried. People think that because they can come up with what they judge to be a 'witty' response in five minutes or so that they have served some kind of Oscar Wilde-like comeback. They have the advantage of anonymity & time & yet usually just prove themselves to be fuckwits.

Don't let the bastards get you down & keep up the good work.

W

Anonymous said...

I am now much more likely to actually read the comments here. It's been a while.

WV: worne. Make your own obvious joke; I'm too tired.

Anonymous said...

At the bar:

MAN #1: All philosophers are assholes.
MAN #2: I object!
MAN #1: Wassamatter? You philosopher?
MAN #2: No, I'm an asshole!

Jokes aside, there is always some risk of merging the category "assholes" with the category "ideologically/politically alien to me/us".
I hope you considered this risk.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi W,

I've been thinking about this for a couple of months. Although the timing of this is related to a couple of shitty exchanges from over the weekend, it was not caused by those exchanges.

Hi anon 2:06,

If you think a comment of yours was unfairly held back, you are welcome to resubmit it. However, in deference to what you must realize is the legitimate possibility that it wasn't just that I disagree with you, you make sure that the resubmitted version is nicer.

Anonymous said...

Good on you, Mr. Zero.

WV: Cherkar.

Cherkar, I hardly even knew her!

Mr. Zero said...

There oughta be a 'should' in that comment up there. Sorry.

Elizabeth said...

I like the new policy.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Why did you have to go and say all that? What has been attractive about this blog is that it can be rough and uncut at times. But now you are saying that everyone has to play "nice," and that is quite vague even though you might think that it should be intuitive. I'm now wondering whether this comment will be published or not because I am not nice enough.

Being a parent is not what this blog needs. I like your original policy much better. With so many unemployed and underemployed philosophy PhDs out there, making "nice" be your commenting standard is just not right. Just let people hash things out.

Asstro said...

Frankly, I prefer the old old policy: completely unmoderated. I like blogs with warts and jerks and trolls and all. They're a lot more fun, and the conversation can sometimes move very fast. It gets nasty, but so what?

Anonymous said...

Ditto. The old policy was better. Zero, are intentionally trying to sink this blog? If so, you're doing a fine job of it. Philosophers Anonymous thanks you.

Mr. Zero said...

But now you are saying that everyone has to play "nice,"

Who said that? I said, don't be a racist, sexist, douchebag.

I'm now wondering whether this comment will be published or not because I am not nice enough.

What the fuck are you talking about?

Zero, are intentionally trying to sink this blog? If so, you're doing a fine job of it.

How do you know how well I'm doing at sinking this blog? We've had this policy for 20 hours. Surely it takes more than 20 hours to tell if I've sunk the blog.

Anonymous said...

Are you referring to New APPS in your post?

Anonymous said...

It's questionable whether the general policy you now propose is a good one. But there is one element of it that is pure evil and will destroy the integrity of the blog, root and branch.

Here it is: "I will not approve comments that make unfounded claims about how easy it is to be a woman in philosophy, or how hard it is to be a white man in philosophy."

There are two, and only two, legitimate tacks one can take on these issues. The first is to refuse to approve comments that make unfounded claims _EITHER WAY_. The second is to approve both. Whichever way you go, it is morally incumbent on you to use the most meticulous standard of fairness possible, second-guessing yourself all the time. For that reason, the easier choice is to approve everything. But choosing to be blatantly biased in what you accept violates all the canons of free inquiry and discussion.

You run a wonderful blog and deserve to share in the recent honor it was given. Please don't ruin that by blithely throwing away all objectivity and balance. If you do, this great blog will belong in the garbage.

Mr. Zero said...

But choosing to be blatantly biased in what you accept violates all the canons of free inquiry and discussion.

I'm sorry, but I disagree with you. I think it represents an unwillingness to entertain the same tired old complaints that were decisively refuted years ago.

Mr. Zero said...

I wonder why people have gotten the idea that this new policy says that you have to be nice.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:45 here, Mr. Zero.

I'm not sure why you think your response to my comment is relevant. My comment pointed out that your policy is blatantly opposed to the principles of free inquiry, which require that participation in a forum not be conditioned by the stances one wishes to take. Incidentally, I also dislike the sorts of comments you mention. But I would never dream of censoring them just because I believe they are often incorrect.

You say, in defense of your proposed policy, that "it represents an unwillingness to entertain the same tired old complaints that were decisively refuted years ago."

I'm sure it does represent that, but that isn't relevant to the problem.

First, I don't know what you mean by "decisively refuted", but that really seems to be an overstatement. Does the preponderance of evidence support the view that women have it harder in philosophy than men, etc.? I suspect it does, given what I've seen so far. But that is miles away from a 'decisive refutation'. Sure, you're limiting your censorship to comments that contain unfounded claims. But there are also unfounded claims that get made on the other side. To allow one, but not the other, to stand on an issue that is important and _not_ decisively refuted is very harmful practice.

Second, let me grant you, for the sake of argument, the rather extraordinary claim that the views on the other side have been _decisively_ refuted. Even then, this policy is a terrible idea and an affront to free inquiry. To illustrate, please consider an 'issue' in which one side _has_ been decisively refuted: creation/evolution or round earth/flat earth, for instance. One can see the justification there for not wanting to entertain the wing-nuts any longer: people will be bored by it, and onlookers might mistakenly think there's a genuine controversy at hand.

But even that would not warrant a biased policy in which one side's unfounded claims are published and the other's aren't. Would it really seem fair to you if Pharyngula, say, followed a policy that permitted _unfounded_ claims to be made by evolutionists but not similarly unfounded claims by creationists? Even I, a strident enemy of creationism, would cringe.

Do you really disagree here?

Anonymous said...

10:45 & 12:18,

For what it's worth, I found your comments persuasive.

Actually, I wasn't sure whether Mr. Zero's posting actually meant that he would allow unfounded claims about how women have it harder than men in philosophy but not the converse. Now that he's made it pretty clear that's what he meant, I agree with you that he's adopting an immoral policy. (I would add, he has a right to do it -- but I don't do this sort of philosophy and I'm not very confident that it makes sense to assert both that it's immoral and that he has a right to do it. I think it does make sense, but not sure.)

Mr. Zero said...

Does the preponderance of evidence support the view that women have it harder in philosophy than men, etc.? I suspect it does, given what I've seen so far. But that is miles away from a 'decisive refutation'.

When look at the discussions we used to have at the old Job Market Blog, and on this blog, and at the What It's Like blog, and at Feminist Philosophers, and yesterday's post at Leiter about Lionel McPherson, I think that saying "I suspect that it is more likely than not that women (or minorities) have a harder time in the profession than men (or non-minorities)" is a profound understatement.

But there are also unfounded claims that get made on the other side.

A. I didn't say that I would publish unfounded claims of any sort. B. If that happens, you are free to argue your case.

I mean, look. We had a thing last week or the week before, in the "reasons to stay" thread, where somebody pointed out that being a woman will be a big advantage on the job market. I don't think that's true, but it's an honest comment and I published it and then pointed out that we've been over this before and it is not at all clear that there is any net advantage. That's what I'd do again. This person was not being a douche, and the claim was not literally unfounded--if all you saw was people bending over backwards to hire women without the larger context in which this occurs, it would be easy to get the wrong idea--although it was, in my view, mistaken.

But we also get a nontrivial number of comments about how this person only got the job because of demographics, or that person is homosexual, or which lament that he, the commenter, could get a job if only he were a woman, or whatever. These comments are douchey, and I have not been publishing them. The new policy clamps down on the douches a little more.

onlookers might mistakenly think there's a genuine controversy at hand.

Yeah. That's one of the things I'm worried about. Another is that this blog, the Smoker, is the place where people who want to spout off racist, sexist, or homophobic nonsense have a voice. I'm not going to give them a voice anymore. I am not obligated by the spirit of free inquiry or something to let douches say whatever they want here.

If the person is not a douche, and wants to have an honest discussion, that is fine. The policy is about douches and dickheads.

I'm honestly perplexed. Did I not make it clear that I was talking about dickheads? Did I make it seem like I was telling everyone to be nice? Did I say anything like that? No. I said, don't be a dickhead. And then I said, unless it's funny.

Pharyngula

It seems to me that Pharyngula's comment policy is at least as restrictive as this. That guy full-on bans people for being (repeatedly) stupid. I'm just going to decline to publish the stupid comments.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi anon 1:25,

Actually, I wasn't sure whether Mr. Zero's posting actually meant that he would allow unfounded claims about how women have it harder than men in philosophy but not the converse. Now that he's made it pretty clear that's what he meant, I agree with you that he's adopting an immoral policy.

I'm not sure what you're talking about. I'm not sure what it is that makes it clear that I'm allowing unfounded claims about how women have it harder than men. Maybe you're talking about the comments in the "wacky student" thread, about how it is 68.7% harder to be a woman in philosophy than it is to be a man. I'm not sure. Please advise.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero,

What's making me, at least, very nervous about the direction you're taking is that you specifically said you would no longer permit comments containing unfounded claims _that women have it easier than men_, etc.

What would make me trust you again would be if you would simply clarify that all you mean is that you will no longer permit unfounded claims of any kind.

Will you clarify that, please? If you don't, then you've just lost another reader. Maybe this is what you want: not sure.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure what it is that makes it clear that I'm allowing unfounded claims about how women have it harder than men."

In your reply to 10:45, you didn't simply say, "Oh, you misunderstood, I am adopting one of the two policies you call 'legitimate tacks'." I figured that's what you would say, if it were true. No?

This is an odd exchange. If you will *not* publish unfounded claims about how women have it harder than men, then why don't you just say that? If you will, then why are you asking me what you said that makes that clear? Can't you just say, one way or the other, and settle it?

Mr. Zero said...

What would make me trust you again would be if you would simply clarify that all you mean is that you will no longer permit unfounded claims of any kind.

and

In your reply to 10:45, you didn't simply say, "Oh, you misunderstood, I am adopting one of the two policies you call 'legitimate tacks'." I figured that's what you would say, if it were true. No?

Ok. I get it. Sorry for the confusion. I was not trying to imply that I would publish all unfounded claims other than the ones specifically mentioned, about how easy it is to be a woman in philosophy, or how tough it is for men. I will try to avoid publishing any unfounded claims of any kind.

I was specific in the OP because we get a non-trivial number of comments containing unfounded claims of one kind, and not too many containing the unfounded claims of the other kind. At least, that's how it seems to me, and if I'm wrong I hope you'll let me know. But it's not as though I strenuously object to unfounded claims I disagree with and object not at all to unfounded claims I agree with.

And as I have said before, if you think some comment of yours was unfairly held back, you are welcome to resubmit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mr. Zero. I'm satisfied. That's good to hear.

Anonymous said...

Cool, I'm satisfied, too. (Not that I was going to stop reading anyway!)

Anonymous said...

Zero, the reason "niceness" became a factor was because you said early in the comments in response to someone, "If you think a comment of yours was unfairly held back, you are welcome to resubmit it. However, in deference to what you must realize is the legitimate possibility that it wasn't just that I disagree with you, you make sure that the resubmitted version is nicer."

Thus, it seems that you have two issues here to your new found censorship screening: content and tone. Since you have not clarified what you mean by acceptable tone (or what you mean by "nice"), there is room to prod you on that matter.

Personally, if I were running the blog, my policy would be that only comments that were viciously inappropriate and/or have inappropriate references to people be censored. That means that someone really has to try to get his or her comment unpublished.

Your criterion of "unfounded" claims is too contentious for you to police on your own. For the most part, we are pretty smart people - let us call a spade a spade. And that is what we have been doing I believe.

Mr. Zero said...

the reason "niceness" became a factor was because you said early in the comments in response to someone

Yeah. But I did not say, Be nice, or else! I said, if your comment didn't make it, try being nicer.

it seems that you have two issues here to your new found censorship screening: content and tone.

I guess I don't think so. I think the overarching theme is, don't be an asshole. One way to be an asshole is to have asshole content: e.g. "I would have a TT job right now if only I had a vagina." Another is to have asshole tone.

if I were running the blog, my policy would be that only comments that were viciously inappropriate and/or have inappropriate references to people be censored.

That's kind of where I'm going with this. I think that the degree to which this is a "big change" has been overstated. There's a reason I used the word 'slight' in the title.

Your criterion of "unfounded" claims is too contentious for you to police on your own.

Of course I am not going to do research in order to determine whether this or that claim made in some comment is well-founded or not. But I can tell when someone is blowing smoke up my ass. And again, if you think I've made a mistake, I'll be happy to reconsider.

For the most part, we are pretty smart people - let us call a spade a spade. And that is what we have been doing I believe.

I agree with you. Almost everyone who comments here is pretty awesome.

Anonymous said...

Ehh... now it sounds like a nasty, anti-intellectual editorial policy again. Mr. Zero, what's happened to you?

You say that, in order to have your comment posted, you have to not be an asshole. And what constitutes being an asshole? Well, by your definition, "One way to be an asshole is to have asshole content: e.g. 'I would have a TT job right now if only I had a vagina.'"

Hence, anyone who claims that he would have a TT job right now were he female can be censored for that reason alone.

Well, that's not cool. Someone making that claim might be right or wrong, might or might not be warranted (I'm not sure). But I hardly think that merely claiming that constitutes being an asshole, automatically.

Yes, I can think of many asshole-ish motivations for saying that; and in certain cases I might make that judgment. But look, Mr. Zero: the claim is not automatically ridiculous. There are many departments and schools who explicitly have policies like that. My own department has followed a policy, for fifteen years, of hiring a woman for every second TT position that comes available, at least. Four women have been hired, and moved through the tenure system, under those conditions. And as we all know, far fewer than 50% of new PhDs in philosophy are women.

Now, are all departments like that? Of course not. Are there other factors that remain as obstacles to women? Sure there are. And perhaps all the people who say that women have an overall advantage are just dead wrong. But even if they are, they might well not be assholes.

There are small issues and big issues at stake here. A small issue (but still an important one) is that we readers will no longer be able to trust this blog to provide us with a fair cross-section of opinions on issues concerning women and ethnic minorities in the profession. But there are also much larger ones.

For instance, you are now proposing to serve as an arbiter of the character of your commenters. You claim to have an ability that nobody should ever claim for himself: the power to look into the hearts of posters and the nature of the issues they raise and decide for yourself whether they are the work of 'assholes' (which now includes even claiming that women have an advantage in job searches).

You say that this is no big deal, because those who feel they have been unfairly discriminated against can appeal your decision. But you seem to miss the problem. None of the other readers will be able to weigh in on the matter, since you will prevent us from seeing the comment you deem to be on an 'asshole' topic. So it will come down to you vs. the supposed 'asshole'. You will be responsible to nobody but your own sensitivity, whose pronouncements will be unquestionable and unfalsifiable.

People who have put themselves in these exalted positions have invariably come to have a more and more 'refined' sensitivity to undesirable and clearly evil opinions. They therefore need to be criticized and dethroned. But they cannot be within the systems they create, because nobody else gets access to the bases for their judgments.

So what is at risk here is not just the integrity of the blog, Mr. Zero. It's the integrity of your soul.

As for the feminist-oriented blogs you mention and seem to be reading increasingly of late, I notice that some of them have recently adopted a policy of not permitting any comments _at all_. One is given the option of reading what is presented, and nothing more. No dissenting views are to be had in the vicinity. I see echos of those blogs in your proposal. But there is no cause so worthy that the standards of free discussion should be sacrificed on its behalf, and I fear it is much too easy to overlook the debate-stifling nature of those forums when faced with the importance and justice of their message. Please, don't take us there.

Mr. Zero said...

Well, that's not cool. Someone making that claim [that the only thing keeping him from getting a TT job is the fact that he's a man] might be right or wrong, might or might not be warranted (I'm not sure).

I disagree with you. I think that views like that represent a profound misunderstanding of how gender dynamics work in this profession. Maleness is not a disadvantage in this highly male-dominated field. And if you say it like that: "I would have a job if I had a vagina," (and that is precisely what the comments I'm talking about say) you are being an asshole.

There are many departments and schools who explicitly have policies like that. My own department has followed a policy, for fifteen years, of hiring a woman for every second TT position that comes available, at least.

That sounds like a terrific policy. You know how unusual it is, right? You know that it's probably literally unique, right?

But even if they are [dead wrong], they might well not be assholes.

They might not be assholes full stop, but they will have posted an asshole comment, and it won't be published here.

People who have put themselves in these exalted positions have invariably come to have a more and more 'refined' sensitivity to undesirable and clearly evil opinions. They therefore need to be criticized and dethroned.

1. What exalted position? Blog moderator?

2. When have I not been open to criticism? I mean, are you suggesting that I publish every comment that comes through, so that the group can weigh in on whether it was appropriate? That's a silly policy, and it's not going to happen.

3. "Dethroned"? What are you talking about? You realize we're discussing a comment policy on a blog right? What kind of an institution do you think this is?

So what is at risk here is not just the integrity of the blog, Mr. Zero. It's the integrity of your soul.

I was willing to take you seriously until I got to this sentence. You're being ridiculous.

But there is no cause so worthy that the standards of free discussion should be sacrificed on its behalf,

I realize that. If sexist, racist, douchebags want to have a reasoned, non-douchey discussion here, they're welcome to do it. But I am not going to publish sexist, racist, or otherwise douchey comments. If you think that was the one thing about this blog that made it worthwhile, you're going to be disappointed. And if you think I owe it to the standards of free inquiry and discussion to let people be assholes on the blog whose day-to-day operations I supervise, you're incorrect.

Anonymous said...

For what its worth, I think this is about right. Just like I think Canada is right about not counting hate speech as politically protected speech, and the US is wrong about it.

Also, just as a point of fact: some of the recent disgusting comments on race/gender, among other things, have got me seriously considering quitting the field (I'm one of t those every missing "women of color"), even though my present experiences are not so awful (the past is a different story). Seriously. Like so seriously, I've been researching new jobs all morning online. Because all I'm thinking is "These are the people I am going to spend the rest of my life working with? Really? Do I really want to do this?"

Yeah. I am not sure.

Anonymous said...

I was attempting a humorous reference to Socrates in the comment about 'your sole', Mr. Zero. I hope that's not the same thing as being ridiculous!

Anyway, what I meant in saying that people need to be 'dethroned' if they assume for themselves the power to decide unilaterally what sorts of opinions are evil (where there is a genuine controversy about the truth, not to mention the morality, of those opinions), and to banish undesirable opinions, doesn't have to do with a literal throne. What I meant is that these tendencies constitute a social and personal evil of some degree (as Clifford and Mill argued) and ought to be challenged. We all have the responsibility to challenge those tendencies, even when they appear in an institution that is not explicitly public. Even in a small circle of friends, we have the duty of stopping a powerful person from vetoing comments expressive of an opinion the person happens to find undesirable. A speaker who stifles dissenting comments due to his or her feeling that anyone making dissenting comments is an 'asshole' should also be protested for doing this. And this applies also to oneself: we have a very strong epistemic duty, it seems, to subject our own views to searching critical analysis. It is difficult to see how one could do that if one felt justified in dismissing criticism of a certain range of views as inherently evil (or 'asshole' views) and hence unworthy of critical response.

The bottom line is that, however strong the evidence seems to you and me, the question of the fortunes of women in philosophy is a complex one. You may speculate about the frequency of the policy my department has, but you don't know and I don't know. And there are many other unknowns as well. Does this mean we aren't entitled to come to provisional opinions, even with some degree of confidence? No. But when one's confidence extends to the point where one feels entitled to call someone an asshole merely for making an opposing claim, one has crossed the line into epistemic irresponsibility. And when one takes the further step of refusing to allow others to be _heard_ on account of their endorsing views that one has unfairly judged to be a certain mark of bad character, one has gone from violating a duty to oneself to harming public discourse.

Mr. Zero said...

A speaker who stifles dissenting comments due to his or her feeling that anyone making dissenting comments is an 'asshole' should also be protested for doing this.

If you think that's what this policy is, then I suggest you take a couple of deep breaths and calmly re-read the policy. It's not a "don't disagree with me" policy. It's not a "be nice" policy. It's a "don't be a dickhead" policy. Being a racist is one way of being a dickhead; so is being a sexist; so is making flippant remarks about how easy you would have it if only you had a vagina. If you think this is an unreasonable policy, or that my instituting it represents an illegitimate power grab, I respectfully disagree with you.

You may speculate about the frequency of the policy my department has, but you don't know and I don't know.

Come on. I don't know about you, but I know.

But when one's confidence extends to the point where one feels entitled to call someone an asshole merely for making an opposing claim, one has crossed the line into epistemic irresponsibility. And when one takes the further step of refusing to allow others to be _heard_ on account of their endorsing views that one has unfairly judged to be a certain mark of bad character, one has gone from violating a duty to oneself to harming public discourse.

It seems to me that there are (at least) two readings of this passage. According to one, the new policy represents an unwillingness to even entertain dissenting views and thereby harms public discourse. That is a misinterpretation of the policy.

According to the other, the objection is epistemic in nature and amounts to a claim that it is not possible to determine whether this or that comment is a dickhead thing to say--as if the de facto criterion couldn't be anything other than whether I agree with the comment or not. If that's the interpretation, then, again, I respectfully disagree with you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't believe all the objections to the slight policy change--it's a blog, people! Blocking racist/sexist comments isn't the end of free discussion--and, indeed, may make some of us more inclined to join the discussion.

maxhgns said...

Commenters:

If you want to be fuckheads with your comments, then I challenge you to do so publicly, without hiding behind an internet pseudonym/the 'anonymous' moniker. If you're not comfortable doing that, then that's a good indication that you should rethink your comment. If you wouldn't say it to someone's face, then you should probably rethink your comment.

Grow up; you're supposed to be adults--and professional academics, no less. Act like it. Or, if you're going to act like a pimply teen, then at least have the courage of your convictions and let us all associate your moronic comments with your real name.

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about, Maxhgns? Who's making 'pimply teen' comments behind a veil of anonymity? All the points made on this thread, by Mr. Zero as well as the others, seem sincere to me.

As for not hiding behind anonymity or an internet moniker, I don't see you giving your real name. Neither has Mr. Zero or the other hosts of this blog. Aside from Justin Kalef and a few minor commenters recently, I've seen hardly anyone here giving his or her name.

There are reasons for that, particularly when it comes to a topic like this. Tempers run high on these issues, and being associated with this discussion one way or another could cause us career problems.

maxhgns said...

22/06/2011 09.18:

1.) It should be fairly obvious from my post that it is directed at those who bemoan being unable to make controversial (to put the best face on it; racist, sexist, overly rude and bullying are probably more fair characterizations) comments on this blog.

2.) I have made no claims about comments and responses in this thread, although it’s worth pointing out that they’re almost exactly the same complaints that arise on *every* website that introduces a new and stricter policy on posts. Some points are better than others, but that has nothing to do with my post.

3.) If you’re going to cry hypocrisy, perhaps you should take the time to read what I wrote more carefully. I very explicitly said that it is posters who wish to be ‘fuckheads’ who should do so publicly, rather than hiding behind the veil of anonymity. It should be obvious that ‘fuckhead’ was meant to correlate to ‘sexist/racist/harassing/bullying/douchewad comments’, not to all comments and posters. Since my post was none of the above, I see no reason to disclose my own identity.

4.) I don’t actually give a rat’s ass if you know who I am, because I always conduct myself with maturity and integrity while on the internet. That doesn’t mean I’m always right, or that I don’t occasionally say something that I come to regret saying. What it means is that I gladly own up to those instances and apologize, and I try very hard to avoid them in the first place. I, at least, always apply the rule of thumb mentioned in my original post: if I’m too scared to say something that would stick to me, or if I wouldn’t repeat my comment’s contents to someone’s face, then I don’t post it in the first place.

5.) Again, I never said everyone should make their identity public: just that fuckheads should have the courage to do so. If they don’t, then it’s a pretty obvious indication that they shouldn’t be posting whatever it is that they’re posting.

6.) Yeah, tempers run high. But we’re adults and should suck it up and act like it. The point, once again, is this: if you’re posting something so far out of line that it could be profesionally damaging to you if it were associated with your name, then you should reconsider posting it. That’s a pretty clear indication that you’re too far out of line, and to post such remarks anonymously is pure cowardice. There’s nothing wrong with reasonable reflection or even measured dissent, and the veil of anonymity is fairly important for those kinds of remarks—but then, those aren’t the comments that Mr. Zero won’t be allowing.

7.) If you really want to, you can find out who I am. It’s not that hard. Here’s the catch: I don’t act like a moron online (to be clear: I’m not saying you do, but rather that I never engage in the ‘fuckheadery’ I declaimed above), so it’s no big deal if you do find out who I am.

Anonymous said...

Uh, Maxhgns, calm the fuck down.

Nobody in this thread is bemoaning their inability to make controversial or asshole posts. If you'll calm down for a second and use your head, you'll see that none of the people here are being assholes or saying they want to be assholes. They're just saying they want to be able to read posts from other people, even if they [THOSE PEOPLE, Maxhgns, not the people in the thread talking about them] post some comments they worry Mr. Zero won't allow because he'll think they're assholes.

On the one hand, assholes.

On the other hand, people who think that those deemed to be assholes should get to have their say.

Two different properties. Neither one implies the other.

Do you understand now?

Anonymous said...

My last 5 comments were not posted, so I guess the policy is working. The funny thing is that each comment contained a criticism of Zero. Guess Zero can't take criticism. Now I see the real point of this policy change. It's not to protect the reputation of women philosophers. It's to protect Zero's fragile ego. Perhaps it's time to exit stage right to Philosophers Anonymous.

Mr. Zero said...

My last 5 comments were not posted, so I guess the policy is working. The funny thing is that each comment contained a criticism of Zero. Guess Zero can't take criticism. Now I see the real point of this policy change. It's not to protect the reputation of women philosophers. It's to protect Zero's fragile ego.

That's not the only thing they had in common. Each one was also trollish, stupid, and contained no legitimate point. So, yeah. The policy is working.

Anonymous said...

Well, Zero, you see the problem is that we'll never know because we can't read those five comments. If we could we would be able to judge for ourselves but now it's the word of one anonymous commentator versus that of a pseudonymous blogger and seeing the previously published comments that you have now removed from the blog, I cannot but conclude that there is some truth in what Anon 4:53 said (and, btw, shame on you for hiding behind political correctness!). Of course, you'll think that this comment is trollish, douchey, or needlessly quarrelsome but you are seriously running the risk of turning this blog into an echo chamber.

Mr. Zero said...

the problem is that we'll never know because we can't read those five comments.

Believe me, you're not missing anything.

I cannot but conclude that there is some truth in what Anon 4:53

What? that I can't take criticism? If you looked at this thread for even two seconds you would know that I do not avoid criticism.

btw, shame on you for hiding behind political correctness!

What are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about?

The comments you removed might have been "douchey", "trollish", or "needlessly quarrelsome" but as far as I can see not one of them was either sexist or racists. So, I think you are conflating two very different problems because no-one in their right mind would object to removing racist or sexist comments but many would object to removing comments because you take them to be "douchey", "trollish", or "needlessly quarrelsome".

Mr. Zero said...

The comments you removed might have been "douchey", "trollish", or "needlessly quarrelsome" but as far as I can see not one of them was either sexist or racists. So, I think you are conflating two very different problems...

How am I conflating those things? I reserve the right not to publish comments that are trollish, douchy, racist, or sexist. That doesn't mean I think they're all one thing.

And how does that add up to political correctness?