Note on Comments

A few chatterers are trying to run away with the site again. And several on the left are engaging them and allowing them to do it. Time to stop. Those who have been limited to four comments a day will have their excess comments deleted. One chatterer posted 26 comments today. I'm not going to foot the bill for the bandwidth for them--nor will I provide a place for them to chatter incessantly.

Limits of chatterers will be strictly enforced. Four comments a day. Those who continually respond to them, whether on the right or the left, will also be limited.

TalkLeft's comment policy is here.

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    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dick Durata on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:18:32 PM EST
    Good. You have some of the most pernicious trolls around, and it's clear they have been taking advantage of your tolerance. They are a consequence of your excellent and original blog; it must strike fear into their shriveled little hearts. Congratulations.

    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:40:31 PM EST
    Thank you.

    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#3)
    by rob on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:50:23 PM EST
    I visit this site every day, and really enjoy love your blogging. BUT.... sometimes I don't like the tone you take regarding trolls/posters.... Yeah, they can be annoying sometimes, but to clamp down and limit the discussion.... Yes. It's your blog. But do you really want to set such an example - an example of intolerance? If the trolls want to cost you $$, there are MUCH easier ways to do that (suggestions deleted). Posting lot's of prose for or against something you have written won't really amount to any real cost, will it? You've had millions of page views since you started, right? How many comments have you had posted in total? What percent of your total views were from comment posters, chatters, trolls posting? A tiny fraction I bet. Sometimes the discussions and engagements can be interesting, and can cause more people to come visit the site. Isn't that the goal after all? Get more people visiting on a regular basis? If I'm wrong about this, and the goal is to limit the number of visitors to a certain acceptable level, then I suggest you stop writing about so many important things. This is a great site. The quality of your writing brings more eyes every day, and that naturally means more discussion. Even discussion you find to be chatter. So I hope you keep up the great blogging. And I hope you come to terms with those who like to chatter. They're really a part of the whole process. I hope you don't shut people off. I get a bit worried when I hear the rumbles of censorship.... especially when it comes from attorneys and scholars. My gut tells me the “chatters” annoy you. Sometimes it’s okay to be annoyed.

    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:07:09 AM EST
    Rob, thank you for your thoughts. But the vast number of emails I get about the comments are from people who say they can't stand to wade through them. There have been 141,000 comments posted on TalkLeft. In the last year, I'd say close to a third are from chatterers. Some post 20 or more comments a day if left unfettered. Those people need to get their own blog, they are not responding to TalkLeft at that level, they're creating their own dialog on their own topics. It drives readers away, causes them to spend less time on the site, and reduces the conversation because they don't want to wade through the repetitive comments to leave their own thoughts. These chatterers also tend to engage in insults and name-calling which lowers the level of discourse on the site and makes the comments unpleasant to sift through. So, I appreciate your thoughts, but I think for this small group of commenters who are abusing the comment space and using TalkLeft as a place to endlessly repeat their same contrary viewpoints (and who never contribute even a dollar to the site's expenses), four comments a day is plenty - and generous. There's probably only five or six of them who have been limited, and they know who they are.

    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:04:29 AM EST
    TalkLeft as a place to endlessly repeat their same contrary viewpoints. Hmmm... I wonder, connected?

    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:43:56 AM EST
    Thank you Jeralyn. It's taken me months to "learn" how not to get suckered into these innocuous exchanges. I have to say though that I wish your tolerance wasn't tied to the amount people contribute, even if that may be unfair to you. Some of the worst offenders apparently tip you well. Of course, if I had to choose between putting up with trolls or not having TL I'll happily deal with them. So be American, folks! Jeralyn needs money to keep this forum. The more progressives who fund her the less impact the donations of the trolls will have. SO TIP JERALYN!!! Scroll down to the bottom of the page... on the right is a tip jar. CLICK ON IT! Even 5 or 10 bucks will certainly make a difference!

    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:44:06 AM EST
    Just curious, I know there is alot of excess bandwidth in the blogosphere, is it possible to "loan" you bandwidth by hosting images, or anything else, on another server. Specifically, your images alone take up 60k or so of bandwidth per view. - karl

    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:06:24 AM EST
    Jeralyn, I am truly sorry for making so many posts recently. I had no idea comments were costing you money. Obviously, I will chip in immediately. It has been extremely frustrating to read so much utter trash from the extreme right, especially when they start riffing off each other's lies to create an illusion of rationality. I'm not talking about intelligent commentary, such as reasonable disagreements on gun control. I am talking about Orwellian foolishness where bigotry is touted as a moral right, or where the most close-minded commenters claim that a refusal to countenance lies somehow makes liberals intolerant. If rightwing propaganda is not vigorously debunked, an observer less than fully knowledgeable of the right's tactics or the facts might conclude that extremist ideas are acceptable in a reasoned public discourse. I am talking about total hogwash such as propounding creationism or weaponizing the Bible in order to attack the current rightwing scapegoat. Hopefully, limiting comments to 4/day will prevent the flooding of your terrific site with such junk.

    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#9)
    by Che's Lounge on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:42:16 AM EST
    JM, Mfox is right on. It's "hard work" to not want to slap down some of the trolls that come here. But I have seen examples where regular commenters here have efforted to ward a troll off by making life miserable for them here. It's a shame, but I guess someone ultimately pays money, even for free speech. Your point is taken.

    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 09:51:14 AM EST
    Looking through a recent Jackson Trial thread, I think TL's comment policy is spot-on. One repeated poster seemed to offer less than constructive comment and more self-boosterism. If the idea is to encourage thoughtfulness and discourage polemicists and "me-too-ism" then it is a good idea.

    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#11)
    by Kitt on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 10:19:59 AM EST
    Thank you, Jeralyn. I've been coming here for well over a year and it's gotten to the point where some days I just come, catch the posts and move on or don't come at all. There are plenty of sites geared towards those differing from my politics. There are some places I want to go where there's either little dispute or none. My thought is as long as whomever foots the bill for the blog, they're the deciding factor. I don't think it's necessary that she (JM) has to justify or explain WHY she feels the need to do this. I go to several religion-based blogs and a few are very contrary to what I believe. I either don't comment or tenor my comments accordingly. When visiting political or other blogs or sites that differ from me, I rarely comment. To me, there's little point except to stir up embers to burst into a raging fire which I tend to think is the goal of those chattering or spewing here.

    Re: Note on Comments (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:33:59 PM EST
    Charles Kuffner has been forced to do something similar. It's a nuisance, but I agree: something had to be done. My only concern is that you'll have a hard time tracking trolls using pseudonyms by their IP address (I think that's what you meant by "ISP address.") Not everyone has a fixed IP address (I do when I'm at work, but not when I'm at home), and the trolls can always post from mega-ISPs like AOL or MSN which have millions of IP addresses, or use anonymizing proxies or dozens of other tricks. As a result, you may well inadvertently block innocent commenters who just happen to get the same dial-up line recently used by a troll. So ultimately, you'll probably have to go by content. Technically, that's censorship, but so what? You're not a public forum; you can make your own rules, and you're still letting the "other side" have far more say on your site than they'd likely let you have on one of theirs. As I said, something had to be done.