I'm glad you thought my blog was perfect for the first three years, John. Unlike thousands of other blogs that moderate and screen comments, I've generally let people speak freely. I've had to endure countless foolish and ignorant comments from Russell Bates, reader Stephen (not to be confused with blogger Stephen), and others. It was a full-time job to keep up with them, and still is.
This is a common problem with race-based blogs. We hear the same sorts of complaints over and over. For instance:
I've heard all the arguments before, and I don't want to debate them again. I've answered such questions dozens if not hundreds of times. Therefore, I'm limiting the comments on some postings--especially the ones where I make broad generalizations about America, politics, and race. I'm tired of repeating myself.
Behind the scenes
Here's why maintaining Newspaper Rock is harder than most other blogs. This isn't like Racialicious or Comic Book Resources where you have half a dozen bloggers and thousands of fannish supporters. I'm putting out more challenging opinions each day than most people do each a week, and doing it all by myself.
Consider one of these popular blogs. They typically get 25 to 50 or more comments on every posting. The commenters debate all the sides of every issue. If someone posts a question, another commenter usually answers it. Only rarely do the moderators have to intervene, and then only to issue minor clarifications.
In contrast, my postings typically average, I dunno, maybe 3-5 comments. Yet people often raise huge questions. I don't get comments on the order of "I didn't like Grant Morrison's work in FINAL CRISIS." I get comments on the order of "There goes ignorant Rob again, claiming America committed genocide when it didn't."
If I could respond to every comment in a matter of seconds, I'd do it. It isn't the the subject matter that bothers me, it's the time needed to address certain issues over and over. I used to have time to fight every battle to the finish, but I don't now.
What other blogs do
Let's see what Racialicious, a blog that posts analyses similar to mine, says. Some excerpts from its official comments moderation policy:
We also delete blatant self-promotion and comments where it is clear the source material was not carefully considered. If you aren’t going to bother to engage with the post, we aren’t going to bother posting your comment.
Don’t make personal attacks. If you’re not smart enough to win an argument without resorting to calling someone fat, stupid, crazy, or whatever, maybe you should work on your rhetorical skills.
In general, let’s stay away from long, drawn-out arguments and fights. Once a thread descends into point-by-point refutations and denials, it has (not always, but a lot of the time) turned to crap.
Don’t respond to a post or comment by saying “why don’t you focus on some real issues like the war/starving children in Africa/police brutality/etc.” Newsflash: this is a blog about race and pop culture. If you’re not interested in discussing the intersection of those two things, please go elsewhere.
Don’t respond to critiques about racism by telling the person making the critique that they’re just too sensitive, or they need to “get a life,” or that they need to stop playing the “race card.” We welcome disagreements here on Racialicious, but make an intelligent case for your point of view. Don’t just dismiss others’ views.
If all of your comments are variations on the same theme, we reserve the right to ban you. If every time you post a comment it is a variation of “that’s because white people hate black people” or “you need to stop generalizing about white people,” it is generally not conducive to our discussion and only serves to stir up animosity.
If you only care about your ethnic group (and feel the need to pull conversations away from the experiences of others) this is not the blog for you. If you don’t think other minorities have it as hard as your group, this is not the spot for you.
Don’t like what we are discussing? Don’t comment. Skip to the next post. But don’t sit there and derail when others are trying to make a point.
Please remember, outlandish comments or accusations will not be tolerated in this space without a pertinent--and credible--link to back up your argument.
Don’t be a jerk. If you are just arguing with someone for the purpose of trying to sound smart, or if you disagree without thinking about how you might learn from their differing perspective, you are not making a constructive contribution to our community.
Since our writers generally offer their work here, for free, in order to interact with an engaged and informed community, we will do everything in our power to keep the community a rewarding one to participate in--for you and for those of us on the back end. If the comments section becomes a place we do not want to visit, we see no point in maintaining it.
Racialicious is not a democracy. ... We are the ones who make the rules for engaging in this space and we expect those rules to be followed. If you have a problem with that, there are thousands upon thousands of others blogs on the internet.
If you want to help write responses from my point of view, John, feel free to volunteer. Or find me some college interns willing to devote their time to this. If not, you'll have to wait until I get around to your comments on SCALPED or whatever. I simply don't have the time or energy to do everything myself.
Alas, I can't turn on comments moderation for individual postings. If you'd prefer that I turn it on for the entire blog--as thousands of other blogs do--just say the word. It's no skin off my nose if people waste time writing comments that I end up deleting. Is that what you want me to do?
Therefore, until I hear a vote for full comments moderation, I'm sticking with the present policy. As for your other comments:
So you're flatly wrong about that. Again, the issue is time, not subject matter. I have so many counterarguments at my fingertips that I can rebut any mascot argument easily. Not so when people say things like, "Obama's election proves that white privilege no longer exists." Or, "Americans aren't prejudiced against minorities; they just expect everyone to pull their own weight."
Moderation in all things
1) Comment on the vast majority of postings.
2) E-mail me your comments for my consideration.
3) Post your critiques on your own website or blog, Facebook or MySpace, or elsewhere.
The last is what I did with my SCALPED critiques, as you know. I didn't want to debate with a thousand people who know less about Natives and Native stereotypes than I do. I didn't have time to correct people's mistakes and educate them one by one. I put my views out for my fans, not for fanboys who'll reflexively defend comics companies and pros from an unknown critic.
I've been way more tolerant than most bloggers in my situation. That's coming to an end. If I become rich and famous, I'll hire people to help write my blog and respond to every comment--because I think it's important. Until then, you'll have to accept a few modest compromises.
All clear? For more on the subject, see Anonymous Cowards Dislike Stereotype Postings.