23 November 2020 – welcome to my day…

Well, I’m back after a week off. The sun is shining, although the valley floor is shrouded in mist after a frosty night, so it’s not a day to linger unless you’re properly wrapped up.

In truth, I’d taken a week off because much of the joy of Liberal Democrat Voice has been rather lost of late. Attempts to disrupt the site by the use of fake e-mail addresses and, if I’m honest, the sheer grinding unpleasantness of some of our readers, made me wonder if the effort that I, and my fellow Editorial Team members, put in is really worthwhile.

I’ve always seen this site as an opportunity for Liberal Democrats, supporters of the Party and those who are “Lib Dem curious” to debate and discuss the issues of the day, propose new policy and campaigning ideas, and generally engage positively with each other in a respectful manner. It seems that there are too many out there who see it as an opportunity to settle old scores, browbeat or misrepresent those they disagree with or simply treat others with disrespect. It is, from an editorial perspective, wearing at best, deeply disheartening at worst. And, for the spirits of a volunteer Editorial Team, that can be a bit corrosive.

So, before you type that barbed comment, or that savage putdown, just think about what you’re hoping to achieve. If you value the site, you’ll bear in mind that, behind the front page, people, your fellow Liberal Democrats (for those of you that are Liberal Democrats), are having to deal with the consequences of your approach. And, ironically, that the tone of the comments influences potential readers, i.e. your audience.

As the social media world becomes increasingly dominated by the loudest voices, those minded to want to consider all sides of an issue are put off by the aggressiveness with which the zealots of all sides demand total fealty to their views. It’s not a world for Liberal Democrats, and certainly not this one…

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16 Comments

  • Chris Bowers 23rd Nov '20 - 9:56am

    Well said, Mark. And perhaps those who comment could also bear in mind the original post. Too many threads take on a life of their own – I know discussions meander and morph, but some threads simply become personal hobby horses, with the original article left way behind.

  • Mark – I have a lot of sympathy with that very legitimate lament. An open door policy will alas always be open to abuse. There is a wider cultural dynamic here and – if I dare use the term – we seem to have been infected of late.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Nov '20 - 10:17am

    I’m so sorry to hear that you feel this way, Mark. This is a stressful time for everyone, and kindness is especially important right now. And if someone’s behaviour seems hurtful, we need to remember that we do not know what they may have been dealing with for the last few months.
    I hope that you and the rest of the Lib Dem Voice team realise that most of us do very much appreciate all that you do

  • Massive thanks to the Voice Team for all that they do.
    In terms of remedies have you considered banning commentors who break the Rules or their Spirit ? As Liberals we are often too tolerant of Intolerance.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Nov '20 - 11:20am

    Very poignant.

    “It’s the isolated voice which can’t even be heard in the crowd, which is the most vital of all.”
    Sir Peter Ustinov

    Lifelong Liberal

  • David Evershed 23rd Nov '20 - 11:43am

    Mark. Don’t get disheartened by the minority whose contributions you find harsh. There is a silent majority of well behaved readers who appreciate all you write.

  • For what is worth as someone who normally shuns social media I have found LDV, particularly while being in semi permanent lockdown, a source of interest and knowledge, shared on the whole, with people with similar views. Whether my own less than intellectual contributions are appreciated or not I dread to think!
    Thanks anyway.

  • Nigel Jones 23rd Nov '20 - 1:02pm

    I have been dipping into LDV for about 10 years and have noticed two things occasionally happening. Nasty comments about someone else and nothing to do with the original article. I remember a couple of people saying Sarah Teather should not be listened to because she disagreed with party policy on something that they strongly held, yet was nothing to do with the article on the site.
    One of the articles I have written on Education led quickly to a discussion between a couple of people that was not rude but on an aspect of Education that had nothing to do with what I was writing about. This sort of thing often happens and if it is just a couple of short comments then we can say they are irrelevant, but when it descends into long disagreements it becomes sickening.

  • Adrian Sanders 23rd Nov '20 - 4:49pm

    I am not regular reader and don’t know which thread or threads Mark is referring to. But a general observation when I have bothered to read comments is that those who abuse the freedom to debate are few and often the same people. I used to get quite depressed at comments on my facebook page but realised that something I found stupid/insulting/off-topic was also considered the same by most readers. It was just they didn’t comment as I don’t most times I see something I disagree with. Stick with it Mark, your efforts have not gone unappreciated and neither have those of the other moderators – even in that rare event when one disagrees with them.

  • Michael Berridge 23rd Nov '20 - 5:12pm

    On the relatively few occasions when I have posted a comment on LDV, it has been ignored by other contributors. Whether this is because I added nothing to the debate, or because the usual suspects preferred to bicker with one another, is not for me to say.
    I agree with Mark.

  • Katharine Pindar 23rd Nov '20 - 10:19pm

    It would be much appreciated if the party press releases could be re-introduced, Mark, supposing they are still being produced. I have found them a useful tool, because if minded to write to a party spokesperson it is handy to know if she or he is already on the topic. Just now, for example, I hope the mooted proposal of the government to reduce the proportion of the national income going to overseas aid from 0.7% to 0.5% is producing a heated response from Layla. I suppose it would save the time of Spokespeople, if some of us noticed they were already on the case through this useful piece on LDV. Perhaps, if proving too onerous for you, there could at least be a weekly short summary.

    Secondarily, and just as a regular and appreciative contributor, I would very much like to have the Recent Comments column revived,, because it was such a useful way of reaching again topics which had fallen off the Most Read and Op Ed lists but were still very interesting. Could you tell us of any reason for its discontinuance, please, Mark?

  • David Garlick 24th Nov '20 - 10:07am

    Well said. Be KIND to each other is the way to go.
    I have not always found it easy to do but will be mindful in future

  • Peter Hirst 24th Nov '20 - 4:40pm

    Free speech despite what some might think has its price. And sometimes the price is not worth paying. If contributions cannot be civil perhaps they should be avoided.

  • As one of the LDV editors it is so encouraging to read your supportive comments – thank you. Yes, on the whole the debate is courteous and relevant, but that comes with some cost behind the scenes when we are abused by someone whose comments we have rejected. It’s strange how some people think it is OK to be really rude online or by email to someone they don’t know personally when they wouldn’t dream of saying the same thing face to face.

  • Sue Sutherland 24th Nov '20 - 7:39pm

    I’m so sorry that operating LDV has depressed you so much Mark. It’s quite a lifeline for me because I can’t be active any more and sometimes it takes some courage to express one’s opinions. I would encourage the silent majority to make their views known because otherwise it looks as if party members may have ideas that they don’t in fact have.
    I started contributing after the 2015 general election even though I became a member in 1986 and since that terrible time we have had more disappointments. As a result I think there’s a lack of trust in the leaders of the party whoever they are. This creates a difficult environment for everyone. We fear for the future of our party.
    Perhaps it would be a good idea to keep stats on the reasons why some comments aren’t published? Then all participants would realise just what the LDV team are up against.

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