One way to ease your blood pressure when reading LDV comments threads

Keep Calm and Comment PolitelyComments below-the-line are an integral part of LibDemVoice — it’s why our volunteer editors spend quite so much of their time actively moderating threads to encourage a debate that’s lively but respectful. However, readers may well have their own pet peeves: commenters who simply rub them up the wrong way, either with the content or tone of their replies.

Well, one reader has developed his own way of improving his enjoyment of the site, triggered by two recurring categories of comments which crop up regularly in discussions here which he finds monotonous. To find out what they are, you’ll have to read the blog-post here:

I have finally got sufficiently fed up with this to do something about it, and written something which will filter out particular users’ comments from LDV posts. This should make LDV more useful and less rage-inducing. By filtering out the predictable comments from the predictable people, I should be able to get more out of the LDV comment section. It’ll reduce my temptation to feed the trolls and post things that make me look bad, like the comment in the screenshot. If others use it, it’ll hopefully increase the signal:noise ratio further.

You can access the necessary comment-filtering instructions and links at Jazz Hands, Serious Business. Oh, and it’s worth quoting his conclusion:

to make the obvious liberal point: Freedom of speech does not equate to freedom to be heard. These posters are not violating LDV’s comment policy, but I do not want to, and do not have to, read what they have to say.

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60 Comments

  • ITS CENSORSHIP colouring in favour of your way of thinking NOT what REAL PEOPLE think about the topics WONDER why people sick of politics you stifle debate go with blinkers on an try impose those blinkers on the rest of us This will be Edited out Guarantee ITS ok the REAL PEOPLE will give their verdict at Election 🙂

  • And if this were combined with the facility to categorise commenters’ political viewpoints, which some contributors have been asking for, it could mean that people would never again have to read an opinion that they disagreed with! I’m sure that would make a lot of people much happier.

  • Stephen Campbell 2nd Aug '14 - 7:55pm

    It seems there are many Liberal Democrats who don’t want to be confronted with the views of the electorate, especially those which don’t conform to their own viewpoints or are views from people who once voted for you but now feel massively let down. Even Lib Dem members who oppose your leader and the direction your party has moved in have been shouted down or basically told to shut up. I’ve posted on Labour List and Conservative Home as well on a regular basis and this site, of all the three, definitely has the most draconian comments policy. I expect intolerance for differing views from both Labour and Tories, but not from Lib Dems. This site seems to be turning into an echo chamber, anyway. Another reason I’m glad I no longer support your party.

  • Well, I can only plead guilty as charged. Sorry about that…

    The issue is that lots of people on both sides don’t want to leave a flawed narrative or factually incorrect statement to stand unchallenged. That is after all how the political conversation gets skewed out to the extremes, nobody wanting to challenge what ‘everybody thinks’ even though actually, hardly anybody thinks it.

    The answer, perhaps, is to restate one’s position without engaging directly in an ‘@so-and-so’ back and forth comment war. Well, calling it an answer might be a bit much, but it might help lower the angriness levels. Now, to practise as I preach…

  • Stephen Hesketh 2nd Aug '14 - 9:07pm

    @Chris 2nd Aug ’14 – 4:03pm
    Chris, I was one of those to recently request that we might be permitted to learn something of fellow posters political status. My motivation was purely to give context to comments and not in anyway whatsoever to infer that non-Lib Dem members they weren’t worth listening to. On the contrary – but as someone who posts under their real name and makes no secret of their political alignment, I believe it not to be such an unreasonable request.

    The thought behind my request was a million miles away from a ‘head in the sand’ person who does not want to hear views of Lib Dem members, supporters, voters or those previously falling into one of those categories and who may have genuine concerns over the future of OUR party – be they related to philosophy, positioning, policies, projects or leadership.

    For the same reasons of openness, I also find it disappointing that some people closely involved in the LDV site feel unable to post Op-Eds under their own names.

    @Paul Walter 2nd Aug ’14 – 8:10pm. I agree that myself and others were quite (but not unreasonably) forthright (not nasty) in calling for a change of leadership in the days and weeks following the recent elections. As a member of the Liberal Democrats I rather feel that we had the right to do so. I personally believe it now to be quite clear that, for better or for worse, NC will be leading us into the 2015 GE.

    As I have posted earlier on another thread, I find it quite amazing the leeway some have been recently to post pretty personal comments against an Op Ed writer yet today, ‘The Voice’, a regular contributor to LDV, feels quite at liberty to promote the suggestion of another person(?) filtering out “predictable comments from the predictable people” i.e. of certain members – citing in particular those who question the party leadership.

    Even though the calls for NC to go have all but disappeared, it is sad that someone hiding behind a pen name uses their position in the LDV team to open up now bandaged party wounds.

  • Stephen Hesketh 2nd Aug '14 - 9:23pm

    @jedibeeftrix 2nd Aug ’14 – 8:24pm

    [“Even Lib Dem members who oppose your leader and the direction your party has moved in have been shouted down or basically told to shut up”] JBT: “but not here. there has been plenty of scope, freely taken, for criticism of the leadership.”

    Hello my friend Jedi … In the M-place here, many comments have been put. Zapping comments – effective has been, me thinks 🙂

  • Stephen Donnelly 2nd Aug '14 - 9:26pm

    I love hearing from people I disagree with. However a word limit on comments would not go amiss.

  • “How can you shout someone down in a written forum anyway? “

    By deleting their comments, of course!

  • stuart moran 2nd Aug '14 - 9:37pm

    As a newbie I will happily state my political affiliations:

    I would see myself on the left of the political spectrum
    Never been a member of a party
    Voted Labour in 87 and 97. Voted LD in every other election
    Will not vote LD in 2015 due to the current leadership and the behaviour of certain of the leadership
    Understood and accepted the Coalition even though not happy from a political point of view – Rose Garden and Alexander’s backslapping changed that
    David Laws should not be in a Government post until after the next election and should not be so involved in the definition of the manifesto
    Abolish HoL – pity no-one is stopping Cameron add more peers despite promises to cut the numbers

    My general beliefs

    Want electoral reform
    Believe in fair taxation – based on consumption of non-essentials and also accumulated non-productive wealth. land as well. Laffer curve is self-justifying nonsense
    Against trident
    Free tertiary education for all at any point in life funded through taxation
    Stop transfer of public funds into the pockets of shareholders through privatisation unless there is a clear benefit and the risk lies with the supplier
    More scientific thinking – more head rather than gut
    Will accept ID cards but only with protections
    many others as well

    Oh and I deplore totally the behaviour of Israel in Gaza. The justifications I have seen from some people on here are not what I would expect on a liberal website. You can deplore Hamas and Israel at the same time but the consequences of their actions are not comparable.

    Hope that helps

  • Stephen Hesketh 2nd Aug '14 - 10:03pm

    … so 90%+ mainstream pre-Rose Garden Lib Dem. Welcome!

  • Paul In Wokingham 2nd Aug '14 - 10:45pm

    Yes, let’s not bother hearing opinions that challenge or threaten our world view.

    Oh.. opinium for the Observer tomorrow:

    LD 7% (-2%)

    But hey, who wants to hear that sort of stuff.

  • “I see, so Stephen Campbell can see what comments have been deleted and based his observation on that did he?”

    Well, we can all see which comments of our own have been deleted, and we can also read other people’s experience of having their comments deleted on threads like this one:
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/some-reminders-about-commenting-on-liberal-democrat-voice-41826.html

    So probably your sarcasm is misplaced. And given the injunction to be polite at all times, it may not be a good idea anyway.

  • isn’t this a bit like watching FoxNews tben – you just hear from people you already agree with?
    personally I just wouldn’t read the comments, but not screen them out.

  • I have no objection to people who don’t want to read what I have to say blocking me. Both of us will probably be all the happier for it.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Aug '14 - 11:34pm

    This seems like an internet-age version of putting one’s fingers in one’s ears and shouting “La la la I can’t hear you.”
    Would it not be easier for Dave Page simply to not read posts by Eddie Sammon and Richard Dean?

  • Peter Chambers 3rd Aug '14 - 12:08am

    What is all the fuss? This is just like the old USENET killfile. The individual’s killfile do not censor anyone else’s reading. It just filters out the predictable posts, which do not add information but just act as noise.

    This used to work well on USENET. However designers of ‘blog software and social never liked it, as these things get a lot of posts from reaction.

    In a digital age we all need filters. This one is freely shared. It is not compulsory. I might use it.

  • David Allen 3rd Aug '14 - 12:24am

    John Tilley, you are at the top of my hate list now. When I open the killfile source code which “Jazz Hands” has obligingly posted for all to access, YOUR name comes up as Number One for killing. My name doesn’t seem to appear at all! I am mortified. Mr Jazz seems to think my stuff is so harmless, he can actually bear to read it. The shame, the shame….

    I’ll get even with you, somehow. When your remorseless combination of liberal principles, rational argument, common sense and humour finally gets past the blockers and convinces this party that Clegg must go – Why, I’ll jump in and claim all the credit, that’s what I’ll do! Be warned…

  • I’m a little confused, Chris. I addressed my question to Stephen Campbell and it specifically pertained to the thinking behind his assertion. Should I take it that you and Stephen think identically?

    The only comments which are deleted are ones which are found to be contravening the comments policy. Yes, of course, everyone thinks they have been hard done by, but the policy is implemented as uniformly and fairly as is humanly possible.

    I quote from jedibeeftrix above, also answering Stephen Campbell:

    ““Even Lib Dem members who oppose your leader and the direction your party has moved in have been shouted down or basically told to shut up”

    but not here. there has been plenty of scope, freely taken, for criticism of the leadership.”

    I really don’t see how critical comments of the leadership here have been “shouted down”, unless “shouted down” refers to robust contra-argument. It that case one could say that supporters of the leadership have also been most voiciferously “shouted down”.

    For example, I had the temerity to defend tuition fees and had my intelligence and integrity called into question. I’m not complaining. In a funny sort of way I enjoyed the experience:

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-tuition-fees-not-the-crime-of-the-century-41178.html

    But basically whatever anyone says here is likely to be stripped down and criticised to the nth degree. That isn’t something which is reserved only for critics of the leadership. In fact, I’d stick my neck out and say that, over the past few months, it’s been those who have defended Nick Clegg who have had the most voluminous contra-argument pitched at them.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Aug '14 - 12:49am

    @David Allen “John Tilley, you are at the top of my hate list now. When I open the killfile source code which “Jazz Hands” has obligingly posted for all to access, YOUR name comes up as Number One for killing.”
    Actually, John’s name only appears in a commented-out section. Presumably Dave copied and pasted an HTML snippet from a web-page in order to determine how to identify which element(s) to hide, and he might have grabbed one of John’s posts at random. Only Richard and Eddie have been put on Dave’s naughty step.

  • Technical Ephemera 3rd Aug '14 - 1:08am

    The idea that you ignore stuff you don’t want to hear isn’t new, it is in fact a huge problem – called confirmation bias. It is generally regarded as a bad thing because outside your bubble the world operates as before. At some point the false mental model of the world and the real world collide in what is usually a traumatic manner for the person involved.

    How traumatic depends on what the individual does, Airline Pilot – really bad, politician pretty bad, industry usually career limiting.

    I would caution LDV members from embracing this philosophy .

  • Richard Dean 3rd Aug '14 - 5:40am

    When you see someone being mugged in the street .. Keep calm and comment politely!
    When you see a politician lying through her teeth … Keep calm and comment politely!
    When another child dies in Gaza … Keep calm and comment politely!
    When Big Pharma causes the ills that you pay her to soothe … Keep calm and comment politely!
    When LibDemVoice defends the indefensible … Keep calm and comment politely!
    When it’s your time to die and you realise you were never free … Keep calm and comment politely!
    When St.Paul sends you back to try again to be human … Keep calm and comment politely!

  • Shouldn’t that be Saint Peter, rather than Saint Paul? The keeper of the pearly gates?

  • Stephen Hesketh 3rd Aug '14 - 6:51am

    @Jedibeeftrix – you do indeed. In my mental notebook you are down as 19th century Liberal … well that and ‘my friend from the dark side’ 🙂

    Should pseudonyms ever be banned from LDV altogether, your historical and alternative perspective would be missed. There is absolutely no doubting your wider libertarian beliefs and intent.

    Regards, your friend from ‘the light side’.

  • The good news is that the ballot box does not get to ‘moderate’ votes, although I’m sure many in politics would love that facility.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Aug '14 - 1:34pm

    When the clerks send Peter to Paul’s place and Paul to Peter’s,
    When principled means doing anything to get a vote,
    When up is down and left is right,
    And the whole thing is a complete mess,
    Keep calm and comment politely!

  • Richard Dean bang on, as to Paul Walter what dream world you live in saying censorship on here is fair evenly and justifiable LOL Like all censorship its clouded by the person/people doing the censorship

  • I don’t think that this is necessarily about cutting out challenging points of view, but more about simply removing the temptation to engage with certain people who have no interest in having a reasonable exchange of views, whose opinion we are all familiar with and whom no evidence will persuade nor proof deter.

    That said, it doesn’t appeal to me much. Occasionally, some of said people have something useful to contribute, and in any case its nice to see what the argument is actually about. So I’m going to be all old school and simply try to employ discipline in not engaging with them when they’re just out to cause a fight.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Aug '14 - 2:57pm

    @T-J. There is no “we”.

  • I’m amused at the assumption by several people in this thread that the reason people might not want to read comments from someone else is because they don’t want to read things they disagree with. I mean, it’s not as if there are ever commenters who are dull, boringly repetitive, making poorly thought out arguments or with evidence that crumbles on the slightest inspection that anyone might want to skip having to scroll past for the umpteenth time… No, it must be because the only possible reason is to avoid people you disagree with.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Aug '14 - 7:04pm

    @Mark Pack
    Isn’t some of that the same thing?

    > “dull, boringly” means you disagree about what is interesting
    > “poorly thought out argument” means you disagree with the argument
    > “evidence that crumbles” means you disagree about the evidence

    These are personal judgements, not absolute facts. Maybe the software could do something about “repetitive”?

  • David Allen 3rd Aug '14 - 7:19pm

    Peter Watson, thanks for the good technical advice.

    John Tilley, you can probably come out of hiding now…

  • “The only comments which are deleted are ones which are found to be contravening the comments policy.”

    Well, some of my deleted comments didn’t do so by any stretch of the imagination.

    But in any case, the anonymous author of that article I linked to was quite open about the fact that criticism of [a politican whose name was edited out of one of my comments by a moderator] (specifically, saying he indulged in shabby political manoeuvring) was not polite and therefore subject to deletion.

    So I don’t think you should be quite so quick to deride what I wrote.

  • Chris

    Suffice it to say that you’ve had well over 4,000 comments published here in seven years. Everyone thinks their comments were rejected for no good reason and the team spends a lot of time explaining why they have been rejected and ensuring there is consensus in the team on the application of the rules.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Aug '14 - 9:30pm

    One of the reasons I’m refraining from commenting (kind of) is because if on the other thread I said what I really wanted to I think LDV would have put me back on auto-mod and I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction.

    People should know that I am not vicious and hateful, but I think the idea that we should be polite at all times is wrong. I also sense double standards in the sense that if your angry comment would sit well with the Guardian or the Economist then it is fine, but if you say something angrily that doesn’t match one of the opinions of the editors of LDV then it isn’t fine.

    The standards have dropped and there seems to be a bit of a self-satisfied atmosphere going on.

  • David Allen 3rd Aug '14 - 9:38pm

    “Everyone thinks their comments were rejected for no good reason and the team spends a lot of time explaining why they have been rejected and ensuring there is consensus in the team on the application of the rules.”

    Am I right to infer you believe that all rejections have been correct decisions, and that the LDV editorial team never make errors?

  • “Terry 3rd Aug ’14 – 1:47pm | Edit
    Richard Dean bang on, as to Paul Walter what dream world you live in saying censorship on here is fair evenly and justifiable LOL Like all censorship its clouded by the person/people doing the censorship”

    The dream world where grammar and accuracy of quotation is still reasonably respected and where I actually said:

    “…the policy is implemented as uniformly and fairly as is humanly possible” (my later bolding)

    It is not censorship because you are at perfect liberty to make comments (which contravene the policy in the judgment of team) anywhere else on the big world wide web. Just not here.

    All comments, rejected or otherwise, are viewable and regularly viewed by the whole team of eleven people and one outside honorary consultant. See here: https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-liberal-democrat-voice-team . The team are from a variety of geographic locations across the country and represent many different shades of opinion in the party on the whole range of issues.

    All the team, plus the honorary super-numerary, see all correspondence concerning comments. There are very regular inter-team discussions on the interpretation of the rules.

    A great deal of time is spent by the team of volunteers both moderating comments and explaining to people why their comments have been rejected and what they can do to modify them to resubmit them successfully. We are always very happy to send people’s rejected comments back to them if they have not kept a record of them, so they can publish them elsewhere or want to modify them for resubmission.

    Also, the team approach means that if one member is not sure of a comment, they can leave it in the pending file for others to look at it.

    A great deal of painstaking work goes into ensuring the moderation process is as fair as possible. But, yes, of course, there are always those who are incandescent because their comment has been held up in the automatic moderation system for an hour and who declare “The death of Liberalism” as a result. Or those who threaten to and actually do resign from the party because a machine has held up their comment for an hour. But ho-hum. That’s life. We’ll never please everyone, but if we make the environment a little more encouraging for those who are a little more timid than experienced commenters, then we have done a good job.

    There have been nearly a quarter of a million comments published on LDV since its inception. Of all the comments submitted, 4.02% have been rejected. So, yes, we can argue as to whether human errors or less draconian judgments should have made that figure 4.01% or 4.00% or 3.99% but we are talking about very marginal amounts on an absolutely vast number of published comments by the standards of most voluntary collaborative blog sites.

  • No. David. Of course not and we have always acknowledged that we are human, as I did above if you look.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Aug '14 - 11:53am


    The other is the anti-Clegg faction who will spam every post on the site with calls for Nick to resign. In my opinion these people are getting in the way of debate, not contributing to it.

    Gosh, that must mean me. Do you really hold that just because I believe Nick Clegg has made many mistakes and have carefully explained my position on them, that I have nothing useful to contribute? I have not just insulted him for no reason, I have put a lot of effort into saying just where I think he has gone wrong, and into suggesting alternative plans that would have worked better.

    I spend a big part of my time in LDV arguing with those who come here and post attacks on us on the basis that somehow because 57 LibDem MPs could not persuaded 306 Tory MPs to drop all their policies and principles and adopt those of the LibDems instead, defending the party and arguing the case for forming the coalition. I hope that by doing this, as well as by saying why I think Clegg has made the situation worse, I can persuade people that the case for the coalition is strong – if people like me who make no secret of our concerns about Clegg’s leadership nevertheless accept ad defend the principles that led to its formation, might that not help push the case that we really did not have an alternative?

  • David Allen 4th Aug '14 - 12:28pm

    For what it’s worth Matthew, as Peter Watson explains above, neither your name nor mine appear to be on the “banned” list in Dave Page’s killfile. That honour belongs only to Richard Dean and Eddie Sammon, as can be determined by reading his published source code.

    However, clearly Dave Page can change that at any time, if he so chooses. Or, others can pick up his clever software and ban whoever they choose. Hey, just think, you could ban “Dave Page”, or “Paul Walter”, or “Nick Clegg”, or “Jeremy Browne”. But you won’t, will you? It’s always best to keep an open mind, isn’t it?

    Meanwhile, others might do differently. There is so much scope for this kind of software, if taken forward intelligently! How about a piece of Pageite software which parses articles written by Huntbach, puts “not” into all sentences that don’t contain it, deletes “not” from all sentences which do contain it, and then re-publishes the amended articles on a new website called Liberal Democrat Vioce?

  • Richard Dean 4th Aug '14 - 1:36pm

    Dave Page is definitely on my banned list! He won’t know that, of course.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Aug '14 - 4:53pm

    Well, I hadn’t looked at the code, but I had assumed it was a bit more sophisticated than just a list of names whose contributions are removed. I’m sorry, but when I read the words quoted I assumed they were meant as a direct attack on anyone who dares criticise The Leader and as a hint that such types are no longer welcome in The Party. If that’s the mentality in the party now, I don’t want to be a member any more. If the words were not meant that way, they should not have been written in a way where the most obvious interpretation is just that.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Aug '14 - 9:43am

    I parsed it as “particular (users’ comments)” rather than “(particular users’) comments”.

  • Alex Baldwin 5th Aug '14 - 5:16pm

    I understand the necessity of this tool for people who find it impossibly difficult to handle opinions they disagree with, but it bothers me to see this article endorsing Dave Page’s “enemies list” given the byline “The Voice” rather than an individual author.

    @Dave Page:
    It’s a shame that you felt the need to single out Richard and Eddie in your blogpost. It makes you seem very very petty. Are we to expect comments such as “Did anyone hear anything? It must be the wiiiind…” whenever they post now?

  • Eddie Sammon 5th Aug '14 - 5:36pm

    Thanks Alex. I also found Lib Dem Voice backing Dave Page’s over the top attacks on me troubling. To be honest, Dave handles himself fine at times and at least he has the self-awareness to recognise he sometimes looks bad, as we all do.

    What I have seen from the editors of Lib Dem Voice recently is laughing at other people’s genuine concerns and supporting those that smear them. It’s totally unacceptable and no wonder the Lib Dems are so low in the polls.

    I’m still not voting for the party or contributing towards most debates until I see a change in this area. I don’t want everyone to agree with me, I just want respect for people arguing for broadly liberal principles that they genuinely believe in.

  • stuart moran 5th Aug '14 - 6:24pm

    Eddie

    I have been reading this site for a while, but have only just joined it

    I must say I am quite shocked by some members of the party (shown by the yellow bird) and how they communicate. Rather insulting and condescending

    I find it strange as the party is clearly struggling in the polls and should be wanting to present a good image to those of us who used to vote for them but are not planning to at the moment

    If anything reading this site makes me even less likely to vote for the Party, one I want to show a radical approach at the next election but at the moment seems to be oscillating between the Blairites and the Tories

    Very odd…..

  • I have to admit that I’m a bit baffled by all the heat that seems to be generated by articles on moderation. Do the people who comment on LDV never look at other websites? Have a look at Guido, or Conservative Home and then perhaps you will better appreciate the civilised tone of debates here. I find it hard to believe that people take themselves so seriously, or that their egos are so fragile, that they can be deeply wounded by comments in response to a post. Lighten up a bit: I’ve got into arguments with people on here, and sometimes they are fruitful and sometimes seem pointless, so I stop. Dave Page is the one who is missing out by not reading Eddie’s painfully honest comments – I occasionally even find that Richard Dean says something that makes me think. I’ve been in the Party for 47 years – last week someone on here called me a Marxist: I am still laughing about that, but saw no need to respond.

  • Stephen Hesketh 5th Aug '14 - 8:05pm

    @tonyhill 5th Aug ’14 – 7:05pm
    A Marxist! It’s a disgrace Tony, your beliefs appear to be more radical than any Marxist would support!

  • Stephen Hesketh 5th Aug '14 - 8:19pm

    @Alex Baldwin 5th Aug ’14 – 5:16pm
    ” … but it bothers me to see this article endorsing Dave Page’s “enemies list” given the byline “The Voice” rather than an individual author.”

    Totally agree Alex. Time to end anonymous lead articles. If authors can’t be honest about who they, are they shouldn’t be given lead space in which to promote their personal opinions.

  • Eddie Sammon 5th Aug '14 - 8:31pm

    Thanks people. I know we differ on policy, but at least we don’t ridicule those who are concerned about mainstream political issues.

  • jedibeeftrix 5th Aug '14 - 8:55pm

    Haha, despite being part of the conversation I had not read the article until now, or the asso iated links.

    Apparently I’m not not on it, perhaps I’m not as obnoxious to the present crowd as I’d assumed. Lol.

  • Stephen Hesketh 5th Aug '14 - 10:20pm

    @tonyhill – sorry Tony, one of one of my more oblique jokes … that a radical Liberal Democrat is more radical than a class-based Marxist 🙂

  • Paul In Wokingham 6th Aug '14 - 6:54am

    <i."Don't tell him, Pike!"

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