Welcome to my day – 1 January 2018: a (day) editorial thought for a New Year…

One of the unexpected advantages of being the Day Editor on New Year’s Day is that you can, perhaps, make a resolution for the year ahead. And nobody can stop you…

Mwah, hah, hah, hah…

And it dawns on me that, as the person technically responsible for moderation today, I have the tools at my disposal to actually change a small corner of the Internet, and make it a better place, if only for a little while. Call it “taking a stand for decency”, if you like. Or, as someone is bound to say, “censorship”… (you’re wrong, in the nicest possible way, because this is a liberal, rather than libertarian, website).

So, let’s lay down some ground rules for today. Firstly, treat fellow commenters with respect, even if you don’t agree with them. I am the judge of whether or not you’re showing sufficient respect and, as the Day Editor, my word is law. If you don’t like that, go somewhere else, at least for today. You aren’t being censored, as I have no control over anything you say anywhere else, you’re just being managed.

Secondly, try to make a positive case for whatever it is you believe in. You’re trying to persuade people as to the virtues of your argument, not trying to browbeat them into submission. You probably won’t succeed in the latter here anyway, and all you achieve is to ratchet up the level of unpleasantness. And, frankly, it’s all a bit tedious. As my mother might have asked, “How old are you? Five?”.

Thirdly, and this isn’t a rule but merely a suggestion, sarcasm and irony work relatively well when there’s body language to read. Here, there isn’t any. So, why not consider how your witty barb might read sans context before you post it? And, if in doubt, think again.

Unhappy? Get in touch with me via [email protected] I’m five hours behind you, and whilst I am on holiday (it’s very cold, and thank you for asking), I’ll answer as quickly as I can. Remember, I’m on holiday, so you are not my uppermost priority, but I’m a courteous soul at heart. Oh, and yes, my fellow editorial team members are celebrating New Year as well, so cut us all some slack, if you’d be so kind.

And so, on with the medley… Have fun, and be careful out there…

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34 Comments

  • Mick Taylor 1st Jan '18 - 8:22am

    Happy New Year Mark.

    I do wish you’d apply these New Year’s Day rules every day. It would make LDV a much better place.

  • Andrew Tampion 1st Jan '18 - 9:06am

    A suggestion. The benefit of the doubt to be given to those who post under their real full name and against those who don’t without good reason.

  • It worth remembering some do not give their full names because they do not want their boss, work colleagues or clients to know they are supporters of the Lib Dems.
    Happy New Year to all !!!

  • Thanks for all you do Mark, and happy new year!

  • paul barker 1st Jan '18 - 9:42am

    I would agree with all the above & add a restriction on private conversations between commenters : everyone is allowed one comment on another comment & the original commentor is allowed one reply. Nothing derails a thread faster than arguments between 2 or 3 people , often about what they meant or didnt.

  • Tony Dawson 1st Jan '18 - 9:48am

    Paul Barker is right (there, I’ve said it for 2018!) ;-). What any modern blog needs (especially one which has threads which get participatory interest) is a threading system. Not rocket science.

    Happy New Year to all Tories and Socialists as well as Lib Dems. Especially, goodwill to all women.

  • Nonconformistradical 1st Jan '18 - 9:49am

    “I do wish you’d apply these New Year’s Day rules every day. It would make LDV a much better place.”

    Seconded.

    And on LibDemer’s comment on Andrew Tampion’s posting – some might be in politically restricted jobs.

  • Andrew Tampion 1st Jan '18 - 10:07am

    May I respectfully point out that I did not suggest that anonymous posters should be barred: only that the moderator should exercise any discretion in favour of those who use their full name and against those who do not.
    Also my post does specifically refer to posters who use pseudonym without good reason.
    Finally the true identity of posters should be known or at least available to the moderator. To prevent people commenting on their own article if nothing else.

  • I use a pseudonym and I am on the left of this party….
    I do not use personal insults or unpleasant language and yet my posts are usually moderated and often removed…Is that not already LDV ‘discretion’?

    What does today’s special ‘discretion and ‘benefit of the doubt’ mean?

  • Mark Valladares 1st Jan ’18 – 12:10pm…

    Thank you for your response; especially as you are on holiday…’Snarky’? I’d prefer ”Sparky’ or even ‘Passionate’….

    Anyway, enjoy your holiday and, as a New Year Resolution, I’ll endeavour to read through my posts and try to remove ‘extra’ adjectives..

    Best wishes Mark, and to all on here, no matter what shade of LibDem you are… ‘

  • Yeovil Yokel 1st Jan '18 - 12:44pm

    Mark Valladares – thanks to you and the other moderators for the work that you do on this site, it is much appreciated.
    You Tube has a valuable feature in that you can to post a comment and then subsequently edit or remove it – is there any way of doing this on LDV? It would enable contributors: (1) to tidy up poor presentation and therefore to make posts clearer, & (2) to reflect on a comment – made possibly in the heat of the moment – and then to alter it.

  • Sean Hyland 1st Jan '18 - 1:30pm

    Unsure of what principles surround moderation on LDV. 4 times attempted to comment on the former leaders reward and each time they failed to make the cut. As far as I am aware I was not offensive but can only assume it was because I was criticising the decision.
    Didn’t feel this was particularly liberal and pointed that out in the follow up posts. If this is going to be the way then think it is time to end my interest in this site. Just seems to confirm a personal perception that there some that don’t live up to their claim to be liberal.
    There are some excellent posters on here and some stimulating debates. I don’t even mind frankies unicorns.

  • Peter Martin 1st Jan '18 - 4:43pm

    Thanks for allowing my comments. As far as I can remember I’ve never had one disallowed. Just occasionally they are held up in moderation but never for very long.

    I’m somewhat to the left of most Lib Dems, as you might have noticed, and have views on economics which may seem odd to some. This then leads to the belief that the current EU structure is unstable and fragile. Doomed to failure even. I know this can’t be popular in pro EU party but it’s good we can at least talk about all that!

  • Thank you for this, Mark, and I agree with Mick.
    For Andrew Tampion’s point: perhaps requiring registration to comment, whether pseudonymously or otherwise, would help the mods in both identifying and removing persistently combative commenters?

    Sean: I would contend that it’s perfectly liberal to want to foster an atmosphere where all can participate, as opposed to one where those who are most vituperative drive everyone else away. Without casting any aspersions on anyone commenting on this particular post, below the line on LDV veers towards the latter far too often.

  • Dave Orbison 1st Jan '18 - 6:33pm

    I can understand the need for moderation when there is abuse. But I don’t think I have ever been abusive yet have been moderated on occasion.

    My comment really is there should be a clear differentiation between abuse and say, snarky comments. I don’t find expats snarky but that may be because I often agree with his/her comments. But moderation because of a subjective view of tone is quite dangerous. On that basis political satire would surely be excluded too.

  • Sean Hyland 1st Jan '18 - 8:18pm

    Apart from my first posts on LDV,as is policy, I have never been pre modded or had a post deleted. I am now accused of tending to be unpleasant and taking cheap shots. This is a first for me and I have certainly had no indication of this on this or any other forum.

    All I initially did was make a post on Nick Clegg getting a knighthood and suddenly I’m pre modded and posts deleted. I certainly was frustrated on my follow up posts but was not offensive as far as i am aware. Maybe it is as Mark says” all in the eye of the beholder”

    I take the hint. This is my last post on LDV. My plan to rejoin the party is forgotten and I have serious questions to ask myself about whether I will continue to vote Lib Dem.

  • Peter Martin 1st Jan '18 - 9:25pm

    @ Martin,

    Maybe you’re just assuming that opposition to the EU is an indicator of right wing opinion? I’ve had a lot of flak from friends and relatives about all that. How can I possibly align myself with Nick Farage and the Tory Right?

    But my opposition to the EU isn’t based on the usual anti-capitalist rhetoric of the ultra left. That the EU is a capitalist club etc. If it were a successful capitalist club I’d be all for it!

  • Peter Martin 1st Jan '18 - 9:29pm

    I meant Nigel Farage of course 🙂

  • Dave Orbison 2nd Jan '18 - 7:01am

    Mark – “If by political satire you mean being unpleasant to groups or individuals, especially those underrepresented in our political discourse, then I’m relaxed about excluding it. ”

    No, this is not what I said nor what I meant. I simply stated a concern about subjective moderation as oppose to moderation due to a comment that is explicitly abusive.

    On that point I stated “But moderation because of a subjective view of tone is quite dangerous. On that basis political satire would surely be excluded too.”

    This is surely an inoffensive comment. But you have taken that statement and attributed something altogether negative such as “being unpleasant especially to those underrepresented”, is wholly unreasonable. I’m not even sure who you mean by “those unrepresented”. If you think I meant that then I can only politely suggest that perhaps the problem lies not so much with what is actually stated but more the mindset of the reader. I think this example simply illustrates my point.

    You have variously described contributors as being ‘snarky’ and ‘straying over the lines to becoming offensive’. However, there are many, many contributions on here that I strongly disagree with and a large percentage come from a few regular contributors. But I fully accept that they have every right to say what they think so long as it is not abusive. Equally, I believe that those that disagree with them should have the right of reply.

    Debate by airing contrasting views is surely a more liberal approach than having someone ‘moderate out’ comments based on their subjective perception of where some vague non-defined line should be drawn.

  • I am trying to understand all this. I am stuck on the word “snarkiness” . My Oxford Dictionary of English does not give it. It does give “snarky”, “snarkier” and “snarkiest” which it claims N. Amer. informal. It has origin in a dialect word meaning to snore, snort. It does not say which dialect. Seemingly snarky means sharply critical – but that does not take me much further. I suppose I could Google it, but that does not yet come naturally to me.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Jan '18 - 10:32am

    @ Tom

    A Snark is a Sn{ide Rem}ark

  • Jayne mansfield 2nd Jan '18 - 1:08pm

    @ Tom Harney,
    I wouldn’t use the term snark or snarky when referring to anyone especially Expats.

    I suspect that he is a Boojum, a danger to all those right of centre whose description begins with LD.

    @ Mark Valladares,
    Apologies, and happy new year.

  • Dave Orbison 2nd Jan '18 - 5:04pm

    Mark – I do not know the inner workings of the LDV system, time lapses etc. How could I?

    So if I post something that is ‘moderated’ and it remains there for some time it’s reasonable to assume it may not appear. That happens with moderated posts from time to time as per mine and other comments re Nick Clegg’s gong.

    To your general point re satire, just because someone could take satire the wrong way is no reason to take satire away from us all. Content and context is everything. I don’t think I could have been much clearer.

    I fully support the work that you and other moderators on any blog to clamp down on abuse. But I don’t accept that describing someone’s general contributions as ‘snarky’ or that someone has ‘crossed the line’ with what is taken as negative, as opposed to abusive contributions, is sufficient cause to prevent publication.

    We are all capable of skipping past someone’s posts if we find their views tiresome. I have no doubt that many here don’t bother what I say and may be even fed-up with what I post. They are entitled to dismiss what I say.

    But if we start moderation of things beyond what is clear cut abuse I fear we are on a slippery slope towards censorship, a most unwelcome position surely for LibDems to find themselves in.

    However, for balance let me commend you and your colleagues for supporting a blog that allows contributions from a wide political spectrum. Democracy thrives on open debate and our ability to challenge each other’s views. Long may it continue that way.

  • With the greatest respect for the work you and the others involved in this site do, I disagree with you Mark. Politics is about serious differences of opinion which cannot always be expressed in a genteel “more tea, vicar?” type of discourse. This sort of bloodless consideration of other people’s feelings is one of the reasons that the Tories walked all over us during the Coalition: being such nice people ourselves we couldn’t imagine that they might be capable of such base treachery towards us. There are people who post on LDV whose comments I don’t bother reading; there are others with whom I would not bother to engage. You are right not to tolerate rudeness, ad hominem attacks and blatant trolling, but I welcome people with other political beliefs posting here and challenging our positions on issues. If we are unable to defend ourselves within our own community, what hope is there for us in the real world, on the doorstep, in the Council chamber, in Parliament? We have these periodic debates on LDV but I have never really understood why people get worked up about the type of discourse on this site. Maybe that is largely down to moderation, but I suspect that it is more likely to be because people come here because they are interested in debating ideas in an intelligent fashion rather than indulging in insults and abuse as tends to be the case on some other political sites.

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