A Meditation on When to Delete a Comment

I’ve just deleted a comment to a recent posting, my reflection on protesting the Maricopa county “tent city” jail.

I did this only after fretting a bit. My concern has nothing to do with a concern about “censorship,” which some people like to throw around when confronted with limitations on comments. Me, I figure this is my blog, and I allow what I want on it. And, if someone else has something to say, well, they can put their own blog up.

Actually, for most of my blogging life I’ve not allowed comments.

As I’ve read blogs and comments over the past years I’ve seen how the opportunity to vent spleen into the aethers appears to be too much for some among us. Perhaps even for most of us, at least once in a while. I think of the cartoon that had a minor viral life a while back with the figure in it being called to bed, but refusing offering the punchline, “someone is wrong on the internet.” Not only do we feel the need to correct, but as we do we also assume the worst about the author’s character, hygiene and motives, sometimes along with creative speculation about their ancestry.

Once I was interviewed about the heat that occurs on occasion in the Buddhist blogosphere and opined somewhat crudely about how it seemed expressed opinions frequently were pulled from a certain part of the anatomy not connected directly to the brain. This apparently gave license to people to write to me with their opinions about me, a source for details in the sentence above…

On the other hand, I think it wise to allow a range of opinion, it enriches the dialogue, to the degree a venue such as this affords dialogue.

Hence the hesitation, the fact I now do allow comments, don’t moderate them, but do on occasion delete them – and this reflection.

Where are the boundaries? What is appropriate speech in such a place as this?

I suspect the problem can’t be defined by a static set of rules.

In general I’m okay with people saying what they have to say. Including in this thoughts about me.

So… On to the case in point.

As best I could tell the author of the comment I deleted felt my response to Joe Arpaio’s tent city was woefully inadequate. He (the name used was masculine, of course who knows who the author really is – another wrinkle on the web) suggested he was of the opinion the country is in the thrall of fascism and, well, it wasn’t completely clear to me, but somehow my reflection revealed something unpleasant about me, personally and my complicity in light of the relentless fascist reality.


Could be true.

Although I think the situation is rather more complex than was implied.

But what caused me to delete the comment was not his opinion about the state of affairs in the world, or even about my part in it. I would be okay with a brief dissent, as I said it can enrich things. But then it went on and on. Way too much. (Also if you want to really piss me off, use all capital letters to make sure I get the point.) Anyway, as I saw it, to allow the comment to remain would over balance the whole thing. Give vastly too much weight to his view – on my blog.

And, as I’ve already noted, this is my blog.

So, I allow comments, but fair warning: I will delete as I think appropriate, and will even ban someone, should I feel it necessary.

You don’t like this?

Well, start your own blog.

It’s easy…

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  • http://www.blindeschildpad.nl Blinde Schildpad
  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/monkeymind James

    Thank you, Blinde! A friend just sent me the link. But you beat me to it & so win the prize for linking to this wonderful source of reflection and humor…

  • Ellen Skagerberg

    I think this is just common sense. People vary wildly in their ethical and developmental levels. You’ve got your sincere readers, but then you have your late-night drunks, your trolls, and your cranks with a vendetta against your affiliations. Plus, there are the folks who just love to hear themselves talk but can’t get a readership on their own merits, so they hop on other people’s blogs like fleas on a dog.
    There’s no need to give positive reinforcement to those who don’t add productively to a common conversation. Traditional newspapers don’t publish every Letter to the Editor — not even on their websites, which have unlimited space. We can tell the difference between the loyal opposition and the loose screw. Some of those folks are just bullies testing to see who will try to placate (or reason with) them. You wouldn’t welcome them into your house, and you don’t need to squander your attention with them online either.

  • http://marcwkohler.com Marc Kohler

    …”As best I could tell the author of the comment I deleted felt my response to Joe Arpaio’s tent city was woefully inadequate. He (the name used was masculine, of course who knows who the author really is:

    My name in Marc W. Kohler. You can see all of my opinions at liberaltruths.blogspot.com. You can also read these posts on “Americans for Reconciliation” on face Book. My work as a children’s performer can be seen on face Book, too, under marc W, Kohler (The W and period makes it easier). Look at photos udder “Our Work” and “Face Painting”. It was originally called Liberals for America, but I changed the name when I thought that there was a chance for reconciliation in America–to some degree. I do. I believe that you are right that the ad homier argument is precarious, at best, and the reason I used it is that I am tired of Americans who are well off not realizing the depth of our crisis. So, you deleted me. Let you readers make their own choices. I will not post that post that you deleted on my Blog since it offended you, and I did not mean to offend–what I meant to do was motivate—to bring out the flowers in the streets like Kenneth Patchen encouraged us to do. I was a conscientious objector to war in 1971, and still adhere to those fundamental beliefs. My essay on my blog “A White Guy’s Primer on Racism in America” is worth the read, and a group of fellow Rhode Islanders are joining with me next week to discuss the subject. If, for the benefits of your readers, why not run my post again, and take out the ad homien remarks for which I apologize. You underestimate the desperation that people in poor neighborhoods feel.

    • JMP

      “You can see all of my opinions at liberaltruths.blogspot.com.”
      There are no posts. I hope you have more opinions than that ;-)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/monkeymind James

    Dear Marc,

    Your original post is gone to whatever reward deleted posts go to.

    If you want to simply point people to your site and mention your meeting, you are most welcome to do so.


  • BiLLD

    If I may, I will quote you. “I figure this is my blog, and I allow what I want on it. And, if someone else has something to say, well, they can put their own blog up”.
    In my opinion, nuff said! I have never found you unfair or biased. Keep on Keeping on!

  • http://occamszweihander.blogspot.com TEA

    Ta from TEA James. :-)