The powers that be at Patheos have recently rolled out a sitewide keyword filter for comments which affects all blogs, including this one. As many people have noticed, more comments are being held for approval than in the past, often for containing seemingly inoffensive words.
We weren’t given advance notice of this, and I’m not thrilled with how it was handled. My understanding is that it was an effort to screen out comments that are hateful, spammy or obscene, because too many such comments lower the overall quality of the site and hurt our standing with search engines and social media. However, they went about it in a ham-handed way that resulted in a lot of innocuous comments being swept up.
I’ve seen the original list, and about 99% of it is spam terms, obscenities and slurs, so no loss there. But I’m guessing it was compiled algorithmically from terms that frequently appear in flagged comments, and someone didn’t check it over carefully enough. Among other terms, “gay” and “lesbian” were on the flagged list, which is obviously unacceptable. “Muslim” was also there, and I imagine that didn’t go over well on the Muslim channel. (More amusingly, “flying spaghetti monster” was on the list at one point. Out with those sinister Pastafarians!)Patheos has been responsive to feedback. We bloggers raised concerns about some of the terms on the filter list, and we’ve been assured that this is in the process of being fixed.
Let me emphasize that nothing is being censored or automatically deleted. At worst, comments containing words on the filter list will go to the moderation queue for my review. If they’re harmless, I’ll approve them as I always have. No one other than me is making decisions about what comments get posted on Daylight Atheism. As always, if you run into difficulties, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help.