Let’s Talk About The Censoring Of Blogs

Way back when I first started blogging, I belonged to a site called Newsvine. I wrote almost exclusively on religion back then, and they had moderators who would investigate reports of abuse.

Basically, you could say anything you wanted as long as you didn’t personally attack another user. If you used a personal attack and the moderator didn’t think it was too big a deal (you’re an asshole etc) the person’s comment would be taken down and the mod would leave a comment explaining it was removed, why it was removed and the ‘abuser’ would be given a warning not to do it again.

If the personal attack was repeated or was of a more serious nature (threats, very personal insults etc) then the comment would be deleted and the moderator would leave a comment explaining that the person had been banned for breaking the terms of use. Sometimes they would get banned for a week or a month, and sometimes they’d get a lifetime ban.

As an atheist blogger who enjoys lively debate, I was quite often the recipient of such ‘abuse’ and moderators would often ban or suspend people for personally attacking me or other readers.

Most of the time I didn’t care because the other person was behaving like a petulant child, but a few times I felt bad.

For example, there was one very religious person who called me the anti-Christ. He was banned for a month and I appealed to the moderators to lighten their suspension because I didn’t feel that warranted any sort of punitive action.

The suspension was upheld anyways.

Let’s take a quick Dexter break. The post will continue after this cute-as-hell picture.

I also belonged to an author’s forum and they had a similar sort of set up as far as posting. You weren’t allowed to personally attack people, but they had the added rule that you couldn’t swear or be overtly sexual in posts because minors sometimes joined the forum. There were special age restricted areas you could swear in etc. There was also an author section where people could post stories for critique, and you could swear or post sexual content there.

Anyhow, Newsvine changed their site setup and I found it too unruly a system to navigate so I moved to Blogger. I stayed there for quite some time, but decided to come to WordPress and I’m so glad I did.

During the Blogger/Wordpress era of my blogging adventure, I have maintained a free speech zone. I’m a big free speech advocate, but I do rely on people having good sense most of the time and acting like civilized human beings.

I don’t censor or alter comments. I also don’t delete any comments. I just let the conversation happen.

For the most part this has worked out wonderfully. The one thing that worries me is that people might not feel comfortable commenting on a post where someone is name-calling and acting like a whiny child. I’m also not a fan of people making fun of someone for a personal issue, such as a drinking problem in the past etc. I much prefer people stick to attacking the arguments someone makes, rather than the individual.

Like I said, people who comment here usually act like civilized human beings but there have been some exceptions. During those times, I wonder if NewsVine had it right all along.

Personally, I would never ban people because they disagree with me or others who may comment here. In fact, those are often the comments I most enjoy reading because they offer an alternative point of view.

I’m also uncomfortable banning or moderating comments where people personally attack others, including myself.

But enough about me. How do you run your blog? What are your thoughts and feelings on censoring blogs, banning people and/or rules of conduct and this post in general?

Thanks for reading!

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102 Comments

  1. [ Smiles ] I am also against censorship.

    For the record, I think that a person can disagree with another; provided that it is done in a diplomatic manner.

    Now, I do not expect a commenter to get away with being rude to a website administrator.

    I would not give you a good cussing because you are an atheist.

    You are entitled to believe and say anything that you want and I hereby invite you to check out my blog and say anything that you want in my comments thread.

    By the way, I use the Disqus commenting platform to filter out spam; so I hope that would not be a problem.

    Do enjoy the rest of your day!

    • Thanks for dropping by!

      You said: “Now, I do not expect a commenter to get away with being rude to a website administrator.”

      I’m going to play devil’s advocate. Say I came to your blog and started hurling personal insults at you. How would you stop me from ‘getting away with it’?

      “You are entitled to believe and say anything that you want and I hereby invite you to check out my blog and say anything that you want in my comments thread.”

      Thanks! I’ll likely drop by. 🙂

      “By the way, I use the Disqus commenting platform to filter out spam; so I hope that would not be a problem.”

      Do you mate. It looks like you’re at Blogger?

      • [ Smiles ] Hmm. Nice thought. Hurling personal insults.

        Now, that is a whole different can of beans.

        In a lot of cases, people feel quite insulted when people are confronted by an ideology that they do not believe in.

        However, people are free to insult once it is done in a diplomatic manner.

        I do not expect a commenter to cuss me out as though he or she was a Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.

        And, yes, I am on Blogger!

        • Okay, Disqus was an issue. I don’t want to sign up for it. lol. But I read your blog and here was the comment I was going to leave there:

          I’ve never used Stumble so I have no real opinion on this issue.

          However, I think if you moved your blog to WordPress, you’d find that you’ll get more traffic. I started with Blogger and in my humble opinion, WordPress is miles away better at hooking up readers with content creators. I also think Disqus will make it less likely that you’ll get comments on your work. WordPress has a built in spam filter that seems to work fairly well.

          “However, people are free to insult once it is done in a diplomatic manner.

          I do not expect a commenter to cuss me out as though he or she was a Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.”

          You do not expect it, but let’s say hypothetically they did curse you out that way. They attacked you, your family etc.

          What would your response be if you warned them and they continued to act like that?

          • [ Smiles ] The whole idea that I am all for diplomacy does not mean that a person can get away with being abusive in my comments thread.

            Comments can get deleted, blacklisted, etcetera.

            Also, let us not forget the Terms of Service that we agreed to (Cussing out a person on a blog can get you flagged for bad behaviour).

            Now, I do not have an issue with getting traffic on Blogger; my traffic is fine.

            I was not getting any sort of traffic or interaction via StumbleUpon.

            In the past, I had a WordPress blog; it was great; it received lots of incoming traffic and comments from those people that were within my WordPress community.

            But, WordPress started making changes — changes that annoyed the hell out of their users. They messed with the editor and they took away the freedom of using exclusive fonts for free (You have to pay extra for those fonts today).

            Plus, I wanted to go back to Blogger and experiment with it.

            Honestly, WordPress is good; but I would only recommend the self-hosted version of WordPress.

            Why?

            Because, it grants the blogger full control of their blog.

  2. I don’t like to wield the mod power, so to speak, but sometimes it’s a balancing act. A heated and honest discussion is fine, but it can be taken too far and boil over very quickly.

    I try to let conversation flow, and I don’t want to have to pre-approve comments, and so far, I haven’t had to, save or one or two rare instances.

  3. Well…..

    As a falling down drunk who rolls around on the floor whining and howling in a G7 note (heard mostly only by Things 1 & 2) when I don’t get mah way, well, I can ONLY speak for mahself here. 😀

    I would say I’m a silent moderator who values my privacy from time to time and that I’m mostly against moderation. Call me a rebel, ma, but I think speech should be free at all times. We should always say what we want to say, unless we are deliberately attacking/hurting someone else or ourselves.

    But, I also think we all have our tolerance levels, preferences, opinions on how things ought to get done…so, where is the balance? As a lady who was brought up extremely sheltered in a suffocatingly conservative household, I was taught to be “ladylike” at all times, speak only when spoken to, etc. Naturally, I rebelled! One trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and an on the spot job offer at a major television network circa 1993 changed all of that for me, haha!

    I personally like to say the “f” word on my blogs and they tend to be on the sexy side and I know a lot of people find both of those characteristics somewhat offensive and even shameful. Meh, you can’t please everyone. For the most part, I try to keep my blog classy with a hint of wild sexiness. In other words, I try to keep it true to myself. 🙂

    I like this think tank of yours, mister! ❥

    Thanks for indulging me.

    • Thanks for your thoughts!

      “We should always say what we want to say, unless we are deliberately attacking/hurting someone else or ourselves.”

      So as devil’s advocate (or anti-Christ maybe?) this begs the question of, what is the line? Would you ban or moderate a comment if a person were personally attacking you or one of your readers?

      “I personally like to say the “f” word on my blogs and they tend to be on the sexy side and I know a lot of people find both of those characteristics somewhat offensive and even shameful. ”

      Fuck that. Nothing wrong with swearing imo. lol

      “I like this think tank of yours, mister! ❥

      Thanks for indulging me.”

      Thanks for your kind words. 🙂

  4. What a fantastic blog-subject GC! Well done Sir! 🙂

    Censorship. I feel strongly that “Certainty” and “Censorship” (or the lack of free-speech) will never ever happily coexist. How so or not so(?) you ask… glad you asked GC! 😀

    Though I like to embrace the certain fact (Haha) that all 7.45+ billion of us on this planet are human beings, from Earth, and at least in our own Solar System the ONLY Homo sapiens around… that makes every single one of us cousins, family, and though we LIKE to portray ourselves as “different”, on so many levels we are not. Genetically we differ by less than 0.1%! Ironically and quite comically, we differ from chimpanzees/apes by only about 1.2%! Therefore, with such miniscule near non-existent differences, why do a large portion of people get vehemently upset, even verbally or physically abusive, with other Homo sapiens over just 0.1%? HAH! Not an easy question to answer, or is it?

    In my five plus decades of life, friends and relationships with thousands of people (many intimate) on 4 of the 6 inhabitable continents, I have found that appropriate Censorship or inappropriate Censorship often (not always) boils down to familial teachings and learned ideologies, and both’s size and flexibility (or inflexibility). As we can surmize GC, the less flexible and smaller the world/cosmic view, the less tolerant the censorship. And naturally, the more flexible and expansive the world/cosmic view, the more tolerant and ingenious the censorship, or free-speech. And we must all remember that words are just words, and each of us decide what to internalize or not internalize — hyper-sensitivity is not always condusive to progress or survival in such an IMPERFECT world with very IMPERFECT Homo sapiens! LOL

    That said, hate and utter ignorance should not be allowed to propagate. The two serve only to digress human endeavors. What nurtures Eusociality is what will SAVE a species from extinction, not exclusion.

    • “What a fantastic blog-subject GC! Well done Sir! 🙂”

      Thanks so much! I try to mix it up.

      “In my five plus decades of life, friends and relationships with thousands of people (many intimate) on 4 of the 6 inhabitable continents”

      You’re not really Gene Simmons are you?

      Just joking. lol

      “And we must all remember that words are just words, and each of us decide what to internalize or not internalize — hyper-sensitivity is not always condusive to progress or survival in such an IMPERFECT world with very IMPERFECT Homo sapiens! LOL”

      Agreed. I have a friend who works with men who have hit women. He told me that when he asks each of them what they had done, they all blame it on the other person. It’s always their partner’s fault. They made them act violently.

      He then has to patiently make it clear to them that they’re responsible for their own actions and no one can make them act violently with just words.

      I think that’s true. So much is dependent on perception. What is offensive to one person is no big deal to another.

      Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  5. Well, fuck. You’re very welcome for my kind words! 😉

    Hehe, my mom tried to raise a lady and she produced a saphiophile instead. Who knew?

    So, to answer your question, the line is VERY blurred for me.

    If my blog is in private mode, then absolutely no attacking or personal insult type comments would be deleted unless requested.
    But I would probably have a disclaimer alluding to this in my blog, something to the effect of: “We’re all grown ups here, speak freely, and don’t start or engage in shit you can’t finish or handle.” I’ve never done a divisive blog, however.

    Why?

    Probably because I work in the legal profession, so I live, breathe, and eat this kind of dialogue on a daily, so I “blog” as a hobby, strictly for that “soft place to land and escape” as it were. In other words, I come here to get away. It beats drinking, haha! 😉

    But, I can never resist reading discourse, especially when it’s done so intelligently, methodically, and well written or spoken, with heavy notes of one’s truth and sincerity.

    What? Why, yes, I did just describe the way I experience your blog, GC.

    Now, when my blog is in public mode, I tend to be a bit protective of my commenters, so I’m more involved and watchful, I would guess.

    But there is another problem. If ugly discourse occurs on my blog, and it’s public, and I’m not around for a few days, well, I can’t do anything about that until I return, so I guess it goes back to the disclaimer thing again…

    Did I answer your question, teach? Do I get an A+ and a gold star?

    Oh, by the way, Dex wants to marry me. Jessayin’. I know that look in his eyes…I’ve seen it on WAY too many men (and dogs, sometimes one and the same) to not know this! ;o))))

  6. By the way, I would never BAN someone from my blog unless they attacked me personally in some way or just made my skin crawl and I just didn’t want them around me. It’s only happened twice so far. 😉

      • Haha, someone banned you from their blog? That strikes me as preposterous and extremely ridiculous. Meh, you don’t need them, and I guarantee wherever that was, you will be missed there.

        Funny thing, though, I was once banned from an entire website. Ever heard of Psych Forums? Hehehehe! Let’s not go there. ;o) Let’s just say I might’ve accidentally thought I was Dr. Phil for a minute.

        • No. No banning was involved. I had someone come here and insult me continuously. I never moderated their comments or banned them. They then went to their blog and tried to make me out to be a racist.

          “Funny thing, though, I was once banned from an entire website. Ever heard of Psych Forums? ”

          I haven’t heard of them.

          You’ll never be banned here. 🙂

          • Yay! No banning of me! Woohoo! *happy wiggle*

            Someone came to your blog and insulted you continuously…. I missed that discussion! But the behavior of coming to your blog, trashing you, then going back to their blog and calling you a racist?

            Haha, that is just silly and stupid and we all know better.

            I think racism is bred from narrow-minded ignorance AND I JUST DON’T FUCKING SEE THAT HERE IN THIS BLOG!

            😀 😀

            • “Someone came to your blog and insulted you continuously…. I missed that discussion!”

              Indeedy they did. You can find it here:

              https://godlesscranium.com/2016/11/26/another-example-of-stupid-pc-outrage/

              “I think racism is bred from narrow-minded ignorance AND I JUST DON’T FUCKING SEE THAT HERE IN THIS BLOG!”

              Because I’m not racist. But I think he was just waiting for the opportunity to try and smear me as one.

              Later, he said that I was being radicalized because I don’t choose to go all-in on his feminism ideology, because frankly I find large portions of modern feminism to be toxic, sexist and untrue.

              I also feel like you can be for equality without adhering to an ideology. In fact, I think that’s the best way.

              But whatever.

              He’s definitely not going to change my mind with the type of name-calling drivel he came up with.

  7. Id be at wordpress if I didnt have the blog at blogger, but since right now I can barely deal with that, it seems foolish to start a second one. And Im not even sure I could transport what I have from there to here.

    That said, I run a fairly lowkey, non-threatening blog, for various and personal reasons, and while I dont shy away from controversy, Im not sure I want it all over my blog. The only moderation I engage in is behind the door, and usually spammers and people who do no speek da language except to insult don’t last long with me. There are a great many people who like to spread themselves all over the place, who are obviously not contributing anything but a made up name. Out.

    Interesting, what you’re describing as blog moderation in the early years was just an extension of the way message boards (which is where I started in 1997) were run, with multiple categories and sections, sysops and managers who moderated posts and attitudes. Early blogs were just message boards filtered down to definite and particular subjects, run by one moderator, and then the offshoot is what we have now, one or more owners, any subjects they choose.

    I like this space, GC, it’s pretty wide open, and you do allow other people breathing room. I am impressed. And thank you.

    • “And Im not even sure I could transport what I have from there to here. ”

      You can. I did it with this blog. The older posts were from Blogger. 🙂

      “I like this space, GC, it’s pretty wide open, and you do allow other people breathing room. I am impressed. And thank you.”

      Thank you. That makes me feel good. I try my best to let everyone have their say. I’ve always believed that’s the best policy.

      And no thanks necessary. I should be thanking you for reading and commenting.

  8. My house my rules.

    I don’t censor, but I have marked comments as spam. Mostly when they leave remarks like, ‘Great post here is the link to something I wrote and here is another link and then another.’

    I love and appreciate different outlooks, I can take criticism, but I don’t do rude, and I don’t do vulgar. Then I would censor someone into the trash bin.

  9. Grrrrrrrrr… GC, I’m trying to figure out how to “Like” other comments here by commentors, and I can’t seem to figure it out. Am I just being a brain-fart here or is there a “trick” or magic-spell & dance I must do to “Like” people!!!? LOL

  10. I’ve banned people from my blog before. I view my blog like my own personal property: it’s for my use, to express my ideas, my thoughts. If someone rang the doorbell to my house and started espousing nonsense or proselytizing I’d slam the door in their face. I see no reason why I should tolerate such behavior on a social media.

    I’ve usually only had to do this to trolls, but there was one overly religious fellow whose comments would often go beyond friendly debate–it was almost like the comment section of my blog became an extension of his own. That’s where I drew the line.

  11. Good questions GC.. I have wavered back and forth on this, although I have never permanenly banned anybody. Some seem to think they are, but aren’t LOL.

    I’d rather not ban, moderate or delete, and frankly can’t remember the last time I did.

    You obviously know I write a Christian blog, and that sometimes commenters get pretty ugly. For the most part, If it’s just repetition, redundant and circular questions, simply not answering works pretty good. Although I was once accused of stifling free speech because I simply chose not to have a conversation. Free speech doesn’t mean I have to spend all day chasing your rabbit trails once it becomes clear you aren’t looking to talk but merely to disrupt a bloggers mission. That’s not free speech, that is stamping out free speech.

    Excessive and outrageous profanity can become problematic, and is the one time I am likely to moderate these days. I know some, like you are quite ok with that,and personally I can get over it. Some of my audience, however, is not comfortable with it, and I really don’t think I am obligated to just let detractors fly if it bothers those who are my actual audience.

    Just my two cents

    • “Free speech doesn’t mean I have to spend all day chasing your rabbit trails once it becomes clear you aren’t looking to talk but merely to disrupt a bloggers mission. That’s not free speech, that is stamping out free speech.”

      For sure. No one can make you talk to them. LOL. I do that sometimes. I just let the convo die because I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

      “I know some, like you are quite ok with that,and personally I can get over it. ”

      I try not to swear too much…just because. But I’m okay with it for sure.

      I know you and your readers have always been courteous to me when I drop by for a visit. So thanks for that and keep doing what you’re doing mate.

  12. I think you have a really good way of running your blog and I appreciate your willingness to post different views and treat others respectfully. We should be able to discuss our differences without attacking one another. I also allow all comments on my blog and so far have not had anyone really be mean or attack someone. I suppose if something like that happened I would have to let the person know I was not posting their comment and let them know why. That is the main reason I require approval of all comments.

    • Thanks so much! It means a lot to me that some people see that I try to allow all views. I may in the future warn people who are repeat offenders of personally attacking reeaders or myself here, and if they can’t respect the warning, then they may have to go. I hope it doesn’t come to that though. I really like having this blog remain a free marketplace of ideas.

  13. What’s that quote about “I’ll know it when I see it”? I have deleted just a few comments that were either inappropriate (and I’m not too judgemental or sensitive, but I am a mom) or links to other sites that I don’t endorse (my blog is not free advertising space – duh). So far I’ve been fortunate enough to not have had any trolls or meanie buttheads to contend with. If I did, though, I would have no problem deleting comments. Its my blog and so I won’t leave anything on it that I don’t respect.

        • Although I would struggle with it, I might next time it happens. I wanted to leave those comments there this time because I think it shows the person beneath the moral crusader mask that he usually keeps in place. It also wasn’t the first time he had come to my blog and did nothing more than call me names.

          I doubt any apology is forthcoming. Too much arrogance there, but I’d allow him to comment for sure if he could remain civil. I’m not even sure I would do anything if he did it again besides just not respond.

          I know…I’m crazy. lol.

          • Well, we’re all crazy in our own ways.

            I was interested to notice (before you wrote this post even) that you engaged with the particular commentor and responded to their insults. I would have just deleted, not responded, and moved on. So, forgive the amateur psychoanalyst in me, but perhaps there is a part of you that got satisfaction from the conflict.?.

            • “I was interested to notice (before you wrote this post even) that you engaged with the particular commentor and responded to their insults.”

              I try to respond to everyone.

              ” I would have just deleted, not responded, and moved on.”

              Perhaps I should have.

              However, I find that when platforms do this (and mine is just a very tiny one) it allows them to whine about how they’re being censored. I find people like Pink generally play the victim and essentially, deleting his comments is like me handing him another metaphorical victim card.

              ” So, forgive the amateur psychoanalyst in me, but perhaps there is a part of you that got satisfaction from the conflict.?.”

              Honestly, no. I was quite annoyed and still am. I’m sort of used to people attacking me because I tend to write about controversial topics, but I’m not a fan of being accused of racism etc or of someone attacking people I love.

              I can take personal attacks just fine, but my kids, GF and children’s mother don’t deserve any of that and I find it immensely cowardly of him to do that.

              However, I am glad that people had a chance to see what I think are his true colors and be able to decide on their own what that means in the long term. I think that’s important and it’s part of the reason why I value free speech.

              If I had just deleted the comment and banned him, he would go back to his blog and whined I was censoring him. People would have no way to see whether what he was saying was true or not.

              Now at least they can see for themselves.

              Oh, and like my GF likes to tell me, I’m not wired to back away from a heated discussion. lol

          • I got/am really sick to death of Colorstorm as he never truly engages and banned him. But relented after a day or two.

            Pop over to ”Liars for Jesus” and you can see how much of a complete Dickhead he is being as I type.
            Then I released him from banning and now I have decided to moderate him, just out of spite, as the arsehole has always moderated me.
            He can see I am moderating his (and only his) comments so he really wants to make sure his god-crap gets an airing so he quickly releases my comments!

            Wally never visits as he knows full well on any religious post he does not have enough background knowledge to offer any meaningful comments and would get chewed to bits inside two comments. So banning would never come up. And him I would never moderate either. I generally consider him harmless and simply misguided.

            Some Christian fundamentalists, however, are simply vile.
            These are the types that one occasionally thinks … woooa! This is a serious head case.

            One such has noticed some of my street photographs and is making allusions of improper behavior, picking specifically on one or maybe two photographs ( can’t recall?) that featured smiling schoolkids and overweight female cops.

            However, I would never ban this particular individual as the world needs to read such sick people and realise what religion can and does to people.

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