to ban or not to ban – dealing with difficult comments

You’re as thick as a plank. (Mr Marvellous)

Banning other bloggers from my posts is something I’ve never given much thought. I have always had open comments and I try to find to the time to respond appropriately to all the comments people are kind enough to leave.

My posts are generally subject specific, and rarely personal in nature, so it’s easy to have discussions about topics without feeling personally offended.

Recently I’ve had two bloggers who haven’t followed the pattern of comments I generally receive: agreeing or disagreeing with the content of the post and stating why. The first blogger (quoted above) seems intent on critiquing me personally and informing me that the content of my posts is poor quality. The second blogger has recently taken to interpreting all of my posts through an odd racist lens and spitting the straw man content back out in the comments section.

While I don’t particularly enjoy the comments from either of these bloggers (and I definitely wouldn’t miss them if they abandoned my blog for more fertile pastures) I have no thought of banning them – or even moderating their comments. My reasoning is this:

  1. My posts are opinions. And opinions should be open to scrutiny and comment or what’s the point in even publishing them online?
  2. Even the oddest comments might have some merit or an angle that is worthy of further consideration.
  3. If their comments become offensive or silly, it’s a direct reflection on them.

However, it’s come to my attention that other bloggers can get in a habit of banning people or moderating comments that make them feel uncomfortable or unsure of their position. I’ve never personally been banned from any of the many Christian sites I’ve discussed issues with, and I think it is a tribute to the many bloggers with different beliefs that they are confident enough in their stance to withstand scrutiny and respond to challenges.

But let’s look at some bloggers who can shy away from dealing with challenges to their shonky opinions:

  • The Isaiah 53:5 Project – My last post pointing out the similarities between the slavery justification and accepting same sex marriage has been ignored by this blog. But, more tellingly, my comment left on the post has yet to make it out of moderation. I understand that several atheist bloggers have also been banned from the site (John Zande, Tildeb and Ark among them). What does this say about the ability of the blog host to process and respond to different points of view? Nothing good.
  • Colorstorm – This blogger is infamous for moderating and deleting comments he can’t deal with. In this post, he allows a couple of comments from Arch and John through, and then kills the conversation he can’t handle.
  • Insanitybytes – Insanity is usually up for a tussle on any subject but can suddenly and inexplicably disappear from a conversation or, as in the post linked to, refuse to publish one of many comments from someone like the persistent John Zande.

I hope I haven’t misrepresented anyone here, and I’ll be happy to discuss any inaccuracies anyone feels might be presented here. But if you get out of line, don’t be surprised (or oddly offended like a puffed up pufferfish) if I ask you to behave like a respectful adult human.