Sunday, March 7, 2010

Universal access or accountability? Do I moderate comments?

I am torn as to whether or not I should moderate all the comments on this blog. On the one hand, I want to encourage as many people as possible to participate. If this blog does not inspire conversation than it's really a pointless exercise. On the other hand, people seem to be at their worst when they can post anonymously. Free speech demands accountability and anonymity seems to preclude accountability. What do you think and why? Should blogs allow anonymous posts?

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  1. Hello Jack,

    Good luck with the new blog!

    It is true, that anonymous blog posts can sometimes be snarky, crude, dimwitted, etc. However, I doubt you'll have much of that on a philosophy blog. Why don't you let people post as they wish, anonymously or not, and see if there are any problems?

  2. Moderation keeps the discourse on topic. Spam and mean-spirited attacks do nothing to contribute to a discussion and their removal does not compromise participation.

    On the question of posting anonymously, I think one can look to journalism as an example: anonymous sources can be effective if the context explains the reason for their anonymity.

    I agree with Phil, keep it open and see what happens.

    All the best with this new blog!

  3. Maybe you shouldn't allow academic philosophers to post anonymously. Also, as long as you reserve the right to delete any comments that are inappropriate or include ad hominem attacks, the blog should be fine.

  4. I am not a big fan of moderation on boards -- wish there were an option to opt-in or opt out of comments that have been sufficiently flagged as being abusive or off topic, that way the moderation becomes democratized and the effects of said moderation become controllable by the individual consumers of the threads. Not sure if its possible, but those are my two cents.

  5. Personally, the best moderation out there is community moderation. Websites, especially those like, that work on a community based "upvote-downvote" system are for the most part pretty efficient in maintaining meaningful dialogue/witticisms. That said, blogspot doesn't really offer such a thing, so authoritarian you must be. Just hope your ethic is aligned with the populace you represent.