There’s an interesting discussion of “Alas” comments and moderation in an older post; the current round of discussion begins with comment number 297 by Mandolin. Here’s the complete text of Mandolin’s first comment in that discussion:
I know this has been said before, but I guess I feel the need to add my voice to the din. For whatever reason, Alas, which theoretically has an emphasis on civil discourse, seems to host more vile sentiments than any other blog I read regularly (note: I dropped Hugo from my reading list for similar reasons*).
I like being here, and I like reading the posts, but the way Ann and Pheeno have just been attacked — really, dramatically attacked — is kind of galling.
Why does the emphasis on civil discourse create this feedback loop? Is it because the posters on Pandagon, for instance, are more comfortable mocking the creeps before they get so creepy? Is it just a different bannination policy? Is it an illusion caused by the way comments thread here? Do the comments get as vile in other places, but the reaction of the population is just different, so the scary stuff isn’t as clearly delineated?
If no one else is interested in opening up this can of worms, it’s cool. And I appreciate that Chris has been asked to leave. But, it still happened.
(*Leading me to be curious about why it is that the feminist blogs hosted by men have such an infestation, but with a group of 2, it’s hardly a real pattern.)
There’s a lot more discussion there, which I’m not going to attempt to summarize. However, since loading over 300 comments is a pain for some folks, I’m starting this new post for continuing that discussion. (Admittedly, people will have to reload that page initially to read the discussion, but eventually we’ll be able to move the conversation over to this thread).
UPDATED TO ADD:
I do have several ideas of what we can do, some of which contradict each other.
1) Stop having comments on “Alas” at all.
This is actually pretty appealing to me, in some ways; I’d miss some of the discussion, but having comments is also a major pain in the neck. But I don’t think other people would love it. I certainly wouldn’t do this (or any of the other ideas, actually) if Rachel and Maia disagree.
2) Get more folks to moderate.
But they’d have to be folks who “get” the idea of the site, who don’t hate the idea of the site, and they’d have to be willing to volunteer. (Feminists only, natch.)
3) Put a “email the moderators about this comment” link with every comment that appears.
One thing pointed out in the discussion is that people tend to hesitate to report comments they’re concerned with — but in fact, I’d find it very, very useful if people emailed me right away when things go over-the-top. (Maia, Rachel, would you mind receiving such emails?) The problem, of course, is that I’m not online 24/7, and neither is Rachel, or Maia. This is an area in which having more moderators might help some.
4) Add a “progressive anti-racists only” condition to some posts, similar to the “feminists only” rule condition some posts have.
This will definitely happen — we just need to work out the wording. (Just saying “anti-racist posters only” won’t cut it, because everyone considers themselves to be anti-racist.)
5) More “progressive anti-racists only” posts. More “feminists only” posts.
6) Create an “Alas annex,” meant for polite debate between different idealogical views, and outsource most of the non-feminist, non-progressive comments to the annex.
That’s some of what I’ve been thinking. A number of folks suggested various technological solutions, but I’m not sure those solutions are things I’m technically capable of implementing.
I’ll post more later, but right now I’ve got to go get my teeth drilled.