I thought I would write a brief post about this site’s moderation policy, or lack thereof. As I may have said before, starting this blog was all a rather spur of the moment decision and I didn’t really know what kind of moderation policy to introduce. The obvious one was to discourage vitriolic and extreme ad hominens, but apart from that I thought I would just wing it. The story of my life, to a certain extent 🙂
So, I have done very little moderating and there hasn’t, in my view, been much need for it. In the past few days, though, I’ve closed down a couple of comment threads. The only reason for doing this was to avoid discussions becoming unpleasant and because I couldn’t really see anything constructive coming from further discussion. It also avoided me having to too obviously take one side over another. A little cowardly maybe, and maybe also a false balance (it should be clear which side of the debate I’m on). I’m also aware that too much (or maybe any) moderation will lead to me being criticised by some as closing down the debate. I thought, naively as it turns out, that closing the comment thread, rather than moderating one individual, might avoid such criticism. Given the stick I was getting on Twitter last night, this expectation was wrong. It’s probably also something that I should simply accept.
I also may well have been wrong to moderate in this way. If so, I apologise. I really am working this out as I go along. An issue that I have is that I’m not even sure of the purpose of this site. In some sense it is simply a place where I can write what I think and can be corrected by and learn from those who know better. Maybe some might learn from what I write, but they will often – I suspect – learn more from the comments than from the posts. I suspect the posts will (and already have) vary from posts that aim to be quite scientific, to posts that are more opinion than scientific fact. There does seem some value in allowing all views to be aired in the comments if only so that they can be rebutted or ignored if ridiculously wrong (and then exist for others to judge). On the other hand it can be (and has been in cases) very disruptive. I still think that this illustrates something, but does somewhat destroy the comment thread.
So there you go. That’s my current thinking and any other thoughts would be welcome. Maybe I need a clear moderation policy so that I can avoid criticism when moderating those who clearly violate the policy. In reality, however, there is probably no real way to avoid criticism so it really may make absolutely no difference what I choose to do. Maybe I just expect people to excuse my mistakes and show some understanding. I am, however, probably expecting too much.