Comment Moderation, Redux

[UPDATE: Edited to reflect change in the function of the feature.]

Some concerns about comment moderation have been brought to us by the community, so we have decided to try something new.

Below every comment you will have “thumbs down” link with the ability to report a comment for moderation. This icon should also be accessible for screen readers. With enough “thumbs down” votes, the comment will “hide” with the option of being seen only by those with exceedingly curious minds until the official moderator can get to it. We hope this will flag offensive comments more clearly for us while we attempt to moderate amidst our daily work/life duties.

This function should not be used to shut down discussion you disagree with. This function SHOULD be used to notify others that the comment is abusive or egregiously off-topic.

We are trying to figure out a friendlier way of moderating that doesn’t rely on a sole entity to bear responsibility or make questionable moral calls on comment content. If you have additional ideas or concerns, please weigh in below.

Author: has written 1251 posts for this blog.

Lauren founded this blog in 2001.
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96 Responses

  1. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin July 28, 2010 at 6:09 pm |

    It has been my understanding that usually strict comment moderation is needed for a handful of trolls who simply will not stop posting otherwise. But I think more controversial and yet un-trollish commentary may very well be policed, pardon the phrase, by the system that has been proposed.

  2. Ed Hicks
    Ed Hicks July 28, 2010 at 6:10 pm |

    Sounds pretty good, though an organised troll effort could easily mess with it.

  3. Faith
    Faith July 28, 2010 at 6:24 pm |

    Seems like a good idea in theory. The only problem that I can see is the possibility that non-offensive or constructive comments might get buried simply because of many people not agreeing with it. Or more specifically, privileged commenters might bury comments out of spite.

  4. zuzu
    zuzu July 28, 2010 at 6:28 pm |

    Could get all Lord of the Flies up in here.

  5. Nanette
    Nanette July 28, 2010 at 6:41 pm |

    I’m really glad you posted this because I just noticed the “like/dislike” thing right in the middle of everything. So, naturally, the first thing I wondered was if that had been there all the time and I just missed it.

    My old pea brain wouldn’t have been surprised, lol.

  6. Ruben
    Ruben July 28, 2010 at 6:48 pm |

    Would a merit system work? Those who have commented constructively for a long time could be seen as more trustworthy and not need moderation while people with either few or negative comments would be flagged?

  7. ilya
    ilya July 28, 2010 at 7:28 pm |

    I would draw a few things to your attention:
    StackOverflow, a tech Q&A site, uses the up/down vote system backed by community moderation. They also implement a “reputation” concept by which more up votes give you more weight in a discussion.
    The Stranger website has the ability to hide anonymous commenters (like myself here) en masse. Moderators have the ability to ban registered commenters.
    Recently on NPR’s Talk of the Nation broadcast the issue of online commenters was explored. They talked about why people assume the roles they do on web sites comment forums.

  8. K__
    K__ July 28, 2010 at 7:30 pm |

    Folks from marginalized groups don’t always say popular things, especially when calling out privileged comments.

    I got a real bad feeling that this like/dislike comment hiding feature is going to be abused to hide stuff by women from marginalized groups, for example but not limited to, women of color and trans women, that privileged folks really need to see & examine.

  9. Mandolin
    Mandolin July 28, 2010 at 7:35 pm |

    For whatever it’s worth, I suggest you make the buttons a little harder to find and operate.

    My reason for it is this–ideally, I suspect, you’d like people to be using the “dislike” button only when something is so bad that they really want to see it hidden, not just when it aggravates them. If there’s an extra second in there for people to find the link to the like/dislike popup, and wait for it to load–or whatever delay you can include–then that may give people time to chill for a second and evaluate whether or not they really want the comment to be unseen.

    The current presentation of the system seems, to me, to make it look like the website is actually just asking for an opinion on each comment. Not “do you think this is acceptable discourse on a feminist blog?” but “do you like it?” Not “do you think this requires moderation?” but “do you dislike it?”

    There’s the potential for abuse even if you change the presentation, of course. But it seems like people might be a little more thoughtful if they were actively thinking about controlling whether or not something could be seen, rather than just thinking about whether or not they liked it or not.

    I agree with others that the likely targets of the malfunction of this system in any given situation will be the less privileged.

  10. La Lubu
    La Lubu July 28, 2010 at 7:38 pm |

    Folks from marginalized groups don’t always say popular things, especially when calling out privileged comments.

    That is exactly what I see currently going on in the “ain’t I a mama” thread. Marginalized people speaking their truth are being voted down because other commenters disagree with the substance of what they say.

    Perhaps it should be re-emphasized that the purpose of the up/down votes is to monitor trollish behavior (down) or to call attention to interesting, productive comments that could or should be expanded on (up).

  11. Lasciel
    Lasciel July 28, 2010 at 7:46 pm |

    “Seems like a good idea in theory. The only problem that I can see is the possibility that non-offensive or constructive comments might get buried simply because of many people not agreeing with it. Or more specifically, privileged commenters might bury comments out of spite.”

    One thing I’ve noticed so far is a burning curiosity to see what someone said to get their comment buried. Usually interesting stuff xD so buried comments could even get more attention, idk.

  12. frau sally benz
    frau sally benz July 28, 2010 at 7:55 pm | *

    I’ve definitely been seeing this play out as well and have been trying to tinker with the settings. We’re certainly open to trying other things as well but want to see how this plays out.

  13. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 28, 2010 at 8:19 pm |

    I agree with Faith, K and La Lubu. It may be a way to bury non-privileged voices.

    Also to Ruben’s point – I’ve commented off and on for years and I try not say offensive things (obviously) but I’ve made seriously fucked up mistakes before…so longstanding commentor unfortunately doesn’t always mean your comments do not need to be moderated.

    I wonder if changing it from like/dislike to perhaps like/offensive might be marginally better.

  14. Amanda
    Amanda July 28, 2010 at 8:24 pm |

    I fear that this will lead to comments being “disliked” and thus dismissed based on content rather than manner. I have noticed a tendency within the reader/commenter-ship to delegitimize differing opinions by accusing them of being trolls even when disagreements are stated civilly. I would hate to see Feministe’s colorful discussions become a homogenous wall of positive feedback to the authors.

    I do, however, applaud your attempts to moderate more effectively with new and creative ideas.
    While you are improving your comments section would you consider reformatting it to a hierarchical structure? EX:
    A: I am a feminist.
    B: I am too.
    C: Do you hate men?
    A: No.
    By reformatting the comments section to a more hierarchical setup Feministe could easily promote more interactive discussion while making the comments much more navigable. Currently, some commenters will respond to someone who said something before them without indicating to whom they are writing. This makes it difficult for discussion to unfold and may discourage some readers from attempting to read all of the comments. Other comments are confusing because they respond to several people at once. By making comments in response to others indented from the original comment, people would be more likely to notice if someone said something to them specifically. The manner in which readers reference those to whom they respond is very inconsistent (if they do it at all). Some use quotes and no name, some use name and no quotes and some use both. Feministe could eliminate this confusion and inconvenience by re-formatting their comment section.

  15. littlem
    littlem July 28, 2010 at 8:26 pm |

    Folks from marginalized groups don’t always say popular things, especially when calling out privileged comments.

    This.

  16. Amanda
    Amanda July 28, 2010 at 8:28 pm |

    Whoops–my example of a hierarchical format didn’t work. There were supposed to be indents before B and C and a double indent before the second A. Hopefully you will be able to figure out what I’m talking about anyway.

  17. Nanette
    Nanette July 28, 2010 at 8:34 pm |

    Yeah, I don’t think this will work, at least not when you have women of color posting here. This is, as already been mentioned, often a hostile space for many non-white women – the “mama” thread right now, with all the little likes and dislikes and the ‘well loved’ posts that attack the OP – all serve to make it even more hostile, if you ask me. Already one of Aaminah’s comments have been hidden and there are just not enough counter “likes” to unhide it (there is, or was, a bid war going on over ginmar’s comment).

    It would be nice if something was done about that thread.

  18. La Lubu
    La Lubu July 28, 2010 at 8:38 pm |

    I like Kristen J’s suggestion.

    Not keen on hierarchical formats of commenting; they don’t display easily on smartphones and I find them a pain in the butt even on PCs—too many side conversations going on, too much in-crowd stuff and insider jokes. One of the things I value about this blog is the format of comments, as it forces people to address others by name when calling attention to specific comments.

  19. Nanette
    Nanette July 28, 2010 at 8:45 pm |

    Per my previous comment (which is, ironically, in moderation, lol) at least two of Aaminah’s comments are hidden on the mama thread. I hesitate to even look at the other one.

  20. littlem
    littlem July 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm |

    You know what’s interesting? Maybe one of the moderators has already spotted this pattern.

    In this very thread, the comments that are being voted down — excuse me, “Reported for Moderation” now — are the ones remarking on the burying phenomenon of marginalized voices calling out privilege in comments.

    LOLirony.

  21. Andrea
    Andrea July 28, 2010 at 8:51 pm |

    And all of the posts in this thread voicing the concern that marginalized people will be voted down…have been voted down. As if to prove the point.

  22. Claire N.
    Claire N. July 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm |

    I like it.

    BUT I reckon the commenter policy would need extensive change to reflect some of the criticisms here.

  23. PJ
    PJ July 28, 2010 at 8:57 pm |

    Who gets to decide who’s marginalized and who’s privileged? What are these code words for, anyway? Why not just say it plain English?

  24. Ostien
    Ostien July 28, 2010 at 8:57 pm |

    I don’t know about this as often unpopular (not trolls) comments are the ones that spawn the more constructive debates. Simply “disliking” a comment is not a reason to hide/silence it. Unpopular/non-privileged voices are the most at risk of silencing with this type of system.

    Ideally everyone would “check” themselves on why they are “disliking” a comment but privilege can be very much ingrained to the point that you often do not realize when you exercise it (even thinking what you say/do is self evident/matter of fact and not an expression of privilege). How many of us have done or said something privileged and only later looked back on how fucked up it was? I’ll raise my hand to that.

    I agree with Kristen J. above that “like/offensive” might be a better option, though thinking on it more perhaps it should just be one option that is just something like “flag” which will send a note to the moderator to look the comment over again and more carefully. So no automatic hiding/silencing but still increasing community involvement in moderation and busting out the troll spray.

    Just a thought, seems to work on other forums/comment sections.

  25. Heather
    Heather July 28, 2010 at 9:00 pm |

    This may no longer be relevant with the “Report for Abuse” option, but when poorly-rated/abusive comments are hidden I am more inclined to look at them to see why. One the comments have been expanded they are still in a very light font that (for me at least) is hard to read. Could clicking “Show comment” display them in the normal font?

    Sorry if this sounds very “fix this problem I have;” I thought others might have it too though.

  26. littlem
    littlem July 28, 2010 at 9:03 pm |

    *sigh*
    PJ, there are a *lot* of different ways someone can be marginalized.
    So in “plain English”, it’s a very long list.

    That can make one’s syntax awkward, thereby diminishing the rhetorical and emotional impact of the point one was trying to make.

    I … have faith that someone with more patience than I will address the rest of your … comment.

  27. Ostien
    Ostien July 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm |

    hummm it seems after I just posted the system seem that have changed now it is “Report this Comment for Abuse:” with a thumbs down icon and a counter next to it. Does this implementation still auto hide the comments after a certain point or is it just a way to display to the mods what posts to potentially review again?

    Also on a tech question how do you attribute the votes? is it by IP or a cookie? Either way is easy to get around. Though this is only a concern if the implementation does auto hide after a while. If this is not the case no big deal, I mean someone could rack up 1,000 thumbs down in theory, but if the mod sees no issue then nothing will happen.

  28. oldlady
    oldlady July 28, 2010 at 9:11 pm |

    I’m really glad you’re going to try something else. This one is not going to work.

  29. Mandolin
    Mandolin July 28, 2010 at 9:13 pm |

    “Report for abuse” looks much better. Sorry that’s still not working as you’d hoped.

    PJ,

    “Marginalized” and “privileged” are terms used in social justice communities to discuss the ways in which power works to give extra goodies (or privilege) to some people based on axes of difference, while it pushes other people to the margins (marginalizes) other people based on the same axes.

    Brown-ness is marginalized compared to privileged whiteness. Femaleness is marginalized compared to privileged maleness. And so on.

    The reason that people are using “marginalized” and “privileged” instead of other terms is because they’re categories that can be used to embrace a number of things. The problem in the current threads may be primarily about white supremacy versus brown-ness, but the same dynamic will apply if there are conversations in which marginalized trans people are calling out privileged cis people. Marginalized and privileged can be used to describe all these situations and dynamics, without having to name each one specifically.

    If you have other questions about marginality and privilege, this might be somewhere to start.

  30. XtinaS
    XtinaS July 28, 2010 at 9:14 pm |

    I like the idea of reporting a comment for abuse or other suck.  However, the down-thumb is indicative of like/dislike, not abuse or related suck, so I’d down-thumb, say, someone who says “All As are B!”, but that’s not abuse, necessarily.

    I’d recommend something more like:

    * “flag for review by a mod”, or something,
    * changing the image to a flag icon,
    * logging the IP of who did the flagging,
    * making sure the ALT and TITLE attributes are clear, for screen-readers, and
    * removing that flag for that comment once it’s been clicked on by that IP address.

    (I am somewhat over-explaining, I realise.  Part is not wanting to assume what you do and don’t know, and most is because I’ve been doing documentation all day.)

    So when I click the flag on SampleTroll’s comment, you get some sort of notification that IP # just flagged comment $link.  If I go through and flag every single comment in a single post, you can see very easily that my IP needs to be banned, as I am not showing signs of being a useful contributor.

    Doesn’t Feministing use a system like this?  How’s it work for them?

    1. Jill
      Jill July 28, 2010 at 9:20 pm | *

      Thanks for the all the suggestions, folks — keep ‘em coming! And Xtina, you are definitely not over-explaining.

      Part of the problem we’re running into is that we all have full-time jobs and simply can’t moderate full time. Feministing is at a bit of an advantage because they have people who moderate and write full-time, which just isn’t possible for us. So we’re trying to come up with a system that gives our community a hand in keeping commenters accountable, while not diluting voices that are unpopular because they’re traditionally marginalized, and that also allows us to keep threads in control over days like the last two, when we have a huge influx of traffic from other blogs and the vitriol is flying and all the regular mods are working our day jobs and just aren’t able to devote 24/7 attention to the blog. That said, I’ll shoot an email to the Feministing folks to see how their system works, and whether it’s worked out.

      And again, we really do appreciate both your suggestions and your patience as we iron this out.

  31. oldlady
    oldlady July 28, 2010 at 9:20 pm |

    Just one other thing: all that anger towards Ain’t I a Moma–I was appalled by that. A womanist–a feminist–we are all in this together. Women are still the exploited, the underprivileged class–all over the world. Some got it a lot better than others, but generally speaking, women world wide are fucked over and that is the point. The other stuff is distraction. As long as one of us is oppressed, we are all oppressed.

  32. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm |

    Hmm….perhaps the flag thing might work, but maybe not showing the rating/number? Maybe if the “hide” function was remove for moderation with a really, really high tolerance level? Just throwing out ideas…that apparently some people think should be moderated. :P

  33. K__
    K__ July 28, 2010 at 9:23 pm |

    Mandolin if I still could I’d vote your comment up, lol. How many negative votes did my first comment get anyway? I missed that part.

    An alternate or supplement to your link provided: Derailing for Dummies (yes it’s back online now.) A good place to learn about privilege & marginalization. Big! But good! Especially this area which is explicitly titled, “I Don’t Think You’re As Marginalised As You Claim”

  34. Rebecca
    Rebecca July 28, 2010 at 9:26 pm |

    Amanda, I tend to think indented/hierarchical comments are a terrible idea – everyone ends up having to make multiple posts to address different points, and duplicate comments if they’re directed at more than one person.

  35. littlem
    littlem July 28, 2010 at 9:31 pm |

    So we’re trying to come up with a system that gives our community a hand in keeping commenters accountable, while not diluting voices that are unpopular because they’re traditionally marginalized, and that also allows us to keep threads in control over days like the last two, when we have a huge influx of traffic from other blogs and the vitriol is flying and all the regular mods are working our day jobs and just aren’t able to devote 24/7 attention to the blog.

    *admires lovely superhero(ine) capes on moderators*

  36. La Lubu
    La Lubu July 28, 2010 at 9:40 pm |

    Why not just say it plain English?

    Porque ingles? Pero no espanol?

  37. Faith
    Faith July 28, 2010 at 9:47 pm |

    “What are these code words for, anyway?”

    Well I’d tell you, but first you’re going to have to show me the super-secret handshake. ;)

  38. Marle
    Marle July 28, 2010 at 10:18 pm |

    I don’t have this option, I’m confused. I tried two different browsers, IE8 and Firefox. Any ideas for why I’m missing this?

    1. Jill
      Jill July 28, 2010 at 10:20 pm | *

      We got rid of the option — you aren’t missing it! We’re adjusting as we go along.

  39. BW
    BW July 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm |

    nytimes.com has a “report” button in addition to their “recommend” button. under the “report” button it has options like off-topic, spam, personal attack, and vulgar. this might work to keep marginalized groups and viewpoints (race, religion, political, etc.) from being marginalized :)

  40. littlem
    littlem July 28, 2010 at 10:33 pm |

    ¿Porque ingles? Pero no espanol?

    Porque aquí en los Estados Unidos se habla inglés solamente.

    No me dejes empezar.

  41. PJ
    PJ July 28, 2010 at 10:56 pm |

    “Porque aquí en los Estados Unidos se habla inglés solamente.”

    Yes, thanks, I understand that we don’t only speak English in the United States, nor do I wish that to be the case. Next time I’ll say, “tell me what you mean in plain language.” If you choose to use something other than English, I’ll go look it up. Pax.

    I’m a bit peevish because I’ve had the word “privilege” hurled at me about ten times today after calling myself a feminist. But I think that all women are marginalized to some extent, and that we should not attempt to silence one another based on perceived privilege. I agree with the general idea that voting one another’s comments up or down could be tricky.

    ‘Night.

  42. Dominique
    Dominique July 28, 2010 at 10:59 pm |

    May I suggest a tiered system such as exists in other media: if you, as a reader, want to “flag” something, you have to give a reason for it (i.e., a) it’s offensive; b) it’s inflammatory; c) it’s spam; d) other, with explanation). That way, there can be some kind of record of why the comment got hidden. If this is too hard, the whole system might be too glib and too easily manipulated. You’ll have to moderate.

  43. littlem
    littlem July 28, 2010 at 11:04 pm |

    PJ, as I predicted they might, several people far more patient than I explained upthread, in fairly elaborate detail and with several supporting links, why “plain language” doesn’t quite do the trick either, in response to what it is you appeared to be requesting.

    and that we should not attempt to silence one another based on perceived privilege.

    Then perhaps you might trouble yourself to review the links these people have so kindly provided, prior to commenting on the matter again.

    ‘Night.

  44. BW
    BW July 28, 2010 at 11:11 pm |

    Cosign @47 Dominique
    - I feel as if I suggested almost the same thing – but I must be stuck in moderation or something.

  45. Mandolin
    Mandolin July 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm |

    A person can be privileged along one axis and marginalized along another. I, for instance, am marginalized as a woman, privileged as a white person, marginalized as a bisexual person, privileged as a person in a heterosexual marriage, and marginalized as someone with mental disabilities.

    You–as a white woman (I’m assuming, based on your comments)– do not come to all conversations with other women equally. When you are talking about race with a brown woman, you are bringing your white privilege to the table. If, say, you are a queer woman, then when you’re talking to a straight woman and they say, “Lesbians are just faking it,” or something else bigoted, then you can point out that they are being oppressive on the axis of heteronormativity, even though they are also female.

    Just because you’re marginalized in one way does not prevent you from being privileged in another. I’m not really sure why this is hard for people to grasp, although it seems to be something that’s a stumbling block for a lot of people. I’m thinking of conversations in which cis gay men insist that they can’t have power in relation to trans men when they’re talking about trans issues, or in which women insist they can’t have power in relationship to queer men when they’re talking about queer issues.

    Privileges intersect and complicate one another. The system that creates this is sometimes called kyriarchy or intersectionality.

  46. haley
    haley July 29, 2010 at 12:20 am |

    I really like the comment layout and user interaction of slashdot.org

    Basically, they have a “Karma” system, which helps weed out people who down-vote a lot. They also have a system of user interaction, where frequent commenters participate in moderating the thread.

    read their user/commenting section, it will explain more.

  47. William
    William July 29, 2010 at 12:24 am |

    After the most recent Mama related postsplosions, not to mention some of the more problematic exchanges that have happened here in recent memory around various -isms (the recurrent ableist ones stick out for me), I shudder to think how any system which serves to silence some commenters (even temporarily) is going to end up being abused.

  48. Eli Shrinks
    Eli Shrinks July 29, 2010 at 12:46 am |

    Is it possible to change or remove the image? The red thumbs down is really disheartening (you load a page of comments and what jumps out is hundreds of negative images) and invokes the thumbs up/thumbs down agree/disagree functions on many sites. A link that says “report this” seems, I think, weightier than a thumbs down and is perhaps less prone to be used by people who disagree but are not actively trolling. Mandolin’s suggestions for a second screen might also be good, but may be less accessible. Is is possible to require people to describe what is offensive? Or, as I think Dominique is getting at, check boxes (“Report this comment as [] offensive [] spam”)

  49. tigtog
    tigtog July 29, 2010 at 1:14 am | *

    *tech monkey waves*

    You should all be seeing a “report comment” link under each comment now. Please do me a favour and report this comment of mine to test the system?

    Cheers.

  50. Mary H
    Mary H July 29, 2010 at 1:18 am |

    This comment space is already pretty hostile to people expressing unpopular – or even just unfamiliar – viewpoints. Voting comments up/down will make it easier to enforce the status quo of centering white, able, cis, usually straight. And that will drive marginalised groups even further away because you’re making it possible to silence them, if enough people shout them down.

    I’ve been staggered by some of the comments that have gone unmodded and unchallenged. The first (unmodded) I assume is because y’all have lives & don’t mod 24/7. The second (unchallenged) is because in the minds of the majority of outspoken commenters here, apparently it’s somehow OK for a white woman to tell a WOC to stop bringing race into discussions of her life? I don’t even know. But if that’s the problem you’re trying to solve, it’s going to take more than a red flag or a report link. It’s going to take more personal moderation, more time from mods, and clearer, harsher rules and penalties for people derailing and saying stupid and/or offensive shit.

  51. Chally
    Chally July 29, 2010 at 1:29 am |

    Yeah, Mary. Even for those times when we do have people covering the moderation for a good bit of those twenty-four hours, the sheer volume of comments makes it hard to moderate it effectively. As in, I’m going to be moderating from now until I go to sleep and I’m reasonably sure I won’t catch everything I need to catch. Personally, I give all the time I’ve got and some I don’t, and I’m sure the same can be said of a lot of the mods… we’re going to work to make that time spent more effectively with changing around the comment system and examining other bits of our practice. Because we really want to make this community a place where abusive, oppressive crap isn’t quite so much a norm.

  52. tigtog
    tigtog July 29, 2010 at 1:30 am | *

    @Mary H,

    One of the things that I hope the report link will make possible is for more of the people who make a habit of shouting down others to be placed into permanent moderation because the pattern of their behaviour across threads will become more obvious to the mods more quickly. Once their comments no longer automatically get published, we hope they will learn to be more substantive and productive in their contributions, and if they do then they may be taken out of permanent moderation (if they don’t learn to modify their commenting behaviour, then they will get plonked).

    Right now mods pay close attention to their own threads and keep a general eye on the latest comments coming through . This means that dynamics from earlier in the day on other threads may be easily missed. With the report system, hopefully trends in problematic comments will be much more obvious to a mod just coming on watch after a busy day doing other things.

  53. Max
    Max July 29, 2010 at 1:40 am |

    @tigtog
    I pressed “Report comment”, and I couldn’t see anything happening. I don’t know if it worked or not, but it would be nice to see some visual confirmation if it did.

    I am using Safari 5.0 on Mac OS 10.6.4

    1. tigtog
      tigtog July 29, 2010 at 1:53 am | *

      @Max, there is meant to be an Ajax confirmation that the report has gone through. I’m not seeing it either, and the admin tells me that only 1 report has so far been registered. Will have to investigate further.

  54. littlem
    littlem July 29, 2010 at 1:46 am |

    One of the things that I hope the report link will make possible is for more of the people who make a habit of shouting down others to be placed into permanent moderation because the pattern of their behaviour across threads will become more obvious to the mods more quickly.

    It may.

    It may also result in the moderators’ receiving a higher percentage of IP alerts attached to marginalized voices than I think they’re anticipating.

    Which may well be an unavoidable by-product, if this is the system you decide to go with — but it seems it would be something to be alert to and not go unaddressed, nonetheless.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog July 29, 2010 at 1:52 am | *

      littlem, I’m sure you’re right that some of the reported comments are going to be legitimate calling-outs from marginalised voices that other people don’t want to hear. When we see comments that don’t breach the comments policy being reported because they call out privileged viewpoints, that’s another sort of heads-up that we need to know about as we re-approve those comments.

  55. Chally
    Chally July 29, 2010 at 1:50 am |

    Certainly.

  56. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 29, 2010 at 2:01 am |

    Tigtog,

    I clicked and the page reloaded, but I didn’t see any other confirmation. I’m using opera on my blackberry.

  57. littlem
    littlem July 29, 2010 at 2:14 am |

    When we see comments that don’t breach the comments policy being reported because they call out privileged viewpoints, that’s another sort of heads-up that we need to know about as we re-approve those comments.

    Would it be worth it to keep some sort of log of those IP addresses as well? If people who indulge in that sort of thing know their addresses are being kept, it might serve as some sort of deterrent …?

    Just guessing.

    P.S. I clicked on “report comment” for your comment as per request, tigtog, but unlike Kristen J., my page didn’t reload.
    Chrome, Windows 7.

  58. Lisa A.
    Lisa A. July 29, 2010 at 2:21 am |

    Just chiming in to say that I also clicked on “report comment” link (in Firefox & IE8) and nothing happened. All I got a was a “javascript:void(0)” message in bottom of the browser.

  59. Skateaway
    Skateaway July 29, 2010 at 2:27 am |

    tigtog: I didn’t receive confirmation when I reported your comment, either. I’m using Firefox on a PC.

    To the admin team in general:
    I think “report” will work much better than the thumbs-down approach. “Report” has much more gravity than the simple thumbs-down, and people down the road wouldn’t necessarily know that the thumbs-down is for moderation purposes, not just disapproval of a viewpoint.

    I did like the thumbs-up, though. It was nice to be able to give support without a “me, too” post, especially when I didn’t have anything substantive to add. For example: As a child-free white woman, I appreciated the eye-opening posts and comments about issues surrounding motherhood, especially for WOC. It was nice to be able to show my support without taking the risk of centering myself and my privilege in a response.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog July 29, 2010 at 2:42 am | *

      Thanks for the feedback, all. I’m going to add a line of text to the Report Comment line about how we’re not entirely sure at the moment that it’s actually working.

  60. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 29, 2010 at 3:00 am |

    Just chiming in to say that I also clicked on “report comment” link (in Firefox & IE8) and nothing happened. All I got a was a “javascript:void(0)” message in bottom of the browser.

    Ditto (using Firefox on a PC.) No page refresh or anything. (If you still want info…)

    1. tigtog
      tigtog July 29, 2010 at 3:04 am | *

      Feedback is always good! Interestingly, there seems to be one person for whom the plugin works just fine, and they’ve reported the last 10 comments or so on this thread. I appreciate a sense of humour, but actual feedback (like what system and settings you’re on) would be nicer.

      There’s some screenshots over at the WordPress plugins repository of how the plugin interfaces work – the last image on that page shows the message that is meant to show up as confirmation of a report.

  61. tigtog
    tigtog July 29, 2010 at 3:36 am | *

    P.S. logged-in admins could and quite possibly should be excluded from having the Report Comments feature work for us, so the more feedback from others the better. BTW, like so many other aspects of Web2.0, it won’t work unless you have javascript enabled.

  62. Mandolin
    Mandolin July 29, 2010 at 4:07 am |

    Google chrome, windows, report comments does not work.

  63. Lisa A.
    Lisa A. July 29, 2010 at 4:18 am |

    I actually did check to see if javascript was enabled in both browsers before my last comment, and it was. So, FF, IE8, Windows on a PC, not working.
    Hope that helps.

  64. PharaohKatt
    PharaohKatt July 29, 2010 at 4:22 am |

    Using Safari on an iPad: I hit report comment, got the confirmation ok, and then the comment disappeared.

  65. Shelly
    Shelly July 29, 2010 at 6:52 am |

    It’s not working for me, either. Windows Vista 64-bit with Firefox 3.6 and IE 8. JavaScript is enabled.

  66. mimbles
    mimbles July 29, 2010 at 7:16 am |

    No joy for me either. I click and absolutely nothing happens. Firefox 3.6.6, MacBook Pro, OS X 10.6.3, javascript enabled

  67. jemand
    jemand July 29, 2010 at 8:23 am |

    I wonder if maybe during the reporting you should be required to give a name and email address and your IP will be logged, and people who have a habit of reporting perfectly fine comments which are uncomfortable for people with a given type of privilege to read, would themselves get put into permanent moderation or something for that kind of behavior as well.

    Javascript doesn’t seem to be running for me, so attempting to report your test comment doesn’t give me much feedback on if it requires personal information to be able to report things.

  68. Jennifer
    Jennifer July 29, 2010 at 8:29 am |

    I also think dislike should be different from reporting for abuse. I’d like to have the option of liking comments; don’t care as much about an option to dislike and might not use it. The nytimes system is good, but I’m sure they have staff to moderate.

    I don’t know, but I wonder if the ability to recommend or like comments might cut down on some of the repetition–i.e., people might feel less inclined to need to put in their own $0.02 to make sure their view was adequately represented. This is certainly true of me–if I can’t indicate agreement, I sometimes feel I need to comment.

    I don’t care as much about the report for abuse thing. The only comments that really bug me are spam (defined as off topic commercial or traffic driving attempts).

  69. William
    William July 29, 2010 at 8:38 am |

    I like the report option a lot more because it makes abuse of the feature something that will have to be a bit more willful and intentional. Good call.

    Also, the script doesn’t seem to be working for me. When I hover over the “Report comment” link I get a location of “javascriptLvoid(0);” Mac, OSX, Safari, Firefox, and Chrome, all with javascript enabled.

  70. Kristin A
    Kristin A July 29, 2010 at 8:48 am |

    Same results as William; Win7 Pro x64, Firefox 3.6.8 and IE 8.0.7600.16385 32-bit.

    I for one am against any sort of “dislike” system, which could potentially turn any debate with clear sides into a “who has the numbers” clicking war, which can hardly be productive.

  71. alynn
    alynn July 29, 2010 at 9:14 am |

    This current format seems the best to me, given the moderation restrictions. I agree that the thumbs up/thumbs down just ends up being about the person rating’s view of what was said.

  72. norbizness
    norbizness July 29, 2010 at 9:27 am |

    Perhaps each comment’s font size could be adjusted to inversely relate to the commenter’s objectively measured level of privilege; for instance, you would be reading this in 0.5-point font.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog July 29, 2010 at 9:53 am | *

      Thanks again for all the feedback – it’s 1am here in Sydney, so that’s it for me for about 6 hours. We’ll see if I can sort out a system that works after that!

  73. Nanette
    Nanette July 29, 2010 at 10:27 am |

    I think the system that is in place now (assuming it works) will probably be good. I’d like to preemptively cast a “no” vote for “like” button, particularly if many “likes” causes the post to change colors.

    I realize that on the posts in the mama thread yesterday that it was probably the same people just clicking over and again, but having all those attack posts “well-loved” and highlighted gave the impression (to me) of hordes of white women surrounding and screaming at mai’a and the other women of color. Not an unheard of thing to happen, for sure, and apparently an image that – while pushed back in history – is not far enough away to have been pushed out of memory.

    And that was just with the “feminists” – maude knows what would happen with trolls.

    So I would like to request that you do not give your commenters ANY tool that could be used in that manner against a marginalized group, against woc or transfolk for sure.

    (Sorry if there is no formatting on this comment – my Blackberry doesn’t play well with some systems.)

  74. Samantha b.
    Samantha b. July 29, 2010 at 10:36 am |

    I’m just going to add that the new rotating “Recent Comments” is pretty distracting for those of us with ADD trying to read. Well, at least, this person with ADD, given there’s a huge range in how ADD expresses itself. I don’t want to speak for my kind, but I think it’s unlikely that I’m alone in the Feminste-verse on this point.

  75. Faith
    Faith July 29, 2010 at 11:42 am |

    Samantha,

    I just clicked on this post to make a comment about the rolling recent comments. It isn’t just people with ADD finding it distracting. I don’t have ADD and I’m having problems with it. I don’t like it because I can’t tell what post the comments are on or what order the comments go in. It’s really confusing, and since I don’t want to read all comments on all threads, it makes it really difficult to tell what’s going on and where.

  76. Rebecca
    Rebecca July 29, 2010 at 11:50 am |

    Same here! I liked the old “recent comments” bar much better. (Other problem: when it scrolls away before I can click.)

  77. shannon
    shannon July 29, 2010 at 12:23 pm |

    Yea…I want it to stay still. Oh god, please stay still.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog July 29, 2010 at 5:13 pm | *

      The scrolling recent comments is dead, burned and buried.

      I’m still trying to find whatever browser/plugin code conflict is allowing some people to effectively report comments but not others.

  78. XtinaS
    XtinaS July 29, 2010 at 3:01 pm |

    Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.

    I tried reporting tigtog’s most recent comment here (for testing, I mean), and I got nothing — not here, nor in the Error Console in FF.

    I tested it first in FF 3.6.8, then in IE 8.0.7600.16385.  When I went third to Google Chrome, tigtog’s comment didn’t have the Report link, though all other comments did.  The comment still has the link in both IE and FF, though.  Neat stuff.

    I reported my first comment here in Google Chrome 5.0.375.125, then in Opera 10.60.  As noted, the Report link for tigtog’s comment remained missing in both Chrome and Opera.

    Additionally, in IE, I actually get an info bar alert about security certificate errors.  I also get an error about the certificate chain being incomplete and the signer being not registered in Opera.  ::shrugs::  Figured I’d advise.

  79. K__
    K__ July 29, 2010 at 5:34 pm |

    Okay I don’t get how this works, I can “Quote comments” from my iPhone in Safari but I can’t “Report comment” on my iPhone. Looking at the mobile formatted Feministe site.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog July 29, 2010 at 6:04 pm | *

      It seems that the javascript that runs the report feature just isn’t initialising for some folks, and I don’t know why yet.

  80. PharaohKatt
    PharaohKatt July 29, 2010 at 7:07 pm |

    tigtog: It seems that the javascript that runs the report feature just isn’t initialising for some folks, and I don’t know why yet.  

    Ah, so it seems this (quote comment) is working for me. iPad with Safari. Will try report now.

  81. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 30, 2010 at 9:17 am |

    Okay, I officially love…love…love the quote thingy.

  82. Kaz
    Kaz July 31, 2010 at 12:50 pm |

    I just tried to report a comment (Ubuntu with Firefox) and it doesn’t seem to have done anything. (Well, either that or you’re about to receive a lot of report notifications…) Quote works fine.

  83. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead August 2, 2010 at 10:40 am |

    Have I been banned?

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