Why is my comment in moderation?

Just a reminder about our commenting system, for those who are new or those who are curious: When comments get filtered into moderation, it’s an automatic process–our comment system finds something it’s not entirely certain about, and so it’s held in the queue until a moderator comes along and okays it. It is not because we disagree with you or have something against you personally (although it wouldn’t hurt you to remember our birthday once in a while)–it happens automatically. We try to get in and clear out the mod queue as frequently as we can, but it’s not always as frequently as we’d like. So there’s really no point in asking, “Why is my last comment in moderation?” There’s no one around to answer. If there were someone around to answer, she’d have cleared your comment by now.

Why might the system have flagged my comment?

1. It included words on our naughty list. The system maintains a growing list of sexist, ableist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise offensive words that will send a comment into the mod queue. This isn’t automatic deletion–it just gives us a chance to filter out comments of said nature. Fun fact: Swear words aren’t included on that list! We’re (mostly) all grown here and can handle a little spicy language. So while you might have gotten flagged for an f-word, “fuck” wasn’t it.

2. You’re a first-time commenter. If you’ve never commented on Feministe before, we mod your first comment as a matter of course.

3. You’ve been banned or perma-modded. This can happen for a number of reasons.

4. It had a lot of links in it. Link-heavy posts often look like spam to our system, and sometimes we have to go in and clean them out of the filter. You can imagine how fun this is on Shameless Self-Promotion Sundays.

5. It was supposed to rain today but it was sunny; your name starts with a D or ends in a silent vowel; Castle is on; your comment smelled funny. Sometimes, our system flags comments for reasons we can’t quite determine. It’s annoying to us, too, but the system seems to know what it’s doing. (It wouldn’t hurt you to remember its birthday once in a while, either.)

Okay, so why did you delete my comment?

While Feministe is not a designated safe space, per se, it is a space we like to keep safe for the expression of pro-feminist ideas. Keeping it this way involves removing racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, and transphobic comments, which we do at our own discretion. We also reserve the right to delete derails and ad hominem attacks. We’re not afraid of controversy, dissent, or disagreement–we love them–but we’re tasked with balancing free (and often passionate) expression with a comfortable commenting environment. Sometimes it works better than other times. It’s a process.

Also (and this one is just me): I’m just not a terribly brave or gutsy person. Alas. I crumble like a stale biscuit in the face of taunting. So if your comment includes “You probably don’t have the guts to publish this” or “You’re probably just going to delete this anyway,” you’re probably right.

15 comments for “Why is my comment in moderation?

  1. June 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    You probably don’t have the guts to publish this comment, but the moderation system is MISANDRIST!!! It hates men!!!11!!!1!!!!

    This is PROBLEMATIC.

    …but srsly, thanks for posting this. I think some people have become a little too used to instant gratification and response online, forgetting that humans can’t be attached to their computers 24/7 for the purpose of ensuring their comment is viewable by the world RIGHT FRAKKIN’ NOW NOW NOW! Take a break. Grab a drink. Browse another site. Maybe go outside. The mods probably are, it won’t kill you to do so as well.

  2. June 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks for posting this. Even knowing about the moderation system, it can be frustrating sometimes when it’s not clear what’s happening and why. Thanks for the transparency. :)

  3. Echo Zen
    June 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    When you say “our system flags comments for reasons we can’t quite determine,” does that mean the system doesn’t attach an explanation to the comment in moderation? Most flagging systems give a reason, even if the reason is nonsensical.

    I once used a workstation that flagged RHRealityCheck for “obscenity,” due to all the naughty body parts discussed on that site. I wrote a frosty message to the network admin, informing him (since I’m sure it was a him) that “vagina” is not a ****ing obscenity.

  4. June 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    When I was an actualfax mod here, my own comments sometimes got held for moderation once or twice! It’s a mysterious system! And, also, as a former mod, please please respect that your moderators have the needs to sleep and venture beyond their computer screens once in a while. Particularly if you feel the urge to leave multiple “where is my comment?!” comments. Patience, it is a virtue.

  5. June 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    While Feministe is not a designated safe space, per se, it is a space we like to keep safe for the expression of pro-feminist ideas. Keeping it this way involves removing racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, and transphobic comments, which we do at our own discretion. We also reserve the right to delete derails and ad hominem attacks. We’re not afraid of controversy, dissent, or disagreement–we love them–but we’re tasked with balancing free (and often passionate) expression with a comfortable commenting environment. Sometimes it works better than other times. It’s a process.

    It would be churlish to blame you when one or two jerky comments get through in a thread of over 200 comments. Some commenters also hide their phobias in what seem to be reasonable comments at first glance and the mods would be excused for missing the one sentence that changes the context of a ten paragraph post.

  6. Iam138
    June 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I would LOVE to be a moderator. I bet it’s a power/control thing, since I don’t consider that I have much power or control on the Internet in my regular day-to-day dealings. Alas, I lack the time, life experience, and connections. And all this, from such a nice guy.

  7. June 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    I would LOVE to be a moderator. I bet it’s a power/control thing, since I don’t consider that I have much power or control on the Internet in my regular day-to-day dealings. Alas, I lack the time, life experience, and connections. And all this, from such a nice guy.

    … Just goes to show that automated moderating systems can never replace an actual human person, because some of the creepier comments out there just won’t get flagged by a language algorithm.

  8. June 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    I like to imagine the blank incomprehension produced in the faces of some of the more, erm, controversial commenters by the word “moderation”. What is this abstract noun? Why has it defeated me….?

  9. Balakirev
    June 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Speaking as a former moderator on another site, my favorite complaint about moderation was that it’s “undemocratic.” The wealth of ignorance that comment reveals is astounding.

  10. DonnaL
    June 17, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    My favorite is: “it’s a First Amendment violation. What about my right to free speech?”

  11. June 18, 2012 at 7:21 am

    10
    DonnaL 6.17.2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink
    My favorite is: “it’s a First Amendment violation. What about my right to free speech?”

    I especially love when Canadians try to invoke the first amendment.

  12. Chataya
    June 18, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Speaking as a former moderator on another site, my favorite complaint about moderation was that it’s “undemocratic.” The wealth of ignorance that comment reveals is astounding.

    I prefer to think of it as a benevolent dictatorship myself.

  13. evil fizz
    June 18, 2012 at 11:53 am

    As a mod who’s currently on hiatus, our queue doesn’t list reasons. Also, there are plenty of times where a trollish remark has gotten through and the sarcastic responses which quote it get flagged.

  14. June 18, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Is it possible to put a specific article under permanent mod? Because that would have been amusing right here.

  15. June 19, 2012 at 6:44 am

    When you say “our system flags comments for reasons we can’t quite determine,” does that mean the system doesn’t attach an explanation to the comment in moderation?

    Yup. It basically flags comments as either “spam” or “if you don’t already know, I’m not going to tell you. God.

    I would LOVE to be a moderator. I bet it’s a power/control thing,

    Yes. Yes, it’s a heady drug. On the other hand, I hated Fifty Shades of Grey, so take that as you will.

    I prefer to think of it as a benevolent dictatorship myself.

    Or just the regular kind.

    Is it possible to put a specific article under permanent mod? Because that would have been amusing right here.

    That actually would have been hilarious. Of course, then I’d have to clear every single damn comment, and that would cut into my bonbons-and-Cosmo time.

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