Sunday, January 13, 2008

Commenting Changes

As Hirhurim grows, we need to reexamine the commenting policy. Clearly, asking people to police themselves does not work. When posting comments, people tend to forget that there is a good chance that the person about whom they are writing might very well read their comment. People also tend to forget many other important rules of communication, such as not to name-call or denigrate those with whom they disagree. This blog should not be just for those with thick skins but for everyone. Also, rumors and innuendo sometimes creep in, which is a bad thing. If Hirhurim is to maintain its position as a respectable medium we need to maintain a respectful tone and keep discussion at a professional level.

After much thought, I propose the following two options for reader discussion. Following that, I will propose general guidelines that will direct editing/moderation. Please keep in mind that those who do not speak up are forfeiting their right to complain. This is the time for those who usually read the comments quietly to voice their opinions, even anonymously (but please choose some pseudonym rather than just "Anonymous" so we can differentiate between different commenters). Here are the options:

  1. Full Moderation

    All comments are withheld from the public pending moderation. A moderator must read and approve the comment before it is posted.

    This will slow down the speed of comments, which might be a good thing, but will place a large burden on the moderators. It is currently in place on a number of respected blogs.


  2. Extensive Editing

    Comments appear immediately but moderators edit aggressively. This means that an insult may appear for a short while but will later be deleted. This can be frustrating to many people but allows the discussion to continue at a quick pace and requires less time for moderation.

The following are proposed guidelines (admittedly redundant and borrowing liberally from Avodah):
  1. These guidelines are loose and moderators may deviate from them judgmentally.
  2. Anonymous comments will be given less leeway than comments signed with a real name.
  3. The halakhos of Lashon Ha-Ra should be considered before posting any comment. Remember, Lashon Ha-Ra applies to groups as well as to individuals.
  4. No insulting anyone, anytime.
  5. No name-calling, even subtly so.
  6. No maligning others or their cherished opinions.
  7. Neither in a humorous way nor with a complex reference intended to slyly denigrate; nor by saying that the opinion does not conform to any halakhic standard or that it frightens you. That does not mean that you cannot respectfully disagree and then bring proofs why. Just question the person respectfully!
  8. Blanket statements should be avoided as much as possible. They are usually incendiary and frequently Lashon Ha-Ra.
  9. This is an Orthodox Jewish blog and while everyone is welcome to participate, those who are not Orthodox or Jewish should be extremely careful about offending Orthodox Jewish sensibilities and those who are Orthodox Jewish should be extremely sensitive not to offend those who are not.

Please voice your opinion on which choice of moderation you think is best for Hirhurim and whether any guidelines need to be added to the list. Remember that this is your opportunity to add input.

Thank you.

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