Miss those crazy, pointless EphBlog fights of yore? If so, see below. If not — if you have, uh, a life or something — do not click.

The Board is discussing various policy changes associated with this discussion from a few weeks ago. Kudos to President Dick Swart ’56 and other Board members for taking the time and trouble to make EphBlog a better place. It isn’t for me to publicize those internal discussions but, at one point, Derek Catsam ’93 claimed that I used “bad judgment” in deleting PTC’s comment from this thread. In a private reply to him (why waste’s the Board’s time with a fight over the quality of my judgments?), I claimed that, on the contrary, my judgment was excellent. He wrote (reprinted with permission):

Bullshit. You were butt ass naked wrong to delete the comment in question. You had no right to do so, and when you did it tellingly adhered to none of the principled we are putting forward. And if you really believed you were right, Mr. Transparency, you’d have replied to all and not just to me. When you post something by Karl Rove and someone makes note of and criticizes the fact that Karl Rove wrote what you linked to, it is entirely germane. You want to have this debate, Dave, bring it on. But don’t be such a pussy about it — make it public to the board if you think you are right.

Isn’t there a maximum amount of stupidity that one is allowed to stick in single paragraph? Apparently not!

1) “no right to do so” — Derek is probably too lazy to read our FAQ, but for the last 5+ years, I (and every other author on EphBlog, including him!) has had the “right” to delete/edit comments from his own posts. I have done so dozens of times. Other administrators, like Ronit and Ken, have deleted many comments, both on their own posts and on those of others. Comment deletion has been a standard part of EphBlog practice for many years.

2) “tellingly adhered to none of the principled we are putting forward” — As suggested by several folks in that thread, one option is to change the current policy so that anyone who deletes a comment must leave a note recording that deletion. I am comfortable with that change, as I wrote last week. So, “tellingly” here does not mean what you think it means. When policy X was in effect (no note was required), I adhered to policy X. If policy Y comes into force (note required), I will adhere to the new policy.

3) “Mr. Transparency, you’d have replied to all and not just to me.” — No. I did not want to waste the Board’s time on something — whether my deletion demonstrated good or bad judgment — which has nothing to do with the issue before the Board: What should the policy be going forward? Derek, on the other hand, seems to feel that every one of his utterances should be studied in detail by all concerned. I suspect that not all Board members would agree. Not cc’ing everyone on every e-mail that one writes is not a sign of being anti-transparency. It is an attempt to not bother people with off-topic spam.

4) “When you post something by Karl Rove and someone makes note of and criticizes the fact that Karl Rove wrote what you linked to, it is entirely germane.” No. It’s off-topic. The post was about the Krissoff family. The fact that Karl Rove wrote it is irrelevant and, even more so, the fact that Karl Rove is a bad guy who dodged the draft 40 years ago is irrelevancy on stilts.

Now, reasonable people might argue, in this context and others, about whether or not a comment is “off-topic” or “trollish” or “rude” or any other adjective you might name. If EphBlog is to function, we must provide leeway to editors to make these sorts of judgments. I certainly have a great deal of faith in folks like Ronit and Ken. Moreover, anyone who disagrees is welcome to join us and takeover comment-deletion watch. I am sure that they would appreciate the help! (History: I used to handle almost 100% of this work myself, but, in the last year or two, have left the chore to others.)

The key point is that EphBlog grants, at least as a matter of tradition, a great deal of latitude to individual authors to manage the comment threads in the posts that they start. There is a sense in which an author “owns” the comment thread which follows from the post he makes. First, he is the only one that is informed of every comment (via e-mail). If a comment is not caught by one of our filters, then I won’t even know if something objectionable has been printed. Second, authors have discretion as to the type of discussion thread they want to host. If someone wants to delete lots of off-topic comments (with a very tight definition of on-topic), then that is fine. If someone else wants to let the conversation goes where it wants to go, then that is fine too. Third, this might be a harder case if I had deleted a comment in a post that I did not author, but, since I did author this post, the decision is mine. I get to define what is “off-topic,” and PTC’s comment was.

5) I have explained the background to the debate before, but Derek seems unwilling to take seriously how hard it is to create an inclusive on-line community. In a nutshell, the story was:

a) I write a post about the Krissoff family.
b) PTC writes a comment that is, from my point of view, totally off-topic and borderline trollish. Rove’s draft-dodging had nothing to do with the substance of my post.
c) I let PTC’s comment stand because I generally let off-topic comments stand.
d) A family friend of the Krissoffs — someone that I have known and worked with for years amd whose judgment I trust much more than my own — expressed concern about the comment and, in particular, about Mrs. Krissoff’s reaction to it.
e) I deleted the comment.
f) Since I was on vacation and rushing to meet my family for breakfast, I did not leave a note about my deletion. (I actually got so far as the editing screen and tried to quickly come up with something, but couldn’t quite make it happen.) But, since I knew that our policy/practice did not require such notes and since I knew that the comment was “off-topic,” at least in the view of most reasonable Ephs, I did not see this as a problem.

What’s funny is that most of the time I get criticized from the other side for leaving off-topic and trollish comments on EphBlog (and for making them myself).

6) Comments like this are what make Derek such a valued and thoughtful member of the EphBlog community.

You want to have this debate, Dave, bring it on. But don’t be such a pussy about it — make it public to the board if you think you are right.

Consider it brought.

Facebooktwitter
Print  •  Email