Calling all trolls: you'll have to come to our forum to comment next week

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We're inviting our trolls to come out from under the bridge, join our forum, and defend your domain.

We are all very excited about our July 31 public forum on the future of the Bay Guardian and progressive journalism in the Bay Area. We’ve already received lots of great community support and input since our recent turmoil and leadership transition — and we want even more feedback as we work to rejuvenate the paper.

But there is one piece of advice that we’ve received over and over again from readers: do something about the trolls that pollute our comments section. So we’ve decided to turn that input into a little week-long experiment starting on the day of the forum. As we post next week’s Guardian here at sfbg.com, we will disable the comments on the stories and in our blog posts that week.

We always welcome reader input and we appreciate thoughtful commentary, criticism, and debate on our stories, which we’ve seen plenty of this week, particularly in our posts on the Giants labor impasse, Board President David Chiu, privatization of the Botanical Gardens, problems at SFDPH, racial profiling, and our editorial on democracy, as well as on last week’s op-eds on the Trayvon Martin aftermath.

Unfortunately, under the Guardian’s bridge live a few nasty trolls who hate everything that we and our progressive community do and are usually the quickest to comment on the things we write, often making the same pointed, off-topic criticisms, over and over again. Sometimes it’s racist, usually it’s reactionary, often it’s self-indulgent, and it always lowers the level of debate on our site.

Many of our regular readers and supporters have repeatedly told us the often toxic nature of these discussions chases them away and needlessly undermines the reporting and information that precedes it. Sometimes, we’ve seen organized misinformation campaigns from anonymous but clearly self-interested parties that post to our site, as we’ve seen in our coverage of Airbnb’s legal troubles and tax avoidance.

So in addition to all of our proud, loyal, flesh-and-blood readers, we’re hereby inviting all of our trolls -- Matlock, Lucretia Snapples, Anon, and all the rest -- to come to our forum and defend your domain. Among the many orders of business at the forum, we will consider changing our online comment policies and registration system, particularly as we redesign our website this fall.

If you want to comment next week, you’re going to have to come to our forum. Or you can always send us good, old-fashioned letters to the editor, either through email (steve@sfbg.com or marke@sfbg.com) or snail mail. Then, in our Aug. 7 issue, we’ll devote a page or two in the paper to those letters and the input that we receive at the forum.

We’ll probably just leave our comments turned off for one week — but you never know. So for now, let us know what you think as we rethink our approach at the Guardian. And please stop by our event page on Facebook and let us know that you’re coming to the event on July 31 from 6-8pm on the fourth floor of the LGBT Center, 1800 Market Street ... if you dare.  

Comments

What if I have something insightful to say about Trayvon...or Pussy Riot...or Sheriff Ross? Where will I go?

Posted by Chromefields on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 9:38 am

he was this past week over his AirBnB obsession. A grown man quite simply should never be criticized on his own newspaper. Now he has the power, he has swiftly acted to stifle all dissent. Free speech is greatly over-rated.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

Steven's in his element - he reigns supreme over an empire on which the sun will never set...

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 9:52 pm

less and less. Until eventually he will have complete dominion over absolutely nothing.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 11:14 pm

...where you belong anyway.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

When Tim resigned I stop reading. The Guardian is dead and inhabited now by writer who's only loyalty is to their own paycheck. Steven works for "Black Press".. what to learn about it:
Dark Days at Black Press

Posted by: Rob Wipond

There’s a good chance many of you haven’t heard about the recent ugly “purges” at Black Press. That, however, is not due to any dearth of journalists yearning to divulge every detail. Most reporters have been talking about it; with few exceptions, they just aren’t being allowed to report it.

Black Press is local mogul David Black’s company which owns the Victoria News, Oak Bay News, Saanich News, Monday Magazine and some 70 other BC newspapers.

Since new publisher Penny Sakamoto and president Mark Warner came aboard, there’s been a steady exodus of staffers this year. At a recent Movie Monday showing of “The Paper“, Black Press journalists Keith Norbury and Patrick Blennerhassett replicated the movie’s complaints about increasing budget pressures and disappearing lines separating editorial content from advertiser influences.

This real-world tale climaxed in August.

“Public Eye” and CFAX journalist Sean Holman broke the story. It seems the Victoria News ran an article about a local woman who’d saved a whack of money buying a second-hand car in the big-market, weakening-dollar U.S. Now, she intended to publish a how-to pamphlet.

Sounds innocent enough. But in the world of corporate media, apparently not.

Bye-bye senior writer Brennan Clarke. Adios regional editor Keith Norbury. Sayonara and enjoy the fishing supreme news supervisor Brian Lepine.

Yet by Black Press standards, Clarke’s article was completely professional, if typically short. Meanwhile, together, these people represented decades of loyal, successful commitment to Black Press. So what happened?

According to Black Press executives quoted by Holman, major automobile dealer Dave Wheaton complained the story didn’t describe more about cross-border shopping’s drawbacks.

In a letter to employees about the situation, Black Press Chief Operating Officer Rick O’Connor explained that Sakamoto and Warner called a meeting to “express their concerns and explain the impact a potential loss of advertising from the automotive sector would have on these newspapers. Neither Penny nor Mark knew the article was scheduled to run and asked to be apprised in future when potentially controversial articles or editorials were to run.”

Cross-border shopping, highly sensitive, “controversial” news? Yeeeeah, riiiight… By those standards, we should give furniture store ad copyrighters investigative journalism awards for those controversially outrageous low prices they boldly expose.

Clarke and Lepine resigned and Norbury was fired, and Holman’s reports became a cascade of contradictory, dishonorable cover-ups from Black Press executives alternately claiming Wheaton’s complaint had no relevance, Clarke had long meant to resign, Norbury was fired for “confidential” personal reasons etc.

With settlements pending, few will talk publicly, but I can state Clarke’s article was indeed THE issue. However, disagreements were exacerbated by a follow-up, syrupy Norbury editorial, “Cars Be Praised”, which the now-suspicious employers believed was satirically mocking.

Regardless, the mere fact Black Press executives even called such a meeting in the first place says it all. What sort of minds think a 400-word piece about cross-border second-hand car shopping requires a pre-publication summit of the highest ranking executives to discuss the serious issues it raises for the whole corporation?

Instead of impassioned fights about press freedom leading to their uncomfortable exits, it’s more likely Clarke, Norbury and Lepine simply couldn’t politely and professionally suppress their astonishment at their managers’ ridiculous and pathetically small-minded attitudes.

And that’s chilling, because Sakamoto and Warner are establishing a brave new benchmark for advertiser control of pervasive BC news. With this exemplar, every Black Press journalist now knows there’s scarcely any topic they can write about which won’t potentially lead to being summoned upstairs to “A M-E-E-T-I-N-G”.

Unless you’re a rebel ready to be fired, self-editing kicks in as quickly as you can type, and soon imprints a fairly consistent corporate worldview: Don’t mention cars in stories about global warming. Blame government for a lack of readiness to handle toxic spills, but don’t blame the companies involved. No sympathetic explorations of troubled backgrounds–be cold or merciless when writing about criminals who’ve robbed businesses. High rents are caused by a tight market, not by gouging from the landlords who advertise in our classifieds.

So Black Press publications are now spooning utterly unfiltered propaganda, and who’s going to enlighten us?

CanWest Global is still covering its own tracks after canning a reputable writer for gibing about the high costs of tourist attractions, and refusing to let their journalists report or discuss it even as it became national news.

Similarly, when Dave Wheaton Pontiac Buick GMC suddenly and surprisingly took out consecutive full-page, full-colour ads this August-September in our notoriously pro-cycling, anti-SUV weekly, Monday Magazine‘s writers probably choked on their Black Press muzzles while having to, without commentary, witness what looked like some creepy form of post-purge golden handshake.

It’s so exasperating, it all makes one wonder why such people are even in the news business. Why does David Black keep accumulating newspapers, only to constantly institute practices that undermine decent journalism? Can’t he see his senior managers look more like frightened lapdogs than competent executives? Doesn’t he care about how his unnecessarily excessive, profit-squeezing strategies ultimately damage not just the newspapers he buys, but the lives of the people who work for them and the health of the communities they serve?

Of course, David Black and his ilk are also doing a very good job at ensuring such questions rarely emerge prominently in public anymore.

http://robwipond.com/archives/16

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 9:47 am

This is who owns the Guardian now:

Dark Days at Black Press

Posted by: Rob Wipond

There’s a good chance many of you haven’t heard about the recent ugly “purges” at Black Press. That, however, is not due to any dearth of journalists yearning to divulge every detail. Most reporters have been talking about it; with few exceptions, they just aren’t being allowed to report it.

Black Press is local mogul David Black’s company which owns the Victoria News, Oak Bay News, Saanich News, Monday Magazine and some 70 other BC newspapers.

Since new publisher Penny Sakamoto and president Mark Warner came aboard, there’s been a steady exodus of staffers this year. At a recent Movie Monday showing of “The Paper“, Black Press journalists Keith Norbury and Patrick Blennerhassett replicated the movie’s complaints about increasing budget pressures and disappearing lines separating editorial content from advertiser influences.

This real-world tale climaxed in August.

“Public Eye” and CFAX journalist Sean Holman broke the story. It seems the Victoria News ran an article about a local woman who’d saved a whack of money buying a second-hand car in the big-market, weakening-dollar U.S. Now, she intended to publish a how-to pamphlet.

Sounds innocent enough. But in the world of corporate media, apparently not.

Bye-bye senior writer Brennan Clarke. Adios regional editor Keith Norbury. Sayonara and enjoy the fishing supreme news supervisor Brian Lepine.

Yet by Black Press standards, Clarke’s article was completely professional, if typically short. Meanwhile, together, these people represented decades of loyal, successful commitment to Black Press. So what happened?

According to Black Press executives quoted by Holman, major automobile dealer Dave Wheaton complained the story didn’t describe more about cross-border shopping’s drawbacks.

In a letter to employees about the situation, Black Press Chief Operating Officer Rick O’Connor explained that Sakamoto and Warner called a meeting to “express their concerns and explain the impact a potential loss of advertising from the automotive sector would have on these newspapers. Neither Penny nor Mark knew the article was scheduled to run and asked to be apprised in future when potentially controversial articles or editorials were to run.”

Cross-border shopping, highly sensitive, “controversial” news? Yeeeeah, riiiight… By those standards, we should give furniture store ad copyrighters investigative journalism awards for those controversially outrageous low prices they boldly expose.

Clarke and Lepine resigned and Norbury was fired, and Holman’s reports became a cascade of contradictory, dishonorable cover-ups from Black Press executives alternately claiming Wheaton’s complaint had no relevance, Clarke had long meant to resign, Norbury was fired for “confidential” personal reasons etc.

With settlements pending, few will talk publicly, but I can state Clarke’s article was indeed THE issue. However, disagreements were exacerbated by a follow-up, syrupy Norbury editorial, “Cars Be Praised”, which the now-suspicious employers believed was satirically mocking.

Regardless, the mere fact Black Press executives even called such a meeting in the first place says it all. What sort of minds think a 400-word piece about cross-border second-hand car shopping requires a pre-publication summit of the highest ranking executives to discuss the serious issues it raises for the whole corporation?

Instead of impassioned fights about press freedom leading to their uncomfortable exits, it’s more likely Clarke, Norbury and Lepine simply couldn’t politely and professionally suppress their astonishment at their managers’ ridiculous and pathetically small-minded attitudes.

And that’s chilling, because Sakamoto and Warner are establishing a brave new benchmark for advertiser control of pervasive BC news. With this exemplar, every Black Press journalist now knows there’s scarcely any topic they can write about which won’t potentially lead to being summoned upstairs to “A M-E-E-T-I-N-G”.

Unless you’re a rebel ready to be fired, self-editing kicks in as quickly as you can type, and soon imprints a fairly consistent corporate worldview: Don’t mention cars in stories about global warming. Blame government for a lack of readiness to handle toxic spills, but don’t blame the companies involved. No sympathetic explorations of troubled backgrounds–be cold or merciless when writing about criminals who’ve robbed businesses. High rents are caused by a tight market, not by gouging from the landlords who advertise in our classifieds.

So Black Press publications are now spooning utterly unfiltered propaganda, and who’s going to enlighten us?

CanWest Global is still covering its own tracks after canning a reputable writer for gibing about the high costs of tourist attractions, and refusing to let their journalists report or discuss it even as it became national news.

Similarly, when Dave Wheaton Pontiac Buick GMC suddenly and surprisingly took out consecutive full-page, full-colour ads this August-September in our notoriously pro-cycling, anti-SUV weekly, Monday Magazine‘s writers probably choked on their Black Press muzzles while having to, without commentary, witness what looked like some creepy form of post-purge golden handshake.

It’s so exasperating, it all makes one wonder why such people are even in the news business. Why does David Black keep accumulating newspapers, only to constantly institute practices that undermine decent journalism? Can’t he see his senior managers look more like frightened lapdogs than competent executives? Doesn’t he care about how his unnecessarily excessive, profit-squeezing strategies ultimately damage not just the newspapers he buys, but the lives of the people who work for them and the health of the communities they serve?

Of course, David Black and his ilk are also doing a very good job at ensuring such questions rarely emerge prominently in public anymore.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 9:53 am

No comment system will stop these trolls, including Disqus.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

Disqus would help because people would at least have to register an account.

And you are right, it wouldn't stop the main problem.

For that you would need some type of semantic system. So that if it encountered terms like 'not true' or 'misrepresentation' or 'fabricated' or 'demonstrably false' it would know that it is the work of a troll.

Posted by Guest George on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

So that will solve nothing.

Whereas AI based on cliches would probably remove almost all posts here, as well as most of the articles.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:57 pm

You guys really handed his ass to him and...this is his comeback. Oh well...

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

Tim would have taken it in his stride, but Steven takes it personally.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

He could be as nutty left as the best of them (even admitted he just didn't like rich people) and he would get pounded in here. But he sucked it up and took people on sparingly. Good for him - we can appreciate that now that the resident whiner has stepped in.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 11:59 pm

Why does this debate have to get so personal?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 1:10 am

As the other poster said, Tim was comfortable taking criticism. It seems that Steven is rather more prickly and take such criticism very personally. So as soon as he was given some power, which was only a week or so ago, he is now like a kid with a new toy, and lashing out here and there in what looks a lot like a path of control freakdom.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 3:37 am

Because that's what trolls do. (You know that.) They're extremely predictable. Also, it's gotten personal because the resident trolls are acting-out (against Steven) like a spoiled kid not getting his/her way because they are about to lose one of their major play areas. They're in the early stages of withdrawals by now based on some of the shit that they're writing as a way of venting to Steven. Tough luck, trolls.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 3:12 am

They have closed down a marketplace of ideas. Why would you want them to win and how will that help your cause?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 1:49 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

It's great that you're doing something about the trolls -finally. But turning off all the comments? That's just odd.

Why not just ban multiple aliases? You should be able to register anonymously, but you should have to have a unique alias, and just one of them. That way people can know which poster it is (while still letting the poster retain anonymity), rather than anonymous guests talking to each other under different aliases, which are often manifestations of the same troll.

And maybe I'm naïve in the ways of the computer, but isn't there a way of doing this where one doesn't have to use a cumbersome system like discus? Does discus make you use the same screen name for every site you visit? That would be bad, because for different sites, different aliases may well be appropriate. And maybe I'm wrong, but isn't it a convenient clearinghouse for snoops (government or otherwise) to find all of your posting history for all of the places you post in one place. I'm not comfortable with that for the obvious reasons. In any case, I've never bothered to find out the answers to these questions, because whenever a site has switched to discus, I just gave up posting there because the registration process is too cumbersome.

Some may call me nuts and say it's easy. Maybe for them it is. But I guarantee that switching to discuss or some other system like it will scare off some posters who aren't very computer savvy, but may have something insightful to say. Particularly if they don't intend to be frequent posters. The trolls, OTOH, have usually mastered such systems, because it's their business to do so. So you'll still have them with you.

I don't know all the answers, but any system you come up with should try to weed out trolls while keeping the legitimate posters.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 10:10 pm

The reason is simple. There is no way for SFBG to identify a person. So You could set up a dozen registrations and swap between them and SFBG would never know or be able to cross-relate them all to you.

They could try using IP address but that has become near useless with mobile computing, since each wi-fi zone has it's own IP.

They could try using cookies but many of us delete them automatically after each session.

You could try more sophisticated and expensive methods, like requiring a code that is texted to a cell phone, but that will tend to exclude the poorest and least able reader.

The online world is anonymous That is both what is good about it and what is bad about it. The simplest thing to do is what I do - ignore any post you do not like or disagree with.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 11:14 pm

How did SFGate ban lilli then? What's to stop lilli from changing his handle and getting right back on? But he doesn't, so it seems like it is at least a somewhat effective system.

I don't read the Weakly on a regular basis, but the few times I've gone on their site to see a specific article, it seemed like they didn't have the problem with trolls that SFBG does. Is it just because progressives generally don't go around trolling sites they don't agree with? Is trolling just a right wing phenomenon?

I don't think that's all there is to it. FCJ, for example, never had a big trolling problem. I've stopped commenting on FCJ ever since they switched over to Discus. Incidentally, it seems like 80% of their commentators have stopped commenting about the same time, so there's definitely some truth to what I'm saying that Discus scares folks away. But the other point I'm making is that even before the switch, they didn't have the trolling and imping problems I see here. So there's a way to control it.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 7:39 am

registration at SFGate, and perhaps blocked his IP as well. He has admitted to being clueless about technology so he probably doesn't realize how easy it is to bounce his IP and start over.

Thank about it. How does SFBG really know who "Greg" or "Lilli or "Matlock" or "Lucratia" are? They don't. So each could set up multiple identities even if SFBG had registration and monitored IP's.

I do not read the SFWeekly but my guess is that they don't have any critics (a much better and more appropriate term than the pejorative "trolls" because they have a more balanced, neutral and moderate tone and remit. It is extreme publications, on both the left and the right, that will more likely attract dissent.

Something like Disqus will prevent Imping, but it will not prevent multiple names from the same person.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 8:06 am

Not all the critics on this site are trolls. I actually like hearing from real critics who aren't just rushing to post the same tired, discredited memes to every article, whether it be matlock's "progressives are the same as conservatives" or your own "I'm comfortable with government surveillance" or "I can't afford Aspen" tripe. It's not that these memes are so brilliant and hard to refute. It's just that I've personally refuted them a couple dozen times already, and it just gets tiring. That's what trolls do. They're not interested in engaging in legitimate debate. They want to wage a war of attrition against anyone who doesn't share their world view.

And the Weakly is hardly moderate. The few articles I read are nasty and vicious, or else vacuous and empty. Often both, and almost always infused with a healthy dose of outright falsehood. Matt Smith in particular was basically an expanded version of matlock. Sometimes I wonder if matlock is Matt Smith, because he harps on the same tunes. These corporate publications just seem moderate to you because corporations are so dominant. The Guardian is - or had been -a rare voice of sanity.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 8:37 am

you reasonably complain when they are countered with the same refutations? It's not like the SFBG writers ever elarn from the criticism and correction here - indeed Steven has been trotting out the same tired lies about AirBnB despite a number of us explaining to him exactly why he is 100% wrong on the facts. He just cannot help himself.

It might be instructive for you to rate yourself as to your leftwindedness by considering what percentage of SF'ers are MORE left-wing than you are. I'd put it as less than 1%.

I'm a registered Democrat who voted for Obama - the idea that I am an extreme right-winger is absurd. It only seems that way to some with extreme left views.

I'm sorry, but "troll" is not a word that should be applied to someone just because they proffer inconvenient truths and can deconstruct and demolish the warblings of the average SFBG writer.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 8:54 am

That makes you more liberal than what... 14% of the population? Wow... I'm soooo impressed.

And you're a Democrat too? About the same proportion of San Francisco registers Democratic or DTS (with SF independents being generally more liberal than Democrats.) Wow. That that makes you more liberal than what... the 11% of people who still register as Repugs. Why in any country in Europe... or Canada or Australia, you'd be on the barely acceptable rightwing end of mainstream.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 9:15 am

right-wing by the standard of many other countries, but so what? That is part of what makes us different, and many many people want to live here.

But no party has any traction outside of the big two so if you left of those two parties then you are part of a small minority. And that makes you an extremist compared with the vast majority.

The problem is that your views are so skewed that you don;t see that.

Oh, and I only voted for Obama once, but I have in fact never voted GOP (except for Arnie).

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 9:33 am

Who said that I've abandoned the major parties? And if you voted for Obama once, then that makes two of us. Well Ok, I voted for him twice if you count the 2008 primaries. You know what they say... "fool me once..." I've also actually voted GOP once, but that was more to stop a politician I didn't like, then a genuine preference for the policies of the GOP politician. Alas, it didn't work, since that undeserving empty suit is now in office, with his sights on the Senate, the governorship, the presidency, and probably the throne of St. Peter. But I digress. If you voted for Arnie, that definitely puts you in the most conservative 20% of this city.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

In fact, Arnie is very left-wing for a Republican.

Otherwise I have never voted GOP, unlike you evidently.

My point was that I'm a moderate by the standards of almost anywhere in the US, and even in SF I'm pretty much in the center i.e. with the 2/3 who support and approve of Lee.

You're the outlier here. You just cannot see that.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:35 pm

Yes. The same schtick.

(And maybe the same person.)

In any case, I've been seeing how comments posted on the Internet seem to consist mostly of people parroting things they've heard and found comforting; quite a bit more of such nonsense than thoughtful reasoned responses and counterarguments.

I think there's a slightly complex dynamic behind it.

On one hand, there is the appeal of "saying the clever thing" and getting the plaudits and thumbs up of those who are like-minded, but I also think that some of the rhetoricians are cunningly working to spread memes which are unneccessarily divisive. These clever comments don't seek to validate a conservative viewpoint or discredit a left viewpoint as much as enrage and divide both sides from each other whereas otherwise they might find reason to agree.

One subject which comes to mind is war spending and the defense budget.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 1:55 pm
Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

Greg's never debunked anything.

I remember when he jabbered about a left wing study that said inequity caused all this these secondary issues, it was left wing boiler plate.

I am a bit familiar with methodology around these type of statistical studies and found it all a bit over cooked.

I posted a few links debunking the study, Greg went into hysterics attacking the debunkers. Left wingers can cook up a study no matter how far fetched, if it agrees with the "critical thinking" left it is gospel.

The right has these same defense mechanisms that Greg uses.

It's hardly far fetched to compare Greg to the average Limbot.

Posted by Matlock on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

Was it your intent to irritate me? Are you still holding a grudge about my futile attempt to educate you regarding Andrea Dworkin's not actually having writen or said that "all sex is rape"?

I prefer that you refer to me as lillipublicans; or L; or anything other than what anon and his ilk -- those two-faced lying winger types and Israel apologists and etc. who gamed the SFGate system which resulted in all my previous comments there being erased.

(If this was just a slick imp job, then nevermind.)

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

trolling of SFGate as a counter?

That's really bizarre.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

I merely offered your example to prove that it's *possible*. I don't read SFGate. I find nothing of value there. It sounds like they're using their capability to moderate for the purposes of eliminating critics. But just the fact that they did this proves that they *have* that capability, and it sounds like they don't need Discus to do it. Since I don't read them, your example is the only one I know, but just one example is necessary to prove the capability. That's all I wanted to do. In the hands of the Guardian, I'm sure it would be used more fairly.

The Dworkin stuff I had long forgotten, but we'll just have to agree to disagree. I still think she's a vile misandrist and a terrible human being... which is essentially redundant.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:09 pm

"eliminate critics" and then you immediately go on to say that you want SFBG to do the same!

So critics here should be eliminated by censorship? Is that it?

Tim is turning in his journalistic grave.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

I want the site operators to pay more attention to trolls who come here to vandalize the site. That's different from eliminating criticism. I'm sorry that you can't see the difference. I'm losing interest in going around and around explaining the difference between legitimate criticism and trolling. I think most folks can see the difference, and I think the SFBG could do a good job of keeping the site relatively troll-free if they wanted to.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 7:36 am

distinction between critiques and trolls. If the criticism is coming from the right or the moderate center, you dismiss that as trolling but, in fact, it is simply adding realism to the debate because it is the moderates who decide SF elections, and not the far left fringe you find only here.

Without a critical context, the articles here remain of academic interest only. And without understanding how most SF'ers think and vote, the policy ideas here are doomed to continue to not be adopted.

But criticism is scary, so Steven doesn't like them. Understandable, perhaps, but what will he achieve without a broader outlook and appeal?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 1:48 am

You do understand that this isn't all some giant conspiracy against you, right lilli? It's standard procedure that whenever SFGate bans a user, it also erases all of that account's posts.

I know you like to think your banning and the erasure of all your posts was all some giant conspiracy against you by a cabal composed of SFGate, the Republican Party, Ron Conway, Ed Lee, SFPD, Mossad, the Illuminati, Starbuck's, and the guys who make the little plastic bags that Happy Meal toys come in, but sad to say the answer is just a tad bit simpler. Face it, you're just not that important. You got bounced because you're a pompous, arrogant, self-righteous horse's ass with an over inflated sense of self that insults everyone who disagrees with you.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

as "Greg". At present anyone can do that so we never really know if a poster is really Greg or imp'ing him.

With something like Disqus, or any other signon protocol, that could not happen and only Greg could post as "Greg" (unless he gave his password to another, of course).

What registration does not to is prevent people from registering multiple times. In fact, there's really no way to cost-effectively do that. I'd agree with Greg that if SFBG implements such defenses, it is more likely to deter ordinary posters than those determined to post here anonymously.

And there's nothing magical about Disqus either - you can register there multiple times as well.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 3:41 am

are computer-generated. Ha ha, you actually thought they were humans?

Posted by Finnegan Awakened on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 2:07 am

Without the trolls and critics, SFBG is just an echo chamber.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 4:18 am

Is it just me? I thought the problem was all the xoragunaus an the writemyessays and the makita power tools and the spellcasters.

Compared to those guys lucretia and matlock are mosquitos.

Posted by pete moss on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 6:46 am

That's exactly right, Mr. Moss. The forum is filled with Russian sites offering free downloads of Google Chrome (which is also free from Google).

But Steven's first priority is to stop the people who criticize him.

Posted by Guest George on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 7:07 am

they also do not want to spend any money on staff or software.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 7:26 am

The spellcasters and such are mosquitos. The lucretias and matlocks are malicious vandals. If you want to get really technical, there's a difference between matlock, and lucretia and "anon". The latter are malicious vandals. Matlock's a rarer breed. I think that he, like the dead troll Arthur Evans, simply can't help himself. He's sort of like the mentally ill homeless guy on MUNI who babbles endlessly.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 7:28 am

To me, it's just some light-hearted banter and back-and-forth. Why get all worked up about it?

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 8:01 am

This being right by nature of being right is why people like Greg will believe anything couched in the correct formula. It burns Greg up to be compared to the average AM radio idiot, yet he has the same thinking pathology.

Posted by Matlock on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

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Posted by marcos on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 6:46 am

The SFBC comment section is an important resource for the local progressive community since it allows constructive communication about important progressive ideals and policy positions. The fact that some posters who are obviously opposed to either the politics of SFBG or the writers themselves obsessively post comments here is a testament to the importance of SFBG's articles and comment section since reasonable people rarely waste time responding to people or ideas that aren't serious or well-reasoned.

Comment boards that seem to have the most productive exchanges are moderated with a heavy hand. Personal insults, repetitive comments, snarkiness, commercial links and obsessive comments are deleted and posters are banned who cannot control their impulse to flame, "one-up," or personally attack people who post comments they disagree with. People can obviously reregister under a new user name and use a different ISP, but there are tools moderators can use as well to reduce the number of users who refuse to respect this community space provided by SFBG.

Active moderation isn't about deleting comments and posters we disagree with, but rather creating a public space where people are free to express their viewpoints - including contrary and provocative viewpoints - free from personal insults and childish rants. Personally I'd like to see the SFBG adopt a comment system that allows users to "ignore" posts from other users similar to the one used by sfgate.

Respecting a community space used by others is probably more important than allowing the free expression of ideas from people who don't respect the community space since when we disrepect a community space we ruin its use for others. An important progressive value for me is that the community is much more important than the individual.

On another chatboard I found these guidelines designed to help minimize flame wars, which are common sense for most of us but can be useful for new posters who are unfamiliar with the dynamics of public chatboards where people with strong opinions congregate.

____________________________________________

A few tips to very fresh newbies, who want to avoid being 'stamped':

"How to handle my first flame!"

You have just posted something (a bit opinionated, perhaps?), and hope to get some positive responses. Instead, you are flamed. What do you do?

1) Reflection.

*Don't* post immediately, however much you desire to.
Stop. Think. Read your own post once more, read the flamer's post once more.

Now, are you able to see where the flamer's coming from? Is it obvious that you goofed, or not?

*3 possibilities:

a) You realize that you goofed.

Solution: Say that you're sorry, and that you did not mean any harm. If possible, explain your real intent. Leave it at that.

Don'ts: Avoid coming forth as snarky in any way - the bigger the offense (and hence the more pissed the flamer), the harder you should avoid this.
(A few obsessive posters on the SFBG comment pages should read the above sentence at least 5 times.)

b) You're not sure if/where you goofed (depending on the flamers post, and how you've interpreted it, of course).

Solution: Say that you don't quite understand what is the problem, and if anyone (no need to leave it for the flamer only) could explain where you stepped wrong, it would be most appreciated. This shows genuine interest in learning from mistakes, which always is good, even if you haven't done any mistakes.

Don'ts: Same as under a).
Try to avoid asking in a fashion that gives a sense of doubt about whether there is any problem at all.

c) You're pretty sure you haven't goofed.

Solution and don'ts: same as under b).

2) Reaction.

* Under scenario a) - if the flamer leaves the matter, everything's a-OK.
If he persists...well, now you have a bit of leeway.

It is generally unseemly to badger a guy who gave a sincere apology (though this is again somewhat related to the offense at hand).
Thus, you can react in a few different ways.

+You can say you're sorry again. Every post he keeps on flaming, and you say you're sorry, he paints himself as an ogre. Usually, this does not last very long, as most such flamers soon realize that they are making asses of themselves.

In the meantime, you can take satisfaction (secretly - gloating is unseemly) from the fact that he's making an idiot of himself.
However, make sure you don't simply repeat yourself - this will affect whether the apology is seen as genuine, or not. Be creative - and reasonable.

+You can 'flame' back.
By 'flame' I do *not* mean vicious ad hominem attacks - just say that you think she's acting unreasonable; that she should stop harassing you since you said you were sorry, and that you can't do anything *more* than say you're sorry, etc.
This achieves virtually the same as the above - the flamer paints himself as an ogre for every acidic post he sends. Presumably, some posters will feel their toes stepped upon, and wish to defend themselves a bit more aggressively.

+You can simply leave it be.
This is the most adult way of ending the flames, and is the approach that gives most points with me. Say that you've already apologized, and you can do little more than that, and that you won't contribute to a flame war. The flamer cannot do anything but give a reply...and if you don't fall for the temptation to give another reply, the whole thing fizzles out. If he keeps posting, he is essentially talking to himself...which looks fairly imbecilic. (though he may try to nudge you into another flame war elsewhere, by small needlepricks now and then)

* Under scenario b), the flamer can either explain, or flame, or both.
If there is a hint of explanation, read it, and ignore the flames.
Address it. If you think the explanation reasonable, go to scenario a).
If not, analyze the explanation, address the points you think are faux, and ask the flamer to elaborate his position.

Now, if you're _honest_ about this; genuinely interested in getting things in the open, rather than obfuscating, things should be revealed pretty soon.
If the flamer is just taking cheap shots, this will be clear very soon. If she has genuine complaint, this will also be clear very soon...and you react accordingly.

If cheap shot - you've now exposed him (support from lots of other posters is usually a good sign), and can flame him a bit, if you so wish. Just don't make it too long - remember, flame wars get stupendously dull very fast.

If genuine complaint, go to a).

* Same holds for c) as for b) - in essence; if in doubt, err on the side of caution

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 7:10 am

Just lighten up, ignore what you don't like, and don't take everything so damn seriously.

Jeez.

Posted by anon on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 7:23 am