Let’s have a peek at moderation quality elsewhere

I have put together a snapshot of comments made on New Zealand political blogs, MSM websites and one Facebook page. These are the kind of comments that would be moderated out of our blog as they contain foul language. If a blog or media outlet cannot afford to have a full-time moderator they can automatically prevent comments from going live if they contain any foul language. Disqus offers this feature. Admittedly, automatic moderation is more difficult on Facebook pages but the National party managed to work out how to do it on their Facebook page so we know it can be done.

Is it unrealistic to expect high standards from social media if it is affiliated with a professional media organisation? More to the point, should other New Zealand political blogs moderate out foul language, given that it is very easy to do so automatically using a comments system like Disqus?

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So let’s have a peek at New Zealand’s other political blogs.

The Standard: Foul language

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The Daily Blog: Foul Language ( in response to a guest post by Andrew Little )

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Kiwi Blog: Foul Language

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So, we have established that it is easy to find foul language on other political blogs. What about mainstream media? What did I find there?

The Herald:Comments only available on opinion pieces but I found no foul language and all comments appear to be checked before they are published so a very robust system.

Stuff : A few comments containing put-downs, such as calling another commenter stupid, but no foul language.

Radio Live facebook page: Abbreviated foul language and the occasional non-abbreviated insult.

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  • Urbanviper

    Stuff and Herald seem to get off lightly but I think they’ve put the controls on so hard it stifles conversation. It has been a long time since I commented on either site but it used to take hours for comments to be approved (I assume this is still the case) and you’d get dozens of comments approved in one go as if by batch. That seems to result in very strict commenting standards, but it stops any real conversation because it might take 6-12 hours to get a reply at which point the news has moved on.

    • Dan

      I too gave up on Stuff comments. Along with comments sitting in the moderation inbox, by the time it is published (along with the batch you talk about) the content of the comment has been touched on by about 5 others. It makes it appear that the commenter (me) is out of touch.

      • pisces8284 .

        I often forget that I have posted a comment and don’t go back to check if someone has replied.. Great that Disqus alerts you to upvotes and replies

    • spanishbride

      Yes that is a real problem. Also even weeks later I cannot view the comments on some pieces.Finally I have given up even trying to comment because no matter how polite or logical or reasonable my comment, it rarely gets past the moderators. Usually my point of view is contrary to the view expressed by their journalist so maybe that is where I am going wrong.

    • Annoyed

      Stuff is weird. If you baselessly attack someone they’ll let it through. It’s actually well reasoned argument that gets held back by moderation (or sometimes stopped completely). You’ll often wait for your comment to show up while other comments get included and then replies to those comments while you’re still waiting for yours to show up.

      Stuff Moderation seems more like censorship than moderation.

      • R&BAvenger

        Your last sentence hits the nail on the head. I gave up on Stuff and other msm websites because of that.

    • Gaharis

      Yes I agree that Stuff moderation is very slow and I have given up commenting which I did only very occasionally anyway. When I was making comments it was hard to get away from the feeling that there was a good dose of censorship taking place as I am quite sure my comments were sometimes never published and I have learned from Whaleoil not to make unreasoned or silly comments.

      The Herald is a little better and to be fair I have never felt there was any censorship taking place there but then again I think the articles you can comment on are fewer and the layout in my opinion doesn’t work as well as the Stuff layout in getting conversations going.

  • Rebecca

    I haven’t commented at any other NZ blog, ever, because “by the company you keep, they will judge you” and I don’t want to be associated with those nattering nabobs of negativism whose posturing, aggression and stage guffaws dominate other blogs. WO has it right: hostile comments are allowed to persist as long as the new ID respects the rules while sycophant posts and one-liner taunts are short-lived. You’re making it very hard for your detractors IMHO.

  • Dan

    Another variation on the theme of moderated comments that is very frustrating on MSM sites are the switching off of comments. Sure, for syndicated pieces, comments may not be possible because of contractural obligations, but too often now we see opinion pieces where comments are disabled. Surely an opinion piece should have comments on.

    The other standout feature of this blog is that dissenting comments are not moderated out just because they disagree with the content. And when these do appear, there is no string of abuse for their opinion, or “why read this in the first place,” “well, you took the time to comment,” or condescending putdowns.

    Thirdly, if you look at the facebook comments above, I believe that just as some people change persona when they are behind a wheel, so to some (many) people change when behind their facebook identity. Along with abusive comments come the plethora of inane, uneducated, unfactual comments not worthy of reading, let along commenting on.

  • KatB

    I was talking to a fellow Whale Oiler the other day about how top notch the moderation is on this site. No other site where I have seen public commenting has been this well controlled. Most other places I have seen, the comments just end up turning into a slagging match, no actual input, just people out to needle and fight. Thanks to Whale Oil for being a great place to read, learn and contribute.

  • R&BAvenger

    ‘Moderation quality’ a broad definition, that other blogs particularly fail at. Especially the left-wing ones, it would seem.

  • Petem8nz

    Well there is this from stuff on meteria turei this morning which I flagged a few hours ago, yet to see that removed.

    • Annoyed

      Removed? It got through their censors, sorry, “Moderators” already. They must have deemed it okay.

      • Petem8nz

        I’d like to know who is paid to m̶o̶d̶e̶r̶a̶t̶e̶ control the comments section

  • Jman

    Before you start patting yourself on the back too much, have a read of the post 3 back from this one “FINALLY A MEDIA PERSON GETS THE POINT OF TWITTER” – particularly the last sentence. If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s hypocrisy.

    • spanishbride

      This discussion is about moderation of COMMENTS. Our moderators do not moderate blog posts obviously.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    There used to be a bit of fun to be had on TV3 comments if one could take higher levels of insults from other commenters. The LDC population seemed centred there and used to get upset if they got no response. They think Discus is for discussion in a disgusting tone. The revamp seems limited in the options to comment and navigation is too laborious and I am too busy to wait for it to click in.
    The level of moderation here tends to keep callers on the subject with some contributions expanding it with considered comments. Likewise the level of traffic seems to indicate that an increasing number like what they see while the sneaky-peekers need somewhere to find the real story.

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