From the moderation mailbox

> Hi,
> I have done my penance for what i still don,t know ! Can i now be reinstated?
> I cant buy any products through WOBH site because i am blocked by you guys,not a good look from your advertisers point of view!
> Regards, [John].

To which I responded

> That’s not how things work John. I’ve just upgraded your ban to permanent.
> It appears our initial assessment was spot on.

The initial reason for giving him some time away was that he wasn’t leaving suitable comments.  In our internal jargon, he was “being a dick”.

This in turn elicited this response 

Many thanks Pete you precious prat, who’s being the dickhead here? You have become a bunch of hypocrites who run people down because you can,but can not handle constructive criticism ,where does that put you? it puts you on the same journey as the MSM are going, down the drain. It is a pleasure to be upgraded on my ban and become unassociated with WOBH as more and more of your readers and contributors bale out.
Donation to Cam has been cancelled. Petty b/s on your part and the power of the pen will always overcome control freaks like you Pete. :-D

I hope John feels better now.

I’m not sure how telling us he can’t buy from advertisers is constructive criticism.  Not sure how anyone, once denied the privilege of commenting on the blog, is thereby prevented from purchasing anything at all.  I read it as a way to put pressure on the moderators to let him back in.  I see nothing constructive about it.

I know of one commenter that is a financial supporter of the blog who was punted for the third time.  I knew he was a financial contributor, and I punted him anyway.  He, on the other hand, decided that his inability to get on with the moderation rules had no relevance to his support of what Cam is trying to achieve.  He’s allowed back, but has decided to stop the cat and mouse game.  Cam is still getting his financial support, because he can see there is a greater issue at stake, and it’s not all about him.

As you can see from John’s reaction, it’s not about Cam or what he can do, but it is all about him and about retribution.  First, it was about telling us not being able to comment would hurt our advertisers, and then it was about hurting Cam because he doesn’t like me.

Right from the start, I told Cam that being a financial contributor to the blog would never be a reason why someone would be allowed to continue commenting if they were considered to be disruptive.   There would never be a “loophole” where anyone could put money down and then get a Shield of Moderation card.

I take no pleasure in John being angry.  The odd thing is that he was due back to be reinstated, but he couldn’t help himself and had to add that advertisers were getting hurt because he couldn’t comment.  That’s an odd thing to say to people who are in the process of letting you back in.

So the lesson for the day is that if you have ever financially supported Cam, this isn’t considered by the moderators.  For one, they don’t know if you have or haven’t.  They wouldn’t know if it was $5, $5,000 or even more.   They have no visibility whatsoever.  It allows moderators to make decisions purely based on behaviour.   In turn, if you have a run-in with us, and try to use the fact you have been a financial supporter as leverage, it will never go in your favour.  And lastly, if we are in the process of letting you back in, it’s probably not the right time to try and apply leverage.  It always has the opposite effect on what you are trying to achieve.



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  • JLS

    Just as it should be- unlike other parts of our so called modern society.

  • Woody

    There is that “Not a good look” comment again, perhaps “John” is really a member of either the Labour or Greens team.

    Keep up the good work moderators.

    • Giving the name a bad name.

  • Aucky

    Well said Pete. I have been around WOBH long enough to remember the days when there seemed to be little moderation and four letter words, abuse and trolling appeared to be totally out of control. Then the switch was flicked much to the annoyance of some and thanks to some top moderation we are where we are at today to the chagrin of the MSM and those over on the ‘dark side’.

    • Kevin

      To me the moderation rules and more importantly how they are applied is the reason why the comments here are of such a high quality.

  • Damon Mudgway

    I’ve had a few time outs here, all have been a result of my actions, not Pete’s. Moderation at WO is strict for all the right reasons. Cowardly keyboard warriors are the regulars of leftist blogs. Their rants go unchecked and unchallenged. And good luck to them, but I like to engage on a platform that shows respect to the views of others.

    • SlightlyStrange

      Yep. I made one mistake once – posting from a different disqus account and then this one in quick succession.
      Once I had explained the background to the mods, I was reinstated within 48 hours.
      But I was curious, rather than angry. Glad to have been allowed back, it almost seemed touch and go for a while!

  • spanishbride

    Experience tells me that we may have lost a financial contributor but we will not have lost a reader.

    • OT Richter

      So John is not blocked from the site (and its ads), but just from making comments? I’m sure he will survive.

      • spanishbride

        I don’t think it is possible to block a person from the site and ads are only blocked if the individual uses an ad blocker as far as I know. I have never been blocked from any of the left wing blogs.

        • Dan

          Technically it is possible (ie think Netflix) but typically on a regional or national level but not practical for this site or for individuals.

          As for not being able to purchase from the advertisers, a click is a click. None of us followers are “members” and in any case this site has few product adverts anyway. It was a crazy ill conceved threat.

          Thankfully Pete and the others do a great job on protecting us (and occasionally or own selves) from John’s sort of nonsense.

          • pseudonym

            Netflix is about detecting a proxy, not excluding IP addresses or domain names, which is easily achieved on a web server. However this is not the issue here since presumably the WOBH site just rejects the login of a blocked user. The question is, does it then redirect them back to the site or take them to an error page with no obvious way of getting back to the site (for the inexperienced)?

          • Dan

            Speaking from experience (cringe) it just blocks you from commenting but not from the site. You can still read posts and comments

            Ok Netflix not a great example. Anothrr ecample of blocked content by iP then would be what happened when Fiji had its last coup. Various media was blocked entering Fiji. But at the time, those of us in Vanuatu using a telco’s 3G service had blocked NZ and Aussie news content because the servers routed via Fiji.

          • Nige.

            You? Blocked? Noooooooooo!

  • pseudonym

    Hmm… I’m all for great moderation and Pete does an excellent
    job, but perhaps it might have been appropriate to ask John why he couldn’t
    purchase from advertisers before making the ban permanent. What if for John it
    was true (due to computer literacy issues perhaps?).

    As for trying to use his financial contribution as leverage,
    that clearly didn’t happen, but great work on pimping the story Pete ;-)

    #DearJohn, #PimpMyPost

    • Kevin

      John, for lack of a better phrase, was making things up. Being banned from commenting does not in any way affect how advertising links function. He was in a passive aggressive way simply saying “because I’m banned I won’t click on any of your advertiser links”.

    • We checked after the fact, and we can’t find any trace of him ever donating any money. Our judgement on John’s suitability stands.

  • Annie218

    John’s approach to commenting is what keeps many others away from commenting. Strong debate on ideas/issues succeeds when others opinions are treated with respect. Less of the likes of him will work well. Good decision.

  • EveryWhichWayButLeft

    And a side note from the Helpdesk…

    We deal with a range of requests and queries and most of the time people are polite and courteous. The tone we respond with often reflects the tone of the initial query – it’s human nature. We try our best to be helpful, but if you come at us all passive-aggressive, not so much.

    At the end of the day, the team behind the curtain are all human – albeit with primate like qualities – and will react to how we are approached. But, one thing I can honestly say is that the moderation policy, bans and reinstatement requests are all handled with absolute consistency by the moderators. The rules are clear and the decisions are always consistent. Having a crack at the team, the moderation rules or trying to gain leverage through perception (donations, etc) does nothing but set a negative tone to the conversation and the result will likely be negative as well.

    We have dealt with thousands [yes, literally thousands] of conversations since the moderation policy was introduced. Many of you have been through this process, some more than once (I won’t mention names) and I certainly hope what I say about consistency rings true. There’s a lesson in what Pete says above on how not to approach us.