The trials, tribulations and triumphs of commenting on Whaleoil

Moderators find themselves explaining this periodically, so now we’ve turned it into a page so we can point people to it. If you are, or were,  a commenter on our site, and something happened to make you sad, confused or angry, we hope that something on this page will provide the answers you are looking for.

1. Never contact blog staff (that’s Cam too!) about comments

That needs repeating.

NEVER contact Cam or Pete about comments or commenting-related issues.

NEVER contact Cam or Pete about comments or commenting-related issues.

NEVER contact Cam or Pete about comments or commenting-related issues.

If you have any questions about commenting in general, or comments specifically, then please read all of this page first. If you are still confused, angry or sad, then go to the Contact page and contact the volunteer help desk.

 2. How commenting on Whaleoil is completely different

Anyone can write a comment on Whaleoil, but it may not stay. Moderators even delete comments they consider too boring. What moderators are trying to do is be “editors” of the comments section. They are trying to make sure the comments are a good read. So, if you have a comment that moderators feel doesn’t add any value, it could be deleted, even if it doesn’t actually violate any of the rules.

3. Can I not know why my comment was deleted?

In a perfect world, yes. In this one, no. Just take it on the chin. If this is too upsetting to you, stop commenting altogether. Think of yourself and others as submitting comments for consideration. Some will fail because they fall foul of the rules and standards, and some are just edited out because they are not considered ‘good enough’.

4. But… but… that’s censorship! What about my freedom of speech?

You can make up any explanation you feel fits the situation. It isn’t going to change how Whaleoil moderates the comments. Your only solution is to accept the way it is, or to no longer bother adding comments.

5. My comment got deleted. Does that mean I’ll be banned?

If the moderators cull a comment here and there, then you’re just fine. Nothing to worry about. Perhaps, if you find your comments continue to be deleted on a regular basis, have a think back as to why that may be. If you can figure it out, then your commenting will improve. If not, the mods will edit your comments out.

6. Oh no… up to 30 days of my comments disappeared all at once.  What does that mean?

If that happens at any time, it is a warning that you are seriously violating the commenting standards.  Moderators haven’t blocked you yet, but that’s a warning to re-read the rules, and make sure you don’t fall foul of them again.  Generally these will be for the more serious problems, like swearing, trying to “fool” the system by deliberately misspelling banned words, attacking other commenters or being personally nasty about people in the public eye by making fun of their personal appearance (for example).  Once you lose 30 days of comments at once, and you can not figure out why, you’re pretty likely to face a permanent ban.

This is no longer done. Either comments are removed, or you are blocked.

7. I wrote a comment, but now it says I’m blocked. Tell me why!

First: calm down. No, seriously, anyone who comes and tears a strip off the blog staff or volunteers is less likely to receive a good outcome.

Second (and this is important): MODERATORS MAY NOT HAVE BLOCKED YOU. The commenting system (Disqus) seems to block people randomly for a period of time. By all means, contact the help desk and ask them to look into it, but if you start off aggressively, saying you did nothing wrong, why the hell are you blocked, mods are power hungry and so on, you might find you are burning goodwill when it wasn’t even the mods’ doing in the first place. About 1 in 10 “blocks” are actually Disqus bugs, and not moderators.

Third: Write a polite note to the volunteers who man the help desk. They will look into the block for you. If you’re not blocked by mods, they will attempt to help you get back on. If you are blocked by the mods, you will be given a prognosis.  These days, it tends to be permanent.  Moderators no longer block people as a warning, and being blocked by mods now means they feel you are, on balance, not a positive contributor to Whaleoil.

Still, mistakes get made so it pays to check.

8. Can I ask for a review? Are there amnesties? Is that it, forever?

No. Sometimes. Probably.

Commenting on Whaleoil isn’t a right. You do so at our pleasure. There is no free speech. Whaleoil is a private system and its owners and operators decide what gets published, and what does not. If you feel your free speech is curtailed, go to WordPress or Blogspot and start your own blog. You now run your own blog and you can say anything at all. See? Free speech. It was there all along.

9. You just censor everything so it says what you want

You can certainly look at it that way. We prefer to think of it as “editing” the comments section so good comments are published and bad (empty) ones are not. There are ways of disagreeing with the blog owner, or the article author, without having your comment removed. You can choose to see it as censorship, but it really comes down to how you go about writing contrary opinions. Some people have figured out how to constantly disagree and have their comments published. And, we constantly remove “I agree” and “I was just thinking that too” comments. Of course, when your comment gets removed, you’ll probably want to personalise it.

Moderators delete for two reasons: it falls foul of the rules or it simply adds no value. That’s it.If you can understand that, your comments will remain, every time, all the time.

10.  I hardly got started as a new commenter, and I’m already blocked

Whaleoil isn’t interested in people who are captured by a single issue, sign up and they spew their thinking all over the place. Often, because they don’t know the rules, they will troll, swear, go off topic and mock other commenters directly. This will then result in an instant and irrevocable ban.

Think of it as walking into someone’s home and going off your nut about something before actually getting the feel of the place, getting to know others and letting them know you. If you do that here, you’re quite likely to find yourself on the outside and never allowed to come back in.

So, if you’re interested in commenting on Whaleoil, why not get started here and there and get the feel for things? Then, when something comes along that really has you fired up, you will know how to comment and survive. As well, the mods may give you some elbow room in case you boil over – just this once.

If they don’t know you, there will be no tolerance for any rule breach.

Simple stuff.

—————————————

ADDENDUM

It may help to understand what happens when a comment is removed. If your comment is auto-sidelined because of a certain word or combination of letters, or other readers have reported it as a comment of concern, the moderators will look at it and the following process is roughly adhered to:

  • If you are a regular, and likely to be known to moderators, and the comment is a minor rule breaker, it will just get removed.
  • If you are a regular and you’ve pushed it too far, you’ll find yourself with a ban. Generally that’s 1 month, up to 3, depending on how silly you were.
  • If moderators don’t know you, they will look at all your other recent comments to get a “taste” of what you have been contributing. If, on balance, that’s good stuff, your reported or flagged comment will be deleted.
  • If. on balance. it’s all been a bit of a dog’s breakfast OR YOU HAVE ENABLED PRIVACY AND WE CAN’T SEE PAST COMMENTS, then we only have your current comment to go on. Depending on how hard it pushes, it will result in comment deletion but risks a permanent ban on the account also.
  • If. on balance. you’ve been a problem and we’ve only just noticed you, then that will probably be the end of your commenting here.

In short, hiding your comment history when you are normally a GOOD commenter is potentially damaging. It means moderators can not look at your past behaviour and put the current comment into context. This is much more likely to result in a ban – a permanent one if your current comment is a doozy.

GETTING BACK IN

If your ban is not permanent, you need to contact the helpdesk and ask to be let back in once your sin-bin time is over. There is a process that you need to go to.

DONATING AND  COMMENTING

Even though we are not stupid enough to upset people who financially support this website on purpose, the moderators have ZERO visibility of any donations you may have made or are still making. They react purely on the content of your comments. Sadly, the fact you are or have been a financial supporter has ZERO impact on the decision.

Your financial support does not buy you any leniency. Yes, we’ve had the situation where someone who has been generous has been blocked from commenting and withdrawn their financial support. That is your right but doing so will never result in a review of your commenting ban. There is no “cash for commenting” deal available here.

If you think Whaleoil performs an important role in New Zealand then the fact that you can’t comment won’t change that. We understand, however, that it can be hard to continue support when you feel sour or hard done by. We’ll live with the fact we’ve lost your support. We’re all grown ups.

 


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.