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Comments: how to moderate them?

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10 years 1 month ago - 10 years 1 month ago #1 by kianganz
Regular readers may have noticed that comments on some stories have started going off on wild tangents.

We have so far tried to exercise restraint in moderating comments but in the last few days this system has broken down somewhat.

One commenter, for example, has started posting abuse of everyone in such foul and colourful language it was actually amusing. Unfortunately, we have now blocked that person's IP address from future comments.

On a related note, we have also recently started making comments subject to moderator approval before going live. We will generally try to publish comments as soon as possible after you post them but if it takes a while, please bear with us.

My personal hope is that we can move back to an unmoderated system soon if commenters are considerate of others.

Ideally Legally India will be an open and respectful forum where lawyers can exchange ideas and thoughts without significant censorship.

However, Legally India should not become a forum for defamatory or offensive comments either.

Do you have any ideas on the best policy to pursue with comments?

This is what one reader suggested:
"Add a link under each article to a board, distinct from Legally India where readers can publish their responses - civil, idiotic, ugly and of all kinds. Then, extract the most rationale responses and repost them under the article. Uncontrolled commenting takes a lot away from this site."

Another reader agreed: "I support the idea of having a different forum for "discussions"! Some of the comments are disgusting and some are hilarous."

I wholeheartedly agree with you both and will therefore make more of an effort to move some of the discussions to this message board. I have set up several new categories, which can accomodate off-tangent and/or hilarious discussions, as well as complaints about Legally India.


Another reader wrote:
"There is a feature called "Does this post add value to the discussion" where users can rate it.
If two or more people agree it does not add value to discussion, the post is not shown." It may or may not be deleted."

Unfortunately our commenting software does not currently have an effective user voting mechanisms. We will, however, look into such an option.


Please let me know what you think would be the best policy for moderating comments.

--
Kian Ganz, Publishing editor, LegallyIndia.com
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  • Legal Dodo
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10 years 1 month ago - 10 years 1 month ago #2 by Legal Dodo
Replied by Legal Dodo on topic Comments: how to moderate them?
Hi Kian,

One way of moderating comments is to frame basic posting rules and give certain volunteers, whom you identify as competent and responsible, the status and privileges of a moderator. For e.g. see www.legalserviceindia.com/forum . Every category under this link has moderators, who are generally identified from among the readers themselves. Some categories have multiple moderators.

Legal Dodo
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10 years 1 month ago #3 by kianganz
Thanks Legal Dodo, good idea, particularly for the forum.

Will work on some clearer comment guidelines.

I am thinking along the lines of no posts that:
1. are defamatory, obscene or offensive, or
2. would cause individuals significant embarrassment or discomfort.

The problem with rules, as you will well know as a lawyer, is that they will always run into their own limits and difficulties in how they will be enforced.

E.g., should there be a policy to ban all 'trolling' (posting comments with apparently the sole purpose of eliciting an angry response from someone?)

Should whimsical or irrelevant comments to stories be banned? What about unintelligent comments? But what if they are funny? And how to decide what is funny or not?

I am minded to err on the side of caution for the time being and to moderate only the bare minimum necessary for intelligent debate.

If you have any thoughts or objections on any of the above, please reply. It'd be great to have some sort of consensus on this before implementing anything drastic.

--
Kian Ganz, Publishing editor, LegallyIndia.com
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10 years 1 month ago #4 by Legal Dodo
Replied by Legal Dodo on topic Comments: how to moderate them?
I agree that any moderation should be at its barest minimum. I guess you could initially start by having just the two posting rules mentioned by you, with a rider that the moderator's discretion in this regard will not be subject to question.

My two cents.

Legal Dodo
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10 years 1 month ago #5 by kianganz
Good idea, will get on it. Thanks for your help!

--
Kian Ganz, Publishing editor, LegallyIndia.com
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  • neocog
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10 years 1 month ago #6 by neocog
Replied by neocog on topic Comments: how to moderate them?
A sample from Amazon


See the feature for Report Abuse and Ignore this customer.
As LegallyIndia uses CSS, activating votes, ignore and Reporting
should be simple enough.

The other readers can judge for themselves how worthy/unworthy a post is. They can easily ignore abusive users by simply clicking on non-display.

Another option is to allow read but to post comments, one need to register through an email. An alias can be used.

The last option should be blocking an ISP. An ISP is not one computer.


===============================
Showing 1-25 of 34 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 24, 2009 12:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author 18 hours ago
M.... says:
ARghhhhhh. I wish I had money.

Reply to this post
Permalink | Report abuse | Ignore this customer
6 of 20 people think this post adds to the discussion. Do you?
| Yes | No |


www.amazon.com/gp/goldbox/discussion
/A24644IGBB60H5/ref=xs_gb_A24644IGBB60H5?pf_rd_p=441937901&pf_rd_s=right-1&pf_rd_t=701&pf_rd_i=20&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=19DK9YEDMF8MRPYJHFXN
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10 years 1 month ago #7 by kianganz
Thanks Neocog, good suggestions.

Will look into implementing something as soon as possible, as well as moderating comments more actively.

--
Kian Ganz, Publishing editor, LegallyIndia.com
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10 years 1 month ago #8 by abm
Replied by abm on topic Comments: how to moderate them?
Dear Kian,

As a member of a couple of online forums for the discussion of various topics, I've come across a couple of very effective measures that can be taken.

One is that anonymous comments would no longer be allowed- as in- you'd have to put in your email id to comment. Second, to have a form of staged membership- for eg, the first 10/20/50 comments from a particular email ID would be monitored for unsuitable language etc. once the user is established as a bonafide reader (with some sense of modicum!) he/she would be allowed to comment at will without having his/her comments modified.

I guess this could possibly take legally india to a different space- with membership (think newsletter mailing list!).

I'd like you to have a look at www.team-bhp.com . Its one of the forums from where such cues can be taken.

Cheers!
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10 years 1 month ago #9 by kianganz
Many thanks abm, I'll take those on board.

My past experience with readers supplying email IDs is that many will simply supply fake email IDs if they are not verified, which is as good as anonymous.

As an intermediary measure I will work on getting fully registered members being able to post comments without approval and anonymous comments requiring approval.

The flipside of that is that registered users will only be able to comment fully anonymously once they are logged out, though it would probably foster better debate to have less anonymous commenting.

Do let me know your thoughts anytime if you disagree with any of the plans or see alternative solutions.

--
Kian Ganz, Publishing editor, LegallyIndia.com
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10 years 1 month ago #10 by neocog
Replied by neocog on topic Comments: how to moderate them?
Kian,

Whatever you implement is up to you. As regards anonymous emails, there is a limit to the number of accounts one can create.
All I am saying is that have a backup to a backup. Which means registration emails, other readers as moderators, email account verification and your team.
If you block IP addresses, then who knows whether right person is being blocked..
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10 years 1 month ago #11 by kianganz
Thanks for all your help - this has really helped map out the challenges and concerns.

Hope the solution we end up with will be fair but keep comments and forums fun.

--
Kian Ganz, Publishing editor, LegallyIndia.com
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10 years 4 weeks ago #12 by kianganz
From anonymous comment poster with username "I am not Kian Ganz"

"Why do you always censor me Kian? After all, it is a fact that I am not Kian Ganz. By deleting the last two words of that username, you acknowledge that I am you. But if I am you, then who are you? Clearly you cannot be me, since I am not Kian Ganz. Hmm, quite a trick bit that..."

Tricky philosophical territory indeed. However, ponder that as soon as I edit your comment, it is technically not true anymore that it is NOT me.

In any case, joking aside, please try to pick a different username in future, I don't think identifying yourself with a negation adds to the discussion or your identity.

--
Kian Ganz, Publishing editor, LegallyIndia.com
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10 years 1 week ago #13 by kianganz
In two previous stories we have accidentally mis-spelled Kolkata as Kolkota.

No excuses, it is not acceptable, but thanks to one kind reader who pointed this out both times.

We have not published the comments in the story, which the reader has responded to:

I saw you've made the correction based on my comment. So why not allow it to be posted. You do not fall in stature simply by accepting a mistake. Even earlier when my post was relating to your mistakes (spelling), the spelling got corrected, but the post wasn't published. What's the fear??

I don't know why I'm writing this, 'cause you're not going to publish this anyway.


In response and to clarify, we will generally not post up comments pointing out typos. However, we will gratefully accept such comments and do read them all.

Please read some of this thread above for comment moderation guidelines. Pointing out typos is nice and we appreciate it and we are a fan of accountability for mistakes.

But comments about typos do not add to other readers' understanding of the story or the discussion, so those comments will not be published.

By the way, we have also worked on our commenting engine a little so it is now possible to vote comments up and down. This still doesn't quite work as we ultimately want it to but hope it is an improvement.

Readers can now also post under their registered usernames, which should add credibility to their posts over anonymous posts.

Do let me know what you think.

--
Kian Ganz, Publishing editor, LegallyIndia.com
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9 years 8 months ago - 9 years 8 months ago #14 by kianganz
If you are a registered and logged-in, you can now post comments without waiting for moderation.

In other words, what you post will appear straight away as a comment to the story.

Of course, we still reserve the right to moderate inappropriate comments after they have gone live.

Guest commenters, meanwhile, will have to wait for moderator approval before comments are made live.

On top of that, reader moderation is now more robust - e.g., you can vote comments up or down. If a comment receives 10 negative votes, it becomes less visible. You can also report inappropriate or offensive comments for us to look at.

And while you're at it, create an account here, it literally takes one minute.

Or log in to your existing account and update your profile and play around with Legally Yours, our new social network. We will roll out lots more exciting features in the coming days.

--
Kian Ganz, Publishing editor, LegallyIndia.com
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9 years 5 months ago #15 by kianganz
SMS speak quick question - should all comments written in txt-spk be banned? Fr 1 it mks it vry hrd 2 rd thm!

Please share your views - i am minded to accept that proposal made by a reader and incorporate it into the rules but would it not also discrimate against younger readers who have not yet entered university or speak English less well?

Bst rgrds,
Kian

--
Kian Ganz, Publishing editor, LegallyIndia.com
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9 years 5 months ago #16 by NO!
Replied by NO! on topic Comments: how to moderate them?
Why should you moderate such comments? What is the harm? One comments on a thing to be heard. If he thinks sms style is the best way to go it...why moderate?
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9 years 5 months ago #17 by LegalPoet
The above reply (631) was by me.

I have heard stories in newspapers which tell that students in UK/Australia are being reprimanded from using SMS language in exam papers.

But for posts and comments??? COME ON! Why would you want to do that? It is so very acceptable, so very quick and some people prefer it over the traditional version.
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6 years 5 months ago #18 by kianganz
Moved from this article , as off-topic:

Quoting spectator:

Hope power crazy folks like [...] take note. You cant have everything - power and professionalism. Make your choice now before the floodgates open and you're all consigned to the dustbin of legal history.

What are you censoring now Kian? Was it the mention of amarchand or Luthra ? I keep seeing how LI takes sycophancy to the established firm in Lower Parel to new levels. And the same LI keeps publishing derogatory comments about young lawyers, young firms, law schools and other stuff. So its ok to get eyeballs when someone posts a comment that accuses NALSAR faculty of being unprofessional but its not ok when a statement like the above (which seems quite a genuine reflection of most lawyers today) is submitted.

What is disheartening is how LI started off as an apparently "independent" website for the voiceless associate but has now joined hands with the law firms who are stifling legal growth the most. Why not you put up a banner saying you are affiliated to AMSS or AZB or JSA ?? Since obviously you tolerate no criticism of them.

Shame!

kianganz 2013-03-20 11:46
Thanks for your (somewhat feeble) attempt at trolling.

Reasonable critisism of and fair comment are fine, whether big law firm lawyer or small, but calling any individual "power crazy" is not in line with our moderation policies concerning attacks on individuals.

LI Fan 2013-03-20 12:36
I do tend to agree on this point. Also protect younger lawyers and young lawschools. We have read the LI policy and I agree some comments tend to get allowed due to their generality, but some comments, which are obviously in poor taste, do get posted without censoring.

Spectator 2013-03-21 06:03
Quoting kianganz:
Thanks for your (somewhat feeble) attempt at trolling.
Reasonable critisism of and fair comment are fine, whether big law firm lawyer or small, but calling any individual "power crazy" is not in line with our moderation policies concerning attacks on individuals.

Trolling??? Get real Kian. Go through the LI comment archives. Its nauseating the kind of rubbish you publish when it comes to most law firms, moot courts, their associates and most law schools. But somehow when it comes to the Amarchand or the Luthra the censorship puts China to shame. We saw that when you moderated comments on the Amarchand Delhi misconduct incident last year. That moderation was lost when it came to comments on the NLSIU rape story, many of which were sickening and persisted for a long time before being removed.

So by your yardstick calling Trilegal a B class law firm and printing sarcastic jabs at Vineetha's exit from AZB are "reasonable" and "fair" but calling the S---- brothers power crazy is not!?? Who are you trying to fool?

There are several trolls on LI but the biggest troll is you Kian for publishing often insensitive stuff and misleading headlines (like this story that says "Chips are Down" when an eminent lawyer is retiring gracefully) and turning a blind eye to tasteless comments that beget others. I hope other readers on this site believe the same way and if yes I request them to add a line in support.


Looks like potentially another endless debate so I have moved this thread to this forum post so it doesn't derail discussions on the article itself. We will do that in future with comment discussions too.

Basically, if I understand you correctly, being sarcastic is never ok about someone you sympathise with, but personal character attacks against someone you don't feel affinity for should be encouraged, yes?

Our moderation rules are the same for pretty much every human. If you want to be defamatory about people you don't like, please do that elsewhere because we do and have blocked those irrespective of the subject.

If you want to be sarcastic, I can't really stop you, and there are countless examples of sarcastic comments against big law firms too.

And if there were any sarcastic comments in the stories you list, I'm pretty sure they were more than balanced out by other positive or constructive comments. That is known as healthy debate. I don't think there were any insensitive comments published on the NLSIU rape story (unless you mean insensitive towards the institution itself, which again, we can't stop: as the Jolly LLB Meerut lawyer found , claiming someone is defaming your institution is a little silly in most cases). And I don't think there was anything out of line on the Vineetha MG story - the vast majority looks very positive, so please cite examples if you disagree.

Finally, if you have a problem with "chips are down", maybe you are unfamiliar with the phrase and what it means, or you'd prefer to read an article that didn't look at the topic of founder-retirement in a balanced manner? Or maybe you didn't read the article at all?

Anyway, I welcome your responses in this thread (you can respond without an account).

Best wishes,
Kian

--
Kian Ganz, Publishing editor, LegallyIndia.com
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