Sunday, 4 July 2010

This message will be held for moderation

We are all used to going to make a post on Comment is Free (except for people like me, perhaps, who have given up on the dump except for experimental purposes) only to find that our account has been deleted for reasons of censorship and ideological control.

We are all used to going back to a thread to see how a discussion is going, only to find that our post has been deleted, again for reasons of blatant censorship and ideological control.

What sometimes causes confusion, though, is the "This message will be held for moderation" warning which appears on your little screen before you even try to do anything.

This one means that the little pound-shop terrorists who police CiF are onto you, so you had better watch your Ps and Qs or they will blind you with their dayglo yellow tabards and pretend they have powers of arrest.

What could cause such a need to silence someone before they have even spoken?

Apparently this:

Comment 1

New Labour (are they going to keep that brand, by the way?) is now the third party, occupying the place formerly used by the LibDems.

This means that nobody is interested in them, let alone their petty internal wrangles.

Both David Yelland and Andrew Rawnsley on these pages have said that the position of the third party is to be totally ignored and to have to beg for any small and slight attentions from the media.

New Labour was dead long before it was buried at the election.

Off with the old Thatcherite neo-cons and on with the new Thatcherite neo-con-libs.

The idea that changing a government changes anything which actually matters to ordinary people - ordinary hardworking families - in the real world is a mixture of quaint and tiresome.

Who are the main contenders for Dear Leader again?

The Minibars and Condoleezza Rice?

Comment 2

It is as though the discrediting of British politics had never happened. Happily, on this issue, the people are on the other side of the argument from the politicians. The electorate's interest lies in greater fairness and more equal votes. We do not have such a system now. So things must change

We are almost at the stage where the MPs' expenses scandal has become a myth. People remember bits about it and imagine that some of it was true, but it's all a bit too hazy to bother about, especially when you know that you are soon going to have to start boiling up grass collected from the roadside if you want to feed your children.

Which, of course, is exactly what the political classes knew would happen. They could afford to bide their time and knew that things would simply revert to normal if they kept schtum. Of course, they are know bullying the new body which is supposed to oversee their pilfering and profligacy, so in a few years it will be worse than before.

"So things must change."

Is that because The Guardian says so? Because the feeling is that the general mood of the public demands it? Neither of those things has brought about change before, so why should they now?

Andy Burnham has turned against reform. Jack Straw is manufacturing excuses for Labour to wriggle off its commitment. Meanwhile Labour bitterness towards the Liberal Democrats is feeding a mood of arid destructiveness towards even the good things that could come out of the coalition. If Labour is to deserve support as a party of progressive reform, it needs to listen to the leadership candidates who have been calmest and truest to the AV cause.

New Labour really hardly matters any more. They are the padding, the ballast and the make-weights now and during their thirteen year regime, they never showed themselves to be progressive reformers, so nobody is looking at them for that now.

In fact, nobody is looking at New Labour at all any more. Like the prime minister who, on leaving office, suddenly loses his or her gleaming, chauffeur-driven limousine and has to make do with a dented old Austin Allegro, New Labour has gone from the offices of state to a converted garden-shed with a leaning portaloo propped perilously to one side.

Mr Clegg originally wanted the referendum early in the parliament to capitalise on the electorate's general goodwill towards the coalition. That goodwill, and thus that reasoning, still holds good.

Perhaps, but if a week is a long time in politics, a year is at least a lifetime.

By next May, people will be waking up to the idea that we are not really "all in this together."

They will have slowly come to understand that they are being fleeced in order to make Britain a low-wage economy, able to compete for the favours of big business on the global slave-market.

They will have noticed that changing a government does not actually change anything at all, since governments simply act as the servants to global business interests.

People might even remember that it was the banks which caused the global economic meltdown and wonder why it is that they and their neighhbours and other hardworking families are being punished for it.

The penny might just finally drop.

At that point, the smiles and grins of Dave and Nick might be wearing thin and the artificial love-in we have been pretending to enjoy with our sleek, smart-suited and spun new Dear Leaders will be getting tired.

We may just think that having three Tony Blairs in one lifetime is simply too much of a good thing for anyone.

Comment 3


It might work, but you may also find that the best commentators below the line are usually pretty much personae non gratae unless they doggedly applaud and parrot the party line as declared and clumsily etched in stone by the cheerleaders and circus-barkers who occupy the positions of power at Propaganda HQ.

Anyway, The Guardian seems to be hoping that teh internetz will save its bacon by using its new APIs, which will allow other websites to publish Guardian content, as long as they also carry advertising to create a resounding kerching for the Guardian's tills.

Real world newspaper circulation will continue to decline as long as newspapers are seen to be simply the megaphones of the rich, the establishment, the state and big business.

CiF has certainly never subscribed to the belief that its readers are intelligent and able to make their own judgements, frequently in opposition to the pronouncements and idiocies of its star journalists.

It works on the basis of suppressing dissent and shouting the same things louder, assuming that this line of attack will win in the end.

Meanwhile, of course, money pours from its coffers like water from Dear Liza's holey bucket, as it hopes to attract those wandering newsless refugees camped in the derelict wasteland just beyond Mordoch's pay-wall.

Suggestions like afancdogge's above to rally the traditional Guardian readership are ignored in case they upset the dilettante droves who are the intended financial milch-cows because they will not be able to resist clicking on any flickering, insistent and colourful adverts.


Perhaps any reasonable person can see that incendiary comments like that must lead to the person making them having a muzzle strapped over their mouth, even on the pages of a newspaper which pretends to be liberal and wants to go international.

Well, that was my three strikes and you're out episode with The Guardian's Comment is Free, which they apparently try to market without any irony or sniggering in the background.

I think I'll pop back for more of their nonsense in due course.

They are obviously too stupid to learn.

PS When will Matt Seaton answer the moderation question?

Is he too scared or just too thick?

Friday, 18 June 2010

WADDYA Facing Shutdown

Last weekend, the power-house of political and social debate, WADDYA, had to slam its virtual doors in the faces of the chattering classes because someone had said something rude and made the beautiful people cry.

Apparently, if decorum and sticking rigidly to the official Guardian line cannot be maintained, this will have to happen again.

The sensibilities of people like SpecialBrut are so fragile and the debate on WADDYA so essential to the proper functioning of the world that it has to be protected at all costs.

Here is how the janitor of WADDYA describes it:

This thread was a nightmare for our mods recently (although it was very good this week, must say), and it gets an awful lot of comments at times, especially at week-ends. As you know, we rely partly on our community self-moderating (i.e reporting comments which are clearly abusive or trolling) to keep the Guardian's communities as aggreeable and decent as possible.

Does this area get special treatment for some reason?

In that it will close again if unmanagable? Yes, I guess.

Have a nice week-end.
Thank you. Have a humdinger yourself.

Let's all just hope that none of those horrible wreckers turn up this weekend, otherwise we are all done for.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Congratulations, er, Celebrations, um, Jubilation

It is, perhaps, a mark and signal of the gravity of the occasion that we begin today's post by using solemn words from the monumental talent of Sir Clifford Richard.

Congratulations! der der dah dah, erm, der
Celebrations dah dah doo doo
Jubilation der doh happy as can be!

A weight has been lifted from our collective souls and we have seen the one true light, thanks to a vision which was shared with this congregation by the prophet misharialadwani in yesterday's comments section.

We have been wrong to poke fun at Comment is Free and the Matt Seaton Gang.

As Leo Trotsky said: "The reason we are called celebrities is because we are celebrated. Do you know what that means?" (That was Leo Sayer. Trotsky was called Leon. They made a film about him, called Leon with Jean Reno and Natalie Portman. Ed).

Instead of poking the pointy finger of fun at CiF, we are going to screech and lurch around the bend of righteousness and highlight the good things which make CiF such a special place on the internet, populated with people having special needs.

To kick things off, we start with one of the queens of CiF, Brusselsexpest, also known as SpecialBrut:

[SpecialBrut is a male homosexual who does not live in Brussels, but a damp bedsit in Pinner, from which he travels to wait on tables in a cafe de transport owned by a fat man in a string vest, where he dreams of one day of being whisked off his feet by a lorry driver and becoming an international spy, saving governments from collapse across the world, with a secret night-time career as an opera singer called Hannah Mentalist].

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

CiF Hearts Rupert Murdoch

The Guardian always lays great store by the fact that it is financed by a trust with dodgy tax dealings, which it claims means that it does not have to tug its forelock to shareholders or media mogul proprietors.

Which makes it strange that it frequently runs editorials and articles fawningly praising the abundant and unquestionable brilliance of Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

It has even, in the past, run articles (you know, the ones which look like propaganda pieces) by James Murdoch and protected him from embarrassment by mowing down dissenting voices from the BTL ranks and then pulling the article altogether when, presumably, little James's face was blushing with such vermilion violence that there was fear he might explode.

So, here is CiF in its best cheerleader mode, with its pants around its ankles, about to fellate the octogenarian Emperor of News:

Set aside the personalities and the politics for a moment, and the idea of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation buying all of BSkyB makes pure commercial sense. After all, Sky does television and News Corp does papers – and the boundaries between the two are getting increasingly blurred in the digital age. Type into your internet browser and you get an impressive news website that would make any newspaper proud. But BSkyB has an even more important attribute that News Corporation lacks: it is a massive and well-run tollbooth on the media highway.

Free virtual sick-bags for every reader.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

CiF: Beyond Praise, Complaint or Parody

The Untrusted pointed out a spot of possible deletions on the WADDYA thread, which involved whether The Guardian would publish anything from ordinary people, which led me to trundle over there to see what was going on.

Having said that we should start copying and pasting posts which look like prime deletion candidates, this is what I did.

The sequence was this:

15 Jun 2010, 12:56PM


I think it would be a good idea to have a Peoples Panel on Poverty in Britain. Panelists would be peope who are classified as long term relatively poor by British standards.People who are either stuck in mimimum wage jobs and/or long term recipients of State benefits.

Obviously anonymity would have to be guaranteed as some people may be working in the 'Black Economy' to make ends meet.Whilst others may be claiming benefits as a single person whilst secretly cohabiting with a partner.Additionally the poor are often denied mainstream financial services so are vulnerable to the loan sharks.

There are so many different angles to this that could be explored.However the Right wing media has done a pretty good job in either demonising the poor or reverting to splitting them up into the categories of 'deserving' and 'undeserving.'And clearly there are also a few regular CIF posters who are inclined to blame the poor for their predicament.So if a few people who are chronically as opposed to temporarily classified as relatively poor in Britain are prepared to share their stories it could prove to be enlightening all round

15 Jun 2010, 3:45PM

An article, in the Guardian of all places, advocating (essentially) the removal of the right to strike. I honestly never thought I'd see the day. My granddad must be turning in his grave. What with the tone of comments these days, when you get articles like that it's hard to see what differentiates this paper from any other neo-liberal rag.


Then this from carnivalesque:


I think it would be a good idea to have a Peoples Panel on Poverty in Britain. Panelists would be peope who are classified as long term relatively poor by British standards.People who are either stuck in mimimum wage jobs and/or long term recipients of State benefits.

This was actually suggested a year or two ago, at about the time that the Global Economic Meltdown had moved from being a twinkle in the bankers' eyes to a mess in their collective underpants.

No, you didn't miss it. CiF did not pursue the idea, perhaps because nobody at The Guardian knew any poor people to ask how it felt to keep being robbed by the rich from generation to generation.

Don't hold you breath.


An article, in the Guardian of all places, advocating (essentially) the removal of the right to strike. I honestly never thought I'd see the day. My granddad must be turning in his grave. What with the tone of comments these days, when you get articles like that it's hard to see what differentiates this paper from any other neo-liberal rag.

Yes, don't try looking too hard for something which is not there.

How about combining the two, CiF, and just parading a group of stupid poor people on these pages to be laughed and spat at?

The Daily Mail might even stop your losses and buy you out.

Obviously, the comment by carnivalesque was not allowed to live to tell the tale.

Open Copy News

This is how the news used to be presented - by grey people, before anyone and everyone became media stars by simple dubious virtue of being on the telly.

We now have people like George Alaghia who, instead of just reading the news, acts it out as if he is auditioning for a part in a local amateur dramatics production.

We now have people like Chris Choi on ITN and [insert first name here when you remember it] Robinson on the BBC who give their own versions of the news, rather than just telling us what is going on.

This leads to a grateful nation being told that the British Airways strike is all - and only - about horrible people depriving lovely holidaymakers of their chance to sun themselves in wonderful abroad.

So, today is a shameless plug for the new age of me, me, me.

The link above is to a new site I am in the process of setting up.

The line of thought is that news can benefit from the way the open source software movement has used public collaboration and openness of code to make ideas and products freely accessible by everyone.

We are used to receiving news through a process whereby it dribbles from the few and mighty, through the filter of the media (which have traditionally been owned by the same few and mighty and their mates and henchmen) until, after distillation and evaporation and a fair amount of adulteration and corruption, we, the supplicant poor and many, receive it like a gobbet of phlegm spat at us from the passing limousine, filled with  shrieking drunks, as it speeds on its merry way to a party to which we will never be invited.

The idea of the filthy public as newsgatherers and reporters is neither new nor original, but the underlying idea for this project is that all the time we think that we have to scrabble and ferret for the droppings and leavings from the tables of the old media channels - yes, like The Guardian - we are having their versions of news imposed upon us, with only the occasional and limited facility to politely and respectfully beg to differ, before our stupid thoughts are deleted.

So, here we go.

It may be that things will be invitation only to begin with and I am still playing with setting it up.

Anyone interested can get in touch through the contact form on the site or:

atomboy -(at)- atomboy -(dot)- org

If you felt like it, you could even pass it on.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Look at me, Mamma! Top of the World!

Not exactly the top of the world, but this woodcut was supposed to show a pilgrim or traveller who had reached the ends of the earth, the edge of the world and was then supposed to be able to look out into the heavens.

It turned out to be a fake, but is nevertheless an image which is extraordinarily touching and seems to find a ready resonance with people.

Or perhaps he was just at his wits' end.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Bring Out Your Dead!

Just a quick thought, which I put on UT earlier.

If you are posting on Comment is Free and finding your work disappears faster than you can keep putting it up, you can dump it here for safekeeping.

I will try to post something to kick the day off every morning or thereabouts, so that there is a thread for people to either copy and paste the efforts of others who are making intelligent contributions to CiF or, of course, their own.

Either way, we all know that Comment is Free moderators are always very ready to censor and ban and far too impressed with their own perfection to offer an explanation to those whose efforts pay their wages, so once your comment disappears from CiF, it is gone for good if you have not taken the trouble to keep your own copy.

Think of it like the virtual bin into which your work is thrown, but one in which you can ferret around and find the pearls you and others have been casting before swine.

The Life and Death of Henry III

The expected lifespan of a mayfly is supposed to be less than a day.

The lifespan of a good poster on Comment is Free seems to be about the same, before the moderators see the potential for unapproved lines of thought and ideological dissent, requiring the need to delete posts in order to deprive that particular producer of free content of the will to bother.

After that, it is just onto the next until everyone who posts comments on CiF only ever thinks of conforming with the approved pattern and there is only choreographed and manipulated artificial dissent to give the impression of actual thought, to harmonise the robotic chorus from the CiFerati who have been stamped with the Matt and Jess seal of approval.

This is HankScorpio yesterday on The Untrusted:

Anyway, fuck it. HenryTheThird just posted a doozie on Barbara Ellen's thread.

This is 13thDukeofWybourne today: 

Oh, and I am enjoying HenrytheThird's posts. He/she is shaping up to be a promising young poster.

This is Alisdair Cameron today:

I agree with those praising HenryTheThird: he (? never know) is eviscerating the Observer's big-name,big-salary columnists one by one today in a very clinical fashion.

This is Atomboy, in the same place:

Yes, so no surprises, perhaps, that by the time I get to have a look on the thread to see what is going on, HenryTheThird has been deleted virtually out of existence.

Perhaps we should all just take to copying any posts which seem too good to last and pasting them here or elsewhere, linked to the place from which they were snatched to safety before the moderbators attacked them with virtual scissors and knives.

Let me just run this by everyone again:

We do see a consistency in moderation, don't we, in the sense that good, intelligent posters get deleted wholesale and idiotic spouters of verbal sewage get patted on the back and invited back to virtual dinner-parties by the lackeys and servants at CiF Towers?

Why would anyone want to be a member of that stunted and grotesque artificial social clique?

And back to Alisdair Cameron:

Just checked and you're dead right, Atomboy. HenryTheThird has had 5 deletions this morning, and not one of them to my recollection contravened any purported talk policy, but they all embarrassed the paper and its columnists. Wouldn't expect anything less from the august Guardian Media group.
Ah,well, it's their funeral.No point in getting worked up about their moderation, since their judgement is demonstrably flawed in so many ways.

So, a brief word of warning to any putative HenryTheThirds out there:

If you have something interesting and intelligent to say, don't bother posting it on Comment is Free. They really don't want to know.

If, however, you can chuck out forty one-line posts a day of utter inanity, you will be welcomed with open arms.

Saturday, 12 June 2010


Here are some of the thoughts from people on The Untrusted regarding Jessica Reed's little hissy-fit in closing WADDYA for the weekend to prove that the voices of the horrible people can be silenced if you know which button to press - or which member of the IT team to ask.


Waddya was developed into its current format shortly after UT rocked up - as a holding tank for potentially unruly account holders, a place where moderators could go and gaze at the wild and uneven outside world, but without having to delete comments on mind-numbed reflex, because they also knew everyone would there act out of aspiration rather than egalitarian exchange of ideas; they would therefore moderate themselves and yet make CiF appear cooler

The fucking amateurs.


I see Cif as a place for bored middle class professionals to get together to pontificate about how the world would be a much better place if only the poor worked a little bit harder, and for less money.

It fucking annoys me beyond endurance that kizbot and bru get indulged on there, the pair of them posting arrant nonsense on there all day, while Athens and Brussels burns in the background, and neither them or fellow posters question whether middle class jobs could be cut.

Let's cull the jobs of middle class wasters like kizbot and brussels if efficiency savings need to be made.

Stick that up as an idea on waddya and see where that gets you.


@martillo and chekhov - fair play to Jess for taking the ball home with her. The waddya thread is a fucking joke, and has been for a year or more. It's somewhere for kiz and bru and all the hangers on to bitch and gossip and ultimately say nothing much at all. MavisCoulter and MelissaDarley have seen through all the crap there, and their comments got deleted as a result.

It's interesting to note, as HenryTheThird said, that the proliferation of posters with "C"s against their names on Cif over the last year or so have almost exclusively come from the ranks of the luvvies who kiss each others' arses on waddya.

There are a lot of interesting and informed posters on Cif, posting on domestic politics, finance, foreign affairs etc. A vanishingly small number of them get commissioned to write ATL though, because they're not in the waddya gang, and the editorial staff at Cif are too lazy to read those threads or to talent-spot beyond the tea and jaffa cake crowd of time-wasting idiots on waddya.

Very few of those who have got commissioned by Cif to go above the line in the last year have anything of interest to say, and very few of them post regularly elsewhere on Cif because they would be shot down in flames by those far more informed than they are.

La Ritournelle

Just a quick slag off - Kizbot is a bloody pain in the arse, but "Imogen -Pleeeeeze give me job on the Guardian-Black" is worse. Her comments btl on the Unemployment thread are infantile and as for being asked to 'contribute' well, pah, her 'contribution was pretty asinine - I'm sure someone will commission her soon (Jess/Matt) as she's got everything they need - nice white middle class girl, pwetty face (just look at my professional shot avatar) an ex-actress, miles of vacouous vaguely left wing b/s to spout and her contributions below the line read like one long CV.


They shut waddya just when it was likely to get interesting. Kizbot posted some old shite about waddya just being a cosy little corner, not to be taken seriously, so why did trolls go on there and get so venomous about the regulars on there. The usual self-justifying crap we've come to expect from the self-appointed Queen of Bland, to which HenryTheThird responded (paraphrasing, from memory):

"Nobody would have objected to waddya being a cosy little corner for Cif regulars to while away their working days.

The problem was that waddya became disproportionately important in the eyes of the Cif staffers, who started commissioning the in-crowd to write stuff above the line, even though it should have been clear that the only reason waddya regulars posted their views regularly on waddya was because they would have been exposed as woefully out of their depth elsewhere on Cif."

As I say, I'm paraphrasing. I'd have copied and pasted but the post in question has been deleted.


Hank I pretty much agree with you
I see it as a grooming ground to get BTL that fit into the "profile" of the average Guardian's kind of Islington wine bar chit chat...full of identity right on politics that spew from the mouths of people that essentially haven't had to fight for anything in their lives and have no real intention of doing it unless they risk their iPhone...what sums it up is that bloody "rush home for the nanny" thread the other day.......
Alas decent posters and ATLers are in a minority...

Alisdair Cameron

Did get talking to someone who knows a lot about the Guardian's working, knows q a few of the staff. In brief,they are bollocksed. Business plan is like the South Park underpant gnomes but my source was very enlightening about the staff. The upper echelons are hated for being overpaid and massively incompetent, and of more interest to UTers there is little love lost between real news journalists and the all-singing,all-dancing multimedia fluff merchants, and some figures disliked on the UT are disliked in their workplace too.


Hank: agreed with most of your comment on "wadya". However, as much as I don't have much time for Kizbot et al, she made a valid point in that when the wadya thread was first set up, it was ignored by most people and the ones who did respond ended up inventing a chat room.
That's my recollection of what happened anyway, feel free to tell me I if I am wrong.
Well we all know how it panned out; more and more people joined in and started to challenge the orthodoxy. To cut a long story short the Oxbridge cretins who set up the thread didn't like the fact many btl were more intelligent than themselves, so they called in the "Mods" to hose down the hoi polloi.
It didn't work of course which is why Jesicca has taken her bat and ball home.

Alisdair Cameron

@ the Duke. That's about as much as I got, I'm afraid, but a certain cyclist's departure wasn't viewed as sad by all...
The big bunfight though is between those obsessed with new media gimmickry, video pieces etc (which are too often fronted by good-ish print journos, who aren't broadcasters, and it shows...and most readers don't have the internet speed/bandwidth to watch the bloody pieces) who hog all the resources, and those who think a little more focus on, er, news, in a newspaper, might be a higher priority.
Non-'sexy' items (i.e. those which aren't unsubstantiated, ATL trolling typically on gender/race/faith,those centred on vacuous ephemeral celeb shite, or thos tenuously tying something topical to the author's hobby-horse, streching credulity all the while) are getting marginalised, and the notion of actually investigating anything, or sophisticated,nuanced analysis has been marginalised.
Obviously you can guess with which category of staffer my source consorts and sympathises, and that cohort of journalists are looking to jump ship before they are thrown overboard.


There may be more but, as I have said, CiF has become a dead horse which I am no longer very interested in flogging.

I am working on one or two other things, so if anyone has an interest in CiF which can beat mine, (which cannot be bothered to struggle anywhere much above nil) they are welcome to take over. Otherwise, things will just have to remain very occasional and desultory in terms of posting here - unless something interesting actually happens on CiF, for which I am not holding my breath.

All The Stars Are Out Tonight

This needs to be prefaced with a confession. I started this blog (and you, too, can have one up and running in about five minutes, so it does not require a great deal of thought) under the impression - the misapprehension - that I would somehow forever be bothered about the fate and fortunes of Comment is Free (or CiF to its friends).

The simple truth is that I now could not care less, to the degree that it hardly ever crosses my mind to make the one idle, thoughtless click which would take me back to its pages, teeming with the furious activity of people living life on a tiny scale. 

CiF was buggered and bludgeoned, beaten into senselessness, neutered and strangled by Matt Seaton and his imbecile acolytes, all obsequiously aided and abetted by the clamouring wannabes of WADDYA and those achingly desperate to acquire a blue sticker to prove that they had become the monitors and gatekeepers of the CiF ideology.

In wanting to iron and hammer out the imperfections, they smashed out all the character and quirkiness it once possessed - the very reasons which made people want to go there - and skimmed the surface into ultra-smooth bland banality.

The first time I had a comment deleted, the initial reaction was not affrontedness or outrage, but simple curiosity. Why would they bother to delete something which was just a poor joke as an addendum to an earlier, more detailed post about an article besotted with the virtues of a Victorian woman, who happened to be what could very loosely be described as an explorer?

The reason the joke was deleted became clear. If every one of the six billion people on earth read the comment; if they all studiously avoided and ignored the obvious humour; if they were all, each and every one, rabid, swivel-eyed and frenzied followers of a particular religion; if they utterly missed and misinterpreted the flow and context of the comment; if they  blew it up out of all proportion, egged on and bribed by invading aliens - then, it was possible, (remotely, statistically vanishingly and stretching the robust elastic of probability to snapping point) just possible that perhaps one person over the course of a million years might be slightly offended.

The other fact was that, in the earlier and longer comment, I had stupidly suggested that, rather than lauding the dubious achievements of an aristocratic female from another age, perhaps we should look at the plight of ordinary people in the here and now.

No wonder I was done for. Wimminz, class and rubbing the nose of CiF in the fact that it basically hates the poor.

Anyway, that has been a roundabout way of saying why I am not bothering much - well, hardly at all - with this blog.

A few days away from CiF and you wonder why you ever cared.  A few more days and you forget it exists.

However, I do look at The Untrusted and it has been noted there that CiF has had to close WADDYA for the weekend.

I do not yet know why. After all, WADDYA is the flagship of the sinking CiF and Guardian fleet. It is the place where Kiz and Bru daily display their viciousness and spite and challenged intellects and then run screaming to JessicaReed if anyone says anything they dislike.

People have said that JessicaReed has had a fit of pique and has taken the WADDYA ball away from the ruffians below the line to teach them a lesson.

The lesson they might learn is that there is a great deal more to life than posting inanities and publicly displaying your own stupidities, obsessions and bigotries on WADDYA.

It may work for a day or two, Jessica, but anything longer than that and people will just wander off in droves.

Which is something which CiF and The Guardian really cannot afford, either financially or in terms of saving the gulping, glugging, gurgling HMS CiF from sinking beyond the heroic salvage of whoever is going to replace the disaster of Seaton.

PS I will post here some of the comments from UT about this.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

6 Steps to Kill Your Community

Perhaps CiF should try listening to Matt Mullenweg, founder and boss of WordPress, the software which runs millions of blogs across the internet.

You know, someone who actually stands a chance of knowing what he is talking about, as opposed to an unknown cyclist from nowhere.

About a year ago, Mullenweg wrote a blog post about how to kill your online community. Again, it has to be pointed out that blogging - of which technology WordPress has always been a leader - is what made the internet social and interactive and predicated sites like CiF.

In terms of moderation, Mullenweg certainly advises against allowing a free-for-all, with its legal implications and tendency to annoy everyone into leaving. However, most arguments about CiF have never been to allow unmoderated commenting. They have simply been for the moderation to achieve both consistent and acceptable standards. Of course, according to Seaton (is he still there, by the way, or has his sideways slide taken him to wreak havoc in pastures new?) there is nothing wrong with moderation at CiF. He is right and hundreds and hundreds of people who comment are wrong.

Anyway, here are a couple of points from Matt Mullenweg, which should have such a familiar ring to the CiFerati that, when they read them, they will think they have become the clappers on the bells into which a puzzled Quasimodo is staring.

Be Famous! You’ll get thousands of comments on almost everything you post and make sure only to let through the most sycophantic and saccharine, don’t tolerate real conversation or debate. To spice it up every now and then opine on a known controversial subject like abortion and let your audience loose on each other like gladiators while you watch from the stands.

Make People Click Click Click. Ideally do 1-comment-per-page CNET-style and your pageviews will go through the roof, but if you can’t stomach that just make comments-per-page setting low or have some sort of complicated nesting scheme.

Treat Everyone the Same. If I’ve left hundreds of great comments over many years on your site, please make me wait in the moderation queue like some random stranger off Digg. Don’t let anyone know I’m a regular, or talk to me, or invite me to test out beta stuff, or pretty much anything that acknowledges my existence or shows any degree of trust.

Remember, though, if anyone from CiF Towers should catch sight of this: it is a list of what not to do!

You have to make this plain because otherwise, like New Labour thinking Nineteen Eighty-Four was a political instruction manual, the halfwits in charge of CiF will simply obey mindlessly, like they would follow whatever fashion or domestic advice is the article of faith du jour.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Everyone's A Critic: Everyone Can Be A Moderator, Too

There have been occasional claims made by various people on CiF that anyone can make comments disappear simply by using the Report Abuse button.

The claim from the staff has always been that if a comment is reported, it still has to go through the scrutiny process of the highly-skilled moderators and pass the various tests under their gimlet-eyed gaze and the stifling heat of their red-hot intellectual rigour before it is eventually jettisoned into the virtual dustbin of history.

Yeah, or just, you know, disappear without trace within seconds.

Of course, if it was true that anyone and everyone, idle passers-by and addicted CiF-junkies alike, could just depopulate the threads of comments simply because they felt like it or for malicious reasons or just because they clicked the wrong button, it would not so much dent the credibility of the whole lurching CiF charabanc as smash it to pieces and write it off completely.

So, having spent a few scattered moments of boredom, head resting on fist and eyes vacantly staring into the middle distance and randomly pressing the Report Abuse button - sometimes giving a curt reason, sometimes a snipped quote, sometimes a contrived turn of phrase and sometimes just leaving the forlorn little form blank (but always on comments which had no reason whatsoever to be deleted, given their almost offensively perfect innocence) - it can now be confirmed to the world that anyone can zap anyone's comment off the face of CiF without any training or special skills and, more importantly, with no reason whatsoever and with no intervention from the moderation team.

Of course, if you have written a good post and it then gets deleted, you might think it is both acceptable and morally justified to make a principled stand and enquire about what happened and why.

Yes, the problem, though, would be that we already know that emailing the moderators may only prompt an automatic, useless and actually provocative reply. We have been told that they are too grand to be bothered replying to mere contributors of free content.

You could try posting a question on the thread from which your poor little comment has been whisked away and murdered. Oh, except for the fact that we have also been told that all questions about moderation are off-topic and will be deleted.

Welcome to the Catch-22 world of CiF, where it is madness to complain because you have to be mad to post there in the first place.

Here are some words of wisdom from Matt Seaton from the thread which was supposed to celebrate four years of CiF censorship but ended up as a howl of protest and outrage over CiF's idiotic and useless moderbation techniques and proved Seaton (who accused JayReilly of being the "polemicists' polemicist") to be the luvvies' luvvie - and, incidentally, never actually answered JayReilly's question when evidence was brought proving that CiF moderation is an ongoing online catastrophe.

@ Triffid100:

Nobody's going to stop you talking about moderation, and maybe it feels good to share gripes, but my response is going to be the same all day and every day: moderators follow our Talk Policy and transparent procedures when making decisions about infractions of that policy. The rules are not hard for users to follow. 

Yes, moderation is a human system which involves making judgment calls in a very fast-moving and dynamic environment, and users who feel hard-done-by are able to appeal their decisions. But our moderation staff are highly experienced and well-trained, and we have great confidence in them. 

The bottom line is follow the Talk Policy, stay within the rules and you will never even know the moderators exist. How hard is that?


I accept that many of you wanted to air dissatisfactions with moderation, and I'm aware that I've not been able to say much that will have altered critical perceptions of how we do modding. I wouldn't say that we've exhausted the topic for all time, but I hope at least you feel that whereas complaints about modding in other threads will usually be treated as off-topic and deleted, here we have given full rein to the issue and you have had your say. As with everything, moderation remains a work in progress, and nothing is going to change overnight, but we do understand its importance and we know it needs all the investment of skills and people we can get. But we also see it as only one dimension of our community interface, and we'd love to move to a point where the issue just didn't loom so large as it does for some of you.


No contradiction intended certainly. I do think our moderation in its general operation is as transparent as resources permit: the rules are clear and stated and mods interpret and apply them as fairly as possible. The limits of transparency arise in specific instances: judgments about banning being one, correspondence between a user and moderators over an appeal being another.


Putting that aside, the general point is that I'm not willing to debate alleged political bias on the part of moderators, because their political impartiality is simply a given. It would be a disciplinary matter if a moderator was acting on a partisan ideological basis. And that would be incredibly stupid, too, because it would be rankly obvious within the first 15 minutes.

As for individual complaints, I assume you mean over deleted posts. This is where we all have to be realistic: this site generates thousands of comments every day. Moderators are having to make hundreds of judgments about deletions every shift. They are under considerable pressure. Is their judgment flawless in every case? It can't be. But neither will it be grossly wrong; and looked at in aggregate, over time, it will be fair and reasonable. We invite appeals by email, and guarantee that all are read, but the sheer scale of the enterprise means that there cannot be a judicial process for every deleted comment as of right for users. My general advice is if you get a comment deleted, you probably have a good idea why, so move on.

You make a good point. I don't think our columnists should have to put up with mere ad hominem abuse and it is against the guidelines, as you observe. Sometimes, bad posts don't go fast enough (moderation resourcing being inevitably limited), and sometimes, perhaps, too much presumption is made in favour of free speech, with Gdn columnists just expected to be as tough as old boots and able to put up with some heckling. But you can help us by using the 'report abuse' button.

As for rightwing trolls: well, I think we have to accept that Cif is open for business to anyone who wants to visit and we're not charging the price of admission that is the £1 people pay for the newspaper. On the other hand, I think it is salutary for all us Gdn types to be exposed to views outside our comfort zone and to realise that there is a battle of ideas out there and we have to take the world as we find it, not as we might wish it to be.

So, trolls should get modded out of sight. But rightwingers? Bring 'em on: let's have the debate.


There endeth the lesson.

This is interesting, though:

"...there is a battle of ideas out there and we have to take the world as we find it, not as we might wish it to be."

Isn't this the very thing which The Guardian, CiF and the Matt Seaton All Stars have continuously and deliberately tried to achieve - peddling their ideology and clearing the ground of dissent in order to push it without impediment or hindrance from the filthy scum who (used to) make CiF worth reading?

Thursday, 29 April 2010

All Hope Abandon, Ye Who Enter CiF

The Comment is Free bus keeps trundling along and shedding gems as it lurches and wobbles from one accident to another.

As someone who no longer actually posts on CiF and only visits occasionally and fleetingly, today has thrown up material for three posts, which might make up for the gaps on other days.

Anyway, it seems that usini got into an exchange about the business of trolls from the political right being allowed to break the rules to give the impression of CiF being right-on and accommodating and caring, while reasonable discussion from anywhere else gets muffled and disappears.

He asked whether any of this would change once the election is out of the way and the funny old Guardian works out where its political heart might have been buried.

Then he says this:

Hell I don't mind naming a few names but I can't remember them off hand. Next time one of the Guardian black or Asian correspondents comes on I will post them. MaM is a racist, apart from his generally ultra right views but he has been here for ages. Armaros is a ferocious anti-leftist as is tom wollacott. There are so many here now. I may end up getting modded for this post, put on pre-mod or even banned, but to be honest I couldn't care less. Sometimes I am beginning to think like Olching that the whole idea of CIF has gone so badly wrong that it should be abandoned.


Moments later, of course, the post, as usini predicted, was deleted by a moderator.

Mr Chekhov to the Gulag, Please!

Chekhov has this to say over on The Untrusted:

BTW: I've thrown in the towel on CIF.

They are obviously expecting me to go back with a grovelling apology, appealing for a reprieve. Well they can go and fuck themselves.

I stuck with CIF from the outset and gave it the benefit of the doubt but the Mods have ruined it.

Pity really but I suppose it was inevitable since the whole thing is run by Oxbridge fuckwits who haven't got a clue what it's like trying to survive at the "coal face"

And later:

I haven't been banned "technically". I'm in "pre mod" for calling Lord Adonis to account for his scaremongering article on splitting the left wing vote.

I didn't contravene their talk policy so there is no reason why I should have to make a grovelling apology to be allowed back in and I don't intend to do so.

Incidentally, no one seems to have missed me, and there was no collective indignation at my being ostracised, unlike Lord Summerisle who was actually banned.

However he wasn't banned for his usual reasonably thought out wisdom but for this:

"Which part of your brain do you need to have removed to become a moderator"

Anyway, like I said, It's a shame. There was the makings of a sort of on-line community on CIF and they totally fucked it up. Maybe they did it deliberately. Who knows?

Sorry, Chekhov. Obviously, you just didn't quite make it into the Air-Kiss Gang.

Do You Want To Be In My Gang?

There is a website called aSmallWorld. It is only for people who are rich and members of the international jet-set. Not for people who like to pretend that they are living in a Martini advert.

Basically, if you are reading this, you will never be invited to join - and you have to be invited, like all exclusive clubs - because your life operates at a level which is too low to be picked up by the radars of the rich and famous. You are a mere civilian.

The problem is that even with such stratospherically exclusive clubs, there have to be rules and sanctions for those who cannot comply with the codes of the blessed. 

If you make a faux pas, you are immediately jettisoned to the worst place in the known universe; a type of satellite virtual prison-ship, where there are no PAs and hangers-on and publicists and fawning lackeys: a place with the shudderingly grim name of aBigWorld.

Obviously, the threat of being cast adrift is usually enough to keep the brightest and the best in line because, like everyone else, all they want is to be loved and cuddled.

Perhaps Comment is Free is trying to adopt this approach in order to keep (not the gleaming suns and stars and flickering comets of their stellar writers above the line, of course) the filthy scum who jostle and jeer, whistle and cheer in the areas below the line, to keep them herded and fenced and in their proper place.

The problem is, it simply fails to work.

The threat of not being allowed to attend the party has now worn so thin, the party itself so boring and, er, uninviting that nobody is really bothered whether they go or not.

Groucho Marx said: "Please accept my resignation. I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member."

It now seems that once CiF has banned people and then tells them to jump through some hoops in order to have their wonderful privileges of providing free content to the multi-million pound Guardian Media Group restored, people respond slightly more bluntly.

Get fecked.

Jennifera30 says this:

Oh I got an email from someone at Cif saying I would be welcome back after a cooling off period but I am not sure if I want to bother.

Oh, dear. It looks like the glamour of belonging to the CiF gang has finally worn off.

How long will it be before bannings turn into pleading emails asking people to join?

Monday, 26 April 2010

CiF Banning Bandwagon

Interesting that the WADDYA crowd love a bandwagon about banning when it suits them and it concerns one they feel happy to clasp to their collective bosom, but they are never quite so sure when the whole thing is simply a matter of funny old principles and concerns someone they are actually quite keen to see removed from their little party.

The little screeches and parps of indignation range from the heady heights of AllyF all the way to, er, who is winning the competition of bottom-feeder of the year at the moment?

So, banning and the process of being brought back into the fold by begging to be forgiven - you know, like Galileo being forced to recant and retract, to prove that the sun really does orbit the earth - is something which is, like everything else in life, simply not a matter of principle.

We govern ourselves by expedience and whatever it takes to get ourselves back into the company of backslapper stardom.

In fact, advice is also given to simply change your name and go back under another pseudonym. Strictly against the rules and something which is always considered a sign of an utter wrong'un - unless it's your mates, then it's just what you do to stay in with the in-crowd.

So, as far as the WADDYA circus is concerned, banning is a mighty fine and useful tool when it picks off the people who comply with the rules but spoil the party - no comment other than you deserved it when this happens - but everyone presents an affronted face of united outrage when the vile and monstrous moderators clumsily pick one of the blessed.

Not that the CiFerati can be bought and sold like vegetables, of course.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Banning of Jennifera30

If CiF is going to publish an article called "Rape as a Weapon of War", it seems likely that it will draw some impassioned comments. After all, this is what CiF is doing - trying to maximise comments and page views in order to get as many advert clicks as possible, in order to stop losing money hand over fist. It is simply a numbers game and a money-making ruse.

Anyway, it seems that Jennifera30 made some comments, which everyone seems to agree were quite reasonable. In fact, they were so reasonable that they led to an almost instant ban.

Pretty standard practice as far as CiF is concerned: ban the sensible posters to clear the ground so that the mouth-frothers and the air-kissers can rampage unimpeded.

So, Jennifera30 pops over to The Untrusted to ask whether this is the normal reward for providing free content for the multi-million pound media behemoth which is Guardian Media Group and discovers that, yes, it is actually company policy.

Meanwhile over on the cartoon car-crash which is WADDYA, people are clamouring for the moderators to explain why they have banned yet another poster who has not broken any rules.

Obviously, they can always fall back on their status of Papal Infallibility, conferred on them by Matt Seaton.

The problem is, if the idea of making a noise when anyone is banned catches on, rather than just the sweethearts of the lower-level staff and the social misfits who need the fix of WADDYA to function, CiF will have to open up a new section just to deal with it.

Unless, of course, the new editor decides to overturn the abuses of the Seaton regime and actually bring the moderators into line, rather than pretending they are untouchable and hiding behind their skirts every time the CiFerati get on their hind legs and squeal.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Guardians of Fickle Ideology

It seems The Guardian is quite sure about its ideologies in terms of censoring and banning anyone who questions them for years at a stretch, but as soon as an election comes along, the fickle heart of the media empire flutters and races and can only be quelled by having a meeting and a sing-song and coming to a collective decision about which party the mighty Guardian organ is going to back or back-stab and who is going to be as red-faced as a Murdoch by May 7, 2010.

Thanks to 13thDukeofWybourne  over on The Untrusted for pointing out this comment on Matt Seaton's roundup of the day's events, which were supposed to con the CiFerati into thinking that they would have an influence on the editorial line of GMG.

The Guardian's election editorial meeting  

Oh shit, I wish I'd been there. Love the picture (I printed it off to show my mum). It must have been surreal. I hope it opened with a wise woman uttering gnomic nonsense as a prayer for guidance from each participant's "inner single Somali immigrant mother". Did you stop for herbal tea and energy flapjacks made from organic oats and nettles? Were there prizes for the best knitwear? Worthiest countenance? Most uses of 'progressive' in a single platitude? And, at the end did Rushbridger knock out Cumbaya on the piano while you all trooped out dropping loose chains in a bucket for under-appreciated, transgendered pavement artists in Bolivia?

It was by MavisCoulter and, of course, it got deleted.

It may have infringed the moderation and community guidelines for other reasons, but the main one, of course, is that nobody is ever allowed to poke fun at the achingly right-on credentials of the Seaton Gang and its clustered acolytes.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Twilight of the Ciferati

So, we have had the news that Matt Seaton is being demoted or shoved sideways or somehow moved onwards and upwards in a glittering career which seems to have consisted, during its CiF phase, of just being rude and boorish and not very good at the job.

At about the same time, we heard that Georgina Henry was also on the move for some reason, but it would take someone of more impassioned interest to remember why or where.

Now we have the news that Emily Bell is also turning her back on The Guardian and its sinking flagship, the once-mighty HMS CiF.

So, who is left in the office, who might know how to work the photocopier and can wrestle and subdue the cable which plugs CiF into the internets?

The only ones anyone really knows are Bella someone and JemimaReed, so expect the lights to be flickering on CiF by the end of the week.

Still, as long as Jaffa Cake Central (or WADDYA, to the cognoscenti) keeps functioning as a drop-in centre for misfits and fantasists, perhaps most of the ardent Ciferati fanbase will not notice.

PS Lots of bold and italics in that post - must break the habit.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Matt Seaton Out

The news over on WADDYA and The Untrusted is that Matt Seaton is sliding sideways or downwards or otherwise from his wobbly little pinnacle of editor - or something - over at CiF.


It might even have tempted me to go back there under yet another cunning disguise, but he has so successfully ruined the place that I cannot actually imagine wanting to do so.

Your Daily Dose - Or Fix

Now that various people have mentioned this place over at The Untrusted, I shall have to see about making some efforts towards putting up a daily post - which will probably be a bit more sporadic and incompetent than Montana's efforts - so that news junkies can get their chance to shoot up and shoot off at the mouth about what is going on over at CiF in general and, perhaps, WADDYA in particular - or Jaffa Cake Central, as HankScorpio calls it.

Anyway, feel free to dump idiocies spotted, posts you have made which have been deleted and those in breach of the guidelines which are allowed to stand, along with the howlers from those charmed beings above the line, all of which go to make up the mad and magical mix of CiF's moderation policy and tactics, which are like a less elegant and more impenetrable version of Catch-22.

PS Note to AndySays: Yes, it has been going on for ages. Each time I made too much of mentioning it, I tended to get banned.

PPS If anyone wants to write things here in an ATL capacity (yes, a joke), please feel free to get in touch. See the About page.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

The Matt Seaton and JayReilly Question

I posted this over at The Untrusted, but it may as well also go here.

Morning everyone

Out of interest - and because I am not looking at CiF any more in anything other than a very cursory and occasional manner and not managing to get here much, either - did Seaton ever get back to JayReilly or anyone else regarding moderation?

I seem to remember that he said he would select one happy camper to provide evidence of CiF's crimes and that joy seemed to fall on JayReilly, who was going away for some days at the time.

Someone else stepped in on the now, presumably, forgotten thread and there was a lot of coughing and ahems and "Just because hundreds of people below the line keep pointing out that moderation is unacceptable doesn't prove anything and you have no right to question the moderators anyway because they have each been stamped with my personal seal of approval, which will trump anything you stupid, filthy scum have to say so just feck off, I hate you all" from an increasingly shrill Seaton, with a face set to explode.

So, just as a final check, did the reinstatement of Summerisle make everything better? Was that all it took?

Were any other bribes or threats used to seduce or scare everyone back into mute and apologetically supine submission?

Or was the lure and heady junkie fix of being able to type "Hi!" with as many exclamation marks as your heart could wish to people you do not know and indulge in a figurative dance of slapping high-fives and jive handshakes just too much to resist?

Despite the sniffy, aloof claims from Seaton and Henry that CiF was decidedly not a social network, but an arena of ideas, was it the fear of losing a line-up of virtual zelebrity people the thing which allowed everyone to let Seaton off the hook, just as long as he did nothing to impede the mingling march of the lovely faux society for which people will give up any principle, as long as they are allowed to belong?

As has now become de rigeur when signing off:

Just askin', like. I'll get me coat...

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Still Waiting for Seaton

JayReilly mentioned this place (thank you) over on The Untrusted a day or two ago, which has prompted me to actually post something here.

One of the problems with the ease of creating places on the internet is that there is no longer any feeling of achievement or attachment to them once you have done so. You can have a blog up and running in about five minutes; after about ten, you have made your first post; after about half an hour, it is forgotten and abandoned and you are on to something new.

Anyway, I think this blog was started when there was a little parpy, squelchy uproar over on Comment is Free about the banning of LordSummerisle. CiF has these little episodes of outrage every now and again and the formula of the editors is always the same: let it blow itself out and all will be forgotten.

It is a policy which certainly works because Matt Seaton has, as far as I know, still not made any pronouncement about the fact that all the below the line contributors to CiF had noticed that the moderation had become fickle, malicious, politically and ideologically motivated, probably swayed and skewed by personal vendettas and byzantine and detached from its own guidelines in execution.

On the plus side, though, WADDYA (or Jaffa Cake Central, as it is called by HankScorpio) was still providing a forum for luvvies to back-slap and air-kiss and an arena for occasional idiot-baiting.

Comment is Free, from the viewpoint of the onlooker (oh, I forgot to mention, I was banned during the great Summerisle Siege and have never bothered going back) seems to be getting predictably and inevitably worse.

There are highlights, though. Sometimes, when a particularly imbecile article is doing spectacularly badly, Seaton will step into the fray to save the day and the reputation of The Guardian, or so he thinks.

From the sidelines, it looks like someone strutting into the room to parade their ignorance like a trail of soiled and smeared lavatory paper protruding from their trouser leg and clinging to their shoes.

This is Seaton's little star turn: displaying an aggressive social ineptness at the same time as breaking most of the community guidelines in one or two clumsy and meaningless sentences.

At the moment, occasionally checking on CiF is like watching a discarded bag of improbably-coloured boiled sweets melt into a soft, sticky clump in the sunshine. No bang and no whimper as they simply ooze and cling together in a welded knot of sickliness.

Anything more spectacular, though, would probably be like a small explosion in a marshmallow factory - all soft, inoffensive and unmemorable colours and the substance of a damp cloud mixed with the spittle and sputum of a right-on, outraged hissy-fit.

So, if anyone should read this and if they have also seen evidence that Matt Seaton ever managed to address the moderation scandal of Comment is Free, perhaps they could let me know.

Otherwise, it is probably safe to assume that the fantasy land of CiF has reverted to abusing and making fools of those who keep it propped up with free content and the mutually idiotic symbiosis continues.

PS The reason for not doing much here is that I am doing stuff elsewhere. More in due course.

Friday, 19 March 2010

The Moderation Will Not Be Criticized

Hurrah! We can all now have absolute faith in the moderation at CiF because Matt Seaton says that it looks like its broken - but it will not be mended. So there.

Here is Seaton's comment, which shows to the full the capabilities of his keen analytical mind:


18 Mar 2010, 7:07PM

@ MozP:

Sorry for delay; thanks for your patience. I'm not going to give immediate gratification here, because you referred me to this post:

13 Mar 2010, 12:50PM
As for moderation on fem threads, well, i've had more deletions than hot dinners, most of them overtly partisan. In one post (notable only because they actually explained the deletion to me) i spoke of how elements of feminism care little for "equality" but rather special pleading and rights grabbing for women, to elevate women to superiority without any regard to equality at all. I made the effort to make clear it was elements of feminism i was speaking about, not the whole movement, i cant remember the thread but in the context of the debate it was very measured.
So shocked was I by the deletion of my effort that i emailed for explanation, and got a rare response.
"The comment was removed as the implication that feminists are predominantly concerned with women's superiority over men was considered offensive." (quoted from their email)
Thats political censorship, no ifs and buts. There was no abuse in the comment, nothing off topic, nothing ad-hom, nothing but a view on a political (and very diverse) movement. And they deleted it. Not only is this political, partisan censorship (not "moderation", its censorship) but they actually admitted as much.
Imagine being deleted for implying conservatism was for the rich, or Labour for the rich, or secularism being concerned with X, or liberalism being concerned with Y. Thats political censorship.
There is no other political ideology/movement that is deemed so sacrosanct that non abusive criticism is "offensive".
I have also spent two spells in premod for discussing moderation. Question our censorship and we'll put you in premod. Nice.

The way JayReilly presents it, and makes his counter-argument against the mod's explanation, any impartial reader taking his account at face value would have to agree that the deletion decision looks dubious at best.

But, not that I don't trust JayReilly, but he is the polemicist's polemicist, as we all well know, so I'd need the full picture before pronouncing on the case and finding for or against. I'd need a link to the deletion referred to; to look at the precise content of that deleted comment; to examine the thread context; to discover whether, as the mod who corresponded with JR implies, there were independent abuse reports that led to a modding decision to delete; to see the full explanation from the mod, if JR is quoting only part of it.

Also, JR says his tone was beyond reproach, but he may not be the best judge of that: a reasonable argument can be interpreted as offensive if its language and tone are hostile and angry. Further, threads where the debate is about feminism/equality often have an edge of male anger against perceived feminist bossiness and self-righteousness that many female users find off-putting and borderline misogynist. I'm not suggesting that JR was guilty of that or a perpetrator in that regard; but it is part of the context in which mods have to judge what is offensive or abusive.

I am aware that this may just look like just so much obfuscation and flannelling on my part. But I'm not trying to duck the issue or be defensive. If you or JR will send me the link I need so I can locate that specific thread and deletion, I will follow through. And I don't rule out the possibility that our modding was trigger-happy on this occasion. I would never say it never happens, so if I'm directed to a specific instance where we got it wrong, then I'll hold up my hand and admit it.

But please understand that one such admission would not amount to a concession that the entire system is biased, arbitrary and effectively broken. That's not where we're headed with this, so please don't imagine otherwise.

Even on a thread which is conveniently derelict and dead, someone's keen sense of smell sniffs a stink.


19 Mar 2010, 11:12AM

Matt Seaton said:

But please understand that one such admission would not amount to a concession that the entire system is biased, arbitrary and effectively broken. That's not where we're headed with this, so please don't imagine otherwise

I'm a bit confused by this.

if we look at what has happened it's all started as many, many posters say they are unhappy with the moderation policy.
Matt S believes fundamentally that everything is in order. He agrees to review one case.
Superficially looking at the case it appears to be censorship by the moderators due to their own political beliefs.
Matt acknowledges it looks bad but says he needs more details - fair enough.

However, he then says even if it's proven to be censorship it's just a one-off because everything is wonderful. QED

Matt - seriously. How do you want posters to say to you that the moderation policy is being affected by political censorship? You refuse to investigate in case you find you have an issue. Considering the importance of this - it's to the core of free speech - I think the majority of people have been polite and calm.

So, what exactly would you like posters to do ?

It would seem that the problem might be that CiF is so used to deleting things which it just doesn't like and censoring opinions which do not match the ideology of the site that it never crossed the collective mind, throbbing in CiF Towers, that once this can of worms was spilled over the pages for all to see, it could not just be made to disappear as if by magic.

Still, no doubt the line of defence trotted out by Seaton will be accepted by everyone in the end:

You have proved that moderation on The Guardian's flagship internet site, CiF may be arbitrary, malicious, ideologically and politically motivated, completely disconnected from the stated community guidelines and possibly employed by moderators to pursue their own personal agendas - but we can promise that we are not going to do anything about it whatsoever.

Three cheers for Seaton for once again showing the brainlessness which seems to be a condition of employment by CiF and the monumental disregard and contempt CiF has for all those BTL who provide daily deluges of free content, without which Guardian Media Group would be losing even more money.


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Matt Seaton: Moderators Cannot Be Wrong

Matt Seaton declares that there can be nothing wrong with the moderation on CiF, for the simple reason that the moderators are exemplary in everything and not to be questioned. 

"...I'm not willing to debate alleged political bias on the part of moderators, because their political impartiality is simply a given." 

We can all sleep soundly now we know that there is nothing wrong with moderation - because the people who do it are perfect.

Ahh, bless!

The Seaton comment:

@ MozP:

OK, how about unaccountable, politically motivated and inconsistent with anything in the Community Guidelines.

Why won't you debate this topic? Why won't you discuss individual complaints. Why is the moderators@ email address pretty much ignored? Why are you so scared to address the issue? Both you and Georgina run away as soon as the issue is mentioned. Stop it. Do your sodding job properly.

Hi MozP. Can I ask you something: would you speak to someone face to face in that fashion if you want them to do something?

Putting that aside, the general point is that I'm not willing to debate alleged political bias on the part of moderators, because their political impartiality is simply a given. It would be a disciplinary matter if a moderator was acting on a partisan ideological basis. And that would be incredibly stupid, too, because it would be rankly obvious within the first 15 minutes.

As for individual complaints, I assume you mean over deleted posts. This is where we all have to be realistic: this site generates thousands of comments every day. Moderators are having to make hundreds of judgments about deletions every shift. They are under considerable pressure. Is their judgment flawless in every case? It can't be. But neither will it be grossly wrong; and looked at in aggregate, over time, it will be fair and reasonable. We invite appeals by email, and guarantee that all are read, but the sheer scale of the enterprise means that there cannot be a judicial process for every deleted comment as of right for users. My general advice is if you get a comment deleted, you probably have a good idea why, so move on.

But you know what? Since I'm here adddressing this now, why don't you give me a specific instance and I'll look into it? That's a one-off offer for this day only. Tomorrow, I'm going to run away again and hide behind the moderators.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Steve Hill Sees CiF's Future

SteveHill has this to say about the moderation policy on CiF, which seems to be getting more infamous by the moment.


16 Mar 2010, 6:02PM


stevehill: of course it doesn't say that in the community standards, and of course LS wouldn't have been moderated for disagreeing with the writer - every day, on hundreds of threads, people are disagreeing with AT writers on Cif. It's how you say it.

Georgina: I've queried three moderation decisions in the last few weeks where I know I have breached no community standards, and my only crime has been to take a contrarian view to somebody else. And maybe that someone has been more "politically correct".

None of my emails ever received anything but an automated "we're all very busy we'll get round to you" response, but look them up if you wish (I assume you can).

I am forced to the conclusion that the faceless moderators are superimposing personal agendas onto their work and are not acting impartially but are effectively taking sides in arguments.

If you think what is happening is wholly in accordance with community standards, then the standards themselves are an ass.

CiF is treating not just Lord S, but the entire community, with contempt. The respect for "free" speech is just risible: the very name CiF is considered by many to be wholly satirical.

And there's only one way your organisation is headed once you become widely known for treating your own forum members contemptuously.

Monsieur le Jongleur Banned

I had resigned from CiF but noticed that both MontanaWildhack and 13thDukeofWybourne had popped back to make a parting shot after the WADDYA thread had descended into a type of striptease tableau in which the editors and moderators finally stood around in the nakedness of their own idiocy.

I was going to post what follows, but found that I have now been banned. So I couldn't.

Since both 13thDukeofWybourne and MontanaWildhack have come back to make comments about the circus which CiF has become, I will allow myself the same privilege.

The point is that it is now clear for everyone to see that the moderation exercised in practice has no relationship to the stated policy.

It is also clear that there is an ideological stance which is maintained by deleting and censoring anyone who does not toe the line.

There may be enough people who will keep commenting on CiF who are not bothered about principles - or as flexible about how one principle can be subverted to accommodate another - as the editorial and moderation teams.

Perhaps, though, this episode will make some of the people who thought that others who made an issue of moderation were simply grizzling because they had been deleted (fairly, of course, in their eyes) wonder whether a site which would proclaim the value of freedom of speech in one breath while gagging those who seek to exercise it in another is really something of which to be a part.

I do not want to be soiled by being associated with a site like this or with people who cannot see the squalor of the moral quagmire into which they jump when they give it tacit approval by fostering it and aiding and abetting its filthy intentions.

If there is a full, open and honest debate which allows the people below the line who contribute free content to discuss how moderation and ideology should operate, I will reconsider this matter.

Otherwise, I want no part of a site which can so proudly and idiotically parade its moral slovenliness and contempt for its users.

13th Duke of Wybourne Smoking Gun

Another page in the CiF catalogue of failure. This on The Untrusted from 13thDukeofWybourne:

I just received an email from cif moderation saying the reason my comment was modded from the QT thread last week was because (quote):

"It seems likely that the comment was removed as it was considered offensive in the context of the thread."

Two things stand out here:

1. The word "likely"- which means that there is no communication between mods and those emailing posters that have a modding complaint. The left hand mod does not know what the right hand mod is doing. Clearly there is no proper modding procedure.

2. Political- if my comment was removed as is "likely" as it was "deemed offensive", it is quite clear here that we have censorious, political modding on certain threads which again is against the modding guidelines.

If anyone saw my original comment, no-one could be offended by it, except for the most fundamentalist radfem. Which makes me suspicious that certain threads have specialist mods.

If the person emailing me doesn't know why I was modded the whole modding procedure is a sham.

And if LordS has been banned- complete shambles.
16 March, 2010 09:30

Lord Summerisle Banned from CiF

This posted on The Untrusted, but no doubt there will be more in due course.

Lord Summerisle said...

Hi all. I can't hang around long as I'm at work and this site can be problematic. I just wanted to tell you that the mods, in their infinite and most glorious wisdom, have banned me. That's all I have to say for now.
16 March, 2010 09:04

This is shaping up to be a glorious 4th birthday for CiF.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

JayReilly and the Smoking CiF Censorship Gun

JayReilly posts this over on The Guardian's Comment is Free Waddya thread. It pretty much confirms what we have all known for a very long time: The Guardian employs censorship to control the message it broadcasts from its supposedly free and open blogs and comment sections.

Interesting debate. Smellthecofee - when was it exactly the UT lynch mob came for you? I dont recall it, not doubting your heroics would just be interested to read the details. I dont think i've ever been rude to you before at all. Which misogynists are you referring to? The UT is i think actually mostly female posters, 100% of whom are feminists.

Very sad news, the Duke's passing. He is also leaving the country soon, and has just written an excellent piece at the UT on Adam Smith. Since he is leaving CiF and the country and is a very widely liked poster here maybe the Graun could publish his article here (its better than most of the stuff published here anyway).

As for moderation on fem threads, well, i've had more deletions than hot dinners, most of them overtly partisan. In one post (notable only because they actually explained the deletion to me) i spoke of how elements of feminism care little for "equality" but rather special pleading and rights grabbing for women, to elevate women to superiority without any regard to equality at all. I made the effort to make clear it was elements of feminism i was speaking about, not the whole movement, i cant remember the thread but in the context of the debate it was very measured.

So shocked was I by the deletion of my effort that i emailed for explanation, and got a rare response.

"The comment was removed as the implication that feminists are predominantly concerned with women's superiority over men was considered offensive." (quoted from their email)

Thats political censorship, no ifs and buts.
There was no abuse in the comment, nothing off topic, nothing ad-hom, nothing but a view on a political (and very diverse) movement. And they deleted it. Not only is this political, partisan censorship (not "moderation", its censorship) but they actually admitted as much.

Imagine being deleted for implying conservatism was for the rich, or Labour for the rich, or secularism being concerned with X, or liberalism being concerned with Y. Thats political censorship.

There is no other political ideology/movement that is deemed so sacrosanct that non abusive criticism is "offensive".

I have also spent two spells in premod for discussing moderation. Question our censorship and we'll put you in premod. Nice.

Atomboy's Resignation Letter

It seems that various people are abandoning the good sinking CiF ship.

I had certainly not intended to come back here to comment and am doing so now simply to add my name to the list, along with 13thDukeofWybourne (noted by chekhov) and MontanaWildhack.

There may be others but I think chekhov is right about Wybourne - although it is his choice entirely and we may both be wrong - and Montana has made her own declaration.

When we had the great moderation debate around the banning of JayReilly and many others, I felt that we were allowed to speak and then told what we were going to get.

We have had a number of people recently questioning the vast discrepancy between the stated moderation policy and the way it is actually seen to operate. There are many people who seem to think this is just sour grapes or sporadic fits of pique and not a matter of principle which is central to how a site like this operates. That is their choice or their lack of perception and they are welcome to whatever positions they occupy.

Georgina recently wrote a piece celebrating CiF's forth birthday. Perhaps those of us who brought up the moderation question were simply regarded as churlish and bad-mannered spoilsports to ruin the party, but the question was raised and again left unanswered.

As long as the moderation remains inconsistent, apparently malicious, apparently operating to an agenda outside the stated community guidelines, apparently motivated by each moderator's own prejudices and feuds and as long as this apparently officially sanctioned hidden set of rules operate as a form of censorship and crowd-control, why would anyone want to be part of CiF?

During the moderation debate mentioned above, many people, including MrPikeBishop said that they regarded CiF as a community. MrPikeBishop said that he regarded many of his fellow posters as friends. The official line tended to seem to want to play that down.

A community is more able to be flexible and accommodating to foibles and mishaps and allowing its members to stray from the accepted line. If CiF is not that, it is simply some kind of moderately open forum for debate and it will only have credibility if it can be seen to be operating to guidelines which are both acceptable and consistent. It is failing to do that.

Whether or not you like the editorial style or the people chosen to write or the apparent use of the site as a propaganda machine or sounding-board by politicians are all separate issues.

At the moment, CiF seems to be like an incompetent parent. It wants to be firm and consistent, but by the time it has been on the bottle for half the day and is becoming frazzled, bedraggled and at its paranoid wits' end, it simply lashes out and keeps forever proving itself unable to master the task.

Anyone who chooses to walk away from CiF knows very well that they will not leave a ripple and will not really be missed.

You simply get to the stage where you also know that you will really not miss CiF.

So, given the context of the other farewell letters and news above, this is me signing off and walking away, in all my various and mutating instars and avatars.


The Power of One

A comment on Georgina Henry's announcement that the world should celebrate the unadulterated wonderfulness of CiF.


"So the least worst option is to keep comments open but remove those that breach the talk policy."

This would be all well and good were it true.

The fact is that we all see comments being deleted which we know have contravened nothing and would not upset the composure of an elderly maiden aunt.

What we seem to see is moderators operating without control to their own agenda and personal prejudices.

If you think that enhances the user experience and engenders loyalty and increases the credibility of The Guardian, all well and good.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with being in a minority of one.

Celebrate CiF's Fourth Birthday

Georgina Henry, the Executive Comment Editor (apparently) at The Guardian asked us all to join in the celebrations for CiF achieving the grand old age of four.

"Comment is free celebrates its fourth birthday next week, which in internet years is practically geriatric", she said.

Amongst all the non-existent party food and fizzy drinks, there was a sour note, however.

Speedkermit had this to say, first quoting Henry's lopsided view:

Bit by bit, this is helping us build a community that spends less time discussing our commissioning flaws and moderation practices and more time contributing positively.

That's very dismissive of genuine grievances. It also betrays the sad-assed truth that what counts as 'contributing positively' on CiF is whatever the moderators say it is on any given day. The most damaging aspect of this policy is that when you invite commentators such as Alistair Campbell, Peter Mandelson or David Cameron to write disingenuous electioneering pieces - with the inevitable result that they are met with a barrage of vitriolic abuse - that you feel obliged to censor the bile according to your own subjective preferences and give the appearance of being insufferably partisan. It doesn't do you any favours at all. At the risk of being moderated, the moderation policy on this site is a farce. Sorry I can't be more 'positive'.


It seems that some people just cannot help spoiling a party, even when the whole point of the party is to pretend to the world that there is nothing wrong.