Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Comment moderation - To hell with going to hell

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"If I am going to hell, my blog is coming with me"

Several friends of mine who have read my blog asked me to disable comment moderation. Well, for two reasons - One, they find it annoying for having had to wait to see it get posted, because in cases of debates and discussions, it slows it up to the time when I come online and approve it, and in the meanwhile, other people who could have probably replied to that, won't be able to, because they may not come to read the comments again later and there is an opportunity lost. The second one is errrrr.... in case I die. No no, I am not just saying it. This was something that was told to me.

Well, so why don't I have comment moderation turned on? Long long ago, I had written a blog entry that was a rather interesting one. Let me summarise it for you. There was apparently a man called Michael Thevar, who had gone through a lot of trouble in his childhood days, being born a Dalit. (Dalit Christian I suppose) He used to walk a lot, barefoot, to study, and he knew the difficulties of poverty. Years later, Michael became successful, and he didn't want people to suffer like him. So, he started giving jobs to poor Dalit people only. This article came on Times Of India. So, I wrote a mail to the editor of TOI, asking them if it was fair on the part of such a famous newspaper to recklessly praise a person who is giving jobs to poor Dalit people instead of poor people. As usual, TOI didn't bother replying to me.

So, I did what was in my power - I blogged. I wrote an article, with questions asking if it was right on his part to increase the division by supporting one group and not another. The reason is that a person who is poor, is poor despite his caste. Giving jobs to poor people should have been the focus, and giving jobs to poor people based on caste, doesn't seem fair. Then, all was forgotten.

Some time later, I received a mail from Mr. Michael Thevar himself - Well, he said that he was considering legal action against me. Now, this was interesting. I asked him why? He said because of the comments in my blog. I was surprised. What comments? I went to that post, and saw two anonymous comments that were strongly criticising him, accusing him of doing underhanded things. This was news to me. While my post strictly restricted to improper division of jobs based on caste, I said nothing against him at a personal level (How could I? I don't even know him personally)

So, I wrote back to Mr. Thevar apologising to him for the comments (my fault? We shall see) and deleted the comments. I immediately turned on Comment Moderation and started scanning through every post. I also wrote back to Michael saying that the comments were deleted, but that I still stood firmly by the idea behind the post; that caste based jobs is something that I am strongly against. Michael sent back a mail thanking me for being a responsible blogger and assured me that he gives jobs to poor people irrespective of caste. And then, I had to delete the post because if that was a fact, there is no point in me attacking Mr. Thevar... I have no means of verifying facts, but I simply believed him.

Now, this brings us to some very important points.
It shows that even a random guy like me writing random things on my blog, gets picked up by other people. And, I got a response for my query. Michael himself answered my question. This shows the power of blogging and media (even you can do be heard, even if a media biggie like TOI doesn't support you)

Secondly, it shows you the ill effects of not having your blog moderated. This can be easily taken as some kind of character assassination.

Thirdly, if you think you can dismiss this saying pish-tosh wait till you read that article where a Keralite blogger was sued by the Shiv Sena youth wing for writing something against Shiv Sena. And the Shiv Sena won the court case - that's right! Legally... For not moderating comments.

So, my advice to all you guys out there blogging - Be a responsible blogger. Writing disclaimers is not going to protect you legally (Keralite blogger tried that). Saying "Freedom of expression" is not going to help you either (Keralite blogger tried that as well). You are responsible for all the content on your blog.

***
Comments from Facebook

Sangamesh Mise: Ur take on comment moderation on fb..?

Nikhil Baliga: Facebook in a way is really a close knit society as only people you know more or less are allowed to comment... with good privacy settings, you are relatively safer. Plus you have notifications. So, it is better

Sangamesh Mise: So u'r willing to shoulder the responsibility of what the peopl in dis supposedly closed knit group comment..?
It was u who highlighted only a few days ago, that frens on fb only means they r frens with some of ur frens..in essence they r frens of frens..in due course, u'l hav peopl who r frens of frens of frens of frens upto n times..wil u stil take d responsibilty.. On the other hand peopl who read ur blogs r those who hav been drawn towards ur blog by a certain intellectual need.. I feel blog readers are more responsibl with their comments than people on fb..

Nikhil Baliga: Few days back? You mean the social experiment thing? :P Ok, good point there - I am saying that people on facebook are not anonymous. Instead, they have a unique identity as their profile is like their virtual presence on the net. Banning a guy once is banning him for good. On a blog, he can comment n times as anonymous unless you prevent anonymous comments.

Things that happen on facebook, no matter what comment on which thread, are notified to you immediately. A blog without moderation means, a comment update in some age old post simply goes unnoticed without moderation.

With facebook, a person cannot comment unless you let him do that - You can do that with a blog, but you will restrict viewership to a closed group, which is not much of a blog, unless you are some exclusive club. Facebook offers way higher control on things that can be posted with privacy settings. So, unless the nth guy becomes your friend, he cannot post, unless my privacy settings are like that...

Regarding blog readers being more responsible, I will say "No comments" :P I have seen all kinds of comments everywhere, so I think they are all the same.

2 comments:

bhatia said...

sorry to spoil your party..but apart from the keralite blogger case have you done further research on this or did you simply believe again? :P

Also..2 to 3 mistakes/slip ups in this post..wrote from your cell? :P

Nik said...

Keralite blogger thing is something that I read myself in the newspaper - Why would he tell me that? :P besides, the Keralite incident happened a long time after Michael Thevar replying, me turning on comment moderation and putting up a disclaimer... and then I came to know that disclaimers are pointless.

Not cell, I was typing fast and some words got skipped