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Over the last couple of months we’ve made some additions to the comments policy.  Check it out.

While we’re on the subject, there have been some guerrilla efforts to moderate threads through chastising of trolls and/or complaining about the comment policy.  There are currently three people (John, Ben, and me) who have moderating authority and I’d appreciate it if you left it to us.  If you think someone is trolling the best response is to not feed them. This is well-established internet practice and makes it easier for us to clean up the thread if it’s needed.  More below the jump.

The objective of the comments policy is to allow sober discussion of whatever issue is at hand.  That may be a really broad issue like why transit is good, or it might be an exceedingly narrow one about wrapping ORCA in tinfoil, or which alignment is best for a streetcar.  It is impossible to have such a discussion if  (1) people are getting personal, or (2) threads about micro subjects are constantly hijacked into whatever big-picture debates people want to have.

If you think transit is socialism, or trains have no place in the Puget Sound, or that Sound Transit is a den of incompetents and thieves, this is going to be a pretty tough place for you to hang out unless you can set that aside and discuss the topic at hand.  You’re welcome to stick around, or only read the posts about Metro cuts or what have you.  It’d be nice; a comment thread is pretty useless if I get nothing but attaboys.

On a related note, people have occasionally asked for a forum.  As editor-in-chief, my position is that it’s challenging enough to get a bunch of volunteers to generate content to keep the blog going; setting a forum up (to say nothing of moderating it) is simply not in the cards.  However, when we get email about it I reply that if someone is interested in doing that work we’d be willing to discuss branding, hosting, and other technical issues, at which point the interest usually stops.  However, we do have open threads to address whatever you’d like.

33 Replies to “Comments on Comments”

    1. What makes this blog so much more useful than those on say the PI or Seattle Times (or just about anywhere else) is that there is a strict moderating policy. Lately it seems that some of the trolls that have destroyed those other forums have been migrating here in a quest for new ground to spoil, but I suspect they will go away once they realize that their comments can, and will, be deleted.

      I applaud the strict comment policy – keep it up. A blog of this standard is a good thing.

      Per a forum, I think the Open Threads serve that purpose adequately (at least for now).

      1. It also helps that this blog has a fraction of the readership and is fairly self-moderated though the content and its title “…TRANSIT BLOG”.

    1. And that’s why I’m asking for the comment vigilantes (or “barnacles” as you call them) to please stop, and I’ll moderate them if they don’t.

  1. 2 points; well 3 if you count that I love the blog and it’s content.
    1. I try to edit as much as I can but sometimes when it shows up, it has pretty obvious typos in it. Anyway, any chance adding an edit key, or preview key?
    2. I see people ‘jazzing up’ their posts with the html codes below, or links to other posts, or graphs and pictures. I can barely use bold and italics. Anyway can you have a weekend post on how to use the codes listed below the comment box?
    Keep up the good work.

    1. I second the motion to provide an editing feature. Sometimes we press the “Add comment” button just as we realize something is wrong with our post.

      1. Edit or preview would be WordPress features. (That’s the blog software that STB runs.) Also, the latest versions of most web browsers will spellcheck textareas like this one, but not grammar unfortunately. It’s a great idea, though, and a quick search found this:

        Learning the HTML codes is easier. Search for a WordPress demo to mess around with the HTML or try this one:

        Any decent HTML tutorial will also show you what em, strike, strong, and so on mean. I’ve never used q or del though.

        Also, thanks very much for the moderation and volunteer work, Martin!

    2. for links … just paste the URL … although if you have multiple links your post may get flagged for manual moderation

    3. Excellent point about editing! I too have frequently posted and as I don’t see very well, I can sometimes look back and see horrendous typos I have made. Either that, or we sometimes, all get so steamed up that we posted without adequate review of our thoughts.

      1. Although in this case, one can note that the view out of the window of that Streetcar doesn’t exist anymore. It’s looking north towards the old Waterfront Streetcar car barn, with the BN tracks curving up to the right. Now occupied by the SAM sculpture park.

  2. Thanks Martin – I too have noticed that there have been a few brawls lately between some commenters. I have also noticed that with the Seattle Times and PI blogs, that there is very little moderating going on. In one post, Governor Gregoire was denounced as both Queen Gregoire and an idiot. This was on the PI and I actually complained that this was an Ad Hominem attack on the governor.

  3. I actually complained that this was an Ad Hominem attack on the governor.

    LOL. Good luck with that. The Times Comments sections have become wingnut central. Even their self-moderation system (the “thumbs down”) system is out of wack, as it allows those with a particular POV to shut down others fast.

    Ugly place, that.

  4. If you think transit is socialism, or trains have no place in the Puget Sound, or that Sound Transit is a den of incompetents and thieves, this is going to be a pretty tough place for you to hang out

    I haven’t found it that tough :=

    Seriously, a preview feature would be great. I thank you for on occasion fixing some of my obvious format screw-up errors. One other thing is that the “view comments” and the actual comments display somewhat different. Not suggesting that any sort of fix is needed but because of the difference it’s harder to make comments look coherant in both context.

    1. Yeh, I’ve even resorted to posting to a really ‘dead’ thread over a year old, just so I can see how it’s going to look when posted. That’s the only edit feature I can rely on now.

    2. Bernie,

      I know you’re half-joking, but the fact is that you fit the other part of that quote to a T — you’re totally able to set some larger issues aside and crawl into the weeds of whatever issue is at hand.

  5. Truthfully, my biggest frustration here is that the comments are threaded. It makes it nearly impossible to easily find the new posts in a heated discussion (using the Recent Comments RSS feed doesn’t work very well either because the discussions here have gotten so busy you miss a lot of comments by just looking at the RSS, which only holds a limited number. I remember a discussion a week or so ago when that RSS feed was only holding about an hour or so’s worth of comments because people were posting so frequently). You end up scrolling down each post’s page scanning for new comments in all the different threads and it’s easy to miss stuff. If the comments weren’t threaded, you could just look at the bottom of the page to see what was new, and it would be much faster.

    Ideally I’d like a way to be able to see instantly where ALL the new comments are. I suppose there might be a WordPress plug-in to make it easier, but I don’t know. Losing the threading would help, though I know some people probably love it. (Bah. I hate it. It just makes it too hard to find the newest comments, and so some conversations die before their time.)

    1. I disagree, I really like threaded comments I think it is the only way to keep things sane in long comment threads. With linear comment threads people tend to only comment on the last few comments and you have to decode a bit if there is more than one conversation happening at the same time.

      The issue with the RSS comment feed can be solved by using an RSS reader. I use Google reader and have no problem catching up when I miss a day or two even when the comments have been very active.

      Perhaps a way to keep everyone happy would be to offer a non-threaded view of the comments. I don’t know if there is a WP module for this (switching comment styles on the fly) but I bet there is.

      1. I don’t know if WP has that functionality either, but I’d be all for it. I would choose the flat view in a second — I hate threaded comments in other forums, too, but in this one it’s become particularly annoying. Linear discussions do have some advantages. In threaded forums you get the situation where people reply to a thread near the top of the page that has already been thoroughly discussed further down the page. Ugh.

        I don’t really find it difficult to follow multiple conversations in a linear discussion, but then again, I’ve been running a bbs that operates that way for 19 years now. (telnet:// for some old school BBSing.) :)

    2. I’ve lately taken to searching through the page for date or date+hour to look for new content.

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