Comment Management Responsibility – Concerns

I thought up a number of concerns with CommResp; I may add to this list.

Why bother? Can't commenting policies be written in plain English, or just applied ad hoc?

The articulation CommResp is intended to serve two purposes. One, to serve publishers and readers in directly communicating what rules apply. But more importantly, it should suggest the realm of possibilities for what rules there can be.

Why would people visit a credit-card verified site? Doesn't conventional wisdom suggest that the less barriers to submitting comments (e.g. credit cart registration), the more people will participate?

The average blogger may wish to attract more comments to build a community. But most people participate in communities which are already large– those run in the public interest by media sites, and those run by a community of practice (professional organizations, religious organizations, schools, etc.) These organizations already have a contract with its users– each of whom subscribes or pays membership fees, and thus has a credit card on file.

Consider The New Republic: its TalkBack feature is limited to paying subscribers only. Yet it persists as an anonymous playground. Last September, after it was learned that culture editor Lee Siegel had manufactured comments in his TNR blog, editor Franklin Foer asked whether comments should stay anonymous. Most of the anonymous users voted for continued anonymity. I had argued instead (post #306) that TNR pursue the "Solomonic" choice of creating parallel forums: one for posters using pseudonyms, and one for people. It seemed to me that the a forum of real identities would be more focused and constructive, and be more amenable to the editors.

Isn't there any value to anonymous comments– as enabled by the Internet?

Nothing in CommResp will prevent the ability of people to communicate anonymously. This is especially important in support communities as well as in non-democratic societies, where a genuine fear of exposure can dampen free exchange of ideas.

Doesn't comment moderation by the publisher enjoin a legal culpability?

I'm not a lawyer, but I understand that this sometimes has been an issue for online newspapers (I cannot find an article on this presently), and this is sometimes justified no moderation at all. This is bad for everybody.  [My indefatigable colleague og blog research Tristan Louis pointed to a Slashdot story of Traffic Power's lawsuit of Aaron Wall about comments in a comment section, but apparently it was dismissed.]

My job is actually writing compliance software. The software enables companies to align their business controls and procedures to control frameworks like COBIT. Using a control framework is a way for a business to better manage risks. It's that simple.

What good is a Terms of Service if it isn't enforced by the site? Or audited by a third party?

I was an active member with online community for the Radio Open Source for some time last year, and it was clear we needed a code– first called the Rules of Engagement (subsequently later softened to Terms of Endearment). For a time afterwards, the moderators couldn't keep up with the offenders, so it it was a bit disheartening.

I should add to CommResp this tracking aspect. Good commenting system should have flagging capabilities– such that users can point to specific principles in the CommResp policy.

Does CommResp obviate the need for self-governance (peer to peer)?

Not at all. There's a wide spectrum of community posts (not to mention sanctioned articles) which may be offensive but not meriting any sort of censorship or suspension. Effective feedback is necessary.Tim O'Reilly suggested a "Slashdot-style" moderation, which had encouraged me to first articulate ViewPoints six years ago, and implement them into Drupal three years ago. (You just have to login below to use them).