This blog: operational issues

Many thanks to all those who have been contributing and commenting on this site.   A few notes:

  • First-time commentators are held in the ‘moderation’ queue – while this is cleared fairly rapidly, please be patient if there is a delay
  • On occasion, a comment from even regular contributors gets sent to the SPAM queue. We also clear this quite rapidly but there is no need to re-post your comment if it is does not automatically appear: please be patient
  • The aim of this blog is to promote intelligent discourse on the Irish economy.  Please refrain from comments that digress too far from this goal.

Many thanks, Philip Lane

9 replies on “This blog: operational issues”

Can I add a few other clarifications and suggestions, so as to put all of these in a one-stop shop?

1. Contrary to some of the statements made on the blog, this is a moderated blog. In addition to some sort of “moderation” filter, all comments are sent via email to the original contributor of the post and they have the option of deleting it at that point.

2. Some posts get caught longer in the mysterious moderation filter than others. Do not send the post again. It will just show up multiple times when the post is cleared. One thing that I know gets you sent to the “moderation zone” is posts with multiple web links.

3. Writers of posts also have the ability to edit comments on posts they write. So sorry guys, yes, we the contributors have access to the edit feature so many of you long for!

4. I think what people mean by unmoderated is that academics don’t have the time to go through large amounts of comments and check them all. So the onus is on commentators to stick within the bounds of reasonable discourse. If I have to spend lots of time moderating comments, I just won’t contribute.

5. Commenters should be aware the the contributors of the blog post can see the email address that you have given. They can also see your IP address. Sometimes this just is a string of numbers. Sometimes it clearly includes the name of your employer’s network. Hopefully, this isn’t a problem for most people, and I can assure you that all contributors here would treat such information with the utmost discretion. Still, you should be aware the of limits of anonymity that prevail here.

6. Delaney’s Law: If you are using a pseudonym, can you pick one that isn’t going to be mixed up with our regular contributors?

7. No Hitler\Third Reich analogies. I thought Godwin’s Law was a joke but based on some recent comments, I’m not so sure now.

And thanks for contributing. Your contributions and the debates that they provoke make the site for more informative than it would be if it were comment-free and, of course, more fun.

Karl, I am one of the people who used the phrase unmoderated. My point in doing this is to emphasise that while Philip has done us all a huge service in lending his credibility to launching such a national forum, it is not his responsibility what people comment and it should never be seen as such. I accept your point that post contributors can delete comments if they wish. I think your formulation whereby each contributor is essentially the “moderator light” of their own post is a good one.

I agree with Richard. I think anyone who tries cheap tricks like this should be told to sling their hook ideally. This is the main problem with the anonymity issue. Most of the people who comment here anonymously do say quite fairly and probably would not be able to comment if they had to reveal their identity. I am personally in favour of a system whereby people can comment under a pseudonym provided it is clear that they are not someone else. But as highlighted in other posts, this can sometimes raise issues such as direct attempts to discredit people unfairly by anonymous people for unknown reasons. Some of these issues dont matter for a specialist blog but a blog like this that now has nearly 4,000 readers a day and growing and also spills directly into the media debate will have to watch this.

Not sure if this is the correct post for a suggestion but can’t see anywhere else.

Sometimes a post can generate an interesting debate for a few days only for the it to disappear down the site. The debate just stops abruptly as people forget about it and move on to the next posts.
Would it be possible to consider a slight site redesign so that older posts are easier to access when more could be said about a particular post.

@ Philip

I would go beyond Richard’s point and say that those hiding behind anonymity using pseudonyms degrade the integrity of any debate. The purpose of this blog (as I see it) is meaningful debate, information sharing and constructive criticism – with the operative word being constructive.

If a person just wants to vent their frustration, then there are many blogs where they can do that using ridiculous handles.

Given that the media, politicians and the wider public peruse this site for ideas and feedback on important topics, you may want to consider a rules based approach, starting with full name (forename + surname) and keep a log of IP addresses just as the online newspapers do.

It is too simple to say that “those hiding behind anonymity using pseudonyms degrade the integrity of any debate”.

IMO, some of those using pseudonyms do so for good reasons eg. different views than the organisations that employ them. Furthermore, they may actually be able to suggest lines of investigation/debate precisely because of their positions.
This promotes your description of the purpose of this blog.

We need some perspective on this. We are only 4m people in this Republic. To work our way out of this current crisis, we need all the information sharing and debate we can muster, regardless of whether people take part anonymously or where they live and work. There is more need for a clash of minds than there for stifling debate by asking every contributor to declare their identity in full.

As in any public debate, there will be difficulties on this issue, if only because Irish economy is more than economics, as professed. Any persistent abuse of anonymity can be checked by Philip and those posting threads.

On a different point, I am wary of the phrase “constructive criticism.” It seems to imply that the critic must work within the parameters set down by the ideas/persons/institutions being criticised.
We do not apply this, as a sine qua non, in other spheres where we accept the social role of the critic eg. reviews of books, films, sports events, whatever. The social role of the unconstructive critic is to point out that something is not working or that he/she does not understand how it is meant to work.

As Pericles of Athens put it “Although only a few may originate a policy, we are all able to judge it.”

It would a shame if this site becomes limited, in its capacity to provide us with the means of judging policies. Not all of us have the insight, experience or skills to formulate the kinds of policies debated here or the means to implement them consistently and systematically.

Whatever new rules, if any, are drawn up, let them be applied imaginatively. Otherwise, we will be faced with poorer options for the Irish economy. This would surely be a retrograde step for this site.

Again I quote Roy Campbell’s comments on some South African liberals

“You praise the firm restraint with which they write
I am with there of source;
They use the snaffle and the curb, all right.
But where’s the bloody horse?”

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