Thursday, April 12, 2007

Should The Blogosphere Be Forced to Become More Civil?

There is a debate brewing in the blogosphere over the whether it is possible or even desirable to adopt a blogger's code of conduct in the hopes of creating a greater atmosphere of civility. The point of contention seems to be what to do with the Comments section that most blogs have (including this one). As anyone who reads blogs knows, it is not uncommon for rather nasty, sometimes even abusive comments to be posted in such sections. Are bloggers responsible to remove such comments, to make sure that such comments are not posted to begin with, or should the inherent libertarian nature of the Internet dictate that such posts be left posted in the hopes that such trolls will be openly shown to be the idiots that they are as other bloggers respond or refuse to respond to them.

I must confess that it annoys me when I get a particularly nasty comment posted on this blog. It doesn't happen often and my first instinctive reaction is to want to delete it. But I think that says something about me that I hate to admit. I am, admittedly, a little thin-skinned and it would make life easier for me to make such negative comments impossible by either moderating the comments or eliminating the comments section altogether (which some have done). But it seems to me that as a blogger committed to freedom of expression (especially religious expression) it would be inconsistent for me to silence even the trolls. I am not saying that I would not remove comments that are completely irrelevant or spam. I have had a few folks think that this blog was a good place to try to raise funds or sell stuff. That is different and such "comments" will always be dealt with swiftly, as I consign them to Internet purgatory. In fact, such postings bug me far more than the ones that tell me that I am completely wrong and question my parentage. But to ban comments or to only allow comments that are positive and civil is censorious in my opinion. We need to remember that blogging about things that matter like persecution and human rights is not for the faint of heart or the thin of skin.

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