Standard Changes

Written By: - Date published: 10:05 am, September 30th, 2015 - 190 comments
Categories: notices, The Standard - Tags: ,

As a fair few peeps are aware ‘the standard’ has shed a wee few authors of late. This post isn’t about that.

There has been some back end discussion on what positive structural or organisational changes we might be able to implement. That’s what this post is about. We want your thoughts, suggestions and feedback.

None of what follows is written in stone and it won’t all be happening over-night. See it as ‘direction of travel’ contingent upon available resources. There’d be little point in explaining the back end structural changes that would underpin the following, where those changes are largely tech based and on Lynn’s shoulders..

In brief, we are looking to instigate a more consistent moderating policy backed by more robust structural procedures.

This may include a ‘library’ of previous bans that any moderator can quickly and easily refer to for guidance in how to proceed with any potential comment warranting a ban.

There may be essentially two tiers of ban. One tier of very short (24 -48 hours) bans, or post specific bans, that will be handed down more or less at the whim of any author (usually) on their own post. Anything an author might subjectively consider ‘miscreant behaviour’ will be enough for ‘bye-byes’. If any commenter develops a habit of attracting short bans, their bans will be lengthened and essentially they’ll cop bans in line with the next tier, which are…

Longer bans of weeks and months will be for specific breaches of policy. (eg, defamation and other sensible suggestions that may be forthcoming) These may carry a 48 hour cooling off period during which time the collective will of the community’s moderators may see the initial ban reduced. In other words, a system of moderating the moderators may be pursued. During that 48 hour period, there would be absolutely no point, well…okay, it would probably be a bad idea, for any commenter to regale a moderator over their ban.

There may be a ‘report button’ installed on the site so that commenters can flag any behaviour they think moderators should be aware of. The use of this function will be limited to long term commenters.

Levels of sexism and racism are a particular problem. There is no easy ‘quick fix’ to make ‘The Standard’ a safe space for all authors and commenters. Authors and moderators aren’t somehow superior or better attuned to racist and/or sexist comments than anyone else. It may be a case then that ad hominem attacks are absolutely stomped on since they are fairly easy to identify and are not subject to the same grey or subjective area of evaluation as specific ad hominem (sexist/racist) comments.

Feeling like writing “You’re a (insert derogatory or demeaning word/phrase of choosing)”? In future that might have to be reworded to focus back on the content of the comment. eg – That comment/idea/argument is (insert rejigged word/phrase from above) because…

Some people are going to find that adjustment more difficult than others I guess, but hey.

There may be graded level of moderation pursued by some authors. This might be as simple as flagging a post as a level 1 through level 5 post where 1 would be open mike and therefore fairly loose and 5 would be a fully moderated (all comments needing cleared). Alternatively, authors might simply explain what topics/angles will and will not be tolerated in comments to their post.

Finally, as happens and has been acknowledged at the top of this post, ‘the standard’ is experiencing a bit of a fallow period on the contributing author’s front. SO if you have something you want to say and reckon you can say it reasonably well in about 500 words or so….

190 comments on “Standard Changes”

  1. Ilicit 1

    A simplistic suggestion if Lynn is planning minor page changes, add like “Stuff” does, comment vote buttons Up/Down vote, plus a complaint flag.

    Would stop petty posts and get a wider range indication of readers, who don’t post, feelings on any given subject.

    • tracey 1.1

      Thanks for your comment

      “There may be a ‘report button’ installed on the site so that commenters can flag any behaviour they think moderators should be aware of. The use of this function will be limited to long term commenters.” from above

      • Lanthanide 1.1.1

        A + / – voting thing is different from reporting a comment. It’s just like a facebook “like” button, where people can indicate support for a comment without having to reply and write anything.

        Lynn briefly tried such a system but removed it for some reason; possibly because it was a crappy implementation. I also think it might have automatically hidden posts that had a negative rating (maybe -10?). I think that automatically hiding comments with negative ratings isn’t good on a political site, because people who express unpopular (but perfectly rational and reasonable) ideas are effectively muted, which drives them away and would turn the site into even more of an echo chamber than it already is.

        • tracey 1.1.1.1

          illicit asked about ” a complaint flag.” The comment I posted wa smeant to address that.

          • Rosemary McDonald 1.1.1.1.1

            If opinion is sought on a +/-, “like” or “dislike” function….please no.

            We all know that the ‘votes’ can be manipulated, rendering any resultant indicator of the worthyness of the comment meaningless.

            IMHO…sites which use this type of function….do I need to list them?…are just a little bit tacky.

            The convention of a “+ 1” comment is sufficient.

            I might add…FWIW…while I’ve had it explained to me why folk use pseudonyms, it seems to me that some feel that anonymity gives them licence to let rip indiscriminately.

            Commenting as a ‘real person’ makes one more than a little vulnerable…being slammed by an anonymous commenter for expressing “what they think and what they understand from their backgrounds and experience.” (lprent, down the page a bit.)

            • maui 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Anonymity does play a role on a political site such as this. A lot of good infornation might not be aired if it wasn’t there. it probably gives people more freedom, but I’m not sure how you control the downside of that. People are reigned in if they go overboard which is good.

            • lprent 1.1.1.1.1.2

              It runs both ways.

              One of the things that you lose by using a pseudonym is the ability to claim authority. To have the relative anonymity of a pseudonym (relative because it is damn hard to hide understanding or lack there of from long net denizens) you lose an ability to point to experience, degrees, and background unless you want to discard that protection.

              But in the terms of a blog, using a ‘real name’ is usually just about as useless as a pseudonym. Most other people on the blog won’t know anyone from a troll claiming authority using a sort of realistic ‘real’ name. Unless you happen to be a rather rare public figure already (and I check people who claim to be those).

              In both cases you will wind up with people deciding to believe you on the basis of your understanding and knowledge of whatever you’re speaking of. To establish that, people are going to query your background in a particular area closely and often harshly.

              It is like reading CVs. Anyone can say whatever they like on those. Not checking it is what is foolhardy.

        • marty mars 1.1.1.2

          I don’t see this site as an echo chamber at all, not even slightly. That seems to me to be a meme unsubstantiated.

          • tracey 1.1.1.2.1

            Seems to me that the voices of the labour movement disagree on a lot of stuff on this site

          • Bill 1.1.1.2.2

            I agree it’s an unsubstantiated meme. But I’d still very much like to see the place expand to encompass much more of the left than it currently does. It seems to me there’s a certain ‘weighting’ – social democrats and (pink/grey/sunburned) males being a bit over represented. 😉

            Some of that might be down to killing the ridiculous levels of racism and sexism that from time to time, and too often, spews around the show?

            • marty mars 1.1.1.2.2.1

              The left can be racist and sexist and that comes out on here and is debated vigorously with interesting arguments put and received.

              Lacking voices from Māori is an issue and I think the reason there is that lack is societal not relating to The Standard. Commenting on the net is lower maslowish than other aspects of life.

              Love the pink/grey/sunburned – white is okay because it includes the privilege associated with it 🙂

              • lprent

                …and is debated vigorously with interesting arguments put and received.

                Which is why I have tended to let it happen, and to just lop off the worst of it. I don’t consider that hiding known and widespread aspect of society from debate is likely to help to fix it. Similarly I haven’t tended to stifle aspects of talk on religion, conspiracy theories,

                Besides, I often suspect that the dominant trait in many of those debates is a string sense of “me-ism” as people express what they think and what they understand from their backgrounds and experience. They wind each other up as they do so.

                Commenting on the net is lower maslowish than other aspects of life.

                Indeed. That shows pretty clearly in the demographics stats for the site. We get most of our comments (readership is a whole different demographic) from people who are either pretty comfortably at the top of the Maslow heap, or those who are educated but very constrained and have access to the net and lot of spare time – especially people with disabilities.

              • Bill

                Difference between robust and vigorous debate and bullying/power tripping on personal insults. Especially where the recipient has good reason to be more sensitive or attuned to particular insults than ‘the average’.

                Fucked if I can see where or how a reasonable line can be drawn so that some types of insult are safely let go and others aren’t.

                • lprent

                  I don’t think that there is a line particularly at the edges.

                  The technique we have right now is that some moderators will pass over some things, and others will not. What they feel is critical depends on what they consider to be important enough to exert effort over. Since multiple moderators go over the same comments, there tends to be winnowing effect.

                  Mostly the moderators tend to support each other’s right to make those decisions, even when they disagree, on the basis that none of us think that we know all of the answers.

                  But we are short of moderators even more than we are short of authors right now. The moderators we do have are busier than ever outside of the site.

                  • Bill

                    Well yeah, I don’t think the line exists. And that’s problematic if (say) we are a pile of mods who share similar blind spots – or if we are the one mod without that particular blind spot.

                    I guess the “report button” could help on that front.

                    Otherwise, as you know, I reckon a period of just smacking the merest hint of shit with the proverbial sledgehammer to get the message through. Hardly elegant and we’d lose some pretty entertaining stuff.

                    On the upside, we just might attract a far more diverse pool of commenters – and possibly authors too.

                    Over time, those entertaining and more creative ‘edgy’ comments would come back, but be focused on the comment/idea being expressed, rather than the imagined writer behind the comment/idea.

                    • It doesn’t take much practice to mock the idea and not the person. (or at least, to restrict the checking of other players to just MPs and media figures who aren’t in the comments) A few weeks to get people used to it and you’ll have your edgy comments back in practically every thread.

                      I hope, btw, that the focus on moderating against personal attacks still allows bans for obvious but generalised mysogyny, racism, and queerphobia.

                      And yeah, nix on the upvote/downvote system. Save that for reddit. A login system that eventually exposes a report button would probably be very useful to mods, especially as it would encourage people who actually want to participate to value their account and follow the rules.

              • Rosie

                “Commenting on the net is lower maslowish than other aspects of life.”

                Meaning folks are too preoccupied and overwhelmed with just trying to get through their week to find the time to post a comment or consider a reply, or get engaged in a discussion? Or did you mean something more finely tuned than that marty?

                http://f.tqn.com/y/psychology/1/S/h/5/hierarchy-of-needs.png

                I see Lynn suggests some are comfortably at the top of the Maslow heap. Yes, you can feel the well educated ease and maturity with which some people write. (I hope the knowledge and passion of many of the fine contributors, both authors and commenters is channelled into activism, if they have time and energy).

                I’m interested in hearing from those at the uncomfortable part of the pile, those dwelling in the “safety” section. I want to know what they are thinking about the life they find themselves living and what ideas they have for social and political change. I don’t where their voices exist otherwise. I’m not on fb or twitter, maybe they are talking and organising there?

                Or are they just silent? Like the 2014 election.

                • Kia ora Rosie

                  Yep I was thinking that surviving, in all its aspects, has a higher priority for many rather than debating and discussing on the net.

                  I think the voices you mention are there in real life – luckily advocates exist and are able to advocate. Of course some on the lowest incomes, in difficult personal situations and generally suffering are able to express themselves on the net and that is great imo. FB does have some good groups especially the Mana ones and there are also heaps of concerned people posting links and comments.

                  Your comments on TS are ones I enjoy reading – thanks for that 🙂

                  • RedLogix

                    Plus the simple fact that the regulars here are very much an ‘in group’ who know each other and the history of most debates.

                    It’s not an easy, or welcoming space for newcomers – at any maslowish level.

                    • We’ve seen people come and go over the years though Red – your point is valid about the ‘in’ bit – maybe that’s how it always works.

                  • Rosie

                    Thank you marty for your kind comment.

                    Good to know that there is political activity and expression on fb, (well of course there is!) but I mean, here in nu zild.

                    Just a note about an earlier comment you made about the absence of Maori voices on TS. I’m aware of that and as a reader would welcome more contribution. It’s not a criticism, just an observation. More flavour and more perspectives are always beneficial 🙂

                    • “the absence of Maori voices on TS”

                      they may be here but not visibly so

                      for me I find it very difficult to comment as Māori because ‘who the hell am I to comment’ – I can only comment as one person, with a whakapapa and Iwi affiliations – what other Māori think, who knows, what they may think of my comments, who knows.

                      I started my blog to put more emphasis from a particular perspective out there and I think it did that and I’ve kept commenting here around the same subjects but it is so, so difficult. Luckily the community of TS is a community of generally like-minded people that I resonate with and every comment is a learning experience, so, for me, I’m just going to keep going until I can’t anymore or the power goes off.

                    • weka

                      Have you considered offering some of your blogposts as guest posts on ts marty?

                    • with a new baby and a new job I can’t seem to write a decent post anymore – it seems too much to me and I am not sure I want to put my head up that much.

                      but I do want to support TS so I’ll never say never

                    • weka

                      That all makes sense 🙂 When the time is right.

          • weka 1.1.1.2.3

            “I don’t see this site as an echo chamber at all, not even slightly. That seems to me to be a meme unsubstantiated.”

            Where I see the echo chamber is when people who know each other start having a go at each other based on previous experiences. If you don’t know the people involved and the history, then from the outside it looks weird. I often think about how many people read here without commenting and think it’s useful to consider that when we comment. What are those people seeing and understanding. If the discussions are influencing politics in NZ then excessive in-house conversation is counter productive. Not that we can or should do away with that altogether, but I do have times when I get sick of the perpetual bickering and the wasted energy that could be going into more constructive debate. That for me is the echo chamber.

            • marty mars 1.1.1.2.3.1

              “that could be going into more constructive debate”

              this is the perpetual question isn’t it

            • RedLogix 1.1.1.2.3.2

              Totally agree. I like that way of expressing it a lot.

              Which is at least partly why I’ve tried not to contribute to it lately.

            • JanM 1.1.1.2.3.3

              I agree – apart from anything else it’s very boring having to wade through a spat to get to the good stuff

        • lprent 1.1.1.3

          Lynn briefly tried such a system but removed it for some reason;

          There were several reasons.

          1. Most of the implementations used the unindexed text parsed comment meta info that slowed the site down a lot when used with the numbers of comments we have on posts here. I’d have to find (or write) one that was SQL table orientated.

          2. The auto-hide I didn’t like and turned off. But that was more of a symptom than anything else.

          3. Unlike facebook/twitter etc (I tend to unfriend people who over-like on those) the ticks were ‘free’ which led to unthinking ganging up. When I analysed the correlations of who ticked what, I could then almost exactly predict what any comment would receive. I could also predict the 20 people who would do more than 90% of all ticks.

          4. The general solution to that would be to give a very limited quota of ticks to make sure that people started to use them like they were a scarce resource. That requires quite a lot of work because you need to know who has used their quota. The easy implementation requires that everyone logs in (eg kiwiblog). The harder implementation requires some SQL searches that are nasty on CPU.

          5. I came to the conclusion that if I did put in a quota system, that it should have
          a. limited ticks
          b. show who had ticked (identicons?)
          c. only allow plus ticks
          d. ideally allow comment to tick out in twitter and/or facebook if requested.

  2. Anne 2

    I don’t suppose there is any chance of attracting back some of those who have gone walk-about once this “code of conduct” (or whatever it will be called) is in force?

    • tracey 2.1

      Efforts are made Anne

      • Puckish Rogue 2.1.1

        I’d suggest unbanning all those on long term bans 🙂

        • lprent 2.1.1.1

          We do that periodically anyway. The limiting factor is the amount of EXTRA time required to deal with the aftermath of amnesties. If we don’t have the moderator time available, we don’t do it.

          It takes time and effort to moderate, to ban, and to unban. That has to be pulled away from other more useful and interesting tasks. And after all we are talking about people who got themselves banned in the first place, causing an expenditure of that very limited moderation capacity.

          The problem is that our history shows that most of the people who wind up on long term bans after being unbanned will wind up getting banned soon afterwards. Most of them make no attempt to follow the rules of the site, and you can usually detect more than a hint of wanting the site to die.

          Generally I don’t find that they are worth wasting effort on. Others may disagree. However since they haven’t been the people doing the work, their opinions seldom carry any weight.

          If I build automatic systems, you will find that I build them with a inflexible system that tends to reward those stupidly repeating the same things causing a ban with an equally inflexible exponential doubling of sentence each time. I call this a “learning curve” for the terminally stupid.

    • mickysavage 2.2

      I would like to see Felix return. Using very few words he was able to repeatedly get to the nub of an argument and show up the trolls …

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2.1

        Me too. There are a few commenters I always read and Felix is one of them.

      • Anne 2.2.2

        Using very few words he was able to repeatedly get to the nub of an argument and show up the trolls …

        I remember Redlogix once describing felix as “dangerously intelligent”. I concur.

  3. Rolf 3

    The difference between moderating and Third Reich level censorship to railroad opinion is hardly visible. Those media who deny their reader a say, will soon find that readers will have their say, elsewhere. We recently had an article about The Herald demise. We hope The Standard will not be the next in line. Survival in the media jungle today is to open up for the reader. Lest we forget.

    • Bill 3.1

      Barely relevant. But I’ll indulge you for a second. The difference is that moderation stops all the bullying and nonsense that some of a ‘shit arsed monkey’ persuasion might wish to engage in so they can silence people or opinions they disagree with.

      Pretty simple difference to discern I’d have thought.

      • northshoredoc 3.1.1

        On occasion the moderation at his site is bullying nonsense of a ‘shit arsed monkey’ persuasion – perhaps that needs to be addressed at the same time ?

        • Bill 3.1.1.1

          Why don’t you quietly think of a real example of that and then test it against the suggestions of the post and see if it still ‘goes through’ and if it does, reflect on whether it would still be as prevalent as your ‘on occasion’?

          Then come up with a potential solution and throw it out here.

    • lprent 3.2

      To a degree. If you look at our existing policies, they are orientated to getting rid of people with bad behaviour. Effectively we export them to the ever diminishing numbers of places that still allow people to use their genital brains rather than their intelligence.

    • weston 3.3

      yep ive seen that effect happening in public adress clear as crystal and i think quite obliviously both to the mods and the in family commenters The desire to form groups and chase out strangers is prob hard wired into all of us So we form rules according to our value systems and more rules and yet more rules Ireckon rule number one should be you cant make a new rule unless you can throw out two old ones .JEEZ im only just getting to grips with the soon to be old rules hereand does anyone actually appreciate pc ??Hells bells ive never ever seen such an uncrossably powerfull interlect as lyns what more threat than her coming down on you could any site possibly want???The greater wisdom will usually prevail so why try and curb anything?Yes i know i know fuck all about anything not related to what i do but if the object of the exercise is is to get a wider readership imo its illogical to attempt to do that by censorship

  4. I like the robust level of debate on here including insults – and I fully understand the necessity of moderation of extreme examples of sexism/racism and horrible comments. My call would be for simplicity – I like that moderators can moderate at their level of tolerance. I’m not a fan of like/dislike and I like the idea of a reporting button where commenters can raise to the attention of moderators comments which breach standards.

    I remember the last time the format of The Standard changed – it was a time of trepidation for me and what transpired was so improved it has shown the value of change and also the continuation of the underlying ethos of The Standard posters and admin.

    You are all doing a wonderful job – kia kaha.

    • Bill 4.1

      I find some insults imaginative and entertaining – quite creative. But then there are the dull thuds of bullying.

      If we had a site that only had to accommodate (I’ll say) ‘Black Adder’ levels of invective and insult, but that didn’t have to deal with the dull shit and that never had to field sexist or racist nonsense then…hmm, petered out there – never mind.

    • Anne 4.2

      I’m not a fan of like/dislike…

      Definitely not. It can easily turn into a form of bullying by a bunch of people (eg. rwnjs from you know where) running a ‘dislike’ campaign against a commenter and driving them away from the site. Something similar – though it didn’t involve like/dislike buttons – occurred on the now defunct Red Alert site.

    • lprent 4.3

      I like the idea of a reporting button where commenters can raise to the attention of moderators comments which breach standards.

      That is my favorite suggestion as well form the backend discussions. It is implementable, helps fill a definite gap in available moderators time, and provides some history.

      I’d probably hook it into the authors area as well to allow discussion on what happens.

      • weston 4.3.1

        sounds like a refrain heard in every school yard in the country …winey voice ….im telling on you….disgusted that youd even think about such a device

        • BLiP 4.3.1.1

          What say the comment being reported exposed The Standard to unwelcome legal ramifications? Its not like the Tory Trolls wouldn’t try papering a site with comments designed specifically to trash its reputation or split its community of posters or attract trouble from the authorities, etc. Moderators don’t know everything and don’t read all the comments. Someone might know, for example, that a publication of particular name and/or has been suppressed or recognise the comment as part of a wider Tory astro-turfing iniative going on across all political blogs, etc. Also, giving people an easy way to help maintain a blog they enjoy fosters their engagement and facilitates them taking some responsibility. Your disgust is misplaced; save it for National Ltd™.

        • Pasupial 4.3.1.2

          weston

          It tends to be bullies who dread being told on, and who are eager to uphold the code of not squealing. Not just in school yards either.

          Imagine that you are at a public lecture about income inequality in Aotearoa. Would you really have such a level of disgust if someone was to notify the organizers to a drunk arsehole who was snarling about; “bitches knowing their place”, to the distraction of those around them?

        • lprent 4.3.1.3

          Most of us work, so there are significiant gaps in the time between when a comment is made and when it is picked up by moderators doing sweeps. This would reduce the time and thereby reduce our legal exposure.

          In my case, I’d probably hook it straight through to my cell and (except in a plane or driving) be able to make a decision immediately. But I really don’t need long explanations. I just need a pointer.

          The second reason will be to systematize the collection of information about people who get banned. In particular internet pests.

          For instance the ubiquitous Marc Spring, a so-called justice campaigner associated with the legal idiots who crawl around lauda finem violating name suppression orders in the name of promoting Stephen Cook’s posts at Whaleoil. Marc’s main thing appears to be to go to various sites under a lot of different handles to defame Matthew Blomfield (he was one of the sources for the HDD and documents that Slater copied). I don’t know the details of legal extent (the courts really need to provide us with a register of what we are not meant to allow), but this appears to be in violation of a restraining order against internet stalking.

          Similarly back in the day, dad4justice was well known for the same kinds of tactics using multiple ISP access points. At one point I had him banned from 6 separate local dialup providers. After demonstrating that he was recognizable regardless of handle, he generally kept to the site rules.

          These days I tend to keep an eye on Tor networks in case I need to remove access from the whole network to our site get rid of pests.

          The third reason is more basic. When Bill suggested 24 hour bans, my response was that I only looked at the bans list every few days to unban people whose sentences had expired. The obvious solution was to make the system more automatic for that. But that meant loading the data in a format that machines can read. If we were going to do that, then we may as well automate the whole process from tagging someone for a ban to unbanning them. It reduces the load on our scarcest resource – moderators.

  5. NZSage 5

    I run a sports forum and the “reporting button” is an excellent tool that facilitates self moderation by readers and contributors alike.

    On the downside, you will get some who use the report button in a vexatious manner.

    FWIW: I think The Standard mods do a sterling job and have a level of judgement and patience I’d find hard to adhere to!

    • Bill 5.1

      I believe the idea is for the vexatious ones to have an operable “reporting button” withdrawn from their reach 😉

      • McFlock 5.1.1

        Also with the reporting button, maybe a little box to say why it’s being reported, either free-text or radio buttons of the most likely reasons.

        On the downside it might prime the moderator to see the problem subjectively, on the upside it might make the reporter think clearly as to why they want to use a mod’s time on that comment.

        • lprent 5.1.1.1

          I was thinking a scrollable list and no free-text except on a “Other” selection. The Other selection being a cause for a close look at the complainant and reason for possible inclusion in the main list.

          We’d remove the Other free text after we have a list that covers everything.

  6. cogito 6

    Personally, I stand for free speech. Anything else smells of Big Brother.

    • tracey 6.1

      do you stand for consequences of free speech or is it just carte blanche in your view to say any old thing no matter who is hurt and be able to keep doing it?

      • cogito 6.1.1

        “consequences of free speech”

        Frankly, I am absolutely stunned to see such a phrase in writing on this site. Surely, free speech is something that we should all value as a basic human right.

        We live in a country where people are becoming increasingly brainwashed and fearful of expressing their views.

        I am opposed on principle to any moves aimed at clamping down on people’s freedom of expression, within the bounds of generally accepted standards of decency and good behaviour.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1.1

          I dunno, “bounds” sound worse than “consequences”. Perhaps you’re both on the same page.

        • Tracey 6.1.1.2

          “I am opposed on principle to any moves aimed at clamping down on people’s freedom of expression, within the bounds of generally accepted standards of decency and good behaviour.”

          we agree

      • weston 6.1.2

        obviously tracy i f you hurt someone and youre able to percieve that hurt its up to you to make ammends and its probably benificial to society to practise doing that

        • Tracey 6.1.2.1

          beware the loudest and most bullyingest voice drowning the free speech of the vulnerable

  7. AmaKiwi 7

    Sometimes you have posts from someone who clearly has very expert, in depth knowledge on their subject. I find these posts extremely useful. They are a replacement for the in depth journalism our MSM lacks.

    “a bit of a fallow period on the contributing author’s front”
    IMO, that’s the case in all the media at the moment. I scan 15 or 30 news sources a day. In the past week I can barely find an article worth my time. That will change soon enough.

    My forecast for interesting stories later this week:

    1. The sovereign debt problem will fall off the cliff, accelerating into another global financial crisis.
    2. Jane Kelsey says we should know by week’s end if TPPA is signed or dead.

    • maui 7.1

      I’m picking the answer to 2. will be Yes, and will be hard to deflect attention away from.

      1. you could well be right, Martin Armstrong thinks things could really slide down from now until 2020. The second Global Financial Crisis looks set to go, but who knows if it will.

    • Observer (Tokoroa) 7.2

      To: AmaKiwi

      “Sometimes you have posts from someone who clearly has very expert, in depth knowledge on their subject. I find these posts extremely useful. They are a replacement for the in depth journalism our MSM lacks.”

      That is the real value of The Standard for me too. I am thankful for it.

      Personal abuse whether on this blog or in real life is just a total waste of time and space. But then again happiness for some people is being sour and abusive.

      Lprent ? We are lucky to have him at the levers.

  8. whatisis 8

    As a consistent reader I’d like to add my few cents worth regarding comment voting.

    Personally I hate the up down voting as its implemented in discus YouTube etc however I would would like to be able to up and downvote and have my votes available to me to see how I have rated other commenters previously.

    This would be especially useful here where there are many intelligent comments worth reading however there are certain commenters that consistently derail or occasionally derail or divert from what might otherwise be a useful thread. Usually they only truly become apparent in certain articles where I’m.left thinking ahhh so you regular commenter “twohandeddingle” are actually a derailer. Man I wish I can remember your name so i don’t have to waste my time reading you in other threads. Never happens and I’m none the wiser ten days later.

    So being able to up vote down vote would be really useful but only if its personal to my profile. I have no interest in seeing how other readers vote. Thank you.

    • Bill 8.1

      I’d hope that if moderators used ad-hoc short bans, then the amount of derailing and such like would diminish rapidly…no need to sit around thinking of a justification. Just ban ‘because’. And if they come back after one or two days and do the same shit. Ban. Then they eventually, fairly quickly, progress to long term bans.

    • lprent 8.2

      The underlying difficulty has been that we don’t require logins and don’t even allow registrations. Therefore there is no profile.

      That increases access to the site, allows for greater IRL anonymity, allows people to come back after they shit all over their handle, and means that it is whole lot harder to hack the site (wp-login is the favorite hacking point).

      However as you can see from the “replies” tab on the right, I can now effectively achieve that without requiring a user record. It just takes some severe coding to minimize CPU loadings.

      But if you want to see what someone has already said. Just click on their handle. That will show you what they have said in the past.

      • whatisis 8.2.1

        Thanks for giving my few cents worth some thought and a reply.

        Don’t require logins… Good thing, don’t stop a casual reader from commenting with hoops, i probably wouldn’t be here if i had to login or signup originally. But I am paranoid, tho correctly now it appears cuz of Snowden…

        I am unsure of what your third paragraph re the “replies” tab is saying. If “effectively achieve that” means achieve my request for personal voting record then please put on the severe coding hat and hack it up… It would be great to see some actual user friendly feature rather than the nudging / manipulating dross that blinks and surrounds online discourse.

        Ummmmm I don’t want to know what someone has already said, especially if it’s someone i’ve already decided to ignore in the future. Also I want to know who I think is worth reading. But I need it in a user friendly environment.

        Time and Attention are precious, ie I wrote first comment in man van at lunchtime on phone. Got home 5.30, started to reply, lit fire, then helped cook dinner, ate dinner, sat down watched entertainment 1/2 hr, played chess with 1 of my children, helped do dishes, got kids ready for bed etc, back here to finish reply, now 10pm and i still haven’t read the article on Kim Dotcom case. And I really want to do that… TIME… My Attention! I don’t want to waste it any more on commenters i’ve decided suck… But other than getting out a pen and paper and writing their pseudonyms down with names i like and dislike and taping that to side of laptop, there’s no answer? Ok little rant finished.

        “I would would like to be able to up and downvote and have my votes available to me to see how I have rated other commenters previously”
        I suspect this feature is inevitable….? even if it’s only 3 up and 3 down that would be enough for me to thoroughly enjoy comments, after that the ability to hide all but 3star, 2star etc so that even if the story is mildly interesting i can just read the comments from others i trust etc to see other opinions etc without wasting my time and attention on what is otherwise to me gross waste and i could then apply my precious attention and time to benefit.

        Thank you for your precious attention again.

        • lprent 8.2.1.1

          I am unsure of what your third paragraph re the “replies” tab is saying. If “effectively achieve that” means achieve my request for personal voting record…

          It just means that if you have commented on the site and your system carries a cookie that you pass back to us, then I return a list of all replies to your comments. ie my code knows who you are even if you don’t login.

          With that coding capability, I can do much the same kind of thing to keep track of who has voted on comments and how often in a given timeframe.

    • tracey 8.3

      or place someone on “ignore”?

  9. Michael 9

    “I do not defend what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Stay away from censorship. Let free expression of opinion flourish in cyberspace. Leave good ideas to grow and bad ones to wither in the rarified atmosphere of unconstrained liberty. Or something like that.

    • Bill 9.1

      Not going to defend any perceived right to berate or diminish someone for what they write, say or think though. N’fact – I might feel morally obliged to stand in the way of that.

      Or something like that 😉

    • tracey 9.2

      i will defend you right to say it and the consequences that flow from it. remember the context of the times of that quote… how long after that quote, for example, were women deemed intelligent enought to “give” a vote… let alone voice an opinion.

      • weston 9.2.1

        some men cared even though i guess thhat was hundreds of years ago trouble was they were prob humble ploughmen or farmers or tradesmen it would have been outside their station to comment. mind not continuing to feel bitter about it ?

        • BLiP 9.2.1.1

          How do you infer bitterness from tracey’s comment? Seems to me to be a valid response to a cliche which, although noble in content, didn’t actually apply at the time to half the population. Mind working on your reaction to being exposed to historical facts concerning the experience of women in society?

  10. McFlock 10

    500 words?! Seriously?
    That’s not even enough for an introduction! 🙂

    • Bill 10.1

      Focus McFlock! Focus!!

      Or use links to expand on some points? 😉

    • Puddleglum 10.2

      Introduction??

      It’s not even enough for the clever aside that has only a tenuous connection to the main point of the post but seemed like a good ‘hook’ to start with before the real introduction even begins …

      500 words is just throat-clearing territory for me I’m afraid -I wasn’t really born for the digital age.

      I hear Twitter might be increasing its character length though, so who knows? 🙂

      • McFlock 10.2.1

        lol I know the feeling.
        I switched from finishing a dissertation to doing a 100-level for interest sake. My introduction for the first assignment exceeded the 1200 word limit for the entire thing. It was a discipline I had to re-learn to cut down the ideas and depth I wanted to look at.

  11. Mainlander 11

    here’s a good start get rid of the assholes like O.A.B that do bugger all on this site but abuse anyone with a different view and often he doesn’t even use that as an excuse, he constantly derails threats with his nasty vitriol, who wants to post here with any form of rational debate when you know its only a matter of time before the bullshit comments start, there is a reason why authors and new commentators are becoming scarce on this site and that is just one of them, I don’t care if you don’t post this its just free advice, I have returned to my original home TDB with Mods like Frank, Scarlett and even Martyn making it an enjoyable experience, even if they don’t agree they will at least engage you with polite discussion instead of running you down and unleashing the attack poodles, but hey by all means focus on the things that matter like up/downvote buttons… Sigh

    • weka 11.1

      Have a reread of the post. It’s talking about ad hominems and abusive posting.

    • Anne 11.2

      In fairness to O.A.B., I think quite a few of his comments are tongue in cheek and meant to be on the humorous side. Other times they may seen rather brutal but imo they are often correct. And btw I recall being on the receiving end once but wasn’t offended by his remarks – just concluded he was wrong. 😛

      • One Anonymous Bloke 11.2.1

        Which I probably was.

        I’m struck by Lprent’s remarks below re: troll-finders. Personally, I’m on the look out for (what I perceive to be) false narratives. The National Party spends an inordinate amount of its owners’ money building entire alternate realities made of nothing but words.

        That’s to be expected: it’s the only way they can get elected. They don’t need any help from us: I must work on my delivery 🙂

        • weka 11.2.1.1

          One concern I have around that is the new people that get jumped on for being roles or RWNJs when they’ve barely gotten 3 sentences out of their keyboard. You no doubt have a finer radar for false narratives that picks them up earlier than I do, but I think that I trust people more and am more interested in seeing what they are doing than shutting them down. There’s always going to be people that don’t get the culture right on their first attempts at commenting and some of the slap downs are going to put people off form commenting at all (including people reading).

          I got a slap down fom QoT early on, and survived, but then I’m used to being in this kind of debate culture. Lots of people aren’t. Where’s the balance?

          • RedLogix 11.2.1.1.1

            Well in general (and I’m sure there have been exceptions I could be quoted on to demonstrate otherwise) … I just try not to slap people down.

            Works for me.

          • Tracey 11.2.1.1.2

            I was guilty of this. You picked me up on it and I have kept the lesson in my mind.

    • lprent 11.3

      I watch OAB’s comments as I used to watch the behaviour of eye dogs and huntaways pushing sheep and cattle around. It tells me where to look.

      There have been several effective troll / bullshit finders on the site over the years. They use variants of the same technique, which is usually short caustic comments that cut close to the bone.

      I think that you are getting fooled about time cycles. At present we are in the year after an election, and in the middle of winter. I did some numbers on that…. here

      Looking at the 6 month period from March to August across non-general election years. The page views are ‘corrected’ by me downwards because of a problem in 2011 with facebook async protocols causing excessive page lookups. (For the inevitable trolls, these are not Whaleoil style figures. These are close to being accurate for real humans and without paid for added readership boosters).

      per month
      year corrected
      page views
      sessions users
      2009 Election
      2009 167k-206k 60k-70k 14k-18k
      2010 218k-287k 72k-92k 17k-22k
      2011 Election
      2012 305k-403k 93k-112k 24k-33k
      2013 333k-440k 103k-115k 21k-37k
      2014 Election
      2015 480k-530k 148k-165k 40k-50k

      Since these are largely the winter months, they are pretty good for looking at base levels of readership.

      Similarly we don’t have a problem with getting new commenters. That has been steadily climbing over the years as well and shows no sign of stopping. What we have lost is the number of two line parrot trolls with multiple handles and the pretentious bullshit artists with an ignorant opinion and no interest in engaging. The latter are usually pretty hilarious to rev up because they have a problem with anyone questioning their august opinions.

      Some of that whittling was from moderation, but probably even more from the efforts of people like robinsod, felix, OAB, and many others who taken the piss and pointed out the flaws of the intellectually flatulent. And you have to remember that they are a damn sight kinder than the alternative, which is my notoriously low toleration from reading utter crap that takes minutes to poke holes into (and in my case I usually carry on and poke holes through the egos as well).

      The issue that we have always had (and which is the main subject of the post) is with retaining and bringing board authors and moderators. They run out of time or inclination for one reason or another. We lose the most of them after an election.

      There is a really long learning curve bringing them on board, we’re having less and less time to do it as the site keeps growing in readership.

      We have those time / inclination pressures as well. Every time I have to do something like figure out how to drop our monthly costs from $700+ to $250 as I did last year, or change jobs, then that is several authors and moderators I cannot mentor on. Same with all of the other old hands. It is an issue for all voluntary only operations.

      What we’re looking for is ways to carry on surviving and growing without having to put our entire lives into this.

    • Pasupial 11.4

      Mainlander

      TDB moderation is abysmal, especially so over last Christmas when it was just Bradbury doing all the work himself (even those who despise his writing have to admire his output). At the moment I’ve pretty much given up on commenting on the site; as the lag between typing something and it clearing moderation is too long for any real conversation (plus I never get the chance to edit so there’s always a couple of typos). That is one blog where the up and down clicking of comments (and starring posts) is valuable, because it is such a chore to make a comment and then reply to any replies.

      The +1 convention in place here is perfectly adequate, although may be best mentioned somewhere in the policy section for newcomers – though it is pretty self explanatory. Sometimes I feel that people do go overboard with the +100s & +1000s though.

  12. Puckish Rogue 12

    As someone that gets perodically banned from time to time I’d say the moderators have it more or less correct

    The last thing anyone wants (i think) is if the moderating gets to the level of Red Alert or The Daily Blog

  13. weka 13

    I’d like to see more diversity in posts and thus comments/discussion. I think the current authors are doing a good job of covering some areas so would be nice to add to that.

    If moderation was to change to make the place more comfortable and approachable to people (authors and commenters), that’s good if we got more diversity. I guess the trick is how to do that and encourage robust debate culture. The proposed changes look worthy of being trialled at least.

  14. weka 14

    One of the best improvements in the past year was the result of PG’s ban. Would be good if the new moderation system could take into account what happens after the next amnesty. It sounds like it might, because there is more focus on removing problems from threads early on and the shorter ban means it’s not about waiting until they’ve caused so much trouble they warrant a longer ban. And then people collecting multiple short bans do get looked at for longer bans. Makes sense.

  15. Ad 15

    I am pathetically grateful for this site.

    I imagine LPrent as some wetware android permanently plugged in to a machine, with tubes for fluids in and out, permanently awake.

    I’d like to see Swordfish stretch his legs more. And Weka, wet though he is.

    The graphics on the site are low grade. Needs a creative on to it. Give it a shove people.

    Needs to forge links and all ancestors with TransportBlog. Nerdy but good hitcount. I can help there.

    I will commit to writing more. There’s a few posts Mickey’s been holding on to.

    I’m between jobs for the next two weeks, so I’ll have a bit more time to polish my Blue Dog Democrat persona.

    • mickysavage 15.1

      Kia ora Ad.

    • millsy 15.2

      I’m between jobs for the next two weeks, so I’ll have a bit more time to polish my Blue Dog Democrat persona.

      You do that pretty good. I sometimes think you are Tony Blair and Helen Clark’s bastard child…;-)

    • BLiP 15.3

      I am pathetically grateful for this site.

      Yeah, me too. There was a while there when The Standard was my therapy. I was working in the bowels of an eeevil multi-national corporation as a small-link in its supply chain. Cruisey job, except the place was wall-to-wall Tory bully-boys. After a coupla years of that environment, it became essential for me to let off steam and say exactly what I would have said to my colleagues but couldn’t because doing so would’ve resulted in HR “right sizing” my job. Just being able to communicate at will with a few people thinking along the same lines as me was a balm. Even just communicating with people who think. I finally got around to finding a healthier work environment but have remained emotionally attached to The Standard since.

      I had to rethink things after the 2011 election. I had adopted this irrational idea that venting and raving in the internet somehow changed things in the real world. It doesn’t. Real world change can only come about by real world actions. If anything, the internet can be a distraction. And massive time waster for those of us with more spare time than most. I see this point has already been raised up thread so I won’t go on.

      Anyhow, just saying, I consider The Standard my friend and take this opportunity to sincerely thank lprent for everything he does. Thanks also to every author, and most of youse too.

    • Tracey 15.4

      Good on ya. I think Weka is a she.

      i worry about what happens if something happens to lprent. Is there a backup person?

      • Ad 15.4.1

        Apologies for the presumption.

      • lprent 15.4.2

        For the technical side, yes. They would be around for long enough to transition to a new site over several months and get every thing working there.

        For my other duties and getting the funds to pay for a more expensive operation. Those would require others to step up.

        However

    • left for deadshark 15.5

      I imagine LPrent as some wetware android permanently plugged in to a machine, with tubes for fluids in and out, permanently awake.

      + 1 for the Standard.
      I hope those fluids are a quality beer, or a wee dram on occasion.
      cheers To Lynn. 🙂

  16. Ad 16

    Alliances, not ancestors

  17. The lost sheep 17

    I’ve wondered if commenters (or even Authors) could have the option of indicating their ‘comfort level’ of debate, and having done so, other commenters would have to respect the level of sensitivity they indicated?
    They would need to conform to the same standard when commenting themselves of course.

    Could be as simple as 2 levels…
    “Hell yeah I’m for for giving and taking anything and everything up to and including a group S&M orgy with OAB and the Naki Man”
    or
    “I’d like to debate just the issues themselves in a structured and civilized manner, without getting involved in crap on a personal level thanks”

    • Bill 17.1

      2nd last para of the post covers some of that.

      As for commenters, I remember saying to PG that if he stayed away from my comments, I’d stay away from his. And it worked.

      The problem with three or four people going hammer and tongs (S&M orgy with OAB and Naki as you put it) is that other people have to read it too and aside from the fact that some of those might be new to the site, it trashes threads/discussion

    • mickysavage 17.2

      “Hell yeah I’m for for giving and taking anything and everything up to and including a group S&M orgy with OAB and the Naki Man”
      or
      “I’d like to debate just the issues themselves in a structured and civilized manner, without getting involved in crap on a personal level thanks”

      The images your comment creates …

    • Naki man 17.3

      “Hell yeah I’m for for giving and taking anything and everything up to and including a group S&M orgy with OAB and the Naki Man”

      I dont read comments from the potty mouth Obnoxious Bloke

    • BLiP 17.4

      I’ve wondered if commenters (or even Authors) could have the option of indicating their ‘comfort level’ of debate, and having done so, other commenters would have to respect the level of sensitivity they indicated?

      Yeah, s’pose that could work. Another option is to actively be aware that some commenters and Authors are new. It can be bit spooky “speaking out loud” for the first time, especially as an Author. What would be ideal, IMO, is if the regulars here took on a little bit of responsibility for “nurturing the n00bs”? Just until they get a handle on participating and the rest of us can get an idea of where they are coming from and their ability to express themselves. Not all of us are confident and articulate but we can all learn to be so with encouragement.

      I regret to say that, in concert with others, I’ve probably frightened away a few new voices. I’ve since learned to address the argument rather than the person and to not participate in dog-piling. Also, DNFTT has been my motto for the likes of Gosman and that Peter George cockwomble. Doesn’t mean I won’t sling an insult into a comment or be less vigilant about time wasters and professional agent provocateurs employed to disrupt on-line communities. Just means I’ll be giving new voices plenty of space.

  18. Mike the Savage One 18

    Generally I thought the policy used here on TS was not that bad, although bans do not always seem to be handled quite as fairly in every single case.

    What I would strongly recommend is to maintain the option to comment under a pseudonym and to maintain anonymity, as some of us may be in employment or hold other positions that may expose us to added “scrutiny” be employers and state agencies. As we know, society has changed a bit since Key and the Nats won in 2008, and it is my humble view, it has not changed for the better.

    I can live with like or dislike options, as it is used on The Daily Blog. It seems to be prone to some abuse at times, but there I have noticed that at least trying to tick an up or down on the same day for the same comment is denied. That does not always seem to be the case over time though.

    But there must be a technical possibility to stop abuse, by only allowing one “like” or “dislike” per comment or post from the same used computer or IP address.

    This discussion gives me a bit of a worry, as there is the talk of more moderating and with that controls. So far The Standard has as a forum been somewhat liberal, and I would dread too rigid or stringent rules to come into play.

    Apart from that, I would suggest broadening the topics that can be published, so as to reach more people in the public, and some posters like those who have also been using The Daily Blog could perhaps be invited and encouraged to also share more posts here. The progressive movement is diverse, can do well with diversity, but also needs to have forums that provide sufficiently broad approaches and topics, to appeal to more. With that I do certainly not just thing of that so often quoted “centre” or “middle class”. A broad church, but not quite the “Labour Party way”, I suggest.

    I will be curious where this journey may go.

    • Bill 18.1

      Rather than thinking of the moderation in terms of policy, look at in terms of functionality – ie, time spent, consistency etc. That’s really what’s being looked at. Yes, that might involve tweaking some already existing policy to dovetail with (hopefully) better and less time consuming moderating procedures.

      The use of pseudonyms isn’t under any kind of threat.

      Rules of thumb and easier systems of operation for moderators isn’t about more control in the sense you’re talking. Again, more about consistency and freeing up time.

      I think the only ‘control’ feature – and it’s not a new addition in terms of rules per se – is in trying to find a better, preferably non ‘holdy hands’ PC way, to deal with the huge negative repercussions that come from expressions of sexism and racism. All suggestions welcome. 😉 Unfortunately, due to the highly subjective nature of the beasts, I keep winding up at sledgehammers.

      Anyway, my feeling is that dealing with sexist and racist nonsense in a consistent and effective manner (because it does lose us authors and commenters) could lend itself to creating a more diverse readership – which could produce a wider range of posts – which might encourage a wider readership….

      I’d love to see ‘the standard’ being a space for all (left) political stripes and types. Probably dreaming, I know.

      • Mike the Savage One 18.1.1

        Sexism and racism is usually pretty obvious, and should be easy to handle, i.e. stopped. So yes, if that is the major concern, deal with it. There have been some occasions though where accusations may have been made rather swiftly, where it may not have strictly been about sexism and racism.

        As I commented, I will look and see where the journey will go. I understand that feedback delivered here may assist the cooperative behind The Standard (machine) to make the needed improvements. Best wishes in any case.

    • lprent 18.2

      …although bans do not always seem to be handled quite as fairly in every single case.

      That is quite deliberate in my case. I don’t like people gaming decisions because they feel they know what the level of a ban will be like. If someone only pops in here every 2 weeks and they think that they only get a weeks ban, then it is no risk to them to crap all over the site’s policies. If they don’t know is it will be 6 days or 6 months then they tend to make better assessments of risk. So after I decide a ban is justified, I tend to “toss the dice” to figure out the severity.

      For people who really need to get something out, knowing it is likely to get a ban, the safest way is to say exactly that – say why they are risking a ban and which policy they’d be violating.

      And of course the unthinking people who try to use that get out of jail free mantra will find I don’t like people gaming the system.

  19. Aghast 19

    To state that (for example) OAB is a useful filter for the “intellectually flatulent” is in my opinion a copout at best. I ( & others I know) who have presented reasoned, relatively polite and even arguments against some of the frothy tirades by Authors or commentors have been first subject to abuse, then banned. I get that it is a blog pushing a Left wing viewpoint, but the lack of ability by more than a few of the supposed intellectually superior to defend or successfully argue their points instead of abusing or banning is possibly why the Left seems not only irrelevant but downright nasty to many people.

    • Bill 19.1

      If ad hominem attacks get swept up as ‘collateral’ in dealing with sexist/racist jibes, then there can be no ganging up or slamming of the type you’re alluding to, yes?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 19.2

      Interesting. You have made precisely two comments at TS (using this handle) and both of them are on this thread. So there’s no way of checking your claims of unfairness.

      It amazes me that people who support the Cameron Slater eugenics-proposing party complain about my effluent. Sensitive wee sausage.

      • mickysavage 19.2.1

        Yep what other handles have you used? Don’t answer that if you do not want to.

        Do you want to specify which “reasoned, relatively polite and even arguments against some of the frothy tirades by Authors or commentors have been first subject to abuse, then banned.”

  20. Aghast 20

    Hi Bill
    Thanks for illustrating my point so precisely.
    If you see overwhemingly ad hom attacks or sexist/racist jibes from me please point them out. I’m always happy to defend or argue my points, or explain the experiences which qualify me to make them, but I suspect it will be problematic for you to just write them off as irrelevant.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 20.1

      I cannot for the life of me figure out how you took Bill’s comment to mean that.

      “Ganging up and slamming” other commenters is a Bad Thing, no? Bill points out that it would be caught in the new net.

      He’s not accusing you of anything.

    • Tracey 20.2

      How can anyone provide evidence when you must have made those comments under a different handle tot his one?

  21. Pasupial 21

    Back in March I had a bit of problem with; the power imbalance between commenters and posters on The Standard. The cooling off period before longer bans are issued would seem to address many of the issues I saw with moderation on this site. It is certainly easier to institute than a; commenter-jury, or “Aotearoan Union for Blog Commenters”.

    I wish I had the time to craft some posts, but am deterred; not just by the compressing of complex issues into 500 words, but also by the need to tend the post afterwards (such moderation could easily be as time consuming as the original writing). Perhaps next time I come across an issue that is interesting but doesn’t make me too furious to type, I might give it a go.

    One suggestion I have for increasing the diversity of views/ number of posts is to have a; “comment of the day” (also “worst comment of the day” could be amusing), post the following day. This would encourage people to create thoughtful utterances that might contend for that accolade, or at least make their invective original. Carrot rather than stick in promoting a good commenter community. Maybe voting for that could be attached to the proposed report button, and limited to one vote per commenter per day (or two if also for the “worst comment”)?

    I don’t read the site as much as I used to, quite often getting lost following links from posts and don’t find my way back. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is missing some of the best comments because they are at the end of a tangentially related post at say; 11pm.

    • weka 21.1

      Any of us lot (the rabble) could post a ‘comment of the day’ in the Daily Review in the evening. Just thinking creatively around not making more work for the authors/admin (because it looks like what they’re trying to do is decrease workload).

      As for writing, if you are a guest poster you don’t have to moderate or get involved in the discussion at all (you can’t actually moderate as a guest poster anyway). You can post and then go out for the day.

      Even a logged in author afaik doesn’t have to take part in the discussion. I guess if it was a particularly controversial post that might be a bit unfair on the other authors. Perhaps someone could clarify on that?

      • Bill 21.1.1

        Clarify? So a guest poster cannot moderate. An author can only moderate their own posts. That leaves…a few peeps.

        Just me. After my experience of posting up what I thought was an innocuous post and coming back to a screed of all hell having broken loose, I tend to stay around my own posts for wee while at least.

        As for the rest of it, it can be a problem with time, availability and somewhat patchy modes of communication between moderators, but contentious posts are ‘sat on’. .

    • Bill 21.2

      If you have an issue to write about that might go over (say) 700 words, then see if you can break it down into two discrete posts. That’s what I tend to do. As mickey says upthread(?) somewhere, longer posts don’t seem to attract as much interaction as shorter, ‘single point’ ones. That’s not to say they aren’t as read, but 500 odd words seems to be a good, digestible length for some reason. I suppose where the writing style is up to it, people might just get hooked in by the flow though? I dunno. (Thinking puddleglum on that front just because I find his stuff particularly engaging and easy to read.)

      • One Anonymous Bloke 21.2.1

        Good prose (like Puddleglum’s) is good prose and a pleasure to read. That said, paring down doesn’t hurt: the length of a piece is best proportional to the amount of information imparted.

        I haven’t forgotten your encouragement to contribute something.

      • Puddleglum 21.2.2

        Thanks for the compliment Bill – much appreciated.

        I read (and comment) here mainly because I find really insightful, different and usually heartfelt opinions being expressed in a way that is far more direct than I can manage – and that is definitely the case with your posts and comments, Bill, which I always try to read if I see them.

    • BLiP 21.3

      I wish I had the time to craft some posts, but am deterred; not just by the compressing of complex issues into 500 words, but also by the need to tend the post afterwards (such moderation could easily be as time consuming as the original writing). Perhaps next time I come across an issue that is interesting but doesn’t make me too furious to type, I might give it a go.

      Do it, please! Even if you’re furious. Calling a spade a bloody shovel is not a sin and passion lends to veracity, IMO. Just check any facts your position relies on before pressing the submit button.

      Don’t worry too much about the 500 words or tending the post. First off, there are Authors here more than willing and able to help shape your post before it appears. This has helped me lots. I still struggle with a bad tendency to verbiage but, then again, some of the things I want to say actually require 750 words, or even a 1000. I guess, just as long as what is being said makes sense and the entire post has an internal coherency, its fine. Links to DOX are great and, yeah, tell me about, they can can send you off on time-sponge tangents. Handy hint: don’t click links until you’ve read the post and, if you want to, chucked in a comment. Caveat- this can be a bit tricky if your comment relates specifically to what fact or position is being bolstered by the link.

      As for tending the comments section, that’s not compulsory. I don’t with my posts. I might make the odd reply here and there but I’ve invested a little bit of myself into writing the post and am something of a sensitive soul. That means my response to anything that’s said about it will come from a subjective perspective which means I’m not really the best person to be responding or moderating. Also, there is a learning curve to moderating and it takes a long time to get any good at it. If learn, and it actually quite a fun thing to do, the crew here will help.

      • Pasupial 21.3.1

        BLiP

        The problem with posting while angry is that it would be all too easy to get TS into legal difficulties with unsubstantiated rumours and defamation, especially with the new “cyberbullying” law. Much of the point of making a guest post would be to relieve some of the pressure on regular posters, not make their task harder. As you point out above (http://thestandard.org.nz/standard-changes/#comment-1076909), one of the best reasons for having a; Report Comment button, is to crowd source the detection of such legally perilous statements.

        I feel, even when just making a comment, it is de rigeur to respond to any replies (that aren’t blatant trolling), which is why I tend to comment less these days – being AFK so much. Though fortunately Bill seems to have responded to Weka’s concerns yestereve. A guest poster wouldn’t have moderation powers, but I imagine that I’d use the Report button a lot more one my own post than on another’s (unless I saw a potential legal site risk).

    • Tracey 21.4

      You don’t need to be around to moderate your own post. I have posted and NOT been able to moderate so leave a message on the internal system and ask for anyone who is a round to keep an eye out. I cannot ban people, and am happy with that system. Someone else judges whether that is appropriate. I can issue warnings (as I did to Clem the other day)

  22. Stuart Munro 22

    Personally I think the banning is too frequent/heavy handed – but then my political rhetoric is influenced by Game of Thrones & Conan the Barbarian – which mete out fairly robust poetic solutions to rogues not much different to NZ MPs.

    • Tracey 22.1

      Which, with respect, is quite a traditional male way to treat such things, which is fine if you are male. What is acceptable to, and works for, some chaps is unacceptable and driving away, for some women. It is not an easy thing to work out. BUT we have lost female authors and commenters because of it. Finding some kind of middle ground is the way but it’s more elusive than it seems.

  23. RedLogix 23

    Well The Standard (as a collective of left-wing authors – not a machine) is definitely going through an evolutionary crisis.

    Seven years ago it started as a very masculine, robust space where almost anything was allowed short of advocating anything criminal, libelous, boring flames-wars or doxing. And only the worst extremes of blatant racism or sexism were moderated.

    Well it’s changed. In order to attract and try to retain more authors it was necessary to make the place safer and more appealing to a wider range of sensitivities. But that has come at the cost of making moderation a more subtle and demanding task. I find I’m not up to it any more – the mistakes cause far more trouble than I’m willing to live with. And damage there has been.

    Alongside this I find topics around gender and race are pretty much no-go zones these days. Increasingly it’s easier to self-censor and avoid controversy.

    Still I retain a strong loyalty to this place; the left in this country is almost moribund at the moment and without The Standard it would be DOA. It’s worth fighting for people.

    But right now it’s also asking way too much physically and emotionally of a very small number of people. And that is not a stable, or sustainable configuration. No-one has any right to ask more of Lynn. Nor of Anthony Robins.

    So the challenge to everyone who does value The Standard is to consider what they can do to keep this place alive and vigorous into the future. Not something for someone else to do – but what is it YOU are capable of doing, however large or small, to make a positive difference.

    • mickysavage 23.1

      Ta RL. You are one of the people Anne is talking about.

      Basically I think the site needs four posts a day as well as OM and DR and N&F. Fifteen authors so that ten can contribute a post a week and three can post two and two post five.

      And a group providing support.

      And a community behind making sure that TS lives up to its historical mandate.

      • weka 23.1.1

        @ micky, that’s very helpful coming from a long time author perspective. How much of that exists currently?

        @Red, I agree completely that the focus should be on increasing support and decreasing workload for existing authors/admin, and that we in the commenting seats can think about how to do that.

    • The lost sheep 23.2

      topics around gender and race are pretty much no-go zones these days. Increasingly it’s easier to self-censor and avoid controversy.

      …the left in this country is almost moribund at the moment

      IMO, the syndrome described in second line is tightly connected with symptom outlined in first.
      But given up trying to suggest so to people suffering from the condition.
      That’s the real issue with dogma. You can’t question what you can’t question.

      • The lost sheep 23.2.1

        Thought after break for strong drink…

        Honestly, how long is it since anyone wanting to speak to an Left Wing audience has not started off by first considering the things you cannot say according to the current dogma?
        And then ticking the boxes of the things you must say according to the current dogma?
        And finally, considering what you can say of your own thoughts that falls safely between those two primary considerations?

        The Left cannot produce vibrant and spontaneous leaders any more? The Left has lost it’s ability to convince the public of the rightness of it’s vision with a compelling narrative?

        No connection with dogma. No. Not safe to say. Obey the dogma. Do not challenge the boundaries. Above all, do not risk a free and spontaneous thought giving offense. Fark. Another strong drink needed

        • One Anonymous Bloke 23.2.1.1

          Perhaps you can articulate a specific example of the phenomenon you assert. For a start, what is it you aren’t “allowed” to say? Do you believe your remarks are somehow beyond criticism? Can you accept that drivel is drivel no matter how hard you clutch at it?

        • weka 23.2.1.2

          Lost sheep, it’s be good if this didn’t get politicised. If you start making this about the political spectrum there’s just going to be an argument which will need to be moderated and will take time and energy away from the purpose of the post which is to garner feedback about the proposed moderation changes.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 23.2.2

        I’m curious. When was it you suggested that gender and race issues are the problem? Can’t I question that?

        That’s the problem with drivel: it’s drivel.

        • weka 23.2.2.1

          one man’s drivel is another man’s insightful comment. Who gets to decide where the objectivity bar is?

          • One Anonymous Bloke 23.2.2.1.1

            Neither: I’m quite happy to leave that to the reader.

            • weka 23.2.2.1.1.1

              really? I thought you took the view that people’s drivel have to be pointed out to them in strong terms irrespective of how that affected the conversation.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                So you say, and it’s up to the reader to decide where the objectivity bar is, eh.

                • weka

                  I was inviting you to clarify. And it looks like you missed my point (or sidestepped it).

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    I’m pondering it: it expanded quite a bit from the whereabouts of objectivity.

                  • The lost sheep

                    Yes.
                    I do note that OAB’s commenting ‘style’ has come up as quite a regular topic in this thread about changes to TS.
                    Personally I think the changes proposed in the post might eliminate some of his more bigoted anti-social excesses, and guide him towards being a more tolerant and inclusive TS citizen.
                    When he is reformed, I suggest we set a date for a virtual group hug.

    • RedBaronCV 23.3

      ( Moderation appears fine to me – although I get lost in some arguments to & fro)

      And yeah I agree we are asking too much of a small group of people so how can we get more resiliance built in. At the 40k-50k of readers this is attracting more than bigger newspapers.

      Money always helps but I can see the arguments against advertisments.

      I did wonder if we could perhaps have a “page 2” of ads only (this is giving as much exposure as the NZHerald just about so it is attractive I think- also given that TS has it’s share of opinion formers ). Then if we wanted to earn some dosh for TS we could pop on over and click on the advertiser list ( perhaps they could post how much they will pay for each view) so we could follow the money and earn a bit for TS. The money would also have to go into trust so there is a cushion if it has to go away, in which changes can be made.

      Of course it goes without saying that editorial is absolutely separate and there is a right of take down or creatively comment. Maybe stick only to coys listed on the stock exchange or above a certain size.

      Subscriptions would help too but there is the problem of paying anonymously – mabe an annual giev alittle appeal so we are divorced from the site?

      • mickysavage 23.3.1

        Yep $ could do all sorts of wonderful things.

        I keep thinking about the demise of the MSM and how extreme and superficial and right wing it has become.

        And how there are so many progressive left wing information sources happening.

        A kick ass left wing agglomeration site for media would be great. But it would need some $ …

        The Guardian model springs to mind.

        • RedBaronCV 23.3.1.1

          Yes I had thought about the Guardian financial model too as a lot of good non MSM writing is spread over a number of internet sites and together it is powerful. Also to do steady digging does mean a wage for someone. And the possibility of going international with links to similar AU and other country sites

        • Ad 23.3.1.2

          Might be more fun and have more real world power starting that up, than being a politician again Mickey.

      • lprent 23.3.2

        The problem with adverts is the same as all of the other issues. Time.

        We don’t have time to chase advertising. Getting an agent to do it (eg like our 4 years with Scoop) means that we get reliant on the money from it and on them doing it. After dealing with late arrivals of operational money far too often and paying for supporting the site when I was also paying for body corporate levies, I eventually just figured out how to reduce the costs so we didn’t need it.

        These days we largely run off the voluntary donations that come through the Donate button into our bank account. That only works because the direct operational costs of the site are about $250 per month, and the yearly overhead costs are about USD 300. Less than $3500 per year or $300 per month.

        At some point we’d probably like to build up a basic legal fund again to deal with the inevitable legal challenges. We’d expect more with the poorly written Harmful Digital Communications Act and whatever net idiot(s) that the government appoints as “approved agencies”.

        It provides far more room for the adult vexatious legal pests to make unwarranted allegations based on how they feel than on facts. Ramming the approved agencies through district court to educate them about the law and the net will take time and money. I suspect that we’re going to have to draw blood at court from the approved agencies before they start using the Act in a way that is compatible with underlying law and with the way that the internet operates.

        But I’d be surprised if more than a third of the actions taken under this law will be for its ostensible purpose – that of dealing with the cyber-bullying of kids and teens. Most will come from adults.

        BTW: At present, The Standard is in the process of helping to deal with the first court challenge against one of our people in the last 8 years. It is a vexatious private prosecution, the detail of which cannot be referred to for legal reasons. If anyone feels like helping out financially, then use the Donate button. Leaving donations frees up other resources for dealing with legal costs.

        But in view of this court challenge, we may have to rebuild our legal fund which got dissipated in the expense of election year 2014.

    • marty mars 23.4

      personally I don’t see it as a crisis – more evolutionary

      I also think it is okay to opt out of posts/comment threads if the subject or our reaction to the subject is triggering.

  24. One Anonymous Bloke 24

    Levels of sexism and racism are a particular problem.

    Is there a way to combat prejudice other than directly within the community where it emerges? Grass Mud Horse says you can’t stay ahead of new ways to offend.

    I like The Standard moderators’ approach to some posts whereby comments are held back until approved. I think the rejected ones could be sent to open mike for community critique…time and tolerance permitting.

    • Bill 24.1

      So, there’s always going to be prejudice.

      The point is either personally directed shit or inadvertently causing personal offense (referring to sexism and/or racism here) , but instead of accepting that and maybe apologising, getting all combative and defensive, thereby compounding the shit and taking things to ever higher (or deeper) levels.

      I usually hate it when people do what I’m about to do, but…

      Years ago. From my part of the world no woman I ever knew gave a toss about the term ‘bitch’. It had no impact whatsoever. but if the term ‘cow’ was used, well…you simply didn’t. There would have been no pause for an outraged ‘What did you just say!?’ You’d have been clattered – beaten. It was that simple.

      Then I was in another part of the world and casually threw out the term ‘bitch’ and I couldn’t get my head around the reaction. (Different class too so, for me a somewhat confusing lack of physical reaction – so civilised – or dishonest – depending on acculturated perspective)

      So anyway, who determines whether something’s offensive – eg, sexist? And is any particular thing universal? Do the same terms and associations even exist across the English speaking world? What about between different people from the same part of the world? And if someone is said to be ‘thin skinned’ have they maybe a damned good fucking reason to be particularly attuned?

      So here we are on a blog and for most of us the other person is a diminished imagining of a person we’ve never met that we probably construct from a pile of stereotypes we have in our heads. How do we make this blog and its threads comfortable for them and us and everyone who is the real person beyond our imagined constructs? That’s the problem. Whether we fully accept it or not, the (generalising here) pinky/grey male culture here is, by it’s very definition and with all its inherent bias, a really fucking difficult and somewhat foreign place for non- ‘pinky/grey males’ to negotiate or navigate.

      We’re wont to be favouring a cultural bias that excludes or makes things more difficult than need be for a majority of people. Personally I don’t favour ‘forcing’ them to ‘fit in or fuck off’. I’d rather we (the environment) changed.

      Jeez. Rant over – not my most articulate. Maybe something worthwhile can be fished from the gloop. Not caring at the moment.

      • Puddleglum 24.1.1

        It was very articulate. And it hits a whole lot of nails on the head.

        One of the worst things that can happen to any human being is to feel excluded or humiliated.

        I wouldn’t wish either on my worst enemy, let alone on people who genuinely want to add their voice and experience to this modern invention called the public world.

        [Edit: ‘public world’ = ‘public sphere’]

        • Bill 24.1.1.1

          Then, my perspective suggests that ‘ts’ has to take on board the fact that it’s exclusive and change.

          But some of this is stuff a fair number of people don’t even recognise when it’s in front of them or when they are the ones perpetuating it. And those numbers are made up from commenters, authors and moderators.

          So…

          I mean, we can’t leave it, because it’s losing voices…unless ‘the standard’ happily and collectively settles for being an ever more crystalised expression of a boys/ lads/old mens club.

      • marty mars 24.1.2

        all of us need to watch for our inherent bias and luckily other commenters usually spot it – it is self correcting within the environment.

        • Bill 24.1.2.1

          No marty, that’s the problem. It (the sexism and racism) isn’t self correcting. There are numerous instances of fucking unbelievable levels of shit that have rolled on and on, either between one person and another, a group of people and one other, or two distinct groups etc and some of those instances have lost us valuable contributors.

          And that’s the bit I can’t come up with an elegant solution to. I cannot for the world of me figure how to separate out that shit so it can be dealt with while leaving general ad hominem shit alone. And the reason I can’t figure it is because the divisions, if they really even exist at all, are grey. My genuinely pointed but general ‘throw-away’ insult or jibe is anothers just as genuinely felt piece of patriarchal bullshit descending – or not – depending.

          And as always ‘the dominant’ cultural mind set within the environment tends to dismiss or diminish the criticism, objection or complaint of ‘the other’.

          Now, if ‘the standard’ is to be a place for the broadest possible expression of ‘the left’….

          • marty mars 24.1.2.1.1

            Good points Bill – you have a kind heart imo.

            If it is seen, it is named. If it continues it is banned.

            The world and our country are not ‘safe’ places from sexism or racism – those who suffer from these attacks are aware of this imo – maybe it is too much to expect TS to be free of the vileness.

            I have to say I have found myself feeling utterly upset by some ‘left’ commenters who are unaware of their personal ‘issues’ around this and feeling even worse as the explanations they receive from the offended are just absolutely dismissed, minimised and discarded by them – what to do? Distress tolerance is what we call it at work.

            • Stephanie 24.1.2.1.1.1

              Sorry, deleting this comment myself. I don’t actually want to be involved in this conversation, it’s too pointlessly angry-making.

  25. maui 25

    What about re-posting articles from the Maoriland Worker? I’ve been looking at some of their old articles on the Papers Past site, and even though they’re 100 years old they could be talking about today’s society… strange as it is. I would be happy to email some through, but someone would need to check that they’re appropriate for the current day Standard 🙂

  26. weka 26

    Re getting more gender diversity in authors and commenters. I think that the standard is a generally unsafe and pretty unpleasant place for women to talk about politics that are important to them. It’s probably not even that safe for me to say that. If we want more women writing and commenting here then that would need to change. I think adjusting the moderation a bit would help a lot.

    In terms of getting women writing posts, I think the people that should be listened to on what would work are the women already writing (Tracey, Stephanie, Karol if anyone is still in touch with her). From the commenting side perspective, I think that putting a stop early on to various behaviours (send people to OM) would change things.

    It’s been appalling watching what Stephanie has had to go through at times including blatant breaches of the policy on not criticising or harassing authors (and I note she hasn’t written or commented much in recent times). I thought that Stephanie should have just shut those behaviours down by putting people into moderation, but then she has to deal with people attacking her elsewhere (on ts, in moderated comments and I would guess in email and other places on the net). This isn’t about Stephanie, because I think any strong feminist writing here on difficult gender issues is going to experience additional challenges.

    I’d like to suggest more support from the other moderators, but that’s increasing the workload, so maybe it’s something to bear in mind over time and new writers/mods come on board. My other suggestion is that some topics get all special treatment like the posts by MPs, but again, that’s more work for the mods. Ts probably need a women’s caucus where these things can be nutted out by the women affected (authors and commenters).

    I’m also aware that on the harder discussions on feminist issues many women don’t feel safe enough to comment. Those voices are the ones we need to be making space for if we want things to change politically.

    I think it’s ok for men to take a step back and not comment in those threads or start their own discussion elsewere, rather than bringing their own needs into it. As hard as that might be, the more space that can be made for women’s voices, the more likely it is that women will speak up.

    • Bill 26.1

      Hmm. Since one of the suggestions is that any author can ban anyone from their post for any unspecified reason, then if adopted, there would be nothing to prevent women only comments posts…bearing in mind that gender isn’t always obvious – but then, if ‘Julie’ is sounding suspect, ban him 😉

      Referring to the type of shit seen around Stephanie’s moderating – there are other suggestions back-end that didn’t go public – such as modes of communication between authors so that one author/mod can quickly flick another or others a request that someone else moderate “comment x” in light of probable or possible back-lash.

    • Tracey 26.2

      Thanks for saying this. I too,(like RedLogix) have written a few comments and then deleted them because I just don’t have the energy to keep defending myself. For example, I know that vto takes comments about certain gender issues to heart. I find that I just can’t be bothered, so there are things I won’t rite about as an author or a commenter.

  27. BLiP 27

    Great to see this rolling out. As far as I can tell, none of these changes will effect The Standard’s regulars nor any new visitor willing to engage positively in whatever is being discussed. Rather, its the Authors, Mods, and Admins who might have to change their ways in order to accommodate a slightly-more formal process for maintaining a positive “tone” (for lack of a better word) and a welcoming environment for new Authors, Mods and Admins.

    Don’t get me wrong: some of my best friends are grumpy, pakeha, middle-aged men and I find little to argue with in their posts. I would, though, love to see some more perspectives, especially from Maori, any other cultures, yoof (which I define as Under-30 years), and women. The few requirements such contributors need, really, is an ability to string together a sentence, something to say, and for that to be framed within a New Zealand politics context.

    Bring it on.

    • Tracey 27.1

      “some of my best friends are grumpy, pakeha, middle-aged men ”

      My very best male friend is that, but retired not middle-aged. I love him dearly.

  28. Vaughan Little 28

    comments toward the end remind me that there’s this only occasionally reported phenomenon of women copping quite a bit of negative shit in online comments, emails etc. like, industrial strength trolling. if it’s demonstrable that women are getting turned off reading, commenting on or posting on this site, it strikes me as worthwhile that some specific policy be developed to being them back in like Michael corleone in the godfather 3: a sequel too far.

    my christian group at uni had a men’s officer and a women’s officer to handle gender related issues. it seems that ts is way underresourced for this but in a perfecter world it might be good to have a designated person to chase up some.of this gender related stuff.

    my only.other bright idea on this is to ask.if anyone out there knows of codes of conduct operating on.other blogsites that we could.rip.off…

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