Bloggers, beware inflammatory posts & comments

No matter which side of the political aisle we support, I am concerned about the level of near-hysteria and inflammatory remarks by bloggers in general. There is also a concern for those who leave comments on blogs, perhaps not realizing that they put the blog owner at risk for libel. The current atmosphere also divides the political blogosphere even more than it already is. The key point is not to mention someone by name with unfounded allegations (e.g., no credible sources to back up the points). Or, even with credible sources, remember that both you and those sources could be sued.

Yes, I know, there are far too many doing just that about Minister Bev Oda. But, I’d still like to suggest we all pull together and behave better than some in the House of Commons and mainstream media are doing at the moment (and we all know who they are), by writing and debating with dignity and respect.  And, remember, bloggers are legally responsible for whatever is on their blogs and, as I suggest in my first paragraph, possibly even where they link.

The crux of the matter is that, because I have had to edit so many comments lately, I have decided to leave my comment feature on full moderation for the next little while — particularly if we find ourselves in the middle of a federal election campaign. The problem with that is, of course, that I can’t be at the computer 24/7. However, I will approve comments as often as I can between 9am and 9pm. And, let me say in advance, that I very much appreciate the understanding and support of all my regular readers — and commenters!

17 thoughts on “Bloggers, beware inflammatory posts & comments

  1. Rural and Right — Sorry but I have to disagree. The law is not so cut and dried. What is truth to one person, or allegedly comedy to another, may be based on a faulty assumption somewhere along the way. In any event, I don’t want to be fighting the definition of truth and comedy before a justice, that is for sure.

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  2. Indeed this is risky business, but as Chomsky says not nearly as risky as doing it in, say, SE Turkey. Don’t know if you will appreciate my latest attempt at humour, but perhaps some old DND management theory types will get some of the more obscure allusions.

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  3. John M — I don’t mind humour as long as it is not something about an individual or organization that can be construed as defammation. I mean I mention people by name all the time. We just have to be sure we are not trashing them without sources to back us up. And, even then, we are supposed to use the word “alleged” as the police and legal profession do.

    The thing is that I am not anonymous. I use my full name. While that hasn’t protected people who have been sued, I have even more reason for caution. Anonymous commenters who think they are safe are in wonderland as they can usually be traced — even when they use proxys.

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  4. The problem, as I see it, is that usually bloggers don’t get hundreds or thousands of daily visitors, unless what they write is controversial. Which means, being controversial is the way to go, which can also mean being inflammatory. Which means….

    You get the idea. Writing controversy or infammatory comments brings more visitors which in turn, means writing more controversey and so on.

    In many ways, the federal opposition parties are acting in pretty much the same way. They are getting attention for all their faux scandals but the Canadian people are fed up and the polls are showing a backlash.

    Where all this ugliness is going, I have no idea. I just don’t want any part in it.

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  5. I started comment moderation about a year after moving out of Blogspot. I did notice one side benefit of moderation: although comments were much less, they were of much better quality than, say, the unmoderated ones at the Globe & Mail site.

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  6. Sandy, been there, done that. We were reasonably, if not wildly popular for a couple of years until our recent technical challenges, and even now we’re back comfortably over 1,000 page hits a day, sometimes close to that many unique visits.

    Neither Debi nor I make any particular effort to remain anonymous, and I’ve often signed my true name to comments under other bloggers’ posts I thought were advancing an important topic, such as your article here.

    Our friend and colleague Aaron Krowne in Atlanta GA (we actually helped promote ML-Implode in early January ’07, which is why our humble site still leads their blogroll) has experienced an amazing amount of flack over the last couple of years, notably over his criticism of SFDPA, with pretty grave consequences.

    This hobby has always been unnerving by times, and since the smears and threats started coming at Assange downright terrifying.

    Still, I feel that it’s important **somebody** sticks their neck out to dialogue when something as basic and fundamental as the integrity of our democracy is at play.

    Cheers, John McLeod, Halifax Canada

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  7. It’s common courtesy to write a comment that show discretion and respect but I have to say, since learning how to blog, I doubt that you have anything to fear.

    The stuff that I have heard said or read on MSM outlets about just, this PM, you have nothing to worry about.

    If there is no one reining those libelous statements in, then it’s safe to probably say anything?
    So many sites, so little time to pick and choose the worst libelous of the worst libelous! (sarc)

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  8. Sandy, would love to have your opinion on the latest scandal du jour called “in and out”.
    It appears the media and the opposition are on the same page equating it with the Sponsorship scandal.

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  9. Bec — There have been several law suits already so I do have something to fear. Two or three years ago, for instance, there were three bloggers on the National explaining that they had been sued. One fellow had been sued for a link to another site, not even something he had written himself. The strange thing was that the site where he linked wasn’t sued. That didn’t make any sense. The other issue is the MSM sources that allow libelous comments have deep pockets. I don’t.

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  10. Liz J — The only thing I have to say about the “in and out” is that it is so complicated that the general public is yawning. It is not about exchanging taxpayers money for political favours, no matter what the opposition scream. It is donated money we are talking about, not taxpayers money. And, all parties used to do it.

    The Liberals want desperately to shake off the sponsorship scandal. But, they can’t. It will go down in annuls of Canadian political scandals along side the Canadian Pacific Railway scandal — for much the same reasons.

    What I hope is that fines are paid and the issue dropped because there are now new practices in place. End of story for most of us. To continue ranting about it in the HOC just makes the opposition look out of control and hysterical. They seem to have no idea what they look like these days when there are so much more important issues to discuss, like the Middle East.

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  11. Yes this concern about inappropriate comments of any kind is probably one of the most annoying aspects of blogging. It really is a no-win situation.

    You either put the whole thing on moderation or else you have to trust your ‘regulars’ to behave themselves. For the most part it’s working at my place to have some people in the filter. But I have had to delete a few comments lately.

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  12. You’ve hit the nail on the head Sandy, it’s not about taxpayers money, it’s donated money from folks like us. It’s not anywhere close to the sponsorship scandal.

    Why then are the talking heads and scribes like David Akin and others getting away with this?

    Should the PM ignore this or what are his options?

    Paying the fine might end it but they seem to be holding on tenaciously, saying they followed the rules at the time.

    As you say it’s complicated for sure.
    It’s also complicated for the lazy journalists who seem to want to spin one side. They can’t handle the whole story because it doesn’t fit their agenda perhaps?

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  13. Liz J — Yesterday, I found that the only media still paying attention to the “in and out” story was the CBC. I heard nothing on CTV or Global. By the way, I am very impressed with Dawna Friesen at Global. No smearing. Very professional. Both sides of each story. Solution? Don’t watch CBC or QP in the HOC which is only for the cameras, not the people of Canada or the world.

    There is something else going on right now. The “in and out” is all the Liberals have right now. And, they want desperately to stay away from talking about the elephant in the room — that former Liberal PM Martin broke bread with the Libyan dictator and right after Mr. Martin’s visit, said dictator is alleged to have deposited billions in Canadian banks.

    Interesting that we are not hearing much about that. Hmmm. You think?

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