I got a direct message on Twitter from a friend when I got home today, asking why he had been placed on moderation. Somehow, our computer had read him as a new user and blocked his comments until I approved them. But that started me thinking how often people seem to have mistaken ideas about how we operate here at Voices, and what I do here. So, I thought I would share a few facts I have shared before. Several times recently, I have been asked questions that indicate that there is widespread misunderstanding about how we work.
Frankly, some of that is intentional. There are people out there who twist the truth to make a point, and no amount of truth-telling can straighten them out. It does little good to present facts to them, because they do not let the facts get in the way of their story-lines. But I thought that the readers of Voices might find it helpful if I reiterated the truth about how we operate.
So, here is the straight scoop.
1) This is NOT my blog.
[Editors note: since the time of this writing in 2012, this has changed. The history is accurate, but the blog has now transferred ownership to Dave]
His Eminence, the Rev. Dr. Tony Kummer owns and runs this blog. He started it and then got less interested in SBC politics, so he turned it over to the Highly Reverend Matt Svoboda, who ran it for a year or two. Then, when Matt gave up the reigns, Tony asked me to run it (on my birthday in 2010 – September 13). I have been the editor since then.
So, as editor, I do three things. First, I write. Second, I manage the schedule of posts. My goal is to have three a day Monday through Friday, and to post on the weekends as the mood hits me – a lot of special interest or discussion forum type stuff. The third thing I do is the least enjoyable. I moderate the comments. People really do not like that. Some have taken a deleted comment as an insult to their very existence. But, I try to manage conflict and keep the discussion at least somewhat friendly on the blog.
But, this is not my blog. It’s Tony’s. I answer to him.
2) The opinions of the other writers are NOT my own.
I had a certain vision for this blog when I took over. I thought we should be posting two or three times a day – a variety of topics and writers. To do that, I put out a call for contributors and put together a team of writers. Others have joined us along the way.
Here’s the thing. With very few exceptions, I simply post what the contributors put in the queue. There have been a couple of times when I have questioned posts that I felt were over the top. This has led to some of my “fan club” – that’s what I call the half-dozen or so people who don’t like me and talk about it fairly often – to complain about my consistency.
Let’s say, for instance, I post on the need for more balanced dialogue on a particular subject and then the next post from one of our contributors is a strident treatment that topic. That will bring out my fan club questioning my sincerity (that’s their main job, enumerating my failures of integrity). But, the simple fact is that I write what I write and others write what they write.
I do not generally censor posts, not without the most egregious of reasons.
3) I am one of the least technologically savvy people who run a blog.
People contact me all the time with formatting questions, with questions about the way the site operates. I give them the same answer. I don’t know.
One of our regulars contacted me yesterday with questions about opening one of our posts. I gave her my normal answer. I don’t understand it. I think I blamed demons.
Often, people act like they don’t believe me. But if Tony didn’t have technological prowess, this site would not be around. I know how to write and schedule posts. I know how to delete comments and put people in moderation or block them. Beyond that, if it is a technical question, it is likely to go way over my head.
4) Much of our moderation here is computer-driven.
People don’t like to get moderated. In my years of doing this, I have blocked 3 men – all for repeated abuse of our commenting policies. I have placed a few people on moderation for repeated (but less egregious) violation of policy, especially for commenting off topic and trying to steer the discussion off topic.
But a good bit of the moderation here is done by our programming, and sometimes it is mystifying. Here is what I know.
- If you are a first-time commenter, your comment will be in moderation until I approve it. After that, you are in the club.
- If you are a repeat commenter, but your IP address, or the way you write your name, or your website, or anything else changes, you will end up back in moderation. The computer treats you as a first timer.
- If you used two links in your comment, its going in moderation until I approve it.
- Sometimes, the computer has a moment of spiritual darkness and tags a comment as either SPAM or sends it to moderation. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get things straightened out (if I can).
If I am putting someone on moderation, I generally give them an email explaining why. So, if your comments are disappearing and you haven’t heard from me, just let me know. It’s probably some kind of glitch.
5) I have no control over the “SBC Watchlist” aggregator.
That is Tony’s project. He adds blogs and removes them at his discretion. I have made suggestions to him and he has taken some of them and not taken others.
I wouldn’t even know how to run that thing if he gave me control. People ask me all the time about whether I could add them to the list or not. I can’t. I can suggest it to Tony, but the list is his.
6) I don’t read everything here.
I’ve got a job. This blog takes way more of my time than perhaps I should give it. But I cannot be a full-time blogger. (Is there such a thing?) I do not read all the comments, especially on posts I do not write.
If you see something that you find offensive, don’t assume I’ve read it. Email me and let me know. I’ll check it out when I have time.
If you have any other questions, I’ll take a crack at answering them.