I have tried very hard not to delete comments, even if they are abusive. I believe in free speech and don't like the idea of censorship. However, I've recently received numerous requests from readers of my blog to address the issue of abusive and hateful comments.

Here is the rule. If you have something to say, say it without racial slurs. Otherwise, I will consider deleting it. If you post a comment which does not contribute to the conversation or is completely off-topic, I will delete it.

And a special rule for Mr. ICANN Troll. Please limit your criticisms of ICANN to posts about ICANN. You're always saying the same thing and I already get your point. Any random "ICANN sucks!" posts on non-ICANN related posts will be deleted. This also applies to the "Kill Japs!" and "Japs suck!" comments. I will leave them on Japan related topics, but will delete them from unrelated topics.

I will generally tolerate abuse against myself or entities I'm involved in more than abuse against other people commenting or other companies and groups of people.

Have I left anything out?

30 Comments

"Here is the rule. If you have something to say, say it without racial slurs."

I haven't seen the comments in question, but I've read before that stating such a specific rule simply invites trolls to test the boundaries in other directions. I suspect a more vague "I will not tolerate abusive comments" rule would be more effective.

"Love Japs! Japs are cool!
ICANN Rules!" - the anti-troll

I thought that the spurious comments, especially from Mr. ICANN, were becomming more frequent and annoyingly off-topic.

If people are going to troll then they should at least be a little more original.

Posting an identical comment over and over is boring, and just makes them look like a loon.

I do not think the actions you have described in this post are in fact 'censorship'.
You are still allowing comments from trolls, but you are ensuring that the authors of the comments remain 'on-topic'.

This is just being a stricter editorial policy on comments.

If you deleted all comments that you personally disagree with, that is censorship.
And I doubt that you would do such a thing.

Groetjes

Keitaro

Joi, just do a livejournal. Log IPs.

Give your frequent posters a login and password they have to use. Any trolls that want to signup to multiple accounts can get caught on their own.

And please, please enable threading, and set up a customizable killfile for users.

The volume on your blog comes close to that on high traffic lists or usenet groups sometimes, with comments in response to other comments, and it gets painful to read it this way

I think there is a Spam-Tool for MT-Users. I use the Blacklist from it, but actually don't run a Site with MT.

Here is the URL of the List:

http://www.jayallen.org/comment_spam/blacklist.txt

But I know what you mean. The problem is, you can' t really do something against these suckers. I WILL NOT LOOSE and so I use the blacklist-thing. :)

Cya and keep on rolling.
greetz
cipha

Joi - I totally agree. where it becomes abusive and totally irrelevant in a constructive context you have the right to censor. So this habit is called "trolling" the perpetrator being a "troll" is this correct? We have started to call it "blog stalking" BTW I find the content of this blog sometimes too intellectually elite, but it keeps me on my toes with such intrigue in to a technology laidened existence.

Andrew Berglund,

I feel the same way as you for I am not truly into all of the cutting-edge internet technology and whatnot, but I do enjoy this blog. Nonetheless, I don't beleve this blog is "intellectually elite;" the interest of Joi himself seem to be so specific, concentrated in internet technology that to anyone looking for a fun, easygoing blog would be disappointed.

HalcyonReaction,

In full embrace of your opinion - I do emphasise "sometimes" this content is "intellectually elite" - aspects I enjoy about Joi's blog is that with all the technology that surrounds Joi - he seems very real and down to earth in his perceptions - and by nature he is quite intellectual. ;) He is the compassionate Tetsuo!

Joi,

Long time reader, first time poster. Was surprised to see this entry frankly. I don't usually read threads just original blog posts. It seems that you are experiencing the modern phenom of becoming popular and pulling the baggage that comes with it. In this day and age with all the lonely party spoilers how can anything popular avoid the crass interuptions of those with absolutely nothing to say but a willingness to say it.

Your response is commendable, responsible, and friendly.
Please keep up the great work as many of us truly enjoy reading your blog.

Hi Joi,

I'm glad you're stepping in to stop some of the more outrageous comments that have been appearing recently. Some of the ones I've seen from the last week made my head spin around 360 degrees. It's a difficult choice between ignoring this as gauche behavior as you might an off-color comment at a public place, censoring the comments by removing them, or confronting them directly. When I am riled up I tend to call people on their crazier steroetyping, but there are times when it just seems too difficult (i.e. my ex-barber going off on "the blacks" while holding a razor to my head).

It is unfortunate that any popular site admin is eventually forced into the role of "the censor" to enforce what anywhere else would be unspoken and obvious rules of ettiquette. Somehow the trolls will always contrive to make you "the bad guy" for just expecting people to behave themselves. In the meantime habitual bad apples have plenty of time to run amuck and cause as much damage as they can, often driving off the folks you probably prefer to have around.

The internet is almost entirely pervasive in my life at this point, but one of the areas in which is has almost entirely failed is as a meeting place for people I do not intend to have a "real" face to face relationships with. The main reason for this is the extreme shift in behavior that many people encounter the moment they step online... many net preachers are looking to have a sermon rather than a conversation.

Anyhow "ganbale!" I doubt most folks consider your stance anything but reasonable.

F A N T A S T I C

from the title to the end of the post.

now, could governments get a clue from this....

Responding to trolls in any way simply encourages them to continue. A post acknowledging them is heaven to a troll.

Simply delete their crap and don't mention it.

"I will generally tolerate abuse against myself or entities I'm involved in more than abuse against other people commenting or other companies and groups of people."

Joi, this is YOUR blog. You don't have to "tolerate" anything. If you wish to allow certain comments as a way of showing your commitment to certain principles, that's a different matter. But overall I'd go so far as to say that most readers of your blog would not have a problem with whatever rules or restrictions you impose on your OWN webspace.

An autocracy is not *necessarily* a bad thing. It only turns sour when the autocrat is an egotistical idiot - which you clearly are not. And in a small community like this, it can be made to work just fine.

"This also applies to the "Kill Japs!" and "Japs suck!" comments. I will leave them on Japan related topics, but will delete them from unrelated topics."

What?! This seems over indulgent to me. What value does allowing these sorts of comments (even in Japan related threads) add to the discussion? Unless I'm reading this wrong, it seems like an invitation for trolling.

What about "Icann Japanese people sucks" on a post related to both Japan and Icann like this one?

Well, Ok, maybe it was not funny. Was it?

"What value does allowing these sorts of comments (even in Japan related threads) add to the discussion?"


Well actually it does add to the discussion, though not in a directly appreciable way. *Relevant* troll comments might not necessarily make sense or live up to the standards of an ongoing discussion, but it sort of makes the people involved realize that there ARE folks out there with these sort of whacko ideologies....that not everyone is as open minded and geniunely inquisitive as we would like to believe. It keeps us in touch with reality, kind of.

After all, the majority of Joi's readers do not reflect the personalities of the majority of the world. Wouldn't hurt to allow some diversity, so that we don't fall into a trough of some ultra-pseudo-intellectual debate with everybody patting everybody else's back with a "Jolly Good!" whenever someone quotes Kant or Rawls. :-)

Leaving "kill Japs!" and other attacks against things that I'm associated with is a matter of principle. Your mileage may vary.

Me, I wouldnt say "kill japs" or "japs suck" - but I would for example point at the extremely insular and non cosmopolitan attitude that some japanese have by choice, almost feel like some people think it is just not done to be more cosmopolitan and blend in with the rest of the world.

And I'd have a quiet laugh at gweilo (well, thats cantonese, whats the japanese term for it) who want to be more japanese than the japanese, and love the entire chopsticks + tea ceremony + exaggerated scrutiny of name cards routine to excess.

That's .. well, I'd call it constructive criticism.

You've got some trolls infesting your blog who would do very well on the meow / flonk / nose newsgroups or alt.usenet.kooks in its heyday. No, maybe not auk - some of the old kooks had real class, and were quite entertaining at times. This lot you've got are just sad and pathetic is all.

There is a difference between being an editor and being a censor.

There's no reason you need tolerate rudeness towards you or your readers.

well put Joi.

a diversity of opinion is welcome, and that is clear in the dicussions. discussion is something constructive, it is one element of democracy. however to offer a constructive contribution in discussion one needs to stand for and have some values. being against something, or expressing hate towards other humans, is however something totally different, and certainly you are right in excluding those.

you are being more than fair by giving warning, this is your site, your space, it is a bit like your living room. you set the rules, you decide. but then, you got this figure out long ago. it is very gracious of you to address the issue and spell it out. the rest of us who comment are guests. thanks for allowing me to visit once in a while.

thanks for doing this.

"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid." - Kierkegaard, Soren

When a government denies free speech it provides no alternative venue for the speech and backs up its policy with its monopoly on coercion. There is no free-speech issue on a blog or forum because the right to post elseswhere is not denied.

A clear and well-defined Moderation Policy is essential for any comment-driven site. In ours we have examples about the use of the word "Jap" (not acceptable in most cases) and "gaijin" (acceptable in most cases), and sections about the difference between insults and generalisations, talking about previous employers and more. If people don't like these rules there are plenty of other places they can post.

Some of the above posters are correct in saying that trolls will continue to try to subvert rules, and unfortunately the rulebook grows larger due to their determination. There is also an opposite problem, where posters brand other posters as "trolls" to try to get them banned.

More on Trolls here: http://members.aol.com/intwg/trolls.htm

I agree with Jim. At the end of the day, no matter what you do with your site it is *still* your site. Editing comments that will cause offence is not against the rules. Considering your history of posting your views and engaging with the people who disagree I don't think many regular readers will consider your editing to be censorship in any way.

However, I do see the troll thing as an ongoing, increasing problem and despite the feelings of most of us about central registration of any kind, it seems that most web technologies at some stage *always* get to the same stage of requiring some form of establishing id or credibility.

Personal security certs anyone? :(

Joi

I'm in the "living room" camp.

You've done a lot for blogging. I doing so you've done a lot to promote freedom of speech by removing the restrictions on the printing press. There's no need to host troll commentary. If someone really wants to convey these messages as speech, they can go to Typepad and get their own blog.

Anyone can pop onto a forum and post a grating comment. It is not really speech. It is simply static in a larger system. With all those fingers on those keyboards, some are not attached to real participants.

If someone were to post "Kill Mexicans" on my blog, I'd delete it. Not because I feel threatened, or offended, or consider it to be hate speech. I'd delete it because it is not speech, it is not a statement. It is a tittering troll that is delighted to the words he just typed smeared all over the wall.

It's not censorship. It's not even editing. It's weeding. Removing the troll droppings so that the trolls are discouraged and real commentary can grow.

Deleting comments or blocking IPs or just plain keeping someone *from commenting on YOUR blog* is NOT censorship. They have every right to go somewhere else. It IS like avoiding that annoying person at the party. It IS like throwing that annoying person out if he/she crosses YOUR line of acceptability.

Weblogs, as a technology, as a medium, are an extension of us. Therefore they have characteristics we have. Because they are a technology of communication, they also have characteristics of our social interactions. Techno-social, as Mimi would say. There is nothign wrong with telling someone who *should* STFU, *to* STFU.

Policy on Comment spam
Happy Trolls
Playing with trolls
Don't feed the trolls

Suresh Ramasubramanian offers a great insight into the underlying technology being used here. Your fine blog has become a CNS (Community Network System) and deserves that class of software.

On the underlying issue, I feel your pain. I recently had to delete a series of comments, when I accused another Web site of abuse and was abused in turn by its members. I'm asking myself some hard questions right now.

Stay well. Enjoy the wedding. Come to Atlanta some time.

Yes. I should think about making the comments more organized. Anyone have any good suggestions on MT plugins or other ways to make a login based threaded comment system? Maybe I should ask Anil...

Joi,

Having MT logins based threads actually shuts the door - no slams the door into the faces of bloggers like me. This is your foo you handle it, but for the sake of logins and threads I personnally don't comment at all on such blogs. Why ?? Its About the cluetrain correct ?? Converstions on the live web. If you don't trust that we read into what is a troll or not, then it becomes a triust issue with the larger blogshere. When did any think that they can begin to make people think ??

Yes, we see the same reactions of trolling with scobles, rubles, dave winer etc. Do they have logins for comments ???

Editing comments that will cause offence is not against the rules. Considering your history of posting your views and engaging with the people who disagree I don't think many pen regular readers will consider your editing to be censorship in any way.

Pen regulars huh? ;-)

Disemvowelment, à la Making Light. Lets you keep a soupçon of troll without the gamey taste o'erpowering the whole stew ...

"" "Kill Japs!" and "Japs suck!" comments. I will leave them on Japan related topics,

Leaving "kill Japs!" and other attacks against things that I'm associated with is a matter of principle. ""

Dude, why? Is this some kind of "shikata ga nai" thing?

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Reglas de conducta según Joi Ito from Abriendo Juego, Abriendo Mundos
September 2, 2005 2:19 AM

Joi Ito es una gran figura mundial de la bloguesfera y un iniciador de muchos emprendimientos positivos, y Lawrence Lessig me lo recomendó con mucha fuerza, así que espero poder encontrarlo pronto. Ito, que es Gerente General de Operaciones Internacio Read More

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