Thursday, 18 August 2016

Editorial control

This is my blog and obviously I take responsibility for what I write.

There are a number of laws that could impact what I say, from Human Rights on freedom of expression, to Harassment and Defamation legislation. I try to be careful. I try to make it clear when expressing an honest opinion and not stating a fact. I try to be truthful and accurate. And no - this post is no because someone has had a go at me :-)

However, the comments section is perhaps more of a difficult issue. I don't take responsibility for the comments. They are posted by other people.

As a general policy I post all comments. Even if I do not agree with what they say. I'll respond if I don't agree, but I respect the basic right to freedom of expression of those that wish to debate the points I am making.

However, there is one exception, well, two actually. One is simple - duplicate posts - blogspot does not make it obvious that posts are moderated and so we get duplicates and I delete them. Not an issue I am sure.

However, the other area is spam. Where a post is deliberately just trying to get links to other sites to sell stuff, or in some cases just gibberish. Spam is usually very easy to spot, and quite a lot is clearly automated.

The issue is that this is a form of editorial control over the comments. That could, in theory, gain me some degree of liability for the comments if they are themselves defamatory. I don't want editorial control for that reason, but I don't want spam. I also don't want people thinking I only post favourable responses to my blog posts - that is not the case.

The editorial control to zap spam is not something that is in any way editing the comments people are genuinely making on my original post. So I hope it does not make me an editor.

However, it is also worth explaining the main criteria I use for this.
  • If the comment is totally unrelated and looks automated, then I'll delete it. This is getting rarer, as the bots are looking for keywords in posts now and making related posts.
  • If the comment links to some other product or site that is related, I make a judgement on whether I think it is a genuine person making a genuine helpful recommendation (which happens) or just a bot or spam post. I want to allow people to make useful comments obviously, but spammers are increasingly posting comments like "how very helpful my post was, and look I found a really good company that does this [link]". A big clue is a proper link in the comment rather than just the name of a company. Another clue is the wording style.
If you have made a genuine comment and I have deleted it, please do make it again and add some explanation. I would not want to zap a genuine comment.

But should I edit these at all, or just allow them unmoderated?
Is my judgement on this sensible or should I use other criteria?


  1. Hopefully s5(12) should give you some additional comfort:

    1. I should say anyone linking to is fine :-)
      Would you say that I am the web site operator, or google/blogspot?

    2. It is not defined in the Act, or in the Regulations which set out the procedure which an "operator" must follow (, and I would argue that, since you have the technical ability to exercise control, you are an operator of this website. However, I don't think this precludes Google/blogspot from also being an "operator".

  2. What a helpful post! I have a great product that can help you out...
    Just joking.
    I think this is really interesting. What constitutes "editing" and what is filtering out the rubbish?
    Can you establish "rules" for comments, so that you can eliminate those that break the rules, and does that distance yourself from the editing side which indicates that you are making individual judgements on posts?
    Maybe if you established a set of basic rules for posting comments that are published right above the "post a comment" field, then you are making it clear what the rules of the website are, and any actions you take are merely upholding these transparently communicated principles, and for the benefit of all users of the site.

    1. A comments policy would probably not help. Here is my bit of experience...

      I have a business/corporate website which had an extensive comments policy to address the blog comments. It could be roughly summed up as "Spam, off-topic,non-english,profane & copyrighted material posts are deleted. We don't edit posts except in two cases - 1) to add HTML links where appropriate 2) delete excessive profanity where the rest of the post is genuinely useful".

      In 2010, lawyers from a corporation (I won't name them, but they are british and they deal in telecoms), sent me formal notice for one post that they disagreed with, and ordered its removal.
      IIRC, their stance was that as I visibly stated that I approved all posts in my comments policy, then I had editorial control and thus was liable for their content.
      As the post was not that important, together with the fact that I had neither the money or time, it was simply removed.

  3. A few weeks ago, I posted a comment on the IPv6 thread, regarding ZyXEL routers, in fact praising AAISP support for getting mine working adequately.

    That post never appeared on the blog, so I imagined that you found it off topic. Fine by me.

    From what you say here, it looks like it should have gone through anyway, so it raises the question of why it didn't?

    Is it possible that the moderation process is subject to human (even your) error?

    1. Please do post again - I don't recall it. That should have been posted. That does bring up the case of blogspot going wrong for some reason, which can happen too. But it is also possible I just clicked wrong - the delete and publish are next to each other in the emails.

    2. There's an irritating Google issue I've hit a few times on here - if you aren't logged in yet, you can compose a comment; hitting 'publish' will then take you to a login page - but the comment text gets discarded in the process, you'll have to come back and re-submit it after logging in before it will actually get submitted.

  4. ED Conqueror

    Get the real facts in Michael Steel’s ED Conqueror System Review. Does Erectile Dysfunction Conqueror PDF work? Is ED Conqueror eBook Scam or Legit?

    1. Allowed this one as an example of spam.

    2. It's mental isn't it? I know you take spam and its impact very seriously, but I can't quite help but acknowledge that the only reason it exists it because on some level, it does work and does generate a payback to the instigators of it.
      The fact that we have to continually improve our technology to try and nullify it in a kind of arms race just shows that there were always be people who try and take advantage.

    3. I think these days most of the money in spam is selling spam services to people who don't know any better, not actually generating any sales.

  5. Absolutely agree with your policy. I do the same for my blog and don't 'feel' like I'm censoring or editing content. I'd always rather have a discussion with somebody who doesn't agree or see my point of view than just try to censor them.
    But some of these spam posts are getting more and more sneaky and I have to read several times to check!