A Policy Under Consideration

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371 Responses

  1. Ken White says:

    I am more likely to be rude on an individual basis to people who show up to say "I love it when you write about Subject X but wish you didn't write about subject Y," or "why are you spending so much time talking about issue Q when issue R is more important? Is it because you are blinded by your liberalconsertarianism?" The answer to the latter question, by the way, is "because go fuck yourself."

  2. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Why? Is it really so annoying? (This refers to your post, not your comment.)

  3. David says:

    I only like your posts when they don't have the letter Q in them.

  4. Ken White says:

    Why? Is it really so annoying?

    Yes.

    I personally find "I really like Ken but I can't stand Clark" to be more personally offensive than, say "Ken, you're completely biased and full of shit about this issue because [reasons]."

  5. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Especially since you do want to read all the authors, because where would Popehat be without a debate between blog authors about whether it is justifiable to order a hitman to kill someone to protect your drug empire.

  6. SarahW says:

    Wondering what brand Via Angus is rockin'.

  7. ben says:

    Is it possible to have separate RSS feeds by author? Your site, your choice of authors, but it would be a fairly painless way to let folks choose what they read more easily?

  8. Beware, lest by doing so you damage the Popehat brand.

  9. bill. says:

    Do it. Off-topic whiners are the worst.

  10. Kilroy says:

    I like your posts on shamming, but no so much the posts on banning. It was really disappointing that we didn't get your take on the the Miley/Sinead feud.

  11. Sems says:

    Sounds perfect to me! Comments like that are such a waste, and a complete lack of contribution to a topic.

    While I'm here, why are you writing about policy changes when you could be writing about copyright trolls? I like when you write about copyright trolls!

  12. Luke says:

    The first pasting I saw was hilarious.

    On a side note, if Clark goes back to his ee cummings titles, can we mock those?

  13. Clark says:

    I will defend to my death your right to mock my CapiTalization.

  14. Robert H. says:

    Popehat author Q would NEVER institute this banning policy. That guy is the dreamiest.

  15. Kevin says:

    These kinds of comments, though obviously douchey, don't seem to really derail the conversation much, and sometimes can be good for the lulz. So I don't see the point in banning them.

    Also, the fact that the principal "beneficiary" of such a policy, Clark, is on record as being opposed to this sort of banning, seems like it should be considered.

  16. E says:

    As a lurker who often wants to write those posts but stops because they're a total waste of time, I say go for it.

  17. Ken Hamer says:

    If people "wish I could read Popehat author Q without reading Popehat author Z" then why don't they just not read author Z?

    I've not read anything here by either Q or Z. But I suspect that I would like Z while not liking Q, especially since Q is branding your damage.

  18. Clark says:

    Also, the fact that the principal "beneficiary" of such a policy, Clark, is on record as being opposed to this sort of banning, seems like it should be considered.

    I think Ken, as the one who is annoyed by the whining, is actually the beneficiary. The fact that I defend a vigorous exchange of ideas (including the idea "your writing on this topic sucks") sort of argues that I really don't benefit much, no?

  19. Sturdley says:

    Even if I felt that way, I'd never declare such an opinion. It's always foolish to insult one's hosts, but banning would deprive the rest of us of knowing who such people are as well as the occasional popcorn-worthy moment.

    If you're soliciting opinion between ban and paste, I vote paste. If this is just trollbait, then I, um, uh…

  20. Ken White says:

    Is it possible to have separate RSS feeds by author? Your site, your choice of authors, but it would be a fairly painless way to let folks choose what they read more easily?

    It may be possible for anyone who wants such a thing to program some feed reader to accomplish it for them. For myself, I will spend a fortnight thinking up ways to say "go eat a bag of dicks" before I will spend a heartbeat helping anyone too lazy or entitled to scroll.

  21. Anonymous Coward says:

    Fight speech you don't like with more speech, instead of censorship. I learned that from Ken.

    Also, Clark sucks. :P

  22. Ken White says:

    So I don't see the point in banning them.

    What's the point in scratching your ass when it itches?

    Also, the fact that the principal "beneficiary" of such a policy, Clark, is on record as being opposed to this sort of banning, seems like it should be considered.

    Actually, Clark has his fans who say the opposite. But Clark is not the only beneficiary. I am also the beneficiary to the extent I get to vent my displeasure to assholes who are typing what amounts to "Ken I think you are a vapid narcissistic tool who will appreciate it when I say I like you but hate your coblogger here in your own living room."

  23. Ken in NJ says:

    It's annoying, I suppose, but banworthy? Meh. You're the boss, though, so it doesn't really matter how much it doesn't bother me. I would, however, raise two points:

    1) The main author who seems to draw the overwhelming majority of those type of comments — Clark — has been pretty vocal about his opposition to that sort of moderation; and

    2) Banning someone on this site for violating a new rule that can only be found on facebook, as Patrick did yesterday, is kind of fucked up

  24. Luke says:

    Feedly already displays the author name along with the post in magazine view. Reading that name is also a very painless way for folks to choose what they want to read.

  25. David says:

    I refuse to believe you haven't already devoted two weeks of real time to figuring out synonyms for "go eat a bag of dicks." I mean, that's half the process of communicating with opposing counsel.

  26. Is it possible to have separate RSS feeds by author?

    Yes, this already exists. Click on the author name in the header of a blog entry and then tell your browser to show you the RSS feeds in the metadata for the page, and it'll give you the URL of an RSS feed for just that author.

    I have to admit that I find the "we're a package deal" chip that the Popehat authors seem to have on their shoulders to be somewhat amusing. Given how different you all are both in style and in the types of things you write about, it's not at all surprising that many people will want to read some of you and not others.

    I think you sort of invite the "I like author A but not B" comments by virtue of the fact that your blog is quite rare in publishing such a wide range of styles, topics, and opinions. I therefore think it's a bit twitchy for you to be so shocked when people comment about it.

  27. Allen says:

    I can smell the ban/paste from here… it smells like victory.

    Just as a stray thought, going into someone else's living room and yelling at them about how fucked up their house is might not be taken real well.

  28. Kevin says:

    @Clark

    The fact that I defend a vigorous exchange of ideas (including the idea "your writing on this topic sucks") sort of argues that I really don't benefit much, no?

    Yeah, that's kind of what I was getting at with the scare quotes around "beneficiary".

  29. Ben says:

    So I'm not the only one with this sentiment about the relative intellectual merits of the two main popehat writers?

    Sorry, but the other guy lost my respect when he conflated "atheists" with "those who believe that only material things are real" without batting an eyelash.

  30. Ken White says:

    I have to admit that I find the "we're a package deal" chip that the Popehat authors seem to have on their shoulders to be somewhat amusing. Given how different you all are both in style and in the types of things you write about, it's not at all surprising that many people will want to read some of you and not others.

    It's not the desire to be selective.

    It's the desire to have to ANNOUNCE TO EVERYBODY HOW LOOK LOOK I'M BEING SELECTIVE. Congrats. Do you want a lollypop?

  31. Ryan says:

    Meh; the chorus of "you learn more by reading people you disagree with" seems a less labour-intensive (for the bloggers) method than handing out bans/pasting.

    Like someone else said about, it may be irritating but it's not as if they really derail.

  32. I am also the beneficiary to the extent I get to vent my displeasure to assholes who are typing what amounts to "Ken I think you are a vapid narcissistic tool who will appreciate it when I say I like you but hate your coblogger here in your own living room."

    Perhaps this is what some of the people making these comments mean, but I really don't think most of them do. I think imputing this deeper meaning to people's comments might say more about you than it does about them.

    I think that, by and large, people who say they don't like reading Clark's stuff are not saying it to flatter you. They are saying it to dis Clark. That's a significant difference.

    They also may be saying it because they hope that if enough people express that kind of feedback maybe Clark will go away. Perhaps there isn't a snowball's chance in hell of that happening, but if they feel that strongly about it, I'm not sure you can blame them for trying.

    And I can't say that I find the living-room analogy all that compelling. Chatting with your cobloggers in your living room is not the same as publishing stuff for thousands of people to read. If that's all it is to you, then make the blog private and give a few of your friends passwords. If, on the other hand, you actually want the stuff you write to be public and to be read, then I don't think it's reasonable to be so annoyed when people express their opinions about what they'd like to read more of.

    And if people expressing those opinions really bothers you that much, then maybe you are a bit of a vapid narcissistic tool. "You will take whatever we choose to publish for you and like it! Don't you dare express any opinions to the contrary."

  33. Ken White says:

    Jonathan expresses aptly the attitude that is making me reconsider whether to continue blogging at all.

  34. Simon says:

    @Jonathan
    Would you rather read comments that relate to the topic on hand, or a bunch of dicks complaining about the author? It isn't "people expressing opinions" that's the problem. Ban away, I say.

    Personally, I preferred Popehat when it was a fashion blog.

  35. AlphaCentauri says:

    Everyone is going to have their own favorite authors/topics. But the RSS feed I get (via Seamonkey) shows me enough to know who wrote each post and what it's about. I don't get people who think it's too much trouble to use the arrow key and only click the links in the articles they want to read.

    And it's pretty ignorant to speak badly to one author about another on the same blog when they've told you that they are working together by choice and mutual respect. Clark can defend himself against haters just fine, but Ken shouldn't have to be dragged into those discussions just because someone chose to use him for comparison.

    And anyway, if Clark ever does go off his meds, I'd just as soon get some warning before I hear about it on the news ;)

  36. Are the Popehat authors saying that they do not wish to hear these opinions expressed at all, or that they do not think blog comments are the appropriate manner through which to express them? If the latter, then in what manner would they consider it appropriate for these opinions to be expressed?

  37. repsac3 says:

    I prefer pastage to banning, but I say go for it, if that is what you wish… Your (collective, I think) house, your (collective) rules.

    I didn't even know Q was still a blogger here… I always skipped that waste of timer's crap, and now it's like I don't even see it posted on the blog… (…I guess.) Anyone who has a negative opinion of an author or subject here can easily pretend they just don't exist… (There's a commenter or two here for whom that…well…nevermind.)

    Life's to short to spend much time reading/reacting to bad posts, bloggers, comments or commenters… I didn't always know that, but now I (mostly) do.

  38. Billy V says:

    I really like normal Ken but dislike pastering mood Ken. In all honesty I don't agree with anything person X says no matter who X is. When I don't and don't think my post will add to a discussion I do the unthinkable… I don't coment. I know in this day it is unheard of but people do agree with person X and trolling them does nothing to help a discussion. Ban em, it will only make discussions on here more intelligent. If you cannot add to a discussion then you are just wasting bandwidth by replying.

  39. Tom says:

    ETA – this took me a few minutes to write, and it looks like the comments moved on a LOT since I wrote it. Apologies for the repetition.

    Feeling leery about posting so transparently, but I figured the request for comment was a request for honest comment, rather than carefully self-censored comment.

    Reading Clark's posts, I feel a visceral dislike for him which seems entirely out of proportion to whatever offense he's caused (viz, none). Of course, that's the reaction smug assholes have got for the history of humanity. If you want to ban people for disliking one of the most unlikeable bloggers I've ever read (or me for expressing that dislike flatly, in this case), it's your living room.

    That said, a policy which would seem more reasonable to the clearly large contingent of your audience who dislikes Clark might be to ban someone when they post that they love X and hate Y without otherwise contributing to the conversation.

    Either way, just coming up with a ban policy doesn't address the underlying point – many of your readers are put off by Clark, and I'd suspect that an even greater proportion of potential readers who do not become regular readers are put off by Clark, though obviously I can't prove the second point. If this blog has a goal, it is likely that the above pair of facts contribute negatively to your chances of achieving that goal. If you want, for example, the widest cross-section of lawyers and potential experts to see Popehat signals, or if you intend to do your little bit to pull discourse in a libertarian (or, less politicized, a pro-free-speech) direction, or the like, then Clark is actively undermining the mission. If the purpose is something like grandstanding, or self-expression, perhaps not.

  40. cpast says:

    @Jonathan Kamens

    I'm not so sure about that. The idea isn't to force people who don't want to read author Y from reading Y. Rather, if you don't like reading Y, you could just not read Y. The byline comes before the text of the article, at least on the webpage. If you don't like reading Y and never want to read him again, you probably shouldn't read him, and then shouldn't jump into the comments section. The way I read it, you'd be free to reply to Y's posts with "Y, you're full of shit"; you'd only have an issue if you say "Popehat would be better with only X, and not Y".

    That said, while it's obviously your call, I think that the rule (if imposed) should be pretty narrow. If I wanted to say "Again, Y proves that unlike X, he doesn't know what he's talking about because A, B, and C; X is way better", that looks (to me) like it actually contributes to a discussion. Is it being somewhat of an asshole? Sort of, but it isn't contribution-free, unlike "Time to switch the bookmark to popehat.com/author/X."

    I find it kinda ironic that most posts like "Popehat would be better with only X and not Y" have X=Ken and Y=Clark, and Ken's proposing this and Clark doesn't like it. However, I assume it's really largely because Ken is getting annoyed by these posts, not to prevent criticism of Clark.

    @Tom

    I sometimes feel somewhat similarly about Clark, but I've realized that some of the posts that have made me think the most were his. If he makes a post, I'll still generally read it, but if I get too annoyed, I close the browser tab and go do something more productive. I don't feel the need to comment if my only comment would be "This pisses me off for generic reasons."

  41. "[T]oo lazy . . . to scroll"? Don't you realize how difficult and time-consuming it is to (1) read the name of the author and then (2) not read the article?

  42. Pete Newell says:

    Well, you know, I happen to enjoy reading a greater proportion of posts from some of you more than I enjoy reading posts form some others. I somehow get the impression that complaining about the posts i don't care for so much would have a whole lot of effect, though. "What? You don't like me? I'm sorry. I didn't know. I'll just stop now."
    Fortunately, I have the ability to – and this is key – not read that things I don't want to read. Funny how that works, isn't it?
    It's a big old internet out there, and even if all of the tubes fail me there's people I can talk to (and listen to) and these funny old sheaves of papers all over my house with little marks on them that I can look at and imagine patterns into.
    I'm told there's this place called "outside", too, but I'm not sure I really buy into that. It's just crazy talk.

  43. Erwin says:

    I like pasting for a first offense, with a comment that conduct XYZ is bannable, followed by banning when repeated. There are a few posters here who might complain about blogger A on occasion who contribute useful insight on occasion.

    Personally, I see this as your living room. I learn something from many of the bloggers here. And, well, I would consider it reasonably civil and amusing for you to also select 'ban-worthy' posts for concerted mockery. (consider implementing a banhammer section similar to the elitistjerks website and selecting your most spiteful bloggers to run it – the basic idea is to make moderation fun.)

    –Erwin

  44. EPWJ says:

    Does this mean we won't have any more opera posts? My daughter read yesterdays opera post and NOW she wants to go to one.

    In North West Tennessee….

    The last time anything close to an opera broke out in Henry county is when the pallet gave way and the Lincoln's still rolled into the ravine

    thanks…..

  45. Ken White says:

    I like pasting for a first offense, with a comment that conduct XYZ is bannable, followed by banning when repeated. There are a few posters here who might complain about blogger A on occasion who contribute useful insight on occasion.

    That might be more moderate.

  46. EPWJ says:

    Also who the hell is clark?

  47. adam says:

    oh my what a lively debate. well, at least no one has proven Godwin's law….yet.

  48. Clark says:

    @Jonathan

    I think that, by and large, people who say they don't like reading Clark's stuff are not saying it to flatter you. They are saying it to dis Clark. That's a significant difference.

    Three points:

    1) I agree with Jonathan here. Ken's reaction is "how dare they dis my friend – do they think that will curry favor with me?". But that reaction does not mean that that is the intention.

    2) I grow tired of the "I hate Clark" comments. Not because they hurt my feelings (anyone who knows me can tell you that I have no feelings, and only get even slightly perturbed when I'm hard pressed in a game of 3-dimensional Vulcan chess), but because the information content is so damned low. I was forced to watch an hour of network news over the weekend and these comments have the same inane juxtaposition of "look at me, I'm so serious" and "I have almost nothing to say" that the MSM does.

    3) I am always and everywhere in favor of more speech, not less. Ken may choose to ban anti-Clark commenters, but it so, he will do so in the face of my disagreement.

    Censorship (and please put aside for a moment the "but this is a private forum" argument; it's irrelevant to this point) hurts not just the censored by the censors, because the "authorities" lose out on the useful feedback of what the people / readers / whoever are thinking.

    Wait. A fourth point.

    This

    Chatting with your cobloggers in your living room is not the same as publishing stuff for thousands of people to read. If that's all it is to you, then make the blog private and give a few of your friends passwords.

    strikes me as inane and petty.

    It doesn't just defend the censor's veto, it celebrates it. Don't want to get heckled on the street for holding hands with your gay lover? Then keep that shit behind closed doors! Don't want people to ask you if that Asian child is really your son or not? You should have reconciled yourself to childlessness! etc.

    I'm not a partisan for Ken's side in this, and I'm actually sort of inclined towards your position, but this is perhaps the worst possible defense – the argument that incivility is and should be the expected norm and the only valid defense is to self-closet.

  49. Dan Weber says:

    Mmmm, glue.

  50. tsrblke says:

    It may be possible for anyone who wants such a thing to program some feed reader to accomplish it for them. For myself, I will spend a fortnight thinking up ways to say "go eat a bag of dicks" before I will spend a heartbeat helping anyone too lazy or entitled to scroll.

    Ken, you may be on to something here. Develop the RSS but have every entry be "go eat a bag of dicks."

    ;).
    (Please don't ban me!)

  51. Aaron says:

    I second the 'pasting seems more like a better option than banning' opinion, and this pet peeve seems to really have struck a nerve with Ken, one of our gracious hosts.

    That being said:

    Ken, Patrick, Clark, David, Via, et. al: I started reading Popehat after Matt Inman mentioned it on the Oatmeal. I've been a regular reader and occasional commentor ever since. And I love reading it. I check it for new posts in Currents on my phone and when I have a moment on my computer. Ken, I hope that if you do reevaluate blogging, you decide to stick with it.

  52. Mike says:

    Pardon me for being dense, but what is "pasting"?

  53. Mike says:

    Scratch that. Like an idiot, I didn't see the link. How did it taste, indeed.

  54. Cat G says:

    Well, it's Ken's (and his co-authors') blog, so they can do whatever they want. To take a "more speech" approach, you could always set up your own blog to say "I think Via Angus needs to get cube steaked and braised before being placed on a bun, topped with bacon, and consumed. This author writes tripe and deserves to be a delicious entree." (Or whatever author you may dislike.)

    In keeping with the "more speech" aspect, though, I'd rather a pasting than a banning. Plus, it's more entertaining.

  55. Clark says:

    @cpast:

    I find it kinda ironic that most posts like "Popehat would be better with only X and not Y" have X=Ken and Y=Clark, and Ken's proposing this and Clark doesn't like it.

    Yes.

    However, I assume it's really largely because Ken is getting annoyed by these posts

    Yes.

    not to prevent criticism of Clark.

    It's my belief that Ken would be entirely un-annoyed with posts of the form "Clark, your most recent post was defective in three ways. First, it was unfair to lesbian dwarves. Second, it entirely misquoted the president. Third…"

    What Ken dislikes – I believe – is comments that strike him as the equivalent of a preschooler turning his plate full of macaroni upside down on the rug while saying "DON'T LIKE! WANT PIZZA!!"

  56. ZK says:

    I wouldn't presume to speak for the authors, but suspect "Clark is contribute negatively to your chances of achieving [your] goal" is not particularly persuasive given the reaction to the very similar branding comments, @Tom. My impression is that there is no hidden agenda to Popehat to be so compromised.

    I also am not a huge fan of banning, largely due to Clark's opposition to it, but also because I worry that as a geek with poor social skills, I might one day, despite my best efforts, say something that would be unwelcome in one's living room. In this case I would much prefer to eat paste.

  57. Clark says:

    @Aaron

    Ken, I hope that if you do reevaluate blogging, you decide to stick with it.

    Ken loves the spotlight too much to ever really give it up, the same way that Anne Althouse loves arguing with commenters too much to ever turn the comments off.

    My two cents.

  58. Simon says:

    I agree with Clark that "the "authorities" lose out on the useful feedback of what the people / readers / whoever are thinking" when you ban commenters.
    However, if you're holding a sewing bee, and an angry drunk stands in the middle of the room shouting about how much he hates sewing, you aren't missing much by kicking him out.

  59. Ivraatiems says:

    What I think would bring a little more clarity to this discussion is a succinct answer (from Ken, being as he is Man in Charge Man) to the question "What is Popehat for?"

    A lot of people seem to think Popehat is some kind of public service publishing outlet, which has a certain need to serve its audience (by introducing controls so people don't have to read authors they dislike). That doesn't seem quite right, judging by Ken's comments here.

    Others seem to think Popehat is really meant to be a sooper-secret meeting of libertarian free-speech advocates, and anyone else who comes in is therefore pissing on the metaphorical carpet. I think that, given the relatively lax moderation of the comments section here, and how active Ken and Clark and other authors are in engaging readers who do comment, it's not that either.

    So, Popehat doesn't seem to exist solely to serve its readers, and it doesn't seem to exist solely to act as a shoutin' hill for its writers. Is the answer somewhere between the two, and if so, is there even a solution to this problem which will reconcile a desire to let people have their say with a desire not to be insulted on one's own doorstep?

  60. Loweeel says:

    Ken, I'm disappointed that you didn't close with "Govern yourselves accordingly."

  61. Clark says:

    @ZK

    I also am not a huge fan of banning, largely due to Clark's opposition to it, but also because I worry that as a geek with poor social skills, I might one day, despite my best efforts, say something that would be unwelcome in one's living room. In this case I would much prefer to eat paste.

    I've got a post queued up with the working title "I was sexually harassed at a science fiction convention".

    One moral of the story: sometimes nerds mean well and express it poorly.

  62. Colin says:

    Banning is a very heavy-handed response to what seem to me to be a small number of bad comments.

    You guys and the other commenters are good at making it very clear which comments are rude and unwelcome, and I think this is works well enough in keeping people mostly polite and on-topic. It seems more in keeping with Popehat's irreverent spirit.

  63. BradnSA says:

    There's more than one author? I need to pay better attention.

  64. Garrett says:

    @Ken: How do you view requests for additional content tags? Eg. somebody might be interested in the hands-on practice of law, but less in the theoretical concepts, and might request that posts be tagged appropriately. On one hand, it can be hard to know what a post is about without actually reading it, and on the other, you can always stop reading it if you aren't interested. Thoughts?

  65. Cat G says:

    I just wanted to take a moment to say that if Ken ever writes a book on internet culture, the title should be "200 ways to say 'Go Eat A Bag of Dicks'".

    I would buy the hell out of it.

  66. Tom says:

    @ZK I don't think the agenda is hidden, per se. Just that Ken, and Clark, both have reasons for posting here. If those reasons include a desire to either attract, retain, or persuade readers, then it might behoove each of them to reflect (or self-reflect) on whether Clark really needs to act in such a way as to cause these reactions, whether Clark might be able to avoid them whilst still making any substantive point he would like.

    @Simon that's a relatively poor comparison – the drunk is disrupting something in a way that low-content throwaway comments don't.

  67. Shane says:

    @Ken White

    Jonathan expresses aptly the attitude that is making me reconsider whether to continue blogging at all.

    My wife went to the last Sound Garden concert ever. I loved early Sound Garden. Apparently at the last concert all that could be seen from the stage that they were playing from was the fucking mosh pit. Apparently that wasn't really what the guys thought their music was about, and apparently this was the last straw. For me this example shows very clearly the difficulty we have seeing the unseen. What the band couldn't see from the stage was the throngs sitting away from the mosh pit. What the band couldn't see was the people that were profoundly influenced by their music and the message it contained. These things are hidden, but utterly important. Sometimes it seems we stand against insanity, but remember there are countless that are counting on one man doing this.

    If you are a narcissist then this won't help. If you are venting then it might.

  68. Kilroy says:

    Really shooting for that most commented post title aren't you, Clark? That one should do it.

  69. Tom says:

    @Ivraatiems I think you've hit the nail on the head. If I understood better what Ken & Clark each think Popehat is for, then perhaps I would retract my comments.

    Edit to fix broken tags – clearly I do not know how to tag, or how to use an instant preview which is painfully easy to use.

  70. ZK says:

    @Clark,

    I'd hope I wouldn't express anything quite so poorly as that, but tend to generally pray not for justice, but for mercy. Just to be on the safe side.

    Or not for banning, but for paste, as it were.

  71. Ken White says:

    There's more than one author? I need to pay better attention.

    You and my father. "Boy, you had your meds checked recently?"

  72. Clark says:

    @BradnSA

    There's more than one author? I need to pay better attention.

    10 second play bill:

    All the annoying, stupid, extreme, autistic, and libertarian posts come from this guy "Clark".

    Most of the good posts come from "Ken".

  73. Ivraatiems says:

    @Clark @BradnSA

    Ignore anyone who tells you about any so-called "David" or "Patrick." There is only Ken and Clark.

  74. Clark says:

    @lvraatiems

    What I think would bring a little more clarity to this discussion is a succinct answer (from Ken, being as he is Man in Charge Man) to the question "What is Popehat for?"

    My take on it is: "Popehat is to entertain and amuse Ken, in whatever long-form expansion / unpacking of the concept that that entails."

    some kind of public service publishing outlet

    When it amuses Ken to use it for that: yes.

    a sooper-secret meeting of libertarian free-speech advocates

    When that amuses Ken, yes.

    So, Popehat doesn't seem to exist solely to serve its readers

    Solely ? I'd be surprised if it existed to serve its readers at all.

    …except in so far as doing so amuses Ken.

    I can imagine a dozen other expansions, including, but not limited to:

    * an archive of Ken's wit, wisdom, anger, and restraint that his children can look at in the decades to come, and after he's gone.
    * a way for Ken to build his friendships with his cobloggers.
    * a way for Ken to entertain himself and refine his opinions by arguing with his cobloggers and commenters
    * a way for Ken to enjoy the performance art and fame
    * and so forth

    Personally, my take on it is the same as my understanding of British Constitutional theory: it is what it is.

  75. Bethany West says:

    I can usually tell when Clark is posting without reading any byline because (and I suspect that this is the reason so many dislike him) he is popehat's hipster. Who else would open a post with something like Machiavelli (which, I believe, most people don't read, let alone browse over in public school courses) and let that be his whole post? Popehat, like our fair country, is a veritable rainbow of ideas and people. It's silly to give much weight or social power to such opinions as "lose the hipsters because they dress funny and like vinyl" because those opinions are the fuzzy, almost nonexistent edges of our rainbow. I don't like Ken's mouth, sometimes, but had he listened to someone whining about his swearing, we would've missed out on SMT!
    No, popehat is richer for its people (and therefore all its potential), and also whiners annoy me. Which is why I wholeheartedly support any pasting/banning that the bloggers would like to clean up the annoying comments that can spew forth from the internet all over their swivel chairs.

  76. ZK says:

    Ken and Clark? I thought most of the blog was written by Via Angus and a couple of pen-names.

  77. Aaron says:

    @Ivraatiems

    There is only Ken and Clark.

    How can you forget about the magnificent Via Angus?

  78. kelley says:

    I love this blog just the way it is, with opinionated writers communicating their thoughts without pandering and without a marketing and monetization goal. That is incredibly rare. I do not agree with all their opinions, nor do I always agree with their conclusions. I do however think it is a great thing that they keep publishing. As far as this particular quirk, I am not sure that it rises to the level of trollishness, but I can see the irritation factor of having to see it frequently, but eh, my personal threshhold for comments is usually 10 before they annoy me enough that I stop. This particular type of comment is kind of like umm, beyond annoying once you start counting how many times a person says it. So, yeah, it might clean things up a bit, but it in no way would make a difference to me as a reader.

  79. It doesn't just defend the censor's veto, it celebrates it. Don't want to get heckled on the street for holding hands with your gay lover? Then keep that shit behind closed doors! Don't want people to ask you if that Asian child is really your son or not? You should have reconciled yourself to childlessness! etc.

    And now we have the bad-analogy problem again.

    I, along with I hope most others here, do not believe that it is reasonable or appropriate for someone who sees two men holding hands on the street to assume that by doing so they are inviting people to heckle them.

    I, along with I hope most others here, do not believe that it is reasonable or appropriate for someone who sees a caucasian-looking adult with an Asian-looking child to ask intrusive questions about the child's provenance.

    On the other hand, I think it is entirely reasonable for people to assume that a group of people who choose to publish a blog and to allow people to post comments on the blog, are inviting feedback about it.

    I acknowledge the inherent weakness of ad hominem arguments, but "I came here to read Ken but really wish Clark would go away" is not ad hominem, at least not entirely. It is an opinion about the content written by the various authors. The fact that it is expressed by categorizing the content by author doesn't make it ad hominem; it is merely a reflection of the fact that Ken and Clark write so differently, about such different topics, that such a categorization is pretty accurate.

    I also understand that many people view these comments as pointless because they aren't going to convince the publishers of the blog to change anything. I wouldn't be opposed to banning for a repeat offender, i.e., for someone who makes such a comment, is told that it isn't going to accomplish anything and asked to stop, and then does it again. But people who don't know that could reasonably believe that expressing their opinion might cause something to change, so I don't see banning as an appropriate reaction to that.

  80. Erwin says:

    Alternately, possibly pasting, followed by transferring offending posts to a monthly 'poor popehat manners' post, followed by banning for repeat offenses? This depends on how moderate you feel like being and how much fun you feel like having. Personally, I'm a slightly nasty, spiteful, and vindictive person, so I'd take certain viewpoints and behaviors as volunteering for a focused blog post. I'm sensing that you lack the sadistic inclination to properly enjoy that sort of work, but, eh, maybe one of your comrades?

    Another possibility is time-limited banning for initial offenses. (1 day, 1 week, 1 month, goodbye?) This tends to result in people taking you more seriously.

    To more entitled or possibly less NT posters, um, there's a difference between contributing to a discussion and wasting other people's time.

    Good: Explaining why a blog post is idiotic. Questioning the premise of a blog post. Answering a relevant question in the comments. Providing a different opinion.
    Kind of Okay: Related, but off-topic comments (I'm guilty here…) Long posts…
    Not-so-good: Personal attacks, illogical arguments, all possible violations of debate rules, constant repetition, psychoanalysis, demolishing straw man arguments no one actually made
    Sucky: 'I like you but hate blogger X.' 'Because you racist'

    @Ken Non-NTs may make serious social blunders, but, most of the personality disordered and autistic people I've met wouldn't actually stick to 'I like you but hate blogger X' after being corrected. (Some of the more protracted arguments in your threads – those sound a little non-NT, so do some of the longer posts…) Hormone issues also don't cause that behavior. My guess is that that particular behavior, from a neurological standpoint, results from a undiagnosed condition related to low intellectual functioning. As such, persistent behavior along those lines is unlikely to be accompanied with anything of worth. Kinda depends overall – straight bans also communicate clearly and are easy to manage.

    –Erwin

  81. AlphaCentauri says:

    Folks need to enjoy the moment and stop worrying about what Popehat aspires to be in the future. Half the fun is seeing how it all unfolds.

  82. Clark says:

    @ZK

    Ken and Clark? I thought most of the blog was written by Via Angus and a couple of pen-names.

    When the blog shuts down the camera will pull back to show Patrick, an autistic eight year old, playing with a snow globe set of War Hammer 40k miniatures. A regiment of broken and battered Space Marines with a commander (Ken) will be interspersed with the corpses of Tau Fire Caste warriors.

    …and then the camera pulls out further, and it's just Angus, chewing his cud, dreaming that Patrick exists.

  83. Ken White says:

    @Ken: How do you view requests for additional content tags? Eg. somebody might be interested in the hands-on practice of law, but less in the theoretical concepts, and might request that posts be tagged appropriately. On one hand, it can be hard to know what a post is about without actually reading it, and on the other, you can always stop reading it if you aren't interested. Thoughts?

    I am interested in helping people find more of what they like relatively easily. That's why I try to tag my posts, and why occasionally I retro-tag them, as I did yesterday with the tag True Threats.

    I am uninterested in helping people not read things they don't want to read. I am especially uninterested when I perceive that the point of the request "help me more easily not read X" is part of their self-expression "look at me and how much I don't like X."

  84. Ivraatiems says:

    Just because Angus exists does not mean we possess the necessary tools to properly perceive him.

    @Clark

    Arguments for/against censorship aside, that seems pretty close to my second category, except we can replace "sooper-secret libertarians" with "Ken."

    But even though Ken exercises total control and is our most glorious overlord (and even though I am not saying I have any kind of problem with that), I don't think that it's reasonable to expect that Popehat can both be a vehicle for whatever amuses an individual or set of individuals AND a site which acts as a public-service providing forum, even if that's what said individuals happen to want right now.

    I also think that making that fact clearer would eliminate the need for this debate, no matter what side you fall on. And, I would point out that someone wishing to start an argument could easily make claims about hypocrisy if someone opposed to "it's my private forum" censorship spends time making posts on a private forum which censors, even if it doesn't do so at their behest.

  85. delurking says:

    I eat paste

  86. Clark says:

    @Ivraatiems

    Just because Angus exists does not mean we possess the necessary tools to properly perceive him.

    This is my favorite comment in this thread.

  87. Thac0 says:

    I think you should broaden the policy to ban/paste anyone who makes an opinion without supporting statements.

    Yes, that includes this one.

  88. Bethany West says:

    Out of curiosity, what would you do to someone who posted things like "I eat paste" on purpose (perhaps with ironic intent)?

  89. Ivraatiems says:

    @Bethany West

    What can one do to such a person that the horror of a paste-filled existence has not already done?

  90. Kevin says:

    @Tom

    If those reasons include a desire to either attract, retain, or persuade readers, then it might behoove each of them to reflect (or self-reflect) on whether Clark really needs to act in such a way as to cause these reactions, whether Clark might be able to avoid them whilst still making any substantive point he would like.

    As much as they may like to pretend otherwise, the Clark-haters hatred is motivated by ideological disagreement, not style, or "smugness". People LOVE smugness as long as it's coming from someone they agree with.

    So suggesting that Clark should "tone down" his posts is really just a veiled attempt to tell him to get with the program and acquire more politically correct beliefs.

  91. Jay says:

    I came here to read more Jonathan Kamens.

  92. Derp says:

    I really like Clark's writing.

  93. Ivraatiems says:

    @Kevin @Tom

    I don't think the idea should be to encourage Clark to be less smug, as if such a thing were even possible.

    I think the idea needs to be (and probably is) to encourage people to call out Clark on his perceived smugness in a way which doesn't include acting like the puberty train left you behind.

    Whether pasting people who provide unsubstantiated complaints about smugness will help with that goal, I'm not sure.

    There was a place for the word "vainglorious" in this comment but I had some trouble finding it. Oh well.

  94. Clark says:

    @Kevin:

    People LOVE smugness as long as it's coming from someone they agree with.

    If that were true Boing Boing would be a popular web –

    uh.

    Never mind.

  95. deskmerc says:

    It still makes me twitch that in this day and age, where petabytes of information (and I use that word loosely) travel down these wires for people to pick and choose for their own personal consumption, and here's this Popehat thing, off in the corner, that nobody is being forced to read in any way, and yet it still gnaws on some folks SO MUCH that their first knee jerk response is "MY GOD LOOK AT ALL THIS CLARK DRIVEL I AM ANGRY AND MAD MAKE IT STOP".

    Its almost like people WANT to be scourged. If you took Clark away, they'd just need to be hurt by something else.

    This is the 21st century, people. It is possible to not see anything you don't want, so grow some hair on your nutsack and take some initiative for yourself. Don't fob off your personal choices and demands on the website proprietors you aren't even compensating for their efforts.

  96. Unimaginative says:

    New internet people: Gosh, there sure are a lot of different opinions on the internet LOL emoticon !!!1!1

    Experienced internet people: Gosh, there sure are some asshole commenters on the internets, along with some useful (to me) interactions that expand my worldview and knowledge base. All in all, it's a mixed bag.

    Grown up internet people: Well, I'm going to enjoy the good stuff, and ignore the heaping piles of shyte (unless they contain something that I think ought to be reported to some authority in the interests of public safety).

    Other internet people: I shouldn't have to be exposed to ideas I don't agree with. In fact, your attempts to exist in the world in ways I disapprove of are discrimination! That's right. You are discriminating against me by forcing me to be aware that people exist who are not exactly like me!

    Ken: Oh, do fuck off.

    Me: Word.

  97. Whandall says:

    I think if making this change will allow you to let it go, then by all means do it. I'm a bit fascinated that you care that much, but I suppose it's harder to skim or ignore posts that you don't care about when it is your own site.

    Its a common reaction for anyone first visiting a site to express preferences, praise one contributor, and hack on another. I hope you would make this change crystal clear in a place where new posters will find it. But given your clear annoyance, would find it pretty funny if you didn't. Ambushbans yield sweet tears.

  98. Irk says:

    Eatpasting is the new wheatpasting.

  99. deskmerc says:

    Actually I have a suitable punishment for those who complain about specific authors…don't ban them, but instead, jail them in such a way that the only content they can see is that author, in blink tags.

  100. Clark says:

    @deskmerc

    Actually I have a suitable punishment for those who complain about specific authors…don't ban them, but instead, jail them in such a way that the only content they can see is that author, in blink tags.

    One of the Popehat authors beat you to this idea (in the Super l33t author lounge) by 15 minutes.

    David immediately cackled at the idea and started rubbing his hands together.

  101. Ken in NJ says:

    It's not the desire to be selective.

    It's the desire to have to ANNOUNCE TO EVERYBODY HOW LOOK LOOK I'M BEING SELECTIVE.

    They also may be saying it because they hope that if enough people express that kind of feedback maybe Clark will go away. Perhaps there isn't a snowball's chance in hell of that happening, but if they feel that strongly about it, I'm not sure you can blame them for trying.

    I think this really hits the nail on the head. I'm not a prolific commenter on any of the blogs I follow in the first place, so my reaction to a discussion where I dislike the poster is generally to just not comment. In some cases, when the entire discussion is likely to be filled with smug, privileged, self-congratulatory asses all patting themselves and each other on the back about how witty and wise they are, I simply avoid the comments and subsequent similar postings entirely.

    That being said, it's easy to see how tempting it is to say something like the above comments, especially if they feel that the disliked poster is actually making the poster(s) they do like look bad by association.

    I think banning for a first offense is overly harsh. It's easy enough to give out a warning along the line of "Yeah, I now a lot of people think X is a douche, but I think he's interesting and I like him. I don't care that you think he sucks, and I also don't care if you think my association with him makes me look bad too. So your position is noted, and keep it to yourself or I will cut you"

    On the other hand, if you're getting a certain kind of comment so often that it is starting to annoy you to the point of despair and handing out bans, perhaps you should stop and take a moment to think about what the fans are saying about the show.

  102. Mr A says:

    I like deskmerc's point about whining about stuff you don't pay for. Perhaps each Popehat blogger could name his will-stop-blogging-price and create a kickstarter project. Then we'll see how badly these paragons of civility want anyone gone from Ken's living room.

  103. Ivraatiems says:

    @Clark I support this idea provided that the background is your avatar, tiled, extra large.

  104. Clark says:

    $100k and I'm out of here.

    Hell, even $50k might get me to leave. And given that progressives say that the multiplier effect is something like 4:1, you'd see about $200k worth of benefit in the hookers-and-nose-candy sector of the economy in short order.

  105. Tom says:

    @Kevin
    I disagree more often with Ken than with Clark. Your post assumes much about my motivations.

  106. Ken in NJ says:

    All the annoying, stupid, extreme, autistic, and libertarian posts come from this guy "Clark".

    Dude, you are not stupid

  107. jtf says:

    If that were true Boing Boing would be a popular web –

    Couldn't help but laugh.

    I am a connoisseur of oobleck and polyvinyl acetate solutions.

  108. Dave says:

    My thoughts are, while I understand the behavior in question annoys you, Ken, widespread banning for what is really a mild etiquette breach seems inconsistent with your stance as a staunch defender of free speech. Yes, I know that free speech principles do not require you to offer anyone a platform for their speech, but I still think doing so will lessen your moral persuasiveness. If you really feel you must do something about this, go with pasting. Or, my suggestion if technically feasible, replace their avatar with a picture of a pony, that way their words stand, but they are marked as the boors they are.

  109. George William Herbert says:

    Ken writes:

    It's not the desire to be selective.

    It's the desire to have to ANNOUNCE TO EVERYBODY HOW LOOK LOOK I'M BEING SELECTIVE. Congrats. Do you want a lollypop?

    I understand your frustration, but there is a long history of this:

    Plonk (Usenet) – Wikipedia

    Plonk – Urban Dictionary

    Unlike Usenet, this is your playground, so you can set different rules, but others coming here probably have more of the alternate expectation.

    There is a certain amount of dickish anti-Clarkism going around (and some less than dickish but still excess). All I urge is that you find a balance that lets you be happy with discouraging those excesses without requiring me to stop complaining that Angus just doesn't work for me, unless he was in Sunday's or Monday's dinner, in which case I commend his ultimately quite tasty flesh.

  110. George William Herbert says:

    Dave:

    Or, my suggestion if technically feasible, replace their avatar with a picture of a pony, that way their words stand, but they are marked as the boors they are.

    I am running off to Scalzi to suggest this to him.

    Bwhahahahaah.

  111. George William Herbert says:

    Clark:

    And given that progressives say that the multiplier effect is something like 4:1, you'd see about $200k worth of benefit in the hookers-and-nose-candy sector of the economy in short order.

    Don't you need more ammo, and better minivan armor before you start picking up hookers and nose candy?

    I hear the drug dealers and hookers *love* the angular armored vehicle look, it's all the rage with all the police departments these days…

  112. Andy says:

    I have to admit, I don't know much about the software that this site runs on, but am guessing that bans would be either IP or Username/email address based. With most people being on dynamic ip's that can be changed with a flick of the routers power switch and email addresses being easily opened to get back on to comment, how permanent would a ban be?

    The pasting would definitely be my preference, purely as it allows us to see the individuals receiving what could be perceived as their come-up-annces rather than someone suddenly disappearing, which could just be them deciding not to come back rather than them not being allowed back.

    And whilst I generally prefer Kens writing, due to a greater interest in the law than Clark's subject's, I would not ever consider my what I like to be taken as what is good. I mean I like the Animaniacs, and culture they aren't.

    Digressing slightly as finishing point, A Popehat/Terry Pratchett crossover springs to mind now, with the offenders being the new Dwarves.

    Paste, Paste, Paste, Paste.
    Paste, Paste, Paste, Paste etc…….

  113. eddie says:

    What's your policy about people who complain about how Popehat used to be better before it got all famous-like?

    Is it okay if I do it just once?

  114. Walls says:

    The butthurt is strong with this one.

  115. Cat G says:
    Just because Angus exists does not mean we possess the necessary tools to properly perceive him.

    This is my favorite comment in this thread.

    I disagree with this statement. I possess the necessary tools to properly perceive him. Tastebuds, a George Foreman grill, and a knife.

    Moooooooooooooving along here… wait. With the shutdown, what will become of Via Angus? Where exactly did you get that beef, Clark, for salting and drying?

  116. Erwin says:

    @Clark @2:24
    Spittake.
    Beautiful.
    Learned something useful and inspiring today.

    –Erwin

  117. Shane says:

    @deskmerc

    Its almost like people WANT to be scourged. If you took Clark away, they'd just need to be hurt butt hurt by something else.

    Fixed

  118. SIV says:

    Simon • Oct 8, 2013 @1:12 pm

    @Jonathan

    Personally, I preferred Popehat when it was a fashion blog.

    I have a great fashion blog! It's pretty popular on the tumblr.

  119. Justin Kittredge says:

    Was going to post that I thought Erwin's comments of Oct 8, 2013 @1:25 pm were PERFECT in all ways from beginning to end,
    However I must now add that deskmerc's jail idea is the most hilarious thing ever

    those who complain about specific authors…don't ban them, but instead, jail them in such a way that the only content they can see is that author, in blink tags.

    "Pony Avataring" (suggested by Dave) on top of "I eat paste" over their actual comments, but the commenter's name stands as is.
    Also hilarious. Before long, after we add enough coding, this site is gonna go from a blog to an interactive game.

  120. John Beaty says:

    My 2 cents: even though I can sometimes get upset enough with Clark or others to forget a major math distinction (with a degree in math, no less!), I have learned more from them than I would have credited. Not agreement, for sure. But it really isn't difficult to skip the parts that send me over the top. So, count me as one who thinks that if you can't skip, don't read.

  121. JLA Girl says:

    It's your living room, right? So if you think someone is being rude for dissing anyone, you can shove them out the door and lock it behind them.

    I just don't understand the "I don't like Q so don't let him write here" mentality. If you don't like it, don't read it. And stop whining about how much you don't like it. Because then you kinda deserve to get mocked and/or locked out in the cold.

  122. Duvane says:

    Please do paste away, if it pleases. Or go with deskmerc's idea. Without any real evidence, I suspect that a few people who make these comments on some threads make actual contributions on others, so maybe banning is a little much, but it probably wouldn't be a huge loss.

    Not that it hasn't been said, but I don't understand the mindset that leads to those comments. The author's name is right there under the title and is listed in the feed reader. People making those comments (and there has been quite an increase of late) clearly have read multiples of his posts, dislike his viewpoints, and continue to read them. If this is the last time you're going to read a Clark post, why do you think anyone else wants to know? Very few of those posts substantially engage with what he's said before making their vapid declaration. And it's not like there's ever anything written here that doesn't deserve engagement, regardless of how much one might disagree with it. There have been reams of comments from people who profoundly disagree with Clark's viewpoints, yet are able to engage with them in a meaningful manner, and I have found those discussions highly valuable, regardless of whose points I end up agreeing with. I disagree with Clark (or think he goes too far) maybe as much as I agree with him, but I've never found his arguments to be anything but carefully considered and in good faith, so I have real trouble understanding the crying and running out of the room.

  123. Chris says:

    As much as they may like to pretend otherwise, the Clark-haters hatred is motivated by ideological disagreement, not style, or "smugness".

    I probably don't qualify as a Clark hater, since I really like the majority of his posts (finding them insightful, gut-bustingly hilarious, or both). However, a minority of his posts end up really rubbing me the wrong way. I don't think this can be attributed to ideological disagreement (I'm generally fairly libertarian, albeit not quite so much as Clark, and there doesn't seem to be much ideological difference between his posts that I like and his posts that I dislike).

  124. repsac3 says:

    I think if making this change will allow you to let it go, then by all means do it. I'm a bit fascinated that you care that much, but I suppose it's harder to skim or ignore posts that you don't care about when it is your own site.

    There is an argument to be made that if we readers should quietly put up with (or better, ignore) the shittiest blogger at this blog (whoever each of us perceives that blogger to be) ((Q, obviously)) then Ken and the rest of y'all could just suck it up and quietly put up with or ignore the shittiest commenters.

    I'm not making that argument, mind you…but it could be made…

  125. Jonathan says:

    I'll just add my voice to the chorus: The folks who take the time to read Clark's entries and then comment "He suxxors boo! Ken is better!" are a bore and waste their own time as much as ours. I can see why it would be tiresome and offensive.

    But I don't think you need to ban them.

  126. Scott K says:

    Dear Ken,

    Please don't quit. I've both learned a lot and been entertained by your writing and I'd have a sad if you quit.

    Thanks for what you do.

    Scott

  127. Grandy says:

    Jonathan Kamens, yes technically this is more like a Bar than a Living Room, however the gist of Ken's point remains the same and is factually true (the proof is swift and merciless). Your attempt to argue otherwise is another in a long series of failures.

  128. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    A possibly horrible suggestion: a single "who would win" type thread.

    You know, as in who is a better captain: Kirk, Picard, Ahab, Crunch, etc…? Which ship is more badass: Serenity, Millenium Falcoln, Potent Voyager, Dark Star, Gay Deceiver, etc..?

    It could start out as who is the best blogger, sure, but if I know commenters here at all, it could quickly be derailed to the squabbles listed above or countless others. Either way, you have a more speech forum to direct such… um.. less illuminating posters to – a mud room off your living room so to speak.

    At best it could be harmless entertainment, for slow news days. At worst it would be a bile soaked troll warren full of Team Q v. Team X stupidity.

    Oh dear, I think I just suggested a fan site for Popehat.

  129. HandOfGod137 says:

    I disagree with just about all of Clark's stated opinions (and, indeed, the opinions of posters who agree with him), but find it enjoyable to argue with him/they in the comments. I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke those commenting to state they wish they could read less by author X when it is possible to scroll past those things written by X that one doesn't wish to read. This doesn't really add much to the debate, but they appear to be idiots. Perhaps not worthy of being banned, but putting their posts into comic sans (as is done elsewhere), would be an amusing indication that they've transgressed.

  130. Justin Kittredge says:

    sorry to be confusing but I may have slightly changed my position. Not that you do not have the absolute right to ban people, you do. It is just that thinking back on it certain places have become quieter, more boring places once ban-hammers are placed on the table for all to see. Because of that alone I am no longer 100% sure. People will still express themselves but sometimes a certain edge is lost and doldrums ensue, and people migrate away.

    It may be more time consuming but perhaps light mockery, telling off, and invalidating their complaints is the way to go.

    A small dainty ban-hammer that collects cobwebs between uses would be nice.

  131. Head Stomp says:

    I prefer they not be banned, but damn do I ever find that nonsense annoying. It's as bad as people who say, "Cancel this show now! It's gotten so bad that it's ruining my memories of it." Seriously? A regular bag of dicks is too good for these people. They deserve to eat a magical Santa's bag full of a never ending supply of dicks.

  132. Dion starfire says:

    I'm in favor of pasting.

    Especially since that could lead to the meme of commenter preemptively pasting themselves when they know they're in a whiny mood but just can't resist the urge to post. Heck, it could even become shorthand for "I disagree but have no new, logical arguments to offer".

    That being said, PLEASE KEEP BLOGGING!. I may disagree with some of the cobloggers views or writing styles, but that's a small price to pay for the unique perspectives y'all offer, and especially hearing both sides of an issue discussed in a rational manner.

    Paste, ftw.

  133. Readers who don't like certain posts can easily skip them and move on. If instead they leave a dumb comment, readers who don't like dumb comments can easily skip them and move on. Don't waste your time worrying about it.

  134. sorrykb says:

    I often (almost, but not quite, always) disagree with Clark, and yet am eternally indebted to him for fixing blockquote fail time and again. Curses.

  135. BruceB says:

    If I was a paying customer at my favorite restaurant and there was one waiter who always served my paste dry and inedible, I'd certainly let the management know and would not expect to be thrown out for providing that criticism.
    But we are mostly non-paying customers, and should not expect such feedback to carry much weight. Your place – do what you want. Being guilty of this offense at one point myself I have to say that I can't imagine why someone would do it repeatedly, scrolling is easy enough. Some paste is just an acquired taste.

  136. Bun and Cheese says:

    Every now and then a well-liked blogger thinks aloud about quitting for one reason or another. I'm always thankful when the site continues and very sad when it's decided it's best to wrap things up and say good-bye. I hope you won't go away. Occasional tweakage may be in order. I think it makes the site stronger, keeps the guests sort of on track. We are the guests, not the hosts. Sometimes we forget and probably in some instances, some may not care and just let one rip. There are also some that have a history of solid comments and may just say something dumb. I would miss not seeing a favorite fellow commenter because of a one-off blurb. I say dumb things all the time in real life because I'm an idiot but I think I take more care commenting on a blog and I'm not sure why that is. The love of my life, otoh, is an engineer with Aspberger's. So smart, so funny, his face lights up when he smiles, he makes me so happy- but he can't express love nor can he stop himself from saying really odd things (like the night I tripped and rolled thirty feet down a steep ninety-foot driveway and his concern was quickly putting tissue under me "because the blood won't come out of the concrete". Your commenters come in all stripes is all I'm saying. You all do great work here. Make the changes that you need to.

  137. Clark says:

    @HandOfGod137

    I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas…

    Subtle Babbage reference. +12 points.

  138. JDM says:

    To make a point that I hope is obvious, (new) blogs are cheep. One must assume that the PopeHat authors did not decide to share a blog in some bizarre economy, but made a decision to collaborate because they like one another.

    Thus, I do agree that dissing a specific author is a bit like coming into my living room and saying that one of my daughters is ugly. That kind of behavior would get you not invited back top my living room — or effectively banned.

  139. Myk says:

    Clark • Oct 8, 2013 @2:27 pm

    …you'd see about $200k worth of benefit in the hookers-and-nose-candy sector of the economy in short order.

    There. That right there.

    And you all laughed when Craig Brittain pierced the Popehat veil about their Big Porn™ backers.

  140. Steve says:

    Also, I'm really hoping Ken makes a thesaurus post on October 22nd.

  141. Mann42 says:

    I read Ken's stuff because I often agree with him, and he provides me with valuable insights.

    I read Clark's stuff because I often disagree with him, and he provides me with valuable insights.

    In both cases, I find the comment section filled with magnificent conversation, with completely useless and ill defined jabs at various authors interspersed. I am more than supportive of any policy which replaces uselessness with paste, and increases the ratio of magnificent conversation.

  142. barry says:

    This thread won't help me find out what happened to Roy, but I'm reading it anyway.
    I think there's some faulty logic in "if there were fewer blogs I don't like, then there would be more blogs I do like", because really there would just be fewer blogs.

  143. Myk says:

    I must admit I find Clark's posts the most challenging (although Patrick's satire sometimes takes me in completely). Sometimes I disagree with Clark's ideology, sometimes the topic itself doesn't interest me so I pass it by. Often Clark's posts are simply above my head intellectually.

    So I read them again, until I understand at least the basic principles.

  144. Steve says:

    To finish Comments on Clark with Three Codas (see what i did there?)

    A) &ltpaste> really needs to be an allowed tag

    B) When Clark says

    3) I am always and everywhere in favor of more speech, not less

    he means it literally. As in why use 1000 words when 3570 will do? Thank you, I'll be here all evening. And by that, I mean I'm off to watch Downton Abbey and SHIELD.

  145. Rich Fiscus says:

    All the annoying, stupid, extreme, autistic, and libertarian posts come from this guy "Clark".

    Perhaps it's because I'm autistic and your posts (and characterization of yourself) definitely have significant autistic traits, but I would strike annoying and stupid entirely. I enjoy Ken's posts because, by and large, they reinforce my world view. I sometimes value yours more, though, for challenging it.

    It's rare that anything you write changes my opinion, but it does happen on occasion. However you frequently throw in something that makes me question my preconceptions. The older I get, the more I value that and the harder it is to find.

    I'm sure it helps that even your longer screeds are abbreviated by my personal standards.

  146. Rusty says:

    The ambiguity of a fuzzy line, rather than an explicit policy, might be more beneficial than a cut-and-dried rule. If you draw a bright line, people do tend to crowd it.

    On the other hand, the kind of people who make this kind of complaint may not respond well to subtlety.

    Personally, although I think I'd enjoy the pasterizing, I believe I get some useful information out of the "I prefer Q to Z" comments; it's a pretty clear signal about the author.

  147. melK says:

    I think it's dreadful, simply dreadful, that the authors would consider harming a band. Should the American Federation of Musicians be warned?

    What? I read that wrong?

    Oh. Nevermind.

  148. Hasty ban-trigger, not good.

    I suppose this post itself may earn a ban by suggesting it, in which case I'll probably be glad to go, although a bit sad.

  149. AlphaCentauri says:

    Maybe change their avatars to a Paste Factory? Because that's where the naughty ponies end up, isn't it. ;)

  150. Docrailgun says:

    While I don't much care for Clark's politics or philosophy, he certainly shouldn't be asked to stop writing. No doubt he feels the same about me, so it's all good.
    Boing Boing? I really dislike that site, even if it's supposedly something I would like. Ah, well.

  151. kps says:

    I think you should be very concerned about damage to your brand. For instance, if the stem of the P broke off, your cattle would run around marked ᴰopehat.

  152. Ugh says:

    Aah! The aroma of contact cement!

  153. jdgalt says:

    This proposal sure sounds like an attempt to write a new, self-referential variant of Godwin's Law. Which doesn't surprise me; you're a left leaning site, so naturally moderation AKA censorship is only wrong when people you disagree with do it.

    Ban whom you like. If I care, I can always start a site making fun of you.

  154. Zazlo says:

    I agree with those who favor a sliding scale, warnings, etc. Even outright banning isn't too bad – I don't think it will affect that many commenters if you just go with a banhammer. But more importantly, using pasting, pony avatars, comic sans (I think the "Chalkboard" font would be even funnier) and only-can-see-blogger-you-hate prison are the best solutions because they are elegent and simple and intelligent, and therefore are of a piece with the style and content of the blog overall. I get the impression that Ken is leaning towards pasting first, perhaps other methods, and then banning when the commenter is much more clearly a problem.

    As for the rest, I think it's fairly cut and dried: you can just skip authors; there's no value in saying "I don't want to read X" as opposed to just not reading X; such commenters are generally not of much benefit, interest or value, expecially as the frequency of such comments by an individual increase; even banning it outright would still leave most commenters unbanned, though there are clearly more elegant and/or hilarious solutions; it's Ken's living room, and I would gladly sacrifice a few commenters to keep him fulfilled, and therefore still strongly predisposed to continue blogging; the existence of Clark is nowhere near the worst thing that's happened to someone on the internet*, and often even the people nearly diametrically opposed to his views find him interesting and useful. And so on.

    One minor disagreement: I thought the finale of Popehat would feature a knowing wink from a firehose-toting Sean Connery. But, hey, surprise me.

    (* although I'm guessing Clark himself might debate this point.)

  155. D1ll says:

    I've noticed similar rudeness by posters in the Volokh Conspiracy comments. It amazes me how often regular visitors attack the Conspirators' personal views and policy preferences, and occasionally level of intellect. That they don't ban / paste such posters shows they are better men than I would be.

    For the life of me, I don't understand why someone like Jonathan Kamens would purposefully insult his hosts, let alone defend his right to do so.

  156. SPQR says:

    I am pretty fond of Ken and Patrick but I love Clark with the love that dare not speak its name.

    Do I really have 762 comments here?

    Wow.

  157. George William Herbert says:

    SPQR:

    I am pretty fond of Ken and Patrick but I love Clark with the love that dare not speak its name.

    (pause) … Authoritarianism?

  158. SPQR says:

    George, all I am saying is that its Nicholas Weaver with 666 comments at this moment….

  159. George William Herbert says:

    Ah. Well then… Nick, time to renew your political career.

  160. David says:

    We're a left-leaning site?

  161. slambie says:

    "I suspect this approach would not deprive us of any audience participation of significant value."

    Agreed. I say swing that ban/paste stick.

    It may cause you to spend more time managing comments, but if you're reading them in the first place it can't be that much more work.

  162. For the life of me, I don't understand why someone like Jonathan Kamens would purposefully insult his hosts,

    I'm not really sure what I'm "like" or why that's relevant.

    Having said that, insults with no justification or explanation are worthless. I explained at length why I applied the words I did to Ken's behavior vis a vis the comments under discussion.

    Ken is not at all shy about insulting those he disagrees with. He has certainly insulted many people here far more deeply than I've insulted him (though he, too, always offers detailed support for his insults).

    I'm pretty sure Ken isn't of the "can dish it out but can't take it" variety, but if so, then he is welcome to ban me.

    …let alone defend his right to do so.

    Really? Here, on Popehat, you say you can't understand why someone would defend someone else's right to engage in speech?

    Seriously, I've never said I think the comments under discussion are particularly useful or productive, nor have I said that I think a commenter making such comments repeatedly should be immune to repercussions. All I've said is that I understand why people make such comments; I do not think it is particularly surprising, given how this blog presents itself to people and what people's experiences are on most blogs; and I do not think it represents such an egregious offense as to warrant immediate banning, as opposed to a warning and a second chance.

    I will add that I also understand why Ken finds these comments so annoying and would like to make them go away. Having said that, I think he may have lost sight of the fact that although from his side of things, they're all those comments saying the same obnoxious thing over and over, from the other side, each of those comments is being made by someone different (at least I would hope so; as noted above, multiple offenders should be banned after being warned). Therefore, a fair response to those comments (if, indeed, fairness is what Ken is after) would be to judge each one on its own, and to react to it as if it were the only one, rather than to react as if they're all part of some overarching conspiracy to annoy Ken.

  163. Sinij says:

    If you start banning for obvious idiocy, the not obvious idiots will take their place.

  164. Mike says:

    Ken, I wish I had a better memory. You did one of your Popehat signal things, maybe a year, maybe two years back. I bet you know the post I'm talking about. It increased the blog's popularity by a lot. It attracted a lot of new commenters. I think all the new people kind of chased away some of those that had been regulars before. I know my eye wandered. But then Clark showed up, which was good because Patrick doesn't post as much as he used to. I'm all for good arguments, but…

    Ban away.

    I wouldn't consider it censorship, I would consider it a favor.

  165. scott says:

    I just hate it when there aren't posts when I'm looking for my popehat fix. Come on. You all act as if you have regular day jobs and don't have time to cater to my popehat addiction.

  166. Ted H. says:

    I think Ken is saying, elliptically, that he doesn't care what the readers of this blog think about its writers vis a vis their position, tone, and/or worldview evidenced in their posts. Further, he's saying that he enjoys engaging with most of the readers here through the comments, but that comments of the type exemplified in this post discourage him from doing so for whatever emotional or intellectual reason.

    This blog hasn't been particularly monetized, so it appears that its authors write here for their own enjoyment and the chance to engage with each other and others. They have a valid interest in removing loud imbeciles from this dynamic just as any otherwise situated host would be in kicking out or shaming an unwelcome guest.

  167. Sinij says:

    All the libertarian posts come from this guy "Clark".

    Isn't that against the law and stuff? Maybe that was Taliban. Anyways, they should jail that guy for saying hurtful things I personally disagree with.

  168. Hellborine Velvet Saddle says:

    I think you made a good point but i think patrick's policy about not harming the brand is worded better. You'll probably all ban me anyway when you find out I am a pony with teeny tiny hooves that are useless for prancing, but very adept at typing. I thought they were vestigial until i discovered i could use them to comment on your blog about which writers i like best and which i don't like at all. My grammar is sloppy but, hey, I'm a pony. I'm lucky I can type at all.

  169. Phe0n1x says:

    But what if we enjoy reading from all the authors and not enjoy reading from none of them?

  170. Bill says:

    There's a lot of us that are big Clark fans so it annoys me quite a bit when I see such sentiment. The thing is though, if someone came up to me and insulted a friend of mine or said "I'd love to come by your party but not if Y is showing up", I'd definitely say something to them. Ignoring it implies it's ok to talk bad about a friend to me. Putting any energy into "Well, I'll make sure he only stays in the patio or the porch so you don't have to interact with him" would legitimize the sentiment and would insult Y. I'm not a fan of banning anyone, but in this case, it's certainly justified (and I'd say that whether or not I was a Clark fan).

    For myself, I will spend a fortnight thinking up ways to say "go eat a bag of dicks" before I will spend a heartbeat helping anyone too lazy or entitled to scroll.

    Hear hear ;-)

  171. Bill says:

    @Rich Fiscus – The only experience i have with Autism is very limited (a cousin of mine had it and I knew one other child with it). I feel stupid saying this, but I never even contemplated what it looks like in an adult. After reading your comment, I googled it. I started thinking "Do I know anyone who might have it?" and then thought many people I just assumed 'socially awkward' might have had it. Everything in the articles I read seems really subjective – if I may ask, what traits w/ respect to Clark tipped you off? Rather, what sorts of things would you generally attribute to Autism vs just being socially awkward (knowing they aren't necessarily mutually exclusive)? I don't want to threadjack and I'm sure you have better things to do then provide Autism 101 lessons to some guy you dont' know – but if you're inclined to answer, please feel free to write me at the email address above- i'd be very appreciative

  172. azteclady says:

    @ Jonathan Kamens: Wow, dude, I couldn't disagree with you more.

    Whether you like it or not, as long as Ken and his cobloggers are paying the bills, this is their virtual living room. Those of us who read and comment do so at their pleasure and our influence on whatever is going on goes only as far as they allow it. And if we don't like it, we can all grab our little balls and go home.

    In that vein, I would probably institute some sort of three strikes, ban policy and post it. Those who consider that too stifling for their sensibilities will know what to do. *shrug*

  173. @ Jonathan Kamens: Wow, dude, I couldn't disagree with you more.

    That's funny, because aside from believing that the "virtual living room" analogy is inapt, I agree with everything you wrote.

  174. Tali McPike says:

    I wish Ken would stop blogging so I could just enjoy Clark's posts, because I started reading Popehat because of Clark & Ken is just ruining my perceived notion of the Popehat brand.

    Oh…that's not what the Qs & Ys represented.

    Sorry…I couldn't resist. But I think comments of that type are bullshit.

    Ken invited Clark to blog here. He (and his cobloggers) get to determine what this blog is about, not the readers. I would have the same tolerance as Ken if my readers (assuming I have any…which I'm pretty sure I dont) kept complaining that I'm blogging too much about history, absinthe, cooking, and geekiness and not enough "mommy blogging" because I've posted a lot about parenting in the past.

    A blog is every bit, if not more, about the author, not the reader. Especially in a situation such as Popehat, where the blogging is done purely for enjoyment (as opposed to a news site or a site that is monetized)

    The "a certain blogger needs to go away" type posters need to be careful what they wish for, or Clark will stop posting at Popehat because the CoBloggers decide that it isn't worth it anymore, and no one will post anymore.

    If this happens, I will gladly lead a group of pissed off readers (I envision us like a motorcycle gang…and yes I will be in hot biker chick leather…no I've never been on a motorcycle before) to gather up the offending commenters and leave them on the author's doorsteps begging for mercy…
    perhaps it's time for me to go back to lurking for a while…

  175. Bill says:

    I realize all the anti-clark folks aren't necessarily cut of the same cloth, but the technical aspects seem like BS. It's so easy to ignore a post. It's ridiculously easy to look at who the author is and hit delete in a RSS reader or the back button a browser (or whatever tool one uses). I think the actual sentiment is "we don't like the views Clark expresses" getting exposure from a popular blog like this (Yes, I work part-time as Captain Obvious). I'm going to bet that if Ken or the other Authors penned 10000 words posts Fisking each Clark post, belittling Clark and anyone that agreed with him, most of them would be just fine with it and cheer it on. It's not the 3 seconds of time they waste reading a Clark post, or the few kb of drive space it takes up in their RSS reader that's the issue – it's all about being upset that someone with views they dislike has a forum to speak (and that a lot of people like listening). I guess if someone was a quadriplegic or had some disability that made going to the next post a problem I'd be slightly inclined to buy their argument, but it's a free blog that no one is forced to read and one that makes it very easy to ignore reading content from an author they don't like. The "We like Popehat but hate Clark" crap has been said time and time again – every reader here has got the memo, a few times already.

  176. Bill says:

    @Tali:

    I would have the same tolerance as Ken if my readers (assuming I have any…which I'm pretty sure I dont) kept complaining that I'm blogging too much about history

    Actually, I'm quite sure you have readers (at least one I know of) but with respect to comments, they're disabled after a few days so unless they read your post hot off the press, commenting would be a non-issue.

  177. Scote says:

    "Ken White on October 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm
    … am interested in helping people find more of what they like relatively easily….

    I am uninterested in helping people not read things they don't want to read."

    Helping people find what they like and avoid what they don't amount to the same thing. I certainly don't see a banning's-worth of difference.

    I do think the forum should be modded and that people who don't contribute at all to the thread should be modded down, but the idea that saying who's posts somebody likes more is so offensive it deserves a ban seems, well, a bit over the top.

  178. Zazlo says:

    @ Bill

    ""We like Popehat but hate Clark" crap has been said time and time again – every reader here has got the memo, a few times already."

    I know I have, but here's the problem – apparently, not every reader has. I think perhaps that may be part of the conundrum. Numerous comments seem to imply that they're unaware of its recent pervasiveness.

    @ Scote

    "Helping people find what they like and avoid what they don't amount to the same thing."

    Hmm.

    "the idea that saying who's posts somebody likes more is so offensive it deserves a ban seems, well, a bit over the top."

    That's not the issue, really. Note above re: recent pervasiveness. Also, specifically and in context, Ken's assertion of his disinterest hinges on the fact that it is jaw-droppingly easy for readers to avoid what they don't like, as noted in two dozen or more comments above.

  179. Tali McPike says:

    I don't count my best friend (who has written most of the comments)…although there was that one commenter that I don't know.
    Yes I realize my comments disable after a few days. This is mostly because I haven't been as active as I would like, and I don't want to have to deal with spam/moderation of old posts when I don't even really have the time/ability to write new posts (I've got about 4 in the draft folder, but I can't ever get them finished it seems).
    My statement was more meant to be more of "If my blog was as widely read as Popehat, I wouldn't put up with this shit either, because I'm blogging because it brings me pleasure & is therapeutic for me"

  180. James Pollock says:

    I really like it when author X harms your brand, but I hate it when author Y does it. Also, I like it better when you write about $TOPIC than when you write about other stuff. Also, I like paste.

  181. @Tali

    Are you not counting the Russian spam-bots as readers? 'Cause if you don't count those I won't have any readers either and now I haz a sad. :-(

    I think pasting would be adequate for a first offense, if they continue to be rude or lose their nut over the pasting then ban 'em.

    Personally Clark's posts have made me re-think some of my own views as an alleged libertarian and I realize there were inconsistencies I had to analyze, deal with, and either revise my own views or try to prepare a defense for them.

  182. Scote says:

    "Zazlo on October 8, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Also, specifically and in context, Ken's assertion of his disinterest hinges on the fact that it is jaw-droppingly easy for readers to avoid what they don't like, as noted in two dozen or more comments above."

    Well, the same applies to ignoring such comments rather than getting all worked up over them.

    Also, on my cell phone the WP mobile theme of the Popehat.com home page doesn't show the author's names. It isn't until I click on a post that the author's name comes up and I think, "Oh…that's why…"

  183. glasnost says:

    As no other vaguely disparaging semi-anti-libertarian harpies have shown up to represent yet, my 2 cents are as follows:

    We don't owe you anything. And you don't owe us anything. That's the nickel version.

    I don't like being asked to stop making arguments because you find them annoying anymore than you like having arguments you don't like directed at you.
    If that makes you want to stop blogging – man, don't put that baggage on me. This is a policy forum for me, not a support group, and I'm going to decide for myself why I am here, not be told.

    Having said all of that, there's not really any point to directing arguments at you that you notably hate – well, except for various reasons related to constructing contrasts, drawing parallels, yada yada yada it's still, all things being equal, not a brilliant plan. So bitching about this rhetorical approach will probably get you want you want, i.e. fewer people using it, without having to ban people.

    To immediately contradict myself, I am sympathetic, actually, sort of. If this was a rueful anecdote to the effect of just how lame and transparent these "I like Ken but Clark sucks" comments are – and I'm sure I've made one – I would sympathize. I can see how that could come off as a transparent attempt at manipulation, a crude ego play, yada yada.

    Or, it could just be a spontaneous attempt to express a true perspective that some of Ken's comments / posts actually are interesting and valuable and resonate with the commenter, but Clark's… don't. That's informational content, albeit subjective, especially if there's some description of the perceived differences.

    Sure, it's Ken's privilege to say "I don't care what you think, your dislike for Clark is insulting, eat a dick". Fine. That's your choice. In a reciprocal manner, you obviously have no obligation to like what you read here, or be nice to it, etc. Or allow it to exist. I have no particular agenda or campaign to get Clark off the blog at all, although I'm annoyed by Clark's posts consistently. Here's my agenda:
    Read stuff. Agree or disagree. If disagree a lot, vent in a crude approximation of what people with social skills do to debate and persuade, not to mention judge and socially pressure.

    So I can sympathize with being annoyed by these comments. And sure, it's not inconsistent with libertarian perspective on *rights* to ban people for saying that. But I think it's .. not amazing.. that you would do so. Your blogging has featured entertainingly obnoxious parody to people that bother you plus legal commentary, and often the people that bother you are engaging in dickish attempts to suppress speech. There's an underlying message implied in your work that people who are capable of coping with words sufficiently so as to not need to try to make said words go away are, frankly, of greater merit. That's certainly the ethos of the broad libertarian approach to speech, which is one of the things about this blog I like. And I read it because there are things about it I like.

    Of course, no one actually lives as an example of an ethos, nor are they obligated to do so in order to advance it. But I don't think banning people for complaining about clark is a meritable policy, even if they compliment your work at the same time. The hamhanded attempt to manipulate you that you perceive is exactly that, your perception, and that's all.

    Are we engaged in mutual persuasion here, or not? If we are, why isn't it enough to say "this line of argument is stupid and isn't going to get anywhere"?

    Of course, in real life, real human beings don't seem to be able to handle too much disagreement. It's just a thing, maybe related to enzymes. It just seems to drag us down and wreck our psyches. So I'm not saying I wouldn't ban people myself if they annoyed me or made arguments that annoyed me, even if those arguments didn't really overlap with anything viewed as universally morally reprehensible. To me, though, subjectively, it's certainly evocative of the limitations of the whole deal.

    It's too bad for the libertarian idea that people tend to refuse to all agree on a code of behavior unless they have no choice, and that living in that lack of agreement actually turns out to kind of suck. That's not a deliberately provocative statement, but a sincere observation. On the other hand.. I don't really want to be pressured into accepting an arbitrary code of behavior just to make a stranger feel better. I'd be just as happy as anyone if Ken woke up tomorrow and found that people he found to be dicks here and elsewhere didn't bother him at all – me included! – but I'm here, more or less, to exert pressure, not as a support group. I'm willing to be a nice person if I feel like it, but I don't want to accept obligations to avoid arguments because they're not liked. The world is filled with things people don't like to hear that need to be said. It's a principle not to avoid saying them. When other people doing that to me gets to be too annoying, I will either start flaming them in a rude and unadmirable manner, or quit. We all do it, so let's just all do it, and not have a pretense to the contrary.

  184. Nyarlathotep says:

    One of the reasons I am such a fan of this blog is that even when I don't agree with one of the bloggers on a particular point, they at least get me thinking about it, can make a good argument for their case, and are usually an interesting read if nothing else. I think people who want you to run only views that they already agree with are doing themselves a huge disservice.

  185. Ronald Pottol says:

    Many years ago I was on a BBS network that had as one of the rules: Users exist for the entertainment of the sysops (the people who ran things). Seems fair to me, do what you want. I can see getting tired of those comments, and people arguing about who they like the least is just sad.

    Keep up the good work, and fuck'em if they can't take a joke.

  186. glasnost says:

    Blogger I love, Paul Krugman, certainly gets tired of having to make the same arguments over and over again, seeing what he sees as the same repetitive objections over and over again, ignoring what's already been said, in the face of what he perceives as a constant failure to acknowledge already established premises, etc.

    Seriously, though, this is the price of public discussion. The deck is always shuffled; the inherent aspects will resurface over and over again. One way to deal with that is coercion; another way is to just make peace that you have to say the same thing (People complaining about Clark annoy me, and when they add compliments about me they come off as slimy, manipulative twits) over and over again.

    Neither of these approaches are awesome, but one is better than the other from the Buddhist perspective, which to me seems wise. I guess mockery would fall somewhere in between. Maybe that would hit the sweet spot between maximum personal catharsis and minimum vague violation of underlying principles.

  187. Gerardo says:

    Wait, there's more than one Popehat author?

  188. Zazlo says:

    @ glasnost

    First of all, see, that's exactly the kind of considered comment I'm used to, and expect at, popehat. I don't agree with you on all your points, but where we part ways is more a degree of opinion and/or temperament and/or the like. But here's what I found interesting: you kept using the word "argument." Not comment. Argument. Because you, like me, and many others here, have a default mode of clear and rational exposition. The particular commenters largely referred to in this topic are not presenting arguments; at best they're presenting opinions, without further elaboration. Whether this changes your view or not, I think it's interesting and worthy of your reflection. This relates to something you wrote, actually:

    "It's too bad for the libertarian idea that people tend to refuse to all agree on a code of behavior unless they have no choice, and that living in that lack of agreement actually turns out to kind of suck."

    Because you (also like me, and many other commenters), do have a default disposition towards rationality. I personally think the reliance on "rational actors" is (one of?) the biggest problem with libertarianoid ideas. But you yourself err this way (actually, I think it's one of the BEST ways to err!) by, perhaps only seemingly, predicating at least some of your ideas on the assumption that the 'speech' being discussed is (always? at least? commensurate with?) an argument. Which is kind of you.

    I think you've basically made a very gracious and wonderful error, is what I'm saying. Though a decent portion of your views on the topic can stand as they are whether that is an error or not.

  189. Scote says:

    "Gerardo on October 8, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Wait, there's more than one Popehat author?"

    It's such an obvious straight line that you are not the first. But if there were only one author, would you think he or she was a tad schizophrenic, changing subject matter so drastically? When I read certain posts here and only later realize who wrote it I feel like I've been punked, or just read an Onion article in my RSS feed without realizing it until near the end of the article. ;-p

  190. ysth says:

    I wish I could read Popehat meta posts without reading Popehat actual content posts.

  191. mud man says:

    Somebody told me Bob Dylan went electric. Although I don't actually know because personally I stopped buying his records as soon as I heard.

  192. Zazlo says:

    @ glasnost

    I do believe Ken is leaning more towards the eating paste option than the banning option. (If nothing else, it's more fun.)

  193. HandOfGod137 says:

    Ultimately it boils down to this (in my opinion): if you view dialectics as being one of the paths to greater understanding, you've got to have someone to dialect with (sic, probably). I know bugger all about the American legal system, less about the political system and think your medical system is madder than a pair of trousers full of ferrets, so being able to have it out with people who disagree with probably everything I believe in, but know of the shit of what they speak, is hugely instructive. The blog is better for having both Ken and Clark.

  194. Erwin says:

    But…what about the 'idiot of the month' option?? That's where you pm egregious idiots prior to banning/pasting and then add their responses to blog post noting their idiocy. I appreciate that it is a lot of work, and not necessarily something anyone at popehat would enjoy…

    But, I'd be amused. Elitist jerks really had the best ban policy.

    –Erwin

  195. Elf says:

    I tend to think the "I like Ken's posts but not Clark's" people have mistaken their own comfort for a moral imperative. Not that there's anything wrong with liking one author's posts and not another's, but the need to say it to those authors shows a particular kind of arrogance… "you there, with the blog… I don't like this part, and I'm pretty sure nobody's said anything like this to you before, because if they had, you surely would've fixed it."

    Because of course, without their helpful comments, you never would've noticed that (1) you sometimes disagree with Clark, and (2) some people don't like what Clark has to say.

    It took me a while to figure out that I disagree with many of Clark's posts. This is partially because he writes coherently about interesting topics and supports his points with evidence, which I'm not used to seeing from people anywhere near that corner of the socio-political arena. (There are similar lacks in my own area, but at least with those, I know which of the ideas themselves are supportable, if not always by the people promoting them. I know those arguments well enough to separate the idiots from the idiocy; I can't always do that for the right-wing arguments.)

    It's also possible I'm biased towards liking Clark's posts, or not disliking them as much as I otherwise would, because he uses an icon I associate with millions of words of slash fanfic.

  196. Odd Man Out says:

    I acknowledge the inherent weakness of ad hominem arguments, but "I came here to read Ken but really wish Clark would go away" is not ad hominem, at least not entirely. It is an opinion about the content written by the various authors.

    I tried google and bing and yandex and baidu. Not one hit for "Kamens crowned king of the entire blogoverse". How could they have missed this monumental event?

  197. Alan Bleiweiss says:

    what really gets me is when I'm half-way through a post and scratch my head in wonder "wait… this can't be Ken…" and then I have to scroll up to see who the author is.

    I vote for plastering the author's face all over the background of individual articles, in a tiled fashion. And cutting home page article snippets down to two lines so we're forced to click to read the whole article.

    Because how else would we see that article's author's face all over the background?

    And thank you for giving us an "edit" option. that alone is enough for me to be willing to put up with the mystery author issue I face daily. (or at least when Clark or Patrick post…)

    but wait. Who's Patrick? I'm confused now…

  198. @Elf:

    Maybe not so much a shock on moral imperative, but simply what any one person expected to find here.

    I would venture a very large number of readers are drawn here by the obvious Ken-ness: they want to read about people who are defended with the Popehat signal. They want to read about criminal procedure and why it matters. Those are the topics that cause the blog to appear in many other places. Those are the reasons I came here. I have a ton of experience as a non-lawyer with civil procedure. I went to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals with my ass on the line, indirectly fixing that horrible MAI precedent that let companies turn a breach of contract into copyright infringement. Look up MDY Industries vs Blizzard: I'm the first two letters of the plaintiff. The normal law-related content of the blog is *extremely* interesting to me.

    But a problem arises when such folks arrive and wind up reading something else that is not authored by Ken and not in the same genre. Note that I'm not assigning a positive or negative value to Clark's posts: I am simply saying they are different. It's a very common case of "I thought X was there, but when I showed up, I got Y instead". I'm not saying X > Y or Y < X. I'm saying X != Y.

    It could be easily "solved" a number of ways, the least of which would be to simply edit the damn stylesheet so the author of the post is something a bit less subtle than that indistinct gray on white. Why does that not happen? Why is anyone surprised when folks complain that the blog contains a bit more Arguing On the Internet About Religion than the law topics that are typically sought?

    The answers to those questions are simpler than you might think. And the team's willingness to ban customers before considering some way to separate the posts is… well, a bit uncool for the (apparent) mission of the site. I get that it's a private site and they can ban whomever they want. But when your stated mission is the protection of free speech, it seems like you should go the extra foot, if not the mile, to avoid doing that.

    As it stands now, the site has been transformed from what I would summarize as "here's a cool legal blog that you can learn from, but the dude has a troll friend who likes to bait commenters" to "here's a legal blog, but don't complain about his friend or you'll get banned".

  199. Tom says:

    I eat paste.

  200. 205guy says:

    Chris wrote: "However, a minority of his posts end up really rubbing me the wrong way. I don't think this can be attributed to ideological disagreement."

    I'll tell you what it is: it's attitude and dishonest debate. I'm surprised no one's brought that up yet. All anyone can see are his politics, ideology, or whatever. So what. I actually want to read Clark's politico-philosophical views, because before he expresses them, I don't know them, and I may not know *about* them. I like hearing new things, because I can't think of all of them myself. That is perhaps what I like best about this blog (and some of the comments): it has shown me so many other, non-mainstream ways of thinking–Clark included.

    But then people try to engage in debate or, forsooth, challenge Clark's ideology and present alternate views. They get blown away by his ego and pompousness. It turns out he's not listening to alternative arguments, he's just using his pulpit for a one-way conversation. I, like others, have tried to counter that and give him some of his own medicine, and he just moves on to other targets. Perhaps that was wrong (unkind to the host), yet it was done fairly and openly–and of course achieved nothing. Frankly, I could take the ideas without the attitude.

    And I'm sorry to talk to Ken here and pretend Clark's not in the room. But that is the best analogy: it really is Ken's living room, except he had an open house and one of the volunteer friends he had over to watch over one of the rooms of the house is haranguing guests as they come to admire the fabric on the divan. So people have been trying to tell Ken they didn't feel at ease around Clark, and they kinda made sure Clark heard too, because after all, it's a bit human (childish human) to trade insults.

    The comments about autism have struck a chord with me. Except I think people usually mean Asperger's, which is the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum, yet where social, logical and some physical impairments remain. And I still find it exceedingly rude to use it as an insult or even as justified accusation to explain someone's behavior.

  201. M. Alan Thomas II says:

    I have my preferences w/r/t authors here, but I see no point in bringing them up in an unconstructive context. Those who are doing it just to express "So-and-so sucks, end of message" aren't doing anyone any good except, perhaps, to the extent that doing so gives them a warm glow for having told off the man or something.

    I agree that some people come here for X and don't want !X. Frankly, while a filter might be nice, it's a hell of a lot easier to just glance at the author tag or just, y'know, learn to recognize their styles quickly enough that you don't feel the need to spend time complaining about how you spent too much time doing something that you didn't want to and no-one forced you to.

  202. BJI says:

    I can say personally, that I read every article, but I find Clark's articles less focused and more prone to distracting errors. Ironically, I actually considered writing comments as such several times but restrained myself. I really love the work you do Ken, especially rallying the fight against people abusing the system. Clark does spend a lot of time in the comments fleshing details out, but I wish he spent more time polishing the articles themselves.

    If I could sum up my feelings, Clark seems to cross the line from snarky into smugness. It's a fine line, and completely subjective. Not nearly enough to make me stop visiting.

    I do find it surprising that your response is to remove the dissidents. While they are grossly off-topic and rude, isn't the fact that they are so prevalent as to become a major nuisance a sound indication that, at the very least, it is not a completely fabricated complaint?

    In any case I believe the rule should be against making personal attacks against the authors in general. But if it really bothers you to even see a non-attacking statement against editorial decision, perhaps that is the same experience as the people making those comments?

    In conclusion, Clark is fine. But while I would visit a website of just Ken White articles, I would not say the same of him. This is the last you'll hear about it from me though.

  203. Anony Mouse says:

    What's wrong with eating paste? I think "I read Gawker" would be far more insulting.

  204. Sami says:

    I like it when I can read Poplate by Ken Black but what is the rest of these?

  205. Sami says:

    … also, hilariously, IP-banning me would currently be less than normally effective since I'm at a hotel in Las Vegas I am unlikely ever to visit again after a week from now

  206. Anony Mouse says:

    @BJI

    Ironically, I actually considered writing comments as such several times but restrained myself.

    We call that maturity. Something in critically short supply on the internet. I'd blame the government shutdown, but this shortage long predates that, so I'm going to blame global warming.

  207. Jacob H says:

    I think a real problem, as others here have noted, is that new readers are constantly coming in. They may not learn or intuit the commenting mores. As a result, you are going to end up having to repeat these same exchanges time after time.

    Maybe this is the right situation for a "nudge"? Like, instead of the button saying "Submit Comment," it could say "Add to Discussion". Or "Leave a Reply" could become "Leave a (constructive) Reply". Touchy-feely and mockable, perhaps, but it probably couldn't hurt. It's possible that the few seconds of reflection that might inspire could make a small difference.

    **EDIT I want to say I really like and appreciate the new commenting features. Thank you David!

  208. Jacob H says:

    Of course, if what you're worried about is commenting morays, then you should really move to a eel-name-only policy

    Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week, and I have a hundred of em. They are in my hovercraft, in fact.

  209. Clark says:

    @Elf:

    It's also possible I'm biased towards liking Clark's posts, or not disliking them as much as I otherwise would, because he uses an icon I associate with millions of words of slash fanfic.

    KENNNNN!!!!!!

    How do I change my avatar?

  210. Clark says:

    @205guy

    I'll tell you what it is [ that stinks about Clark ]: it's attitude and dishonest debate. I'm surprised no one's brought that up yet.

    …people try to engage in debate or, forsooth, challenge Clark's ideology and present alternate views. They get blown away by his ego and pompousness.

    You've accussed me of dishonest debating before in the comments, and I've asked you – twice, I think – for examples. I repeat the challenge here and now: the next time I say something that you consider dishonest:

    1) explain what you mean specifically by dishonest debate
    2) call out the specific thing I've said that meets that standard

    It turns out he's not listening to alternative arguments, he's just using his pulpit for a one-way conversation.

    This critique confuses me a bit, given that I radically engage with commenters, responding to each and every one when I have the time.

    By "one-way conversation", do you mean "I don't change my opinion" ? I've been criticized for that in the past. In fact, though, I have changed my opinion on just about everything important over the last thirty years: abortion, gun control, taxes, military adventurism, God, gay marriage, etc.

    I once had an employee who wanted to debate about a policy I had in the workplace. After several hours of talk over several weeks, he said that I wasn't listening to him or engaging in debate. What he actually meant was "you're not changing your opinion to be the same as mine."

    it really is Ken's living room, except he had an open house and one of the volunteer friends he had over to watch over one of the rooms of the house is haranguing guests

    This criticism would make more sense if the blog was subtitled "an evening of sipping chablis while admiring the fabric on the divan", and not – all caps in the original – "A GROUP COMPLAINT ABOUT LAW, LIBERTY, AND LEISURE".

    Do my posts ruin the atmosphere for "an evening of sipping chablis while admiring the fabric on the divan"?

    Yes. They do.

    Do my posts ruin the atmosphere for "A GROUP COMPLAINT ABOUT LAW, LIBERTY, AND LEISURE"?

    Arguably crazed comparisons of the government shutdown to the post apocalypse, while implicitly criticizing Amtrak spending priorities hit this target better than anything else posted here in the last week.

    If you want to admire the fabric on the divan you know where to go.

  211. Clark says:

    @BJI

    I can say personally, that I read every article, but I find Clark's articles less focused and more prone to distracting errors. Ironically, I actually considered writing comments as such several times

    I welcome comments pointing out errors; please feel free to do so.

  212. Ms. Cats Meow says:

    I have my preferences w/r/t authors here, but I see no point in bringing them up in an unconstructive context. Those who are doing it just to express "So-and-so sucks, end of message" aren't doing anyone any good except, perhaps, to the extent that doing so gives them a warm glow for having told off the man or something.

    One of the things I enjoy about Popehat is the diversity. I may not always agree with or be interested in a particular post but I can appreciate it.

    My comments would be more along the lines of "needs more badgers" by which I mean not pestersome people but the actual animal often loaded into a trebuchet and flung at pestersome people.

    edited to add: LOVE the new Edit feature, though the countdown clock is vaguely alarming. Knowing me, I **STILL** won't see that typo until it is far too late.

  213. Clark says:

    @Anony Mouse

    What's wrong with eating paste? I think "I read Gawker" would be far more insulting.

    Oh SNAP!

  214. Clark says:

    @Jacob H

    I think a real problem, as others here have noted, is that new readers are constantly coming in. They may not learn or intuit the commenting mores. As a result, you are going to end up having to repeat these same exchanges time after time.

    Maybe this is the right situation for a "nudge"? Like, instead of the button saying "Submit Comment," it could say "Add to Discussion"

    This may be the first example of "libertarian paternalism" that strikes me as a good idea.

  215. Clark says:

    @Jacob H

    Of course, if what you're worried about is commenting morays, then you should really move to a eel-name-only policy

    Groan. Nice one, though.

  216. Clark says:

    @George William Herbert

    @SPQR:

    I am pretty fond of Ken and Patrick but I love Clark with the love that dare not speak its name.

    (pause) … Authoritarianism?

    LOL!

  217. Justin Kittredge says:

    http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/mr-horse-caroline-peacock.jpg
    This is someone's art and is unusable without permission but it is magical and captures everything you might want to say. Art is a wonderful thing. I would vote the text reads "I am *username.* I eat paste."

    That horse's eyeballs send a silent message of paste-eating. And though anyone with a google could find this, I wanted to share it.

    I am (a little) sorry this was not a more constructive comment.

    Also disagreeing with someone may motivate me to post 1,000 times more then agreeing but a lot of what Clark posts is absolutely hilarious, I don't think I ever expressed this sentiment though. When I read that Giggles the baby deer story I think I had a laugh on and off for that entire day. The pic of man reaching out to touch Cthulhu had me laughing every time I saw it. And after about the 4th time reading (glancing at a jumble of words and quickly turning away) the Urbit post I finally sacrificed a valuable minute to get the joke and it was hilarious.

    All that being said, I look forward to disagreeing with someone soon. Also I just refreshed and see that Clark is posting. Clark if you can ignore the fact that I said you were hilarious, it will be easier for us to disagree about everything. Thanks.

  218. It's probably telling that my first thought as I read the original post was, "wait, there are people who don't like Clark?!"

    I'm not quite sure what it tells, but I'm sure it's something.

    [...] the equivalent of a preschooler turning his plate full of macaroni upside down on the rug while saying "DON'T LIKE! WANT PIZZA!!"

    This sums up my feelings on that category of comment quite nicely.

    I think @Erwin has sensible ideas overall, and I'd see a combination of pasting with a "play nice" warning for a first offense followed by increasing time-limited bans as a fair system. List whatever system you implement in your Comment Policy, and run with it.

    I'm less comfortable with the hated-author-jail concept, because I find it cruel to take something an individual has expressed distaste for and to then give them exactly that, and particularly as punishment for expressing that distaste. Reminds me too much of schoolyard bullies entertaining themselves.

    I enjoy reading most of the posts here. I occasionally skip some when they don't interest me; in my browser-based RSS reader (The Old Reader, for reference) I can see the author's name but I only really pay enough attention to have a concept of the type of post I'll be reading. I know there are other group blogs where I glance at the author's name, and skip over an author I don't much care for, or one whose posts consistently make me frustrated and angry; if Clark or Ken or Patrick or any other of you regularly wrote things I didn't enjoy reading, I'd do the same here. No need to comment about it, just skip what I don't like and take in the stuff that I do enjoy.

  219. Steve says:

    The official paste graphic

    Clark: this deserves to be embedded.

  220. Clark says:

    Thanks for that picture of a gay Swiss Guard and his fully automatic semen gun.

    update: seriously, I do not want to know what the other end of that tube is connected to.

  221. Dan says:

    I'll just quote Michael Donnelly from above:

    As it stands now, the site has been transformed from what I would summarize as "here's a cool legal blog that you can learn from, but the dude has a troll friend who likes to bait commenters" to "here's a legal blog, but don't complain about his friend or you'll get banned".

    I think that bears reiterating.

    Go ahead and ban me for this, but I come to Popehat to read Ken's articles. They're the good ones.

    Yes, I read Clark when I come to Popehat. I also listen to Rush Limbaugh when my 88-year-old neighbor has the radio on in his backyard at 120 decibels.

  222. NS says:

    I read everything that's posted on Popehat. I don't like all of it. Some I disagree with, some, stylistically, puts me in a foul mood, but I read it all anyway. I could skip the things that put me off, but then I'd never know why they put me off, and there is value in knowing that. There is value in everything I read on Popehat, and I get it for free!

    Ken, if you're looking for a suggestion on this policy, please paste the inconsiderate bastards. The world can only be a better place with more well thought out snark in it. Also, people who would rip on your friends and cobloggers on your shared blog deserve more wrath than a simple banning.

    To those at risk if banning/pasting, maybe try contributing something worthwhile to the world, and not just throwing up some ill-considered bit of crap. If the "living room" concept doesn't work for you, perhaps think of places like this as a private bulletin board. The 'hatters allow us posters to put up relevant notes, but graffiti is unwelcome. Please take your markers and spray paint elsewhere, your tag is covering my add for a used washing machine. Sound good?

  223. Jay says:

    I have a proposed compromise: what if, from now on, Clark only wrote about ponies?

  224. Dan says:

    Oh, and I eat paste.

  225. Taliesyn says:

    Before I go back to lurking, let me just say that I'd prefer seeing the 'paste first offenses, ban repeat offenders' approach rather than banning on first sight for this.

    That said, and despite the fact that I've only been a reader for a year or two, I just want to add this: While I'm one of the many who almost always vehemently disagree with Clark when he's posting something political, I really feel this site would lose something if the idiots who keep posting the drivel that Ken paraphrased in the OP got their way. It's awfully difficult to have an intelligent political discussion when the only people around agree on everything.

  226. BruceB says:

    I'm mildly amused that many in this thread assume that "I don't like reading author X" = "I disagree with author X". I'm sure this is true for some, but I think there is enough disparity in writing styles on this blog that one can dislike some of the authors because of the way they write (perceived wordiness or perceived lame attempts at humor) or what they choose to write about, as opposed to their stand on the issues.

  227. Ken White says:

    I appreciate the effort some people are putting in, and I accept that annoyance is on a continuum, but I find "I guess you'll ban me for this" to be more self-serious and willfully-missing-the-point than irritating, and I'll probably deal with it on a not-take-this-person-seriously-again or light-ridicule basis rather than a paste basis.

  228. David says:

    I dislike pasting, altering avatars, and generally violating users' self-presentations. A user should have a voice or have no voice, but a user should not be forced to have a false voice over which the user exercises no control.

    It seems to me that swapping out a user's avatar or altering her words is no different from bullying of the "Why are you hitting yourself?" variety.

  229. phunctor says:

    I've been frequenting oases in the howling troll-wastes since alt.folklore.urban back in the '80s.

    The old oases were defended by widespread plonking of identified trolls. I theorize (because the /absence/ of that functionality sticks out like a sore thumb) that plonk is incompatible with the bushel-of-eyeballs funding model; can anyone confirm or deny that this is the case?

    The troll hordes have made a wasteland of the Breitbart comment section; I no longer go there. And it can happen here; the Eye of Soros never sleeps.

    So I'm proposing a widening of this discussion from rude vagrants to barbarian hordes. What would a palisade look like?

  230. Ken White says:

    I'm leaning towards (1) taking a hiatus for a while because the increasing population of entitled assholes is tipping the blog from personally rewarding to an irritating chore, or (2) arbitrarily and capriciously pasting, viz. changing "I like Angus but I hate Derrick" to "I like rubbing up against the Redbox machine when they feature Sylvester Stallone movies but I hate black people."

    I've yet to hear even a minimally convincing why I should have respect for the people who show up on our blog only to say "I hate Patrick but I like David," or terse variations thereon.

  231. Kirk Taylor says:

    Even if you have decided that Clark's posts are not likeable (I disagree) you cannot argue that the comments sections of his posts are not the best…

  232. Ryan says:

    One problem with "pasting" that I can see coming up already: it's damned difficult to tell if a person pasted themselves for humour, or if they were pasted for something offensive.

    Like I said before, I think that the comment self-policing – the users that remind other users that there is value in reading that which they disagree with, and if all else fails, scroll down – is the best policy.

  233. David says:

    I've yet to hear even a minimally convincing why I should have respect for the people who show up on our blog only to say "I hate Patrick but I like David," or terse variations thereon.

    It's terribly bad form and hideously self-indulgent, especially since avoiding what one doesn't prefer is easy.

    But what do you think, Ken? Isn't pasting just another form of bullying, as noted above?

  234. Steve says:

    The solution is clear. Make all comments that contain the names of any popehat authors editable by everyone. The free market will handle it in a semi-viscous adhesive fashion.

  235. David says:

    One problem with "pasting" that I can see coming up already: it's damned difficult to tell if a person pasted themselves for humour, or if they were pasted for something offensive.

    True. As someone with moderation authority here, I trust my co-bloggers' editorial discretion, but I cannot help wondering whether a given "I eat paste" was the user's joke, and cannot help wondering what might've been erased.

    In fact, it seems fundamentally contradictory to whine about people who whine "I prefer to read this guy but not that guy", and then to turn around and "paste" those whom one allowed in but would rather not read.

    Ban or ban not; there is no mucilage.

  236. Jonathan says:

    @David,

    It seems to me that mockery (eg pasting) has the potential to be bullying – if it is sustained and done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the target. Likewise, it has the potential to be corrective if it is not sustained and done for the purpose of discouraging bad behaviour.

    Frankly, I think people who behave badly publicly should have an expectation of mockery, while the mockers have a responsibility to keep the scope and duration appropriate.

  237. Andrew S. says:

    I'm leaning towards (1) taking a hiatus for a while because the increasing population of entitled assholes is tipping the blog from personally rewarding to an irritating chore, or (2) arbitrarily and capriciously pasting, viz. changing "I like Angus but I hate Derrick" to "I like rubbing up against the Redbox machine when they feature Sylvester Stallone movies but I hate black people."

    ——

    Please pick #2.

    I also advocate changing avatars. To ponies. My Little Ponies. And not the fun current version. The girly 80s version.

  238. I've yet to hear even a minimally convincing [sic]why I should have respect for the people who show up on our blog only to say "I hate Patrick but I like David," or terse variations thereon.

    I don't think the comments are entitled to any respect.

    Furthermore, the people who make the comments haven't earned any respect by making them (to be clear: I'm drawing a distinction between respect for the comment and respect for the person making it), but I guess I don't think they've earned any disrespect either, at least not for a first-time offender. I just don't think you can learn enough about a person from a single comment of that sort to draw any meaningful conclusions.

    Regardless of whether the comments of people making them (first-time offenders) deserve "respect," I do think they deserve patience and fairness, and I think ultimately taking the high road is a better response than bullying people for an offense they probably didn't know they'd committed.

    You are hardly the only popular blogger to get fed up with the decreasing quality of comments on your blog as its popularity increases. I can only imagine how frustrating it is (never having experienced anything approaching that level of popularity on my own blog, except perhaps when Continental Airlines lost my daughter and I was on Fox & Friends for two minutes), and I hope you can find a way to restore a better balance of rewarding vs. frustrating.

    Perhaps all new commenters could be moderated by default, and commenters only get unmodded when they've posted at least one minimally substantive comment?

  239. Clark says:

    @Ken White

    I'm leaning towards (1) taking a hiatus for a while

    I hope you don't; you're tied with Patrick as my favorite Popehat author (except for those opera posts – love the idea, but just can't get past a paragraph or two).

    arbitrarily and capriciously pasting, viz. changing "I like Angus but I hate Derrick" to "I like rubbing up against the Redbox machine when they feature Sylvester Stallone movies but I hate black people."

    Another idea: is there a wordpress plugin that allows per-viewer blocking? I.e. user A can mark user B as a douche, and never again see comments by user B, while user B can do the same with regard to user C?

    If not, there should be.

    Let us create our own bubbles!

  240. Jonathan says:

    @David,

    In fact, it seems fundamentally contradictory to whine about people who whine "I prefer to read this guy but not that guy", and then to turn around and "paste" those whom one allowed in but would rather not read.

    I see an apparent contradiction, but not an actual one.

    If we accept that Ken (and Co) have a legitimate authority over this blog, then it seems reasonable to also accept that he has the right and authority to determine what sort of reader-submitted content is acceptable. Unless you also accept that the readers have a legitimate and identical authority over this blog, then the two positions are not equal, because they flow from different sources.

  241. Red Tonic says:

    I find Clark's smugness and opinions alternatingly infuriating/fascinating. That is why I wait until after work to read his posts. No one has to agree with an idea or opinion to find it interesting and worth engaging.

    That is why I, personally, hope that Ken decides not to ban everyone who whines about not liking one poster or another. No one will please everyone all of the time. I believe that should neither be the goal for our noble overlord bloggers nor for us commenting rabble. Even vapid speech is speech; conversation is the bare minimum we all can do to make the world (or at least our own little seats) better. Luring low-content whiners into a substantive exchange is always a good goal, isn't it?

    (Also, these new comment tools are totally sweet!)

  242. Taliesyn says:

    Please don't go. The drones need you. The drones look up to you.

    (Also, I'd suggest #2.)

  243. David says:

    @Jonathan Grapeking

    It seems to me that mockery (eg pasting) has the potential to be bullying – if it is sustained and done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the target. Likewise, it has the potential to be corrective if it is not sustained and done for the purpose of discouraging bad behaviour.

    Frankly, I think people who behave badly publicly should have an expectation of mockery, while the mockers have a responsibility to keep the scope and duration appropriate.

    You can mock somebody in your own voice. You can correct and reprove someone in your own voice.

    Or you can hijack his voice, which adds precisely what to the endeavor?

  244. Jonathan says:

    @David

    Grapeking? I am intrigued.

    You can mock somebody in your own voice. You can correct and reprove someone in your own voice.

    Or you can hijack his voice, which adds precisely what to the endeavor?

    That's a fair question. It may not be any more useful than having other commenters mock and pile on. Maybe even less effective than that. But, I don't think the relative utility of the measure speaks to the 'bullying or not?' question.

    I don't think it is bullying, at least not in the context of a one-off experience in a blog combox.

  245. Elf says:

    I prefer disemvoweling to pasting for offensive comments (for whatever criteria of "offensive" are in use), but I also understanding that pasting is much quicker.

    @Dan: Rush Limbaugh doesn't engage in arguments with his detractors. He rants about them from a distance. He doesn't want disagreement from his audience, and only speaks to what he believes are welcoming audiences, or those he thinks are "neutral," by which he means, "those that won't call him out on his bullshit."

    While there are flaws in the premise of "the answer to problematic speech is always more speech" (because not everyone's ability, energy, or time available to speak is equal), it's at least a comprehensible policy, and one that works very well for fairness in blog discussions.

    Flaws: a "just have more speech" policy is biased in favor of the well-educated with leisure time, and to the benefit of verbal abusers. The solution to a workplace full of guys who call the only woman in their department "ho-bag" and "slut" is not "well, she can call them dickweeds in return."

    However, as much as the formal policy here is "more speech rather than censorship," I haven't gotten the sense that someone who just spews (non-entertaining) insults and accusations would be tolerated for long.

  246. Jonathan says:

    @Red Tonic

    That is why I, personally, hope that Ken decides not to ban everyone who whines about not liking one poster or another. No one will please everyone all of the time. I believe that should neither be the goal for our noble overlord bloggers nor for us commenting rabble. Even vapid speech is speech; conversation is the bare minimum we all can do to make the world (or at least our own little seats) better. Luring low-content whiners into a substantive exchange is always a good goal, isn't it?

    Very well spoken sir.

  247. HandOfGod137 says:

    If a blogger reaches the stage that some of the comments being posted on their blog are making them wonder if it's worth continuing, that strikes me as being a perfectly reasonable point to declare a posting rule that, if broken, gets you banned. As was argued (by some, including me) in the Scalzi thread, commenting on a blog is a privilege, and the blog owner has the absolute right to tell anyone they choose to bugger off. I come here to read the authors, so some entitled tits getting their knickers in a knot over a perceived threat to their freedom of speech makes me give slightly less than a metric femtofuck, if the alternative is losing the actual reason I visit the blog.

    The issue isn't a massive attack on people's ability to debate, it's taking one specific, pointless and highly irritating whine and saying "I've had enough: do this again and you can sod off".

  248. David says:

    I see an apparent contradiction, but not an actual one.

    If we accept that Ken (and Co) have a legitimate authority over this blog, then it seems reasonable to also accept that he has the right and authority to determine what sort of reader-submitted content is acceptable.

    This is indisputable. We have the right to filter comments. I'm asserting that there's a difference between (a) including or excluding Bubba's comment, and (b) including but substantially altering Bubba's comment.

    Unless you also accept that the readers have a legitimate and identical authority over this blog, then the two positions are not equal, because they flow from different sources.

    Of course they do. Users have no right to comment at all. But consider these propositions:
    (a) Kenpo wants commenters to avoid expressing preferences about authors.
    (b) Kenpo wants to alter commenters' comments.

    There's no question that he, and every author, has the technical ability and the legal right to do anything with the comments.

    But there's an ethical question:
    (a') Author demands respect for the diversity of voices among authors.
    (b') Author promotes disrespect for the diversity of voices among commenters if the whim strikes him.

    Yes, we can do this. But should we? It's sort of like defending the diversity of voices among Jets but knifing a Shark serendipitously if he irks you or the sun's in your eyes.

    Consider fake-tolerating-while-altering instead of to banning outright or mocking/governing separately. The contradiction is between:

    (a") It is the case that I tolerate Sue's comments (because they're still here)
    and
    (b") It is not the case that I tolerate Sue's comments (because I've changed them to subvert their meaning)

    Why, other than bullying, would one choose to mock by twisting rather than by commenting/exhorting/commanding or simply banning?

    Men should be what they seem, or those that be not, would they might seem none!

  249. Steve says:

    In Soviet Russia, paste eats you!

  250. Jonathan says:

    Oh, grapeking. A king, colored purple. My avatar. I was bad not to immediately note this reference, and I feel bad.

  251. lelnet says:

    Anyone who claims you're damaging the popehat brand doesn't understand the popehat brand. :)

  252. Elf says:

    @Clark,

    Another idea: is there a wordpress plugin that allows per-viewer blocking? I.e. user A can mark user B as a douche, and never again see comments by user B, while user B can do the same with regard to user C?

    Possibly, but it won't help Ken, who probably needs to be able to see everyone's posts so he can tell if/when something's moved from "annoying insult" into "abuse/libel/porn/other content not wanted on the blog at all." Since the core issue here is that a moderator is annoyed with a substantial number of regularly occurring comments, a killfile won't fix that.

    If a blogger reaches the stage that some of the comments being posted on their blog are making them wonder if it’s worth continuing, that strikes me as being a perfectly reasonable point to declare a posting rule that, if broken, gets you banned.

    What he said. It has moved from a "free speech/free exchange of ideas" issue to "whose enjoyment of the blog is more important: Ken's, or that of the people who want to insist that Ken's posts are great and Clark's posts suck?"

  253. Angstela says:

    Popehat is not my bitch.

    That simple belief is generally what stops me from asking that my opinions be taken into any consideration at all for what goes on here.

    If a post hits that fine line between irritating me and rendering me irrational or incoherent, I might comment but that's going to be pretty rare. More often than not, if I don't like a post, I just stop reading it and find some other way to entertain myself (sometimes I have to mutter "not my bitch" a few times first, though).

    My MUD's (yes, I'm that old) longstanding ban policy was: "We work long hours in our real jobs and use this place to wind down, have fun, and generally forget about real life. If a player takes any of that away from us by being rude, dismissive, or threatening we will simply ban them and get back to having fun." It still seems a pretty reasonable ban policy to me.

  254. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Respectfully, I think Patrick is factually wrong to say Popehat isn't a brand. It's a distict name, has a distinct logo, and the name and logo connote a particular set of qualities or characteristics (attractive to some, repulsive to others). In that respect it's not really any different from the name "Nike" and the swoosh logo.

    Of course if you want to "damage" your brand, that's your own business. But that doesn't mean folks with an ideological axe to grind are well-positioned to give meaningful advice about that. I remember left-wingers back in the '90s saying Nike was damaging its brand by using sweatshop labor. I even thought they might have a point. Funny, then, thst Nike has become the world's largest sporting goods company.

  255. Clark says:

    @lelnet

    Anyone who claims you're damaging the popehat brand doesn't understand the popehat brand. :)

    This one gets it.

  256. Clark says:

    @Elf

    I prefer disemvoweling to pasting for offensive comments

    I strongly disagree, for reasons I've elaborated elsewhere, and for reasons very close to what David argues above: it puts one's own words (the disemvoweled version) under another person's name.

    If we go down that road at all, I prefer the Amazon.com solution: "readers have said that this comment does not add to the discussion; click HERE to see it".

  257. Chris Rhodes says:

    When people complain about Clark, sometimes I wonder if "smug" is code for "doesn't lose his shit when people disagree".

  258. Clark says:

    @Angstela

    Popehat is not my bitch.

    {{citation needed}}

    ah, here we go!

  259. Clark says:

    @Chris Rhodes

    When people complain about Clark, sometimes I wonder if "smug" is code for "doesn't lose his shit when people disagree".

    I don't wonder about that. ;-)

  260. David says:

    Popehat is not literally a brand because it is a non-commercial endeavor.
    Popehat is figuratively a brand because its self-presentation is stylistically distinct (though not unified) and ideologically coherent (more or less).

  261. HandOfGod137 says:

    How can a blog that is the varied expression of what the authors want to write about at some point in time be said to have a "brand"? The only way that concept makes any sort of sense is to characterise the "brand" as what the readers perceive it to be, which has no existence beyond the reader's subjective categorisation. The blog is what Ken et al choose to write. There is no "brand", nor in an existential sense can there ever be one (unless it turns into an outlet for selling stuff). So if the concept of brand makes no sense in this context, there is nothing to damage. I may have drunk too much coffee…

  262. Kirk Taylor says:

    The beauty of Popehat is the diversity. The beauty of Clark is the unvarnished, all the way to the extremeness of it. Nothing helps you better understand an argument than someone at the extreme. No wishy-washy halfway BS. We see this all the time from right wing and left wing on the media, why not from the libertarian. You don't have to agree, or even like it, but to say it isn't extremely useful and enlightening is simply BS. And what extreme opinion isn't going to come off as smug?

  263. David says:

    For those who do not grok the "bullying" imagery: Ken likes to explain Popehat policies by likening the blog to his living room. He often asks, "Would you come into my living room and then puke on my hearth and insult my other guests or relatives?" or something to that effect.

    Well, I'm asking, "Ken, would you invite someone into your living room and then, if that person acted badly, keep him around but hit him in the face with his own hands rather than ejecting or correcting him?"

  264. Kirk Taylor says:

    BTW, I don't think I've ever read a comment accusing someone of smugness that doesn't come across as smug.

  265. A. Nagy says:

    I like this site mostly because the quality of the comments overall is so high. Most sites are just people spouting talking points and just insulting each other. Either that or it's just a massive circle jerk. This site has a variety of opinions from a more libertarian point of view. I like Kens posts, they are normally just preaching to the choir for me but they have great prose and sometimes inform me about a detail I was unaware of. I like Clarks posts, I normally agree with most of what he is saying but have a few points I dislike, but I feel like his posts and the comments that follow help in solidifying my point of view on a subject so it ever gets brought up in a conversation I know exactly where I stand.

  266. SPQR says:

    Kem, if you don't go on hiatus, I will give you my Sclock Mercenary Partnership Collective challenge coin.

  267. Elf says:

    @Clark: The Amazon solution requires coding that may not be available; disemvoweling is usable on any blog that allows editing comments. I don't think of disemvoweling as putting words in the commenter's mouth, but as a kind of distortion filter for text.

    It does, however, change at least the tone of what they were saying. I can respect a decision to avoid that; it's not an aspect of free speech I get worked up about.

    My kids are young enough that it hasn't been long since I've had to say "that's not an appropriate topic at this venue" fairly often. I don't have a problem with internet moderators saying "some topics are off-limits here because they're not fun for us."

    I think the "Ken rocks; Clark sucks" posts have been given plenty of opportunity to be points of useful and/or entertaining discussion, and whatever value they have is depleted. But it's not my blog. Whether their nuisance factor outweighs their value as "showcase of free speech ideals" isn't my judgment call to make.

  268. Jonathan says:

    @David

    But there's an ethical question:
    (a') Author demands respect for the diversity of voices among authors.
    (b') Author promotes disrespect for the diversity of voices among commenters if the whim strikes him.

    If we agree that
    (a) The Popehatters have a right to have their voice heard on this their blog
    and

    (b) The commenters do not have a right to have their voice heard on this their blog

    then I'm not sure we're facing an ethical dilemma here.

    Consider:
    Popehat authors have the 'right' to have their voices heard [by virtue of their position of owners of the Popehat blog]

    vs

    Popehat commenters have the 'right' to have their voices heard [by virtue of the goodwill of the Popehat Bloggers, conditioned by the commenter's adherence to a certain code of conduct.]

    As we have agreed, under this scenario, the moral rights and duties that attach to bloggers and commenters regarding their voice in the context of the Popehat blog are unequal. The 'rights' of the bloggers flow from their internal characteristic as 'owners' of the blog – the 'rights' of the commenters flow from the bloggers and their conditions.

    If we accept that that is true, then I don't see how promoting disrespect for a certain class of commenter/comment that violates the conditions that govern commenters' rights is ethically inconsistent with promoting respect for the bloggers.

    Why, other than bullying, would one choose to mock by twisting rather than by commenting/exhorting/commanding or simply banning?

    I don't know. It seems more work than its worth to me, but I don't have a hard time seeing it as a form of corrective mockey. "Look, if you act like a dick then we'll edit your comment to make you look like a dick." Quite possibly not effective, but in limited scale..I think it is nothing like bullying.

    Men should be what they seem, or those that be not, would they might seem none!

    Well played, sir! However, this seems more like using an offender's cellphone to tell on them than assuming or obscuring their identity.

  269. HandOfGod137 says:

    @David

    Well, I'm asking, "Ken, would you invite someone into your living room and then, if that person acted badly, keep him around but hit him in the face with his own hands rather than ejecting or correcting him?"

    If the various solutions were being suggested as a general approach to derp comments, I'd say you have a point. If the "hit him in the face with his own hands" response is kept purely as an answer to the "Ken ftw, Clark is made of phail" zero information whine posts, I'd say it's a perfectly proportional response. If someone goes to the effort of composing a well thought out comment on why they find one author more ideologically appealing than another, I get the impression they wouldn't trigger the Kenstorm, but a single sentence whinge seems scarcely worth the effort of a more reasoned response. If people know the rule, but choose to ignore it, tough shit really.

  270. Clark says:

    @HandOfGod137:

    How can a blog that is the varied expression of what the authors want to write about at some point in time be said to have a "brand"?

    Serious Eats: We Try All 127 Flavors from the Coke Freestyle Machine

    Which leads to the open question: if anarcho-capitalism were a flavor, what would it taste like?

  271. frymaster says:

    I much prefer it when Patrick bans me compared to when Ken bans me

  272. David says:

    Clark seems to enjoy the thrill of contrariety or non-conformity. As long as he feels he has the upper hand, he keeps his cool and engages in a stylistically level-headed discussion that stands in contrast to the increasing hyperventilation and rising blood pressure of whichever discussant has found his extremism provocative. And if his discussant also keeps calm, an interesting examination of issues may ensue.

    (And if Clark doesn't feel he has the upper hand, he grows hysterical, loses dialectical control, and ends up having to account for himself later. But that doesn't happen too often in the comments.)

    So– some people are attracted to that kind of performance for its audacity, or for the light it sheds on the rationale behind positions widely construed as extreme. Others, perhaps, are attracted to the give and take of discussion. Many, I think, are attracted to Clark's scattered literary and pop-cultural allusions, since they nametag the elements of a shared subculture in a group-affirming way.

    Some, on the other hand, consider the thrill of non-conformity and the zeal for inconsequential debate immature, annoying, unenlightening, or simply not to taste.

    I think Ken has grown so upset about the comparative comments because he likes Clark and wants Clark to feel welcome. Ken seems offended not by the differences in taste among commenters but by the need, felt among some, to express that difference aloud rather than merely to act upon it. Especially, he hates the implication that he, or others labeled "cool" rather than "uncool", will be flattered (or "chuffed") to hear that fact from those commenters.

    We're not in competition with one another, and we're not hoping to learn that y'all like one of us more than another. We're glad to learn that you like something, but not that you think Petra's cuter than Pauline. You see, we're trying to cooperate and collaborate here, despite our huge differences in style, substance, specialization, and something else beginning with 's'.

    We're trying to serve. Why do some o' y'all wanna hurt someone's feelings?

    That, as far as I can tell, is Ken's angle. And it seems reasonable to me since Ken's the steward of this demesne. But the shark-chum forming around the idea of pasting isn't all that different from the attitude that led to the comparative comments in the first place– is it?

  273. David says:

    if anarcho-capitalism were a flavor, what would it taste like?

    Cheap poison, since the government wouldn't be there to regulate the quality and sourcing of ingredients. ;)

  274. Clark says:

    @David

    if anarcho-capitalism were a flavor, what would it taste like?

    Cheap poison, since the government wouldn't be there to regulate the quality and sourcing of ingredients. ;)

    Huh. Never realized that the juggalos were drinking my ideology!

  275. David says:

    If someone goes to the effort of composing a well thought out comment on why they find one author more ideologically appealing than another, I get the impression they wouldn't trigger the Kenstorm, but a single sentence whinge seems scarcely worth the effort of a more reasoned response.

    Ken's opposition seems to be totalizing; I don't think he'd welcome "well-reasoned" comparative evaluations. I think he'd regard their prim and proper purveyors as entitled choads.

  276. Kirk Taylor says:

    Sometimes I feel like people are reading a different Clark then I am. Sure he gets snarky, entertainment is a key element of Clark's posts. I just can't help seeing disagreement coloring peoples opinions. (Not that I agree wholeheartedly with Clark, but I sure as hell see his point.)

  277. Clark says:

    @David

    As long as [ Clark ] feels he has the upper hand, he keeps his cool and engages in a stylistically level-headed discussion that stands in contrast to the increasing hyperventilation and rising blood pressure of whichever discussant has found his extremism provocative…

    And if Clark doesn't feel he has the upper hand, he grows hysterical, loses dialectical control

    THAT'S NOT TRUE, you douche bag! !!1!!!

  278. Kirk Taylor says:

    Seems like this must be linked, if only because of the timing:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=3138#comic

  279. HandOfGod137 says:

    @Clark

    If anarcho-capitalism were a flavor, what would it taste like?

    Interesting question, and one that takes me right back to my dancing-like-a-lunatic-in-a-field-near-Glastonbury days in the 80's. I'd say exciting, scary but with the distinct aftertaste of fear of no soft toilet paper ever again. So chicken.

  280. Kirk Taylor says:

    So out of control he can't consistently hit the shift key!!!1!!!

  281. Angstela says:

    @Clark *hah* Thanks for the source. I knew it had something to do with Gaiman, but I was too foggy (read: lazy) this AM to even try to tease it out of Google.

  282. Jonathan says:

    @Clark

    I strongly disagree, for reasons I've elaborated elsewhere, and for reasons very close to what David argues above: it puts one's own words (the disemvoweled version) under another person's name.

    Only in a sense. The mere fact that the words are disemvoweled or pasted is a clear indicator that a moderator has taken action, and that the words are not truly attributable to the original author.

    If the moderator's authority is legitimately derived (as I think you will agree the Popehat moderators' authority is) and is not being abused to modify/delete posts which do not violate the agreed upon conditions, then I assert that the authority is exercised ethically.

  283. Clark says:

    @Kirk Taylor

    Sometimes I feel like people are reading a different Clark then I am. Sure he gets snarky, entertainment is a key element of Clark's posts. I just can't help seeing disagreement coloring peoples opinions. (Not that I agree wholeheartedly with Clark, but I sure as hell see his point.)

    Kirk, you are a man of rare discernment.

    ;-)

  284. David says:

    Only in a sense. The mere fact that the words are disemvoweled or pasted is a clear indicator that a moderator has taken action, and that the words are not truly attributable to the original author.

    But now the words truly attributable to the original author– the still-ascribed author– are lost. All that's left is the pillory and a false quotation.

    If the moderator's authority is legitimately derived (as I think you will agree the Popehat moderators' authority is) and is not being abused to modify/delete posts which do not violate the agreed upon conditions, then I assert that the authority is exercised ethically.

    Sounds Orwellian. How is my lying about what you said better than your having said something that breaks the rules?

  285. HandOfGod137 says:

    Sometimes I feel like people are reading a different Clark then I am. Sure he gets snarky, entertainment is a key element of Clark's posts. I just can't help seeing disagreement coloring peoples opinions. (Not that I agree wholeheartedly with Clark, but I sure as hell see his point.)

    I disagree with a huge proportion of Clark's opinions, but that doesn't stop me enjoying reading his stuff and getting a righteous liberalfrenzy up commenting on those pieces I fancy I might have something contribute. People just need to get a sense of perspective: arguing can be fun if you do it right, and sometimes you can learn something.

  286. David says:

    @Jonathan

    I don't have a hard time seeing it as a form of corrective mockey. "Look, if you act like a dick then we'll edit your comment to make you look like a dick." Quite possibly not effective, but in limited scale..I think it is nothing like bullying.

    And yet… the premise in play is that the person who acted, or the quote constituting that action, already looks bad. So what's added, other than a spike in the end zone?

  287. repsac3 says:

    Whatever I thought of Clark before, I like him a good bit more after the "bubble" and "not my bitch" links. (It ain't a love that dare not speak…but that's pretty rare–not Angus rare, but rare).

    And I'm rethinkin' my support for pasting after David's comments. Even a douchebag deserves a voice… What s/he doesn't deserve is the use of your soapbox.

    Lord, grant me the serenity to ignore the just plain stupid, the strength to ban the intentional asshats, and the wisdom to know the difference.

  288. Ken White says:

    Let me think about David's points. I will point out that when I paste I tend to make it very clear that I've pasted in proximate comments. And I maintain that, even given David's critique, pasting would be appropriate in some cases, such as persistent personal attacks.

  289. HandOfGod137 says:

    @David

    But now the words truly attributable to the original author– the still-ascribed author– are lost. All that's left is the pillory and a false quotation.

    Change the font to comic sans then. Nothing has been lost, no meaning changed, but the intent to show that the comment so modified had the change made as punishment for reducing the information content of the universe (which is against the Holographic principle, so very naughty indeed) is clear.

  290. Jonathan says:

    And yet… the premise in play is that the person who acted, or the quote constituting that action, already looks bad. So what's added, other than a spike in the end zone?

    Fair enough. You've got me there.

  291. Clark says:

    Another thought on pasting, Amazon-style, hiding, etc.:

    If a comment annoys Ken, he goes in and edits the comment and wraps it with

    <span style="color:white;">

    </span>

    People who care can select the block of text and see the paste, thusly:


    This is the secret text. Lorem ipsum illuminati!

    (Note: there is secret text between this paragraph and the previous one.)

  292. Jonathan says:

    Sounds Orwellian. How is my lying about what you said better than your having said something that breaks the rules?

    Orwellian? It's not lying in the sense that you are willfully misrepresenting what the poster said in order to deceive others. I suppose it is lying in the sense that you are broadcasting that a moderator took issue with the original content of the post and took 'corrective' action.

    In any case, it's not my intention to be combative or irritating. I just find the idea that editing comments is unethical to be interesting to argue about.

  293. Elf says:

    I like white-wrapping or using "black highlighter" on comments that, for whatever reasons, the mods have decided don't deserve to be deleted but are actively detracting from the conversation.

    How is my lying about what you said better than your having said something that breaks the rules?

    Depends on whether it's lying or just paraphrasing–translating, perhaps–to let readers better understand the essence of the comment.

  294. David says:

    I suppose it is lying in the sense that you are broadcasting that a moderator took issue with the original content of the post and took 'corrective' action.

    It's lying in the sense that a comment appears with the name or avatar of a given user, but with words supplied punitively/humiliatingly by another person as if the punished user had written them.

    Everyone can tell that little scrawny Johnny isn't actually punching himself in the face, right? Everyone can see the hands holding his wrists and making his arms move, right? So it's not really abusive, right?

  295. David says:

    Depends on whether it's lying or just paraphrasing–translating, perhaps–to let readers better understand the essence of the comment.

    Which communicates the essence of Obama's comment: someone's translation/paraphrase/adaptation/explanation of Obama's comment xor Obama's comment? And what's the best place for another person to explain or commentate on that essence: near Obama's face xor in Obama's mouth, overriding his own words?

  296. bw1 says:

    There's a lot of us that are big Clark fans so it annoys me quite a bit when I see such sentiment.

    That's not apparent from the bulk of the author-partisan commenting, which I think offers insight into the source of Ken's annoyance. Clark's fans DON'T make these type of comments, while Ken's do, and these types of comments are stupid. So, in essence, these comments are a message to Ken that he attracts idiots as fans. I'd be annoyed, too.

    One of the things that underscores this is how many of the partisans say they disagree with Clark's politics/ideology, when Clark, Ken, and Patrick all share a remarkably similar libertarian ideology – it's just that Clark applies it more broadly and consistently, with fewer exceptions.

    Ken can nonetheless take comfort in knowing that such commenters are not representative of his fans – it's just that he's had more time to accumulate fans, thus his 1% fringe is larger than Clark's.

  297. Elf says:

    Everyone can tell that little scrawny Johnny isn't actually punching himself in the face, right? Everyone can see the hands holding his wrists and making his arms move, right? So it's not really abusive, right?

    Moving the goalposts. First it was lying; now it's abuse.

    Nobody thinks Johnny is actually so masochistic that he likes hitting himself in the face. Whether the public humiliation counts as "abuse" is a different matter to debate.

  298. David says:

    Good points, bw1.

    Clark's only "more consistent" if anarcho-capitalism is taken as a more consistent expression of libertarian sentiment than its more moderate counterparts on the ideological spectrum. And that is certainly open to debate. One of the easiest routes to superficial consistency is oversimplification of complex issues and analog information.

    That said, you're right that there's a range. Clark is the token wingnut. Patrick's a closet wingnut who wraps his extremism in a densely literary and historico-cultural veil. Ken's the bourgeois soft-libertarian who wants to chill among the more extreme for street cred and pleasure because he'd be running naked through the meadows with a gun and a fistful of raw goods if society and heritage hadn't conspired to make him groom and wear neckties.

  299. Jonathan says:

    Everyone can tell that little scrawny Johnny isn't actually punching himself in the face, right? Everyone can see the hands holding his wrists and making his arms move, right? So it's not really abusive, right?

    Little scrawny Johnny calls Susie a twat waffle. Susie's friend Moxie Roxie grabs Johnny's wrist and makes him to gently slap himself, as if to say 'hey cut it out, that's not appreciated'. Then she desists. Abuse?

    This of course assuming we find physical coercion and violence to be a useful analogue to moderator action in a blog combox.

  300. David says:

    Moving the goalposts. First it was lying; now it's abuse.

    Don't be puerile; lying is self-evidently a species of abuse. Or do you take it in stride as just another tool?

  301. HandOfGod137 says:

    running naked through the meadows with a gun and a fistful of raw goods

    Is this some American idiomatic metaphor I have been hitherto unaware of? Sounds a bit risky.

  302. David says:

    Decorating text by altering the font to Comic Sans would call attention where inattention is deserved; whiting out is better by far.

  303. David says:

    @Ken

    I maintain that, even given David's critique, pasting would be appropriate in some cases, such as persistent personal attacks.

    Why wouldn't deletion and/or banning be a better solution? Yes, "making an example of" is a way of teaching others. But then, so is simply teaching others without pressing someone beneath a board.

  304. Ken White says:

    Now you're implying I can't board-press people? WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT OF HAVING A BLOG?

  305. David says:

    You have a blog so that people like bw1 can point out that the troublemakers are members of the cohort of followers you have attracted, not of the cohort that Clark has attracted. Think of it as a sort of Zen mirror with darkened yet illuminating glass. ;)

  306. Clark says:

    @bw1

    Clark's fans DON'T make these type of comments, while Ken's do, and these types of comments are stupid. So, in essence, these comments are a message to Ken that he attracts idiots as fans.

    LOL – zing!

    the partisans say they disagree with Clark's politics/ideology, when Clark, Ken, and Patrick all share a remarkably similar libertarian ideology – it's just that Clark applies it more broadly and consistently, with fewer exceptions.

    Thanks for your comment. Please email me 0.00005 bitcoin as a hosting fee.

    ;-)

  307. Clark says:

    @HandOfGod137

    running naked through the meadows with a gun and a fistful of raw goods

    Is this some American idiomatic metaphor I have been hitherto unaware of? Sounds a bit risky.

    "These are my raw goods, this is my gun, this is for fighting, these are for mutually beneficial trade between consenting adults" ?

  308. Zazlo says:

    I think David makes a pretty compelling argument. More importantly, the whiting out solution is a choice method, a sharp combination of effective, simple, and smart. I can see the authors and readers of this blog enjoying the elegance and ethics of it.

    And yeah, Clark's been on a roll here. What could be next? Nock Nock jokes?

  309. Chris Rhodes says:

    "These are my raw goods, this is my gun, this is for fighting, these are for mutually beneficial trade between consenting adults" ?

    Thanks to you, I'm probably going to get "not a serious person" stamped onto my next performance review at work.

    Nock Nock jokes

    Icing on the cake.

  310. Nick says:

    So, if we don't do comparatives we can still call a popehat author an idiot? Sold. (I come for the schadenfreude of censors losing lawsuits, I say for the head-explodingly frustrating defenses of failed political doctrine, because someone on the internet is wrong dammit!).

    That said, Clark's contributions to these comments are the best thing I've ever seen from him.

    Hell, even $50k might get me to leave. And given that progressives say that the multiplier effect is something like 4:1, you'd see about $200k worth of benefit in the hookers-and-nose-candy sector of the economy in short order.

    I'd imagine hookers probably have a pretty good multiplier, I doubt that they have a super-high savings rate, and probably a lot of their spend is going into consumer goods (food, gas, thongs) that are brick and morter and possibly specialty stores that similarly don't save much.

    Blow is probably riskier, yeah you have the local guy on the corner, but most will just end up sitting there as some drug lorg's gold-plated dildo collection or something.

  311. David says:

    See Bastiat's The Merry Window.

  312. Gabe says:

    I understand that this is the author's turf and that they are free to post whatever they want and tell the commenters to sod off. It must be infuriating to read numerous comments saying what Ken should do in his own space or saying that something is damaging "the Popehat brand"; this is not the commenter's blog. I'm not going to defend the lazy comments that Ken would like to eliminate, but as a reader, I can understand where they are coming from.
    Although I'm sure it wasn't Ken's intention, Popehat is to most blogs what BBC news is to Alternet and, as a result, I give it a lot more consideration than I would for most other internet sources. With the coverage of Prenda, Carreon and other trolls, at times Popehat is a place to get news on these characters with the added benefit of being written by actual lawyers. At times it is hard to remember that this is a blog so it makes sense that posters have tried to appeal to Ken in ways that one normally would appeal to a corporate website or to a news organization, if you'll forgive the comparison. This must be incredibly annoying, but I suppose it is a byproduct of creating something that is better than most people expect.

    To Ken, it would be sad if you do decide to take a hiatus from blogging, but I thank you for your writing and the excellent Popehat symbol. Many posts on this website have been illuminating and when I find myself disagreeing with one of your posts, I know I need to think carefully about what I believe.

  313. Elf says:

    @David
    No, I don't agree that lying is automatically a type of abuse. (Nor does the law, or fraud cases wouldn't need to prove harm as well as deceit, and puffing would be illegal.)

    Whether this particular type of lying–replacing or modifying someone else's words–is a form of abuse is being discussed. I'm not sure anyone's rights are being violated by the lie. The right to free speech does not include the right to annoy one's host.

    It's possible that what bothers people about the proposed policy is its apparent arbitrariness. Everyone understands a need to delete posts containing illegal content. Most understand a wish to delete posts that substantially interfere with other people's enjoyment of the site–several dozen identical comments that say "this is the most awesome blog ever!" would probably be removed. But this is a proposal to take action against a particular type of comment only–one that's well within the range of polite discussion, and allows people to sort out each other's opinions. It's not a more offensive statement than many that are allowed and encouraged here; it's up for action because it annoys Ken more than those.

    I like my laws to have consistency and justification for action. I don't want the same principles applied to social settings. "It annoys the hell out of me" is a perfectly valid reason for banning a particular behavior in a social setting. And given that just deleting/banning might not serve as a warning to others, some form of public reprimand–including editing posts in a way that's obvious to readers–is a reasonable approach.

  314. Erwin says:

    I wonder if there's an unaddressed part of the problem here. My impression is that Ken doesn't enjoy moderating comments. Nearly any of the suggestions here would work okay. Some solutions are lovelier than others (viewing only bloggers you hate) and some solutions are more moderate (paste, then ban). Maybe some better address a tiny issue with possible inaccurate attribution. But, they all involve some effort.

    Personally, when I have a task I dislike, I delegate it, usually to my other family members. :) (With mixed success…) In any case, I suspect it would be possible for Ken to poll his bloggers, or possibly his more reliable commentators, and find someone or a few someones who would positively enjoy moderating the comments sections. If that person messes up, Ken can always reprimand/replace them. Voila, problem solved.

    I prefer more energetic moderation, along the lines of requiring possibly useful contribution for a post to survive, but, eh, there's problems with that approach too.

    Depending on Ken's preferences, requiring signup by 'humanlooking' email address can also improve the signal-to-noise ratio and improve the effectiveness of bans.

    –Erwin

  315. David says:

    Popehat is a place to get news on these characters with the added benefit of being written by actual lawyers

    Strictly speaking, the lawyers are in the minority. Ken is a lawyer. Patrick is a lawyer. Grandy and I, we're software developers. Clark is a distiller/posthole-digger/kinsman-redeemer/silkworm-cultivator. I'm not sure what Derrick is– professional gamer? Via Angus is a cow. Charles is an unskilled, agoraphobic ventriloquist.

  316. David says:

    @Elf, thank you for your illuminating repetition of points already made or addressed in my prior posts, and for whatever contribution the delta in your remarks provides.

  317. Clark says:

    @Erwin:

    it would be possible for Ken to poll his bloggers, or possibly his more reliable commentators, and find someone or a few someones who would positively enjoy moderating the comments sections.

    Unless that sentence is followed by "…and promptly vow to never give them moderation authority", I disagree.

    All censors are bad.

    The censors who enjoy their work are the worst.

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    – C.S. Lewis

  318. Jonathan says:

    @David

    I am curious whether you consider the scenario I described entails abuse or not. If you do consider that sort of physical coercion to be abuse – is there a scenario where you do not consider coercion to be abusive?

  319. Erwin says:

    @Clark
    The vast wasteland we call YouTube disagrees with you. It is perfectly possible for inane comments to drown out useful or interesting comments. In fact, for nonexclusive, unmoderated, blogs with a broad audience, my limited, anecdotal observations are that this problem is more the rule than the exception.

    The initial reaction is for only inherently responsible people who can be trusted to value free speech to be trusted with necessary moderation. Those people tend to hate moderation and quit, leaving the world with one fewer blog. That's a bad thing.

    I'd suggest that a more sustainable approach is to leave those inherently responsible people in charge and delegate the work they hate to people who actually enjoy moderation. Along with clear guidelines as to what sort of moderation is appropriate. And a clear message that they're easily replaced if they behave inappropriately. Assuming rational behavior, they'll then moderate their own behavior in order to keep their privilege.

    –Erwin

  320. David says:

    @Jonathan. Moxie Roxie should keep her hands to herself. Banning, though coercive, is not abusive in this context.

  321. Elf says:

    @David,
    No, thank you; it's always a pleasure to meet someone who abandons an argument when he realizes it's going around in circles. Bowing out gracefully while delivering a mild slap is a rare talent in the blogosphere.

    (I must've missed the comment where you explained how lying is a form of abuse, though. Maybe I'll have time to find it later.)

  322. David says:

    @Elf, don't flatter yourself that you've driven me in circles or led me to a point where I have no answer. Boredom, not lack of a rebuttal, motivates my abandonment of your pet cause.

    I decided your game wasn't worth the candle at precisely the point where you started asserting what's legal, permissible, etc.– issues already addressed in the discussion that you're failing to follow.

    If you're too ethically crippled to discern that lying by replacing someone's words with different words in order to mock her is abusive, then I hold out no hope of enlightening or persuading you. Ergo, it's ciao-time as far as that goes.

    To your general question: lying as a "performative utterance" misrepresents the actual state of affairs: "It is the case that P, and (in the same sense, at the same time) it is not the case that P." In non-fictional or sufficiently ambiguous contexts, that's an irrational rhetorical maneuver that undermines the credibility of the performer as well as his object. In making malefactors look bad by pasting them, Ken ends up also looking bad. (Pleading "private property" rather than "public facility" doesn't mitigate the fact that it's an icky thing to do. Yes, it's legal and within rights, etc. But is that low threshold really our only concern?)

    The "illocutionary act" achieved through lying or other misrepresentational utterances is to correct or reprove Jane because Jane misbehaved. As argued above, that goal may or may not be worthwhile, but it can nearly always be achieved without also humiliating Jane and deceiving others concerning Jane.

    No conceptual analysis of uttering falsehoods (a practice that includes projecting fictions, lying, misdirecting, and a host of other possible acts) can earn its freight without providing a means of differentiating lies, and their distinctive quality is precisely that they induce the belief that Q when ~Q is the case– a fiduciary abuse, insofar as we owe one another the truth.

    That's why Ken– an astute chap– immediately appealed to the surrounding context of comments as a mitigating factor, since they might clarify that an edit took place and hint at the original contents and signal a convention. That would perhaps clear away the abuse of lying as such, since the fact of substitution would be evident; however, it wouldn't clear away the additional layer of abuse: not only correcting someone, but gleefully putting waste on their plate and then rubbing their face in it rather than simply ejecting them from the dinner party.

    Hope that helps, Elf.

  323. Banning someone on this site for violating a new rule that can only be found on facebook, as Patrick did yesterday, is kind of fucked up

    I didn't ban the person in question for violating any rule other than the oldest, which is "Don't make me angry enough to ban you."

    You haven't made me angry at all, if that matters.

  324. Bun and Cheese says:

    I was a reader before occasionally commenting. I'm here for the good reads including the comments. If, for some reason, I'm unable to comment here anymore, I would still visit daily to read. Sometimes a purge is due. It seems like a harsh measure but it's not really. When someone says they might stop doing something they used to really enjoy, I take it seriously. Other bloggers have taken big steps to de-hate what'd been going on in their comments section. One of my fav sites took measures late last spring and things have never been better. The mods/authors participate in the comments and when someone old or new goes off the reservation, a mod/author will publicly come down on that commenter and tell him/her that their comment was modified, this is the only warning and if it happens again, they will be unable to even visit the site. They had to make changes because they were drawing tons of new commenters due to their fact-based posts regarding a local news story that gained nationwide attention. Another change they made was a policy of cohesion amongst the site operators.

  325. ken says:

    I didn't ban the person in question for violating any rule other than the oldest, which is "Don't make me angry enough to ban you."

    Fair enough. That's a fairly universal standard when it comes to blogs, really. I guess I disunderstood what you meant when you said

    over there [Facebook] I mentioned that I was going to ban people who complain about this author or that ruining the brand.

    So I did.

    It's not unreasonable to expect a commenter on any blog to know your "oldest rule". I guess I missed the part where the commenter in question could in any way have been expected to know that a comment like the one he made would be crossing that line.

    And actually, when I initially typed it, that sentence right there was meant to be a slightly sarcastic dig, but by the time I finished it I realized that it is actually, literally, true – I don't know the history between you, that kind of comment, and that particular poster. So maybe it really was completely called for, completely earned. If that's the case, then please, accept my apology.

    On the other hand, it certainly seemed like it was a case of the teacher telling her second period freshman math class that she was going to expel any student in her third period sophomore English class who used the phrase "It ain't mines", and then doing exactly that without warning during the next class.

    And if that's the case, if the poor jackass in question really couldn't have been expected to know that such a comment would unleash your wrath, then forget "mildly sarcastic dig" and read it as "sarcastic dig dripping with disdain for your capricious, heavy-handed action"

    You haven't made me angry at all, if that matters.

    I generally try not to piss people off for no good reason, and you seem a nice enough chap, so sure, I guess I'm glad. Beyond that? **shrug**

  326. On the other hand, it certainly seemed like it was a case of the teacher telling her second period freshman math class that she was going to expel any student in her third period sophomore English class who used the phrase "It ain't mines", and then doing exactly that without warning during the next class.

    If you're complaining that I'm arbitrary, may I suggest that you read our comment policy, which I wrote?

    You comment as a guest, so please act like a guest we'd like to invite over again.

    And:

    There's an invisible line that moves with our mood. Try not to cross it. If you go out of your way to cause trouble, we may not do anything. We may be amused. Or we may arrange it that you can never read this site, much less comment here.

    That isn't a promise of law (other than the law of the jungle) or justice. It's a promise that we (and most especially I, who wrote it) will do as we wish, arbitrarily and without appeal.

    Any longtime reader of our comments knows this. Any short-time commenter, especially those who write for the first time to bitch, may discover it.

    If somebody I've never seen comment previously (as was the case with the person you're complaining about) writes for the first time to tell us that in his opinion, a friend of mine (Clark is my friend) is damaging something as meaningless as "the Popehat brand" (for which I'm as responsible as anyone save Ken, and far more responsible than Clark), he'd better damned well be amusing in doing so.

    Because the comment insults me.

  327. Andy says:

    @ David, whilst not trying to resurrect the exchange between yourself and Elf, and abusiveness of changing their message, would you say that a short period of some form of change to the comment, whether whiting it out, pasting, disemvowelling, changing font, (whatever you, our gracious hosts, deem fit) would work as a sign of we are serious with this idea, prior to banning.

    If people are banned for these comment, especially if the comment is removed as well, we wouldn't see the punishment in action, in which case there would be no way of determining if the threat of the ban was sufficient or if people were being banned.

    If we were aware of people being banned, then it would work as a deterrent from people making said useless comments, rather than the muppets have all left and the commenters with sufficient self control are here able to police themselves. Something like a post enumerating the number of comment-altered/banned commenters somewhere visible so it can be pointed at as evidence of your willingness to swing ban-hammer when it is deemed necessary.

  328. David says:

    Sounds like work, not play.

  329. wolfefan says:

    @Clark –

    FWIW for a long time I thought your avatar was a picture of one of the guys from Devo.

  330. Andy says:

    Your house, your rules.

  331. Tom says:

    Reading David's recent comments, I'd like to ask the opinion of those who favor pasting whether they think it's ok to change the content of someone's post to something less innocuous than "I eat paste"?

    Would it be "ok" in whatever sense is at stake here, if my post broke some rule, or made Ken sufficiently mad, for him to change it to "I regularly steal from my employers," or "I have a long history of lying in job interviews"? In these cases, and especially given the use of Gravatar here, my comments are removed, a different message is inserted, and attached to my name. Future employers could find this, and take issue with the content of the changed speech.

    I think that the objection can be generalized – because the edit is not apparent, it appears as if I have said these things. Rather than getting the consequences my speech deserves, I could be exposed to other, different consequences, which I do not deserve. Then again, this represents a few minutes of thinking thrown out here in case anyone feels like either objecting or developing. I don't have the time to really think this through now, but hope others can help me with that!

  332. Ken says:

    If you're complaining that I'm arbitrary, may I suggest that you read our comment policy, which I wrote?

    yes, yes, I've read it. We all know – "my living room etc " We all recognize that you have the power and the absolute right to create and enforce any rules you like in any way you like – hell "Your house, your rules" is as reflexive a response in these threads as "god bless you" is for many people who hear a sneeze

    It makes me wonder though, since you've made it absolutely clear in the comment policy, in this thread, and through your ban yesterday that you'll ban whomever you like, whenever you like, for any reason you like, or even for no reason at all, why even bother with this particular discussion at all? I mean, it's pretty much centered on Ken saying that he's thinking about a new policy of bringing down the hammer on people who leave comments of a particular type that annoy the shit out of him.

    So yeah, I guess I am complaining about you being arbitrary yesterday. Yes, I know that it's your right, and your prerogative, and that if I don't like it, tough-shit-and-go-find-a-different-free-buffet-with-rules-more-to-my-liking.

    But it was still kind of fucked up

  333. Chester says:

    Mr. Ken White,

    Ban 'em, without warning, if you are so inclined. Anything you need to do to make yourself feel good enough to continue to blog.

    I enjoy Clark's posts immensely, as well as the rest of the authors. But even if I didn't, it would be simplicity itself to skip a post I didn't like.

    I happen to think that the liberals complaining about Clark do so because he scares them. I think Clark represents a threat to their sterile, insular little world, and so instead of ignoring his posts or addressing what he contends, they call for his destruction.

    Normally to find so many long-winded, self-important bags of fart, you would have to go to NPR or the Daily Kos.

    Pussies.

    If I may make a suggestion? Perhaps a wall of shame, sort of a trophy room where you maintain a little list of banned morons and their offenses. Self-indulgent yes, but perhaps relief from ennui.

  334. David says:

    @Ken, let's just be clear. Most of this discussion isn't about banning, but rather the legitimacy and propriety of pasting.

    I fully support bans here exercised for any reason or no reason. For this reason, I fully support Patrick's banning someone who annoyed him. I know Patrick well enough to know that if further reflection leads him to decide that he was unduly hasty or unfair, he'll deal with that change of heart appropriately.

    Complaints about bans are best delivered privately, by email, rather than in the comments, unless one of the site's authors opens a discussion of policy where such feedback is welcome– and are best delivered only after fully appreciating our prevailing policy on comments and bans. :)

  335. David says:

    @Chester Sounds like work, not play.

  336. Ken in NJ says:

    Complaints about bans are best delivered privately, by email, rather than in the comments, unless one of the site's authors opens a discussion of policy where such feedback is welcome

    I'm aware that complaints and discussion about bans aren't generally appropriate or welcome in discussion threads, which is why I didn't bother to make so much as a peep in the thread where it happened yesterday.

    And I know that there are lots of lawyers here who will be glad to point out that Ken was writing about one small specific set of circumstances that are but a small subset of the totality of bans and pasting in general, but I don't think it's unreasonable to interpret his post at the top of this thread to be just such an invitation.

    And yes, the conversation has concentrated more on pasting than bans, but I'm sure you understand the difficulty in my sticking to the topic that developed in the 300+ comments that were posted after I made that comment.

    Since I've already typed it out, Imma post this, but it's starting to feel more like arguing about the argument rather than the topic, so I'll drop this line of discussion here

  337. OngChotwI says:

    I've only been here a year or two, and my first post was an attempt to help correct typos/spelling errors/grammar errors – after noting that the email I sent didn't cause said errors to get corrected. I'm now aware that my attempts to save someone public humiliation were not necessary.
    In the short time I've been here, I've seen this same topic at least once before, unless my memory is playing tricks on me. Either your readers have short memories, or they have figured out how to skip at least some posts that don't interest them. Instead of yearly posts like this, why not put a link to this post in the threads with the offending comments – and point out the poster was lazy and rude by not writing constructive criticism.

    Like others, I feel Clark could do better. In my opinion, perhaps Clark could take a few pointers on writing style and subject choice from the Popehat blogger that's doing the daily report on the status of the government shutdown. :)

  338. Thinking over my previous comment and pondering (after David's comments) why altering avatars and limiting visibility of some authors for a user feels like bullying, but pasting doesn't. Haven't found an answer for myself yet, but…

    A few questions regarding the technical aspects of banning from this blog:

    1. Is a time-based ban currently possible?

    2. When a user is banned, is that user notified of the ban, and if so, does that notification include a reason for the ban?

    If the answer to both of those questions is "yes," then it seems that to respond to comments of the "H author sucks, M author rules" with a time-limited ban would be a way to get those comments out of Ken's hair (as well of the rest of us) without being "work, not play," as David says. Repeat offenses could be dealt with more harshly.

    Ken, I hope you find some way to deal with this that leaves you feeling okay and lets you continue to blog here without it being an unwelcome chore. If you need to step away for your own sanity/health/whatever, I wish you the best, and would let you know that you'll be missed while away.

  339. @OngChotwI
    In my opinion, perhaps Clark could take a few pointers on writing style and subject choice from the Popehat blogger that's doing the daily report on the status of the government shutdown. :)

    So… Clark should show himself how to write?

  340. Steve979 says:

    Remember your 'Robert Frost' about paths less followed, when deciding about who to read or not.

    Get off your divine path of writers and see the world.

    Keep going Clark, you might find a book in all of it.

  341. TM says:

    I strongly suspect that "I hate x but love y" comments are less about communicating honest feedback about the blog and more about social signaling. They accomplish the same thing that "coexist" and "nobamma" bumper stickers do, which is inanely declare one's membership in a specific tribe so that others may perceive their righteousness.

    Given that, I support banning or jailing individuals who pollute the discourse in the comments with such posts because they contribute nothing to the actual discussion and worse signal to other posters that they should chime in and declare their solidarity as well, leading to more such posts. I find arguments that new posters might accidentally run afoul of the rule to be unpersuasive as it assumes that commenters neither spend some time learning the discourse appropriate for a given site and then, having not done due diligence as regards appropriate behavior, decides that the most appropriate comment they could make is one insulting the blog owner or their blog owners friends. Such people violate the universal "don't be a dick" rule of etiquette and are unlikely to have obeyed any other clearly displayed rules in the first place.

  342. SPQR says:

    I would never be a member of a specific tribe that would have me.

  343. Clark says:

    @Sophia, NOT Loren!

    @OngChotwI

    In my opinion, perhaps Clark could take a few pointers on writing style and subject choice from the Popehat blogger that's doing the daily report on the status of the government shutdown. :)

    So… Clark should show himself how to write?

    He put a smiley in there, so I think he knows that I write them. There's a mix of humorous intent and some other point and I get the humor, but I don't get the other point.

    @OngChotwI, can you explain less elliptically? Were you saying that you like my short stuff bt

  344. Via Angus says:

    I am not a cow. I am a bull.

  345. OngChotwI says:

    @Clark – I was attacked by nephews and niece that decided it was piggyback time; so didn't get a chance to find other memorable posts of yours that I enjoyed. Or to thank you again for uncovering a past comment of mine that got eaten in a block quote mishap. For any point other than humor, I'll have to wait for the oxygen starvation from being strangled for the last hour to pass… ;)

  346. Dragonmum says:

    @Ken

    I've yet to hear even a minimally convincing why I should have respect for the people who show up on our blog only to say "I hate Patrick but I like David," or terse variations thereon.

    Respect? No. They are babies stuck in middle school. But are they worth your time and consideration? Time that could be used to provide those of us slavishly following Popehat with more sources of insight, laughter or blind rage…

    Pasting is totally a waste of time in any but the most egregious situations (as in its original application), and as other local sages have mentioned, dishonest. Banning, on the other hand, could be quite useful. You now have a "comment policy" tab at the header. Your section on how to be a proper guest could be clearer on specific behaviors that will get one tossed off your blog. You could also add another tab: "Banned?" where you list who was banned, when, what they were banned for, and how they can get un-banned (assuming you wish to offer a chance for personal redemption).

    I, for one, love all of you with different types of loves. Wasn't too certain about which one was for Clark until I found myself describing in detail his adventures in the government shutdown posts today, and sending 2 or 3 people here to read them…

    BTW, Thank you for the preview! It has saved you from multiple stupid typos and tag malfunctions just in this one post.

  347. Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk says:

    I understand Ken's frustration. To paraphrase one of Clark's comments above, the "I hate blogger 'X'" comments effectively do come across as "DADDY, I WANT MY SWEETS!"

    But I think deleting, pasting, and banning are the wrong responses. Letting immature a-holes bereft of bona fide arguments identify themselves with such twaddle is valuable. It signals that reasonable adults need not bother reading anything they have to say. At Popehat, as at any other site, there are regular commenters whose comments I invariably skip over; on the internet, there's an almost unlimited supply of people who have nothing to say and all the time in the world to say it. Letting these people succinctly self-identify does us all a favor. Ken reads "Ken's taint is everfresh, but Clark smells like doody" and gets pissed. I read the same comment and think, "Well, that's the last comment from this invertebrate that I need ever peruse."

    Honestly, Ken I'd recommend taking the break you have referenced. The day job is stressful enough, and the blog is meant to be a satisfying release. When it become a chore, it's time for a rest. Nothing prolonged or dramatic is necessary. See a couple more operas, play with the kids, have a drink or two, et cetera. Then come back in a week or two refreshed and ready to deal with the internet. As I note above, the supply of a-holes is almost inexhaustable, so it's your attitude that has to change. (Unfair, I know.)

  348. azteclady says:

    Ken,

    Do whatever will make you continue to enjoy blogging.

    Pretty please?

  349. Erwin says:

    …perhaps simply pick the form of moderation that looks like the most fun?
    –Erwin

  350. grouch says:

    There is no Popehat brand paste on Amazon. I suspect Clark has fatally damaged the Popehat brand for paste products by his continued use of a monochrome avatar. You will never generate brand excitement with dark, non-shiny, uncolorful imagery.

    Witness the recent unveiling of Benjamin Franklin's green face and the animated, holographic Liberty Bell on the new 100 dollar bill. Reliable, anonymous sources tell me there have been riots at banks across the country by consumers seeking the new bill.

    You, too, could join the elite club of successful, marketable brands! There are still loyal Popehat blog consumers on whom you could call to assist in dragging Clark into the wonderful world of color. (I volunteer to sit on him while you wield suitable cans of spray paint. Someone else can fire up the grill and we could have a real paint-the-not-a-pope party! I'm sure Angus won't mind sacrificing some non-essential parts for the good of the community). Act now before it's too late! Operators are standing by. Think of all the children who may miss out on Popehat Paste for Christmas just because Clark won't listen to marketing.

    Oh, yeah, we gotta add some LEDs or something to those glasses. Buddy Holly died a long time ago.

  351. grouch says:

    P.S.:
    Maybe I've just had a sheltered life or maybe California really is as weird as its reputation, but, in over 35 years living in near wilderness, I've never met anyone claiming to be a coblogger. Exactly what do you do with the cobs after you log 'em? Sell 'em to coworkers?

    P.P.S.:
    By the way, what's a coworker? My friends just look kinda dazed and walk away when I ask 'em how to ork a cow.

  352. Justin Kittredge says:

    @Erwin
    I was sending telepathic signals to others to argue for me that even on a blog about Law and Liberty there is a certain merit to simply enacting policy that is effective and does not permanently silence/kick out people.
    I cannot argue that replacing someone's words is "right." I could argue that with an "I eat paste" punishment there is still the potential for growth from the person. Later. They may even laugh themselves. They may apologize, they may mature.
    The bloggers are outnumbered, and if others are making them unhappy, they should have a course of action that does not involve engaging so many.
    In my head my arguments against banning sound weak, does it actually -Lead- to drama, does it chill edgy speech, do people lose interest when mallets hang over their heads? None of these seem good arguments really. But I think there should be a fuzzy paste line & a fuzzy ban line.

    In regards to pasting there is a chance everyone just laughs, some take the time to learn what the taboos are, and a quick and appropriate response removes a possible party-pooping eye sore from a discussion.
    I don't really think it is bullying for the sake of bullying, I see it as more of "everybody is slowly dying here, and we don't have time for this, we don't like what you are doing, figure it out or get lost, this is your warning, don't waste our time"

    I have experiences where mockery using mods is a better tool in gaming communities against disruptors vs. bannings, but it all boils down to banning just leaves a -more- sour taste in the community's mouth then some slight mockery.
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ooorgle
    I am sorry if my experiences lower the bar of the discussion.
    I realize I am a guest beating a dead horse

  353. [REDACTED] says:

    I'd personally go for some kind of "Post has been whited out, select to view" kind of moderation.

    But what's more important is that no matter who wins the moderation battle, we all know who wins the war.

    Damn you, Orville Redenbacher.

  354. moioci says:

    ' I will spend a fortnight thinking up ways to say "go eat a bag of dicks" '

    Be back in two weeks.

  355. dave says:

    I am hoping that Ken, and the rest of the gang, will continue to post. I enjoy it all, although I may disagree or (with some of Clark's posts) not be smart enough to understand.

    I don't care if you ban/whiteout/paste/ridicule commenters; I have noticed though that the more seriously annoying commenters may just work harder to find a way around banning or whatever method is used.

  356. NS says:

    @Tom
    Regarding your question on Oct 9, 2013 @2:01 pm:

    Reading David's recent comments, I'd like to ask the opinion of those who favor pasting whether they think it's ok to change the content of someone's post to something less innocuous than "I eat paste"?

    My response is simple; that's not what we're talking about here. That's not what I voiced agreement to (as if my agreement is in any way important to anyone at the helm of Popehat). If the question of editing a comment in a way that would have lasting consequences had been brought forward, as in your scenarios, I would firmly oppose them, and where that policy to come into effect here, or on any other site I comment on, I would stop participating. Call that a protest, call it my speech being chilled, whatever. That's the upshot.
    David brings up a lot of interesting points, many valid. Pasting is, perhaps less ethical than banning. I find many of my assumptions get called into question when I visit Popehat, and this would not be the first time I've had a change of heart as a result of something I've read here. That said, I don't have a lot of sympathy for folks who pop on for two seconds to toss in an off topic jab at one of their gracious hosts. My gut response was what it was.

    @Ken
    I'll miss you if you take a hiatus.

  357. Phe0n1x says:

    Ken, ignore the haters. Change their words to something more entertaining because the easiest way for them to not have to read authors they don't like is……………..*gasp* not to read the posts by the authors. It's a blasphemous concept, I know, but if they just give it a chance, they may end up liking it just like that vegetable they used to hate.

  358. NickM says:

    Am I still allowed to say that I believe Patrick is secretly in league with THE PONIES?

  359. @NickM
    Am I still allowed to say that I believe Patrick is secretly in league with THE PONIES?

    Someone else will have to answer that question, but I can at least say that it's thanks to reading Popehat (posts by all the authors) that my thoughts as I read your comment were a combination of "Augh, those goddamned marketers! Wait, is that a statement of fact? Hmm, there's good potential for some snark and/or poetry there!"

  360. Dion starfire says:

    @Ken Is it just me, or has this post gotten far more comments of the substantive type than all the others have gotten of the "I like x buy hate y" type?

    I honestly don't know what that says about the issue. I just think it's an interesting (and slightly amusing) factoid (if true).

  361. Erwin says:

    Given that these bloggers aren't actually being paid by the commentators, it seems reasonable for them to just pick a moderation technique and practice based on utility to them. Basically, have fun with it as a first priority.

    @Justin
    Beyond that, time-limited punishments, whether they be mockery or banning, will have similarly effects in terms of chilling discourse, but will probably be less chilling than permanent punishments.

    Making examples of people (say, with a 'best bans of August') will tend to result in larger improvements in average behavior per ban. Whether this is better or worse depends on how much you enjoy hurting annoying people.

    Jailing people is just such a perfect punishment for Clark whiners that I can't imagine that anyone pressing that particular moderation button wouldn't be mainlining on pure joy.

    Personally, I prefer mockery to banning, as mocked people have a chance to learn. Many people will disagree, but I find people with fragile egos annoying, so mockery tends to select for people who don't irritate me. Except that I mostly dislike mocking people. So, um. (Whistles)

    –Erwin

  362. David says:

    These three things are different:

    (a) mocking Janet from a nearby post
    and
    (b) banning Janet
    and
    (c) mocking Janet by altering Janet's post

    IMO, a > b > c

    Does anyone really think that teaching-by-mocking ain't in our wheelhouse here at Popehat?

  363. Justin Kittredge says:

    David,
    Yes it is already in the wheelhouse. It was just my honest opinion that between typing corrective responses, and banning, another tool and policy would be useful to fill the gap in between.
    Mainly because typing and mocking through text responses has a time-investment involved and works best against a small number of transgressors. Banning also has problems, IMO.
    Censoring is not going to be the easiest thing to argue on here, but if some item added only anger and detours, sanitizing and removing the offensive remark sends a signal and is time efficient, given the offender deserves as little time and attention as possible, while still discouraging the behavior. Just my opinion.

  364. AlphaCentauri says:

    You all do the teaching-by-mocking very well. But I can understand that when you've got 300+ comments on a post, the joy of snark loses its luster.

    Clark and I don't see eye to eye on much. But I don't see any evidence that he skips reading the comments of the people that he disagrees with. So it's pretty lame for people to complain that they not only don't want to read his posts themselves, but that it offends them that anyone else can.

    It's also pretty lame to be trashing Clark in the third person to his fellow bloggers. I find that much more trollish than anything Clark might say (perhaps excepting the Pinochet comment). Tell him to his face or stuff it.

    As far as Ken taking a hiatus: This blog isn't some assigned homework. We know you will write as often or infrequently as you want, and we appreciate the amount of time you put in here when you've got so many real life responsibilities. Sometimes you may not write for a while; other times you post multiple times in one day. If you don't feel like writing, it's not a hiatus. It's just a day you don't feel like writing. When you do feel like writing, I doubt you'll be able to keep it from flowing out.

  365. Erwin says:

    @David Dunno. I could easily be wrong. But, I'm fine with (c) as long as a reasonable person is unlikely to conclude that the new words were actually written by the poster. This is demonstrably correct, as there are very few follow-ups asking people why they eat paste. Given that people aren't confused, pasting becomes roughly equivalent to downranking or deleting an offending post, with a somewhat higher amusement value. And is, therefore, a decent tool for communicating unacceptable behavior. The main issue with pasting is that other people may be unable to figure out what the offending comment actually was, which rather weakens the deterrent.

    –Erwin

  366. Clark says:

    @David

    These three things are different:

    (a) mocking Janet from a nearby post
    and
    (b) banning Janet
    and
    (c) mocking Janet by altering Janet's post

    IMO, a > b > c

    I agree completely with David.

  367. Kinsey says:

    Just how fucking lazy must a person be if they can't SCROLL PAST THE SHIT THEY DON'T LIKE?

    It's a blog, not homework. Nobody's forcing you to read it. Nobody's forcing them to write it, either, and admonishing them when they write about a subject you've no interest in indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of public discourse. Do you approach a group of strangers gathered at a bar and say "I don't like the topic of your conversation! You should talk about something else!"

    Oh, you do? Well, that's why no one wants to drink with you.

  368. lelnet says:

    For what it's worth, I think the Clark-haters are morons. Statistically, I'm far more likely to enjoy a Clark post than a Ken post (indeed, I'm pretty sure I've never disliked one). This, of course, doesn't mean I'm going to come in here and either say or imply that Ken should stop posting. Because:

    1. It's pretty much Ken's blog. At least by volume.
    2. It's a dick move, to come into someone's own space and tell them to shut up. If a guest finds his host intolerable, it's the guest who should leave.
    3. Although I'm much more likely to dislike one of Ken's posts than one of Clark's, when Ken does a good one, it's a REALLY good one, offering insight that isn't exactly widely available elsewhere.
    4. If I don't like one of the posts, I can ignore it. Or visit the comments to express my displeasure with it. Or, if it's bad enough to sour the entire popehat experience forevermore, unsubscribe from the RSS feed.
    5. It's not Ken's job (or Clark's either) to entertain me. When it happens anyway, it's a good thing. When it doesn't…well, so what?
    6. A person who is loved by everyone all the time can't possibly be doing anything with their life that's interesting enough to justify their oxygen consumption.

    (I _am_ against "pasting", though. If someone says something in a comment that you don't want to appear in your comments section, you can delete it, you can ban them, you can speak up and call them an asshole…you can even pull out the real nuclear weapons and imply that they're a bronie, or a furry. But putting words in their mouth that they didn't say feels wrong.)

  369. Max says:

    Your blog. Your rules. Even so. my opinion. People who whine about how the work of art you have created here isn't to their taste, or isn't how they would have done it annoy me too. They are rude and I say ban them.
    As to the person they usually slag off: Clark is someone I totally disagree with personally and politically. I might have come across him in one my occasional forays into different worldviews, but he is too nuanced for him to be truly oppositional to my mindset, so it is unlikely I would have seen him as a trip down the rabbit hole and would have ignored him.

    For this reason, I'm glad I was lured in by the Ken goodness and usually rightness, as Clark's posts have made me think about issues in a way few others have. Of course, in obedience to the well-known psychological rule I react to challenge to my perceived ideas by becoming even further entrenched in my existing biases.

    Hurrah for Clark, because he is has confirmed me in my Liberal, pro-government, anti-hate-speech views. And he is funny, honest, clever and basically on the side of 'people' over the abuse of power.

  370. Clark says:

    Hurrah for Clark, because he is has confirmed me in my Liberal, pro-government, anti-hate-speech views. And he is funny, honest, clever and basically on the side of 'people' over the abuse of power.

    Thanks, Max!

    The respectful tip of the hat from an ideological opponent means more to me that a hundred cheers from my own team.

    (Not that there are 100 people in the entire world who agree with my craziness, but the point remains.)