Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crowd-sourced screening of abusive/misogynist comments for women bloggers

I've been reading more in the past few weeks about the type of garbage that women bloggers have to put up with, stuff I've never experienced.  A recent comparison:

 As the New Statesmanblogger David Allen Green told me: "In three years of blogging and tweeting about highly controversial political topics, I have never once had any of the gender-based abuse that, say, Cath Elliott, Penny Red or Ellie Gellard routinely receive."
One way to discourage this is for women bloggers to moderate and screen comments so the abusive ones never get printed.  This adds to the blogger's work load, though (and may not be possible at some work blogs), and more importantly, the anonymous abuser still gets away with exposing the blogger to abuse that ranges from mean-spirited to threats of rape.

The idea I'm suggesting is that for the bloggers who want to do so, they should be able to outsource comment screening to third-party volunteers who will kill the abusive comments (or alternatively, set them aside for later review by the blogger if she wants to check, or alert her if comments go beyond misogyny and make actual threats).  This would deprive the morons of their ability to directly insult the women they're targeting.  I suppose they could try and threaten us reviewers, but they wouldn't even know who we are or what our gender is, so have fun with that.

I don't think it would be too hard to crowdsource the screening:  you're reading for abuse, not trying to handle the content, so it would be a pretty quick and easy thing to do.  A confidence rating system like Ebay uses could help bloggers decide if they trust the reviewers.   We'd need some special software so comments could be redirected in this manner, but I can't imagine it would be that difficult.  An enterprising blogging platform could even attach some discrete advertising to make the project pay for itself.

Just an idea I'll thow out there.  I'd even put some effort into it if someone wanted to make it happen.

(Probably should re-emphasize that the best solution is for the particular men making the comments, to stop.  This is a second-best solution, and only for the bloggers who'd want to make use of it.)


EliRabett said...

Ah, you have no idea and naturally there is a back story which kind of explains why their Climate Feedback blog has sunk without a trace

Brian said...

Well, this idea of mine won't solve problems caused by bloggers, that's for sure. Would help with problems caused by commenters, though.

Anonymous said...

If I learned anything from Elevatorgate, you can't pick on those delicate flowers lest they wilt. Wimmins must be protected! If you disagree, you're an MRA.

Oale said...

If I had a blog getting asshat comments I'd likely have also a folder for those and the occasional montly hate thread in the style of

Jeffrey Davis said...

Helping to mask the ip numbers of menacing communications ought to be a crime. Maybe it already is.

frank -- Decoding SwiftHack said...

Brian, I have an even better idea: simply publish the abusive comments, along with IP addresses and (if possible) whatever other identifying information is available.

Anonymous 9:18pm: just curious, do you have to make such snarky comments to make up for -- let's put it this way -- your lack of actual achievements?

-- frank

Anonymous said...

What would my achievements, or possibly lack thereof, have to do with me commenting on radfems? Is there a specific level one must achieve to be allowed to comment?

The more they cry about needing to be protected from language, the more some folks who disagree with then will use that language against them because they know they'll push buttons and cause knee-jerk responses.

I probably wouldn't have commented had Eli not linked to the drama queens in the comments. Hell, they turned an innocuous proposition for tea in an elevator (zero bad) into almost raped.... can't get much more over-the-top and dramatic than that.

guthrie said...

Oh dear, some stirrer brought up elevatorgate, and then linke to ERV, who has been getting on the bad side of feminists by being nasty to people.
Hey, anonymous, do you always post like this? Why do you have a problem with comments on the problems women face?

Anonymous said...

Hey Guthrie,

Those particular commentators and tone trolls have no credibility (with me) post-elevatorgate. What ever problems they have, they've probably created/exacerbated themselves if they've behaved similarly in those situations as they did during EG.

All bloggers and blog commentators receive put-downs and insults and by definition, they're not going to be friendly comments and some folks will go for the low-hanging fruit, especially if they think it'll do the trick and send the target into a tizzy (derailing the OP in the meanwhile).

Brian said...

Speaking of derailing the OP, I think that's where the Elevatorgate/ERV discussion is going. Anon doesn't like this idea of mine. Point noted. I'm suggesting it's something that some bloggers might like to have, to screen out the most abusive/threatening commenters. Anon still doesn't like it. Oh well.

If nobody likes the idea, it will go away. If some people like it, maybe something will happen with it.

guthrie said...

Hmm, so anonymous problem is basically one of blaming the victim for having a thin skin. Where have I come across that before...

I rather like Brians idea though. It could even spread awareness of the sheer nastiness of some people.

J Bowers said...

Secret to success; there isn't one.
Secret to failure; trying to please everyone.

Hank Roberts said...

Better - bloggers (being the ones who have access to the IP data) could cooperate in creating and maintaining voluntary blocklists, along the same lines and using the same methods as those who voluntarily use and improve the various different blocklists now used to intercept attempts from spammers and scammers.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a suitably modified version of pharyngula's warning could work on each of the blogs in question.

"I reserve the right to publicly post, with full identifying information about the source, any email sent to me that contains threats of violence."

Myers isn't talking about people posting comments, only emails. But I'd think starting out with this and then seeing if that modifies (or eliminates) the worst of the nastiness in comments. If it doesn't, up the ante to include all communication, explicitly including commentary.


Anonymous said...

I have been exceptionally lucky as a woman blogger (The Policy Lass blog) to have received very few comments that I consider abusive. Oh, there have been a few from Mosher, but consider the source! The rest of my commenters have been mostly courteous even when they've disagreed with me. I don't know why this is, but perhaps I have a better quality of reader and troll than most. :) Actually, I know I do.

As a blog and forum commenter as opposed to a blog owner, on a different forum (an SF forum) where I posted about politics, including climate change, I was attacked most severely and in a way that was often very sexist. It's quite easy to detect -- the language choice gives the attacker away. For ex, calling a woman 'hysterical' as a way of putting her down.

For a while I did an experiment and tried posting using a male moniker, a gender neutral moniker and then using a female moniker and the difference was clear. I got far more respectful treatment when I sounded either male or neutral than when I posted as a female. People disagreed with me regardless but the tone was quite different.

I don't see many men being called 'hysterical' but when they are, it's an even bigger put-down, like calling boys "girls" as a way to motivate them in gym class. As a woman poster on forums, I've been threatened physically and stalked online with one crazy fellow trying to find out where I lived. Which is why I don't use my actual name.

For the most part, I've been treated very well on science-related blogs. GO SCIENTISTS!

Brian said...

That's interesting - this filtering idea might also be a possibility for bulletin boards or sites where the moderator doesn't have the time to screen comments, and not just for women bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Hi Eli,

OT, but maybe you are interested.
Sonja Böhmer-Christiansen: "science as an institution is a whore"