My responsibility as host?

The other day I felt obliged, for the first time since I started this blog, to delete a comment and put someone on moderation. This reader posted what I saw as a highly incendiary racist screed, using language and tone that I simply find unacceptable no matter who it’s directed against; particularly on my blog, which I have worked hard to make open and friendly to people of all religions and ethnicities.

That said, while I don’t regret my actions, I’m still bothered by the whole situation. My interpretation of ξενία (hospitality), not to mention gastblogschaft, tells me that I did the right thing to create the best environment for the greatest number… but the flip side is that I did shut the door pretty firmly in someone’s face, and I don’t feel good about that. I also don’t like feeling that I’m running the risk of creating an echo chamber. Although I don’t think it’s likely, if this person chooses to post in the future, on topic and with due consideration, they will be welcome.

On a lighter note, I’ve noticed a definite trend in my stats in the last couple of months – every day or two somebody finds me by searching on “myth” and either “purpose” or “utility” (sometimes both). I’m not sure if this means something significant, or whether we’re at a point in school curricula where students are needing to look up this kind of thing, or what exactly; but I find it interesting. The other major search term for me recently is “ekstatis worship”… maybe because of this US News & World Report article?


7 thoughts on “My responsibility as host?

  1. Cosette

    I don’t know what the comment was or what it was about, but ultimately this is your blog and everything about it is a reflection of you. Not just the entries, but all of the it — the design, the sites you blog to, and even the comments that appear here. Wikipedia defines “tolerance” as those attitudes and practices that prohibit discrimination. Don’t let anyone convince you that you’re somehow lacking tolerance or hospitality by not allowing incendiary racist remarks.

  2. Kullervo

    I’ve given people the boot a couple of times, and I genuinely don’t like it. I’m concerned like you with the echo-chamber phenomenon, especially since the whole point for me of blogging about my spiritual quest is the comments and feedback that other people give me I want to be able to allow viewpoints that I strongly disagree with, even if they annoy me.

    However, the reason I want that is because I think different voices are useful to me. When it comes down to it, my blog serves a very specific and fairly narrow purpose, and so I try to keep a policy of blocking people who consistently undermine that purpose. I make it clear that my blog is primarily for me, and that it isn’t a public space. Everyone is invited on the condition that they contribute in a productive way (which again, I define pretty broadly). But that condition is implicit in my invitation, so in a sense, people who don’t have anything useful to add actually are not invited, and thus when they make themselves known, are not welcome.

    I try to give people warnings before I block them. On the other hand, there have bene times when particularly un-useful people have wandered in that I recognized from elsewhere in the vlog-o-sphere and I knew already that they were unwanted, so I just went ahead and blocked them.

    I mostly only delete comments when they are spam, though. I kind of like the record of “why you got invited to not come back” to be there for everyone to see. I feel like it lends a transparency to the whole thing that I feel is important to me.

  3. executivepagan Post author

    everything about it is a reflection of you

    Everyone is invited on the condition that they contribute in a productive way

    That’s the heart of it, ultimately – it *is* my face on the Internet, and I have a rep to protect. I don’t want people to associate ExecutivePagan with that kind of rhetoric, even unconsciously. Had this person just strongly (but reasonably politely) disagreed with a position I had actually taken there would not have been a problem… but I don’t want racist crap cluttering up my space, even as a warning to others.

    I mostly only delete comments when they are spam, though. I kind of like the record

    I didn’t give the poster a warning, but I did post a response telling them why they had been blocked (since removed as unnecessary now that it has been seen). They responded with more of the same, and I added them to the mod list (of one).

  4. Cat Chapin-Bishop

    I have blog moderation enabled at my own blog, though, until today (oddly enough) I have never used it except to prevent spam. Today, I did get one pretty inflammatory post on the What Is A Christian? post that I put up recently. I chose to run the comment–which did have relevance to the discussion, at least–but to do so bracketed with comments of my own.

    There is a balance, between running our blogs like echo chambers, and not acting to preserve a sense of openness and kindness that might allow people a chance, not just to disagree with one another, but to learn from one another while doing so. I have to say, I have enough trust in your basic open-mindedness, Erik, that I’m not too worried about this blog becoming too homogenized. I think you’re better at figuring out where to set limits than that would imply!

    And I want to thank you, too, for reminding me of the term gastblogschaft–it’s one I found myself searching for the other day, and I couldn’t remember it!

    And it’s a priority of mine, too.

  5. executivepagan Post author

    Thanks for the vote of confidence. (And thank you also to Cosette and Kullervo – you both gave me much to think about before the next time.)

    I saw your anonymous poster – was that the whole of his post? Somewhat heated, but not *too* bad… and I like the way you handled it. I’m not sure I could have used that technique with my particular post, given that the invective was not actually directed at me but at a third person, their religious/ethnic affiliation and their character…

    I’ve actually been corresponding with the poster, and in the end it turns out (several emails later) they did have an argument that I would have been willing to let stand had it been worded civilly.

  6. Feral Boy

    Sometimes you need to take action. In the Catholic tradition, there are sins you commit, and the sins of omission — not acting when you know that you should have acted. If you do not remove comments that go against your moral precepts, then you tacitly endorse them.

    Keep your space as it is — a forum that is open to those who appreciate the great variety of spiritual expression.

    Feral Boy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s