Should Troppo ban Evil Pundit?

[photopress:St_Evil.jpg,full,pp_empty]

"Help! Help! I’m being repressed!" squealed LP commenter Evil Pundit. That was September last year. Before long Evil found himself banned from the purple blog.

Appealing the ban one commenter said:

Maybe we should do a democracy thing here in spite of the comments policy, and ask for a show of hands: who among you thinks Evil ought to be banned from LP?

Personally, I can’t see any reason to ban Evil Pundit from Troppo. But maybe we should do a democracy thing here too. Who wants to ban Evil Pundit just for the hell of it?

***

Relax everyone — I’m joking. We don’t do majority rules at Troppo.

Comments are now closed. If you’ve got a problem with this you can discuss it with Dr Troppo.

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Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
15 years ago

I don’t know about EP, but I am certainly leaning more toward banning commenters. Catallaxy comments have sunk to new quality lows this week, largely due to Graeme Bird. It’s a case study in crowd behaviour. It only takes one individual to start acting aggressively, and others are provoked into also behaving badly. Before long you have threads that no sensible person would want to get involved in. Banning is, however, editing rather than censorship.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
15 years ago

I wish to go on record as recanting what I said at JQ’s blog with regard to Graeme Bird.

I said on that occasion He should be allowed as I only believe in banning bad language.
Alas as Andrew has stated and as Harry Clarke has said at Catallaxy the Bird man has taken over an interesting thread and is at present destroying it with the help of my dear friend Fyodor. ( I wonder whether this would have happened if not for Fyodor?)
My comments to JQ were wrong and I would put Graeme on probation.
If his behaviour improves then it is okay

Perhaps he should migrate ot Tim Blair’s blog. He will be welcomed with open arms.

Even I know when I am being shown up to be a complete idiot!

On the other hand as was said at Saint’s site EP was actually quite funny when he was banned at LP.
It wasn’t called for and merely reinforced prejudices that the people at LP have no sense of humour.
It must be said EP appears to have gone off the deep end since then however that is neither here nor there.

Bill
Bill
15 years ago

I don’t often read the purple blog so I don’t know what EP did. I have read his comments at other places and while I don’t often agree with him I have never seen any reason to ban him.

Fyodor
15 years ago

Oh, goody. A meta-thread.

“Alas as Andrew has stated and as Harry Clarke has said at Catallaxy the Bird man has taken over an interesting thread and is at present destroying it with the help of my dear friend Fyodor. ( I wonder whether this would have happened if not for Fyodor?)”

Most cherished acquaintance,

As you know, I am a right-wing troll, and derailing threads is something of a hobby for me. However, in this instance I believe the thread had lost momentum and was petering out, so it’s arguable whether I (or the Birdman, for that matter) truly destroyed it. A rather ugly stoush ensued, to be sure, but nobody was forced to participate in that thread. Now, it’s quite probable that Birdy might not have taken flight if I hadn’t prodded him here and there, but how else do you floush out the grouse?

Anyhoo. Back to EP: I don’t disagree with banning him, but I disagree with the timing of it. He should have been banned long before the actual deed, and the fact that he wasn’t made a mockery of the comments policy. Ironically, the fact that the LP COLLECTIVE didn’t come down on him harder, earlier, probably encouraged him to really push the limits of their tolerance. The lesson learned is that you either commit yourself to running an open bar or you enforce the door policy consistently.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Well I’m a ‘door policy’ guy, not a ‘free speech’ guy.

That’s not to say I don’t value free speech. But banning someone from your blog is no more an infraction of free speech than banning someone from your lounge room.

People who don’t meet the dress standards can go to another disco. And someone banned from a blog can go blog to their heart’s content – elsewhere. So I’m quite happy to get rid of comments if I don’t think they’re helpful. I’ve never done it, but I’d do it if I thought it would improve discussion. That’s what I’m here for – decent discussion. I don’t invite people who shout people down, or run off at the mouth into my house and I don’t want them on my threads.

I recently went back to this thread http://www.clubtroppo.com.au/2005/05/28/fighting-them-on-the-beaches-and-in-the-detention-camps/ and the commenters had piled into all sorts of shit. I was amazed at how much more low key TA (now CT) had become.

Being an occasional LP poster, I get about seven or eight e-mails a day from the LP collective agonising about this stuff, and it’s a pain in the arse. They should delegate someone to enforce the policy and be done with it.

Anyway, I have a technogical solution to this if I can get someone to do it for me which solves the ‘free speech’ versus ‘door policy’ dilemma. We need a plug in by which a moderator can move a comment from the ‘louge’ to the ‘saloon’. People would be asked to nominate where their comment went but it could be moved by a moderator. They can shout all they like in the saloon. And I’ll just stay in the lounge.

C’mon any of your programmers out there. Is there such a plugin? If not, burn your name into programming and blogging history – write it.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
15 years ago

this is LP’s comment policy:

Readers are most welcome to comment and debate. Rational disagreement and civil interchange is thoroughly encouraged. However, please keep discussion civilised.

Please try to stay reasonably germane to the topic [although we recognise the anarchic nature of many comments threads]. General political remarks [ie denunciations of political parties, ideologies or politicians] unrelated to the topic will most probably be deleted.

Vexatious and purely abusive comments may be deleted at the discretion of moderators, and repeat offenders may have their IP address placed in moderation, or be IP banned from the site. No correspondence will be entered into regarding such decisions.

Individual thread authors have a wide discretion on the interpretation of these guidelines.

Commenters are also required to provide a genuine email address should we wish to get in touch with them regarding any aspect of this policy.

I would be obliged for my very dear friend Fyodor who I love like a brother ( I haven’t seen him in twenty years)
could point out how EP violated them.

EP is entirely different to our friend Mr Bird.
for one thing I don’t ever recall reading what EP ever said. Ipso facto He didn’t stop me of reading and ‘contributing’ to a thread.

De-railing a thread is no bad thing. TA used to be famous for it and made you keep reading it.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

I agree with Andrew and Nicholas. There’s too much agonising about moderation.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

Oh, and by the way — this post continues a line of thought I started in the Tocqueville post below. Has anyone noticed that?

Fyodor
15 years ago

Nicholas,

You think that was bad? Now THIS was a dirty stoush, but not quite as bad as THESE TWO. And who could forget the “civility” debate?

I’ll leave you to ponder why TA CT is so much tamer these days.

Evil Pundit
15 years ago

Ban me! I need more oppression to complain about.

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

I actually like trolls. Arguing with them gives me something to do. Check out the Qantas or Peta threads on my site for the results.

That’s the great thing about free speech. Give em enough rope and they hang themselves. The lefties at at LP would rather just hang people preemptively (or guillotine them, like their french forebears).

Fyodor
15 years ago

Homerkles,

EP violations:

1. off-topic rants on Islam and feminism [I’m guilty too. Not of that kind of rants, but general off-topickery].

2. off-topic denunciations of leftism, feminism, marxism, you name it [almost a compulsion in EP’s case]

3. vexatious and purely abusive comments [tick, but mea culpa in extremis]

Basically, he violated them all. Problem is, so did a lot of people, including me. Bigger problem is that EP got banned in the heat of a particularly nasty thread, not after the many times he had previously violated the policy. In short, EP deserved to get banned, but the way it happened was inconsistent and hypocritical.

Personally, I agree that there’s too much agonising over moderation, but then I didn’t start this thread. I’m more in favour of an open bar, but then I’m a rude, blogless trouble-maker who should be thankful he’s tolerated at all.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
15 years ago

Yobbo,
to be consistent you would equally nay be more condemning of Tim Blair given the somewhat ‘eccentric’ interpretation of his comments policy.

Fyodor,
My young Austen loving friend. you think EP should have been banned earlier but other people have equally conducted such heinous practices but you believe in an open door?

I can’t help noting the correlation of the vast decline in both LP and EP since the banning

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

Evil – If I agree to ban you will you agree to complain about it on your blog and link back to me?

If so, you’ve got a deal.

Fyodor
15 years ago

“My young Austen loving friend. you think EP should have been banned earlier but other people have equally conducted such heinous practices but you believe in an open door?”

Yep. If they were going to be consistent, they should have banned EP and me eons ago. That’s naturally why I prefer the “open door” approach. Still see an inconsistency in my views?

“I can’t help noting the correlation of the vast decline in both LP and EP since the banning”

I reckon LP was on the skids [i.e. “jumped the shark”] before EP’s banning, but that’s just a personal opinion. Never had much interest in EP’s own site – too much predictable right-wing tosh and uninspiring “debate”.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
15 years ago

EP’s role at LP was well-defined. It was established theatrical context. Everyone played his or her part. That’s why his banning looked so inconsistent. The temperature of the role-play waxed and waned but for much of the time, EP was the not-unwilling foil for witty rejoinder, and rapier-like asides. Well, aspirationally rapier-like anyway.

Huffing and puffing about his lack of civility long after EP had become the established catalyst for LP collectivists to launch into thread long cannonades of incivility, looked like a sudden rush of thin-skinned selectivity.

If you’re going to have to ban someone it’s usually pretty obvious from the outset. Lay down some guidelines and use them – consistently and swiftly. Or don’t bother.

Fyodor, if being off-topic was a banning offence the interwebs would have shut down long ago.

Fyodor
15 years ago

“Fyodor, if being off-topic was a banning offence the interwebs would have shut down long ago.”

Kinda my point, too, Geoff. These rules are more observed in the violation than the enforcement.

And your earlier comments are spot-on. There’s something vaguely pathetic about the whole episode – like a misbehaving pet was abandoned.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
15 years ago

As I have said elsewhere I agree with my very dear Friend.

My memory hasn’t been the same since I swapped the red pills for the blue ones but there may have been some humour involved when EP peeked his head.
Perhaps Fyodor’s grandad can help us.

Chris Shiel acted just like Andrea Harris of who he justly criticises. The justifications he gave as as feeble as hers and his sense of humour matches hers. She may even think neo-classical economics is the same as monetarism!

Steve Edney
Steve Edney
15 years ago

Altogether too many words have been wasted over this incident. Here am I wasting some more.

With regards LP and shark jumping, perhaps its true, but I think little to do with EP presence but perhaps a small part due to the disgruntlement of several regulars. There is no doubt that it changed with multiple contributors. I’m not sure it changed for the worse, but less of Mark’s contributions also weighs against it.

Yes derailing can be fine, however persistantly doing to turn it into the same old debate is incredibly booring and irritating if it essentially ends discussion on particular topics.

As for the rules not being enforced. Obviously you have rules, but you let them slide to try to make the conversation fairly free flowing and hope that people will stick roughly to them. I agree with Geoff’s points about EP’s role at LP, it was true for the most part but then at times it strayed to the edge of behaviour that some found unacceptable. In the end that happenned once to often.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

Why should bloggers have to have a comments policy? Why can’t I just arbitrarily refuse to publish comments I don’t like?

I’m asking seriously here. I never explain myself to spammers when I delete their comments. Why should I have to be accountable to someone who is wrecking my comments thread?

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
15 years ago

But who is wrecking your comments thread that is the point my dear Don.

Steve Edney
15 years ago

Don,

I don’t know that the “should”. Obviously you don’t have to, but I think that having guidelines about what is acceptable helps set some boundaries.

Tony Harris
Tony Harris(@tony-harris)
15 years ago

I think people who want to go off topic or get personal or use bad language should be permitted to do so as long as it is in verse that both rhymes and scans.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

I’m with Rafe
(But just to be safe)

It would be a curse
To be anything worse

haiku hogan
15 years ago

Derailing a thread
Should be an Olympic sport!
Right, Greek Adonis?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
15 years ago

Haiku doesn’t count
Scanning and rhyme are absent.
It’s cheating Liam.

Anna Winter
Anna Winter
15 years ago

I support banning,
when due to unfunny and
constant distractions.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

EP shoots the breeze
But who is watching whom – doom?
And who will hike who?

Rob
Rob
15 years ago

Banning Evil was both dumb and inexplicable. As Geoff remarks, he’d been around from the beginning (and before that at Troppo). Everyone knew where he was coming from and LP’ers up to that point had treated him with a kind of exasperated affection.

Then we had that series of posts on rape, including the 324-comment monster. Kate and some of the other LP collectivites got angry and abusive when others weighed in with unpopular opinions (generally quite reasonablyy expressed). Kate closed a couple of threads down when they got overheated. Evil made some sharp remarks abuiot that which seemed to particularly upset Kate, and voila – he was out, for good.

The rest of us were not even told about it until I asked. And it’s worth pointing out that on that thread Evil had been the subject of some pretty nasty abuse himself.

btw, thanks for the trip down memory lane, Fyodor. Those were the days.

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

Evilpundit was banned primarily because LP instituted a policy whereby dissent on certain topics was disallowed (the rape post Rob mentioned being one of the primary ones). He refused to shut up and so to maintain the echo chamber, Sheil banned him. Since that period nobody has even bothered to attempt a real debate on LP, since it was obvious they are not interested. The End.

And a Haiku before I go:

What sort of a name
Is Larvatus Prodeo?
Wankers one and all.

Fyodor
15 years ago

Aye, Robbie, aye.

Yobs, Rob’s take is, I think, the correct one. There was no policy about dissent, AFAIK; it was all about the Weevily Won.

Yobbo on display,
Spanking the monkey again.
Where is Girl Friday?

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

My site has been down
But Gary has now fixed it
Girl Friday up soon!

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Yobbo,

Those with only six syllables in the second line of a putative haiku risk being placed in moderation.

Fyodor
15 years ago

Gary has gone down,
And fix’d your site?! You don’t say?
Goodbye to holding your own!

Fyodor
15 years ago

Count again, Nickless,
There’s seven in them thar ‘bulls!
My, this is silly.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Oops . . the commenter
unable to count and yet
Ran off at the mouth

Fyodor
15 years ago

Have you been drinking?
What’s the punishment, Otto?
A Rafe at the mouth?

[P.S. otto = 8 al italiano]

cs
cs
15 years ago

Sheil banned him

Complete nonsense by someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I’ve never banned anyone at LP or BP, (except Tim Blair once, and that lasted about an hour).

Homer, I can’t ever remember criticising Andrea, justly or unjustly, and think this might be the first time I’ve ever typed her name.

Broadly, I agree with Don, Andrew and Nicholas; yet I also think banning is bad for readership, and can be a badge of honour for the banned, and therefore should only be a last resort. This policy would mean that the objection Fyodor raises would be kinda inevitable.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

If the post is meant to be funny, Don, it’s not your best work. Though at least the discussion is relatively constructive. But I don’t think it’s good form to start debating another blog’s policies and decisions. I’m sure no one would appreciate it if I put up a post about the affaire Sophie at LP. Don’t worry – I’m not planning to, but I’m hoping that gets my point across.

In my view, the decision to ban EP was taken reluctantly. It’s fair comment to say that the comments policy should have been applied consistently at the outset. But it’s also fair, as Steve says, to say that you do give people a lot of leeway, and that’s generally not a bad thing. The particular context for EP’s removal was extremely heated discussion on very emotive topics, and in my opinion, his continued comments in the same tone could have been totally destructive to a space where women feel free to comment. No doubt this will start another stupid controversy, but if we’re going to talk about it, you might like to compare the gender composition of commenters and bloggers at any other major political blog.

EP said it himself, a long while back, on his own blog where he said he believed that bloggers were perfectly justified in banning people from their blogs for breaches of the comments policy.

It’s always been open for EP to apologise. I’m personally quite fond of him, and I wish it hadn’t been necessary.

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

Broadly, You’re a Tool.
Nobody would really care,
If you died at birth.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

Mr Yobbo (see I can be civil), haven’t you got some pictures of Asian women to look at on the interwebs or something?

This response to Yobbo – on the assumption his haiku is directed at me – is meant to illustrate through example the need for a comments policy :)

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

Oh, and thanks Fyodor for your comments. It’s a pity you don’t come round and visit us any more :(

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
15 years ago

Technically, a haiku poem requires a seasonal reference in order to be true haiku.

Rob
Rob
15 years ago

It might not be a bad idea, Kim, if you did put up such a post (on l’affaire Sophie) It was a bad episode, like the recent contretemps at C.L.’s place. The bad odour still lingers, and a forthright post from yourself might help to clear the air.

Robert
15 years ago

Be more specific, Jacques. They should include kigo… although even in the early 20th Century, Japanese poets began to omit seasonal references, and it is now pretty much optional.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

Perhaps, Rob. Sleeping dogs don’t seem to be lie anymore! But I think it’s probably a good principle to restrict commentary on other blogs to matters of substance contained in posts, rather than metacommentary on their comments – you’re quite right that C.L.’s thread left a sour taste in its wake (is that a mixed metaphor?).

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

Should read “to lie anymore”.

Rob
Rob
15 years ago

Kim, I agree to the extent that it would have been better had one of the LP’ers posted something at LP along the lines that Don posted here. Like it or not, the banning of EP will continue to rankle. IMHO it puts a big question mark over the integrity of the site.

It was a mistake – like invading Iraq – that’s very hard to come back from. Who would have thought the LP collective and Dubya would ever have had something in common? :-)

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

Rob, it was thrashed out at length on a Saturday post a while back in response to Homer’s campaign. Obviously I disagree that it was a mistake – or I wouldn’t have sought to justify the decision above. Metacommentary is an easy temptation to yield to, but the blogosphere, and LP, and Troppo in particular, are best served by continuing to focus on quality substantive posts and good civil discussions.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

Popper. (For old times’ sake).