Various and Sundry, 1/27/13

Mostly links.

* First, did you know that there is a picture of me, Mary Robinette Kowal, Charles Stross, Patrick Rothfuss and Jim C. Hines, signed by each of us (and by Al Bodgan, the photographer) up for auction, to benefit the Aicardi Syndrome Foundation? And that this particular picture, in this particular format, is super rare (just one of two)? And that this picture will never happen again, ever? So if you wanted to own a unique piece of science fiction and fantasy history and benefit a worth cause, then you should go and bid on it before the auction closes tomorrow. Seriously, it’s kind of amazing.

* Speaking of Jim C. Hines, on his blog he outlines one consequence of being a creepy dude at a convention, if you are an author. I don’t suspect Jim is alone in this; I imagine there are a fair number of people, authors, reviewers, fans and otherwise, who see the actions of creepy folk and just think to themselves, well, that’s that, and quietly make the choice not to have anything to do with them from there on. Whether it has an effect outside that one person is neither here nor there, although if you get a lot of people who have come to the same decision independently, it can add up.

* Over at Scientific American, a long post on comments and commenting, which among other things references The Kitten Setting here. I don’t think it’s any particular secret that I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to have comment threads you have to moderate them, and you have to be pretty ruthless about it when you do. Otherwise you’re implicitly agreeing to have your site be a repository of feculence and wingnuttery, and I don’t know what anyone would voluntarily agree to that. So, yeah: Moderate comments or turn them off.


21 Comments on “Various and Sundry, 1/27/13”

  1. Welp. Once again I am really thankful for the moderation here – and frankly, this side has taught me to moderate my own ones, too.

  2. This is easily the most enjoyable blog that I have had the pleasure of reading and yes at times commenting. And I know that is owed to you and the fact that you actually take the time to moderate, delete and my favorite-kitten. Maybe if other people read the article they will realize that there is nothing wrong with the new kitten policy. Thank You John for making this such an enjoyable place to visit.

  3. I firmly believe that moderation of a site is necessary, if only to remind people that they are playing in someone else’s sandbox, and that should the owner of the sandbox find their behavior objectionable, then ejection from the sandbox will occur.

    If only ejection from the sandbox were acceptable in other places in society, we would not have quite such the rude jackwagon problem that we seem to be facing. I think that a well-moderated site contributes to polite discourse, and that in society, were we as willing to call people out on their rudeness and simply refuse to converse with them because of their rudeness, we’d be a politer society.

    And now I will step off my soapbox.

  4. You know the more you link to Jim’s Blog the more I really like him :) because of this I’m adding some of his books to my pile of books to read :)

  5. Thanks for the links. I can’t afford even to bid for the pic, but will watch the bidding mount up :). And yay for your and Jim Hines’ attitudes to creeping! And modding.

  6. Your first topic I can’t really comment on as I’m not much of a memorabilia collector.

    As to the second topic, I gotta say, I’m liking Hines more and more. Good on him. And good on the internet as well. What a level playing field the ‘net can be at times.

    The part about blog commentary and moderation from Scientific American was cool. I guess it really is about setting the ‘tone’ as it were. Certainly leaves me with food for thought and my own methods of posting.

  7. Because of your post, I was forced to learn something new. The Bechdel test from comments on Hines’ blog was well worth my attention today. Thanks!

  8. Just wanted to let you know that your link to Hines’ blog got me also to read the first chapter of Libriomancer, which I will now be picking up. Yep, quite the interlinked community.

  9. “Feculence and Wingnuttery” sounds like a comedic steampunk song & dance team. I’d go see them.

    Thanks for the link to the SciAm article. I completely agree that comment moderation is vital to keeping an online conversation interesting and productive. Done properly over time (like here) it can result in a community. That is a valuable thing to accomplish. So I agree with this quote from the article: “Commenting is a privilege, not a right. You have to earn it.”

    Lastly concerning the charity picture: Argh! My eyes! It burns! I can’t unsee that!

    Seriously, good on you folks. I hope it raises a lot of money for the Aicardi Syndrome Foundation.

  10. I’m trying to figure out where to hang that picture…

    Thanks for the ongoing links to Hine’s blog. Always interesting discussions on both your blogs.

    Great link on commenting. One of the best things about well moderated comments is the great discussions that can be had.

  11. While i think that the informal reaction (of Jim and perhaps others) is better than none, it does not score too high on the “prevent this from happening again”-scale.

    How can it be, that such a person can still use conventions as his personal hunting ground?

  12. Another thing proactive (I was going to say aggressive but that may not be the best way to describe it) moderation can do is “set a normative expectation”. It’s really noticeable here and at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ site at The Atlantic.

    After a while (and presuming some level of blogger reinforcement) the community as a whole will begin to reinforce the standard and frequent commenters who just CAN’T avoid a side conversation (for whatever reason) will make it just that; an email conversation.

    The community begins to police itself. Which is a neat recapitulation of how social norms emerge in the first place.

  13. I’m hoping a show like Sword and Laser gets high bid on the photo, so they can make it a prominent part of the set.

    Imagine how delightful it would be if there was one of these from the 60’s or 70’s, with someone like Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, or Andre Norton surrounded by sex-kitten poses of Roger Zelazny, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, etc.

  14. Mark Liberman, over at Language Log (a linguistics blog that has a civil and well-informed commenariat) linked, in a comment on a comment, to your kitten setting post, viz. ” [(myl) Indeed. If not for the interpretive-illusion aspects, I’d be tempted to try the kitten setting.] ” The original post, “What ‘the’ means”
    is about the analysis of language featured in the recent decision by the D.C. appeals court about recess appointments. I like finding out that one blog I read is also read by another, and other such unanticipated small-world connections.

  15. So an author goes to a conference and wastes time harassing a woman? If I was an author going to a conference (and most likely at my own expense), I would see it strictly as a business trip. I am there to market my books and myself. On top of that authors are self employed. When you are self employed, you are fully and solely responsible for all of your income and work.

    I would probably ignore most of the other authors there since I would see them as competitors and try to spend as much time with fans and winning new fans so I could sell more books. This would be especially true if I was a smaller time author who was just getting by. My main thought would be I need to sell ‘x’ number of books to pay the rent.

    Not sure how many authors would like me since I wouldn’t be spending much time talking to them. I think I would fall more into the ‘jerk’ category to authors than the creeper. However, this would be business and I have bills to pay.

    I am willing to bet there are quite a few authors like this…

  16. I’m curious on people’s thoughts about the following. Is it beneficial to participate in comment threads full of hate, if only to counteract it to some extent?

  17. IF people self-moderated THEN moderator intervention would be un-necessary. ELSE real world, mallet needed.

    Don’t think I can put that in haiku…

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