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Opening the open thread

I’m going to write this article and see if I still agree with it at the end.

The entire issue of free speech vs. good order involves trade-offs. This blog ran for a long time without any bans. Anybody could say anything. But there came a time when some commenters appeared who had the ability to hijack discussions, get everybody angry, and generally make it impossible for the commenting community to function. I banned some people, and in fact I banned quite a few people, and sometimes I banned one person under a host of names.

I tend to ban people who use sock puppets, and people I think are here only to provoke conflict. Whatever the reasons for a ban, they are subjective and of necessity applied in the context of my own biases.

The way a ban works now is that any comment from a banned individual is placed in moderation, not automatically deleted. I see them even though you may not. I generally delete them.

I tried something before called the off-topic dump where banned comments could be moved. The dump was time-consuming to maintain, and it didn’t allow responses. That project was discontinued.

So I’m going to try something else, using the open thread to allow uncensored speech (with the exception that copyrighted material, personal attacks and personal information on non-public figures is not allowed there or anywhere). Under this new policy, folks will still be in moderation, but posts on the Open Thread will be generally approved. Folks in moderation who post in other areas may be approved provided they are polite and not provoking a flame war, or the comment may be moved to the Open Thread when off-topic, or it may just be deleted.

Banned ‘Birther’ Breaks the BR Censorship Barrier

The Cold Case Posse’s “Universe Shattering” Evidence

Opinion: By Brian Reilly To: Kevin Davidson, Dr. Conspiracy

Once again, America is being told by Birther news outlets that new, universe shattering evidence about the Obama investigation will be released by Commander Mike Zullo and his non-profit, all volunteer, Cold Case Posse in March, or possibly April or possibly May or, possibly never, depending on who the Birther spokesperson is for the day. Even if new evidence were released this month, the Cold Case Posse has cried wolf so many times, who really is going to listen, except hardcore, agenda driven Birthers?

But wait a minute…..Brian Reilly…..isn’t he a Birther? Why is he writing to Dr. Conspiracy??? I’m glad that you asked. I’ve been banned at many Birther websites, including Birther Report. Many Birther sites put my comments into an endless, black cavern of moderation with my comments never seeing the light of day or the courtesy of a reply or a posting. My comments don’t fit the Birther narrative. On one particularly nefarious Birther website I’ve read threats and defamatory statements directed toward me for simply speaking my opinion. Do these tactics sound familiar? I came to Dr. Conspiracy’s website because, I had no other choice. I believed that he would give me the freedom to write and publish my thoughts. I was right. I am grateful for Dr. Conspiracy’s courtesy.

Yes, Dr. Conspiracy has me listed on his Birthers A-Z list, but I have never considered myself a Birther. I simply had questions about President Obama’s birth certificate, based on the PDF I saw posted on April 27, 2011 on the White House website. Many wanted answers as did I. But no, I don’t consider myself a Birther. Continue Reading →

The universe-shattering off-topic dump

I hate bans and moderation. It’s extra work, and I don’t want to be a judge.

There are two kinds of comments I delete: ones that violate the editorial policy (such as publishing real names of private people, obscene, threatening, and completely off topic for the site), and inane comments designed to get a reaction (trolls). Persistent practitioners of that latter group get banned. Every time I have relented on a ban, I end up re-enforcing it again.

They have something at The Fogbow called FEMA Camp 7½ that’s somewhat separate from the rest of the forum. One can get access to it if desired, and the troll/intractable person can comment there too. Still in search of a solution, I’m going to revive an old scheme, the Off-topic dump. I don’t have the ability to set up something like what Fogbow uses, but I can set up an article (this one) where no one can comment, and then move comments I don’t want to appear in the middle of the active discussions here.

To find the dumps, just select "Off topic" from the Conspiracies drop-down box in the right sidebar.

I selected a couple of comments from Hermitian to line the bottom of the pail, and I want to use them to illustrate why I put them there. The first goes

He was probably referring to the pompous fools at NASA who oversaw the Challenger investigation.

The quote was from Richard Feynman, and I deleted Hermitian’s comment because it implicitly motivated others to waste their time to look up the Feynman comment to prove Hermitian wrong, which he is. I don’t know the date of the Feynman quote, but it was in a book about him published in 1985. The Challenger Shuttle disaster was in 1986.

The second comment is like the first one, an invitation for others to waste their time in reply:

What’s a Krosis ?

Does it bloom ?

Hermitian can look up Krosis as easily as anyone else, and if he already knows the answer, then the comment can only be there to attract a response—the essence of troll.

Banned by birthers?

Did you read something really outrageous on a birther blog, but they won’t let you reply? Did they make a really big error in their facts or the law, and you’re itching to set the record straight? Does Orly leave your thoughtful comments languishing in moderation, or does Birther Report auto-delete1 everything you say?

Don’t get mad …

You could do what I did and get a blog, but that’s a lot of trouble. Now you can just put your comment here on the Banned by Birthers™ thread. Include a bit of the article or comment you’re replying to (remember “fair use”) and then let ‘em have it.

Note: this does not apply to people banned here.

1The last time my IP address changed the BR auto-delete on me stopped.

Dissenting voices

Dr. Conspiracy

The main purpose of this blog was to publish articles examining conspiracy theories about Barack Obama. What grew up was an online discussion community.

I attempted to tolerate anything anyone wanted to say, and I still do not censor opinions. However, there have been some particularly obnoxious people that I just don’t want here. I find a few things obnoxious, and the main one is someone telling lies and refusing to answer for them. Another main contender for a ban is someone who posts many comments all over the place, lacking much substantive content, but full of insults. When I do ban someone it is after they said something and whatever they said is not deleted, so their ideas are not censored.

I looked over recent comments, and we really don’t have much left in the way of voices supporting the conspiracy theories. It may be that there is just something incompatible between courteous rational discourse and the birther movement. It may be that the vocal opposition to conspiracy theories here creates an environment where the “thoughtful birther” doesn’t feel welcome.

We’ll just have to wait and see what unfolds.