Some of you have figured out that when you hit “Report Abuse” on a comment, it goes away to a place where I have to decide whether the comment lives or dies. I’m finding way too many comments in that purgatory that are not offensive in any way, except that somebody apparently disagreed with them.

Stop it. You should know that unless I have a very good reason to kill a comment, it will go right back into the comment queue where it will go right back to upsetting you and probably some other readers too. That’s the price of your right to upset others with your opinions.

So far — and we’re two months into this experiment with comment boards — almost all the discussion has been substantive, polite, focussed on real subjects. Sometimes more party-line partisan than my colleagues and I would like, but partisan allegiance is legitimate too, and we don’t feel like suppressing that either. A time may come when raw abuse is getting tossed around. Lord knows we’ve all seen that on other blogs. If it happens here I will delete offending comments with gusto — and shut the comments down altogether without hesitation if necessary. But since that’s not what’s happening so far, let’s all enjoy the vigorous but generally cordial discussion here.

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  1. It would sure be nice if there was a step between “Submit Comment” and it actually being submitted (a “preview” or something). I’ve found myself accidentally pressing “Submit Comment” mid-sentance due to some IE quirks and would have loved a chance to go back and fix it.

    Alternately, a requirement to log in and therefore allow a delete comment function within 10 minutes of posting or something.

    I have to admit guilt, once, to “reporting” myself when my post got all screwed up and looked like crap due to some messed up HTML tags, and reposted it properly below. It would be nice if one could have a do-over.

  2. Duly noted, Scott. Whether that’s possible is decided beyond my pay grade but I’ll pass it on to our tech gods.

  3. oooohhhhhh, so THAT’s why no one’s come to arrest my priest yet…

  4. Its a privelege to have access to one of the top political writers in the country – one keen to engage readers, I might add. It would be disappointing if the experiment gets killed, a la comments please, because we prove ourselves incapable of civil, yet provocative discussion.

  5. Would you like a different hypothesis about why it’s happening? Remember this happened to me twice in a row, and it was when I was working from a laptop with one of those sliding pointer thingies (SPT).

    Well, I think it has to do with the location of the “Report Abuse” hyperlink, which can get activated a little too easily by mistake, either by a hypersensitive SPT, or even (like in the really olden days before the graphical world-wide-web) by hitting the space bar while on top of it.

    My current theory is that I reported abuse twice on myself that time, given that it happened so quickly it couldn’t have been anyone else (and I’m so mild-mannered, right?).

  6. Actually whenever I see one of your posts it drives me crazy with rage, punditsguide. Charts and graphs! Grrr!

  7. I didn’t realize that these forums were a recent experiment I thought it was me just discovering these forums. If it means anything I find these forums are very well done (except for the preponderence of left wing nuts but hey!)and my cudos to the staff and editorial section.

  8. I agree with Scott- I’ve killed a few of my comments on second read through- we need an ‘edit’ button or something.

  9. Agreed with Wayne, these boards are a vast improvement, both in terms of quality and civility, over the other MSM comment boards, and having the blog writers like Wells and Kady join the fray is an added bonus.

  10. Pundits’ Guide:

    Surely not!  More like passive-multiple-regressive.  ;-)

    M’sieu Wells:

    Add me to the votes for an “edit” or “preview” function.  Gives me the willies entering HTML and never knowing whether I properly closed a tag…

  11. Hey! Full length posts in RSS!! That was a feature I requested long ago. Thanks!

  12. I am impressed at the level of debate here, and hope that the partisanship can be kept to a minimum (not that I’m always perfect).
    This forum is an oasis of calm considered opinion compared to almost anything at G&M.com.

    Can I suggest that the Report Abuse function be linked with the user ID of the person making the report? That way you’ll be able to tell if someone is abusing the report abuse function deliberately.

  13. Well I think the Macleans response boards in the blogs are some of the ebst I have seen around. I also didn’t know they were an experiment, as I came across them while A. Coyne was liveblogging the BC unhuman rights trial…

    I hope you guys keep them. Unlike the Globe and other sites I’ve never even come close to reporting abuse here as while I disagree with many things others say most comments are civil and (mainly) based on facts and the such…

  14. Hi Paul,

    I just wanted to say that I wholeheartedly agree with you, especially about how it is unfortunate that sometimes the comments become more party-line partisan than desired. Other than that, interesting stuff.

    Anyway, although I rarely ever post, I do enjoy lurking and seeing where the discussion goes. It’s nice to actually WANT to read the comments for their merit, as opposed to the CBC and G&M comment sections, where find myself getting sucked into reading comments only to see what the endless whack jobs will come out with next.

    Seriously, why do the CBC et al feel the need to continue hosting comments sections? They’re so useless… I don’t understand it.

  15. TobyorNotToby said Abuse Reporters should be ID’d for tracking purposes. I think that could get complicated. Instead, keep it simple.

    For example, whenever someone posts an Abuse report, it could automatically trigger WordPress to set up a new discussion thread — let’s call it a Tribunal thread — where users could congregate and decide if there has been any abuse.

    The members of the thread could elect one member as Judge, and maybe have six others as Jury, along with various court officials. They could hear testimony from the abuse reporter and the alleged perpetrator. And then vote.

    That would work. Maybe you’d also need another discussion thread for sentencing, if there was a conviction.

    Not sure if parole would be relevant.

    Anyway, as I said, keep it simple.

    – JV

  16. How do we send the blog posts into purgatory? :-)

  17. Just Visiting has the strangest understanding of “simple” I have ever seen.

    Being able to edit one’s own post seems reasonable from a stylistic point of view, but it might not work technically. For one thing, the particular system doesn’t keep specific accounts or identities, so it’s unlikely to be able to let you and only you edit a post which you just made.

    If there’s going to be a smaller change, may i suggest that reporting abuse not delete a comment immediately, but merely mark it for a moderator to look at at their convenience? That way it wouldn’t disappear until someone in charge gave it the OK.

  18. To underscore how difficult it would be to edit your own quotes, Mike T. will now comment under the name of Wayne, another user with frequent comments:

    “This would never have happened if my boy Steve were in charge!”

  19. Mike T. as Kady O’Malley:

    “I’ll liveblog the discussions on using the report abuse feature if there’s fig newtons!”

  20. Mike T. will now comment as Andrew Coyne:

    “obviously, the free market can solve the ‘report abuse’ problem, given enough time and if the government can restrain itself from the impulse to regulate everything in sight!”

  21. And now I wish there was an edit feature to change the name on the last quote.

    But anyway, the system obvioulsy isn’t keeping track of us specifically, so we can’t change our own quotes.

    Apologies to Andrew Coyne, Wayne, and Ms. O’Malley.

  22. Since this has turned into a feature request thread…

    I would love to be able to preview my comment before I actually submit it (there are WordPress plugins to do this)!

    Perhaps the false clicks to the “Report Abuse” link could be made by placing the link immediately after the date (so it’s less prominent) and having the user confirm the click with a Javascript OK/Cancel-esque dialog box.

    One VERY COOL feature (that would help distinguish from things like what Mike T. did) would be to have registered WordPress users’s (e.g. the Macleans.ca staff) comments highlighted in some manner (e.g. have a light-yellow background) so it’s easy to pick out those comments from the thread.

    Anyways, some thoughts that should be pretty easy to implement for anyone who’s familiar with WordPress.

  23. Hmmmm.

    When I said “edit” above, I meant “preview” (and edit while previewing).  I realize that, without tracking specific IDs (or issuing session cookies), there’s no way to allow post hoc editing.

    A number of sites allow anonymous “preview and edit,” so it should be relatively painless to do…

  24. Mike T said I have “the strangest understanding of “simple” I have ever seen.”

    Well, sorry if seems that way.

    What I was thinking was that, in short order, the commenters from Kady’s blog would surely rally and work out at least some interim guidelines for the whole Abuse Report Online Tribunal system.

    That would provide a solid framework for action until actual jurisprudence evolved.

    As I said, keep it simple.

    – JV

  25. Since some people commented about technical issues not related to reporting abuse, I’ll use this thread as a support page, too.

    I’ve now had three comments eaten up by the Macleans blog.

    I’ll enter my comment, and nothing happens. I’ll hit enter again, and it says that I’ve already submitted the exact same comment, but it still hasn’t shown up and won’t show up.

    Maybe someone is limiting my posting frequency. I dunno.

  26. Thak you for the news

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