Sunday, March 11, 2007

This blog's comment policy

A boring housekeeping post follows. When you come on here and post comments please be aware of the blog comment policy.

1. No spam
2. No hate-comments
3. No cut n' paste conspiraloonery
4. No obnoxious personal abuse

That should be quite clear, and if you don't like it or agree with it, tough luck. Start your own blog with your own comment policy, or go to places where the comment policy is different.

For me, blogging's a hobby, it's creative expression, its a discipline - a way of writing every day - and it's something that I and millions of others do, freely and happily, because we just like doing it. Recently, I have been enjoying it less and less

I have been thinking of stopping blogging for a while. I am also thinking about taking all the posts down, saving them as unpublished drafts offline, and re-publishing them again when I feel like I want to re-engage. For now, whilst I mull it over, I am taking steps that I think will make me feel happier and more safe when I blog. I am looking after myself and setting some much-needed boundaries.

I have been honest and open on this blog since I started it, writing freely about personal and political matters which I care passionately about. For the most part I have loved it, it has been a roller-coaster ride and the support, advice, feedback, comments, suggestions, debate from readers has been fantastic. There have been times when I have been seriously under the cosh and coming here and writing has been life-saving. It has helped me deal with depression. It has helped me deal with PTSD. It has allowed me to campaign about issues I feel strongly about. It has allowed me to link to the blogs of others. I have made friends in real life through this blog, and it has been a privilege and a pleasure to have a window into other people's worlds, and to share some of my life and thoughts with you all.

There is a downside to blogging. There have been times when I have felt exposed, vulnerable, and under vicious and relentless personal attack, simply for writing what I think and feel on here. There have been times when this blog has invited the wrong sort of attention, to the extent that I have felt extremely afraid and very distressed. It has got to the point that the police have had to get involved, with repeated instances of harassment from one individual. It's one thing to disagree, it's another thing entirely to send streams of venomous abuse, directed at me or other commenters on this blog. I really don't enjoy blogging when I get sent abusive emails or comments, or threats. I don't publish them, but I still have to read them.

I realise some of you may feel strongly about what I have written, or what other commenters have written sometimes, but I still don't think that gives you the automatic sacred right to be abusive, obnoxious, threatening, obscene, baiting, bullying, harassing, or whatever, and to expect me to give your views a platform on my personal blog.

If you want to say something, you can always start your own blog. Then I can choose whether or not I read it, and so can others. That's freedom of speech, that's freedom of expression.
You have that freedom; nobody is taking it away from you, least of all me., from what I can gather will let you publish pretty much anything, unless it is stomach-churning ( images of torture, child porn or so on which are internationally unlawful). There are plenty of blogs which are defamatory, libellous, malicious, hateful, untruthful and delusional out there. I choose not to read them and not to link to them.

Despite me reiterating and explaining my comment policy several times recently, I have still been getting a steady trickle of obnoxious, aggressive comments sent in. I am now completely fed up with it.

I am not going to publish them, and from now on, I am not going to read them either. Most of the people who send such abuse do so anonymously. Personally, I think this is cowardly, as well as rude. Why expect me to give you a public platform if you will not allow me to know who you are, or to respond personally to you? Would you say such things to my face, in public? I doubt it.

Well, from now on, nobody will be able to post anonymous comments. The anonymous comment facility has been removed. In order to comment. you will have to go to, ( click 'create blog' at the top of this blog), and set up a blog which has a profile, so you can be identified with whatever name, number or nickname you have chosen to give yourself. You don't need to post on your blog account once you have set it up, but you will need to provide a valid email address to set up a blog and get a profile. The whole process will take you less than two minutes. If you can't do it, email me and I will try and help.

I realise this is a bit of a pain, and that some of you want to be anonymous on here because you are sharing something that may be personal and private. For example, there have been men and women who are survivors of violence and rape commenting anonymously here. I am sorry that because of the behaviour of a few, I am no longer able to offer you total anonymity.

As an experiment, and as a gesture of trust, I am taking comment moderator off whilst we move to this new policy, so once you have registered and set up a profile, you will be able to comment freely. Hopefully this will make comment discussions more meaningful and easier to conduct because other commenters will know who you are and can address their points to you rather than 'anonymous', which is particularly confusing if there is more than one anonymous commenter in action.

If my blog traffic goes down as a result of my comments policy, I don't care. I don't validate myself by looking at my blog traffic. And I would rather know who I am talking to.
If people abuse the no-moderation policy, then I will switch comment moderator back on, and delete obnoxious comments. I repeat, I am under no obligation to host such stuff.

And if it STILL continues, then I am taking the blog offline. Finito. There's no point continuing with a hobby you no longer enjoy out of sheer bloody-mindedness.

I am addressing this to a few people; they know who they are and hopefully they will now go away and leave me in peace. To everyone else, thank you for dropping in, I appreciate you and I would like to thank you for visiting.

Right. It's a gorgeous spring day and I am going to switch off my computer and go for a walk in the park and look at the daffodils and all the signs of new life springing up which remind me that there's a big, beautiful world out there and that I want to spend more time in it.

Take care and see you soon.

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Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

I sincerely hope that the abusive comments and e-mails you've been receiving don't force you to stop blogging. That would be tragic for you and for the many people who enjoy reading your blog, although I can understand why you would consider this action if dealing with these loons is wearing you down and removing the enjoyment you get from blogging.

I can't stand the idea of these prats actually winning and succeeding in silencing you and removing your freedom of speech. Hopefully this new comment policy will help stop this nonsense. Whatever happens, you're not alone. I've said it before but... NIL ILLEGITIMUS CARBORUNDUM!!

Wishing you all the best.


March 11, 2007 2:01 pm  
Blogger dave bones said...

Yeah, don't stop. I've been reading a while now but haven't been able to comment. I used to be a regular commenter over at rightwingsparkle who is a good egg even though she likes Bush. She used to get the same problem.

I don't understand it. If blogs are good for anything its that you can communicate with people who would pass you in the street, or are in someways across a divide.

I've always managed to find humour in abuse but I can understand in your situation you'll feel diferently.

I noticed your blog about protesting the war recently, I hope you'll enjoy a short movie we made about kids protesting the start of the war. We were all pretty jaded by protest so it was nice to see kids who were very clear about what they were trying to achieve.

Take a break, or "remote blog" if it helps, but keep up the good work innit.

March 11, 2007 5:54 pm  
Blogger zoe said...

like dave bones, i tend to find humour in hatemail, but it is, obviously, a totally different situation in your case.

i hope you don't stop blogging - but if you do .... well, that's your decision.

good luck, whichever road you choose.


March 11, 2007 7:42 pm  
Blogger Septuagent said...

If you stop blogging, then "they" have won. Difficult.

March 11, 2007 9:32 pm  
Blogger Azimov said...

I do hope that you don't stop writing.

Hopefully, your new commenting rule works and keep the comments clean.

March 11, 2007 9:48 pm  
Blogger xoggoth said...

Easy solution. Start blogging about feeding wasps with jam and similar drivel like I do, nobody will bother you then.

March 11, 2007 11:03 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Well I just posted about dead goldfish, perhaps that will bore everyone away...

Thanks everyone for th comments and emails. I posted, felt better, decided not to stop blogging and to have a sleep instead, which has helped. I love writing and I love interacting with people and keeping up with your blogs. Hopefully the new policy will prevent it turning into a zoo round here and we can all continue to have fun and play nicely. I have to say, it's only recently that it has got bad, normally 99% of my commenters distinguish themselves by not only being lovely people, but also posting very interesting and thoughtful responses which add greatly to the blog and which I feel very grateful and honoured to receive.

March 11, 2007 11:10 pm  
Blogger Geoff said...

Well said Rachel and I think it is a good decision to turn of anonymous comments. It would be a real pity to see you go , maybe only do occasional posts?
Good luck with what ever you decide. I have found your blog very moving and interesting.

March 11, 2007 11:16 pm  
Blogger IainC said...

Pity you had to do this, but I understand the reasons. Hope it works: looks ok so far. It would be more than a shame if you had to stop blogging because of the problems you've had with the spammers and abusers.

My occasional comments have always been anonymous with the name option, not because I wanted to hide (it's my real name and initial) but I didn't want to have a blog. Well now I have a shiny new and empty one which I won't use, to join the other forums/groups/emailaccounts which I don't use either. Waste of virtual space (the blog not me or you) but a small price.


March 12, 2007 12:41 am  
Blogger kris said...

"And if it STILL continues, then I am taking the blog offline. Finito"

oh don't let yourself be shut up (driven out of blogosphere), or indicate the possibility that you can be shut up, by arseholes!

That's precisely what they want. I wouldn't give people i could give a shit about the satisfaction.

March 12, 2007 9:03 am  
Blogger Dee said...

You are the reason I started writing my own blog (not that mine is comparable to yours! ) Your blog is the first one that caught my attention for good and I would be sad to see you go. I hope you feel better and we will get to enjoy your blogs a lot longer!
Kind regards,

March 12, 2007 9:51 am  
Blogger Frank Spinetti said...

yes rachel you have really inspired me too. DON'T LET THEM FORCE YOU TO DESTRY YOUR OWN FREEDOM OF SPEECH

March 12, 2007 10:43 am  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Hmmm, tough one.

But re-asserting your boundaries is always good.

UK blogging does seem to bring out the snivelling spite in some people, maybe their inadequacy and repression makes them think it's ok to hide behind anonymity and throw stones at people...

It's a tough call but I do believe you garner more love and respect than anything else, Rachel.


March 12, 2007 12:19 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

You were also the inspiration behind my blog and my decision to keep blogging despite rude and insulting anonymous comments on a daily basis (although not to the extent of yours, and which seem to have stopped now, I hope). It would be very sad if these nasty people forced you to have to stop writing but I fully understand the need to protect yourself. I really hope that the new 'rules' are effective - which they do seem to be so far.

Was hoping to watch 18 DS tonight but it seems our broadband software will not recognise Microsoft Vista and I cannot get online at all. Hope the show goes well anyway!

Rachel x

March 12, 2007 12:53 pm  
Blogger quarsan said...

you can't beat dead goldfishes.

as zoe found out

March 12, 2007 4:50 pm  
Blogger Debi said...

You must do whatever you need to in order to protect yourself as much as possible. No one has the right to ask more of you.

At the same time I think what you are doing here is very special indeed and deserves only positive outcomes.

I hope you do feel able to continue. You make a real difference. But I don't think you should feel pressure to do so because otherwise 'they' win. (Though I know that has been meant with the best intentions.) Your health is the only real imperative!

March 14, 2007 6:43 pm  
Blogger Allotment Plotter said...

If you can't take the kooks, do you really think you should operate a blog, with comments on? You must be incredibly easy to upset, unable to even delete that what offends you.

Of course you may show some spunk and delete me of course...

March 14, 2007 11:08 pm  
Blogger kobwebby said...

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is
more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself,
and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as
much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,
deserve your love and affection.


March 15, 2007 11:19 am  
Blogger Mungo said...

I am glad you will not stop blogging. I can sympathise with you on some small level about how blogging can be difficult when the comments are not good. Good for you banishing the cowards.

March 16, 2007 11:23 am  
Blogger Gracchi said...

I've been lurking round the blog here for a while and its well written and very interesting. I think you shouldn't stop- there are enough people out here who think you shouldn't and you are a popular and well liked blogger. I think you've been very mature over what has gone on with you and other individuals- you haven't said much about it and that's right. On the other hand I think it would be a real loss if you ever left blogging- think who would Iain Dale have to invite onto blogging TV?

Keep going. Its good and its appreciated.

March 16, 2007 11:48 am  
Blogger Small said...

You need a FAQ, with a moron section, like Twisty Faster over at I blame the patriarchy. Also, the section on "Comments Guidelines" is also worth lifting almost in entirety:

Commenters should strive for excellence.

A certain standard of civility, to be determined by me arbitrarily, is required. As the inimitable Lauren says, my blog, my discretion.

March 18, 2007 5:16 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

some people might never learn ... so can understand your move

still, why i don't like logging in is cause you have to enable cookies which google uses to snoop on one's browsing behaviour in order to cash in on this data, which as i gather is why everybody was forced to 'upgrade' to beta, but that's a general google/blogger problem, rsp. an even more general of virtually all so called 'for free' stuff

anyway, hope you'll keep enjoying posting on, as i do reading every once in a while

however, from my own experience and from observation of others, personally i don't believe anybody who installed a counter that they really 'don't validate myself by looking at my blog traffic' at all, no offense.

March 19, 2007 2:19 pm  
Blogger Guido 2.0 said...

Consider yourself backed 100%, Rachel... except for that bit about maybe leaving us.


Note - if you're publishing under Blogger, introducing comment registration still allows for anonymous comments - but it at least strangles those who wish to abuse the current system by making multiple comments under different names.

March 20, 2007 1:48 pm  
Blogger Peach said...

Hi Rachel
Am new to (a) your site and (b) the blogworld in general really as(c) I have been blogging only since October last year.

Really good to read your amazing blog...but please no no no, please NO WAY let a few idiots ruin it for the rest of us and you.

I wondered if you felt able to actually publish the abusive comments. When someone wrote something stupid on My boyfriend is a twat, zoe published his email address. Obviously that can't work with anonymous comments, but I reckon you should feed them to us, the readers, the lions, as the backlash this guy got that I saw was hilarious just desserts...

And you might feel more specifically supported by your readers against them...?

March 20, 2007 4:42 pm  
Anonymous Ogaden said...

Good blog, don't stop please! :)

August 15, 2007 12:56 pm  

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