Blog Problems

Apologies for the comment-spam storm and for any other problems which readers and contributors may be experiencing. There is a problem at the hosting level that is preventing the anti-spam blacklist and other routine functions of this blog from functioning properly. I assume it will be fixed but I have no idea when.

UPDATE: The problems seem to be fixed.

7 thoughts on “Blog Problems”

  1. “Free speech” is not what we’re going for here*. We’re going for “free exchange of ideas”. It’s a subtle difference, but worth recognizing.

    We’re not interested in setting up a place where anybody and everybody can say whatever they want without regard for context or content. We’re not interested in a place where spam and off-topic chatter is the norm. Rather, we’re interested in creating a place where ideas can be exchanged, discussed, hashed out, etc. We’re perfectly OK with people sharing ideas we don’t agree with, but we need an environment in which those ideas can be shared.

    That necessarily requires restrictions on speech. In particular, it requires us to restrict those forms of speech that inhibit worthwhile communication of ideas. Some forms of speech that should be restricted:

    – spam. Unsolicited commercial ads that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. I shouldn’t have to explain why these don’t contribute to free exchange of ideas. CB has an automatic filter that blocks posts containing certain keywords that are very often used in spam. (This occasionally nails legitimate posts, and if you have a problem with it, get a thesaurus or e-mail Jonathan.)

    – flames. Harsh personal attacks tend to make the environment unfavorable to serious discussion. It’s hard to talk about ideas when everyone is saying mean things about someone else’s momma. These are often manually deleted.

    – excessive repetition / verbosity. Communication is hindered when it takes an hour to read something you could’ve said in 30 seconds, or when it takes 20 minutes to wade through all the posts that just repeat things that have already been said. If you don’t have anything new to add, don’t bother.

    – re-posting of articles from elsewhere. Give a link and a synopsis if you think an article is worthwhile, and let people decide whether or not to follow the link. Give them enough information to let them choose how to use their time, and make it abundantly clear to them that you’re posting something you yourself didn’t write. (I hate when I spend hours arguing with someone, only to find that I’m actually arguing with a cut/paste of articles from a different website.)

    – off-topic chatter. If you want to talk about something completely unrelated to the topic at hand, do it through e-mail, or post it in a throw-away topic like this one. If we’re discussing the educational system, telling us about your great grandma’s cookie recipie will only be a distraction.

    Remember, it’s not “free speech” that’s the ideal — it’s “free exchange of ideas”. Spam, flames, off-topic posts, etc. hinder the free exchange of ideas, so those forms of speech should be restricted in reasonable ways. If you have a problem with that sort of restriction, as Jonathan said, go elsewhere.

    * NOTE: by “we” and “here” I mean both the general (1) we = everyone, here = the internet, and the specific application (2) we = the ChicagoBoyz admins (I’m not one), here = ChicagoBoyz.

  2. Well put, LotharBot.

    When someone uses the term “free speech” WRT a private venue, it generally means, “listen to ME”.

  3. Well… normally what they mean is either “don’t delete my spam / flame / offensive language / off-topic post”, or “how dare you not be convinced by my argument!”

    The second case isn’t a question of free speech at all, it’s a question of being persuasive. If your ideas are weak, you won’t convince people; if they’re strong, you’ll convince people. Welcome to the free market of ideas.

    It was the first case I was specifially addressing — the case of posts actually being deleted. As far as I know, people here are free to express opinions contrary to yours. The only way they’re not “free” is that they’re not free to muck up the place with spam, flames, etc. That sort of restriction is actually a good thing — restricting people’s freedom to muck up a conversation means everyone has more freedom to have a real discussion of ideas, and that’s the freedom we really care about.

  4. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Civil disagreement is very much welcome; spam, ad hominem attacks and off-topic digressions are not. It’s my impression that on the margin some potential commenters are discouraged from commenting if we tolerate harsh comments, so I am decreasingly willing to put up with rudeness or belittling remarks even if they are part of comments that otherwise have merit.

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