Help us revamp comments!

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Dear readers,

cccWe’ve been thinking a lot in the last few months about comments, which we believe are a large part of Bwog’s function as a public forum. Lately, a particularly bad spate of offensive remarks and ad hominem attacks have diminished the value of that function. At the beginning of the year, we added this comment policy, which hasn’t done much to prevent nasty posts. Although other blogs require users to register with e-mail addresses, we’ve been hesitant to do the same, both because of the relative ease with which different identities could be adopted, and the belief that students are entitled to a degree of anonymity. After a few long e-mail chains, we’ve come up with a tentative solution: having all comments posted from the same location on a single thread highlight when you click on one. That way, at least you could see if someone was monopolizing the discussion.

But you probably have better ideas than we do. How should the comments be moderated? How much anonymity would you sacrifice for knowledge? What do you you think should be censored, and what’s just free speech?

Please use the comment thread to talk about…comment threads.

Welcome to summer,

Bwog Staff

Tags: ,


  1. Prolific Commenter  

    I think the best solution is something like the system used by Digg (and Bored at Butler). People can "digg" or "bury" any comment, and those that have more than a few "bury" votes get hidden from view (unless you click "show the comment").

  2. eric  

    the digg/bury system is a great idea--also, doing it by location won't solve all the problems, because people can log in from different computers.

  3. McFister

    You could also rate-limit the comments.

  4. Anonymous  

    :) Social you Eman

  5. rude commentator

    I would be scared off by the nested comments. A good solution. Bravo Bwog.


  6. umm  

    What's the problem with the system that's in place now? Why punish all of us for a few jackass remarks? NO MODERATION. NO CENSORING. And stop erasing all those damn messages just because you find what they say offensive.

  7. moph  

    i'm all for registration and regular banning, personally. barring that, digg/bury might work.

    keep deleting the worst of the worst. you're not punishing anyone. you're making the site better.

  8. interesting

    ok. and this prevents anonymous proxies how?

    • Zach vS

      It wouldn't do much to commenters posting from multiple addresses. However, most of our commenters don't take the time to use anonymous proxies, and there are quite a few trolls whose addresses we see across many, many threads.

      At the least, it acts as a deterrent.

      • stw  

        Word ---

        I'm also willing to bet that the dudes who keep spouting racist and homophobic shit on here are not the ones who know how to use proxies, either...

      • hey zach  

        et al. i think part of the problem with the recent surge in crazy commentors has been finals/our coverage in print media about the lit hum stuff. with the minuteman stuff, there was the same issue. then it died down and comments went back to normal levels.

        personally, i'm not really in favoring of a registration system. i'll say for example that both the number and the passion of my commenting on ivygate is severely diminished because there is a record of it with chris and zach.

        obviously i don't want trolls or ranting nutjobs here, but banning the stuff that sakib suggests, seems unnecessary. this is an open form, we are grownups, and i think both sakib and i have tough enough skin to deal with the vulgarities.

        though, if the number of insane rants doesn't go down over the summer, i might be in favor of something.

  9. seth  



  10. dan  

    totally reform it to have people register. anonymity gives people licenses to say things they shouldn't just because they want to incite a riot. every other major blog requires registration to prevent derogatory remarks from becoming mainstream. please, bwog, do the same!

    • consistency  

      "anonymity gives people licenses to say things they shouldn't just because they want to incite a riot."

      i'm sure you wouldn't say that about culpa, though, right?

      • dan  

        actually, i would. every time i've ever used culpa it has steered me wrong because there is no check on people and what they say.

        i would love to see culpa and wikicu merged so that there is some accountability and pressure for accuracy. i know that back when we were working on project athena as a council that was the plan, but we didn't have the technical knowhow to create a wiki system which would accommodate that style. either way, accountability is important, and i think that an opinion should have a name behind it to ensure that they don't pointlessly slander, etc.

    • hey, ass  

      if you know my derogratory remarks are just there to incite a riot, DON'T FUCKING RESPOND. If you don't have the intelligence to see a joke when it slaps you across the face like something meaty and engorged with blood and testicular fluid, maybe you need to go back to reading Dr. Seuss and watching Dora the muthafuckin Explorer.

      • dan  

        it is comments like these that destroy a perfectly normal thread that was having a constructive dialogue. and, unfortunately anonymous commenter, most people are fairly serious in their claims. and, even if they aren't serious, the fact that they say them can really offend and upset individuals. bwog is striving to create a community where everyone can feel comfortable sharing their opinion. when people make comments, such as yours, you can make many people uncomfortable and lead to a stifling of comments. that is what is, i think, trying to be avoided.

        so, moral of the story is, if you have the chutzpah to say something, say it with your name behind it. that doesn't demean your joke.

      • rjt

        I'm not sure if I have enough intelligence to see the joke here. Could you help me? Is an obliquely described slap with an erect penis a joke? Give me some assistance so I can understand your brilliant and subtle sense of humor.

        Also, the name of the show is "Dora the Explorer." There is no obscenity in the title, as it is a show for children. Thanks!

      • Keith  


        So I was asked to do a Senior Wisdom, but I did not precisely because of the lack of a comment policy. Where someone like "Hey ass" can post something completely irrelevant, just to spur up trouble. And maybe it is funny to you, but all it sort of says is how immature you are. How little you care about the purpose of the thread, and how destructive Columbia students are to each other for no good reason than the fact that they can. Because the only power you have is in your anonimity, you exploit it to its most perverse point: taking pleasure in the insult and derision of others.

        Now, I am not the cleanest of people and if you know me I am always teetering on the inappropriate, but that is something I do in private and not in a public forum. Publicity was always considered a rational process; something that the speaker worked out and vetted beforehand. But, publicity is changing and people can emote on the spot to the world. And I agree that some people want a space to emote, a journal with their thoughts, frustrations and emotions (like livejournal). With vlogs this is becoming even more pervasive. And places like bwog let people speak to each other.

        But compare this to something like...CuCommunity...where a lot of the same names that perpetrate this thread first got their start. It was a very democratic process. People could see instigators and they could attack them. The community took on its own mind, and approved and rejected members as they related to the community at large. We could put a name (and usually a face) to a commenter. It was a rather organic process. The debates on there were some of the most memorable ones I have ever had. I remember watching Tao go from liberal to conservative online, and I completely respected him the whole time. It did not prevent ignorance, but it mediated it through a public that could collectively approve or reject an individual as a viable community participant (wow I've read too much Habermas lately). In any case, I think it worked. I don't think it damaged the site, and I don't think it weakened the conversation.

        What I say to bwog, let people talk to each other because "ideology" without people is a farce. And people may disagree with that, but ideology is carried forward by individuals, and not by nameless identities. Individuals mame, kill and censor. I am not a fan of any, but I think by associating commenters with officially registered names will let this internet community morph into an actual discussion board. We can begin to ignore the individuals that are unnecessarily antagonistic, and actually engage on issues as intelligent Columbia students that we all pretend to be.

    • Anonymous  

      The argument for anonymity is that it allows for the discussion to take place on the ideas, irrespective of the speaker. It's often a valuable tool for many people.
      Rather than registration, maybe clearly spell out a limited set of things you will delete. Example:
      1) Acting as another person. Exceptions of course made for all of the folks posting as nineteenth-century Prussian public figures.
      2) Libel. In cases of libel (malicious untruths), editorial decision can be made whether to delete or to insert a correction of fact.
      3) Racial, gender, sexual-orientation slurs (N*****, F*****, B****, H**, Ch***, G**k, etc.).
      4) Insensitivity to recent tragic events (VaTech Jokes, etc.)
      5) Sexual harassment.

      Not a total overhaul of comments, but more like, say, a Bwog Community Principles Statement.

      • nerd  

        I agree with sakib on 3). The term "geek" is offensive to us nerds.

        On topic though, I think you should look at the Slashdot comment system. it is very difficult on bwog to read a progression of discussion since people talk about different aspects of posts. By developing the hierarchy, a flow of debate could more clearly develop.

        Also, the method of allowing registered users and "Anonymous Cowards" to post will allow for anonymity and free speech, while also permitting well known commenters to express their opinion as well.

      • Sweet  

        That means I can still call a honky a honky, a wop a wop, a dago a dago, a dogan a dogan, a cracker a cracker, a pikey a pikey, and a taig a taig.

        Thanks for simplifying political and social discussion to race, you toolbox.

        Oops, was that offensive?

        • Anonymous  

          From the Oxford English Dictionary

          Etcetera: As phrase: And the rest, and so forth, and so on, indicating that the statement refers not only to the things enumerated, but to others which may be inferred from analogy.

          Jackass troll.

      • Otto Von Bismarck  

        I call bullshit

      • Sakib's idea #3  

        I'm totally against deleting both slurs and insensitive comments (like VaTech jokes). People should have a right to say whatever they want, regardless of how stupid it is. I think there's a big difference between using the N word and posing as someone else, which can do actual harm to that person. Words are words, and it shouldn't be Bwog's role to try and clean up the language we use.

        • Avi Zenilman  

          I think the idea is you can say whatever the hell you want, but Bwog has no obligation to publish it.

          • So,  

            Bwog gets to decide what should be published and what shouldn't be? As I said in post 119, I don't think Bwog should be playing traffic cop; people have different standards for what is offensive, and it is stupid to police the comments. It wastes Bwog's time and sometimes results in fuckups - didn't Bwog accidentally delete 18 posts when it was trying to get rid of one?

            You're correct, of course, that Bwog can decide what it wants and what it doesn't want on this site. But I look at this just as I look at the radio - if you don't like it, change the station (in this case, don't visit Bwog!).

          • good point

            The editors/editrices have every right to determine content for its site (except for the case of stolen copyrighted material).

            But don't be fooled into thinking that bwog (or the B/W mag, for that matter) represents the campus - it basically becomes a tool for the groupthink that predominates Columbia.

  11. what about  

    a system like on gawker - a commenter have to be invited?

  12. P Nalli  

    Just require CU/Barnard unis to sign in. Confidentiality leads to unproductive character assaults and a lack of civility makes comments uninteresting and sometimes repulsive to read. It's not censorship just because people know who said what.

    If there's a concern about non-CU-participants being unable to participate, I would respond that this is a Columbia blog, I doubt that many people would want to post and would be excluded, and maybe that can be resolved if the problem exists/presents itself.

    Graduating now anyway. Peace out, bwog!

  13. just have  

    people register their names (unis?) with you...

    it works for the times..

  14. give up  

    you fucking faggot liberals can't take anybody expressing any opinions different from your own, so you censor these opinions while championing your tolerance. watch this comment get deleted, hypocrites. By the way, I am the same person who is responsible for this Spectator story:

  15. oh boy  

    you fucking liberals can't take anybody expressing any opinions different from your own, so you censor these opinions while championing your tolerance. watch this comment get deleted, hypocrites. By the way, I am the same person who is responsible for this Spectator story: [ external link to

  16. unbelievable  

    sorry: this is the link

    fucking imbeciles. i really love that fact that you call anyone who says an opinion that would obviously make him a target at this hateful and intolerant school a "coward". congratulations, tough guys, why don't you go live in harlem, save the world with your protests and wind up working for a corporation in 10 years anyway.

  17. GLAD  

    I am so glad that white GS student got beat up in Morningside park. Maybe this will teach white people at Columbia to stay out of Manhattanville and let people live in peace without having to face eviction.

  18. dsgjkdgshds  

    Wow this place is filled with racist and bigots from both sides now, congratulations IDIOTS now BWOG is going to become just Like [email protected] with the censorship. Thanks for ruining it all.

  19. lamo  

    or maybe they're not all nerds like you, you skinny pimply nerd

  20. hmmm  

    BWOG, I like your idea. It maintains anonyminity but creates some measure of accountability.

    • hmmm...  

      "having all comments posted from the same location on a single thread highlight when you click on one. That way, at least you could see if someone was monopolizing the discussion."

      When I reread this I realize I misunderstood it. How about you allow all users to see all comments coming from a given IP... Like a history from that adress... This takes your idea to the next step and forces someone to be accountable for all they say while still allowing them to maintain some form of anonyminity

  21. CML  

    Make people register with their UNIs -- holding everyone responsible for their libelous comments or misrepresentation of identity etc. is so much more important to encouraging good comments (constructive or funny) than allowing anonymity is (Krishnamurthy posing as Liz Fink comes to mind as an egregious example, but the typical racist comments and other pointless bile that dominates any posts with a modicum of controversy is even more compelling evidence). Pegging people to their own unique address would also prevent duplicate identities effectively.

    So I don't really see what's wrong with ending anonymity. Behind the fortress of the internet people are more likely to just say stupid shit than be compelled to voice brilliant opinions they wouldn't otherwise have. There's a reason Spectator requires damned good reason for anonymous sources to be protected in the newspaper. It's not that the meanspirited or ad hominem comments are intrinsically horrible - I think they're much better than having no comments at all, for example - but compulsory UNI registration would go a long way towards fostering a real and FUN! community.


    • anonymous  

      the thing is, i dont think ive ever posted an offensive comment on this thing (maybe once when i was drunk or something, but i dont remember), but i dont know how much i'd post if i couldn't post anonymously. sometimes i have something i want to say, but im self-conscious about the way of saying it. like, i cant think of the words, i feel inarticulate or, even worse, cliche, and anonymity assuages those fears. i like anonymity.

      • I find

        I find that comment offensive

      • i agree  

        I don't post racist or incredibly offensive things up here, but anonymity feels incredibly freeing to me. There are enough places at Columbia where you have to really, REALLY watch what you say. I think that the insanely vitriolic Bwog arguments are part of Columbia, and I really enjoy them.
        My two cents: keep things the way they are, see what happens over the summer, early fall.

  22. CML  

    Oh, and obviously the UNI idea would hella reduce the amount of comment-patrolling that admins would have to do.

  23. idiot  

    By tying commenters to their UNIs you are basically looking to punish them for saying something offensive - censoring them, if I may suggest?

    • CML  

      You are unbelievably stupid. "By tying commenters to their UNIs you are basically looking to punish them for saying something offensive." God, what does this remind me of? You mean like REAL LIFE? Where you can say whatever the fuck you want but oftentimes censor YOURSELF because people will think you are a douchebag if you say something mean or offensive or stupid? Having a reputation to uphold or shape through your actions?


  24. aaaaa  

    oh just so you know, you fucking morons, I am not from outside of columbia, i was not directed here from some external media source, i just felt like posting a calvin sun YTMND and i then i just felt like destroying this damn website just like we did boredabutler. stop being so self-righteous and pussy

  25. sex  

    sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex

    see? this is what anonymous commenting allows...

  26. HEY BWOG  

    Can you please organize a Columbia online community meetup this weekend. Friday? Saturday?

    Or if you don't do it this weekend, then please organize a meetup in September.

    Lots of people on [email protected] want to meet but are afraid of doing so. If Bwog were to arrange a more vague "online" meetup, for Bwog commenters too, I'm sure lots of people would go. Maybe you'd even get some '07 CUComm people.

  27. anonymity  

    I'd like to throw in a vote for not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. If I was forced to register with my UNI, I'd probably never post again - and I'm a fairly regular, well-behaved poster. I don't say anything that I'd be ashamed to have my name associated with, but all the same I do feel more comfortable operating in anonymity here.
    I think a better solution is to just ban the IPs of people who post the really egregious shit. Sure, they can post from Butler, or get an IP masking thing or whatever, but most trolls are too lazy to go through all that.
    I'd just really hate to see the great, if occasionally fraught with insanity, discourse of the Bwog threads go away because of a few bad apples.

  28. Uni doesn't work  

    because you have no way of checking that its a legitimate uni, or whether it belongs to the person posting.

    If you can get it to work though, you could have a system where you issue the person a warning for every offending comment, & then after 3 or 4 they lose commenting privleges.

    Also, can whoever the prick who's trying to ruin good websites please fuck off? Yes you're allowed free speech, but why waste it on something destructive just for the sake of testing its limits?
    Cunt. Go read. Your grades probably suck & you have no friends.

    • mike  

      Bwog can easily verify someone has the UNI they claim. They can just send them an e-mail with a link containing a random number and have them click it. Unless they have access to the UNI's email they claim, they can't guess the number. Most sites do this to verify e-mail. Easy as pie.

  29. Jekyll & Hyde

    Don't do it! I like being able to be an integral part of the discussion while slipping in the occasional outrageous comment without anyone knowing it was the same person (besides the bwog editors).

  30. i think  

    having people login (not necessarily with a cu email, but with SOME email) with a unique username is a good solution. yeah, people could register multiple usernames, but i think it would cut down on random people saying "fags" or posting just to say how much they hate so-and-so who's being interviewed & etc.

    i dunno, i love the bwog, but the comments often make me pretty concerned about the state of humanity at the moment.

  31. Prolific Commenter  

    Without meaning to be rude, I'd like to hear more responses to my proposal in comment #1. I think it's a tried-and-tested system. It would hide any offensive comments without actually censoring anyone or denying a voice to people who want to remain anonymous.

    Also, I'd just like to say I won't comment anymore if registration of any sort is required. I typically leave one (sometimes two) comments on every Bwog post. So it wouldn't be a big deal to lose my contributions, but if there are many people like me, the number of comments may drop considerably.

    • Zach vS

      Hi, Prolific, sorry to ignore this before:

      I've considered the Digg concept (or using Slashcode, which somebody else proposed) -- Bwog's audience is probably not big enough or dedicated enough (to whit, in over a year, we've had 310 registered commenters) to support a full-fledged moderation system. There's only so many ways to stack the average post's seven comments.


      We're not planning on limiting commenters to Columbia IP addresses -- I'm among the people this would exclude. And our summer traffic would certainly go down.

      At the moment, we don't ban IPs, mostly because we haven't written it into Publicate yet. It's not clear yet how much this would help.

  32. moves-around-a-lot  

    i dont know if tying commenters to locations will help too much. it may stop those commenters that post mostly positive comments and only once in a while post an offensive comment because they wouldn't want to have their positive comments tied to the offensive ones. but, i dont know if itll do much to stop a poster that posts a lot of offensive comment. why would he care if all of his offensive comments are linked to each other? it doesnt decrease the value of his positive comments if he doesnt make positive comments, and it doesnt hold him accountable because its still anonymous. it holds some unknown location accountable, sure, but i dont think that an offensive poster would be influenced by that too much.

    another point is that people change rooms all the time. people move around each semester. you would have to reset the location every semester or risk tying a positive commenter that changes rooms to a negative commenter that lived in the room before him. that may decrease its effectiveness.

    i like anonymity.

    i like the idea proposed by "Prolific Commenter" in the first comment on this stream. it also encourages people to say clever/interesting/well-phrased things to earn the glory of bwog comment popularity.

  33. yeah, i don't  

    agree with CML. It's great that you feel comfortable with less anonymity, but that doesn't mean that everyone should.
    To bring in a streeeeetched analogy, there are people who are comfortable with the government knowing their library records. I'm not one of them, not because I'm checking out anything interesting, but because it's none of their business.
    Your comfort is not the bottom line. Nor is making the Bwog comment board like "real life".
    Let me pose this question: why does the Bwog comment board exist?

  34. CML is facist

    Unfortunately there are far too many of his/her/its ilk here on campus. The PC environment is absolutely stifling and Columbia students do need an outlet.

    Hell if a post is getting really shat on you could just shut down all comments for awhile--a sort of reinterpretation of the kindergarten 'no everyone's in trouble' sort of thing--it would increase community intolerance for blatantly offensive posts, require less coding and be completely anonymous.

  35. digg system

    I like the digg/crap system, although the backend for that might be a lot? Like the easy ways around would be registration and stuff like that, but (I don't know much about programming), wouldn't the digg system require someone who's really good at programming?

  36. honestly  

    I don't trust Bwog staff with my personal information. No offense.

  37. how about  

    don't fix what isn't broken. and don't listen to CML. knowing that CML wants people to identify themselves, means that it is probaby a bad idea.

    i certainly do admire some that post with their name, sakib in particular, but i don't think it should be a required

    • but  

      stuff is broken. compare the quality of keith's post and the rather uncreative tool(s?) who replied to it. the name / no-name is not coincidental.

      i dont know what the solution is. i just know there's a problem.

  38. CML  

    Ok, so I'm beginning to see your points because a) it's true that most people here are kind of douchebags about what other people say; b) Bwog commenters are already judgmental enough; and c) had I identified myself as "Lydia" then my comments would have been taken as the word of God. I still don't think that anonymity is required to "be yourself," though.

  39. CML  

    Then again, Keith's arguments are rather convincing. Whatever. Maybe I should stop caring so much!

  40. mike  


    How about this, you have to log in with a Columbia address to make comments, but the public display of your name and e-mail would be your choice, you could still type in whatever name you want and choose whether to display your e-mail. People won't necessarily have to know who commenters are, but commenters who repeatedly violate the comment policy can have their account suspended without the ability to switch IPs.

    While I'm generally against censorship, I think the comments are just getting out of control and a few people are just making this a really negative atmosphere.

    • Yeah but  

      Some of us still aren't sure we want Bwog staff to know our identities.

    • Anonymous

      Mike, you are my role model in every aspect of my life. When I comment on Bwog, I do so under this thinly veiled username which I think is a great system. I am registered with my Columbia e-mail, so Bwog knows who I am, and many of my friends have figured out my identity, but this way I don't have to attach my name and e-mail address publicly to what I write. Partly, I don't like the fact that I'm exposing my identity to an anonymous community that can be pretty hateful.

      This (hopefully) allows me to build up some credibility among the other commenters, and admittedly makes me think twice before posting certain things I might not want associated with me, even if only a handful of people are aware who I am.

      I can understand the wish to remain anonymous, but as long as you're just a bit careful about the details you release about yourself, noone apart from the Bwog staff has to know who you are. I think registering with your uni would be a huge improvement.

  41. Reni

    When I sent in my video to Bwog a few weeks ago I thought it wasn't that big of a deal. If people didn't like it, they could say so. If they did, great. It was just an extra credit assignment that I thought was funny.

    However, I was shocked when people started making unwarranted comments about my body, my family, my past, etc - all of which were totally untrue. It did nothing to further interesting discussion and wasn't even funny (and I have no problem with poking fun at myself). It was totally innapropriate and if I had any less self-esteem and care for what other people thought of me I would've felt pretty shitty.

    Thus I believe a stricter set of rules for commenting is absolutely necessary. Although at the time BWOG me I could tell them which comments I wanted deleted if they were too offensive, isn't that a weird responsibility to put into someone's hands? To decide what is offensive enough about yourself to delete? With that rule I could've deleted the whole thread if I wished, yet I chose not to delete anything.

    There needs to be a more strict, standardized set of rules involving what is allowed and what isn't. I think Sakib's idea in post #21 is great. Especially for categories 2 and 3 (racial slurs, etc, and libel).

    • Do you read BWOG?

      You claim to be shocked by the comments about you?

      But weirdly, they won't seem to censor stuff about women's bodies so long as the comments are directed towards individual women--and therefore capable of great harm.

      By the way, Keith is only putting himself out there for the site staff-- no one else knows his last name (unless they recognize his odor)

      • Keith Hernandez  

        Is this clearer? I mean, I thought Keith plus my email would be enough.

        But yeah, I am fine putting myself out there. I just know that by doing so some kid is gonna make an off-hand comment just because they can. As they've done to friends of mine for no good reason. Insulting my friends for how they look without ever knowing them, or pretending you know what they are all about is just ignorant crap. That's my hesitation toward the bwog. It let's people be mean without any consequence to sociability. In an idealized situation if "Phil" called someone a fag, people would alienate "Phil" and say they don't want to be friends with him. So comment away...about how i smell, cause that shows you are so mature.

        • Okay

          Okay Mr. Hernandez, but now you should really come to terms with the fact that no one gives a damn about what is said on here.

          And Keith, you are the one who brought up your own personal hygeine or lack there of. And in all seriousness if you think you might smell bad, then invest in some deodorant or launder your clothes. You will never, ever get a decent job if you don't.

          • mike  

            Did anyone actually misunderstand what Keith said when he said *not the cleanest* (as in speech)?

            I'm not even bothered by the fact that the whole "go shower" thing is a pointless insult, just that it's like what a 1st grader would tease you about. If you're going to mock, at least do so on a collegiate level...

          • Ahhhh

            Now that makes more sense, but you have to admit Keith sort of walked into that one.

  42. agree  

    anonymity rules. also once bwog commenters start facebooking each other the end is near.

  43. Wesley Willis  


  44. registration  

    What about registration only with a cu password? fuck anyone else who wants to comment. the idea that hiding behind annonymity is in any way a right or liberty is ludicrous

  45. at the very  

    least. you should wait until the school year. last summer bwog was pretty dead, and it is going to be even worse with a new comment policy.

  46. tl;dr  

    So what if there's racist, sexist, stupid, or immature comments? Just because this is a public space doesn't mean we're required to address every single comment which is spoken. Go read a good message board. If some troll has said something moronic that is completely impertinent to the discussion at hand, it will occasionallly be ignored by every other poster. If it's offensive and comedic then someone can have a good laugh about it. Eliminating racist, homophobic, and sexist comments will do the bwog and the university a disservice - if the moronic comments are authentic, it's an impetus to actually continue addressing problems they exemplify. If they're pathetic jokes then no one will take them seriously.

    The only thing that can really be done is to have some kind of moderator with the capability to ban IP addresses or put them on probation (an arbitrary period where they can't post). Said moderator would have to have common sense - that is all. You can be jerk without clearly violating any rules, and I would love moderators to be able to ban that sort of troll. Otherwise, keep the blatant censorship to a minimum or run the risk of becoming boring and irrelevent.

    p.s. If you're going to be a publicity whore on a blog, regardless of whether or not you think it's funny, were asked for an interview, or actually ended up there for a newsworthy action, you should expect to be mercilessly made fun of by horrible human beings. People are barbarians and will pounce on any weakness they can find. As the great B.I.G. once said, "mo' money, mo' problems." The same idea goes for fame, so deal with it you big baby.

  47. Mrs. Cunningham  

    I think what we need is a time-out corner.

  48. ...

    Alright. I'm sure a Bwog admin would be happy to confirm that I'm one of the posters that pops up fairly often around here. (In fact, I posted earlier in this thread alone regarding the proxies). To be fair, however, I don't feel as though I "troll" threads by commenting in the perhaps more than once or twice or even three times. If there's a good ongoing discussion where individuals wish to retain their anonymity, I think it's for the betterment of the comments moving forward. If one could trace all of my comments, I don't think I would continue posting on here, let alone frequent the site (as I do quite often).

    I think Bwog would be best leaving the system as is. There's nothing wrong with a few bad apples if their nonsense can be overcome with better dialog. That's what Lee C. teaches us anyway.

    • troll  

      I think you are misinterpreting what a troll is. Someone that posts often is not necessarily a troll. A troll is someone that comes on here and throws a few comments with the intent of getting a big reaction. I am not sure where the term troll comes from. Being a southern boy, I thought it came from when you are fishing. You use your trolling motor to go through some shallow waters slow and quiet looking for a bite.

      And another thing... anonymity is good, censorship is bad. Otherwise I would feel uncomfortable admitting that I am both southern and a conservative. I have a good name to uphold!

  49. Anonymous

    Also, at the very least, if too many people are too against the idea of forced registration, I do like the idea of having all comments by a single user highlight. This probably wouldn't do too much to stop the out of control comments, but it might help provide a little more flow to the dialogue, and really doesn't take away any anonymity- people will just know you were an asshole multiple times.

  50. Anonymous  

    It's not an easy question. The three options for controlling traffic or not are

    1) free for all
    2) anonymous handles (like this one)
    3) Names/ UNIs for everyone

    And the options for controlling content are
    a) Free for all
    b) Administrator controls content based on some vague notion of 'permissibility.'
    c) Popular demand does the same as (b)
    d) individuals can choose to screen posts out categorically based on words used in the post, writer of the post, etc.

    Clearly, bwog has taken the 1a rout so far.

    I find it slightly ironic that those posters who seem most adamant about their right to post whatever they want (viz., #24) seem to have the least to say.

    It's a dilemma, is what it is: can this site aspire to be a respectable venue for discussion while serving the dual function of campus-news-page and vent-for-latent-homosexuality-irreconcileable-with abusive-upbringing-taking-the-form-of-incoherent-screeds-page?(no I don't mean that. Yes you're a beautiful and unique just need an ancient Greek rhetoric lesson in more ways than one, big guy.)

    My name is Admiral Meriweather. I said this and I'll stand by it. If you can't get through finals week without occasionally needing to have an incoherent verbal orgasm all over an otherwise-civilized discourse, it's clear to me that you have anger issues that need a professional looksee, and maybe you'll get a diagnosis here on Bwog (like this one) but certainly not treatment.

    That said, my inclination is to keep the #24s of the world from posting their filth for the same reason I'm in favor of a mother I know keeping her 13-year-old son from reading Toni Morrison's BELOVED. Let him wait a while and, in a few years, if he's ready to join the rest of us and has the experience to bring to the table, fine. I'm not saying #24 isn't experienced in some matter or other. For all I know he could be an astronaut. But until he has practice translating his inner wisdom into words, all that comes out is ...well, you can see for yourself. And while it would make fascinating study-material to a primatologist, the rest of us, I feel confident in saying, are just not interested.

  51. Anonymous  

    In any case, I'm in favor of consistent aliases because, as kts says, it lends continuity to the dialogue, which maybe is the point?

  52. Anonymous  

    But a further question: would people be allowed to withdraw their own posts? or at least replace whatever they wrote with the simple words "withdrawn at author's request?" I think that makes a lot of sense.

  53. Michelle  

    I think we should all sign in with our uni so it's only columbia students posting and there is accountability for offensive statements because bwog is supposed to represent our community and if the news reporters see us writing anti semetic, racist or homophobic remarks it reflects terribly on us as a community and may even hurt the school's reputation

    • ,,,

      Michelle, this isn't an official Columbia website/publication (although bwog/b&w do maintain email addresses). I don't think we should restrict posts to the "Columbia community" when I'm sure a good amount of the discussion comes from individuals without any affiliation to the university.

      And an "independent" blog surely could not hurt a university's reputation.

      Nevertheless, this thread is lame. More news, less meta plz.

      • 'official'

        it sure looks official, with a representation of the trademarked crown and the visage of Low... perhaps someone should teach basic copyright law to CC students.

  54. CML  

    So having reread all the comments and reflected on my experiences as a dorky kid, which included a couple of years in middle school as a dork who spent a lot of time on StarCraft (the best computer game EVER)'s message boards, one of which choked off dissent and discourse via authoritarian assholery packaged prettily as "personal protection" and another that turned into a StatenIsland-esque ad hominem junkyard in the absence of controls, I am proud to say that Mike is right and his system is ingenious, though given the lame degeneracy of the comments to date and the fact that this is Columbia (which means everyone's reasonable, right!#!#?) I would probably err on the side of regulation.

  55. Here's a hint

    Why don't you guys not make such a fuss about the trolls and then they'll probably go away or at least calm down.

  56. conflicted

    i hate censorship in all, but the only good posts here are the ones that are signed (kudos for KH for putting himslef out there and actually contributing something). maybe logins are a good idea, with only one login per IP. it sux but look at the ridiculous noise detracting from the signal!

    too much shit for shit's sake on this thread alone. not good for the dialogue or for the CU community, which is what i assume bwog is for. someone go start or something where people can just post "Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits" to their sophomoric heart's content.

    • fair  

      fair but deleting anonymous comments that attack isn't really censorship, particularly if it is just random words that isn't linked to a specific individual's opinion. It ceases to really be speech, unsigned.

  57. heh heh  

    Remember that Spanish fascist kid who was always trolling on CU Community?

    ...yeah, me neither.

  58. rjt

    I kind of wish we had that same-location identifier in this thread, because I bet all the people saying, "Well, it's a blog, you have to expect mean comments," are the ones actually posting those comments.

  59. censorship q

    If censorship is approved, will bwog censor offensive articles like CML's sports review?

    Just asking.

    It seems like B&W thinks some pigs are more equal than other pigs.

    • CML  

      a) you know you're just jealous.
      c) if we met each other in real life, we would probably get along fine! there's a difference between ridiculing things for the purpose of humor and just being an asshole. unlike you, i eschew the latter.

      P.S. #99: you flatter me so. Tod zu der Juden. Dinner and drinks sometime?

      • #99

        Hmm... I doubt it somehow, but you see how good a tactic that is for shooing away trolls? See how easy?

      • EPB  

        Doing things for the purpose of humor and being humorous are two different things. People could have been offended at your preposterous year-in-review of Columbia sports, and yet you brush this aside as if you should be exempt from your proposed policing policy simply because you have a simply divine sense of humor.

        Since you yourself are clearly unable to maintain an objective stance on the nature of offense, it seems hardly fair that you should feel so strongly that people be held accountable for an prevented from writing anything that may offend others.

  60. The Answer  

    Here's a possibility. Have them submit their email addresses along with their post. Then, they should get an automated email with a link to verify their authenticity. Only once that's clicked can the post go up. If the post is an offensive one, you send them an email warning. 3 warnings and you lose commenting privleges. Everything stays anonymous, assuming Bwog staff agrees to a confidentiality agreement where they won't look up the names that go with the unis.

    Its not perfect, but it should work.

  61. Sam

    I think censorship is a dangerous road to start down. The definition of offensive is very fluid; what one person finds abhorrent, another finds hilarious or revelatory. I'm not claiming that any of the dumbass commenters on bwog are misunderstood geniuses, but once you start deleting some comments you can find pretty good reasons to delete them all.
    Personally, I say let them all stay... every single one. Let the free forum stay truly free and let everyone grow slightly thicker skins. I mean, if Fern can deal with it you probably can too. This should in no way be seen as an endorsement of the assholes who frequently comment on the bwog. Hell, I've had times when I've turned to my friend and said "Y'know I think the comments on the latest Bwog post have made me lose faith in humanity." That's freedom of speech, though, some of it is stupid.

    That said, I don't think having a system of usernames would really be bad for said freedom of speech. But I'm my work shift is over and I don't really feel like wasting my time posting on the bwog anymore.

  62. ...

    I think it's comments like these (see directly above) that Bwog is trying to limit.

  63. Don't change policy  

    I actually don't think I want a change in the comments policy. I'm open to be persuaded, but so far I'm not. A lot of people have been complaining about comments that detract from the topic at hand, but I've never felt that to be the case. Sure, people post jackass things here, and sometimes they get attention, but I've never seen some important conversation become suddenly derailed by Asshole X.

    I also posted comment #119, and so that's my view on insensitive comments. I believe in free speech and while the whole "shouting fire in a crowded theater" thing is true, the Internet comes nowhere close to a crowded theater. In other words, I don't think the speech on this site is dangerous/harmful/worth censoring or discouraging.

    The only poing that I've found somewhat compelling is Sakib's about acting as someone else. I suppose that can be a problem when you're Tao Tan and want to post but everyone else acts like they're Tao Tan also. But, even this is not much of a problem. And maybe this would be a remedy: have Bwog get the actual IP address of the frequently-imitated poster. Then, when BS IPs come up, have those posts deleted. This could be feasible since only a handful of people have this happen to them.

    I'm definitely interested in your responses. By the way, as a regular-yet-always-anonymous Bwogger, I'm against registration.

  64. Old Guy  

    I am a grad student that reads the BWOG often. I even post from time to time. Personally, I think the current system is fine. My undergraduate school didn't have a site like the BWOG, and I wish it did. If we wanted to have a discourse on current university-related topics, we would have to meet in the quad in some sort of large organized fashion. So, needless to say, it didn't happen.

    I find the discussions here interesting, and impressive for the intelligence and maturity displayed. Yes, there are some numbnuts that post things for reaction, but I tend to gloss over them. That is to be expected in any discourse... public or private, anonymous or not (see David Duke in gubernatorial debates from my home sate).

    Have a great summer, and stay off my lawn you little whippersnappers (trying to maintain the air of a grad student)!

  65. alexw

    Leave the comments the way they are. They're fun.

  66. Anonymous

    I've been a Bwog reader since the site was launched last year, and I've posted every now and then. However, reading these comments (especially kts) inspried me to register as an official poster, as opposed to the anonymous (but under the same name) posting that I did before. While it's definitely a thrill to post something anonymously and know that it can't be traced, registering makes me think twice about what I write, and makes whatever comments I post (at least to me) seems more meaningful and thoughtful.

    My idea for a solution to the comments policy combines a few ideas here. First, there has to be some sort of registration. With a name attached (even a pseudonym), posts gain a sense of credibility, regardless of what they say, that they don't have anonymously- if someone takes the 5 seconds to register (which most people here don't have the time to do), then it's not a big logical leap to assume that they'd have the time to write respectful, thoughtful comments. With a consistent name, people could track posts by the same person, basically doing the same thing as Bwog's highlighting solution, but not just limited to one thread. Also, registering prevents multiple people from using the same identity, which would reduce the number of Tao Tans at Columbia to just one. The new registration system doesn't have to be much different than the current one, but it should have some sort of email verification attached (like #111's suggestion). The person could even submit a non-Columbia email address if s/he wants to maintain anonymity.

    Second, there should be some sort of system in place for moderating offensive comments, but it shouldn't be left up to the Bwog moderators to do it. Instead, the other posters should be able to do it, using a system like Digg suggested by Prolific Commenter. That was, it's a community decision about what's offensive, instead of one of the Bwog editor's who no one can really respond to. To sound like a total dork and steal a page from PrezBo's Freedom of Speech class, it's the principle of the marketplace of ideas that operates in the real world- people have every right to say what they want, but if those listening/reading find it offensive, it's not accepted. I don't rally know anything about the Digg system, but if comments that are voted offensive are just hidden from view instead of deleted permanently, then that seems like a great solution- whatever people write is preserved, but if its voted as offensive, you have to do a little more work to read it.

    I think revamping the comment policy is a great idea, however it turns out- I can't tell you the number of times I've gotten frustrated at reading the Bwog because of the stupid, inane comments people leave. I'm behind nything to make this a more constructive, repsectful community.

  67. Hmmm

    Secret censorship in place...

  68. Idea  

    Perhaps you'd just need a uni to register, but could use a nickname to post. So the bwog staff would know who you are and could kick you off if you were making a series of obnoxious posts, but your anonymity could be preserved if you chose so. Someone who doesn't have a uni would simply be a "guest".

  69. one point

    Someone may have already said this- I haven't read through the entire thread. But I think that bwog acts as the necessary outlet for a lot of angst, frustration, and confusion at Columbia, and it needs to stay. I think a digg system would be fine. It would allow vile comments to be buried and promote good ones, all while preserving anonymity. Please dont get rid of anonymity! Yes, it leads to much more aggressive comments than otherwise, but at least that honest aggression has a place on campus. It's a great outlet, and removing it would be a mistake.

  70. blah

    The only big stinks that I ever see on here are when someone dares to question a topic or person related to the hard left political attitude that dominates the campus.

    For all the farty blather about different forms of diversity, no one seems to take into account the need for political diversity as well.

    Maybe anonymously trolling on BWOG is one of the few ways anyone who even deviates one centimeter from the norm can sound off.

  71. On Representation

    There should be some kind of commenter judgment tool in order to throw tomatoes, rotten fruit, or blunt objects at comments that offend for no purpose beyond the commentator's ego. Perhaps a poke-type mechanism that has a 3 or 5 level (applause, 1 tomato, 2 tomatoes...etc). This could be similar to the commentary on at least what is written could be taken with a grain of salt....or bucketful, depending on the situation.

    Maybe then we could see just how much others agree with the commentary...and see just how offended we ought to be.

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