Mar

4

Help Us Rewrite Our Comment Policy

Written by

Bwog comments exist for you—the reader.

We believe it’s important to provide a place for honest discussion among readers, and we’re firmly committed to upholding that belief. We have our say in the posts; there should be a place for you all to respond to that, and to engage with one another through those responses.

We’ve seen that discussion take many different shapes. It’s been funny. It’s been apt. It’s been totally, uh, absurd. It’s been utterly and unforgettably moving. It’s been well received by us, but it’s also warranted our intervention.

Meanwhile, we’ve moderated that discussion according to our comment policy. However, our current policy has led to a lack of cohesiveness in moderation—while it reserves our right to delete comments of a certain ilk, it fails to thoroughly outline situations in which comments will or will not be actively removed. Comments are rarely so black-and-white as to definitively fall into one of the pre-defined categories, and even when they do, we’ve been unsure when to exercise our reserved right. As a result, it’s been our job to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to limit your discussion—and that can be haphazard.

Now, we think we can do that job better. We’ve decided to rewrite our comment policy to best serve the function of Bwog comments, and we’d like to ask for your opinions. This is what we’re thinking so far:

Reserve the right, but exercise it as infrequently as possible

  • Basically, we won’t delete any comments until we’re asked to.
  • But, you can ask us to—bring it to our attention by sending an email to [email protected], and we’ll review the comment(s) in question.
  • If we then determine that a comment fits one or more of the following criteria, we will happily remove it:
  1. The comment makes an argument that is solely prejudicial on the grounds of ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or spiritual belief
  2. The comment includes a baseless personal attack on—or includes personal information about—an individual
  3. A commenter has left the comment in order to self-promote, or to create spam
  4. The comment contains copyright infringement

Encourage use of our “downvote” system

  • This is where the real moderation—by all of you—comes into play.
  • Anyone can choose to give a comment either a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” by using the icons next to a commenter’s name.
  • A comment that has a difference of five or greater dislikes to likes at any time (i.e. 50 or more dislikes and 45 likes) will have its opacity automatically reduced—we call this effect “grayed-out.”
  • Commenters can and should use this feature to express approval or disapproval.

Leave the libel up to you

  • We checked with a lawyer, and it turns out we’re not legally culpable for comments that contain libel.
  • Therefore, we’re grouping libelous comments with the rest—if you see something about yourself that you think qualifies as libel, you can ask us to remove it, but until then, we’ll leave it where it is.

So, go forth and be merry frank. Please leave any and all thoughts, comments, and criticisms in the—wait for it—comment section.

Tags: , ,

120 Comments

  1. nathan albert  

    only allow comments from people with columbia unis and full names. that is (i believe) the policy on nyu local, and *actual* discourse happens in the comments there, because people feel more responsible when they press the submit button. anonymous commenting is fun but it's kind of fucked when you're in close proxy with everything ur snarkin at. head over to brooklynvegan.com if you wanna have fun

    • Anonymous

      As a soon-to-be-alumnus who admittedly should be getting on with life, I'd still like the chance to comment here and not show my real name. I question the pretense that the only useful or interesting comments have to come from current students/faculty. Someone who is/was actually affected by Manhattanville development, for example, could give some genuinely good input.

      • Anonymous  

        While I feel like usually if anyone comments on Bwog who isn't a part of Columbia, it's usually to troll or hate (like I remember students who got rejected spewing all over Bwog during decision season), I still think anonymity should be provided because it's useful to Columbia students who want to express opinions or viewpoints that might seem unpopular and that they don't want to associate themselves with.

        Also it preserves the lulz. I don't always troll Bwog but when I do, I do so anonymously. Also, Nathan Albert, you have two first names. That's some fucking hipster shit right there- maybe you should transfer to NYU LOL and engage in some useful discourse DBL LULZ

        • On behalf of the community of commenters

          We demand the removal of Nathan's comment! Immediately!

          • The "grayed-out" effect

            should not take place when there is a geometric difference of the thumbs up or down, but should be a ratio between the two. For instance, 50 thumbs up vs 55 thumbs down shouldn't be grayed out, because the decision is that roughly equal amount of voters either agree or disagree. So the decision could have been equally good as bad amongst voters. What of 1k vs 1k +5 or 1 million vs 1 million + 5? The opacity should be a function of the ratio between thumbs up and thumbs down, and the thresh-hold for opacity change should be around ln(2).

          • Agree.  

            Maybe require 2xs the number of thumbs down to up? Otherwise, if something gets 80 votes down but 75 votes up, it would be grayed out even though people are still fairly divided.

    • Anonymous  

      *actual* discourse happens in the comments there


      No discourse happens in the comments there.

    • nah  

      do you see how few people comment on nyu local? half of the fun of bwog is reading the comments

    • Cole Diamond  

      Dearest Nalbs, although it would be nice to know exactly is hunting harmony or ranting about puppy cops once and for all, our ability to securely evaluate and re-assess our beliefs is at stake. We cannot hope to resolve highly sensitive and pressing matters when we are too afraid to express ourselves. Obviously, this sort of climate of obscurity and blunt honesty can manifest bigotry, hatred and vitriol. But while there is an obvious upside to ending anonymity, the downsides of constricting the voices of the many are too devastating to incur.

      A Columbia student who feels slighted by Obama's decision to speak at Barnard will undoubtedly risk alienating his/her peers at Barnard in avowing such an opinion publicly. Thus, the debate is muffled and swept under the rug from the get-go. Whether or not their opinion on the matter is right or wrong is completely tangential - e. freedom of speech is a cornerstone in American democracy. If we do not provide a forum where those who TRULY harbor bigotry, hatred and ill-will, these mistaken individuals will never *CHALLENGE* and *ASSESS* their faulty internal logic. Consequently, we arrive at the WORST possible scenario - these misguided individuals will continue to silently uphold their bigoted beliefs, unchecked.

      Quite often it is difficult to be frank when one's reputation is at stake. As in Macbeth, we are 'seeming' in face-to-face conversation instead of 'being' - that is to say, we filter our true selves because we know that there are definite consequences for our actions. Lack of censorship and anonymity are important tools because they enable us to express often burning questions and opinions that would not be addressed otherwise. As Columbians, bwog and spec are the sole forums for allowing us to do so. To that end, subject matters that we are too shy, embarrassed, afraid or uncomfortable to bring up in reality are much easier to discuss when the nametag is removed. Although one could argue that it is cowardly to hide behind a digital mouthpiece, but I believe that the cloak of invisibility the internet proves is vital.

      For example, I know some tool will point out that I included my name in a comment about why bwog posts should remain anonymous. Such a gaping contradiction exposed to the public would make me feel embarrassed. Therefore, I would henceforth be more reticent to post in the future. And more relevant to the current situation at hand, the inundation of hostility toward Barnard students fomented by Obama's decision to speak at Barnard's commencement might have bubbled up and erupted into violence rather than communication. I would much rather endure bratty internet comments than hand-to-hand combat. Okay, I'm now done procrastinating my five f*cking midterms.

      • Redundant

        "Therefore, I would henceforth be more reticent to post in the future." I hope your midterms arent in syntax

        • Anonymous  

          haha well since I'm a computer science major, they kinda are... And I'm used to coding in interpreted languages that don't biatch about invalid syntax till runtime. Sorry for not compiling my comment before posting to catch my faulty syntax.

      • Jacob Rice  

        I'm pretty sure giving into his nature (being) instead of respecting the conventions enforced by society (seeming) didn't work out well for Macbeth. Maybe not the best example of your point.

        Also, I wanted to write something really snarky here (well, snarkier) but then I remembered my name was on it and I realized that I didn't want to be associated with the comment I wrote, which is a pretty good sign that it wouldn't have been constructive.

    • tl;dr  

      Oh, once I was young and impulsive
      I wore every conceivable pin
      Even went to the socialist meetings
      Learned all the old union hymns
      But I've grown older and wiser
      And that's why I'm turning you in
      So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

    • Anonymous  

      We all just Facebook stalked you to see what sort of strange person would suggest this. I'm sure that's what everyone wants to happen to them when they feel like expressing an unusual opinion.

    • BWOGUNCENSORED WINS  

      > "Leave the libel up to you"

      In a brilliant strides of trolololing, BwogUncensored declares victory! We did it, boys and girls. Your insidious comments and our steadfast resolve to lighten up stiff undersexed editors have been finally triumphant.

      BwogUncensored's mission is now over and is shutting down. In celebration of our victory, today we are releasing the extremely shabby source code into the public domain -- a pile of sphegetti -- for anyone who wants to continue the project or modify it into a similar one:

      https://github.com/BwogUncensored/BwogUncensored

      Thank you for two years of lulz.

      - BwogUncensored

      • The Release Notes  

        From the github:


        Hey there ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, conductors and harlequins, rodents and felines,

        Here is the BwogUncensored codebase. It's pretty shabby, thrown together hastily in between classes in sleep deprived delerium, tripping on netcat'd injections of tcp/ip moonshine scrapping port knocking, all while churning the cauldron of high human hopes and pits of nerd rage and despair.

        The basic requirements are:
        - PHP 5
        - MySQL
        - cURL
        - GNU coreutils
        - GNU grep
        - a Bourne-compatible shell
        - a Posix-compatible system
        - a cron daemon
        - Apache, or if non-Apache, translate the .htaccess to something else

        Be sure to change the /PATH/TO/LOG entries and fill in the usernames and passwords. Probably though, this entire application should be rewritten with some actual thought in mind, and preferably in a language that is not PHP. But this works, at least for now. The regex might need some tweaking as Bwog changes their HTML. You can also experiment with the proxy fetching as you see fit. There is a censoring system for spam built-in that should be properly investigated as well. Last but not least, this code has some *intentional SQL injections*! Unfortunately, the g00ns running Bwog haven't even thought to poke for them. But they're there for making our festivities that much more interesting.

        Well, kids, have fun with this Bunsen burner. Rattle heads off the policy-loving future bureaucrats of tomorrow. Build your armies of adoring freshmen and rabble-rousers. Go forth and prosper.


        With Love,
        BwogUncensored 2010-2012

      • person

        Why on earth would you use regex? XPath, bro.

        • Anonymous  

          xpath and xquery are built on top of regular expressions, idiot. besides, nokogiri is the best html parsing library - period.

          • BwogUncensored  

            Actually, you're quite mistaken. XML CANNOT BE PARSED WITH REGEX. Ever. It's not a regular language, and so a regular expression won't handle it.

            HTML is also not always XML compliant. HTML frequently does some bad naughty things that make XML parsers break.

            There are some great libraries out there, like BeautifulSoup, for example, that allow you to easily parse HTML programatically. We could have used one of those.

            But we didn't. Instead we committed the mortal sin of parsing HTML with a regex. Shoot us. It's bad. It's ugly. It's completely fucking retarded. But it made it possible to write the entire site in about 20 minutes.

            So please, if you want to continue BwogUncensored, rewrite it from scratch. Do it reasonably.

      • WTF?  

        You stopped parsing bwog 2 months ago and the site's been redirecting to Spectrum for weeks. Don't use this as an excuse if you can't build a competent site. Hopefully, someone will get the source and improve on it.

    • um

      are you actually saying you need an email to report a comment, but not to post one in the first place?

      that seems slightly counterintuitive to me.

  2. longtime bwog commenter here  

    seems reasonable to me. also, the first three links (funny, apt, absurd) are dead.

  3. oh my GOD

    OBAMA IS STILL SPEAKING AT BARNARD DEAL WITH IT HATERS

    recaptcha: very elopedic

  4. Anonymous  

    1. You should explain why you will only remove comments that are reported.

    2. Perhaps it should be easier to report comments. Perhaps not. Something to think about.

    • Anonymous  

      Yeah, is there a possibility of having a report button?

      • Chris Silverberg  

        eh, but that's a LOT of unnecessary work for bwog. If you don't feel strongly enough to send an email about a given comment, it's probably not offensive enough that it should be taken down. If someone is genuinely hurt by a comment, they'll send an email. If there were a report button, people would just reflexively report any comment that represents the opinion opposing theirs in a given argument.

        On the other hand, I would encourage a culture change on bwog wherein more people voluntarily put their name on their comment, like so. I mean, I certainly don't do that for every comment, and there is a positive aspect to anonymity (or at least socially useful), but I think people should sign more of their comments.

        • CC12  

          I think people are overreacting a little here. From someone who was extremely disappointed with the shitstorm from the whole obama speech situation, I still believe that the best thing about bwog are the anonymous comments. Most topics are rarely if even close to as controversial as the fucking POTUS speaking at barnard. While a whole "write your name" thing might be nice and community oriented and all, I've learned in my four years here that in a sick and twisted way, our strongest sense of community is derived from hilariously snarky bwog comments. I think that if people had to include their names bwog would become less awesome and, ironically, less of a community.

      • I disagree, Chris  

        Can we say for certain that people would abuse it? Is that ASSUMPTION really a valid reason for not making it easy to report potentially hurtful comments? Especially when there is so much oppressive violence that is committed on this campus? And anyways Bwog hasn't said how much work they have been putting into moderating comments already. Is it not worth working hard to create a less hateful space here? Especially when controversial posts get so many comments, and it would be necessary to write out all of them. And the hurt party is unable to know if Bwog will sympathize, so they will feel that there is a possibility of being marginalized a SECOND time. I think all of these things would discourage people from writing out emails when they should. So I am all for the "Report" button. After all, Bwog is ultimately the one who decides here, not the imaginary "abusers". And I apologize if my tone is anything less than pleasant, but I want to get this comment out while I still care enough to post it.

        • Chris again  

          Nope! Can't say for sure if people would abuse it. I just think it's fairly likely, and I tend to act off of fairly likely since I'm almost never certain of anything. But I totally get your point, that not causing people pain is important enough that we should be willing to work for it. And yeah, not everybody who is offended by something will want to email bwog, for the reason you explained, about not wanting to feel marginalized again. I didn't really think about that.

          But I just think pragmatically that bwog doesn't have the time/staff. After all, they're students too, etc. And you could give it to a sort of just-starting-out-at-bwog kind of person, but that doesn't really work because I'm sure bwog doesn't want people just starting out to decide what is or isn't offensive according to bwog's standards.

          Anyway, I think it's totally valid to want bwog to be less hateful and I think adding a report button would do that. I just don't think it's fair to expect bwog staff to commit that much extra time to what is already---I assume---a fairly time-consuming extracurricular activity. But if they decide they have the time, then more power to them!

          Also I didn't think your tone was unpleasant at all. Also also my recaptcha says Ashman, as in Howard, which makes me happy.

    • Anonymous

      I'm with you on your 2nd point, but I like the new policy that you address in your 1st point (the post pretty clearly explains why they will only potentially remove comments that are reported, but I will try to outline it for you).

      they are moving to a very slightly modified "all-or-nothing" approach. If they are responsible for monitoring every single comment on every single post, there will inevitably be arbitrary and inconsistent moderation of borderline comments. The new policy allows them to focus on fewer posts that will also be more likely to directly violate one of the criteria listed since one must first take the time to report it in order for it to be considered. So, they are moving further toward free discourse by only removing comments that are reported, but not to an extreme where things get out of hand.

      I think that adding a report button by each post, like you mention, will ensure that any extremely offensive violations will be reported and won't fly under the radar.

  5. Anonymous  

    registering is the only way to hold people accountable for their words. The reason trolling is so trending is because one may get on the internet and conceal her identity and thus act like a monster.

    Names need to be mandated.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with this so much that I am willing to enter the snarling hyena enclosure that is Bwog comments and stick my anonymous neck out for it.

      Please make us register. Bwog is a mean place and that's not doing anyone any good--not the people who are insulted, not the writers who have to have their hard work on the same page as all this spite, not the trolls who get a momentary reprieve from their crippling insecurity by passing the buck.

      Stop the mean!

    • What a horrible idea..  

      Comments and forums aren't FB walls, and should never be. Anonymity makes the internet what it is, not mandated registration.

      CC: Lawrence Lessig

    • just askin  

      so then why are you anonymous, anonymous?

  6. Anonymous  

    I think comments that are truly unrelated to the post should be deleted. In my mind, comments should refer to subject directly or more or less related to the subject discussed.

  7. Anonymous

    Before this goes into effect you should really fix the thumbs-up/thumbs-down system. As it is, once you've picked one you can never go back. As it stands, if you give a thumb to a comment you can't change it afterwards. I see no reason why that should be the case.

  8. Anonymous  

    I think you should allow us to post links. Sometimes we want to share interesting things that are links.

  9. Anonymous  

    is it possible to allow users to delete their own comments, such as if they've commented something they wish they didnt later?

  10. Caroline Blosser  

    Hi BWOG!

    I am so thrilled you guys are doing this AND being so thoughtful about it. Thank you! I'd like to add a suggestion, which is just to amiably encourage posters to take ownership of and responsibility for their words. Consider posting your real name when appropriate. Anonymous posts are a great way to encourage free exchange. But an anonymous post that is a cruel post, is also a cowardly post. Be brave, say who you are :)

  11. CC '12  

    It could be worth testing out a name mandate for a month or so, to see what kind of response it gets. I agree that the option to post anonymously encourages more discussion, but so much of the "discussion" here devolves into needlessly hurtful comments, and those comments aren't worth encouraging in the first place. At the very least, maybe a month of registering names will force the average tone of Bwog comments to become a little bit more civil, even if you eventually revert back to Anonymous commenting.

    • BC '14

      This sounds about spot-on to me. As a student at BC I've unsurprisingly found many comments to exceed the realm of harmless anon trolling and go well into baldly offensive, even abusive content. Bwog writers themselves have done a great job lately of being inclusive and nonjudgmental towards the BC community, but when commenting gets as nauseating as it did on the Obama thread (e.g., "this is why we hate you cum dumpsters") the Anon option encourages discussion that any mature adult in either BC or CU should find contemptible.

      Maybe mandatory names is an option that could be applied selectively, only to posts with obvious potential to be inflammatory.

  12. Anonymous  

    Bwog: has anything changed here other than the enforcement mechanism?

    This sounds nearly as open as it can get (which I think is ideal since I'm not a Republican) with the exception of self-promotion, which is a little vague. Spec sucks guy isn't *that* disruptive.

    High barriers to reporting are similarly important for those of us who care about quality discourse. Please keep claiming that it's too hard to add a report button.

  13. ML  

    Bwog: Curious what exactly constitutes personal information? Information that's not readily available? Or does merely mentioning someone's name (regardless of context) do it?

  14. Anonymous

    Is there any way we can create accounts with a user-names, and that way be able to post anonymously? If you get repetitive offenses, your account would be suspended for a certain period of time. And also, everyone must register with their columbia uni only. This way people are not discouraged from posting, but think twice about the content they post.

    As for people who are not part of the community, they would need to provide a valid email address and confirm their email address by clicking the link sent to their inbox.

  15. Roko  

    Do that thing that Reddit does that lets you sort comments by number of upvotes/downvotes. Would've LOVED that one on the Obama post.

    • Anonymous  

      Just make everything more like reddit. Let us sort posts by popularity and up and down vote whole posts. Let us comment anonymously but under a username that at least links all of our comments together. And let us post frickin links!

    • Jacob  

      First, thanks a lot for doing this. I try to avoid reading Bwog outside of an RSS reader, precisely because the comments make me unhappy.

      A thought: What about Slashdot-style post hiding? The whole "turn it gray if it has lots of downvotes" thing is a nice idea, but right now people still see the trolls and still feed them. Let users set a threshold on the upvote/downvote ratio, and make it high enough by default to disappear the bad guys before they derail the conversation.

    • Anonymous  

      SO MUCH BRAVERY IN THESE POSTS

      RON PAUL 2012 GUYS.

      any peace out imma go play skyrim.


      yea we should totally be more like le reddit.

      • Anonymous  

        Just to clarify: on Reddit whoever doesn't join the circlejerk of the hivemind gets downvoted and becomes effectively silenced.

        Because censoring the voice of the minority opinion is how discourse should work.

  16. alum

    leave it the way it is. just because cc and barnard are having a little flame war, doesn't mean you need to overhaul the comments policy.

    those that want everyone to stand with a name behind everything they write are the same sort of people who say "speech has consequences" and love to punish speech they find unacceptable.

    p.s. - i used to post with my name to this site when i went to columbia, but i'd like to spare myself the public shaming of still posting on my alma mater's blog.

    • BC '15  

      This isn't an isolated incident. As much as my classmates would like to pretend otherwise, the constant anonymous trolling on any post that mentions Barnard SUCKS. I go to a world-class institution, and somehow a tiny part of me (I know, I shouldn't, I love my school. Really.) still feels ashamed to mention the name of my school sometimes - fueled in part by the constant anon bwog comments that make me wonder if everyone secretly thinks like that.

      • CC '13  

        Maybe you should stop being so insecure.

        • Anonymous  

          Maybe if people stopped being such assholes and be the rational individuals you think you are in your minds. As a sophomore, I've long gotten over the trolling Barnard hate, but I feel for the first years, most of whom were genuinely excited to come to this school, and subsequently found themselves barraged by cowardly online losers who consistently tell them that they're simultaneously dumb sluts who desperately wish they were Columbians and man-hating lesbian feminazis who should be ashamed of going to an inferior school. What the fuck do you think these girls are going to feel? And you think WE have problems.

        • anon  

          Maybe you shouldn't be a petty asshole.

  17. I believe  

    that we ought to abandon all outmoded concepts of Internet anonymity, for it seems that students' self-esteem is at stake. We have heretofore allowed anonymous commenters to destroy any semblance of Serious Discussion here on Bwog--and was it not for Serious Discussion that this website was first founded? In requiring full identification (and, perhaps, Social Security Numbers for an added measure of Seriousness), we may hope to eliminate frivolous observations and ribald remarks altogether. Indeed, when I yearn for Serious Commentary on Weighty Matters, I turn to Bwog, and when I write a Serious Comment in this forum, I hope for it to remain attached to my name for time immemorial--easily located by anyone who might wish to see my Serious Insights.

    We must not let the Internet impinge upon our self-esteem, nor upon our Serious Dialectics. In all Seriousness: sharing is caring; a stitch in time saves nine; and idle hands are the Devil's workshop.

    - CC '12

  18. Anonymous  

    Social security numbers? I hope you're trying to be really hilarious and ironic with this comment, but I just can't tell...

  19. Gracie  

    I see the good intentions behind the idea of forcing us to put our names and UNIs behind what we write. But last time I checked, we're not NYU, we're not just any other school. We're COLUMBIA. Last I heard, we are supposed to be "the best, the brightest, the future leaders of our nation" et cetera. We shouldn't need to be policed. As much as I believe that people should stand 100% proudly behind every word they make public regardless of whether or not their name is attached to the statement, we should also conduct ourselves in such a way that doesn't require Bwog to question our commenting habits or alter user policies.

    If we really have that much of a problem with shithead posters resorting to ad hominem attacks on members of our own community, then maybe registering with an email with the option to post anonymously might be the way to go. I think it's a fair enough balance between protecting the rights of the individual and possessing the ability to prevent consistently offensive posters from taking cheap shots at people just to be nasty.

    What disturbs me the most is that a school that claims to educate the finest and sharpest minds in the country reveals itself to stoop to pettiness. I understand that in the heat of argument, especially in the comfort of one's home, people won't always act professionally the way they would in the academic setting. It is nonetheless disheartening to see that our true selves aren't really what we advertise ourselves to be to Admissions, to our friends, and to the rest of the world that looks at our community as a model of what American universities should look like.

  20. Marybeth  

    while I agree that the Obama/Barnard comment clusterf*ck was excessive and vitriolic, I can't help but wonder if comment threads like the ones for Tina Bu and "Something We Don't Usually Do" would have been as honest and unifying had we not had the security that anonymity gives to write them. Sure, the snark gets out of control at times, and the Barnard/GS hate is getting surriously repetitive (and redundant, and repetitive, and redundant), but I think that stuff is worth it if Bwog can be an anonymous forum for the times people really need it. I was really moved by how honest and poignant those comments were, and I doubt a majority of them would have been made if a name or even an email were required.

    plus, it's gonna take sooo much longer to procrastinate on here if I have to Facebook stalk every wack commenter

    • CC'13  

      yes, this is exactly what i wanted to say. i remember a thread on something-maybe take back the night?-where people were acknowledging they were victims of assault, just to let their classmates know that it happens. i know i couldn't have said anything if i had my name or even a username attached to that.

      also, i addition to lacking time to facebook stalk any dummies, there are some truly hilarious jokes that i bet people wouldn't take the time to post if their name had to be on it.

  21. hmmm

    I actually think the proposed policies are pretty bad-- particularly the proposal to increase the censorship of comments deemed "prejudicial," and the proposal not to exercise responsibility for comments that are libelous. The first category is in many ways ambiguous, and broadly interpreted can simply include the expression of unpopular opinions-- something that I don't think an intellectually-minded forum should wish to restrict. The second category on the other hand is not difficult to define, and involves speech that I think decent and responsible people can all agree is wrong. Broadly speaking this hierarchy is also reflected in our legal tradition-- wide latitude for the expression of opinions, and strict limitations on personal defamation. I believe we should adhere to that tradition in spirit if not letter. Along the same lines I would in fact propose the elimination of the "down-vote" system. More often than not I think it just serves as a vehicle to stifle dissenting views-- which given the many inhibitions to the free interchange of ideas in most facets of university life, is in my opinion a mistake. As to my own proposals for improving the civility of these threads, I would suggest perhaps a new username system-- or perhaps enforcement of the email address requirement (not necessarily with columbia uni's). Given that I think this forum serves its best function when it facilitates the interchange of ideas, I would also remove comments that don't involve the actual expression of written words (i.e. videos and such).

    • alum

      god, i hate this argument. anytime people want to express a modicum of civility and try to regulate comments to ensure that hate is not spread, "free speech advocates" like you come out lamenting the end of western civilization. people need to start acknowledging nuance and understanding that things are not simply black or white; just because bwog wants to regulate comments does not mean that free speech as we know it will end and that an orwellian state is imminent. i'd like to assume that people aren't dense enough to not understand "prejudicial" comments when they see them but after my four years here i know that's not true. bwog has the responsibility to stand for the common values of the community. for example, if someone decided to graffiti any of the hateful things that were written on the barnard thread in a bathroom stall, wouldn't we as a community expect to see swift action from the administration? would anyone publicly claim that being punished for graffiting hateful things is a violation of their right to free speech? free speech in this country is not absolute; prejudiced, hateful speech, which serves no useful purpose should not be tolerated.

      thank you bwog for taking a serious approach to the problems with comments on this site. i've seen friends get hurt by awful comments on the love personals, senior wisdoms, and anytime a bc/cc debate erupts. i would love to see that end, especially with the increased debate on the importance of wellness and supporting one another in this stressful environment.

  22. Anonymous  

    Comparing Bwog to NYU local doesn't quite work because yes, we are different places. So let's use an example that's a little more relevant to our student body (well, somewhat relevant)
    Raise your hand if you read spec comments. anyone? anyone? no?
    They make you put your email address, but they don't publish it. Fuck conversing honestly, that's all it takes to make people stop conversing at all. By giving your email, you give your uni. By giving your uni, you give your name. By giving your name, you give people the ability to look you up on facebook and judge the fuck out of you.
    Bwog is not nytimes.com and should not try to be. Comments should appear instantly as they do now. The new comment policy sounds awesome. A report button--as annoying for Bwog as it may be--could be a very good thing. Yea, if you're too lazy to email then you probably care less, but it doesn't mean you don't care at all. A report button would simplify things.
    Finally, I think Bwog should reserve the right to delete any comments in extreme situations. Student dies? Bwog needs to monitor the thread around the clock and delete anything remotely offensive.

    • Anonymous

      I'm in favor of a system that uses e-mail addresses to create anonymous usernames. I don't think the comparison between Bwog comments and Spectator comments is particularly applicable simply because the culture of comments on a blog is inherently different than the culture of comments on a newspaper website. I believe most major blogs (ex. Gawker) require a username to be created with a registered e-mail address but they still keep that e-mail address private.

    • Anonymous

      Spec comment registration is as simple as putting in a fake email address. They don't even verify them!

  23. Anonymous  

    Can we have hashtags in bwogposts?

  24. Anonymous

    Bwog comments are so full of bullying they do nearly nothing to promote intelligent discourse. I'd love to see Bwog pilot using names or unis. The comments section disturbs me deeply ad does nothing to help this school.

  25. Anonymous

    what we need is to bring back all the mad, mad n*igg*erish rap on campus

  26. Anonymous

    ╔══════════════ღ☃ღ══════════════╗
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ Repost this if ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    ~ ~ you are a strong independent columbian ~ ~
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ who don’t need no obama ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    ╚══════════════ღ☃ღ══════════════╝

  27. Anonymous

    current comment policy is OK, but please, no more sports posts.

  28. Anonymous

    All comments should be traceable to an email and person. People would be less apt just to say anything. Any personal attacks should never be posted. If Columbia and Barnard students were smart, they would be talking each other up, not down.

  29. at the end of the day  

    everyone just needs to calm the fuck down. take a walk, have a drink, go get laid - do whatever it is that you need to do so you're not spending your time getting all hot and bothered over bwog comments. life's too short, people!

  30. Thoughts

    Some have proposed the idea of making the comment not anonymous, though some think that will destroy the point of Bwog comments. However, and this would require major revamping of the system, what if everyone had to sign up to comment. They could create a fake alias to be referred to by so one's identity could remain secret, but one would be able to track someone's comments from post to post. If any member was deemed a troll or only writing spiteful hate, they could be banned from commenting for a week or a month or however deemed necessary. Also because people would know they could be tracked, they would limit themselves in their hate speech, while always being anonymous. Obviously this would be a major overhaul from the programming side of things, but, speaking of Barry, this may be the grand bargain (heyo!)

  31. HEY BWOG  

    how about you just delete that Obama post? There is no need for the majority of those cruel, ignorant comments to exist.

  32. Anon (hey look at that)  

    "We checked with a lawyer, and it turns out we’re not legally culpable for comments that contain libel."

    i.e., we asked our dad.

  33. Lady Gaga

    We were all born that way...

  34. Anonymous

    Maybe you guys could do something like Jezebel does where the highest rated comments go to the top of the list so that you don't have to read through all the less interesting comments.

  35. alum again

    i like the idea of having to register a username.

    you could easily cut down on just trolls, and people could still be entitled to opinions outside the mainstream.

  36. nwbar

    I can't vouch for the overall effects of removing anonymity, but I can say that if I have to register I will never post porn on Bwog again.

  37. Dan Aprahamian  

    I agree with no more anonymous commenting as the default operation. It is immature to post something to the internet and not be willing to stand by it, especially when the comment is hurtful to others. One would think that Columbia students have the integrity to attach their name to their comments, but it is obvious that is not the case.

    I do think anonymity does have its place, and perhaps on certain posts, Bwog could allow comments to be anonymous so long as said posts are policed very thoroughly. But in the end, all professional news organizations and all reputable message boards at least require some sort of username or account tied to the poster. Unfortunately, there is a segment of the community that thrives on watching the shit-fests that ensue on Bwog posts. I'd hope that, especially with the recent conversations about student wellness on campus, we can agree that the self-esteem and general attitude of the Columbia University community are more important than the rubbernecking that occurs on Bwog daily.

  38. Cody Haefner CC'12  

    Ditch anonymous comments. We're all intelligent people at this school and I think we should really stand by our opinions even if they're controversial. Either make people register for an account or link with facebook/google. Perhaps don't make people use their full name if that sounds terrible to everyone else, but at least denote if an account is registered under an official columbia email address so people can recognize if others are just trolling with multiple gmail accounts.

  39. who gives a fuck?  

    So basically Barnard was so butthurt about us making fun of them that they felt the need to start an initiative to eliminate our freedom of speech?

    And let the downvoting commence, you know it to be true.

  40. Anonymous

    I agree with B'14. Bwog should remain anonymous ....but, do not publish hateful and purposely hurtful comments. Do what the nyt does. The nyt reviews comments first, before they go on-line.

  41. The Shadowy Cloak

    Wait, bwog, does this mean you are going to censor comments linking to speçsuçks.wÕrdpress.com, for example? I find that unfair and limiting of FREE SPEECH. You can hide my words, but you can't hide the truth.

  42. Anonymous

    screw the homegrown comment system, install Disqus and be done with it.

    Also, the homegrown system does *not* handle simultaneous comments from DIFFERENT USERS well at all.

    • Anonymous  

      No idea how Disqus caught on. I don't think it's all that great.

      More importantly, have you tried to control your privacy settings with Disqus? All your comments (even if they were not originally Disqus comments) are posted to a public Disqus page by default. You cannot delete this Disqus page or make it private, even if you email Disqus. Can't wait until they get penalized for this.

  43. i kind of like when  

    people use the "name" space as part of the comment. particularly when it adds to a humorous effect. (unlike here) but i don't think there is a point to posting real names. bwog comments are funny as is.

    i agree with those above about fixing the ratio of thumbs up/down rather than a -5 difference. But why the greying out? I'd prefer a link saying "this comment has been hidden due to a bwog staffer/negative feedback from users", which you could click to reveal the mysterious comment, or else choose to continue on your merry way. (a la youtube.) if it is that offensive we should not be forced to read it. Gray letters are not enough.

    Keep up the good work, Bwog and commenters!

    • Yes,  

      this:
      I’d prefer a link saying “this comment has been hidden due to a bwog staffer/negative feedback from users”, which you could click to reveal the mysterious comment, or else choose to continue on your merry way.

  44. seas12  

    It's probably been said, but if that crackpot scheme of registering gets put in motion I'm out.

  45. bc13

    the school i transferred from had a similar website where people had to register, but could then leave anonymous comments. it's a great system for posting anonymously, but also being held responsible for anything egregious you post.
    i for one was extremely offended and hurt by many of the posts on the POTUS thread and would like some sort of culpability for some of the posters.
    nb: sorry if this suggestion was redundant, i'm far too busy to read through all the comments on this topic

  46. Claire, CC14  

    Thanks for doing this, Bwog. It's really important. Best of luck!
    Big fan of the downvote system, btw.

  47. Really?  

    Bwog, just say anything goes.

  48. Disqus

    Everyone needs to stop hiding behind anonymous comments. If you have something flamboyant to say, own up to it and attach your name to what you write. If Bwog comments should ever garner legitimacy, there should be a system of tracking activity of one's commenting. Disqus is a very widely used and respected, and at least provides some transparency. And it still employs a +/- system which is so heavily liked (no pun intended).

  49. Two Tier Comment System

    1. Anonymous comments allowed, but must be approved by moderator.

    2. Registered users (must be linked to a UNI, and for god's sake, use email verification in the registration process) can post without being held in moderation. UNIs are publicly displayed with each post. Real names must be verified with the Columbia Directory.

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