Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Well, I'm back.

First of all, I want to express my deep gratitude to those of you who have sent me messages of encouragement and kindness "behind the scenes," so to speak. All of your emails, phone calls, etc. were very, very much appreciated. I know that I have a terrific set of regular readers and commenters, and I'm extremely grateful for that fact.

Which brings me to my second point: I've been disturbed a few times lately, culminating in the thread below a recent post, by the incursion of some newer and mainly anonymous commenters who seem to be generating more heat than light. Some of you in contacting me privately admitted that my comment boxes aren't friendly places, that in trying to maintain an atmosphere of free, easy conversation I've unwittingly made my blog a place where a few verbal bullies can shout down everyone else--while technically not violating my rules regarding civility or against obscenity. And that bothers me, because I'd rather have more of my regular readers feel as though they can chime in without having to worry that they or their ideas are going to be attacked or ridiculed by those whose facility with writing is such that they can disguise an attack as a merely rational question or point.

But knowing that this is the case, I have to address it. And though I've avoided making this particular decision for a long, long time, I think the time has come for me to implement moderated comments--which is the biggest change you will see in the days ahead.

I've got to be honest, here. I hate moderated comments. They seem to stifle conversation; they put commenters at the mercy of the blogger's often-varied schedule; they can create misunderstandings of the "why didn't you approve my perfectly innocent comment?" variety, and they can be a headache for both the blogger and his or her readers in a host of other ways.

However, I've reached the point in my blogging life where I just can't see a way around this. I want this blog to be a place where most readers feel perfectly safe in leaving comments, and that can't happen so long as verbal bullies can show up and leave drive-by postings which I may not see for hours. Even when someone has really crossed the line, and I delete his or her comment, the original commenter to whom they were responding may already have seen it, have been hurt by it, and possibly even wondered why on earth I let the hurtful comment stand. My only other option would be to ban all anonymous comments--and yet some of my most valued readers and commenters technically post "anonymously," though they are courteous enough to sign a name or nickname to each comment so we know to whom we're talking. So that option is out, as far as I'm concerned.

Moderated comments it is, then. I ask all of you for patience as I implement this major change.

There are a few minor changes as well. The most important of those is that I've taken the nearly-unprecedented step of deleting the post that caused all the trouble last week (I think I've only deleted a post once or twice before, and that was back in early blogging days when I just wasn't satisfied with something, long before I had regular readers and commenters). There's just no reason to leave it up right now. In future when I post anything at all about chastity, virtue, or sexual morality, I will remember that few people, including few self-described Christians, actually believe in any of those concepts any more, and will either leave comments closed or stay out of any combox battles that develop. I'm just going to have to take a Matthew 7:6 approach to discussions of chastity and sexual morality in the future.

I'm also deleting and rearranging some sidebar items (which won't matter to those of you who read this blog in a reader). There's no special reason for that; I'm just in a clutter-purging mood in my real life and it's carried over to the blog. My pledge not to vote for Republicans (I already don't vote for Democrats), my link to the big Legion post, etc. can still be found by searching my blog, but I have far too many items in my sidebar these days (and some, like the countdown clock for the new Mass translation, are, blessedly, out of date!).

Another minor change is that blogging may occasionally be a bit more sporadic and less news-driven than it has been in the past. While I still find myself most comfortable with a five-day posting schedule, there are times when I run out of time in a day and feel as though I should choose between tossing up a post anyway, regardless of quality, or skipping it altogether--and sometimes skipping it is clearly the better option. :)

Blogging will be especially sporadic, and possibly non-existent, during Christmas week, though as always I reserve the right to change my mind about that.

One final thing: at this time I formally place this blog, and all who enter to read it, under the protection of St. Michael the Archangel:

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio.
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae coelestis,
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute, in infernum detrude.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Comments--moderated--are open again.


Magister Christianus said...

Let me be the first to say welcome back and good decision. Let the fruitful discussions resume! Thank you for the St. Michael prayer.

Ken said...


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see you back. Sorry to hear you have to moderate comments, what a drag for you. But I'm glad to see you kept the "anonymous" option.

~ Ann Marie

Anonymous said...

A random thought, I am not sure if you have ever read the blog "The Thinking Housewife." The writer doesn't have comment boxes at all. She only receives comments by email. Then she will sometimes write a new follow-up post with a few selected comments from readers, and a link back to the original post, and her own responses and further thoughts. But it is all in the body of a new blog post that gets sent to Google Reader etc. Surprisingly, it feels very conversational, yet under control. Added bonus is that it prompts you, as the reader, to read the comments again, as it lands in your reader as a reminder of sorts.

Anyway, I think there are many great ways to structure blogs that can take out some of the free-for-all that can cause problems, while remaining conversational, open and interesting.

~ Ann Marie

~ Ann Marie

LarryD said...

Welcome back, Red.

Red Cardigan said...

Thank you, all!

I appreciate your patience as I figure out the moderated comments thing. If I've inadvertently ignored or deleted anyone's comment, I apologize; things will improve as I get a handle on how all of this works.

If I deliberately didn't publish your comment, it's for one of these three reasons:

1. You posted anonymously with no nickname attached to the post.

2. You posted solely to mock me for turning on moderated comments (yes, I got a couple of those today).

3. Your post referenced the post I deleted; sorry, but I don't want to reopen that particular discussion.

Again, thanks for your patience!

freddy said...

You go, girl!
God bless.

patrick said...

this is a huge mistake. you should just stop accepting comments, period. this action will compromise the integrity of a system -- comment sections require us to trust in the free exchange of ideas for them to be of value. no one will trust what they read and we will all wonder what you are deleting. we've all had our own polite but reasoned arguments of mine not posted on other blogs merely b/c they challenge the viewpoint of the blogger. this is a huge mistake. don't do it.

Red Cardigan said...

Patrick, I'm glad to approve your comment, because I think you illustrate a common misconception about blogs and comments, which is this: nobody owes anybody else a forum.

I don't delete people for disagreeing with me; I welcome reasoned debate. But I got tired of anonymous commenters who pretty much just wanted to heckle, and who derailed conversation in the process. And commenters are always welcome to email me and ask if their comment is being held for a reason.

You've submitted your comment twice in the last ten or twelve minutes, by the way. I'm making dinner for my family at the moment, but took the time to approve yours so you wouldn't send me six more in an hour before scolding me for censorship, or something.

Anonymous said...

Well, I for one, am quite glad posts are back.

It's Erin's blog, and of course, her way to conduct a conversation.

In the span that I've read this, I've continued to learn, become interested in, and find different (more compassionate) ways to think things through. That being said, am inclined to echo Patrick's comment more than Anne Marie's. I'd read, and responded with editing to the TH blog a while before giving it up at Lent for my greater peace of mind. I, now, no longer bother as it's more of a contemplate navel club, than learn something new and discuss freely.

Personally, I think 'attacks' on Erin's earlier post were annoying. I think Erin was far too kind to attempt to respond in a rational way. It was a learning experience to realize there are those that read blogs and respond in a deliberately unhelpful way, but everyone can learn.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I missed it - people were ugly to you? What gives?

I can only imagine it's a lonely time of year and an angsty time in history, those things bring out the worst in folks. The St. Michael prayer and as much good will as we can muster, and hey, moderated comments, I think are all reasonable responses. Good for you!

Diamantina da Brescia said...

On a lighter note, I think that in Matthew 7:6, Jesus was kind of dissing dogs and swine :-) I wonder what Our Lord would think of our society, which often gives dogs and cats more attention than human children (and here I admit guilt: I call my cat Menina ["little girl" in Portuguese] my "baby" and my "little girlie", though I have never had any human children).

Diamantina da Brescia said...

On a lighter note, I think that in Matthew 7:6, Jesus was kind of dissing dogs and swine :-) I wonder what Our Lord would think of our society, which often gives dogs and cats more attention than human children (and here I admit guilt: I call my cat Menina ["little girl" in Portuguese] my "baby" and my "little girlie", though I have never had any human children).

Anonymous said...

Diamantina your comment made me laugh! I'm glad you are back too Red. The blog world is really really boring
:-)))) without you! Of course you can say and do whatever you want, it tis your blog after all. May I say however that I usually find the comment section sort of fascinating. I think you write about controversial issues and you tend to use the strong language of the truth of your convictions and I don't think you should worry so much about what gets stirred up. ( my humble opinion and I won't be offended if you don't post my comment). You can do nothing but good for the people who disagree with you. And I don't think you necessarily have to engage them either. Just say what needs to be said and let the chips fall.....anyway.
Thank goodness your back! Now I have something to read and think about!


Anonymous said...

Hi Zircon, I think we might be talking about different things? Whether or not you like the content (and comments) on TH is one issue. I mentioned TH as an example of a unique way to blog and post feedback in an internet environment where combative comments are becoming increasingly distracting, for both the reader and the blogger. I've seen bloggers deal with this problem in different ways, turning off all comments and feedback, moderating, and sometimes quitting, which is a shame. Anyway, just wanted to make that clear, that I was using TH as an example.

~ Ann Marie

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Given a choice between moderated comments and no comments at all, I would opt for a system of ordered liberty over muzzling speech entirely.

This is not a "First Amendment" issue, because Erin's blog is not "state action." Erin's free speech includes not accepting the speech of others on her own private site if that speech would compromise her own expression of her own message.

But, the conversation is good, so if Erin is willing to host it, I see no reason to favor NO comments over moderated comments.

Anonymous said...

Aye, given the choice between moderated comments and no comments at all, would put the blog in an entirely different light.

No comments would spell out clearly that the opinions expressed on the website are entirely Erin's but moderation, seems to blur the line, whether statements are her interpretation of a statement, or the roughly uttered opinion of someone not as eloquent (nor possibly as rational) as Erin. The TH takes proffered comments out of context which either she can respond disparagingly, or bring another prop to her argument. Hardly entertaining or informative, especially as not all her readers are of her social upbringing and of her brand of Catholicism.

Erin's blog provides an excellently mature forum, not only for her point of view, but well thought-out balanced, and practical responses on topics related to Catholicism as well as living in these modern times.


Charlotte said...

Personally I wouldn't bother moderating comments - I've been in bigger, nastier, and longer commbox wars over at my blog than you have, and in the end, if you don't respond to certain comments, the people who leave them eventually go away. Guaranteed.

However, it would seem that you want to set certain people straight when they leave these comments. I find that admirable, and I used to do the same thing until I realized (ater having been beat bloody) that the people who leave those kind of comments have no intent on changing and rarely care to hear your side/argument/rationale anyway. So again, you can spot those comments (because of the tone) and just leave them as-is and don't respond to them. Rather, I like to leave them so that their idiocy or pig-headedness are there for all to see.

As to certain comments offending others? I'm more of a callous person in that regard. My attitude is: So what? I HATE HATE HATE the cry of certain Catholics that we MUST MUST MUST be charitable at all times in these discussions. Why? Charity for them usually means something quite different than what it is assumed to be. It ususally means, rather, "You didn't say something I wanted to hear and you didn't say it nice, so now you're not being charitable." Usually, not always.

If you feel you still believe in the core concept of unmoderated discussions, I wouldn't let what happened ruin it for you. Just my 2 cents.

Charlotte said...

And on another note:

That offending post you took down. I came to it late, after you had closed the commbox. I have thoughts about it, especially as someone who was an A-1 sinner in the sex department for many, many years. I think sometimes when we make accusations, we forget that many of those who believe in purity and chastity, etc., do so precisely BECAUSE at one point they didn't. Food for thought. The whore of yesterday might be the reformed orthodox Catholic of today - which then begs the question - what REALLY constitutes whoredom and chastity?

Tony said...

Patrick, I'm glad to approve your comment, because I think you illustrate a common misconception about blogs and comments, which is this: nobody owes anybody else a forum.

Exactly. This is your place, and you can decide what you want to do with it. As I will decide if I want to continue reading you after observing the implementation of your new policy.

I've disagreed with you in the past, and it's unfair to "shut my mike off" when you allow other who probably agree with you to continue.

(If it had been me, I would have gotten rid of the "anonymous" option.)

Red Cardigan said...

(Sigh.) Tony, I don't withhold comments for disagreeing with me. I withhold comments for gross incivility, extreme rudeness, or hidden agendas by the commenter. That's it.

How many times do I have to explain that?