Bitch Blogs Commenting, version 2.0

a lolcat picture of a small kitten amidst three colorful balls of yarn. In lolspeak it says Iz in your threadz, commenting respectuflly.

Help us in welcoming a new addition to the Bitch Blogs: an updated and much-improved COMMENTS POLICY! As you know, we've had some issues over the past year with blow ups in the comments section, and our former comments policy just wasn't up to the job.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of blow ups, we've gotten some feedback from our readers recently in regards to comment moderation on this site as well. In the past, our policy has been that the author of any particular post be in charge of moderating her own comments. However, leaving full responsibility of moderating to guest bloggers has proved inadequate when it comes to certain posts and topics, especially when privileged voices dominate threads. Commenters in the past have failed to check their ableist, gender, cis, sexual, and national privilege at the simple math equation required for commenting. It's for this reason that we've decided to update our comments policy and are working on a new flagging system.

Please keep in mind, though, that we have an extremely small web staff (hi, there's just two of us working part-time up in here) and cannot moderate every comment in a timely manner, and we feel it would be irresponsible to set a precedent that we could. We are reevaluating our roles as thread moderators, but we also need to rely on you, Bitch blog readers and commenters, to help maintain a productive environment. In addition to our updated comment policy, we will also be implementing tools in the future to put moderation in your hands as well as ours. Please read the new and improved comments policy, located in our navigation menu under "blogs," and let us know your thoughts!

Comments Policy

by Kjerstin Johnson
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Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin

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12 Comments Have Been Posted

Commenters in the past have

<i> Commenters in the past have failed to check their ableist, gender, cis, sexual, and national privilege at the simple math equation required for commenting.</i>

This goes for your authors too, don't forget. And in fact many of the blow ups have had to do with poorly researched content and represented views.

Your comment policy is ridiculously long and akin to trying to contain the Columbia with a beaver dam.

Ain't going to happen.

On a side note, this is so disappointing. I remember when Bitch was far ahead of the curve when it came to media, but you guys really don't seem to get this whole Internet thing. Anonymous is Anonymous and it has a lot of power. Calling anonymous creepy? Well..... yeah.

Thanks for your feedback.

Thanks for your feedback. The Internet is indeed like a big, roaring, uncontrollable river, and we think having a more thorough comments policy will indeed provide stronger support going forward.

And no, we haven't forgotten that we have had posts--I've had posts--that were poorly researched and did lead to blow-ups. That's something that we are responsible for on the web content end, but having a stronger commenting (and by extension community) policy isn't going to <i>not</i> help more informed posts and ensuing dialogue.

On the Anonymous front, we aren't asking people to give their full name or identity, picking a pseudonym really does make thread discussion easier, and will hopefully create more of a community on the website--we'll rethink the word "creepy," because what we really mean is "don't be a stranger."

We're sorry that you're disappointed and believe this won't change anything, but we have a positive outlook for the future, and would love to hear constructive feedback.


Just read them and looks good. Will follow from now on. Question - is there a grammatical mistake in the second sentence about swearing? I'm low on vitals right now so I could just not understand the sentence.

Also - just wanted to say that I've totally appreciated the response Bitch has taken on the comments. I was one of those privileged people who didn't understand Jessica's article last month and while I didn't actually comment on what was said, I was thinking some of the same rude comments other wrote. I appreciated the smack down you've given us commenters and I've started to take a good hard honest look at myself, take myself down a few notches, and try to be a more productive member of society. So thank you. It's a hard job you do, I'm sure...cause I sure as hell couldn't. And quite frankly, I don't want to wake up in the morning without ya'll cause I don't find this feminist support in other areas of my life.

keep the feedback coming...

...grammatical or otherwise. I did check on that "swearing" sentence and there was an extra word. It's gone now.

@TiffanyC, I also changed "less creepy" to "less of a stranger"


Nice, thorough comments

Nice, thorough comments policy. If everyone took a minute to think about those house rules before commenting on Bitch or any other blog in the feminist blogosphere (or before writing anything on the internet, or before talking to other human beings about important issues, for that matter) we'd get a whole lot more thoughtful, productive dialogue done. So let's do it!

I absolutely love the new

I absolutely love the new comment policy. I find the more draconian the policy, the better the community tends to be at creating an atmosphere where even if overt conversations of a feminist nature aren't taking place, folks still feel as though they aren't going to have their experience marred by hateful and thoughtless -ism foolishness.

Thanks for taking the time to craft a comment policy and for all the hard work you do moderating comments! It's much appreciated.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Instead of asking people to register, just remove the option for non-registered users to reply. Then you get what you want and you don't need to have a paragraph in your policy explaining that it is beneficial, for both the user and the community, when you have an identity.

Also, because the comments here are minimal, reading all the comments before responding is easy enough to do most of the time, but what about more popular posts like the recent one about American Indian fashion? How many comments can you reasonable expect people to read? 10? 20? 100?

'Read the whole post' makes sense and is worth reminding to encourage carefully thought out responses versus visceral reactions; however, 'read all the comments' is a bit over the top for a policy position.

I think you're demanding a higher level than you will get from the internet. It's not more than you will get from your regular readers, but there is no way that all the comments on the posts which spread around the web and get more attention are going to adhere to the decorum of an academic sociology class. And that's what spawned this evaluation of commenting. So what is the purpose of the policy?

Is it to remind regular readers to read the whole post, to be reflective, thoughtful, and open to discussion about potentially controversial ideas ... or is it to explain to the new reader that stupidity isn't welcome here?

Also, none of this applies to Facebook, right? Because I'm pretty sure the level of comments there are below your expectations set in this policy.

Hi grimeden, Thanks for

Hi grimeden,

Thanks for your feedback!

<i>Is it to remind regular readers to read the whole post, to be reflective, thoughtful, and open to discussion about potentially controversial ideas ... or is it to explain to the new reader that stupidity isn't welcome here?</i>

Well...yes! Since we host both new and returning visitors, we hope the policy addresses people with a variety of feminist backgrounds. And while it may be unrealistic that everyone who wants to make a comment is going to take the time to read through our entire policy, the fact that it's there can justify removing or moderating a comment of someone who didn't read it. It also reminds people to check their privilege, a problem both new and regular readers have.

And yes...the world of Facebook is a different bag--I think the issue of people not reading the full post is definitely more prevalent there. I'm going to link to our comments policy several times on <a href="">the page</a> to remind folks there to be just as courteous--thanks for bringing that up.

Praise and ideas

First off, I think the new guidelines are excellent, smart and thorough, and I didn't find them insurmountably long. They act as a fair reminder to your frequent readers to stay respectful and hold the conversational bar high. As to the question raised by other commenters about whether they'll work as troll repellent...well, probably not as well as everyone would like.

I agree with grimeden that making registration mandatory for comments would be helpful. It would weed out some of the anti-feminist men (or those posing as such) ranting about how much women suck, if for no other reason than that they may not want to give account information to TEH MAN-HATERZ, and could cut down on knee-jerk quarrels by making posters stop to think about whether what they're saying is worthwhile. It's also likely to lessen spam, as the spammers might see the barrier as an annoying obstruction and leave in search of easier sites to clog up. It wouldn't stop ALL the posts in these categories, but that leads to another question: is there a suspension/expulsion option for repeat offenders? That would harsh the mellow of (necessarily registered) trolls, if only temporarily.

I still think the ultimate answer would be moderation-before-posting, but I understand that <i>Bitch</i> may not have the time to do that or the money to hire someone else. Let me reiterate that you've been doing a grand job of responding to offense and communicating with your readers about keeping the site healthy!

Thanks, Bitch, for taking

Thanks, Bitch, for taking this important step. I know it will be difficult with your small staff to devote more time and energy to moderating and monitoring comments, and to take a more active role in supporting guest posters. (And those #$(%^#^^@ c-i-a-l-i-s spammers—oh how I despise them.) But it's definitely of relief to me to know that you are aware of some of the past failings of the blog, and are publicly committing to working at changing that going forward. The proof is always in the pudding, but I take heart in the idea that (1) I can dare to comment without feeling out-there-on-a-cliff-on-my-own; and (2) that potential guests will not be scared away from becoming guest bloggers due to the hostile environment.

On a sidenote, I noticed Jessica Yee's disappeared from your list of bloggers. Is she not guest blogging for Bitch anymore?

One idea for the anonymous/moderation discussion would be to allow registered users to comment without moderation, and to hold only the unregistered/anonymous comments for review. Of course it would still be possible for a spammer or troll to register, but then you have control over blocking/deleting their account; and it would encourage consistent readers/commenters to create an account if they wanted to comment immediately, while still allowing those of us who prefer not to have another username and password (that's me) to remember to be part of the discussion.


Thanks for the feedback, Cakes!

As far as Jessica Yee goes, the guest-blogging stints here last only eight weeks, so unfortunately she isn't blogging for Bitch at the moment. She has said she'll come back again, though!

Kelsey Wallace, Web Editor

I've noticed, anything that

I've noticed, anything that the author doesn't like, is deleted. even if it is relevant or explanatory, or a critique on what they're saying, if they don't like it, they delete it.

Unfortunately I have come to believe that most of the authors here believe their word to be the one and only true word, and those who disagree or question their word are deleted, and are thus wrong. Anyone who disagrees, is wrong. Anyone who questions, is wrong. Anyone who asks for further explanation, is wrong. And deleted.

I absolutely believe that there should be a comment moderation policy, but I think it's gotten a little ridiculous. Any shred of disagreement is deleted and labeled "derailing." Which, in my opinion, is taking it too far. Situations like Jessica Yee's post warranted comment deletion, but others have been left in other threads that were respectful, but disagreed with the author, were subsequently deleted. I don't know how that contributes to a productive and open conversation. It honestly makes me not want to comment because if I disagree, my opinion or thoughts don't count. People should be allowed to disagree.

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