Intense Debate Comments

Hi folks,

Just a quick blog post to let you know I am switching off Intense Debate for comments. I have grown frustrated by two issues:

  1. Even frequent commenters are thrown into moderation every single time because they don’t login using one of the accounts associated with Intense Debate (Intense Debate itself, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress).
  2. Despite the fact that WordPress itself has a feature that allows me to close comments on old posts, Intense Debate bypasses this setting and allows comments on old posts. Comments on old posts are always of two kinds 1) spam, 2) disagreeable trolls who haven’t realized the conversation ended seven years ago. And the only person who sees those two types of comments is me, anyway, as everyone else has moved on.

I’m just tired of dealing with it. I am going to try something different, and I wanted to let you know just in case comments are wonky. I may need some time to straighten out the comments. Thanks for your patience.

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Commenting Issues

If you’ve been having trouble commenting, the problem has been fixed. Sorry for any inconvenience. It looks like a couple of my WordPress plugins didn’t play well together. Thanks to Nancy and Beverly for letting me know about the issue. Any time you have difficulty using the site, I appreciate it if you let me know so I can fix it.

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Negativity PSA

Folks, I have received two comments lately in which teachers have shared their belief that I’m lucky to be able to get to the literature part of teaching. I published the first. The second was linked to a site that made me wonder if the comment might be spam. In any case, if you do not enjoy teaching where you are teaching, please remember that this blog is not your forum to complain about your job. I think that’s not very wise anyway, but even so, if you have problems with your job, there is little complaining here about it can do to resolve the situation, and such comments do nothing to further conversation here.

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A Quick Note About Comments

I closed comments on this blog for posts older than 365 days. My reasons for doing so are that usually, regular readers and commenters (yes, I spelled that correctly, just in case you were wondering) have often moved on by the time a latecomer discovers the post, and I wind up being the only one who responds to the comment. Of course, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that I alone respond, but it’s not the kind of conversation I’ve become accustomed to. I decided that closing comments could be a kind of signal that we’ve all moved on and we’re not talking about that post anymore.

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Comments

If it takes a while for your comment to appear, please be patient.  I am not receiving e-mails when I receive comments that are in moderation, and I haven’t seen them until I have logged in.  If your comment doesn’t appear after a few days, and you know you’ve followed the comment policies, you can contact me and see if I know what happened — most likely I missed it somehow.  I apologize for the inconvenience.

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Gravatar

I have enabled Gravatars in the comments. If you don’t have one, you can get one by following the link I provided. Gravatar stands for “Globally Recognized Avatar.” Your Gravatar will be associated with your e-mail address and will appear on every site that allows Gravatars when you leave comments. For instance, Education Wonks uses Haloscan, a commenting system that allows Gravatars. If you don’t have a Gravatar, a generic image will appear next to your comments on websites that allow Gravatars.

If you would like to see what Gravatars look like, just scroll down to a post with some comments. If you select a post on which I commented, you’ll see my Simpsonized image next to my comment.

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Don’t Feed the Trolls

I know quite a few new and prospective teachers and bloggers read this blog based on feedback I’ve received. I wonder if you have yet experienced the Web phenomenon known as the “troll.” Truthfully, I haven’t had too many problems with trolls, though they have occasionally cropped up. I have a clear comments policy, I moderate comments, and frankly, I don’t think much of what I write encourages trolls — it’s not exactly controversial or edgy.

I was utterly astonished when I read Vicki’s post in which she shares her answers to Scott McLeod‘s 2008 Education Blogosphere Survey:

What do you wish you could eradicate in the blogosphere?

Death threats and profanity. Small minds think that they can intimidate voices into being quiet. I am still missing Kathy Sierra terribly and wish she’d give us all a present and come back during 2008.

As recently as last December I received a death threat as well as some comments akin to those sent to Kathy calling me derogatory names and filled with sexual perversion. I wish there was a prefilter before it got to my premoderation or a “spam capture” or “smut capture” with automatic e-mail sent to the person who does it as well as a log of their IP address done automatically. These are a distraction and when they get back to my family, it makes them want me to quit.

When I read that, I thought, “Someone threatened to kill Vicki? I can’t think of a reason why anyone would say something like that to Vicki, who is one of the warmest, most genuine people you’ll ever meet. She is unfailingly positive in her encouragement of other bloggers and teachers, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would even think of harming her, much less send her a death threat. Frankly, I thought it was scary.

Obviously, if you receive a threat of any kind, I encourage you to report it. However, if it is your garden-variety troll leaving nasty, rude comments, I would ignore them — the reason they are so nasty is that at some point they learned that negative attention is still attention, and they will get attention quicker, in some cases, if they are rude. All these people did was transfer this behavior to the Internet, where it thrives because people feel anonymous and feel shielded by the distance between themselves and the person they are attacking. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most people who make trollish comments online would never say the same things to their target’s face. Most of the time, people will leave you alone if you ignore them.

But it is hard to ignore nastiness. I have my own trouble with it. I recommend doing the following:

  1. Filter your mail. If the person is bothering you via e-mail, see if you can set up a filter that will send their message to the trash without passing through your inbox. G-Mail allows you to do this.
  2. Moderate your comments. I know it can be a pain for new commenters to wait for their comments to be published, but I can assure you that with the large volume of spam and rude comments, it’s absolutely necessary.
  3. Develop a comments policy. Make it one that allows for respectful dissent and conversation. Ultimately, it’s your blog, and you can decide what kind of comments, if any, you will allow. However, if you have a fair comments policy, you should have few arguments about what is posted and what is not. I’d like to think people generally know when they’re crossing the line, but a comments policy will clarify things. Trollers might not bother if they know in advance their comment most likely won’t appear.
  4. Don’t stop blogging. While I respect the decisions made by those who truly felt threatened (Kathy Sierra), I think the trolls win when we quit. Any time you put yourself out there, you run the risk of meeting up with a troll, and they only get what they want when they realize they have bothered you.

Most of all, a piece of sage advice I first read in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale: “Illegitimi non carborundum.”

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Pingbacks and Commenting Issues

I am tired of splogs co-opting a small portion of my content and generating a link to their site through a pingback or trackback. I cannot find a recently updated plugin that will allow me to monitor pingbacks before they are posted, and Akismet and Spam Karma don’t seem to be much help. Therefore, I will not be accepting pingbacks until further notice.

Also, I am not receiving e-mails when comments are posted. WordPress has changed some coding, and I am not the only person having this problem, but I also cannot figure out how to fix it without breaking my site, so if it takes some time before I reply to a comment, please understand that I might not have seen it yet.

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