I just removed three comments that included entirely gratuitous contemptuous language toward the President.  (I left up posts containing disrespectful language toward the President that was at least related to the topic under discussion.) 

Please note that my favorite blog in the world no longer allows readers to post comments.  I really would like to avoid emulating that aspect of SCOTUSblog.  But neither the No Man nor I have the time to sift through all of the comments posted on CAAFlog to remove the gratuitously offensive ones.  The only real alternatives are: (a) self-policing commentators who are occasionally pushed back into line by a deleted comment; (b) no comments; or (c) a highly regulated and inefficient marketplace of ideas in which only comments by a select few are allowed or in which there is an inordinate delay before comments are posted to allow them to be vetted, thereby eliminating any opportunity for a virtual conversation in the comments.  I much prefer option (a), but it requires all of our cooperation.  Of course, most of our readers who post comments contribute to a civil, informed conversation — and we sincerely appreciate that.  I wouldn’t want to silence those voices in order to root out the uncivil and the gratuitously offensive.

20 Responses to “Admin notice”

  1. Anonymous says:

    THANK YOU!

  2. Cully Stimson says:

    I must echo Dwight’s comments. The efficacy of this professional site is its free flowing exchange of ideas in our niche world of military justice. There is no need, nor room for childish and immature comments. I would add that there is an alternative (d) as well: only allow posts by identifiable persons. Although I don’t blog as much as I would like on this site, I do notice that some percentage of the anonymous blog posts remind one of high school locker room banter. While that may be fun in your work spaces when you’re a young lieutenant, it has no place on a professional blog.

  3. John O'Connor says:

    I rise in favor of juvenile comments. I think the occasional slightly immature comment adds to the fun of the site, so long as the comment is not childish AND contemptuous, rude, or mean. Wisecracking every now and then is good for the soul.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Is it too arduous a task to simply ignore whatever comments you find to be childish & immature? It’s not as though such comments are popping up in your email inbox every few minutes. If someone posts something that you feel is innapropriate for this blog, simply skip over it. I realize that such comments often lead to responses that are often equally childish, but again, just scroll right past them. Cully calls this a “professional blog,” and many of us certainly use it as part of our practice, but it’s hardly restricted to any particular group for any particular use. It seems to me that just because we find some (or many) of the posts irrelevant and possibly even idiotic, the best solution is just to ignore the bad and focus on the good.

  5. Anonymous says:

    then again a military justice blog full of military practitioners probably shouldn’t have a host of gratuitous contemptuous statements against the president on it.

    So seems to me that this is the right move for the right reason.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Only the commenter is responsible for any potential legal consequence of any particular comment. If Cossio wants to disparage the President, that’s his constitutional right to do so. If an active duty commenter wants to do the same, he or she runs the risk of doing so.

  7. John O'Connor says:

    Oh, to be clear, I have no quarrel with deletion of comments that place POTUS in a bad light. I didn’t see the comments so I don’t even know what they said, but I have no problem with the admin’s prerogative to delete what they find objectionable.

    My only point was that childish wisecracks that are harmless are, in my view, on a different side of the line from contemptuous statements about the President. Who didn’t laugh at the anonymous quotation from “Old School?”

  8. John Harwood says:

    I have a simple solution – no more anonymous posts. Make every person who posts a comment do so under their actual name.

  9. Anonymous says:

    this is not merely about “legal consequences” but about reputation and propriety aka the right thing to do.

    As for no more anonymous posts, I don’t agree with that, and my guess is that some of the deleted posts were made by a certain non-anonymous poster.

  10. Anon says:

    Don’t blame us Anon’s! I don’t think banning us will help because as I figure it, the person who always seems to be the one stirring things up and getting managment mad already posts under his own name….But I guess it would be easier to ban him then if anon posts were done away with.

  11. Phil Cave says:

    Censorship is never good when done by the controller, it’s a slippery slope.

    http://www.serendipity.li/cda.html#wikipedia

    Self-censorship is the preferred method of moderating comments.

    I agree with JOC, a little humor in life is good.

  12. Christopher Mathews says:

    I had my sense of humor surgically removed at birth, so I’m not sure what JO’C and Phil are talking about.

    I will agree with Phil that self-restraint is best, if only because it helps makes the writer’s points more concise. A wall of text is less likely to be read (by me, anyway) or appreciated than a few cogent points setting forth the author’s views. As a famous literary critic once noted, “Brevity is the soul of wi-“

  13. LTC Slade says:

    I for one applaud Mr. Sullivan’s efforts to clean up the comments on this blog…

  14. Anonymous says:

    Serious question Cossio. Are you incapable of moderating your behavior even slightly to fit into this community of practitioners?

    How about simply refraining from making gratuitous and unnecessary political statements or attacks on politicians or other members of this blog?

    I mean I can’t recall anyone else on here really delving into these areas. I, for one, would be somewhat embarrassed to be considered the one person on the blog who so often posts inappropriately. I understand you don’t think you are, but the rest the blog almost unanimously thinks so, I can state confidently.

    How about toning it down?

  15. No Man says:

    Well I am about to delete Cossio latest screed. As for others:

    I believe JMTG that it was when you pinned on O-5 that they theorize you have your sense of humor removed. I here that was a couple of opinions ago for you :-).

    Anonymous says: September 21, 2009 at 1:02 pm Only the commenter is responsible for any potential legal consequence of any particular comment. If Cossio wants to disparage the President, that’s his constitutional right to do so. If an active duty commenter wants to do the same, he or she runs the risk of doing so.

    I hate to disagree with a reasonable comment, but it is my bandwidth and there are cases of legal liability arising out of un-moderated comments. See Above the Law coverage of the topic.

    JO’C: yeah, that’s the ticket.

  16. John O'Connor says:

    To build on No Man’s last comment:

    First, I would not bet my life that an active duty admin on a blog would be exempt from Article 133 if he hosted a site that allowed contemptuous statements about the Prez as a matter of course.

    Second, I can only assume your knowledge of Above the Law comes from what others have told you.

  17. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    Cossio:

    I just read through your last 20 or so comments, just how I wanted to spend my Monday night. This is your last chance. I am about to press block on your IP address. Next comment that we, strike that, I feel like is over the line and that’s it.
    Maybe if we are feeling charitable you can petition for reinstatement after some period of rehab.

    No more warnings.

  18. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    Bye bye Cossio

  19. Phil Cave says:

    I think what you need to block is not the IP address but the MAC address. But I don’t believe that can be done with current technology.
    While cloaking may cloak an IP address, I don’t believe that happens with the MAC address.
    You are cloaking are you not Cossio?

  20. Bizarro Cossio says:

    Ahhh, I see, Bye Bye Cossio means erasing all comments !!! Ohhh……I think the Roman Sentate had a word for this kind of wiping of history, Pharohs too, and who can forget Stalin and the Purge? Very Old School way to censor, I like it Comrade !