Monday, 15 January 2007

Why this arena?

Coming up to my 80th year, and having largely lost my mobility due to chronic illness, the Internet is proving to be a fascinating and mentally liberating resource even in a house with several thousand books on the shelves. The ability to exchange messages almost instantaneously with people all over the world is wonderful, and gives me hope that even in the sombre political climate we are currently living in, a far greater degree of understanding and co-operation between people of good will can be achieved and will ultimately prevail over hatred and destructiveness.

I started to post comments on The Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ site about six months ago. I was feeling more and more depressed about the world situation, which seemed to be going from bad to worse, and hoped that I might find some reassurance that there was still some constructive thinking going on somewhere. What I did find was lots of ding-dong battles of the junior school playground “yah, boo, you started it first, no you did” variety, too much intemperate personal abuse of both blog posters and other commentators, and a quite unacceptable degree of site censorship through arbitrary removal of some posts and even banning of certain posters although other comments which blatantly breached the site’s own ‘talk policy’ guidelines were allowed to remain. This craven surrender by The Guardian – which has been staple reading for me since I was a teenager in WW2 – to the fashionable heresies of ‘Political Correctness’ was a severe disappointment, so in November, encouraged by Frank Fisher and one or two other cyberfriends, I experienced a rush of blood to the head and set up ‘anticant’s burrow’.

Furbishing the burrow with memories, anecdotes, and light-hearted items as well as more serious topics, and keeping it as what I hope is a cheerful and friendly place for my Awkward Squad colleagues and other visitors, has been a source of much pleasure and satisfaction. It will continue to be a snug retreat for anticant and friends. But the breadth of subject matter has, I think, discouraged as much in-depth examination and commentary on more serious and public issues as I’d hoped for. Hence my decision to open this arena, designed for debate of current politics, social issues, religion, philosophy, significant books, etc. as a serious but not, I trust, too solemn public forum.

Unlike the burrow, which is and will remain ‘free’ for comments from all comers, I shall moderate this site so as to ensure, if I can, that comments don’t stray too far from the subject of the thread. If anyone wants to post a blog here, I shall be happy to do so, providing it is relevant.

Now, read – and write – the blogs, join the fray!


Nell said...

Interesting stuff. But do you really feel it's necessary to vet all the comments before posting? Really, Anticant?

anticant said...

Yes, Nell, I do, for reasons stated. Not censorship - only to keep out irrelevant comments. People can go on being as off-course as they like in the burrow.

Caroline said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Yellow said...

In my mind the criteria - as chosen by anticant - are relevant. He chose them.

I don't think censorship is the right term for these guidelines either. The term etiquette could apply just as much.

When I am having friends over for dinner or tea and one of them is talking about his day at work or his new boss or what he thinks of the new government I do not suddenly interrupt him and start chatting away about the the kindergarten's new playground facilities.

It may be considered a bit socially inept if I did perhaps.

You may disagree. In which case I cordially invite you to come to the Pond for some lovely inane quackery and chatter.

zola said...

What are your criteria for judging that or who is with or away from THE SUBJECT.
Are you the Queen?

anticant said...

No. I am the Empress of Anticant.

Yellow said...

Zola, he is nearly 80 (!) He is allowed to be The Judge of All Subjects.

I must admit I have developed quite a soft spot for anticant. He can do as he pleases.

I do the same. And you too.

Nell said...

It does have a whiff of censorship to it, though. Or at least it goes against "innocent until proven guilty", as you seem to be assuming that comments WILL be unsuitable.

I was following a similar discussion on a (Polish) site earlier today, where awkward (!) comments were being removed.

Of course this is your blog, and you can publish whatever you like and delete things you don't. But I am surprised that you don't consider picking and choosing which comments to publish to be a form of censorship. In my mind, the criteria you apply aren't relevant.

I'm not trying to pick a fight here, and I do like your writings. I'm just curious.

By the way, in case anyone else was confused, it was me posting the original comment. I won't bore you with the details, but I blame technology.

anticant said...

Very kind of you, YD, but no feather-bedding on grounds of age or poor health required or desired. The only difference my age makes - so long as I remain compos mentis - is a memory stretching further back than most, and perhaps a different perspective on times that were experienced by me but are history to others.

We all create our own reality, and I am rather surprised at the strenuous efforts some people make to "correct" yours or mine when ours don't accord with theirs.

Richard W. Symonds said...

'Sit lightly on the saddle', Zola...and enjoy the ride.

Jose said...

I like writing in forums where my ideas and opinions can be debated, refuted. Nobody can deny that when one expresses him/herself he/she does it with the aim, secretly kept, that he/she be read and his/her opinions being accepted with respect.

I cannot blame Anticant for trying to manage a blog where the inalienable principle of respect to everybody be closely observed and no waste of time be dedicated to the discussions which we seek to think over and deal with in sheer earnest.

I for one am backing here his norms which I consider should be "the" norm in many forums.

And... I say this because I am decidedly against any form of censorship of opinions that are respectful to everybody.

In a democratic parliament, as is the British one, the Speaker can cut any undue comments.

I expect Anticant acts as a Speaker here.

Richard W. Symonds said...

Personally, I wouldn't 'censor' anything...a troll is easily identified (and quite fun to have as it serves to sharpen one's own teeth)...people selling things are easily identified and can be dealt with...'silly' comments which seemed to be irrelevant at the time, can sometimes prove the opposite later on...rude replies should be welcome, especially when a comment illicits that response...clear, irrelevant points can just be ignored...

Well, that's what I think anyway - at the moment...