29 Comments

  1. Scott Hartley

    I will admit that I like the idea. If you are writing over a controversial topic then this is needed but if it were opted as a plugin i don’t really see the need. The only reason that I say that is because people would likely misuse it or would simply block those out who don’t agree with them.

    Now if the plugin worked on a per user basis then it would be perfect that way the general discussion is available to everyone is stumbles upon it.

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    • Sarah Gooding

      Not sure if you understand how it works. The app/extension works on a per-user basis. If a user “misuses” it then they do – the app is available whether or not a site owner wants it to be.

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      • Scott Hartley

        I was mostly speaking as if it were a plugin as opposed to the app. It makes more sense reading over what you wrote, but I am curious as to if it were a plugin it would be tied to the user account, IP, or a simple browser cookie. Sorry for the confusion.

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      • Jay Syder

        Yes I understand what the app does from your article but not sure what the plans for a plugin would be then?

        I mean if a site has the plugin installed is that going to mean people are going to be able to use the apps features without having the app?

        Or is it just going to provide an easy way for people to activate and use the app?

        Or am I just thinking about this in the totally wrong directions and we still don’t really know.

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        • Sarah Gooding

          Jay – Yeah I think a plugin would just provide an easier way to use it without the user having to install the chrome extension or go to the standalone app.

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          • Jay Syder

            Cool, I am always interest on where comments are going to go. I mean one area which I have wondered which I haven’t seen but I haven’t searched for either. Is going the direction of automation something like adding some complex algorithm like google that auto sorts comments based on words and phrases used in the article. Not removing but sorting the parent comments with replies just an excerpt or something. So people could see relevant ones to the article easily.

            That is my thoughts on where I hope to at least see some come get popular enough to see how they work. If anyone knows of any good ones that sound similar post a link thanks.

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  2. Miroslav Glavic

    I am against this. I commented about my issues with HEROPRESS (see article on WPTavern) being used to “promote” the “standard” WordPressers over smaller ones.

    What’s to stop HeroPress from ignoring anyone who criticises them?

    Change HeroPress to anyone else you want in the community.

    If I think your plugin/theme/presentation/product/etc…has some issues, I will tell you about those issues and I will tell you options to fix those issues.

    There are authors of plugins/themes/presentations/products out there, not just WordPress related, that have an ego the size of Alaska (1,717,854 km² – Source: Wikipedia) who can’t handle criticism when they screw things up.

    There was a PHPBB extension author who’s extension had an issue, I made a thread about it, explaining what the problem I had, what other extensions, my version of phpbb I was using at the time and so forth. All with screenshots.

    The author went on a tirade bitchin’ and complaining. Threatened me to “black list” me. I told him go for it, then I deleted his extension, and found another one doing same and moved on.

    This is sort of censorship.

    I understand spamming/trolling but outside that it is censorship.

    When you put a product out there, I don’t care that you put it out there for free. If it’s crappy product, then I will rate you a 1 star.

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    • Julie @Niackery

      Yeah, it does seem like censorship. And it seems to me that the people who would use this wouldn’t be the “reasonable” people the article mentions, but rather, the trolls who are so intent on promoting their skewed worldview in the first place… Still, aside from ignoring comments, the rest of the app’s features look pretty neat.

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    • Jay Syder

      Ummm you did read that this app plugin only hides comments from your view and doesn’t alter what anyone else sees so I don’t see how this is censorship.

      Unless your comment was towards my idea which is simply an idea and pretty flexible in terms that I would hope it is made to sort on relevance rather than authors and so on. But not sure how well it would work without a lot of thought put into it.

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    • Paul Lawley-Jones

      What’s to stop HeroPress from ignoring anyone who criticises them?

      Nothing. But this has nothing to do with whether there’s an app to block comments.

      Threatened to “black list” me. … This is sort of censorship.

      I understand spamming/trolling but outside that it is censorship.

      No, it isn’t. There is nothing to stop you from publishing your comments, complaints, diatribes, rants and tirades elsewhere. No jack-booted thugs are going to drag you off to the gulag. You’re not going to be served with a subpoena to appear in court. You’re not even going to get a visit from the local bobby (British slang for policeman) to give you a mild ticking-off (British slang for a scolding).

      On my site which I pay for and spend my time setting up and running, I can delete any comments I want, and block or ban who I want. That is not censorship.

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      • Dan Knauss

        How is it not censorship? There’s nothing wrong with this type of censorship — it’s generally a good thing — but that’s what it is.

        The odd/interesting thing about creating a crowdsourced layer of culled comments is that it creates a totally different world for the people in that layer that will only last as long as the app and its users. It takes discussion away from the blog authors and turns their comment section into a kind of troll honeypot most people will regard as the “real” discussion unless the deflame app is advertised prominently near the combox. Some authors may want to participate in the deflamed layer; others may feel hijacked even if they generally like the result. It’s also not a system that’s immune to being overrun by bands of dedicated trolls.

        If a big news site adopts something like this that will be really interesting. Traditional journalists have come to hate comments for the most part, but they’re also likely to see this solution as a loss of control for them and also a loss of the free and open public sphere they’re supposed to create.

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        • Paul Lawley-Jones

          How is it not censorship?

          Because I can’t legally stop you from saying it. I can only stop you from saying it on a site that I control.

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          • Dan Knauss

            That is still censorship in the general sense. If you want to recognize a distinction between state and private censorship, the distinction is not based on how totally the speaker is suppressed, how they are being suppressed, or who is doing the suppressing. The distinction is based on whether the space in which the speech occurred is public or private. There is a lot of legal protection for free expression in public speech, but not for private speech. The internet is not a commons; it is not a public sphere. It is a network of private spaces controlled by states and private entities who can justify any censorship they do the same way we justify it if we ban comments — by treating their piece of the net or your access to it as their private jurisdiction. The internet is free to the extent that states and private companies let us treat it as a public space, but they tend to treat it as a private one as soon as someone does something they dislike. (Same as us on our blogs.)

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        • KTS915

          Dan, nowhere did I say that you or Justin mentioned government. Nor did I ever attempt to stipulate what censorship “really” means.

          You said you were curious, so I provided an explanation of the typical differences in approach and usage between the US and UK. As is typical of explanations(for otherwise they would be circular) it involved using concepts not originally under discussion.

          But, as I did say, you can see it for yourself if you really are curious.

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      • Justin Tadlock

        That is censorship. I routinely censor people on my blog for various reasons. It’s no different than someone walking into my home and saying things I don’t want them to say. They’ll either be asked to leave or shut-up. There’s both good and bad censorship.

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        • Peter Cralen

          I hope your home its not public like your page, its much different …

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          • Justin Tadlock

            Yes, my home is public. Anyone can walk off the street and come onto my land. I can then grant or deny them further access. This works the same with my blog. Anyone who is then given access must follow my rules. Both places are my property. I am the sovereign. And, I definitely censor people at times at my home and on my blog. The only rights you have on my property are those that I extend to you. If you don’t like it, you may leave.

            It’s not really any different as far as censorship goes. The only real difference between my home and my blog is the possibility of being shot.

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        • bradkgriffin

          Was that choice of screenshots supposed to be a backhanded jab at Justin?

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        • Paul Lawley-Jones

          …no different than someone walking into my home and saying things I don’t want them to say. They’ll either be asked to leave or shut-up.

          Indeed, but you can’t do the same in their house or in a public space. Being able to do this is, for me, the definition of censorship. Kicking someone from your site is just Technology Assisted Ignoring.

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          • KTS915

            @Paul Lawley-Jones, @Dan Krauss, @Justin Tadlock,

            You aren’t so much disagreeing as articulating the different notions of censorship in the UK and US.

            Dan’s distinction, “based on whether the space in which the speech occurred is public or private,” is the epitome of the US approach. It is certainly not the basis on which the issue is addressed in the UK.

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          • Dan Knauss

            @KTS915 Are you saying that because there are so many more things in British law that are explicitly not included as protected speech, “censorship” is more likely to be seen in the UK as something a public authority does, not private individuals? That makes sense. In the US it’s mostly private entities that act as censors by exercising “editorial control” or managing “business interests.” There is indeed a legal distinction between “editorial control” and “censorship,” but what it really amounts to is legal versus illegal censorship. In the general sense, any limiting of someone’s speech anywhere or for any reasons is a type of censorship based in someone else’s values that determine what the limits ought to be on expression.

            Regarding the public/private distinction being a US concept, I think that is entirely incorrect. Both the UK and US make important public/private distinctions when determining the limits of free speech and censorship.The HRA created a key public/private distinction for the UK in 1998 when it codified free speech as a right free from “interference by public authority.” In recent cases in both the US and UK where employers demoted or fired employes for comments they made on Facebook, decisions have been made for or against the employers largely on the basis of whether the comments were public or private speech.

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          • KTS915

            @Dan Knauss,

            Actually, I wasn’t saying either of those things. I was just making the comment that your debate with Paul Lawley-Jones was missing the mark because you were all taking culturally-specific positions.

            The UK certainly recognizes a distinction between public and private. But the way in which it draws that distinction is somewhat different from the way the US draws it. The application of the Human Rights Act, for example, means that what would be considered private entities in the US are often regulated as public entities under that Act.

            On censorship, as Paul Lawley-Jones’s approach exemplifies, the UK focuses more on the effect on the would-be speaker than on the entity attempting to restrict the speech.

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          • Dan Knauss

            @KTS915 Sorry, I wasn’t trying to debate — I am genuinely curious.

            About the “horizontal effect” of the HRA and how it has been applied, I understand how it allows a private entity to bring a suit against another if a court decides the defendant should be regulated as a public entity in that particular case. To me this seems like it ends up working the same way as it would in the US. The important public/private distinction I was referring to has nothing to do with this; I was just noting that a case that has been tried this way in the UK was decided in favor of not allowing an employer to restrict an employee’s speech since the speech was private, not public speech. A similar case also involving Facebook went the other way in the US by applying the same principle the same way.

            I can see how it might be an American tic to use “censorship” to describe almost any kind of speech restriction because we focus on the thought “someone is restricting me!” But even with the British focus on the speaker, why would you not use the word in roughly the same way in common speech? Is “censor” seen as a very precise term even in a colloquial context — an absolute restriction on speech and not to be used casually to describe lesser limitations on speech?

            I just got am email from a prominent blogger and transportation activist who is describing an attempt to strip his state civil engineering license because his advocacy amounts to “professional misconduct.” He describes this as “clearly an attempt by an industry insider to silence me and discredit our movement.” This may be typical American hyperbole that has nothing to do with actual censorship or defamation under the law, but wouldn’t Americans and Brits agree, at bottom, that there is a censorious intention at work, legal as it may be, whether you agree with it or not?

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          • KTS915

            @Dan Knauss,

            While the British approach certainly can, in specific cases, produce similar results to what would be expected in the US, the whole approach to censorship is different and often leads to very different results.

            The point I was making by quoting you was solely to point out that that is the epitome of the US approach to censorship cases. It’s absolutely not the basis of the British approach.

            I wasn’t trying to suggest that the UK doesn’t recognize a distinction between public and private; but it’s not the fundamental basis for decisions on censorship.

            Of course, there’s nothing to stop any Brit from engaging in hyperbole about being censored, irrespective of context. Similarly, not every single Brit is going to express themselves in the same way. But Paul Lawley-Jones wasn’t engaging in hyperbole in this thread; he was simply reflecting the regular British view.

            This is, perhaps, more clearly shown if we look at this from the opposite perspective, and focus instead on the right to freedom of expression. Both Brits and Americans recognize such a right; they even use the same terminology. But they generally don’t mean the same thing.

            For Americans, brought up on the First Amendment, the right to freedom of expression means freedom from government interference. Note the focus on the entity there.

            For Brits the right to freedom of expression means freedom from intereference. Brits would not insert into that statement any qualification that government must be involved. Instead, the focus is on the person whose rights are potentially being restricted.

            If you want confirmation of this distinction, just look at any debate on censorship or freedom of expression on the The Guardian website. The Brits and Americans just continually talk past one another because so few of them realize that their views as to what these concepts mean are culturally specific. (Actually, the hope of avoiding similar “talkings past” was what motivated me to intervene here.)

            Does the British view mean that the right to freedom of expression is necessarily broader there than in the US? No.

            Why not? Because the American (First Amendment) approach allows few exceptions, whereas the British — without a canonical document to interpret until the passage of the HRA, — involves much more of a balancing exercise. (Actually, since the HRA incorporates the European Convention, and that generally requires a balancing exercise, this last point remains valid, although the nature of the balancing has changed.)

            So, as I said, the approaches are very different, though they do lead to similar conclusions in certain cases.

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          • Dan Knauss

            I appreciate the effort KTS915, but maybe I’m just invincibly ignorant and can’t see this in the foregoing discussion. Justin didn’t bring up government interference and neither did I. I think we were both coming from the typical libertarian-ish American perspective that is focused on any interference with our own domain, whether it’s the government or not. We get to be censors in our own domain — nobody else does, but others have the same authority over their domain too. As Paul said, we can’t enter another person’s house or a public space and silence people there or make them leave. That is what Paul called his definition of “censorship” — interfering with others’ speech beyond our own domain. I agree with that, but I don’t see why also censorship can’t also be used to describe banning a commenter and other “technologically assisted ignoring.”

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  3. Miroslav Glavic

    By the way, I use Firefox. #JustSayin’

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  4. Jeff Chandler

    Does anyone know where I can get a fire starter like the one in the featured image?

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  5. Melissa

    I’m really unclear on how this would help us “understand each other”. Rather it seems geared to bubble wrap commenters in their own little worlds + polarize opposing views. :\ Does that really deflame anything?

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