Monday, December 17, 2012

Random Abuse and Stuff

The recent influx of commentors who repeatedly insist on contaminating otherwise interesting threads has led some to suggest that I censor comments. I would rather not. But I also know that these demi-trolls can annoy other readers.

My solution will doubtless please no one at all, but this is it (at least for now): this post is the thread where general digs, abuse and other off topic stuff can be posted and read. Short of libel, if you take the time to write it then I will give you the space to post it.

But if I judge a comment on another thread to be more heat than light, more crap than wit, then it ends up being deleted.

Needless to say, any abuse on this policy should be posted here.....

84 comments:

  1. Hi Ben. It's your blog and you must do as you see fit with it. However, if there is a policy of censoring comments (and presumably invisibly, so I won't even know there's been a deletion, which is doubly invidious), I won't be reading or commenting any more. Best of luck - with the blog and life on the outside.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @jill, not censoring so much as re-directing. Any comment at all can be posted on this thread - preserving the anticenorship ethos - but to ask commenters to stay broadly on topic across other posts hardly seems outrageous.

    If comments are deleted, I will find a way to show that this has been done, otherwise it would indeed be sinister.

    However, have received many messages of complaint that off-topic comments (often semi-trolling) are ruining the threads for others'.

    This is the least-worst solution that I can think of. If there is one I have overlooked or not fully considered, please let me know.

    As I said, this will please no one; least of all myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm, Isn't ‘virtual wing clipping’ for (jail) birds only!?

      Delete
  3. Ben - thanks for replying. I'm not seeking to influence you. I don't disapprove either - it's your blog, you must do as you see fit, and you're trying to balance competing views. But I don't participate in blogs with any kind of censorship whatsoever - which may be pointlessly dogmatic of me, but I'm me, and that's just how it is. I realise how difficult it is, having run umpteen message boards and other online communities in the past. People are idiots and will insist on shitting on other people's carpets. Hell, they often shit on their own carpets, for reasons I'm unable to fathom. But that's how it is with online coffee shops. Your policy is unlikely to succeed and will just make the blog a drag for you, as you'll end up with endless admin, more complaints about the admin and rinse and repeat ad infinitum, until at some point everyone will get bored and go away. Then the blog will die. Censorship is a death knell for places like this. There's always a wanker around. But, as I see it, nobody, even wankers, even the off-topic, even the inappropriate, should ever be silenced - or told when to speak and - in this case - where to speak. I'll pop back to this thread over the next couple of days to see if you change your mind, but if you don't, it is over and out from me. Sorry. And, as I say, best of British to you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Personally I am glad that you are taking a bit of control over your blog in this manner. No censorship is too liberal and in the case of your blog at the moment, no censorship is likely to hamper your development now and that of the blog, especially at this time, as you are out and trying to suss things.

    Most blogs that i know of will make judgements over comments and try to stop those that are consistently unhelpful and seek only to undermine what the blogger is trying to do.

    My advice to you Ben would be to be clear on what it is you are seeking to achieve with this blog and the audience you have. For example do you just want to fight the powers that be, or, (given the amount of sympathetic and understanding people out here who regularly read your blog) do you want to direct that sympathy and understanding you already have, to be even more committed and articulate about the cause of prison reform and along with that societal reform as a whole?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ben, what about a voting system where other commenters can upvote/downvote comments? Is that available as a plugin? It would avoid censorship, but would make the trolls disappear unless someone actively goes looking for them.

    Failing that, you could probably move their turd-spurts into this thread, but leave a link in the place of the original comment to say where you've put it. Then you'd never actually 'delete' the rubbish, just move it to the bin.

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  6. Completely agree Jill - a shocking proposition Ben. For you of all people to censor dissenters is really shocking!!! What on earth are you thinking of.. Have a long hard think Ben.

    When you were inside there were a bunch of people who acted as censors of a sort - they used to abuse anyone who disagreed with you and call them 'Trolls' and other less pleasant things. One of them unpleasantly called himself 'Wigarse' and seemed to think it was his job to try and ensure that everyone said only nice things to you by abusing those who didn't. Fortunately they seem to have gone away lately, they added little to the debates - just stifled them really while claiming to be your supporters.

    The blog has improved greatly since then. More people seem to read it and comment and there are some fascinating exchanges of opinion.

    If you don't want to hear the dissenting voices then I would suggest just closing it down. Now that you have announced censorship none of us can really be sure that the comments are a genuine reflection of people's individual reactions.

    I am very disappointed Ben. I thought you had some genuine honest, open principles.

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  7. Censorship is an abuse of power.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Is this a two way street though?
    Why did you delete the post on the previous thread? Was it because it said that you aren't saying anything relevant or new about miscarriages of justice? Or was it because the author suggested that you hadn't been able to resist marring a reasonably well written piece by including an unnecessary dig about prison officers, that was in no way relevant to the main tenet of the post?
    This is a serious point... In life you generally get what you give, and you seem pretty ready willing and able to dish out the opprobrium towards staff, authority or whoever else you decide is a target, are you now saying that you are only prepared to receive a bit back on your own terms ie this thread? If so don't make it a separate thread, make it a wholly separate blog.... Or don't ... Clearly you're the boss, your actions this morning demonstrate that unequivocally ........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can we take it from your silence that you won't be responding to any of the points raised on this thread??
      What a clever, manipulative move....

      Delete
    2. Hmmm, did I make an attack on staff in my blogpost about the wrongly convicted? I did say that some staff claim that "happiness is door shaped", and if you want to call me a liar on that, feel free.

      An attack would have raised the interesting question of how does a screw square his conscience in banging up anyone he knows damn well is innocent?

      Perhaps I will return to that thorny issue of personal morality and responsibility another time. Thanks for reminding me of that potential blogpost.... :)

      And what is it that I "dish out", and at who? Because unless its you, why should I listen to ad hominem crap from you?

      Delete
    3. Two points .... As far as I'm aware it's the courts that convict people, not prison officers. All they do is lock up whoever gets sent to them whether they're wrongly convicted or not. They haven't got the gift of releasing someone who claims to be innocent regardless of whether or not they believe them . That's why your crack about 'screws and happiness being door shaped' was unnecessary and not relevant to the blogpost.
      Secondly - 'what do you dish out?' Fact ... You regularly abuse staff on your blog, questioning morals, integrity, intellect and do on... You regularly beef on your blog about how poorly treated some prisoners are- juveniles, segregated prisoners, ill prisoners and so on.
      The point is though that a lot of the things you post about aren't directly related to you, or didn't happen to you but you post them because you feel a collective identity with other prisoners ( although you do seem to see a lot if them as lesser beings than yourself).
      Therefore it's hardly surprising that I can feel a collective identity with prison staff that you do choose to abuse via this forum ...
      Does that help??

      Delete
    4. @Anon, That prison staff regularly bang up innocent people is not some administrative quirk, something to be pinned on a higher authority. "I was only following orders" is an excuse that reduces staff to being mere cogs in a machine. I dislike those who refuse to accept personal responsibility for what they do, and some staff happily bang up people they know they shouldn't. If you don't see issues of personal or political morality in that.....

      To the best of my recollection I have skewered some staff for some of what they have done or do. I don't wage a wholesale campaign of abuse against them, and the specific complaints I make can be challenged on their merits. Ad hominem responses are just cheap and irrelevant.

      Delete
  9. "Censorship is despicable and that is that." - November 29th, 2012, 10:27AM

    Ben Gunn, Hypocrite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. and people don't change their mind? with changing circumstances. Of course they do, Seb.

      Delete
    2. There is a big different between principles and opinions Sophie.

      Delete
    3. that is rather an inane response, care to elabourate your point, and its relevance in this specific context?

      Delete
  10. "Is this a two way street?" asks anonymous, well i hate to point out the obvious but it is Bens blog, if you don't like him or the blog then go elsewhere. Simple.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sophie.... Stop and think about what you just posted....
      Talk about missing the point!!!!!

      Delete
    2. What point? that it is a blog that is owned by Ben? There are some who wish either for the world to remain unjust and biased, and those who wish for freedom to be made further and deeper. Now, incessant negative criticism over the question of prison reform and justice will not achieve anything, it will undermind Ben's attempt to do that ( which however much you might dislike him, he is making an attempt to bring some changes in attitude and policy ) Ben is not against constructive criticism I am sure, but the constant paternalistic digs at his person is tiresome. So a little censorship of that is in order ( even if only temporary )until the direction of his blog can be entrenched and established as to its meaning and purpose.

      Delete
    3. Sophie,
      Based on your response to my point and your response to Seb's point, the only thing that I can say is that you are either incredibly naive or being deliberately obtuse ... Or maybe you are just thick

      Delete
    4. Dear Anonymous,
      "Based on your response to my point and your response to Seb's point, the only thing that I can say is that you are either incredibly naive or being deliberately obtuse ... Or maybe you are just thick"

      Please explain why? and also why you resorted to an insult against my person without any explaination of what it is you disagree with?

      Thank you kindly.

      Delete
  11. Sophie,

    I refer to your request for elaboration above.

    It is not an inane response in the slightest.. there is no need to be so rude just because you haven't grasped the point. But frankly I don't object really as it provides an opportunity to explore this point further and to further illustrate the benefit of not silencing dissenting voices.

    I said 'There is a big different between principles and opinions Sophie.' - to elaborate:

    I would agree that if Ben had simply changed his opinion on something in light of changed circumstances, then that would be perfectly straightforward and reasonable.

    But in fact, Ben has abandoned a principle in favour of something that less than a month ago he said was 'despicable'.

    Ben has claimed to be fighting for individual rights and has repeatedly said that he served many years over his sentence because his was a dissenting voice.

    Yet now, other than this post he will be acting in the same way as his keepers did by silencing dissenting voices.

    Instead of readers being able to decide who is generating more 'heat than light' or more 'crap than wit' - it will be Ben alone.
    And thus Ben proves that rather than fighting for fairness etc. He simply desires to be the tyrant himself.

    Not simply a change of opinion on a small point, but a core principle abandoned.

    There are some quite vocal, unquestioning sycophants on this blog who may think they have supported Ben. I would suggest however, that it is those who have challenged his thinking that helped him finally overcome the hurdles. Jim Brown is one that springs to mind.

    When Ben makes an error (such as this), the last thing he needs is the sycophants cheering his every move but instead, more thoughtful, reasoned responses that can prompt reflection and deliberation.

    I welcome a 'change of mind' as you put it Sophie. But not an abandonment of the principles that Ben has stood for since this blog and his consequent pathway to release was established.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bravo Seb!!!!
      You call them sycophants, I call them acolytes!!!

      Cynic-Al

      Delete
    2. Go lick Seb's arse you sycophant Cynic-Al!

      Delete
  12. Am keeping an eye on this thread for the outcome - at least for a day or two. I would prefer not to feel the need to abandon this blog.

    Seb - I don't think Ben is abandoning his principles. I do think he is making a (big) mistake. I also think he is responding to pressure from longstanding readers. If you haven't run a blog/message board/forum that attracts conflict or the odd troll, you won't realise how difficult it is to stand firm. It doesn't look like it from the outside, from the inside, it feels like a hothouse. Everything gets super-concentrated, just as it does elsewhere online and just as it's all too easy to lose your rag and make a tit of yourself in a thread, it's also all too easy for admins and moderators to try to do at least something to "sort out" perceived problems. I think you are unfair to say that this represents an abandonment of principle.

    Sophie - I understand how irritating vandal posts and posters are. But this is no reason to exclude them. In fact, I personally prefer to see alternate views expressed, however rudely. Rudeness and a few grafitti postings are MUCH better than navel-gazing, which is what you seem to be trying to influence Ben to achieve with this blog. I also would ask you to take a step back for a moment and consider this. Who are you (or, perhaps more precisely, those readers who have complained) to exert pressure on Ben to change the censorship policy on this blog? Who are you to do that? At least the vandals don't do that. I could return your own justification to you: if you don't like the trolls, don't read the comments here any more. How does that sound? Are only polite postings acceptable? Only well-expressed, articulate ones? That would likely exclude many ex-cons who should feel particularly free to say what they will here. Or is it that only posts in general agreement with Ben's views are acceptable? In what way will that move the issues forward? It won't. It will simply result in a prejudiced, unchallenged world view wallowed in by a few cognoscenti - an irony, considering the blog is trying to address a different, prejudiced, unchallenged world view.

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    Replies
    1. And bravo to you too Jill ...
      Come on Ben .... What say you??
      CA

      Delete
    2. No, its not about dissent or disagreement, this blog has always had that. There have been many times that i have had disagreements with Ben and others here. As I have already said, it is about the paternalistic ad hominem attacks which are so destructive and have only appeared here on a regular basis of late, in fact since Ben's release. That is what has been so destructive and has the potential to hamper any progress, and in fact already is hampering progress. You can see it quite clearly from the response I got too from an anonymous @ 12.50. Its a lack of thought and ad hominem attack, and that is destructive. If you Jill like it, well each to their own. I can understand why Ben has had enough of it. Without some sort of intervention it will go on and on, these people are out to stop this blog ... And if I were Ben I would be very annoyed too.

      Delete
    3. But Sophie, Ben has clearly stated that he is responding to complaints. So, I ask again: who are YOU to attempt to influence Ben to change the policy on this blog? A non-censorship policy which, as pointed out above, he has strongly defended in the past? Why should Ben please YOU? Who are YOU to say what is or isn't destructive? Who are YOU to say that ad hominem comments shouldn't be allowed? Why do you care if someone is rude to you? And please - if you don't like ad hominem attacks, especially - don't go the route of straw men. I did not say that I LIKED vandal posts. I said I prefer a blog that allows vandal posts to one that does not. The benefits outweight the niggles, for me, and I explained why quite clearly.

      Ben: as I said before, you should do what you think best with your blog. And by this I mean that you should deal with vandals as you see fit. You. Not censor them as a response to pressure from some readers, even if they agree with your views. And not leave them as a response to mocking and insults from them. Then, your readers - including all the various Anons AND including Sophie - can choose to stay or go as they please.

      Delete
    4. Ok Jill, you ask repeatedly who am I? I am just some random person who has frequented Ben's blog since the begining. I am a random person who has thoughts, ideas and opinions. I am politically on the left and would like to see emancipation from mental and physical slavery. May I ask who are you Jill? and why are you making threats to leave because Ben is choosing to try and stop those who are annoying him, and many of his readers? Honestly Jill, you are being such a drama queen.

      Delete
    5. Apologies for being absent for most of the day, others matters called on my time and efforts. Nonetheless, I have been able to keep a sporadic eye on this ongoing debate and over several hours have had time to reflect.

      Firstly, those who are claiming that I am trying to silence dissenting voices should admit to being plain mendacious or stupid. I have never, and would never, do any such thing. This latest move is an attempt to control off-topic ad hominem attacks, not differing views - no matter how rudely expressed. Shame on those who have misrepresented my position so blatantly in order to launch Straw Doll attacks.

      Secondly, when is censorship, censorship? Confining some comments to a particular part of the blog hardly strikes me as a fundamental breach of principle or a philosophical earthquake that strikes at the heart and soul of the First Amendment (in US terms).

      Thirdly, it takes my breath away to read some of the self-serving pompous crap that has come up today. Unlike any of you (with one or two rare exceptions), I have lived a lifetime under censorship - don't presume to lecture me upon its evils. Launching and maintaining the blog for nearly 4 years of imprisonment was a major risk that challenged censorship and one that caused me genuine personal suffering. I suspect few of you have paid that price for daring to speak.

      Fouthly...I actually consider the views of Jill to be the most significant and insightful today. From this end of the blog the pressure is felt, and many readers privately complain that the ad hominem attacks are boring to the point of annoyance. What is a blog administrator to do...? there was not one suggested alternative solution to the problem.

      Fifth - and most importantly - I have decided to abandon my position. Call it the tiredness of recent illness, call it improbably benevolence or plain stupidity, but I cheerfully revert to my previous policy.

      Post whatever comments you like. Commercial span and libellous comment will be deleted - as was always the case - but apart from that, fire away.

      Some readers will leave, sick of the ad hominem crap, and I will be sad to see them go. As I say, only by talking to the stupid can you hope to change their minds.

      History will now pause and shake its head at the improbability of my saying, "I was wrong". Well, we'll all have to live with it!

      Bring it on.....

      Delete
    6. History will now pause ..... ??
      Really???
      Maybe you are the Messiah and not just a naughty boy after all Ben !!!

      CA

      Delete
    7. Good news Ben. A sound decision. I am sure the personal attacks on you, rather than on your arguments must upset you. Equally, the attacks you make on the prison system are probably felt as personal attacks by some of those who work within it and feel responsible for it and wish to defend it.

      The bottom line, is that most of the words on this blog are not written by you, but by the commenters and if you send a message to them that only what you deem to be acceptable will be published then you will just drive them away and the blog will slowly decline - I agree with Jill's comments in this regard.

      Its worth remembering the amount of time that commenters spend on assembling their arguments and writing them on your blog can be considerable. Best to thank them for their efforts rather than dismissing them as trolls or launching 'ad hominem' attacks suggesting they are self-serving and pompous.

      Delete
    8. @CA, oh, do try and develop a sense of irony and humour....

      Delete
  13. There's absolutely nothing wrong with admitting to one's mistakes - in fact it's a virtue in my view - imagine what politics would be like if politicians said 'I got it wrong' or 'I don't know' more often.

    In my experience reasonable and calmly-argued debate soon gets boring for trolls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ^ In my experience as well. Which is somewhat frustrating to a debate-junkie, as having one's opponents disappear into the mist after the first couple exchanges makes for very short debates. But it does prove very handy for maintaining the quality of the conversation.

      Delete
    2. "We all make mistakes." Said the Dalek climbing off the dustbin.

      Delete
  14. Sophie: you missed my point entirely. I was trying to say that it has no more to do with you what Ben does with his blog than it is to do with the vandal posters. I was trying to hint (without being abusive about it) that, to my mind, attempts to influence Ben by complaining behind the scenes are far, far, far more insidious than vandal posts that are out in the open for all to see. For, me, you see, YOU are worse than THEM. I don't mean that as a personal attack: I mean to explain my view. For the record, I've spent a lifetime attempting to be both left-wing AND anti-Fabian, so perhaps you may see why I say what I say. I see why I appeared to "threaten" to leave, but I was actually trying to explain my position to Ben - which is why I was so careful to wish him luck.

    Ben - thanks. I'll be sticking around.

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    Replies
    1. I'm confused Jill, are you saying that I have been complaining 'behind the scenes'?

      Delete
    2. Because that is what you are thinking and that is what makes you say that I am worse than the vandals or trolls or screws (whoever they are), then you are wrong. And i would like an apology.

      Delete
    3. Should read *If that is what you are thinking ...

      Delete
  15. Sophie: oh, the irony. Please, please, please, play the ball and not the man -precisely as you say you want others to do. The you is general to the "side" of the topic under discussion, and YOU (personal) have been open in support of the YOU (general). As I made clear in my first post to you here, viz "Who are you (or perhaps more precisely, those who have complained)". I can't spell it out for you any more clearly, so I'm bowing out now.

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    Replies
    1. I would just like to apologise on behalf of Jill now she has gone for her nauseating, superior attitude.

      Delete
  16. A lot of fuss and opinions here - I have read the blog for a long time now - and in my opinion it is thought provoking and enlightening - and thank goodness it is to continue. Ben said there has been no suggestions as to how he could make 'changes' easy - let the readers ignore the comments they don't approve of. If people add rude and personal comments - they have a problem - let them get on with it and ignore them!

    Really glad you are to continue Ben and hope you are feeling much better - I know you can rise above the 'rubbish and personal attacks'.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Maybe it's just me, but Jill comes across superbly well here, and 6.54's apology is odd. Jill is being wholly positive.

    I like the liveliness of the blog in recent months.

    It's a bit ironic in all the circumstances, for Ben (a) to perceive a crisis, and (b) to announce as solution the creation of a seg unit of his very own into which he can chuck malcontents.

    Oh dear.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Time for my two-penn'orth.

    Screws (or others) who post here, giving valid arguments, and playing devils advocate against Ben's outlook are, in my mind, doing "a good thing" no matter how much Ben may feel personally attacked. To a certain extent playing the ball, not the man, even allows some leeway in the use of Anglo-Saxon terminology to express strongly-held views.

    However, people who post parts of Ben's (hidden) prison records, try to imply that there was some secret reason other than sheer bloody-mindedness for his serving as long as he did etc not only do themselves no favours, but are also committing criminal acts in the process. Moreover, when the same "contributors" (and I use the term in the loosest sense) then start attacking other comments by playing the man, not the ball, then they lose the argument.

    Freedom of speech is not the freedom to infringe on others rights. Ben has, for his sin, served the custodial element of his sentence, and is rebuilding a new life. The malcontents who, for whatever reason, dislike him are only showing their own inadequacies by attacking him.

    AS to solutions - I would like to see IP-logging, and when (not if) it is proven that the abusive and attacking posts are coming from any of 131 MoJ sites around the UK, prosecutions. And before someone says "no Internet in prisons" - that's crap, as proven by a CoE minister at a small Welsh jail allowing a prisoner to look up his victim's address on Google Maps in April 2008... Amazing what you discover when you keep your ear to the ground.

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    Replies
    1. Fenrir...
      I can tell you categorically that you are wrong when you suggest that staff could post to this blog from HMPS sites.
      Yes, some staff do have what is called 'enhanced Internet access' via the quantum system, this is granted on a basis of job related need; however - and I should know because I have such permissions- even enhanced access does not allow connection to vast parts of the Internet including social media and blog sites. Furthermore all Internet access is monitored both at establishment level and centrally by HMPS CPU, that's how the case you mentioned in Wales came to light.
      I'm sure that there are some staff who read - and sometimes contribute to - this blog, but am equally sure that they aren't using HMPS IT equipment to do so, probably just doing it on their day off... Or even via a smartphone from the car park ..
      Hope that clears things up a little for you
      Inner-Vision

      Delete
    2. And at last a screw reveals himself here. Took a while, but....

      Delete
    3. What do you mean , at last?? It was never a secret!!
      PS ... Am a governor nowadays, used to be a screw though... Back when you were still a YP !!!
      Inner vision

      Delete
    4. Inner-Vision, I think you are mis-quoting the case in question.

      You also have to consider that the same prison had probably the highest concentration of IT experts in the custodial system, and the *prisoners* developed their own version of Linux, set up internal networks, and even developed a number of computer games! In general, this was allowed because it was to the advantage of the prison to have this level of knowledge present, and it only became a problem when a MacBook Air got smuggled in under Rule 39 - he got shipped back to Winchester fairly quickly, but apparently still got out without a blemish on his rrecord. Still has the MacBook, apparently!

      Nonetheless, Internet Access is present in prisons and an enterprising officer would be able to access this blog from inside the walls - I certainly was from a "secure" site today.

      By the way, for an A-Cat, the "Secure Site" in question is awfully insecure when it comes to security checks on subcontractors. Though I'm guessing that when I get there tomorrow I won't be welcome any more, good job my employer knows my record...

      Delete
    5. And, strangely, when I got to the site in question, I was not permitted access, nor were any of my colleagues.

      Can;t think why - very petty of HMPS, after all, we'd been doing the job a month so far.

      Delete
  19. The blog probably needs moving onto it's own domain with possibly a wordpress installation. This will allow all sorts of plugins to be added that track IP addresses a lot more effectively than blogspot does.

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  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Commercial spam will be ruthlessly eliminated. My spam filter has been allowing stuff through now and again of late and I will manually remove those items when I can.

      I'm really not interested in your flogging me vague temptations of dusky women and fast cars.

      Delete
  21. What a tremendously disappointing thread. When has providing a dedicated space for people to be as unpleasant as they wish to be ever been even remotely close to "censorship"? I am frankly appalled at the people here who should know better throwing their dummies out of the pram over what is really just a tiny administrative change.

    Shouting down and derailing good debates with personal attacks is very disruptive, and now it will be allowed to continue unchecked.

    Ben's solution may not have worked, it may have required too much time to administer. But is was far from censorship and, had it have worked, it may have improved the quality of the debate here no end.

    Now we'll never know, because a fusty but voluble few have decided that all change is bad and Ben shouldn't be allowed to even try to manage the situation. Disappointing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am no regular on any blog but this and have been for half a year now. It has been informative and inspiring on many things - and you never fail to say, it is one man's opinion, obviously others see things differently. Isn't that was discussions are about? Reading the posts above I can only agree with Jill. All arguments have been said. Let's ignore the rubbish and listen to arguments - well written or not. No, most of us can not imaginge what Ben has been through, and I think that living life outside now has more difficulties for Ben than we can imagine, too. I congratulate on the decision NOT to delete messages. Until now you have so swiftly dealt with anything - keep going. But none of us should judge you if it just gets too much for you personally; maybe it will one day, and maybe you will stop blogging one day - time will show. You must take care of yourself, too. Regarding blogging in general, I think Jill's arguments are the most convincing here. I will keep coming back, trolls or not! Sorry I seem to be unable to log in correctly - I don't hide behind anonymous. Dorothea

      Delete
    2. Ironic! You are one of the worst abusers on this blog!

      Ben said he would delete posts he didn't like or he thought were crap hardly a 'tiny administrative change'.

      Delete
    3. Ah, you pick on a single word in my post. Obvuiously I was trying to deal with off-topic ad hominen comments and not just those that disagreed with my views.

      If you didn't discern that, get an education. If you did, stop misrepresenting my views.

      Delete
    4. Anon, I presume you meant me there. Would you care to back that accusation up with some examples of this "abuse"?

      Ben would only be deleting posts made in the wrong thread, and then only if they were disruptive to the subject at hand. Anyone would have been free to post whatever they liked in this one: a dedicated forum for completely free commenting. So, a move of location, not of content and therefore, yes, an administrative change. Albeit one that may have turned out to be too difficult to manage. Not that we will ever find out now.

      Delete
    5. prisonerben - What you actually said was 'But if I judge a comment on another thread to be more heat than light, more crap than wit, then it ends up being deleted.' - I don't see that anyone has misrepresented your views. Perhaps what you mean is that you misrepresented what you actually meant with that description?

      Pleaase think - Is it really appropriate to be so rude 'If you didn't discern that, get an education. If you did, stop misrepresenting my views.' ? Remember, It was you who was complaining about attacks.

      Delete
  22. I didn't feel that Ben's attempt at 'management' of posts was censorship; more an exercise in futility....

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  23. Ben.

    I think you have made a wise decision.

    Very few people stick exactly to the technical aspects of a debate. There is always an extent to which argument becomes personal. When people feel passionate about something they feel the attacks on their ideas more personally and in turn tend to attack more personally - it's natural. You have done the same thing in your comments above.

    Some of your more sycophantic followers regularly attack others feeling justified to do so because they are your supporters and then cry foul when they themselves are attacked. They demand censorship for others views but not their own. The usual suspects above are clamouring for censorship whilst arguing it would not be censorship because they assume their comments would be allowed!

    Your initial stand was correct. Censorship is wrong and it's also self-defeating.

    This blog is more lively and well read these days. In the past most blogs have been complaints (quite justified) from you followed with a chorus of the same people sympathising and agreeing with your every word and shouting down anyone with a different view or perspective.

    The blog is much improved now. Well done. I hope you really start working on your ideas for prison reform and the debates get more energetic and passionate. Only good can come from passionate uncensored debate.

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    1. "Some of your more sycophantic followers regularly attack others feeling justified to do so because they are your supporters and then cry foul when they themselves are attacked. They demand censorship for others views but not their own. The usual suspects above are clamouring for censorship whilst arguing it would not be censorship because they assume their comments would be allowed!"

      Care to name anyone and give any examples Suzie?

      I look forward to reading your comments in the future on the subjects and hearing everything you have got to say about prison reform.

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    2. If the cap fits...

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    3. ballshit, utter ballshit.

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    4. Sophie. Whilst I think censorship is a bad idea I do agree that personal attacks are generally best avoided. I am surprised to see you inviting them.

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    5. Sophie... All you have to say on prison reform is oooh and aaah whenever Ben utters anything... Or am I wrong??
      Go on, inspire us all with your views on reform ... Original work only though , no cheating!!!

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    6. What I am inviting is a proper well informed debate, now, can you corroborate your statement about Bens oh so sycophantic supporters?

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    7. anonymous - do please give examples, thank you.

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    8. anonymous you are talking crap why don't you shut the f*ck up?

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    9. I am now very confused. I am anonymous - not you lot!

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    10. Fuck you anonymous

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    11. .... And then Tony Curtis stood up and said "I'm anonymous!!"
      Or was it Spartacus? Who cares this is bollocks now ( the most commented on of all his posts though) but still bollocks

      I'M SPARTACUS / ANONYMOUS !!!!!!

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  24. How interesting this blog will continue to be as Ben tries to fight off those who are simply seeking to cut him down rather than further a debate for the good of all. Its great that the reading figures went up so much at the same time there was an effort made to stop all debate and concentrate on running him down, yes it shows just how popular all of that was. So, one must always do what best pleases the people (regardless of who they are) and honour the popularity. Yay! Good luck Ben and well done for not doing anything about it, its the right thing to do since your blog has got so popular now, all the best.

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  25. Actually Ben I quite like the spam and advertising. It provides a welcome relief from all the other crap that is being written on here at the moment.

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  26. The only thing I find a bit annoying on this blog is the idiots who want to censor people and keep laying down their own rules about who can say what. Stop trying to control what people think by controlling what they can say to who.. It's a free country. Well sort of.

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    1. "The only thing I find a bit annoying on this blog is the idiots who want to censor people and keep laying down their own rules about who can say what."

      Oh dear, who has done this to you Derek? and what exactly did they say?

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  27. As I have said, let commenting anarchy reign. I always reserve the right to alter commenting options in future though...

    The idea of shepparding ad hominem attacks into a particular corner in order to retain a previous sense of civility across the rest of the blog was hardly censorship. Get a grip!

    I have no particular problem with being abused. After all, I have a prison file four feet high which is a litany of carefully contructed abuse and I dealt with that day in, day out.

    My objection is that these attacks may ruin a discussion thread about issues that are rather more important than my personal qualities or existence. That concern remains.

    I will do whatever I need to in order to safeguard the continuing existence and success of the blog.

    Consider yourselves on probation.... :)

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  28. I will be too frightened to comment now in case I am called a sycophant or a dissenter!

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    1. Pay no attention, Anne. Those that like to bandy the word 'sycophant' about, always use it in the plural - rather than attach it to an individual. This (to me) renders it meaningless and little more than the 'word of the week'.

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    2. Surely the word of the week is "hominem"???

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    3. Should maybe have read: 'word of the weak'.

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  29. An interesting set of comments! Interesting if disjointed debate too. I often thought the blog would be more readable if the trolling comments were removed. Those which bore no relevance to the topic. However having read this I agree that all comments should remain in their place and zero censorship exists. Agree though Ben, I don't think you were crossing that line far!

    I'm neither an ex con, current con ( hopefully not future con) or screw. I doubt a high proportion of the 30k readers are by the way. So I look forward to more open debate from those in disagreement as well as agreement.

    LC

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  30. Ben, I'm glad you've reconsidered your position. I also find the trolling tiresome, and it does put me off commenting - if the conversation is drowning amongst too much bull then there is a problem. But it's really not at critical levels on your blog, and the benefits of the comments section being open outweighs that of a closed system. Those visitors who have half a brain will know bull when they see it, and step around it.

    That's not to say your comments couldn't be improved though. Disqus is an easy plugin that works on Blogger. Two main benefits. It allows people to like or dislike comments, which keep the better ones bumped up to the top and the crass ones relegated to off screen obscurity. You can also operate a White List, which you can add commenters too as they post. Once on the White List their future comments get posted immediately. Spam, trolls and other less desirable content gets held until it's modified (if necessary) and approved.

    Or there is always Wordpress.... :)

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