Tag Archives: comment policy

Comments and stuff

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Just a reminder, since I don’t post often (inertia problems mostly):

Comments are under moderation, so your comments won’t appear immediately, and it may take months or even years for all I know for me to get to your comment.  If your comment doesn’t appear instantly, that does not mean I have rejected it, it just means I have not approved it yet.  Comment approval is not the highest priority in my life at the moment so I can’t guarantee anything about when I’ll get around to stuff.  I just got around to stuff from a year ago, if that gives you any idea.

As far as comment policy goes, I’ve tried to write one and I don’t really officially have one.  I use common sense, that’s all I can really say.  

Comments that seem more like they’re intended as personal emails, don’t get posted, but I do read them, usually.  I don’t usually respond to them though — or to any other personal emails for that matter.  At the moment, it’s rare that I manage to reply to even personal emails from my closest friends: that inertia problem again.  So don’t be alarmed or offended if I never reply to your comment, either here or by email.

Comments that reveal a large degree of personal information (real or otherwise) about people — whether other people, me, or even the commenter sometimes (if it looks again like they’re mistaking it for a personal email rather than a comment form) won’t get posted, generally.  

Comments that engage in gossip or defamation won’t generally get posted.  If I have ever let those through in the past, I apologize.  Defamatory comments will be forwarded to my lawyer with IP addresses, deleted, and promptly forgotten.

Comments that exist specifically and deliberately to stress me out (don’t worry, you know who you are, and if it’s not you, you won’t have to worry, there is no mistaking these) won’t get posted, and will get considered by people close to me as a form of assault if they manage to actually do me harm, since my adrenal insufficiency and the results of deliberately causing me severe enough stress are public knowledge at this point.  Such comments (and comments that are illegal, harassing, defamatory, etc. — generally a category that overlaps, here) will generally get forwarded on to my lawyer as well as deleted, and then I forget about them very quickly.

Aside from those sorts of things, I let comments through on a case-by-case basis.  For the most part I let comments through, whether I agree with them or not.  If I don’t let comments through, it’s generally because they either seem like they’re intended as private emails (or any of the other above issues), or else because there’s something about them that seems more hurtfUl or otherwise harmful than it is useful.  That’s always a judgement call.  Sometimes I’ll doubtless make mistakes.  Sometimes I know I’ve accidentally hit the wrong button while moderating comments.  

But I think it’s far more fair to just say I make judgement calls, than it is to write out a ridiculously complex comment policy that has specific hard-and-fast rules that I could never actually abide by.  If I wrote a long, detailed comments policy, what would actually happen would be the following, most likely:  People who wrote absolutely innocent comments that violated the comment policy wouldn’t get their comments posted.  People who were up to no good would find ways of violating the spirit of the law while obeying the letter, and get their comments through, and if I didn’t let their comments through they would gripe endlessly about how I wasn’t  abiding by my own comment policy.  Especially if I let through innocent comments that technically violated it.  Lots of people would be paralyzed into not posting by fear of screwing up with one or more of the rules (I know people this happens to a lot, and it happens to me a lot in blogs with complex detailed comment policies).  So it’s just better if I say, if you’re not an asshole and don’t write something that looks like a private email or certain kinds of request on me, it’s likely that eventually your comment will get posted, and if it doesn’t it’s likely either a mistake on my part or your comment ending up in my spam filters.  Which happens a lot, the spam filter thing, I forgot to mention — when I have time to go through my spam filters, which is almost never, but when I used to have time, I would always, always, always find lots of legitimate comments sitting around in there collecting dust.

So I will eventually get to your comment.  If your comment is legit, and not malicious, most likely it will get posted, just not necessarily fast, because I do have disabilities that interfere with moderating stuff.  Comments that seem like private emails, or that are specific kinds of requests of me (mostly to do with permission to do such-and-such or interview requests and the like) won’t get posted usually.  Comments that look indistinguishable from spam bots will possibly not get posted either.  Gossip and malicious comments will not get posted if I notice them.  And other than that, I use my judgement.  I know some people get really upset when their comments are not instantly posted, and think I’m censoring them, but that’s highly unlikely if your comment was legit and not any of the other categories I’ve described.  The most likely reason for a comment not going through, by far, is that I haven’t gotten to it yet (and sometimes I don’t moderate all my comments in chronological order, so that’s no say of it either)

Maybe I ought to eventually make this a page, not just a post.  But since I’m planning on making at least one post for Blogging Against Disablsim Day, which draws more traffic than usual, I thought I should make this post.  Maybe I’l clean it up and make it a page, though, eventually.  I’m still finding my way around this new blogging software as well — it was hard enough to figure out how to post things.  

(It’s amazing how just lacking a certain amount of mental energy, makes me way more computer illiterate than I used to be.  Either that or I’ve finally hit the age where new computer stuff becomes WTFWTFWTF!?!!  You should see the kind of cell phone I have, everyone else sees it as a dinosaur but I can barely keep with the existence of cellphones, let alone smartphones, so I got something I can text on that does very little else, and I’m sticking with that as long as I can get away with it.)

Free Speech 101

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Updated to add: PLEASE READ MY APOLOGY AND RETRACTION. Autism Speaks did not do this this time. Anything not pertaining to Zach’s t-shirt is still a concern, but the thing with Zach’s t-shirt is no longer a concern. Please read my retraction for more links on the topic.

Someone just asked me why it was that I could oppose the kind of censorship occurring in my last post, when I am involved with two different organizations (ANI and autistics.org) who both have rules about what can and cannot be posted in their forums, and will put people on moderation if they break those rules. And, presumably, because I have a blog in which I don’t allow certain kinds of comments to be posted either.

I will try to explain the difference as well as I can, in case anyone else is wondering the same thing.

Edited to add: But first, please read through the ad hominem fallacy, tu quoque. Even if I were really engaged in censorship, it would not make me inaccurate in pointing out someone else’s. But, I’m not.

Basically it works like this:

Censorship (or in some people’s view, the bad kind of censorship) is preventing someone from doing the equivalent of printing their own totally legal material on their own paper.

Whereas, what autistics.org and ANI have as policies, is the equivalent of saying that you can’t print certain views on paper that we happen to own. You can’t do the equivalent of coming in and using our printing presses to just print whatever agenda you feel like, there are boundaries there. That’s totally fine.

I could decide to create a mailing list that had a rule that anyone whose name started with F could not post there, ever, and that everyone else could only post every other Tuesday. I could then put people on moderation if they tried to break those rules, or even remove them from the list. That would not be censorship — people whose names started with F could go and post somewhere else, and same with people who wanted to post on days other than alternate Tuesdays. I would not be preventing them from doing that.

What would be censorship is if I started such a list, and then went around trying to keep other people from breaking my rules on their own lists that I didn’t even own.

I would have no problem if the Autism Speaks message board moderated or banned perfectly legal posts that disagreed with the mission of the organization. They have every right to do that. It’s their message board, not mine. I would have no problem if I were moderated or thrown off of a mailing list dedicated to chelation of autistic people, because I clearly disagree with that procedure. People are routinely thrown off such lists and that’s just fine.

They’re not doing that.

If people printed up a batch of t-shirts saying “autistics.org doesn’t speak for me,” I wouldn’t try to do anything, I wouldn’t even really care. I certainly wouldn’t sue them for copyright infringement for saying the word “autistics.org”.

If someone tried to disseminate the idea that autistics.org was run by a bunch of child molesters, that would be defamatory, and that would not be okay. Defamation is not protected free speech.

If someone tried to sell a book with the writings from autistics.org in it, without obtaining permission (and this has happened in at least one book that I came across completely by accident one day), that would be copyright infringement, and that would not be okay.

But a t-shirt saying “autistics.org doesn’t speak for me” or “Autism Speaks doesn’t speak for me” is well within protected free speech, at least in the United States, where both autistics.org and Autism Speaks are based.

Now, if someone tries to come to, say, ANI-L, with the express purpose of trying to talk everyone into believing that it’s horrible not to want a cure, then they will probably eventually get themselves banned.

If someone tries to come onto my blog and violate my comment policy (say, telling people here we’re not autistic enough to understand the needs of real autistic people), then their comments will be moderated, and if it happens consistently enough with them not providing much if any useful content beyond that, I might chuck their name into my spam filter and forget about them. (I so far have not had to do this very often, most people are more respectful than that.)

But people are totally able to go off and make their own mailing lists or blogs with the totally opposite set of rules. Free speech means that you can go make a mailing list or blog dedicated entirely to wanting a cure, and throw off anyone who argues against it because it gets in the way of your goal of finding or funding a cure.

Free speech means that you can go off and form a mailing list entirely full of people that you believe are “autistic enough” to comment about autism, and moderate comments from anyone you don’t think is autistic enough.

Free speech doesn’t mean that you have every right to, no matter what your viewpoint is and what organization it is, come onto someone else’s forum, or use someone else’s printing press, to disseminate your own viewpoint.

So there’s no actual contradiction here: Autism Speaks is attempting to interfere with other people’s totally legal and protected free speech. They are not just restricting what can be said on their own forum (which is their right, whether they choose to do so or not), they are attempting to restrict totally legal (non-copyright-infringing, non-defamatory) content that people print on their own t-shirts and websites, just because it expresses dislike of their organization.

And that’s all the difference in the world.

Why comments might not appear. And some notes on asking for stuff. And some apologies. And a new website.

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(Edited to add: If anyone can direct this woman and her daughter to resources to deal with the situation described in that post, it’d be really helpful. I’m passing it on because I don’t know about these things, at least not right now at 2:30 in the morning, but I’m guessing others do.)

I just pissed off Larry Arnold about “deleting” comments he made that I’d never actually seen. But I figured out the problem, they were in my spam filter. Problem solved. But I figured I should post this in case it happened to anyone else. (Edited to add: I just checked — I found a whole bunch more posts sitting around in my spam filter, and have de-spammed them as well. This is way clearly nothing personal, the thing is just acting up too much.)

Just to reiterate something I said recently before:

Be aware that my spam filters often mess up and throw things in the spam bin that are actually legitimate comments (this happens most often to Andrea Shettle for some reason, to the point where I search all spam for her name before deleting it). So you might want to keep a copy of your comment just in case.

I just searched on that person’s name in my spam filter, and found the comments.

Please note: If I’d deleted the comments, I wouldn’t have been able to find them in my spam filter. Deleted comments disappear entirely.

If I do delete a comment it’s either because:

1. It violates my comment policy. (Which isn’t about agreeing or disagreeing with me, as you can tell by what I let through. However, I don’t allow hurtful gossip, and I don’t allow attempts to derail self-advocacy efforts by saying people aren’t autistic, or aren’t the kind of autistic people who matter, or, by virtue of being autistic, are clueless.)

2. It contains private information.

3. I misclicked (the new WordPress dashboard makes it really, really easy to do that — instead of having checkboxes where I can click next to the ones I want deleted, then the ones I want to keep, etc, and then click something at the bottom of the page, there are little links on each comment now for approve, spam, delete, etc., and if I click “delete” by mistake, it’s gone forever).

If there are things from awhile ago that seem to violate my policy, that’s because the policy wasn’t always there. If there are things from now that seem to violate my policy, it’s probably because I don’t always read through comments very thoroughly before approving them. (And that “don’t” should really be “can’t”, or else I’d never find the time to approve them all.)

As I said before, if you’re attached to a comment, keep another copy. And also, don’t assume the worst if something doesn’t appear. I just got through a month’s worth of backlogged approving comments elsewhere, and a lot of them were people posting the same thing over and over and then sometimes going “You didn’t post my comment, that must be because __________”. No, seriously, I just didn’t get to it until now.

I’ve got 3172 comments in my spam filter right now. If some of them are yours, I’m truly sorry about the problems. I just don’t know a better way to handle the enormous volume of comment spam I get. Please keep copies of any comments you’re particularly attached to, and email me (my blog address with an @ after the first word instead of a dot) if they’re not getting through. I’ll try to find them in the spam filter through a search.

I do clear the spam filter from time to time though, and then there’s no going back unless someone posts the comment again.

Please also be aware I’m not in a position to answer all my emails, do everything I’m supposed to be doing, etc. I’m behind on that already. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on in real life right now. I’m not doing a tenth of what I should be, and I haven’t been as political as I’ve wanted to be lately. But I’m doing what I can, and I tend to assume that I’m not the only advocate out there and that other people are doing things when I can’t be doing them. Frankly I think I need to hang out in more political discussions than I have been lately, because I find that often it’s the environment that allows me to do, or not do, something.

At the same time… since I’ve gotten back online more thoroughly, I’ve been hit with a massive amount of requests, demands, questions, queries, etc. Many of them assume that I’ve stored knowledge I haven’t stored, know things I don’t know, remember things I don’t remember, and can do things I can’t do. I feel bad about it, because a lot of the things being requested, demanded, etc., are worth doing. But at the same time, feeling bad about it doesn’t exactly help anything. I’ve tried to do as much as I can, when I’ve been able to do it.

Just be aware that when you write to me about one thing, I’m also likely getting emails, phone calls, and a whole lot of other things, about a lot of other things. Some recent examples:

  • A person who worked at a school for autistic children, wanting advice on how to best get law enforcement’s attention about abuse there, and get the abuser fired, and is possibly facing retaliation.
  • A full-time caregiver of a girl who’s in the hospital with a life-threatening medical condition, the hospital might not be acting fast enough to save her life, the person who has actual guardianship over the girl is too strung out on drugs to care what happens to her.
  • An autistic person is trapped in the psychiatric system and their parents are trying to get them to sign over all their rights, and they have enough psych labels that their friends are afraid that most people in the autistic community would claim they belong in the system getting “treatment” they don’t want, and that they just lack insight, etc. And since I’ve been on the other end of that and have firm beliefs on that matter, I’m the one initially being written to about it.
  • Someone wants my help coming up with solutions to make certain online environments accessible to a broader range of people than most people think of accessibility in terms of.
  • Online meetings for a political autism-related group that I’m a co-founder of, that I’ve only managed to show up to one of in the past several months of weekly meetings, and that I’ve gotten weird reports of it being a ‘support group’ now (not something it was intended to be) and of it ‘dying a slow death from neglect’ (well, yeah, but I’d hope that a group with lots of people could function with just two people not being there).
  • Someone wants me to work on the stylesheets for more than one website on this server, since I know my way around CSS and the like better than the person who does all the hardcore sysadmin stuff.
  • I have to email a few people about participating in a panel discussion at a conference, then write my own part in it (topic – force-fitting oneself to stereotypes, or being force-fit into them by others, and consequences, basically).
  • I have to write a longer speech for a different conference (where I’m hoping to incorporate concepts from disability politics into a discussion of autism, in order to get a different from usual perspective).
  • About 3 or 4 interview requests, one of which I’ve agreed to (specifically because I’m only one of several interviewees within the self-advocacy movement, instead of being made into some single representative of all autistic people and all our opinions, which is both impossible and not something I’ve ever been interested in), which means four or five days of my time doing things, and then another several days of way less ability to do things than usual.
  • Several people wanting to know about my life in general, in ways that I might or might not even tell a total stranger.
  • Several people apparently wanting me to jump in and help them with flamewars I’m not interested in engaging in.
  • People developing assistive technology wanting me to look over their ideas.
  • Many, many people wanting DVDs of various videos and/or permission to show them places.
  • Lots of comments that I haven’t yet moderated, in lots of places.
  • An entire list that I’ve been not managing to hang around to moderate much of either.
  • Lots of people (here and elsewhere) angry about their comments not showing up, and assuming the worst about the reasons.
  • Lots of people not angry about their comments not showing up, but just repeating their comments lots and lots of times because they think they didn’t get through even if it was just me not getting to them yet.
  • Someone wants proof that I can actually type, and is interpreting all of the previous results of making videos with my prior crappy camera with no tripod mount (and thus no way to tilt the camera or suspend it in various locations without a lot of duct tape and other contraptions that I don’t always have the ability to deal with), as intentional manipulation to make it look like I’m typing when I’m not. And, then, is going on to interpret my not getting to his requests for a video Right Now as proof that I’m not really typing.
  • Someone wants to name a robot after me.

That’s not all, that’s what I can remember right now.

Two things determine how I respond: Capability and priority. Sometimes something’s a high priority but I just can’t do it, sometimes something’s a low priority and I can, so the two don’t always go together and it’s as frustrating to me as it is to anyone else.

I’ve noticed Laura getting a lot of stuff too, and a lot of it being framed in terms of demands. One day, she’d been basically working all day and night on the server (which is well past her capacities as a sysadmin in some respects), as well as taking care of me. Note that she’s autistic and has a severe physical impairment as well. She took a break to watch her favorite news program for an hour, and then she was going to get my medications set up for me, and then she was going to do more work on the server.

Well… she got a phone call halfway into that news program, which was her only break for the day. The phone call was from someone who wanted a password. Fine. She said she’d get it within an hour or so. The person at the other end of the line apparently said, “No, not in an hour or so, now,” or something to that effect. Meanwhile, she was getting emails saying that she had to do something else, for a totally different website, right away, and that if she didn’t do it, she would have to do something else that was even more impossible to do right away.

This is one person trying to do a whole lot of work on an entire server full of websites, while also being thrown into the role of caregiver for that time, and everyone seemed to be pressuring her to do their part first, and right now, and no it couldn’t wait half an hour or an hour. Each one seeming to think they were the only one wanting her attention right then, and some of them frankly not seeming to be able to differentiate between a need and a want, or between a possibility and an impossibility.

To be fair, one of the people demanding things right away, while the things didn’t really need to be done right away, that particular person was experiencing enough hardship at the time that they must have viewed even Laura as having the luxury to do just about anything. That happens, I’ve even fallen prey to it, so has Laura I’m sure, but it’s not always the most accurate assessment of things.

I almost wish there was some way to show people exactly who we are, and what our lives are like, and what our abilities are like, though. Instead of that, I’ve just produced that list of stuff that people are writing to me about, in the hope that it will show exactly how many things there are to pay attention to. If I could really get to all of these at once, and the many other things I’ve accidentally let drop over the months or years, I would be at a workplace right now getting paid, instead of my actual situation which I think if anyone magically teleported here and looked in my room right now they’d see the problem right away. At any rate, I’m only one person, together we’re still only two people.

So also a blanket apology for several things:

To anyone I didn’t get to when something was really important, for not getting to them.

For not being as political as usual in my writing. And for allowing myself to mostly get sucked into apolitical sorts of things.

For the actions of my spam filter. (No, I didn’t cause it, but it still caused problems.)

For allowing myself to get extremely sloppy when I write about things, and often writing as if things are true that I know are not or are only approximations of the truth, because I can’t easily right now find the language for what I really mean. (An example would be discussing particular psychological terms without sufficient discussion of what destructive concepts they embody.) Or even things that I just outright don’t mean, because the phrases pop out of my fingers fully formed, triggered by the words before them.

For often writing only half of some idea without addressing the other half as much as I should.

Also, a new website on our server is this (edited to add: try clicking again, I gave the wrong web address before):

The Real Voices of Autism. It’s running social networking software, but the point is it’s for autistic people and our allies. Not for any one person to claim to be the only real voice of autism or anything. It’s intended to connect people with similar interests and stuff, but also to make it easier to form discussion groups and have discussions about how to do various actual projects in the real world and stuff like that. And to share links, and, etc. As Laura put it, “This is your site. Do what it what you will, provided of course that you’re not abusive.” (And “do what it what you will” is actually exactly the kind of thing I was talking about earlier with word trouble, only some of mine has been a lot worse than that, and I’m having real trouble reading lately.)

So… I hope any of this has made enough sense. I don’t want to intimidate anyone who’s trying to contact me, I just want people to be more aware of what the real situation is with requests for things.