I’ve Just Banned Someone From Commenting on This Blog. Did I Do The Right Thing?

The only things I delete in the comments at View From The Wing are:

  1. Extreme offensiveness – racism, misogyny, graphic sexuality.
  2. Non-public information about individuals – the full name and address, for instance of another commenter who uses a pseudonym.

I’ve been pretty lax in doing that. I’ve never once gotten an email from a member that I can recall thanking me for having such a light touch in the comments. I’ve gotten many emails like this one questioning the value of the comments section that flows from such a light moderating touch,

So I’m not a fan of the comments section of your blog. That’s mostly because it adds so little value to any conversation you start, and you have an abnormally high number of jackasses commenting on your site. For some reason you like engaging some of these folks, but I really question whether the majority of your readership shares that interest.

However I’ve long been reluctant to ban commenters or censor ‘the jackasses’.

My general approach is that ‘it’s the internet’ and that what someone writes reflects more on their own character than on anyone else. I’ve been a denizen of the internet for more than 20 years, and I probably have too pollyannaish a view of what kind of free speech community it was supposed to become that derives from a mindset formed in the early 1990s.

More importantly though I question my ability to be particularly Solomonic in my approach to moderating comments. It’s too easy to let distaste for a commenter’s truly offensive posts become a slippery slope into dislike for someone who thinks I’m deeply and morally wrong on some issue. Wouldn’t the comments be much nicer without their invective? Wouldn’t it be nicer without the commenter who says I’ve got no idea what I’m talking about?

If I start down this road, anyone becomes a target for banning or comment deletion if they disagree with me or call me out. So I tend not to delete comments or ban commenters… even when they cross into the two areas that I’ve said aren’t acceptable in the comments here.

Which is a long way of saying that for only the third or fourth time in almost 15 years at View From the Wing I’ve gone ahead and banned a commenter. I also deleted a different commenter’s “contribution” yesterday which came close to advocating violence.

I’m pretty sure I’ve done the right thing in these cases, and I wonder what readers think about my approach and whether I should rethink it with a goal of developing a comments section that is more useful and constructive, of commenters sharing not just their opinions but their experiences, as a way of helping other readers dive further into an issue or offer that I write about? Should I be taking more of an active hand in the comments than I do?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Yer alright Gary .A few ( thankfully very few ) of your commenters I am certain I would cross the street to avoid . So give ’em the boot !

  2. Mr. DCS , So maybe you work for Hilton , you own a lot of Hilton stock or you just really like Hilton . Good for you .
    You often comment and have explanations for why you prefer Hilton . That’s not bad either .
    What is regrettable is the continuing hostile tone in your comments . Maybe you don’t realize this . Throw that big chip off your shoulder and have a happier life .

  3. I say ban all useless comments, because I (or we) do not want to waste our time reading a post that contributes nothing to the subject. We won’t miss it, if it isn’t there.

  4. I subscribe to your newsletter because I want to read what *you* have to say. If I wanted to read the thoughts of others, I’d subscribe to their newsletters.

  5. @Dalo — I do not work for Hilton, I own no Hilton stocks, and I have no chip on my shoulder. I simply correct bogus claims. It is that simple. If you followed the first link I provided about to the big-time year-end redemption I am on now, you will see that I redeemed points for stays at 3 Hyatt and 2 Marriott properties. I am wedded to no program, although my preference is clear. I am an equal opportunity opportunist, who will go with a redemption that gives me best value and not always with my preferred program. That you find my comments hostile simply reflects the fact that they tell truths that you’d rather not hear, or they simply burst your bubble. My comments my also sould hostile when I respond in kind, which I will ALWAYS do because I can give it just as good.

    Now, got anything substantive to say, or are you going to spew more conjectures, suppositions or unsubstantiated claims.

  6. UA-NYC: “It’s amusing that DCS links to his original content post on SPG upgrades (a subject in which he has no personal experiences to share), and said post created 2+ weeks ago has exactly zero, yes, zero, comments. I guess sharing hate, lies, misinformation, and no source linking doesn’t work so well. LOL.”

    You are laughing at yourself, moron. The reason no one commented was precisely anyone other than had the good sense to shut the hell up when they could not challenge the argument. REMEMBER that Google keeps track of links that I post here or elsewhere and compiles the stats of the traffic generated. Well, that post debunking the claim on SPG suite upgrades broke the record of any of my posts for the number of INDIVIDUAL clicks. What should tell you is that people read the post and had the good sense to shut up when they had nothing to contest. I told you would be the only person contesting the post because you are too stupid. Other people know better and have more dignity than to contest an argument that cannot be contested.

    I see that you never addressed my comment about how you believe it is okay to disclose other posters’ personal information in a public forum.

    Just pathetic.

  7. I’m new to the world of points and miles, so I find your posts informative and very enjoyable reading. I also get value from many of the comments. As to banning someone, it’s your blog and you have every right to manage it as you see fit. You strike me as someone with sound judgment, so if you felt the need to ban this person, so be it. Sounds like s/he earned it…

    One thing as a newbie that does stump me sometimes are the acronyms that the points and miles pros use. Any chance you could develop a glossary for those of us new to this world? 😉

  8. Thanks, Gary. I resolve to pointing out times that I question your blog’s ethics over the course of 2017 in a constructive manner. I don’t mean to single you out, but Points Guy, OMAAT, and VFTW are some of the big boys in the blog world, and thus I think have additional ethical responsibilities to readers of not just your blog, but also to readers of other blogs that are imitating your work.

  9. Like (I think) most of your readers, I come here for useful content, most of which comes from your posts, but occasionally from a helpful comment. The juvenile and invective-filled comments have gotten so out of control on your blog in the past six months or so that I actually stopped reading it for quite a while.

    If it were my blog, I would ban anyone who (in addition to the issues you mentioned) engages in ad hominem attacks or repeatedly rants on anything not directly related to the topic at hand (e.g., political rants). And anyone who repeatedly comments about how much they hate your posts. None of that adds anything to the conversation. It’s your site and you have every right to block anyone you want.

    I founded and ran a travel site for over a dozen years and I chose not to allow comments on it. I didn’t want to spend all my time moderating trolls and worrying about other readers being offended, attacked or just plain distracted from the useful content on the site.

    People sent me useful tips and corrections all the time, by email, and I often posted those or made the corrections, crediting the people who were kind enough to share information. The crazies sent me emails, too, but those I could block, and more importantly, they weren’t able to harrass the 99% of my readers who just wanted useful information.

  10. Gary:
    In the end, you write this blog for economic reasons, not simply altruistic reasons. If a post offends the large majority of your readers because it advocates hate or violence (not just an unpopular point of view), I think you have an obligation to your readers to delete it. And if someone repeatedly offends this rule, or any other rule you put in, you have the right and the obligation to ban them.

    Remember, (a) it’s your blog, and (b) your readership is paying the freight.

  11. Without knowing which commentator was banned, hard to say if your action was appropriate.

    However, it’s your turf and manage it as you see fit.

    Long long ago I was banned for one week on FT by Randy. He asked me to revise my remarks and I replied “no”. What a long strange trip it’s been…

    Feliz año nuevo

  12. I find your blog to be informative and helpful. I appreciate comments that are helpful and add to the conversation. I wholeheartedly support banning offensive or obnoxious people and even more heavy handed moderating. It’s very annoying for a useless, mean-spirited post to rile up readers and hijack an otherwise interesting conversation. In fact, more moderation would really be nice tand help to keep things civil.

  13. Also, @macJ made a comment that I really agree with. Free speech “rights” don’t apply universally, need not apply to your blog, and most certainly do not apply at my dinner table!

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