Why moderating this weblog has become more difficult

This is still a modest weblog. But engagement is high (average time on the website is 4+ minutes). And the proportion of Indian readers getting is higher and higher. At some point in 2019, conservatively, I think this weblog will have more Indian readers than American.

That is a problem for me because I have a hard time understanding a lot of the references or anticipating triggers. So flame-wars are getting common as I’m not sanitizing much….

31 thoughts on “Why moderating this weblog has become more difficult”

  1. When I participated in some of the flame wars here some number of weeks ago, I didn’t do so because I enjoyed it. Rather, I was so triggered that it required superior mental muscle strength to what I possessed to keep myself from commenting. I am glad I managed to tear myself off eventually.

    You might be doing both yourselves and those pesky Indian flame-warriors a favor by more explicitly declaring your comment-space preferences or perhaps even keeping an entry barrier for Indians to comment here. In my own view this blog is incompatible with people who care deeply for India or Hinduism, and while you probably disagree with that (or at least claim to), you may agree if you replace “India” or “Hinduism” with “Hindutva” or some other descriptor to such an effect.

    1. Interesting do you think we have an anti-Indian bias on BP?

      My policy on moderating is very easy; if it gets hostile I’ll delete the app and withdraw for a few days. All very Gandhian and I guess my comment is increasingly more India-focussed..

      I think we sit between Aerogram (entirely diaspora focussed), Wire (liberal Indians) and NDTV (the domestic crowd).. its a good space; I do also realise I’m assuming a lot of de facto knowledge about modern India in my posts..

      Apart from my Urdophilia and random Ummahism (relics of a past Zach that crop up); My politics are beginning to mirror Vidhi increasingly but it takes a while for my virtual views to catch up to my real world views..

      Responding both to your comment and Razib’s post as I can only reply to precious comments in the App

      1. I have seen some odd inconsistencies in the moderation policy. Not so long ago (I can dig up the precise thread if you want) one commenter expressed some critical comments about another’s views and you pulled him up for being too personal. Subsequently the object of this comment expressed the view that “he burn in hell”. This elicited no moderating comment. The same responder has on occasion directly called another commenter’s views “garbage” (literally). I notice this sort of commenting is now considered normal from this gentleman but I don’t see like responses from others – perhaps because such reactions get moderated out.

        The subject matter too seems much more critical of the state of affairs in India than any other South Asian country (which may be why it is attracting more Indian viewers) but this is ultimately editorial choice so one can’t really object to that. I prefer to think this reflects a greater concern for Indian wellbeing. 😉

      2. Wire (liberal Indians)

        The thinking that the editorial line of The Wire reflects the view of “liberal Indians” itself may trigger many educated and well-read Indians. I would wager a significant plurality (perhaps even the majority) of them would disagree with that putative correlation.

        But I may, of course, be sorely mistaken. ko adA veda, kaH iha pravocat

      3. If only comments that are against Pakistan, Islam and Mr Kabir gets scrubbed, isn’t it obvious that the surviving product will show an anti-Indian bias?

      4. When people have vastly different priors, it’s best to simply accept that well-meaning people can hold mutually irreconcilable views. Attempting to find a common ground is often unrealistic. In this particular situation, given the predicament expressed in the post, helping incompatible people self-select away might be a win-win proposal.

        I wasn’t complaining about your bias in the sense of suggesting you would change, rather just giving an illustration of how vastly different my priors are.

        1. More to froginthewell’s point, I would argue that the point of a conversation between two people (esp if they hold different prior views) is not for one to convince the other. People are usually emotionally invested in their convictions, often for personal reasons, and therefore arguing to convince others or seek “common ground” is usually futile.

          However, self-selection away is still a bad strategy, because it is predicated on the above argue-to-convince assumption. I think the real benefit of argument is to seek (and solve) interesting problems. In other words, it is an exercise to use the mental resources of the opponent to suggest alternative solutions to a problem you care about, test them and fine-tune your thinking. In many cases, the alternative solutions may themselves depend on assumptions you ‘know’ are false – so you reject the solution outright. In some cases, the alternative solutions are novel – things you had not thought before – could be still wrong but worth thinking about and fodder for your internal fine-tuning. In very occasional cases, some alternate solutions alter your worldview, as your basic assumptions are shown to be internally inconsistent.

          Bottom line is that the nature of truth is not one of middle ground, but much more skewed. More in the corner and edge cases, which can be found by disorienting oneself rather than seeking stable common ground. One cannot average two wrong POVs to get closer to the truth, anymore than one can sample a population’s vote to get the “right” candidate. So a better strategy is to get triggered more and in new, novel ways and not bother about convincing others 🙂 Obv if someone is a source of hackneyed, predictable triggers then that’s no fun…

          1. Isn’t the point of dialogue to share love, feelings, intuition and thoughts. To learn about each other and better understand each other? I find how other people think and understand the universe (and what their assumptions/priors are; what the implicit assumptions of those assumptions are; what the implicit assumptions of those implicit assumptions of their assumptions are) to be fascinating?

            A great spiritual master once said, and I paraphrase:
            First understanding, then adjustment is automatic. [implicitly adjustment without understanding is dangerous.]

            I don’t have single opinions. Rather my opinions are like nonlinear random variables with distributions around them. I partly believe many correlated things (that seem to be conflicting from a certain point of view). I have multivariate models in my subconscious; that constantly adjust based on new information. In many ways the opinions or points of view don’t matter. What I care far more about is the multi-level sophisticated process by which opinions are formulated and the assumptions behind said opinions.

          2. @AnAn
            I was speaking about “arguments”, a sub-class of dialogue, and said that pursuing (or shying-away from) arguments to seek common ground (or to agree to disagree/disengage) is missing the point of why arguments are useful. In fact, I was questioning froginthewell’s objective function.

            Dialogue needn’t be argumentative. It could be engaged in to seek sympathy or empathy or reassurance, or to be a conduit of information – not challenging assumptions or creating new knowledge. Sharing love or feelings falls into that category.

            Obv one feels better and reassured after such dialogue, but to truly learn something new one always needs an argument. The more disorientating, the better 🙂

          3. @Slapstik,

            Your suggestion for triggers is good for self development and developing cognitive hygiene.

            But it is unfair to think all the readers are so mentally fortified. That is why I agree with @froginthewell. It is better to state preferences upfront. We will know what we’re getting into.

            FTR, I follow BP for its anti-India bias. But BP has mellowed out from a stronger Anti-India bias to this level after couple of iterations. This version triggers sufficiently to cause flame wars and drive traffic but not enough to cause hackers to crash the site. ?

      5. It is very interesting that some people think that BP has an “anti-Indian” bias. I don’t think India has received such a harsh critique as Pakistan receives constantly. Yes, we have debated the caste system quite a bit but Islam has come in for far more criticism than Hinduism has.

        Hindutva does come in for a lot of criticism and I suppose people who identify strongly with that ideology may feel triggered. But feeling triggered sometimes is part of life. I remember a few months ago when there seemed to be a lot of anti-Pakistan posts.

        Personally, I don’t have a problem with more Indian readers (or readers from any other country). People just have to learn to disagree respectfully (that applies to all of us).

        1. If someone wants to criticize the caste system, they can. But their constructive feedback would be more helpful if they bothered to study and understand the caste system and India.

          1. Thanks for your permission. It seemed the mere mention of Sujatha Gidla was like a red rag to a bull and brought out a lot of defensive commentary.

            I agree with you that studying and understanding is necessary. But that would also apply to those who write on “Pakistani psychosis” while not really knowing all that much about Pakistan. Equal opportunity criticism here.

  2. Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.

    “Die Jungfrau von Orleans” by Friedrich Schiller,

  3. “I have a hard time understanding a lot of the references or anticipating triggers. ”

    Lol you are getting old bro 😛

    “Interesting do you think we have an anti-Indian bias on BP”

    Nope most of time its ok. If anything we could really do well with more voices from SL,Bangladesh etc

    1. Agree on more voices from other South Asian countries (besides India and Pakistan).

        1. Would there be interest in articles about Tibetan Buddhism and her many streams? Might write about it. I hesitate because Tibetan Buddhist scholars might correct my many mistakes.

          Can also think about inviting Tibetans to write at BP if that is of interest.

  4. I am rarely triggered by the conversation on BP. I am often confused by it. Like in this thread. I don’t follow.

    For example, what the heck does Indian, Hindu and Hindutva mean to many of the commentators here? Figured out that different people mean very different things by it.

    The people I know close to Modi and the current government are spiritual. And they tell me that Modi and several people in the establishment allied with Modi are spiritual. Most people have a hard time understanding spiritual people. Maybe this is why so many don’t understand Modi and many in the current establishment. I also think this accounts for the deeply flawed, incomplete analysis of them.

    Can I ask another question? Who has read a significant amount of eastern scriptures? [I suspect very few.] I have also notice that most of the muslimish readers who leave comments at BP (versus passively read and bilaterally e-mail) haven’t carefully studied Islamic scriptures. The extent to which this is true has surprised me.

    I would very much like Persian contributors at BP. Is there interest from other readers regarding this? Iran and SAARC in many ways have a shared culture and civilization.

    1. AnAn,

      You seem to have the opinion that all South Asians want to be accepted into Arya Samaj or whatever.

      Apparently you as the decider who is Arya, dont seem to think that Gypsies (in India and the West) are Arya.

      When you think that “Jenny from the Block” and other Latinos are “Caucsions” you have lost me.

      I personally identify with the culture of Gypsies, Africans and Australian aborigines. I have no wish to be part of Arya Samaj.

      One of these days I plan to do suspension at the local “Hindu” temple. That is because its part of my local pre vedic culture.

      1. Agree that Anan has a tendency to want to put lots of people into the “Arya” category, whether they want to be in that category or not. It’s one of his idiosyncrasies.

        It seems rather strange to expect Persians to be interested in what is a largely South Asian (or South Asian diaspora) blog. I don’t think Iranians are all that interested in India-Pakistan debates or the caste system. If there were topics here that interested them, perhaps they would comment. But Iran is not a South Asian country and in many ways, its culture and historical experience are different.

  5. Ha Ha! Love you dude. I especially search for and carefully read your comments. It is as if you precisely channel one of streams of consciousness inside me!

    Suspension is awesome. Don’t you know that Arya was taught to homo sapiens by non homo sapiens. The Yakshas taught us much of what we think we know. And the Yakshas use to live in . . . you guessed it.

    In fact the non homo sapien might to the actually Arya.

    Oh you misunderstand me regarding the Gypsies. What I meant is I don’t think the Gypsies identify as Arya. Plus I believe their ancestry might be different. In my opinion Arya is culture and not Jati (ancestry).

    I deeply like ancient Egyptian civilization, Sumerian, Babylonian, Akkadians, Chinese too. And believe all of them were in contact with each other and Arya civilization. Perhaps all civilizations in the world come from a single one. But I can’t prove that and don’t want to be laughed out of the park.

    Is there interest on BP for Iraqi perspectives on ancient history. I have many Iraqi friends and could ask one of them to contribute an article.

    “When you think that “Jenny from the Block” and other Latinos are “Caucasions” you have lost me.”
    Can you write an article about this?

    I think that Asians and Latinos should be considered caucasion for all practical purposes in the US:

  6. Post what you want, Razib Khan; post “sky is blue” “blood is red”.

    My people are waiting on keyboards all over the world, while their code compiles, and in between bouts of “CTRL+C, CRTL+V”, they can turn any post, within 3 comments into a 30,000 comment battle on “Hinduism vs. Islam”, “India vs Pakistan”, “the shenanigans of Nehru and Jinnah in destroying this ancient culture”, and there is no way you can moderate this. You should have been alive in the days of bitnet and Arpanet.

    1. God, that sounds like a vision from hell.

      But to be fair, if the topic mix of the blog posts changes than the responses of the commentariat would also change. We do seem to discuss the Hindu caste system and Islam a lot.

      1. Hindu caste “system” is gone to be replaced by political mobilizations of castes , mostly for economic benefits. Those who harp on the system are flogging a nearly dead horse.

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