We have a serious problem going on here at Bilerico and it's one I want to take the opportunity to address. Pretty much every post that has to do with trans issues garners a zillion hateful, nasty, bitchy, insulting comments. One post alone had 14% of its comments removed for Terms of Service violations recently. A commenter has been banned this week.
We've had numerous comments and e-mails from other readers about the issue. Here's a peek at what people are saying about these flame wars:
...I don't read much of the trans stuff because of the infighting and other drama. My concern is that is going to marginalize the site because of the rancor.
Lots more after the jump.
From the comments section:
- I am so tired of this crap.
- This blog is out of control.
- OMG....all of this hatred.
- I rarely comment here because... when I do I can count on a response such as yours that includes insults...
- Shit. She's at it again. How often do we have to hear her hate speeches? Since I posted, she will attach me next. Just watch.
Since I'm in an e-mail sharing mood today, I thought I'd share parts of some of this week's e-mails. Names have been removed to protect the guilty.
I started reading Bilerico about three months ago and have found it to be a very useful source of news and comment on GLBT issues. However, of late I have been worn down by the outrageous personal attacks in the comments sections after trans news items made by XX, YY, and ZZ, and I may have to take a vacation for a while from the blog.
I am heartened a bit by your more aggressive approach of late in deleting certain comments made by these folks. Even so, the overall effect of their participation in Bilerico has been to present the trans community as a group of nasty and infantile raving maniacs. I see this as destructive to the movement to gain rights for transpeople as well as the overall GLBT.
Censorship is a last resort in situations like this. Sometimes there may be value in including provocative or even outrageous comments. These three have gone beyond, and I would be very content never to have to read another thing written by XX, YY or ZZ.
"The bad comments drive out the good."
Maybe this one will say it better?
The absolutely nutty ass comments... make me concerned that Bilerico is going to be marginalized as a bunch of fucking crazy trannies.
This is pushing the level of stupidity far past the point of even being laughed off... And, no I don't want to hear about fucking freedom of speech...
I haven't said much about my frustration with the level of trans lunacy on the site. It is reaching the boiling point for me.
This one sums it all up succinctly, I think. I'm really starting to feel the same way.
Bil, does it make me an awful person if I just can't care about half this trans stuff anymore?
So here's the skinny, folks. I'm sick of it. Readers are tired of wading through it. Contributors are too...
While Alex and I have tended to fall on the side of free speech and allowing folks to have their say, unfortunately some of you are abusing the privilege. Our first blog troll wasn't even a right winger, but a trans person!
Bottom line - I think before you hit that Enter key to leave another insult, please keep this in mind:
You are a guest here.
Think of the site as our home. We're a family here, so there's lots of room for lots of contributors and commenters. In fact, we don't mind if everyone and their friend drops by, we'll make room for you and give you a drink. But if you start going around attacking other guests and making a general ass of yourself, you're going to be shown the door. We wouldn't stand for it in our own homes, so we're not going to deal with it on our internet home either.
Not only is this discouraging readers, it's making the trans community look remarkably silly and turning off supporters. While I know that the entire trans community at large isn't responsible for the reprehensible behavior of a few blog commenters, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I'm less likely to read trans posts or take some people seriously. Other readers may not come back to the site at all if they're sufficiently perturbed. Still others may remember only the trannie wars we've been enduring and think "There's no way in hell I'm going anywhere near that subject."
We're a big site now and there are lots of opinions out there. I tend to be a fan of grassroots solutions, so I'm turning to you - our readers and contributors. What should the new comment policy be? Help us out with this one because it's going to affect us all.
Because that's what these things really boil down to. The nasty comments are affecting not only Bilerico readers, contributors, and editors, but the trans community at large. With so much at stake, we'd better come up with a solution. This isn't working anymore.
So what's the fix? What should we say is unacceptable? How much should we allow before the line is crossed? How are we going to police this? Let's stop complaining and fighting and get to work solving our problem.