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Recently, Jezebel ran postings about the issue they’ve been having with violent, inappropriate image comments (called GIFs) being left on posts as a way to harass writers and derail conversations. Many other feminist blogs and magazines have also stepped up to address the issue and how they’ve been dealing with it, including the excellent Dame Magazine (which we love and would recommend checking out).
Here at Ladybud, we don’t have a troll issue of that magnitude, but there can be no question that the occasional troll or time-wasting comment will pop up from time to time. Many of these commenters, without backing their assertions, attack our writers and their content and begin an argument that our writer has no hope of winning.
Vanessa Waltz, a talented writer and journalist who has worked with Ladybud for some time, does an excellent job of explaining the issue in brief:
Some of the most commented-on articles in Ladybud have been about CBD-only legislation and hemp-derived CBD. I’ve researched these topics in-depth and have interviewed and quoted some of our country’s foremost experts. But that doesn’t stop commenters from insisting they know better, generally while simultaneously trying to market (aka spam) their own products. I’ve been called a disgrace to journalism, a bitch, an embarrassment to the movement, and even a prohibitionist shill. It used to really bother me, but I’ve grown a pretty thick skin over the past year. I think that commenters believe they are forwarding their agendas by commenting on these pieces, while if they really feel so strongly about these issues, perhaps they should be writing and publishing their own articles rather than taking cheap shots at reform activists.
We absolutely value reader feedback and input on our articles, and we would like to curate the comments section on the blog itself and on Ladybud‘s various social media pages to be safe spaces for our readership. However, as a blog with an activism focus, our primary goal and objective must always be providing our writers with a safe platform for their craft.
Ladybud is a safe platform for writers to publish their stories on, and it needs to be made more so to encourage even more transparency. While some may view the curating of comments as a violation of free speech, their view is skewed to say the least. People are free to say what they wish, but we are not required to provide them a platform to do so, especially if it is at the expense of one of our authors. That being said, we are always open to articles that directly refute previously published articles or that take an opposing view. Provided that you can support your assertions with citations, we are always interested in article submissions that argue their points well. Alternatively, the whole “freedom of speech and press” thing ensures you can always start your own blog.
At this time, comments attacking our writers or their content will no longer be approved. Comments pointing out omissions in research or flaws in reasoning are always welcome, provided they are polite and their assertions are backed up by citations, as are those by our authors. Similarly, comments using inappropriate language or attacking other commenters may not be approved for display on the site either.
Inappropriate language isn’t a reference to profanity; it’s a reference to using words as weapons and using forms of hate speech (ableism, sexism, racism, etc). It’s language that is meant to hurt or offend large groups of people, not cursing (though be forewarned that many curse words have a gendered slant to them).
What does that mean for you as a commenter and reader of Ladybud? Most likely, it means you won’t have to deal with distracting comment wars under otherwise brilliant articles, detracting from the main points. It means you won’t have to worry about someone attacking you personally either, as those comments will also be removed by moderators.
If your comment comes from a place of privilege, it will not be responded to, other than to remind you of our comment policy. That means if you post on a black writer’s essay about race as a white male, complaining that the post does not apply to you, you will be reminded that the comment is meant to derail someone else’s free speech and is not welcome on our site. If that concept upsets you, we encourage you to check your privilege and reconsider your position.
If an article makes you uncomfortable because it doesn’t directly apply to a demographic you belong to (it focuses on another gender, race, religion, etc) or makes you angry because it does, but not in a way you like, try to remember that your opinion, while valid, is not more important than the author’s. As stated above, we welcome refutation articles, as well as letters to the editor. Please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to promoting a better environment for comments for our writers and our beloved readers! Thank you for your understanding and respect.
Photo Credit: Office for Emergency Management. War Production Board under public domain, edited for clarity.