Friday, December 3, 2010


As someone who blogs nearly every day,  the main issue is whether comments should be moderated or not so as to have an open and 'live' discussion.

Certainly, this would have encouraged a quicker response to postings, especially over the Economic Renewal Programme which worthy of a wider debate and seems to have at least elicited a response from a number of those interested in the discussion.

However,  during July, I had to resort back to comment moderation because of one individual who felt he or she had the right to print personal abuse that was, to put it lightly, based on some fantasy notion about my good self.

Simply put, it had no place on a forum that has been developed to engender rational discussion about issues that affect every single one of us.

Whether this individual has personal issues, was vindictive or just doing it for fun, was irrelevant but it became a case where I was spending my time having to delete whatever next flight of fantasy this idiot would decide to write. Indeed, it had reached a stage where what he or she was writing had suddenly become libellous and threatening and, as a result, I had no choice but to resort back to comment moderation. As this coward lacked the bravery to say it to my face or phone me (my number can be found on my employer’s website - - if he bothered to look) then I had little option if these comments were not to pollute the debate.

As Tim notes, there is a currently a wider debate on the use of anonymous comments in the blogosphere.  Recently, Rem Rieder, editor of the American Journalism Review, wrote a column calling for an end to them.

As he said, "The opportunity to launch brutal assaults from the safety of a computer without attaching a name does wonders for the bravery levels of the angry". Earlier this summer, the Boston Globe's Neil Swidey attempted to unmask anonymous posters in his story, "Two cents in the digital age." An interview with Neil is shown below.

In fact, one newspaper in the USA has become the first to ban all anonymous commentating on its website, with those writing in now having to reveal their identities.

Despite understanding why they would resort to such a move, I believe that is a step too far. There clearly has to be a tradeoff between instant comment and ensuring those comments reflect the standard of the publication, be it a personal blog or a national newspaper. That is the choice of anyone who is plying their opinions either in print or on the blogosphere.

For example, I love reading Guido Fawkes and whilst his libertarian approach to comments may not be to everyone’s tastes, it reflects the type of blog he manages. I don’t think such an approach works in the same way on a blog discussing the Welsh economy and I don't want it to.

I will always welcome anonymous commentators, especially those that disagree with me, but I reserve the right to moderate comments and that will now be the policy from this blog.

This is not the Western Mail or the BBC - this is my own personal blog and if you don’t like what I am saying, then you don’t have to visit the site. I will be robustly critical of politicians and I expect a robust reply in return – that is the essence of a democracy – but posting libellous personal comments is one step too far.

Perhaps this is the problem that is faced by those of us who do not use pseudonyms on their website, unlike Valleys Mam, Syniadau or Welsh Ramblings. All three, in their own way, are sites that expound certain views and I understand why they would choose to remain anonymous. However, as this website is a collection of ideas for my newspaper articles for the Daily Post and the Western Mail, it is difficult for me to adopt the same stance. This makes it easy for individuals to make personal attacks on my family and myself.

Of course, as another website noted, "it would be great to have a completely unmoderated site to allow a better flow of debate, without having to wait for comments to be moderated, but unfortunately due to a minority of individuals who post offensive remarks I do not believe this will ever be possible”. 

We'll wait and see.