24 November, 2010


Grow up, Claire!

I recently installed the MHTML add-on for Firefox (or in my case, Seamonkey). This not only saves a webpage into a single local file but also provides a "faithful save" option which concentrates on accurately reproducing the appearance of the page as rendered on-line rather than just downloading the files and hoping for the best, often losing most of the CSS in the process. It's not without its bugs but I can heartily recommended this add-on to Firefox users.

In consequence I have got into the habit of snapshotting aggressively moderated sites such as CiF. How often do you venture "below the line" to encounter a seemingly unending sequence of
This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
and wonder what unspeakable offence the commenter committed to get, in the accepted CiF-speak, modded? Well, here's a for-instance from a current editorial on, gasp, immigration, which I was able to intercept before the moderators got at it.

24 November 2010 12:18AM

Immigration is, generally, a good thing.

Tell that to the indigenous people who have seen their friends and family become a minority due to immigration and consqeuently driven from their homes.

Tory voters one and all.

So what exactly is wrong with that, other than the fact that Claire might disagree with it?

Claire? I think of the CiF moderator as a young woman called Claire. Claire is in her gap year before going up to Oxford to read PPE. Claire hopes to become a political journalist and is currently doing an internship at the Guardian to gain experience for her CV. Claire has the sort of filtered and cosseted upper middle-class background that has come straight out of a Posy Simmonds strip. She is at the stage between the earnestness of the upper sixth and the exhilarating liberation of the first-time-away-from-home fresher. With no experience of life, she knows all the answers. Peace, love and plenty; it's really so straightforward.

Claire is shocked by what she reads in the comments queue. How can these disgusting bigots say these terrible things? They're just so ... so wrong.

Of course not all offending comments are explicitly "moderated" in this way. I visited the "David Coleman stole my identity, the racist eugenicist bastard" article on a number of occasions over the weekend, and at one stage the number of comments actually dropped. Explicitly moderated comments count towards the listed total, so clearly some comments were just silently removed. It may of course be simple housekeeping, like the removal of duplicated or incomplete posts. Then again it might not.

I have before and after snapshots. If I can be arsed, I'll look through them to try to locate the deleted comments. But don't hold your breath; 500-odd comments is a lot to work through and aproctosis may set in fairly quickly.

I was booted off Guardian Unlimited Talk, the predecessor to CiF, in 2003 for not toeing the party line. I don't think I'll be going to the bother of establishing a fresh Internet persona and trying to get back on anytime soon, to be honest. Comment is free, provided you agree with us, indeed. Spineless hypocrites.

ScrapBook is another very good extension: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/427/

You can save pages, edit out the bits you don't want, add your own comments, high-light sections, and organise just like bookmarks; great for researching references for longer blog posts.

PS Keep up the good work...

Thanks, I'll have a look at Scrapbook.

Incidentally, Blogger in its infinite wisdom decided your comment was spam.

Ho hum.

CiF moderation is, at best, perverse. In a recent 'What would you like to change?' column, it came up as the single thing that readers and commenters wanted fixed - no-one, left, right or in the middle, thought it was well run.

The Grauniad response? They commissioned a column on 'How hard my job is...' by one of the mods...

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