An interesting happening occurred today on Comment is Free. There was a blogger uprising against the latest in a series of dire articles by Anne Atkins. Most posters, noting a complete lack of substance to address, merely begged Anne to stop. I suggested that we petition CiF by email to request Anne be banned from CiF. Here is my email:
This email was substantially similar to my original post on the article. I would provide a link, but unfortunately CiF deleted my original postings. Subsequently, people posting messages of support for the petition had their posts removed. We then changed tack, from calling for a petition, to criticising the article. Here is my 3rd post:Dear Editor,
Frequently CiF have provided a platform for Anne Atkins to express her
views. I have no problem with people holding opposing views from me, and
often relish the chance to debate the issues. The problem with Anne Atkins
is that there is no intellectual meat to her arguments to debate. She
merely expresses an opinion with absolutely no substance to back it up.
Looking at the posts on her articles, it is apparent that I am not the
only person who feels this way. I therefore request that you stop
providing this platform for Anne Atkins to air her views, which we are
well aware of anyway. If you are aiming for balance in opinion, there is
an abundance of articulate, informed journalists of a libertarian or
right-wing stance, including CiFs very own Frank Fisher (MrPikeBishop).
Remember, although comment is free, facts are sacred, and by that measure
Anne Atkins is profane.
and here is a post from Hanna80:
So the idea of a petition banning Anne Atkins is a no-go as all the posts which have been removed attest to. Can I then just refer to CiFs talk policy:
--We want Guardian Unlimited to be the place on the net where you will always find lively, entertaining and, above all, intelligent discussions. The last thing the net needs is yet another site where any attempt at conversation is drowned out by a few people hurling mindless abuse at each other.--
If you want CiF to be the place for intelligent discussions, as it often is, then you must have an intelligent basis for discussion. Articles by Anne Atkins, being completely devoid of fact, are not an intelligent basis for discussion and inevitably lead to the mindless abuse you refer to. This is illustrated nicely I think by the fact that hardly any posters have bothered to comment at all, or in any depth to Annes article. It's completely futile, since there is absolutely no substance to attack. Judge for yourself, and please spare us from Anne Atkins in the future.
Unfortunately, these were removed as well. As were all subsequent posts criticising the article, and criticising the removal of the posts. Such as this one from me:
I have now had two of my comments removed. I genuinely do not understand why. They were not abusive or irrelevant.
"We will remove posts that contain racist, sexist or offensive/threatening language, personal attacks on the writer or other posters, posts that exceed the maximum length, and posts that are off topic."
My comments were no such thing.
I think it is laudable that the Guardian gives a platform to people from all political standpoints. It is possible to find people that write intelligent and informed as well as opinionated pieces throughout the whole political spectrum. The often heated debates on CiF are testimony to this. However, this article, and many others by the author, do not belong to that category, do not encourage intelligent debate, and should not be published on CiF.
and this one:
Since it seems that any comments regarding the general quality of Annes work on CiF will be removed (when did legitimate criticism start being considered personal abuse?), may I make a SPECIFIC POINT REGARDING THIS ARTICLE, WITH ABSOLUTELY NO BEARING ON THE REST OF ANNE ATKINS FINE BODY OF WORK ON CiF?
On the blog homepage it states
--Comment is free, but facts are sacred--
If this is true, then this article (NOTE: THIS ARTICLE, ABSOLUTELY NOT ANNE ATKINS HERSELF) is profane in its utter disregard for facts.Who is moderating this discussion, Anne Atkins herself?
Really, five of my own comments deleted, numerous others removed, and the tone of the debate is seriously manipulated. I give up. Comment is forbidden, opposition is futile.and this one from AchillesEel:
Finally, I sent a new email to the CiF desk:
Yes mine have had the chop too. It seems Atkins can't quite seem to take the sort of criticism which she is more than happy to splurge, vacuously onto these pages.
Not that my posts were even criticisms. Still, not unexpected on this site.countdown until removal...5....4....3...2....
and requested that everybody else do the same:Dear Editor.
I wish to complain about the removal of numerous posts on todays Anne
Atkins article. The posts (by myself, Hanna80 and AchillesEel amongst
others) used no abusive or offensive language, contained no personal
attacks and were legitimate criticism of what we perceive to be poor
journalism. Is it now an offence to criticise the quality of journalism? I
would like to know what reason you had for removing these posts, and who
was responsible. Representative samples of the comments are included
Exactly what proportion of comments have been deleted from this discussion? I estimate that around 1/3 (at least 12 comments that I know of) have been deleted. Is it normal that there is such a large proportion of unacceptable comments, especially from people who have never had any such problems before? And to those who write articles (MrPikeBishop, DanielDavies, etc.) is it possible to moderate your own article? i.e. could it be Anne Atkins herself who is deleting all critical comments?So, we'll hopefully see tomorrow what provoked this outbreak of draconian censorship. Could it be as another deleted poster, MrBullFrog, suggested, that CiF is trying to emulate the Daily Mail? I sincerely hope not.
I recommend that everyone who has had a post deleted from this discussion write to firstname.lastname@example.org to ask what is going on.
To see some of the posts which have been removed visit:
Update: The last post never actually made it to the thread since it has been closed. A message at the bottom states:
Our policy is to close threads after three days. Comments have now been closed on this entry.The thread had been open for a maximum of 9 hours. The plot thickens....