To be gutted the Guardian is censoring comments

(112 Posts)
Babycham1979 Wed 03-Feb-16 15:24:27

For a long time now, I've found the comments section to be at least as informative and interesting as many of the comment and news pieces, so I'm gutted to find out that the Guardian is abandoning the pricinple of (relatively) free comment.

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/31/readers-editor-on-readers-comments-below-the-line#comments

They claim it's due to trolling, but the real reason appears to be the long-term culmination of amount of criticism the paper and its writers were getting for factual inaccuracies (such as the Poppy Project) very heavily biased reporting/comment (race/sex click-bait) and the complete avoidance of certain subjects (the Cologne sex attacks).

In reality, Comment is Free has remained for more civil and intelligent than the offensive (but entertaining) dregs that appear on the Indy, Telegraph and Mail websites.

I suspect this will backfire on them big-time.

Now I only have MN to come to for stimulating and robust debate!

GraceKellysLeftArm Wed 03-Feb-16 15:25:35

Surely freedom of press allows us to heckle from the back row? Bit "Fox News".

ginghamcricketbox Wed 03-Feb-16 15:29:34

The Grauniad has been a joke for years now.
There is a thread about in " In the news"

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/in_the_news/2544854-I-will-stop-reading-the-Guardian-now-anyone-else-like-to-join-me

Loraline Wed 03-Feb-16 15:35:14

They've always moderated comments (and people have always complained about it being heavy-handed, and others not heavy-handed enough). Given the way the comments and discussion on there (and on here) around race, immigration and Islam go I don't think it's unreasonable to only open comments at times when they have moderators available to keep an eye on things. Again, this isn't new. I've seen them not open comments on certain articles until office hours before where they felt it was going to be contentious. Better than not opening comments on those articles at all. Not sure what you're upset about to be honest.

OTheHugeManatee Wed 03-Feb-16 15:36:54

I don't know if they imagine that populist sentiment about race, immigration and Islam are going to change as a result of their censoring comments on this topic. confused

Babycham1979 Wed 03-Feb-16 15:42:33

It's a sad day for me, as I'm a life-long Grauniad reader (balanced out by the Daily Mail and the Spectator), I've watched the rag deteriorate over the last few years. They've increasingly tried to provoke clicks via the most over the top baiting (I'm looking at you, Jessica Valenti), and have recently plumbed new depths in identity-politics double-think.

The Comment is Free section has always provided a satisfying balance to the rest of the paper's bien pensant hypocrisy, and now that's gone, I'm actually wondering what's left in the paper to read.

Thanks for linking to that thread, Gingham; it's spot-on. They've sacrificed their committment to women's rights at the alter of multiculti appeasement. All the more perplexing when you see their committment to trivial nonsense like university 'safe spaces' and microaggressions.

Babycham1979 Wed 03-Feb-16 15:46:29

I suppose it says it all when they give their own reason as,

'an acknowledgement, however, that some conversations had become toxic at an international level – “a change in mainstream public opinion and language that we do not wish to see reflected or supported on the site”'

I mean, God forbid a newspaper should remotely reflect maintream public opinion! This is the 'liberal Hampstead elite' that the Tories are always banging on about at its most remote! What planet are they on?

TheHiphopopotamus Wed 03-Feb-16 16:31:59

It's the scourge of 'safe spacing' spreading to newspapers. Where any opinion that doesn't toe the party line is met with fingers in ears and 'la la, I can't hear you.'

Not good for healthy debate imo.

AMouseLivedinaWindMill Wed 03-Feb-16 16:35:11

Re Cologne I think over 900 reports were made to the police in the end, the Guardian put that figure at ......100 shock

BlueJug Wed 03-Feb-16 16:40:01

Censoring is fair enough - it is their paper. As long as they don't pretend that they are open and liberal. I don't think that you can defend the censoring as being a good thing because other people's views are toxic, (but yours aren't), you an only say that it is your paper and you don't wish to hear those views expressed under your banner.
.
It is a shame though - as I said on the other thread - I did used to enjoy it

BonnieF Wed 03-Feb-16 18:48:49

I'm a life-long Guardian reader and have commented regularly on CIF since it began. This decision is a disgrace, and a travesty of what CIF has always been about. I assume the new editor, Kath Viner, is responsible.

The Guardian's problem is that they are in deep denial about the threat to secular liberal European societies, and to women in particular, posed by mass immigration from Muslim countries. Many of us on the left have had to ask ourselves some very difficult and painful questions about this issue, and we have not always been comfortable with the answers. The Guardian, which is supposed to represent us and our values, has not even begun this process and is completely out of touch.

rumbleinthrjungle Wed 03-Feb-16 19:26:34

There are things we are Not Allowed To Go Off Message About.

The media and political line is becoming so divorced from the actual general public's line that if they refuse to let the general public share those views even on line their only outlet will be the really nasty right wing groups where they can act on them instead of talk about them. I have a nasty feeling we're going to see racial violence on an unprecedented scale in Europe before too much longer. sad

This is Peter Mandelson's 'post democratic age' that he talked about, where people would be told what to think and controlled by government who would know far better and they wouldn't have to worry their little heads about it. I don't think he saw as far as the electorate entering a post policitian age.

Theendispie Wed 03-Feb-16 19:46:59

I used to read the Guardian, I wouldn't even line my cats litter tray with it now.

They are pious twats, posters above have explained how it is now in a cerebral and sensible fashion so thought I would just have a quick vent of my spleen.

Mistigri Wed 03-Feb-16 19:52:57

They've always moderated comments. The issue has been the prevalence of really quite unpleasant levels of vitriol on certain subjects, and a lot of evidence of paid trolling on certain subjects (checking posting history before replying can be instructive). This has got a lot worse since other newspapers imposed paywalls.

Tbh I (and many other long time Guardian readers of my acquaintance) support the decision, although it's a shame in some ways. I've always been against paywalls but I think I would support a small fee to access the site how.

Ultimately a newspaper is a private business; they're entitled to set the costs of paying for a team of moderators against the benefits of allowing paid spammers to spew pro-Putin and anti-immigration diatribes completely unfettered.

Mistigri Wed 03-Feb-16 19:56:22

It's not a newspaper's job to represent public opinion ... That's for politicians. If you don't like the Guardian's editorial position (and I certainly like it less than I used to) then you are free to read another newspaper.

Why would you visit a site you disagree with so strongly and consistently? Don't get it. I read lots of papers, but if I think that a journalist has strayed too far from a reasonable representation of the facts then I vote with my feet.

lljkk Wed 03-Feb-16 19:57:44

Newspapers become publishers of our content & they always reserve right to edit content.

dinglethdragon Wed 03-Feb-16 20:05:05

I have a friend who used to be a mod on another newspaper site - I'm not surprised about this decision to be honest, in the light of some of the things she told me. It's a constant battle to keep one step ahead of the paid spammers and professional trolls. They've obviously done a cost / benefit analysis and decided to go in this direction.

Rainbunny Wed 03-Feb-16 21:43:01

I still read the Guardian but only to check in on their propaganda messaging, it really has become incredibly biased. I have only had one comment removed by a moderator in 5 years of posting comments in the Guardian - guess what my comment referred to? Yep, I dared to refer to the Cologne attacks in a comment on a different article about refugees in Europe, as the Guardian wasn't reporting on the Cologne attacks at all at that point. My comment disappeared within seconds of me posting it - so fast in fact that I don't think a real moderator read it, I think any comment that included the word "Cologne" was automatically removed. I actually don't mind there being moderators but it was instructive to have my non-trolling comment removed clearly because I'd committed the sin of referring to the events in Cologne.

Rainbunny Wed 03-Feb-16 22:08:38

To be honest I get much better and balanced reporting on the Europe refugee crisis in non-British media. Der Spiegel International (in English) has published very insightful and much better researched articles on things like the Cologne sex assaults and the viewpoint of everyday Germans on how they are coping with over a million refugees. I also read Die Welt (but I use google translate to read it in English) and I have read some very enlightening articles such a first person experiences of being a care worker in a refugee center. It's interesting that much has been sade about the German media being gagged by the government but compared to the Guardian, Der Spiegel and Die Welt have been incredibly informative. The quality is noticeably higher as well. In comparison it makes me wonder what has happened to journalistic standards at the Guardian?

OneWingWonder Thu 04-Feb-16 01:28:48

It's the extension of 'safe space' idiocy to journalism - now the journalists and editors can sit safe in their fairy wonderland and imagine there's no mass opposition to their bullshit on those topics ... because if there are no comments, there must be no opposition, right?

Mistigri Thu 04-Feb-16 06:19:41

Other UK broadsheets allow comments too, you know - they are just behind a paywall so the paid trolls and rabble rousers don't use them. But mumsnetters can surely afford the small fees required to access and post on the Telegraph and Times websites. Alternatively there are many US and (for the educated) French and German sites where you can post for free.

I'm honestly bemused at the fuss about this. Private business decides that random, non-paying visitors are making a nuisance of themselves and decides to be slightly less tolerant. It's a non story.

(Plus, comments are still active on many stories anyway!)

lljkk Thu 04-Feb-16 09:46:05

It quite annoys me that New Scientist & BBC World Service don't edit & censor more often. There are comments on their Facebook pages, for instance, about how Zika virus is a patented product of the Rockerfeller Foundation or the microcephaly spike in Brazil couldn't possibly be Zika it must be a direct result of DTAP immunisation, instead. I can't even look at their facebook pages any more, I know I'll end up reading so much crazy stuff I can't stomach.

Mistigri Thu 04-Feb-16 10:25:15

lljkk i think a website supported by public money has a duty to at least maintain normal standards of public decency.

Private sites, not so much. If New Scientist lets the crazies infect its comment pages then that's its own lookout ... there are plenty of other places on the Internet where scientists can have sane conversations.

YouGottaKeepEmSeparated Thu 04-Feb-16 10:34:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mistigri Thu 04-Feb-16 10:42:48

Private businesses get to choose their terms of business. Why don't you post on another site, yougotta?

I've had fairly innocuous comments deleted on the Guardian, presumably because the person they were directed at complained - I don't take it personally. I've also seen comments blatantly in breach of the T&CS remain unmoderated. I think half the time they only moderate if enough people complain.

TBH I think the volume of comments in recent months has been just too high to permit consistent moderation - which is why I think this decision is sensible.

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