A couple of announcements

// 13 February 2008

To allow comments or not to allow comments? That is the question we have been grappling with on and off since launching the blog in 2005, and we now feel the time has come to give it a try.

Regular readers will know that we have always published responses to our blog posts, as well as features and reviews, at the end of the month. But our comments page is modeled more along the lines of a ‘letters to the editor’ page in a magazine than a forum for interactive debate.

This has a few benefits: although we receive lots of lovely and constructive emails about the blog, we also receive many that some visitors may not want to read. Separating off the articles from the comments helps us ensure that readers and bloggers do not have to deal with a string of sexist or otherwise offensive comments at the end of every post, while still being able to give feedback. As well as this, we have been concerned that properly moderating a comments section would be too time consuming.

However, there is a flip side. We do want to provide room for feminist debate and discussion. We understand that it is now unusual for a blog not to allow any direct commenting, and we have heard from readers that at least some of you would like a chance to create a community on the blog. We want the blog to be the best it can be, and we hope that comments will help.

But because of the concerns listed above, we have drawn up a comment policy which firmly sets out the ground rules. It’s not perfect, but we hope that it will help us keep a good atmosphere. In addition, we may sometimes close specific posts to comments – if the topic is particularly sensitive, for example. If you have any comments about the policy, please do let us know!

Just to stress – this is an experiment for us, and if it doesn’t work out we will be going back to the old system. Also, we will continue to run a separate comment page for your responses to features and reviews.

In order to keep this blog as a feminist and friendly space, comments will be subject to some rules. We do not seek to censor debate: the beauty of the internet is that anyone can set up their own blog or website to express their views.

1. This blog is a safe and friendly space for feminists and feminist allies. Debate and critique are welcome where it is constructive and deepens analysis or understanding. Anti-feminist comments will not be approved. We get to decide what’s anti-feminist.

2. All comments must be approved by one of the bloggers. For this reason, there may be a delay before your comment appears.

3. No sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, classist, ablist comments, comments which make personal attacks on any blogger or commenter, or comments that are otherwise deemed offensive by us will be posted.

4. Trolls will be banned from commenting. We get to decide who is a troll.

5. No anonymous comments – please feel free to use your real name or make one up, though.

6. Be nice.

We have also introduced a feature making it easier to look at posts by specific bloggers. You can now click on a blogger’s name (at the end of their post) for a list of all their contributions – or just click on their name in the list on the left hand side.

Comments From You

Lauren O // Posted 13 February 2008 at 9:25 pm

Excellent! There are so many stories on this blog that make me want to comment and read others’ comments. I am excited about this!

Legible Susan // Posted 13 February 2008 at 10:36 pm

Can I make a request? If you’re going to have comments, please include a “recent comments” track somewhere. The two most user-friendly ways I’ve seen it done are on the Hathor Legacy (http://thehathorlegacy.info), and on ABW’s blog (http://theangryblackwoman.wordpress.com).

In requiring everything to be approved, I think you’re letting yourselves in for an unfeasible amount of work, though. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect you’ll be inundated by trolls ranting about “censorship”. Good luck!

PS Wider comment box would be useful.

Citrusse // Posted 13 February 2008 at 11:10 pm


I’m glad comments are now allowed on your blog. I love your blog. I don’t think your rules are bad, as “trolls” and/or masculinist/sexist comments sometimes prevent ppl to come back on a blog.

I am French, I’m queer, I’m a feminist and I will comment on your blog :)

Lynne Miles // Posted 14 February 2008 at 3:10 am

Hello nice people and first commenters!

We are excited about it too – and hoping it turns out to be a sustainable venture.

Legible Susan – we have a very helpful and lovely non-blogger who voluntarily does our technical stuff, and Jess (the editor) liaises with him. Not sure whether it’s feasible or not but you’re right – I particularly like the ABW style.

Jack // Posted 14 February 2008 at 9:33 am

Pleased to see this! Have been wanting the ability to comment ever since your inception.

Jennifer McMahon // Posted 14 February 2008 at 2:08 pm

Yay! I am so glad we can comment now. I check the blog nearly daily and have often longed to discuss some of the topics!

I think being able to comment and debate will create a fantastic way for UK feminists to create a community.

Sunny // Posted 14 February 2008 at 2:14 pm

Well done! Hope it goes well :)

figleaf // Posted 15 February 2008 at 1:38 am

This is actually pretty great news! I’ve been reading The F-Word pretty faithfully (and linking) pretty much since I first came across it. And every now and then I’ve wanted to just leave a comment instead of sending email.

Based on my own experiences with moderation your legitimate readers won’t mind at all and random trolls just won’t bother. So that shouldn’t be a problem at all. Moderation may also help you cope with machine-generated comment spam, which can be atrocious! You may find it necessary to add some sort of real-person verification system like reCAPTCHA.

Finally, I think it’s really great that you’re clearly publishing your moderation criteria with each post. The one thing you say in this introductory post that I’m suggesting you add to your “Have your say” instructions is that your intention is that this be a “letters to the editors” feature rather than an open forum. In the context of letters to the editors it’s *entirely* reasonable to publish only those comments that you believe will interest your reading public.



Jess McCabe // Posted 15 February 2008 at 10:47 am

Hi figleaf,

Actually, we do see this as an open forum – it’s just we want to make clear that it’s not a case of ‘everything goes’.

Mike // Posted 16 February 2008 at 2:17 pm

Good new feature; it’s been a long time coming.

One question – will pingbacks register?

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