Elise Bauer wrote a thoughtful guest post on problogger yesterday (and cited a recent comment of mine) arguing that bloggers should be more restrictive of ugly or abusive comments.  I’ve resisted deleting obnoxious or cowardly comments for the most part but have to agree with her now.  She says treat her blog as you would her house.  Good rule.  My rule, don’t write anything on my blog you wouldn’t say to my face.

Splendid day at the CIA yesterday–I never fail to get a charge out of being there, about which, more later.  Now, must haul two cured bellies to Macy’s…

UPDATE, re comments: Have enjoyed reading these, mostly on the road.  No I don’t have anyone helping to monitor my site .  Maybe I should.  Ultimately, BigRed  illustrates the point well, and Sam makes an interesting case about  obsessive fawners being as bad as trolls (though it’s not quite the same, because trolls intend harm).  It’s not words I object to, it’s they way they’re used.  Big Red refers to a post that i deleted, i think the second or third one ever.  If you’re going to be foul or rude, you’d better be funny or at least elegant. If someone tells me to stick a cauliflower up my ass, and nothing more, then that’s something I would delete. If the poster then goes on to discuss low heat cooking of cauliflower over extended periods, I’d be inclined to keep it.

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57 Wonderful responses to “comments policy”

  • Tags

    Ultimately, it’s Michael’s responsibility to maintain his blogs, but there’s nothing that says we can’t offer advice to him.

    Then, it’s his job to separate the advisers from the kibitzers.

    And Skawt has the right idea – bleeping the whole word just means kids will review every vile word they know to figure out which one fits, reinforcing the memory wrinkles on their formerly pristine brains every time it happens.

  • janet

    I suggest disemvoweling (e.g. removing all the vowels in) the truly abusive posts. This has some decided advantages to merely deleting posts, such as making the process transparent. (For more on disemvoweling, Google the term.)

    Having washed up here during the whole NIC brouhaha, I have my own perspective on the unpleasantness. In retrospect, I said at least one thing I now regret, and I hereby apologize. (I was going to say what I was apologizing for, but that would merely serve to repeat my comment, which would be counter-productive, no?)

    I’m having trouble articulating exactly what I find aggravating about the tone of this blog (both posts and comments), so aggravating that I keep coming back to look in, much as one might pick at a scab (ewww) — and even though, in the unlikely event that anybody notices me, I’ve made myself unwelcome. But here’s an example: the very first thing I read when I came here was Mr. Ruhlman’s response to accusations of sexism in the NIC judging. Before I even read the supposedly beyond-the-pale comments he was responding to, I was perturbed by the response — because, no matter how baseless the specific accusations, sexism in the food world (and the world in general) is a real issue that I would prefer not to see dismissed. It seemed to me to amount to saying “you’re being obnoxious [true enough], so anything resembling your point of view is hereby also declared obnoxious and out of bounds.” This is a troubling attitude.

    Now that I’ve got that off my chest, perhaps I will feel able to go off and quit bugging you.

  • Skawt

    Ruhlman:

    INGREDIENTS:

    * 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    * 1 small clove garlic, minced
    * 2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, minced
    * 1 head cauliflower, in florets, halved
    * 1 bunch green onions, sliced
    * 1 1/2 cups cooked ham, coarsely chopped
    * 3/4 cup chicken broth
    * 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    * dash salt, to taste
    * 2 teaspoons soy sauce

    PREPARATION:
    Saute garlic and ginger in a large skillet. Add cauliflower florets, sliced onion, and chopped ham; cook for 5 minutes over high heat, stirring.

    Combine remaining ingredients and add to the skillet. Stir constantly over medium heat until thickened. Pour over rice, and then stick it up your ass.

  • tyronebcookin

    Totally off topic…BUT:

    I watched all the Next Iron Chef epsiodes back to back (my dad recorded them on DVD for me) and even if you want argue the skill or education level of these two, Besh and Symon…I would say that with the advantage of having watched them all in row, nonstop, like a marathon…even if everything came out even -

    Michael still has the best charisma, character, and personality (for Iron Chef TV presence) to keep it interesting and ‘festive’ during that one hour crunch, while putting out quality food.

    He WAS the entertaining factor ‘cliche’, quotes & comedy mouth throughout the episodes except for John’s star moment/episode with “I got a bad feeling…”.

    *On a side note I have to wonder what would/could have been if Morou could get past his ‘everything separate on one plate’ fetish, or if Aaron could have got away from Latino flavors and ‘puppy dog’ faces (more smiles on camera unless they left them all on the cutting room floor)…but alas, we shall not know.

    But interestingly enough none of my prior personal thoughts changed much at all even after watching them back to back.

    tyrone

  • Stephanie

    I’m glad this is slowly becoming a real conversation. I don’t know when “FIRST AMENDMENT” became so perverted to mean “and I can disrupt anything I like, so there!” Everything from rudeness to “first” posts to “signed” to spamming other websites needs to go away.

    I very much enjoy being able to read this blog, but I must admit during the NIC era, I had to stop reading comments towards the end. Those that were coming in and just cluttering the comments with their “findings” and accusations should have been shown the door long ago. They could have started their own “NIC Findings and Random Accusations Blog,” but instead they just hung out in this house and made a general mess of things. (I’m glad they’re largely gone for now.)

    I do agree with the earlier poster – having individuals register with legit e-mails is a way to go and prevents the e-thug behavior that comes with being largely anonymous. Sure, individuals can sign up for multiple hotmail, yahoo and gmail accounts, but that’s a lot more hoops to jump through just to be “funny.”

  • Claudia

    Well, as long as Ruhlman looked good (!) But I will never neglect my macro setting for a luscious Chablis again.

  • Kevin

    I’m with Elise. They who are inconsiderate, rude, impolite, or negative aren’t generally welcome in our home, and I certainly don’t appreciate their crappy attitudes on my blog either.

  • Jerry

    Generally I hate ‘Me Too’ posts, but….

    Me too…

    Whether it’s been a blog or a message board, it’s always been my rule that’s it’s my home, my rules.

    Don’t like them? Go start your own blog/message board and write whatever you want.

    Michael, your blog, your rules. I’ll still be around.

  • Big Red

    Gordon sums it up. Kiss my fat white ass. I generally stay away from the “C” word, but ya know there are just times when no other word will do. Besides my father, a hash sliger from Long Island would be VERY disapointed in me if I did not talk like a sailor. When I got expelled from Catholic school for tell a Nun to Fuck off, I was so afraid my father would kill me. He actally said “That’s my girl”, and sent me to public school. I still got my ass beat for it, just for appearences however.
    My mother the English teacher, as prim as she is has been known to yell obcenities from the car. Language is a beautiful thing and any word can be made offensive to some one. I say use it wisely. But if this were my blog I would immediately post every nasty and disgusting word I can think of. And then send them the link. Very Bourdain-esque, yes?

    BTW, got the signed copy of the book, and it gives me great pride to put it in my collection. Keep it rolling Ruhlman.

  • stephanie

    Claudia,

    That was AWESOME! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and (albiet, blurry) pictures :)

    Makes me even more jealous that I was in NYC LAST WEEK!

  • lux

    Keep it up and you’ll be caught up in the blogging madness like the rest of us, Claudia.

    Moderating comments is a PITA, especially in a higher-volume site. Only deleting the most egregious fools is a lot less of a time sink.

  • IdahoRocks

    Politeness, manners, respect. All good qualities that I honor and appreciate. Good for your new rule. Graciousness, how wonderful to see, and to feel.

  • Cafe Lady

    All pottymouthed bloggers should be required to post their photo and home phone numer.

  • Uncle hulka

    Great call, Ruhlman!

    By the way, we just made our annual Browns Game Pilgrimage last Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed the whipping of the Texans.

    And as I sat in the stands, eating my wonderful Stadium Dog, I thought of a question for you.

    Are you a Bertman’s Guy or Stadium Mustard Guy?

  • Lisa

    A Splendid Day at the CIA…now that’s a lovely title for something. A spy novel, with a culinary twist, perhaps?

  • Snoozer

    Personally, I think we’ve done enough blogging about blogging, and should go back to blogging about food and cooking. Who else is sick of turkey? I discovered (out of necessity) that it is possible to roast a turkey breast from icicle rock hard frozen solid. I did it as follows: I stuck the birdsicle in a 500 degree oven for 1 hour, which basically got rid of the ice. I then applied the herbs, garlic, S&P and some oil to the skin, placed an aluminum foil tent over the beastie, and but it back in the oven for another hour (or hour and a quarter) at 425. I then took the tent off, reduced the heat to 330 and finished the cooking, which took about 1.5 hrs for what was an 8.5 lb breast. Not dry, not overcooked, just perfectly normal turkey. The pan had a lot of water in it which could have been drained out during the process, but I didn’t bother, and it did no harm. Not my first choice of technique, but I was making it up while I went along, so I was kind of proud. This was post-Thanksgiving, so I already had gravy and trimmings to eat with it. So — in case you wondered — it can be done!

  • mirinblue

    Michael, Bob dG, Chef Pardus, Anyone…
    I have a burning question that has been rolling around in my head like Tony’s proverbial pachinko balls. It’s off topic for this thread and I hope this venue is ok to pose it.

    What defines a palate? Especially in children? While I know that some tastes are inherited (bitterness) and some certainly seems to be cultural, and I believe some aspects can be media influenced (my now grown son who steadfastly refused to eat eggs for almost 2 years when he was 5 after seeing that insipid commercial “this is your brain on drugs” with the egg frying in the pan), is most of the palate acquired? What makes one 3 year old happily slurp up oysters on the half shell (with hot sauce,no less), while others refuse to eat anything that isn’t white?

    As adults, why do I open my mouth to never before tasted foods and (mostly) like them, when I know other adults who still refuse to even try anything new? Is the palate of a person directly related to the idea of food (eeewww, raw fish, ewww tongue!) and if so, while we all recognize that raw fish, why will some try it and love it (or hate it) and some won’t even try at all? Is the palate of a child determined by exposure to food? Will Tony’s new daughter grow up eating everything? Something she inherits from her Dad?

    And lastly, why are some (like myself) endlessly fascinated by food in all ways while for others eating is just something they do to stay alive? What constitutes this basic difference? I am hoping someone out here has ideas about this…it is driving me crazy!

    Thanks!

  • Ted Samsel

    Rude behavior in public? Look at the plethora of “entertainment” like “JACKASS”.

    As HL Mencken (the sage of the Patapsco) once said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the public taste”…

    que lastima.

    T.

  • Claudia

    OK, just to go on record that, as of 12 hours ago, Ruhlman does not need a haircut, Skawt is naturally perv – excuse me! SUBverted! – without Bourdain’s help and, as much as he protests, Michael is enjoying every bit of slander and calumny that Bourdain throws at him – especially as Michael got to sling it all back at him last night at Macy’s (!) So, given the fact that Michael and Tony are doing a joint Rat Pack appearance here on Monday, NY street logic dictates that protective gear and a wad of bail money dropped down one’s cowboy (or Prada) boot might be in order. Because, God knows, all of New York WILL, like Skawt, say to Tony’sd and Michael’s faces exactly what they’d say on a blog. This should be a lot of fun. For the survivors (!)

  • Suzette

    MR, I can relate to your point. In fact, I made the same point during one of the early NIC threads, since it was getting excessively snarky. Not to mention, a couple of posters who thought their own lives fascinated us all (bar exam, anyone?).

    On the other hand, as Sam points out above, it’s a slippery slope. Once you start deleting, where to stop? I do think on a blog such as yours, where most people are more than reasonably smart, a little peer-policing does wonders. I don’t see any of the snarkiest NIC posters here anymore, anyway. Just my two cents.

    Best wishes on your new book, and hope you hit Madison, WI one day on your tour.

  • Steve G.

    Any chance you’ll be swinging up north to MN anytime soon? I mean, even Bourdain made it up here to sign books (at the Mall of America, of all places, and during single-digit temperatures; I bet he’ll be back here ASAP!).

  • schmaltz

    We all claim to be adults from time to time; read what we want, write what we want.

  • tyronebcookin

    Ruhlman’s blog, Ruhlman’s site, Ruhlman deletes, bans, or dumps whoever he wants…

    contradictory statements, critique, or disagreements need not be deleted.

    Just the excess trash that comes with it…stupid, arrogant, obnoxious, retorts with no warrant for ‘trashing’.

    Ruhlman seems to love ‘snarky’ though…

  • Skawt

    Brad:

    Ruhlman does have tech people that maintain the look of the site, the coding and configuration, but the moderation of the site is ultimately up to him. Considering that he is VERY busy right now with the book tour, having to read every single message and moderate accordingly could greatly eat into his time.

    MR does have someone here that occasionally posts as a guest blogger and has moderator privileges (not Bourdain), but that person has been swamped with his own personal business which takes priority.

    Whatever MR decides I’m sure will work out in the long run. Then all he’ll have to worry about is Anthony Bourdain subverting me to tell fantastic lies about MR.

    (Except the part about the Jaegermeister and the cough syrup. That was all true.)

  • Mgmax

    Oh, one other informal rule that’s worked extremely well for us and is generally known to our users: “You can say the exact same thing twice, but the third time will be pulled.” The leading cause of knockdown dragout fights is when two people hurl the same position at each other over and over for 70 posts; prevent that and you prevent the escalating nastiness it breeds.

  • The Professor

    The main thing is to allow everyone to speak,but an intelligent,clever, and decent person should never post anything bad. By hiding behind the names we use and putting rude trash talk on the blog just shows the true core of a person. Bad core, bad person, just abide by the rules and move on. The dirt is not needed.

  • Mgmax

    If you let a comment section run completely free eventually the loudest mouths will chase everyone else away. On LTHForum we don’t mess with content, really (except in a few legal gray areas) but tone is a very big deal. If you attack someone personally, if you bring up old grudges, if you just make life ugly and unpleasant repeatedly you will get the post pulled and ultimately privileges revoked. There’s a way to allow full discussion while keeping people in from the edge a little, and ultimately, for every good point you might lose preventing nastiness, you gain ten other good posts because people respect the culture of civility and are encouraged to participate.

  • sam

    I am pretty sure all the sycophantic commentors gushing praise like “oh you’re so fabulous”, “that recipe is awesome”, “that’s the yummiest thing I have ever seen” on many popular blogs wouldn’t be so prolific or outspoken in their adoration of those same bloggers in a face to face situation.

    Honestly, if someone came into my home and behaved that way I probably wouldn’t invite them again. I’d be scared I was being stalked.

    So what gives? Are you going to delete all the sycophants along with the haters and trolls?

  • Gina

    I was a moderator manager for over a year on a message board that had, at that time, over 50,000 registered members and between 1500-2000 active daily posters. We had 15 moderators who combed the forums at all times of the day and night enforcing the rules. The number one rule was “be nice”. This didn’t mean that vehement disagreements could not take place. What it did mean was that people could flame an idea but could not flame the author. Essentially, the idea was that someone could say “your idea sucks” but could not say “you suck”. Semantics? Perhaps, but we wanted to enable the open exchange of ideas without shutting things down. We also dealt with famous personalities. In that case we allowed for people to say “I think their acting sucks” but we did not allow personal comments to remain, e.g. “did you know that so-and-so was photographed doing…”

    This “comment” format on a blog doesn’t allow the user to go back and have an opportunity to edit their comments. The choice then becomes nuke it or leave it. Additionally, this is a blog, something entirely more personal in nature than a message board. We are all here as guests of Ruhlman. It isn’t open and public. Moderating comments has to be a labor of love; so far from what I’ve witnessed it is all done by Ruhlman himself. If that means nuking trolls, so be it.

  • Brad

    Incidentally, the next step towards improved site integrity is to eliminate guest posting entirely, and force people to register with a working e-mail address, and to allow each user to only have one account per unique e-mail address … that makes it a lot harder for people to spam sites and alter their identities, and it makes it easier for the site admins to ban people (and bots) who constantly misbehave.

    There’s nothing personal about it … it’s just the nature of the medium, and human nature, to misbehave when afforded anonymity concurrently with no consequences for poor conduct. Having had to deal repeatedly with numerous trolls, my team has gotten a lot better at handling them … and as a result, our troll/bot problems have decreased by roughly 95%, and everyone involved is a lot happier for it.

  • Kay

    Can we suspend the rule long enough to get that guy who thought that Dinner Impossible star Robert Irvine would have made a better Iron Chef back now that he’s actually been on the show and sucked horribly?

  • Brad

    Skawt – surely MR must have a webmaster who does a lot of the day to day grunt work on his blog for him. The kind of troll cullings involved here can easily be done by the person who’s normally tasked with maintaining the site, leaving MR free to make his occasional posts, and skim previously vetted comments as leisure suits.

    My site has roughly 150,000 posts, and my moderation team (all of them, myself included, being volunteers) routinely keep their eyes peeled for trollish content … without some minimal threshold of decent conduct to uphold, we (and other forums) would rapidly devolve into a slum.

    I applaud MR for keeping his front porch well lit, and his carpet cleaner than most – and I help operate my site the same way.

  • Tana

    (And P.S., Michael, I’ve long thought you should hold comments for validation. Don’t give the nastiness a second in the open air.)

  • Skawt

    Tana:

    Considering the traffic that Ruhlman gets, having him moderate the comments would quickly become an overwhelming task. It takes time to read every one and decide which ones stay and which ones go.

    Of course, everything I say to Ruhlman here I would say to his face, as he discovered to his horror at the Book Passage signing tour in San Francisco.

  • Tana

    It’s your house, Michael: people need to behave.

    I delete all anonymous, hateful, snarky comments. I delete all generic comments that are clearly just someone pimping a website that has nothing whatsoever to do with my weblog. I will, however, publish inflammatory ones where some ill-informed person tries to take on my readers or myself, like the woman this week who called us “green elitists.” When I tried to rebutt her remarks, I learned that (big surprise) her e-mail address was invalid.

    In my view, the worst part of the internet is people who hide behind anonymity. The second worst part is people who cannot spell or punctuate. (Being the compulsive proofreader that I am, I have been known to tidy up remarks before publication. I just think of it as a value-added feature.)

    : D

    I like your clean house, Michael (but keep Tony in his dirty playpen). Cheers.

  • rockandroller

    If you’re doing a national tour of Macy’s, you could at least come visit me. And open a charge. :)

  • stephanie

    As someone that believes very strongly one should always speak and treat others as he/she would like to be treated, I 100% agree.

    I’m hoping that you’re going to write up a post about the NYC events – especially the one with Bourdain!

    Cheers!

  • Claudia

    Logicalmind:

    That was the point I was making – that it is, indeed, Ruhlman’s blog, and the task is therefore to him, the blogmeister, to expunge, redact, circumscribe – or not; not us, the posters. And, somehow, I think the blog would still be getting lots of hits, daily, and retain its lively and far-ranging tone even if more civility was de riguer.

  • Artful

    I’m kind of surprised that a blog entitled “Simply Recipes” would attract internet Trolls.

    I do most of my Troll posts at sites with true believers concerning some controversial subject.

  • The Foodist

    Good rule.

    Sorry I missed you yesterday at Caterina. Was busy when you came in, and being flanked by Tim Ryan doesnt help.

    Hope the first course was good. Look forward to getting to say hello sometime.

  • logicalmind

    I find it somewhat ironic that everyone is agreeing with Phil who has basically made a stereotype attacking some straw man. Isn’t the whole point being made here *NOT* to attack people? Unless you know someone personally, how do you know what they would or would not say to your face?

    I completely agree that this is ruhlman’s blog and he can delete or edit however he wants. But that’s ruhlman’s task, not commenters. Ruhlman has to balance keeping his existing readers, as well as attracting new people. Presumably the ads on this site are there to generate revenue. So generating readership is at least somewhat important.

  • Dana

    I might suggest a modification… one shouldn’t use language in a comment on this blog that they wouldn’t use with their dear old mum. And I totally agree with DaveA . . . a return to civility is in order

  • tim

    As I mentioned before in the comments section of this very blog I say things in person that I would never put down in a comment thread. For two reasons – this thread is stored and indexed and will be forever. The second reason is that its a lousy mechanism for any sort of debate.

  • Tags

    I, too, agree with Phil’s mud-tracking analogy, provided mud is a euphemism.

  • DaveA

    The internet may be democratic, but it is also public. When did rude behavior in public become acceptable?
    I’m assuming it was during the explosion of cellphone popularity.

  • Jaxie Waxie

    Hmm… so I guess that leaves me with “Would you please sign this?” as I’m assuming that’s all I’ll have time to say to your face next Monday at the B&N signing… :)

  • Claudia

    Phil’s mud-tracking analogy is perfect. As I have pointed out before, while the Internet itself may be democratic, an individual’s blog is the property of that person and he/she has the right to censor it or otherwise restrict comment as he/she sees fit. While it does not enjoy First Amendment protection, it SHOULD enjoy that of civilized discourse, which is elastic enough to accommodate dissenting opinion.

    And, yes, what you should not say in a blog what you would not say in front of, say, your own mother or what you would not say to the blogmeister’s (or fellow poster’s face), by the same reasoning, a blogmeister should definitely consider curtailing, removing or, in future, blocking vicious, unhinged rants that have gone on for about 18 column or screen inches, multiple screeds, and seriously off-topic diatribes that take almost as long to skim past as they would to read.

    Ruhlman’s blog has always been extremely democratic, open and lively because of Michael’s inherent sense of fairness and personal freedom, but I would not blame him one bit if some of the more egregious rantings posted here since the blog’s inception WERE either removed, edit or, shall we say, subject to censure, at Michael’s discretion.

    Having said all that, I fully expect to take whatever lumps I might have coming to me when I see Mr. Ruhlman later today. Hopefully, all will be smoothed over with cured pork belly (his) or kecap manis/nouc nam/jaggery-glazed pork belly (mine) (!)

    Philosophically,

  • Phil

    The internet is full of cowards who write things they would never have the balls to say in person, and I expect blogs like this to be a safe haven.

    So I say killfile all that rub you the wrong way, Michael. It’s your house, and they’re tracking mud in.

  • Scott

    OK, I’ll try to drop fewer f-bombs in my comments here than Bourdain did in your house in the Cleveland No Reservations episode. :-)