Of all the wonderful things that can happen in the Bloggernacle, few are as full of schadenfreude as a good banning.
The path to banning is familiar to regular readers: a mild disagreement spirals into personal attack, followed by a warning, followed by more argument, followed by a good-bye. Sometimes these stages occur within a few comments, sometimes less, sometimes more. Occasionally people ask to get banned (Jami, you fool). I thought that penning a few words about who gets banned and why would be illustrative for BCC readers. Permit me to address a few misconceptions — but please, don’t interpret my opinions and conclusions as a policy statement.
1. BCC is notorious for banning faithful Mormons. Statistically, this isn’t so. First, it’s important to distinguish between getting banned and getting modded. Often, people who are making personal attacks in the context of a heated debate will be given the chance to cool their heels and return to a state of calm via comment moderation, which means that comments aren’t nuked, they are instead sent to the administrators for review and approval. Many internet sites moderate all comments by default. Sometimes, getting consistently modded is enough for some people to get the point and either simmer down or quit commenting. Returning to the issue of banning conservative or iron-rod Mormons, when I look at the list of people who banned or moderated, I don’t see the majority of them as being the strident conservative type. Such commenters are often extremely vocal and their departures are notoriously public, but they represent the minority.
2. BCC is notorious for stifling conversation with fringe membership. The flip side of No.1, a common complaint about BCC (if you frequent FLAK, anyways) is that anyone who doesn’t toe the party line is instantly banned from BCC — we hate free thought and can’t stand it when people question the Brethren. We are quick to ban and delete blatantly anti-mormon spam, but such is relatively rare. Generally, this notion is also overexaggerated — again, looking at the lists of banned and moderated commenters, the DAMU and FLAK participants are not a majority. It is once more the vocal nature of their comments that raises their appearance in the public eye. Rarely do people get banned for their opinions, conservative or liberal. Frequently do people get banned for acting like offensive jerks.
3. BCC bans a lot of people. Not that many, but yes, the list of banned commenters grows each day. Whether it’s because of spammers or otherwise, we have roughly 40 people in moderation and 50-60 in the banned list. Some of the names would surprise you, while others would not (Prudence McPrude). I believe that for a blog this size with a network of commenters this active, BCC is fairly hands-off. Those of you familiar with administrated blogs elsewhere on the Internet can attest to this.
4. Steve Evans bans whomever he wants. ‘Twere it were so! But alas, I do not solely hold the keys to banning. Like any nuclear device, our banning system requires more than one person to turn the key. It’s true that I am probably the one to have issued the warning or told a commenter to shut up, etc., but that’s simply a factor of my more regular participation in the comments. I don’t hold any particular sway, I don’t think — in fact, those who administer the blog with me are well aware of my mercurial attitudes and are quick to chasten me. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean you’ll get banned from BCC, believe it or not. You also have to piss off at least one other perma with admin*.
5. Steve Evans is the admin. There was a time that this was more or less the case, but for some time now BCC has been administered by a group of people, each with administrative duties and powers. I am no longer the sole omnipotent authority of BCC, a fact that produces reassurance amongst all. When you email the admins (see our info page), it goes to the entire administrative group.
*Not an easy task. They are a notoriously cool-headed group. I should note however that patently offensive/profane comments or spam are deleted summarily by any admin.