This might seem like a strange question to ask about the Pulitzer Prize Winning champion of free speech but given that their public mantra is ‘comment is free but facts are sacred’, I don’t think it’s unreasonable.
It’s a question I’ve asked quite a few times and it’s one I think it’s important enough to keep asking until I get an actual answer.
It’s a question I’ve been asking since April when EYE was identified as ‘a risk, based on a pattern of behaviour such as spam, trolling and / or repeated/frequent borderline abuse‘ and my Guardian user account was flagged for something called ‘pre-moderation’.
For first time visitors to this site, it may be helpful to confirm that EYEis not the sort of creature who lives under a bridge and my mother brought me up to be polite to strangers. EYEis(unashamedly)Bloke however and the problem is that after a grand total of (count them) two comments someone in the Guardian Media Group appears to have decided that I was sticking my oar into conversations that didn’t concern me…i.e.
equality women’s issues.
In fairness, the exact explanation for my repeated censorship has varied between muddled, contridactory and completely disingenuous but it appears to come down to the possibility that the Guardian editorial team are simply just more than a bit man hatey these days.
From the faux feminism that regularly graces it’s pages to the flow of users with similar experiences to my own, EYEis sad to say that it very much seems to be the case. My most recent bout of censorship has been justified on the basis that domestic violence and austerity are ‘women’s issues’ which pretty much says it all really…
As any self respecting suffragette will tell if you…you can’t influence a debate if you’re not allowed into the debate hall. So whilst, by this stage, EYE may have been put off the Guardian for life, as someone particularly interested in
women’s equality issues, I also intend to keep asking the question until I get a reasonable answer.
“We work hard to maintain a diversity of voices on Comment is free, and recognise that our coverage of gender issues can tend to focus mainly on women, when they often affect men too, so it’s good to be reminded of that. However, we also want the debates on the site to be productive, and a welcoming space for all, and we encourage readers to report behaviour they think contravenes our community standards.” Natalie Hanman, Editor of Comment is free.
EYEhas asked the comment is free moderators on several occasions but they have simply ignored the question.
Remarkably, despite plenty of evidence suggesting otherwise, representatives for the ‘Reader’s Editor’ even had the gaul to claim that moderation issues had nothing to do with them…although coincidentally the ‘temporary pre-domderation status‘ was finally removed after 5 months of indignity.
EYE sort of eventually got a reply from the Readers Editor himself when I tweeted him after recently finding myself back on the ‘pre-moderation’ naughty step for posting one entirely ‘on topic’ comment in a discussion about
cuts to specialist services for victims of domestic violence women’s issues:
Chris did at leat helpfully establish that there is a human resources policy for employees. For the Uninitiated, the scope of such a policy should, at the very least, provide someone like Chris (as a Guardian employee) the right (and responsibility) to complain about any behaviour or displays that might reasonably offend him (or others), especially if they have the potential to create a hostile working environment on grounds of little things like sex or belief. I’m guessing that the ‘People’s Editor’ has pretty firm political opinions himself or maybe he just likes a quiet life and doesn’t sit anywhere near Jessica Valenti‘s desk. Anyway that’s a matter for him.
The view from Jessica Valenti’s desk.
My complaint, on the other hand, is about my treatment as a service user and after I clarified this point, Chris rather clumsily seemed to infer that EYE might need medical attention before deciding to (once again) just ignore my question altogether….
So still none the wiser then….Although once again my account had magically been removed from the naughty step by the following morning.
Next, I thought I’d ask Becky Gardiner, former Comment is Free Editor who is now Senior Lecturer of Media & Communications at Goldsmith College (of recent Tim Hunt infamy). Seemingly Becky was otherwise engaged standing up for Goldsmith’s Diversity Officer, who has recently been charged with sending threatening and grossly offensive communications:
Not sure who to ask next but will keep you posted and as always EYE is open to suggestions…
Be seeing you.