Yes, a fourth instalment. No doubt some of you must be getting bored by now. But I'm not, as gradually a pattern emerges. Here's a comment I have just sent off this moment to Peta Thornycroft's Zimbabwe blog, although it is clearly intended for the Telegraph's moderators, rather than poor beleagured Peta in Harare, who's got a lot more immediate problems on her mind right now.
ed: see STOP PRESS at end !
When I logged onto this site three days ago (7th Jan) the first comment to appear was Andre Milner's (Let them eat ...rice).
I have only just spotted Swatantra Nandanwar's rousing call to arms, which is now, and only now, the lead comment. But that only happened as a result of puzzling Ped's reference this morning to "Swatty" and then working back.
So how long was his comment held back, one wonders - hours or days ? I suspect the latter, having had similar experiences with some of my own submissions in recent weeks. This seems to be the pattern now with Telegraph blog moderation - not so much outright censorship (although it too happens) as a kind of time-management, such that those deemed as perhaps a touch too strong or intemperate are held back for hours or even days before being allowed to appear. The effect is then to blunt their force and to slow or delay any rapid ripostes. And because when they do finally appear, the delayed comment appears in its correct time-sequence of sending (as distinct from being approved and cleared), it's as if nothing had happened, and there may well be those who miss the comment altogether if they merely follow new ones being added to the end of the thread.
So has "moderation" now taken on an entirely new meaning, to mean calming of the entire thread, as distinct from pruning or censoring of individual comments ?
I am presently addressing these issues on my own blog:
I shall naturally be posting this comment as further grist for the mill - whether it appears here or not, and, more to the point, whether immediately or delayed......
So who thinks the Telegraph will publish it ? Watch this space for further developments ......
STOP PRESS 08:55 London time : my comment has just appeared as Number 8 in the thread, AND in it's entirety !
Well, I take my hat off to you, Daily Telegraph, for allowing my speculations into the public domain as to what goes on in Victoria and/or Canary Wharf behind all those screens, ashtrays and coffee mugs. Next question: will you "own up" to moderating by use of delaying tactics ? Any predictions on that one, anyone ?
10.30 am But two new blogs have gone up already this morning, one of them on the unveiling of Apple's iPhone ( which Shane Richmond has already covered). With just one more new blog added to the top, Peta Thorneycroft's will disappear off the bottom of the Telly's main blogging page into the pre-Cambrian layers. So there's little chance, then, of any of these observations getting noticed, far less acted upon, unless, UNLESS, the Telly decides of its own accord to ditch its present moderation policy, and devise something that is fairer and more transparent.
Tomorrow, I will be reporting on my recent flirtation with another newspaper's way of running an online readers' forum. It would be hard to imagine an approach more different from the one described here. Can anyone guess which paper I'm talking about ? Clue (if you're into old chestnuts): it's not the Inpedantend !