ConHome’s comments go behind a Moderation Wall

Conservative Home has never been my favourite political site: I’ve always considered it to be a mixture of useful news and solid, well researched opinion; mixed schizophrenically with overtly biased tosh that the Daily Mail would be ashamed of. This often results in ConHome feeling like a throwback to the “nasty party” of 20 years ago, a party that didn’t give a toss about liberalism, the future, international cooperation (beyond America) or society – preferring instead to champion the cause of ‘I’m alright Jack’. In part because of that ConHome does seem to have become somewhat of a rallying point for the exact people that made the ‘Tories’ unelectable for a generation.

This slant in direction, is of course, defended by a vocal group who take over the comments with disparaging comments about ‘Cameroons’ and ‘Europhiles’ – all seemingly intent on dragging the party back to ‘values’ that won it so many elections in the last 15 years. Online they portray themselves as the political majority, the screaming cry of the great ignored – offline this group are virtually silent in all the political debates I’ve ever attended; quite often I’ve mused that this might be because the views expressed by some commentators are of the sort that you’d have to be quite brave (or quite stupid) to try and defend face to face.

Whatever you thought about it though, the ferocity of the debate did often prove that the party is in flux; that there are more sides to the argument than the actual editorial often portrayed and that there are plenty of Conservatives out there that aren’t swivel-eyed crackpots stereotyped so often in the wider media, all harking back to a bygone age of Empire, Imperialism and Britain as a global economic force to be feared. This is great. Conservatives should be a split bunch, that’s the point of freedom of thought, and love it or loath it ConHome has given some of these debates a place to flourish.

Those days however might now be over.

Today ConHome published a statement that from now on, all comments will be moderated. And whilst the statement is filled with semi-reasonable excuses as to why they’re beginning to moderate. Not once does it adequately answer my question about why moderation couldn’t be done post rather than pre publication, at least that way the users views are always transparent. They promise to maintain ‘fair’ comment – whether that remains the case we’ll wait and see. I’m not sure that ConHome will be able to resist shaping the conversation to their agenda; it’s certainly been my experience that debate in the comments is often stifled by inconsistent moderation.

My biggest problem though is that a pre-comment moderation will inevitably slow the pace of discussion – politics can move fast, sometimes blisteringly so… one of the joys of ConHome is that this pace has always been reflected in the user comments: now it looks like those days might be over. I personally think that’s a sad day for the Right’s online community – I know I’m a hypocrite in having pre-comment moderation on my own site, but I’ve never claimed that this is a voice of a group, nor have I made a media career out of it. I think Tim and friends will find that this is a step backwards for ConHome, and I hope they will reconsider the distinctly retrograde step of moderating all comment pre-publication, and I hope they do this before it becomes a ghost site with all the good stuff hidden behind a wall of moderation or payment.

3 responses to “ConHome’s comments go behind a Moderation Wall

  1. ConHome is a joke these days! It’s biggest contributors are all over the media “self-proclaimed voices” of the Tory Grassroots. Most of the comments they don’t want are from UKIPers moaning about why they aren’t backing them!!

  2. Malcolm Stevas

    Admittedly less than two weeks on, but it seems to be the case that there are far fewer posts than hitherto on ConHome – while the erratic moderation of which you speak continues…. They are in denial about what amounts to censorship: the more egregiously repressive “moderators” such as Goodman are given carte blanche to skew responses to their posts however it pleases them.
    BTW I do not recognise ConHome from your description: your traduction of its character as “..feeling like a throwback to the “nasty party” of 20 years ago, a party that didn’t give a toss about liberalism, the future, international cooperation (beyond America) or society – preferring instead to champion the cause of ‘I’m alright Jack’ “ is frankly bizarre. I’d say it represents – TM’s increasingly frequent chastisement of Cameron for being un-Tory notwithstanding – mainstream Tory party politics, which is to say it’s a home for Cameron loyalists who tend to be indignantly intolerant of those with slightly longer than average memories. People like me in fact, whom you choose to caricature. I’m very liberal indeed, as a sort of nationalist conservative libertarian; I am deeply concerned about the future; I might scorn and distrust the EU but that is in part because I am very much a European with a concern for international co-operation outwith Europe’s borders; as a libertarian I am concerned for the liberty of our citizens, not simply for myself. In fact, you commit the same errors of classification & interpretation as the smug twats on ConHome…
    Regards, Malcolm

  3. Thanks for the comments Tom and Malcolm – Malcolm to pick you up on your point that I’m committing the same errors as they are, perhaps you’re right; I’d draw you back to my wider point though – that I don’t claim to be representative of anyone but me.

    It’s my opinion that that’s how ConHome feels – to me – personally, a socially liberal, european, fiscally conservative, socially aware early 30s chap… I must admit that I did paint it with a broad brush: I was irritated when I blogged (a carnal sin!) – I will say though, that to those that aren’t ConHome regulars that’s the feedback I hear most often; whether through ignorance or personal experience, stereotypes like that are formed for a reason.

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