I was curious why some seemingly innocuous (in my mind) comments have been deleted from these blogs. For example, the following two paragraphs were deleted by PAO:
- If you ask people to play straight with the facts, seems you have at least a little obligation to do so yourself.
- I wish posters would provide data to back up their claims, rather than stressing “substance” and “studies” without proof points. We can all learn from these online discussions if only people will play it straight. We would all benefit.
I sent an email to a PAO official and received the following guidelines:
- “If posters can't manage to focus on substance, and instead insist on characterizing other posters, we're inclined to remove them.”
- No posts that are “just silly and brings down the value of the site to people who are really interested in having a discussion or in reading what others are saying.”
- “Sarcasm is not a productive or respectful form of communication, even when sprinkled with humor.”
Yet the following posts were NOT deleted:
- “ . . . instead of living in their imaginations, it results in a sad lack of public knowledge, with the further continuance of ignorance spread to others. If you don't do these things, then you will continue to argue from ignorance, . . . “ (Apparently OK to say someone is ignorant.)
- . . . “if we give in to a few vocal naysayers (who consistently provide skewed fiscal critiques on these projects), . . . ” (No proof that critiques are “skewed.”)
- “It must be a bitter pill to swallow, especially when someone points it out . . . It must be even more bitter when all the naysaying crowd has left is a desperate mocking tone directed at those who have passed them by, or toting out a poverty stricken bag of old ideas that barely flew the first time.”
- “Many of these naysayers are . . . mostly good people, but very misguided.” (I guess it’s OK to call people misguided, as long as you also say they’re good.)
- “. . . all you have is your "silly" rationale. Pease produce your own studies (23 of them) refuting the 'silliness' yuo claim to be truth. Until you do that, your refutation has no substance, and is itself living in the "Land of Silliness". (Also OK to call people silly.)
- “Please do attempt to answer the challenge . . . instead of coming up with arguments like ‘they're silly’. Otherwise, you're just whistling Dixie.” (But not OK to be called silly.)
- “Next, we see . . . an "expansus ad absurdium" argument that any high school kid would see through.” (I would say this is sarcastic and insulting.)
Enough! There are many more examples. But I’m not in favor of deleting ANY posts unless they’re threats, curses, racist comments or otherwise obviously offensive.
My point is that the PAO deletions are subjective. Who decides what’s insulting or sarcastic or silly or humorous or substantive? Does PAO think we’re not able to sift through nonsense and respond to insulting comments ourselves?
IMHO, the ones who “bring down the value of the site to people who are really interested in having a discussion” by repeating the same arguments over and over without every responding to questions or comments from others. Should their posts be deleted? NO. Vox populi. But let’s hear the voices without subjective censorship.