Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crowd-sourced screening of abusive/misogynist comments for women bloggers

I've been reading more in the past few weeks about the type of garbage that women bloggers have to put up with, stuff I've never experienced.  A recent comparison:
 As the New Statesmanblogger David Allen Green told me: "In three years of blogging and tweeting about highly controversial political topics, I have never once had any of the gender-based abuse that, say, Cath Elliott, Penny Red or Ellie Gellard routinely receive."
One way to discourage this is for women bloggers to moderate and screen comments so the abusive ones never get printed.  This adds to the blogger's work load, though (and may not be possible at some work blogs), and more importantly, the anonymous abuser still gets away with exposing the blogger to abuse that ranges from mean-spirited to threats of rape.

The idea I'm suggesting is that for the bloggers who want to do so, they should be able to outsource comment screening to third-party volunteers who will kill the abusive comments (or alternatively, set them aside for later review by the blogger if she wants to check, or alert her if comments go beyond misogyny and make actual threats).  This would deprive the morons of their ability to directly insult the women they're targeting.  I suppose they could try and threaten us reviewers, but they wouldn't even know who we are or what our gender is, so have fun with that.

I don't think it would be too hard to crowdsource the screening:  you're reading for abuse, not trying to handle the content, so it would be a pretty quick and easy thing to do.  A confidence rating system like Ebay uses could help bloggers decide if they trust the reviewers.   We'd need some special software so comments could be redirected in this manner, but I can't imagine it would be that difficult.  An enterprising blogging platform could even attach some discrete advertising to make the project pay for itself.

Just an idea I'll thow out there.  I'd even put some effort into it if someone wanted to make it happen.

(Probably should re-emphasize that the best solution is for the particular men making the comments, to stop.  This is a second-best solution, and only for the bloggers who'd want to make use of it.)