Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Art of Conversation

I do wonder who sits reading and making comments on this weblog in the early hours of the morning?

Perhaps I’ve discovered a sure-fire cure for insomnia but I can say, with relative certainty that most comments made after 1am are unlikely to be spiritually uplifting. In fact, most of the really negative and often personal comments you might read from time to time, originate from six IP addresses and there are no prizes for guessing who these contributors might be.

What’s amusing in a certain way is how the same anonymous person will attempt to strike-up a debate by pretending to be two people. You can’t see it but I can and so sometimes, a long comment thread may be dominated by a single individual attempting to steer the conversation.

So someone who claims to be a “True Blue Tory” one moment can be “Larry Labour” the next and leave a trail of breadcrumbs leading back to a second weblog. Anyway, most readers are smart enough to see what’s going on and it’s a shame that the system doesn’t provide a means of tagging an IP address, like a telephone number to an ‘anonymous’ comment, so you can see what I can see.

Now if you visit other more notable websites with a political theme, you’ll probably notice that something similar is happening, spelling and punctuation errors or ‘turn of phrase’, will show that on ‘controversial’ issues, the same handful of “usual suspects” are very active. The silent majority visit, rarely post comments and simply watch the fun!

One solution is to only allow comments from registered users but I'm reluctant to do this. However, I reserve the right to if the childish mischief continues.


Anonymous said...

The odd one of those early morning comments might be from me when I am in the US and 5 or 7 hours behind Thanet Time - however I don't play games with multiple personalities although I do post anonymously mostly because I can never remember my password or whatever.
No doubt you can then tell where my isp is - USA - quite easily, I don't hide behind a floating or anonymous address.
I am of course in Thanet right now enjoying the unseasonably mild weather.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand people that post at 1am could also be insomniacs. Or more likely not gainfully employed. Don't they call such people "Trolls" in the US? Seems appropriate really. They must lead rather sad lives though if this is their idea of having fun.

DrMoores said...

There's a nice little map feature I have which shows the source of the IP address as well and we have several that come out of the US. Even one from New Zealand!

Michael Child said...

Simon one very good reason for not setting it on registered users only, is that I am actively trying to get the young people I know to take an interest in local politics by commenting on the local blogs. It can be a bit of an uphill struggle at times and as none of the ones I know are registered users it would make it even more difficult.

Lucy Mail said...

>>You can’t see it but I can and so sometimes, a long comment thread may be dominated by a single individual attempting to steer the conversation.

So someone who claims to be a “True Blue Tory” one moment can be “Larry Labour” the next and leave a trail of breadcrumbs leading back to a second weblog. Anyway, most readers are smart enough to see what’s going on<<

Do come on! Are you smarter than everyone else or not? I think you should make your mind up.

And as for spelling and grammer mistakes, maybe the answer lies with your 'schollboy at the edge of teh known world'?
Honestly, doesn't everyone know that 'World' is spelled with a capital W.
Call yourself a capitalist! Tch!

Mr Friday said...

I think you should go the whole hog and only allow people to post who agree with everything you are saying.

Some of us remember that it wasn't that long ago that you were posting stories and opinions which sought to challenge TDC and KCC too. Some of these were very controversial.

But, I guess that is the difference that a party line makes to someone.

I think most of us know that deep down (really deep down) you also think things like the Turner Centre are a complete waste of money and time but simply aren't allowed to have that view in public any more which is a crying shame.

As I have said before, you were at your best when you were challenging the administration rather than being Ezekiel & Gale's spokesman (or is it spokesperson nowadays ??)

Eastcliff Richard said...

You seem to be blogging a lot recently Simes. Does that mean you've joined my happy band of 'welfare spongers'?

Michael Child said...

Ladies and gents, I think it is important to remember here that in terms of TDC it is the cabinet who really make the decisions, now regardless of how you feel about Simon’s political affiliations he is accessible does reply to blog postings and emails.

Obviously there is a limit to how far he can go to criticise the current administration and frankly the previous Labour administration weren’t that good either.

So if you want more accessible people running the show who are likely to have more flexible ideas than the old guard you have to give them a chance to become part of the real decision making process.

Anonymous said...

Dr Moores.

I am considering installing Hush Mail or Xerobank. Would this stop you identifying me? Not that I have any worries.


tony flaig bignews said...

I think you should take a more relaxed view, I've had anon comments from those I'm sure I could identify. The way I see it, who cares these are debates from people who take an interest.

I do have a problem with anononmity but personaly I've only removed a few comments of the type I think are libelous, threats of violence I've have kept.

1.08; Lucan, annoying bloke etc said...

The reason why this is probably Thanet's most interesting blog is the very fact that you have some trolls, 'annoying bloke' 1.08s, OVITs and ECR visiting together with more supportive contributors. The multi-personalities pushing a thread along by answering their own posts or joining in after their own post just add to the fun. I was suspicious of OVIT for blogging on his own Thanetonian site as anon! Of course we give out an identifier that you can monitor and you can ban/block or remove but it would certainly reduce the entertainment value. Late night entries locally may well have liberal quantities of Ale supped at The Powell to encourage the 'muse'. Keep cool, Ed and maintain an interesting blog.

DrMoores said...

I think Lucy has just confirmed what I've neen saying - nice picture Lucy! - When people type quickly, little idiosyncracies start to appear. Mine is writing "Teh" instead of "The". So you can see that over a period of time, the editor can become quite familiar with some contributors mistakes; especially spelling errors.

I think that many people would agree that it's better to work toward improving an organisation from within rather than simply criticising it from the outside. As a Tory councillor I'm now part of a democratic team effort and sometimes I have to agree with things that I might disagree with as an individual. However, I like to think my heart is in the right place and all of us want something better for Thanet although we may agree to disagree on the direction this might take.

Meanwhile, my main system unit's power supply has failed and so I will be even quieter as I attempt to deal with the crisis.

anon again! said...

anon again!

There is an old saying..."if you can't stand the heat, you'd better get out of the fire"....
Doc, you have to take the rough with the smooth.... fortunately, most logs on your site 'seem' to be from a well educated audience. You obviously 'trim' off the rougher edges. Sometimes, some of your audience slink off in to political 'dreamland', but most stay firmly on the Planet. Thank goodness!
Keep up the good work.

DrMoores said...

At least the laptop's running!

I'm told that OVIT has been busy trawling the comment threads looking for "smear" opportunities. He clearly doesn't understand the meaning of "available" in a modern computing sense; i.e. the councillor is more available ( email and the web) than at any time in the past.

It's that new, almost instant "availability" in Thanet politics which presents a growing problem for the opposition, as you might have noticed over recent weeks as the panic reaction from the more extreme left becomes increasingly personal, fictitious, desperate and a bit sad!

Anonymous said...

It is about back story.

And it works.

Otherwise I wouldn't bother.

Anonymous said...

"As a Tory councillor I'm now part of a democratic team effort and sometimes I have to agree with things that I might disagree with as an individual".

If you disagree with things then you say so! If you disagree in principle, but agree because that is the party line, then that is why you have now become a non thinking puppet!

Try looking up words like integrity and honour! They do not follow party dogma, but create charachter and spine!

DrMoores said...

12:04 another 'Witching hour' insomniac I see but this time, with no real understanding of how our democracy works.

If you belong to a political party/group then regardless of it being Labour or Conservative or Liberal, decisions are put to the vote. Just to remind you, it's called a 'Democracy'.

I may not agree with a particular collective group decision and I can choose to vote against it or abstain. However, once the majority vote has been cast, then my place is to support the majority decision.

That's how democracy works in our country. I'm sorry you don't like it!

Anonymous said...

It seems you have to decide if being a Councillor reconciles with having a blog where all this malarky goes on. If you want to stimulate and facilitate discussion of local issues in an honest way then trolls go with the territory. This blog is not a democracy. You can delete what you like and rightly so. Anyone who moans about you deleting posts on a political basis, or otherwise, needs to smell the coffee. Having only registered users and warning posters that "I know who you are" will only serve to scare people away. Do you want this blog to be popular and frequently active or do you want it to die the death of the strangled?


DrMoores said...

Let's be very clear about one thing. I choose to allow comments and dialogue and welcome this in a constructive sense.

However, like answering your question now, 9:42, when I'm working, I lack the time or the interest to constantly monitor this weblog for what I define as acceptable, grown-up, content and discussion.

The standards of acceptable behaviour elsewhere are self evident.

If you look back over the entries on ThanetLife you will see that in the most part, I either report local stories or edit national of county interest stories for discussion. I would much rather that the majority of readers have the opportunity to read and comment in a sensible environment, rather than have to read through the personal abuse of those trapped in the political mindset of thirty years ago.

So think about it for a moment. You are one of several people who will email me or make comments today. I try and deal with every enquiry but it's not easy because, like you, I'm sure, I have committments and a life which exists beyond this weblog

Michael Child said...

The problem here is not so much that Simon has a blog but that local government doesn’t as far as I know there are only two local politicians that have the nerve to interact with local people in this way, Simon and David Green at last week I emailed all of the local councillors about some important Ramsgate issues see and I got two replies one from David Green and the other from Allan Pool so far no one else has replied.

Now theoretically we live in a democracy and I am represented in local government however in practice because I live in Ramsgate, which is predominately Labour and has no Conservative councillors in cabinet, I get no real representation. So I feel that although I am paying local taxes, both council tax and business rates no one in a position to make decisions needs to listen to a word I say, or respond in any meaningful way to reasonable questions that I ask.

Once Ramsgate people took a real interest in politics and felt empowered by it to improve their lives if you click on this link and scroll down the page near the bottom you will see a picture of the declaration of the poll in Ramsgate back in a time when people really felt politicians could do something for them.
What I am hoping is that the other local councillors will take some heed of what goes on here and use technology to interact with the people they supposedly represent for the benefit of the people of Thanet, then perhaps politics in Thanet would once again inspire people in the way shown in the picture.

steve said...

Mr Moores,

I wouldn't dream of masquerading as someone else, would I.?

You should name names so people know who to ignore.

Cllr David Green said...

I always comment under my own name, but I have no problem with people being anonymous if they wish. I do wish though that they would assume a consistent pseudonym. That way, one could begin to unbderstand something about what drives persistent commentors

Gerald Tripp said...


I wouldn't hold out too much emphasis on determining identity on the basis of IP address. Most Internet Service Providers use DHCP to allocate these dynamically when (in the case of home users) a person's broadband router is first connects to the network. Within networks, DHCP servers will typically try to re-allocate the same IP address, but this does not always appear to be the case with home broadband.

So if someone wants to change their IP identity, they may be able to do so by restarting their router ...