Enough Is Enough

For the past week, this blog has been a hot-spot of high-tension, strong words, and angry argument... and I am no less guilty than the others who participated. I shared a very controversial idea — one that I knew would be controversial, but in which I strongly believe — and as any rational person would expect, much argument ensued.

A small, but very loud, group of people conducted a war of attrition, trying to silence my opinion by surrounding it with a cacophony of theirs, and in the process, what truly got drowned out was the fact that the overwhelming majority of my readers comment rarely, or never, but they are my true audience and the value they get from this site was being dragged down in service of an argument between a few big egos and hot tempers.

Well, that's over.

Winning or losing an argument is a result that quickly slips from memory, but winning or losing readers has a more profound effect. I put a great deal of time and energy into this blog for just one purpose: to help people learn languages. Anything and everything else that happens here must always be less important than that one goal.

Things change quickly

When you first start a new blog, you have a few luxuries, based on the simple fact that you have few readers. You can afford the naive virtue of "freedom of speech" and "no censorship", for example.

But as the audience grows, you learn that people don't always do the things that make the most sense. People will subscribe to blogs that they don't even agree with. They'll waste hours or days arguing with people who they don't even know and who they'll likely never meet. They'll say things they don't mean, assume things that aren't reasonable, and in the process they'll ruin the experience for everyone else.

This year seems to have gone by very quickly. It doesn't feel like it's been very long. That's probably why I wasn't really prepared for the changes that come from an ever-growing audience. But I learn quickly, and I don't like repeating mistakes.

With that said, I have a few small announcements:

  • First, commenting has been disabled on all posts for this past week. The argument is over.
  • In conjunction with that, the majority of comments have been deleted. I considered deleting them all, but decided to keep a few, which contained helpful information.
  • I am no longer fooling myself with delusions of free speech. I will not hesitate to censor comments in the future.
  • A handful of people abused the comments here for the specific purpose of antagonizing and perpetuating the argument. Those people have been blocked and will no longer be allowed to comment here. And I will be much quicker to block people in the future. Those people wanted an argument and I took their bait — that won't happen again.
  • I will not stop writing controversial posts — it's important to challenge the status quo — but when I do, I will most likely publish them with commenting disabled.
  • And finally, this is my blog. If you don't like what I say or how I do things, don't read it. Go start your own blog and show me you're better. But this one is mine.

I understand that there is room in the world for disagreement, and I also appreciate discussing differences of opinion, when it is done in an intelligent and mature manner. Disagreement is still welcome here, but if you want to have a debate, my Skype link if right there on the side of this page... let's disagree in a forum where we both get to talk, rather than writing out one-sided diatribes at each other and forcing other people to sit through them.

I have never hidden my contact information. I'm easy to find, and you'll find I'm pretty easy to get along with, too. I hope that my blog can continue to grow with the need for me to take down that contact information that I share so freely with everyone.

In summary, I will close with the one thing I have yet to come right out and say: to all my readers who did not enjoy the past few days, I apologize. I hope I haven't lost any of you, and I can promise that there is still plenty more good content to come!


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Author: Yearlyglot
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  • Randy, I know we disagree on maybe one or two points, while for the rest we have almost an identical philosophy when it comes to language learning. I've taken a break as well from blogging, mainly for the reasons you mention, and now I'm back.Like you say: most people you don't even know, and you will never know them. Yes, many people came to my blog as well to bash me, while others came to disagree, but in a respectful way.Anyway, I really hope you won't censor. I've never censored anything, only when someone began to swear. My advice: just ignore the people that come to bash, and focus on the more reasonable people.Yes, you and I disagree on certain points, but I love to see other ideas from you. So keep you head cool, ignore certain fools, and enjoy blogging. It's your hobby, right? Then you should be able to enjoy it.Peace!

  • My sincere belief is that a large part of the reason for my blog's success is the fact that I present new, occasionally controversial ideas. (It's certainly not my charming personality that's drawing people in!)Unfortunately, it's an unfortunate fact of life that when you challenge what people believe, the response is rather violent. As far as I can see, my choice is either censorship or silencing comments altogether. I can't afford to continue to hold the naive notion of non-censorship.To use you as an example, one of your comments was "you remind me of myself when I first started, yelling at everyone", I'm sure you recall the full thought and extent of those comments (you said it more than once). How does that add value to a blog about languages? The simple answer is, it doesn't. And it doesn't matter why you said it. The fact remains the same: it was argumentative. And while you might tell me "when people say things like that, just ignore it", my response is, when you feel inclined to leave that comment, just don't. It works both ways. And moreover, imagine I did ignore it... it would still be there for everyone else to see, and be influenced by, and perhaps respond to. But gone is gone, and the discussion can go back to what we're really here for: language.In the end, this is not a political forum, it's a blog about learning. Freedom of speech really has no value here.

  • Obviously your blog, but once you start saying that reasonable disagreement is cool, but unreasonable disagreement isn't, you begin shouldering the burden of making a very subjective judgement call, one that will get you flak from both sides.At work I deal with a rather large, often contentious online community, and we generally won't edit anything that isn't 1) straight up offensive, or 2) a personal attack on either our staff or another member. We let other things go because we don't want to be arbiters of taste, and we've created enough of a community that it self-regulates -- long-time users want the site to remain civil, and generally ignore people that don't play nice.As I said at the start, it's your blog and you can obviously do whatever you wish, but I'd hate to see the community around it stunted before it is really able to add value. The devil is in the details with this sort of thing, though, so we'll all have to see exactly how you implement the new policies you've outlined.Good luck!

  • In theory, I shouldn't have to censor very often. Things have stayed pretty civil for all but a few occasions. The problem is that those occasions where matters escalate are often the ones that I care the most about.I believe that people like to see strong opinions and controversial ideas, and that those are things that make my blog interesting and different from other language blogs. But those are the posts that tend to get people firing off unconstructive opinions.And I'm human, I respond! In a large way, the idea of censorship is for my sake as much as anyone else's. If I delete the unnecessary comments, I won't be tempted to respond to them. :)To your point about community... I've got experience in some rather large social networks (million+ members) and I agree with you on letting the community police itself. But this isn't a social network... it's a blog. Some of those things can still apply, but many can not.Anyway, what's meaningful to me is that yours is a name I've seen here before, but not for a while. This post got you to comment, so I think it's a step in the right direction! :)

  • OK surprisingly, I am back. I have many different blogs, for a number of different purposes on a number of different accounts. My language learning blogs aim so far are mainly to record information for myself, a place to post ideas and thoughts I can come back to and to attract just enough readers and opinions etc. to get some feedback. Why else would I start winding down one blog that has a reasonable number of readers and traffic just so I can make a fresh better start on the discussion with another blog?. I don't do things that will attract more readers often, even when I can, for exactly the reasons that you mention, and because I don't like censorship if it can be avoided.
    I will say that I think your posts in the main part caused it, by your own choice of words in the posts and comments. You seem have crossed the line from assertive to aggressive and like Benny despite proclaiming a hatred of negativity you used a lot of negative language right from the start. Implying (because some people will get that message from the first post) that flash card users are anti-social hermits, sub-consciously winds people up that have an opposing view, calling people self-delusional (rather than mis-informed) in comments doesn't give them room to adjust and maintain their own self image, I could go on. This way you can hardly be surprised that some people respond in a less than happy happy joy joy fluffy manner.
    Sadly or happily the more readers you have the greater your responsibility for the tone of your own posts, you must also remember that many of your readers although discussing in English here don't have English as their first language (so give them some leeway, if they express themselves a little clumsily). As I tried to point out to Benny (but as you know my ass got banned there ;)). If you start selling something that responsibility grows even more, you have to expect even less leeway and more criticism (don't look gift horses on the mouth but others ......).
    I hope you take this in the spirit it is intended.

  • Also you banned one guy that is 99% positive and helpful in lots of places on the web in the Chinese learning sphere. If your start losing people like that it is not a good sign.

  • Oh forgot to mention, it takes some courage to admit a couple of the points you have in this post.

  • Chris, if Jesus Christ himself comes to my blog and starts an argument, I will blacklist him. I don't care what he does anywhere else.

  • Thanks.

  • This whole kerfuffle started because of rude comments from some, and they were rude regardless of what that person's native language is.Please don't push the issue. I enjoy your feedback, and I would hate to perceive this as an argument being raised to test my resolve.

  • It is, of course, your blog, and you're welcome to enforce whatever policy you like, but I think it's a shame that debate on such an interesting and important language issue was shut down.I've also preserved my comment (I only made one) on my own blog: https://scheule.blogspot.com...Readers are welcome to judge whether my contribution was a useful contribution or simply being argumentative.

  • Wow, moderating comments is way more fun than arguing with them!

  • Telling people that I'm going to censor my comments has succeeded in provoking all the assholes to test me. Of course what you don't realize is that you're making it easy for me, because I can ban everyone in one weekend and then I'll be free to get back to normal without having to worry about you popping up later, after I've forgotten about the "blacklist" button.

  • First of all, I'd like to say that I'm an occasional viewer of the Yearlyglot blog, and I think you're doing a great job here. Now don't get me wrong, you're proffering a lot of good, applicable information in your posts; but honestly more often than not I learn more from arguments made in the comment section than from the actual post (this goes for any blog, not just this one). The way I see it, allowing this type of behavior in the forum allows for the mixing and matching of ideas. If you inhibit/ conceal some of those ideas, the readers don't get the entire heterogeneous picture of the notion at hand. They will simply have less perspectives from which to view the topic, and this does in fact limit the range of conclusions that a reader can draw on the issue. I absolutely believe that a given concept under discussion is really being held back from it's full potential if doesn't get pushed around a little (in fact, the more the better). We just have to remember that we are pushing the idea around and not each other; i.e. ideas can't get hurt, people can.So once again, just a suggestion from an outside observer who has only commented on this blog once before: in the spirit of philosophy, the love of knowledge, I really believe that you should avoid any type of selective removal, unless absolutely necessary. However, if action is unavoidable, I recommend censure rather than censor. Publicly rebuke (rather than remove) the given comment, and offer the explanation for your course of action. It will only add to the intellectual value of the discussion. But of course this is your blog, and I also think that people need to respect that the final decision (of whichever course of action you do end up taking) is yours.In regard to the spread of ideas, Steven Johnson does a pretty good job of explaining how this tends to work in a video here:https://www.ted.com/talks/la...He puts it far better than I can, and I really think watching the video is worth your time. Anyway, I wish to continue to see good things of you and your blog Randy! Thanks!Otacov

  • Oh, I was blocked here. I just figured that out. I thought that was just a warning. I'm sorry for adding fodder to the debacle. Seriously. Was going to say that anyway, but wow. Doubly sorry.

  • In my blog's 18 month history I've only had to censor five (non spam) commenters in total and Chris is one of them. That says a lot considering the quantity of comments I get ;)
    I don't mind criticism, but an all out wave of negativity from someone who will clearly never contribute anything positive is a source of stress I'm glad has an off switch.

  • You and I have a slightly different style. In spite of rubbing me the wrong way once or twice (probably not intentionally), Chris has kept it civil here, and he often has a really interesting perspective so I enjoy his comments.

  • Apology accepted. And you're free to comment. Just don't repeat it a second time. :)

  • My dad was in the military during the Vietnam war and he volunteered to take Vietnamese classes. Growing up, I can't tell you the number of times I heard him recount this story.His instructors were Vietnamese and they weren't fluent in English. The class had learned the word for ambush and words for several types of food, including something similar to a mango. Anyway, the students put these two together and their instructors were always asking, very confused, why the students were constantly talking about ambushes of mangos and laughing. The phrase (I only heard this spoken so please excuse my total lack of Vietnamese spelling ability) was:Phuc Kick Hai Quit!

  • Sorry, I had multiple tabs open and accidentally put this comment on the wrong article. I have posted it in the right place (https://www.yearlyglot.com/2....Please feel free to delete these comments.

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