I began this blog in 2009, and since that date I have enjoyed meeting writers through the comments section, hearing their ideas, and finding new books to read. Not once in all that time did I read a comment that made me cringe or feel angry or offended. Until this week.
I should have known that my lucky run of sensible, intelligent comments from interested and well-meaning readers and writers had to come to an end some time. No one is immune to or out of reach of the trolls of this online world, and one of them found my blog and let me know. The comment was pornographic, so I deleted it. I later considered how lonely and sad someone had to be to bother to write such a post and spend the time to find somewhere to plant it. Perhaps dozens or hundreds of bloggers are finding the same post on their blogs this week (I don’t want to know), but there’s nothing more for the writer to gain from it. I considered ignoring it, but today I received another post, this one in Arabic, which I don’t read, so I have no idea what it means. But clearly the trolls have found me. So, to prevent a recurrence I’ve introduced moderating. I will do my best to respond promptly to all comments, in order to encourage a discussion among readers.
For the last several months I've noticed the increase in readers, which are really bots. I don't believe 400 people read my posts. It's amusing sometimes to discover that most of my readers are in Russia. I do have friends in India, so I'm not surprised when that country lights up a light green, but dark green for Russia and Eastern Europe can only mean bots. I suspect the bots and trolls will move on, but until then (or perhaps never) I have to be less open, and moderate every comment. Perhaps I'm lucky my blog lasted this long without offensive comments.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed about blogging is the spontaneity involved in reading and reacting. Most of the comments about writing on my and other people’s blogs are interesting, thoughtful or useful, and worth reading. They are usually initial reactions and thus honest and without guile. Perhaps I’m being naive, but I rarely came across a comment that made me wonder about the character of the writer. I hope that will continue. But for now, all comments go through moderation, which means comments that you as a reader might reply to won’t show up right away. I hope this won’t deter readers from sharing their ideas and reactions, which I consider as important as the blog.