New Commenting Policy

Michael Gerber
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Do you know exactly what you think?
Green. OK for trees, but generally nah.
Scissors. Necessary, but I don’t trust ’em.
Tom Jones. My mom would totally sleep with him, and not just because he’s Welsh.

As you can see, I usually do. So for me the primary joy of this site has always been reading our comments, escaping for awhile into what someone else thinks. And for the first several years, we had a community that was (so people said) almost unique on the internet. New users would remark on how our site—posts and comments—was both genial and passionate, good-natured and informative, rigorous yet readable.

A lot of this was due, I think, to the personalities and professions of the original Dullbloggers. Ed, Devin, Mollie and I are all intense but fundamentally genial people…who write and edit professionally. Then Nancy came along and fit right in because she too is an easygoing professional writer and editor. So for some period of time, we had great, well-written posts, and excellent, lively, happy discussions.

This attracted readers—and degree by degree the overheated culture of the internet began invading the cool and comfortable microclimate of Dullblog. Even when I began to sweat, I kept comments open because there wasn’t another place doing what we did, and fans of something as fascinating and culturally important as The Beatles simply required this kind of outlet.

Happily, there are now several Beatles-related sites offering the gewgaw-collecting-followed-by-intense-examination-of-said-gewgaws that we pioneered back in 2008. So I feel that offering an unfettered public square is less important. And over the same spread of years, the world has changed in ways that make intelligent geniality even more precious.

In an attempt to return to those halcyon days—I know, famous last words, but we’re romantics at heart—Nancy and I have decided to begin moderating comments. We hope this will increase the ratio of light to heat. We’d also like to see more people commenting—this site gets a lot of traffic, but only a tiny fraction of our readership actually pipes up, and we’d like to change that. By having Blogmoms on duty, we hope you’ll be less intimidated, and there will be more diversity of viewpoints.

We want our comments to reflect what is special about this site: thoughtfulness, good humor, and sharp, clear writing. At its best, Dullblog doesn’t offer mere opinions about The Beatles, but a generous glimpse inside the writer’s life and mind. (Even when—or especially when—it periodically morphs into the Beatle Sexuality Speculation Blog.)

If your comment doesn’t show up, don’t take it personally, because it isn’t personal—we’re editors, editing. But whatever you do, please don’t lobby us, or ask us to explain why. If you play by those rules, we’ll try to err on the side of “yes.” Don’t worry if you’re not the greatest writer in the world, the right attitude will usually get you through: kindness, intelligence, respect for your fellow fans, a sense that you’re writing to be read.

Hey Dullblog began for a very simple reason: a group of smart, word-mad people suddenly realized they shared a passion for The Beatles, and began posting their thoughts online. This attracted others for whom a certain intensity of love inevitably morphs into analysis. Together we’ve demonstrated that a well-expressed passion generously held—even passion for something as seemingly ephemeral and overexposed as John/Paul/George/Ringo—can deliver clarity and pleasure. Nancy and I hope that shaping the discourse here will provide more of both for all concerned.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

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  1. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    Amazing that’s it’s been eleven years since this ship launched. That’s the same amount of time as between 1959 and 1970.
    Believe it or not I always thought this place was moderated. The discussions never devolved into poop flinging and personal insults (as I observed in other, unmoderated spaces) and I think I only saw spam once.
    Discovering that this joint has been unmoderated all these years is like learning that the cozy saloon I’ve been loitering in (where everyone dresses nice and there’s no pushing and shoving) has never employed a bouncer.
    But I agree with Mr. Gerber and Ms. Carr that some policing is necessary. This is the internet, so it’s inevitable that at some point neighborhood rowdies will elbow their way in. I’ve seen it happen elsewhere.
    Back on the subject of the passage of years (eleven years!), I’m reminded that my perception of time and age has changed. Recently, I’ve been viewing scenes from the Beatles’ first movie. I was shocked to learn that Richard Vernon, who played the irritable old gentleman who is forced to share a train ride with the band (“I fought the war for your sort!”) was only 39 years old. I thought he was an old man! Nowadays, if I encounter a 39 year old, I’m reminded that they were 19 in 1999, a year that feels like only yesterday to me.
    And Anna Quayle, the woman in the film with the big eyes who encounters Lennon and thinks he looks like himself, but then changes her mind… she still lives! 86 years old and enjoying her retirement.
    Anyway, thanks for creating a great Beatle blog, smart, well-designed, and easy to navigate. For years I thought I knew everything about the Beatles, but I’ve learned a lot more since I started loitering here.

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      Sam, thanks for the kind words! Comments on HD were moderated for quite a while; then we had a period where they weren’t. It’s a long story, which involves the recent back-end work we needed to do to make links work correctly, etc. Michael and I share the goal of making this a thoughtful (in both senses of the term) space where people with diverse perspectives feel welcome.

      • Well, at first they weren’t. Probably five years. Then things got a little stroppy, and in an effort to keep the peace and keep Devin posting and commenting (Devin hates intemperate commenting even more than I do, I think), I stepped in to moderate. And then after about six months or a year of that, I thought, “Fuck it, if people want to FIGHT, I’ll just ban the bad apples.” That didn’t work, or it worked perfectly if your idea of fun is getting angry emails from people. So that’s when I stopped posting, in the hope that we could have “a hard reboot” of the site.

  2. Avatar Tasmin wrote:

    I agree with you Sam! This is a fantastic, smart, well written blog. I have enjoyed reading through all the posts and have learned so much!

    I am a subscriber to the Washington Post online, and the comments are moderated there. It can get heated sometimes, although most people are considerate. I think moderating in general, is a good thing.

    Thanks again Michael and Nancy, for starting this blog up again!

  3. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    (Even when—or especially when—it periodically morphs into the Beatle Sexuality Speculation Blog.)
    “Say no more.”
    “I can say no more.”

    • See now @Sam, I thought you were referring to the bit in Help! between Paul and Eleanor Bron (whom John supposedly had an affair with?), but then I clicked on the link and wow how much weirder.

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