A new thread and a new policy

I’ve been concerned in recent weeks with the deterioration in quality in the open threads. One or two readers were highjacking the threads and using them as entertainment for the entire day, often simply throwing in one bizarre comment after another. Some of these comments were offensive to Chinese readers, and I can’t tolerate that. You can critcize anything you want, but blatant insults aren’t permitted.

I started the threads because we were enjoying so many good conversations and people requested a centralized location for discussion of a variety of issues. They started off great, but lately they have had the exact opposite effect I intended: they were scaring away serious comment and becoming a hangout for a few unhappy people who want to make snide jokes hour after hour. We really don’t need that.

No, I’m not saying I’m censoring the comments. I’m just asking you to please maintain the integrity of the dialogue by engaging with others, and not using the comments as a soapbox for your personal prejudices and animosities. Thank you all.

The Discussion: 65 Comments

This is exactly what I mean by a garbage thread, where some guy no one knows named Al tells an absurd story about black people walking around naked with no proof and sets off a meaningless discussion. So we’re starting over. Thanks.

August 7, 2005 @ 12:50 pm | Comment

Great. Thanks Richard. I totally support your approach. It’s a bad day when valued commenters like Fat Cat (on the open thread) say they don’t want to comment because of all the silliness.

The majority of readers come here because they want to read news about China and perhaps leave a comment or two–like me.

Why should “we” (the majority) have our Peking Duck ruined by a tiny number of trolls and/or people with some kind of axe to grind? They should start their own blog. Easy.

TPD is not a public service, it’s not the BBC for example. Therefore, I hope you adopt a zero tolerance approach to people who abuse the comments section of TPD…whatever their nationality.


August 7, 2005 @ 1:07 pm | Comment

Thanks Martyn. I hated to do it, but I can’t sit back and see the comments ruined by people intentionally subverting the conversation.

August 7, 2005 @ 1:13 pm | Comment


I’m with you and Martyn. Trolls contribute nothing to the dialog – obviously! they are the blog equivalent to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, as it were…

August 7, 2005 @ 1:28 pm | Comment

Richard, sorry to hear you’re having the trouble, but hopefully this will ne enuff said.


August 7, 2005 @ 2:18 pm | Comment

If I remember right, richard, the open threads were to solve the problem of popular comment threads dropping down the page and off many people’s radar as time went on, despite some people continuing to add more comments to those posts.
but open threads haven’t solved it because the’ve become the place for chatter (and baiting, and trolling).
and those other tauter and on-topic discussions in response to stuff you post, where they continue, still drop down the page like before.
irrespective of the open threads, if you’ve got a discussion that’s still bubbling along 5 days after you started it with a post, why not move it up to the top of the blog. or have a little box near the top of the screen with links to any still-active threads that you want to draw attention to.

August 7, 2005 @ 3:09 pm | Comment

I’d love to do those things, KLS, but I don’t have the programming skill or, right now, the time. I’ll see what I can do, but things weill have to stay as is for at least the next several weeks.

August 7, 2005 @ 3:20 pm | Comment

A major new twist in Plamegate.

As I long suspected, Judith Miller played a bigger role in this than she wants us to believe. She wasn’t just a reporter who was told something; I’m placing bets she was an active participant in the assault on Joe Wilson, and that she crossed the line of journalistic ethics — and maybe the lines of criminality — by doing so.

August 7, 2005 @ 3:28 pm | Comment

The theory on Miller I’ve heard is that she was mightily P.O’ed that her stories about Iraq’s WMDs were so discredited by CIA sources and by people like Wilson – so yes, she wanted to get back at the Wilsons and at the CIA.

I think it was Letterman or Leno who said recently, “You don’t want to have a name like ‘Scooter’ in prison…”

August 7, 2005 @ 4:16 pm | Comment

Do you remember her saying, “”I was fucking right. I was proved fucking right” about the WMDs? I really wouldn’t be surprised to see her go to jail. Arrogant, nasty little lady, and a key player in the duping of naive Americans.

August 7, 2005 @ 4:30 pm | Comment

Oooh, no, I missed that little nugget! It doesn’t surprise me though. Pity she has become in any way representative of a press freedom issue…

August 7, 2005 @ 4:38 pm | Comment

From Editor & Publisher

Here we have a hint of the “split” at The Times. On one level is the top management — Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and Bill Keller — who endorse Miller’s version that she was actually “reporting” on Plame in July 2003 and her view of herself as valiant defender of the First Amendment. A Times spokeswoman summed up the corporate bottom line last week: “Judy is an intrepid, principled, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has provided our readers with thorough and comprehensive reporting throughout her career.”

On another level, some of the paper’s elite reporters — not to mention some Times columnists — suggest in various pieces on the Plame affair that they are somewhat skeptical of her claim that she was contemplating writing a story on Plame in early summer 2003. The issue is critical because, if she was not actually talking to people about a story, what was she talking to them about?

And there we have the $64,000 question. This has nothing to do with her protecting a source. It has to do with her covering up her active role in the crime. Just my 2 cents.

August 7, 2005 @ 4:39 pm | Comment

Given her channeling of White House propaganda on her WMD stories, I’m inclined to agree with you.

August 7, 2005 @ 4:40 pm | Comment

Check out Arianna’s latest on Judy: http://tinyurl.com/75cvr

August 7, 2005 @ 4:59 pm | Comment

Damn — you have to admit, we had it all figured out before most of the others, didn’t we Lisa? Arianna is really on top of this one.

August 7, 2005 @ 5:02 pm | Comment

Fuck you assholes. You still dont get it. Suck my big white dick.

August 7, 2005 @ 5:05 pm | Comment

Al, you’re banned.

August 7, 2005 @ 5:08 pm | Comment

he wishes (on both the “big” and the “suck” part).

August 7, 2005 @ 5:11 pm | Comment

Oh, and Al, I have learned that your constant insistence that you are a “white” American (a point you never fail to remind us about) is BS and that you are actually Chinese. I love it when Chinese people come here to talk and share. I hate it when anyone – Chinese, American, French or whatever -plays games and tries to sabotage the conversation.

August 7, 2005 @ 5:12 pm | Comment

Yep, we sure did. Arianna’s good and she’s also well-connected. And she sounds eerily like one of the Gabor sisters when she speaks, which is just too funny…

August 7, 2005 @ 5:13 pm | Comment

Funny, Lisa. But also pathetic, too.

Oh, and he also wishes about the “white.”

August 7, 2005 @ 5:13 pm | Comment


August 7, 2005 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

I’m all in agreement with you Richard. To be honest, these open threads are too open for me- I generally come across them when there have been 80 some-odd comments all off on different tangents that I don’t know what to reply to or where to even start. Besides, I can’t be bothered to go through dozens of comments by which time if I find something worth commenting on, the topic has long since passed on.

August 7, 2005 @ 8:07 pm | Comment

So, the person responsible for leaking Plame’s identity in order to “punish” lying Joe Wislon was not the evil Karl Rove at all but rather a full fledged member of the liberal MSM, and the NYTimes hue and cry for the appointment of a special prosecutor has ended with one of their very own in jail.

Too sweet.

August 7, 2005 @ 9:12 pm | Comment

Not quite, Conrad. She apparently was working with Rove and Libby. And she’s certainly no liberal! The liberal paper eventually had to apologize for her lies about WMDs and parroting the president’s and Chalabi’s talking points on the imminent threat of those awful Iraqi weapons (that didn’t exist). But give the liberal paper credit – they were very pro-war and pro-Bush for a long, long time despite their repellent “liberalism.”

August 7, 2005 @ 9:23 pm | Comment

Judith Miller is a neo-con tool, hardly a “liberal” member of the so-called “liberal media.”

And she isn’t the only leaker. Karl Rove, Scooter Libby are implicated as well.

This administration is corrupt, Conrad. They aren’t conservatives in any real sense of the word.

August 7, 2005 @ 9:26 pm | Comment

Conrad’s going through the recent posts he’s missed this weekend while he was in church. Just wait until he gets to the Happy Anniversay post – he’s gonna throw a fit. And I’m gonna be off line, so I’m counting on the other liberals here to keep Conrad in check!

August 7, 2005 @ 9:43 pm | Comment

Peter Jennings just died. He was a good news man.

August 7, 2005 @ 9:50 pm | Comment

Richard, my only question is why it took you so d@mn long to realize your open threads needed some monitoring.

Some time ago the signal-to-noise ratio fell so low that I stopped bothering to read them. Often there weren’t even conversations – just the same moron(s) posting sequences of inane monologues. A quick search on one open thread showed that a single poster had made 60 of 180 comments. That would not be a problem if they were worth reading – or at least funny – but it was all just boring spam. On top of this, some of the comments really were insulting to Chinese.

If you want to maintain the quality of your blog, I think you need to exercise that “ban” function much more judiciously, otherwise it can easily become someone else’s blog. The only other viable approach is ESWN’s – no comments allowed.

I hope no one told you running a good blog would be easy … ๐Ÿ˜‰

August 7, 2005 @ 10:12 pm | Comment

Agreed Slim,and it’s not easy at all — it’s a fuc*ing fulltime job! But I’m in such a precarious position, with everyone watching my comment policy and some even writing articles on China Daily if I delete or don’t delete comments.

And then, when I do delete a comment people start shrieking that I am a hypocrite and even worse than the CCP. To hell with it – when people blatantly abuse the comments I’m going to do what needs to be done. Every single serious commenter here knows I never delete their comments, even if they strongly disagree with me. Only trolls and people intentionally trying to provoke a fight and derail the comments – these are my only targets.

I’ll be in Shanghai on August 31; make some time to get together with me!

August 7, 2005 @ 10:18 pm | Comment

no comments are allowed at ESWN. i made this decision by the following calculation — if i have one hour on hand, how shall i spend it? Spam patrol or translate another article? i made my choice. others can decide for themselves. however, i still get quite a bit of hate mail which i never answer.

p.s. i make the same observation about the deterioration in the quality of comments in recent weeks.

August 7, 2005 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

Nothing wrong with each model used. I enjoy the Duck because so many inject their own views, some useful and others less so. I also those blogs that have no comments, but they do have excellent commentary or narrative (for instance, I enjoyu Poagao just for the narrative he weaves).

August 7, 2005 @ 10:34 pm | Comment

Thanks eswn, and I am going to be diligent in enforcing this policy.

Unfortunately, I go to sleep when most of the cranks crawl out of the woodwork. If I have to, I’ll start re-arranging my sleep schedule.

August 7, 2005 @ 10:40 pm | Comment

Goddam tax and spend liberal Democrats!!!

“Nine Democratic Senators have proposed a 25% tax on Internet porn.


The Senators pledge that the proceeds will be given to agencies that help combat sex trafficking and sex crimes against children. Among these agencies are NASA.

Yes, NASA. I guess that’s in case little Jimmy’s was abducted and anally probed by space aliens.

Clearly not all the boobies are on the internet. Someof them can be found in Washington DC.

August 7, 2005 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

Yes, Richard, this is a real dilemma not only for you but also for frequent visitors like me. I was attracted to TPD in the first place because there is a sense of community. I have wonderful friends and colleagues but not too many of them are interested in talking or writing about China. I am also interested in the point of view of people living in China, be it local people or expatriates. So I believe that it is important for TPD to be able to allow people to post freely and frequently. However, this free environment also carries risks, particularly when people start to make racist and personal attacks. I grow up in a migrant family and have come a long way to overcome prejudice. So Iโ€™m not 100% sure if I want to relive some of these experiences again. One thing sure though, I think that Richard you have been a very fair umpire (thatโ€™s another attraction of TPD) and I trust that you will make a right decision.
P.S. I am not good with technology either and so canโ€™t give you an advice on that matter.

August 8, 2005 @ 12:38 am | Comment

Richard, monitoring comments and deleting the hateful ones doesn’t make you against free speech. Free speech means everyone has a right to a soapbox. It doesn’t mean everyone has a right to your soapbox. This is on my mind because I just had to ban my first troll and I’m going to publish an official comment policy as a result.

August 8, 2005 @ 12:41 am | Comment

I’m back and clearly missed a lot.

I can’t link it here but on the subject of NASA (sort of), the Google Earth tool is copping criticism from Australian authorities because it gives a complete overview of the nuclear reactor in Sydney (neatly situated in a residential area). In the US, areas of national security are obscured. Has anyone checked on Nevada’s famed Area 54 (or whatever the number is)?

Right, what else did I miss?

August 8, 2005 @ 12:41 am | Comment


Exactly. Free speech means that some of these folks who aren’t willing to play by Richard’s very liberal and reasonable rules should start their own damn blogs.

August 8, 2005 @ 1:16 am | Comment

Welcome back Simon, hope you had a good one. Your man did a decent job while you were away, kept me going back anyway. Still, next time, give him a list of websites and ask him, nicely, to carry on with The Daily Linklets. I’m so demanding, I know–Will told me.

Will—I personally cheered when I read your post about the banning of your troll. Sometimes, IMO, one can agonise too much about free speech etc. I think you should long since told “Really!!” to start his own blog—and then run him through with your sword.

Look at me, giving advice to people about their blogs even though I don’t have one myself. Sorry guys.

August 8, 2005 @ 1:35 am | Comment

By the way, please don’t miss the epic true story on Paper Tiger that was in yesterday’s SCMP. It reads like a Hollywood movie: a deadly fire, a selfless hero who kept running back into the acrid smoke to rescue the unconscious, the guy’s subsequent health problems and inability to work, the eviction of him and his daughter, begging on the streets and being ignored and snubbed by the very people that he saved……but it’s got a GREAT ending, which I won’t spoil for you.


August 8, 2005 @ 1:40 am | Comment

Just to add to what Lisa just said, allowing trolls and spammers to run riot spoils it for the rest of us. Re what Slim said above, I remember that particular open thread where one person spammed 80 comments out of 190—the next day the amount comments in general nose-dived—just like the Tuna population nose-dived when I dabbled with vegetarianism in the 90’s. Same thing.

August 8, 2005 @ 1:46 am | Comment

About the Google Earth tool, I came across an articule from last Thursday’s Beijing Youth Daily. The author also asked some questions about whether individual gaining access to and distributing information from this site will constitute a breach of legislation on national security. I tried to search for it again right now but wouldn’t find it. I’ll keep looking. But isn’t it the case that there are different levels of access? So which is the one that the Australian government is objecting. The Australian public and media have been super-sensitive lately about potential terrorist attacks. The Government is quite happy playing to these tunes and using them to justify the introduction of changes to tighten national security measures. The national ID card is back on the agenda.

August 8, 2005 @ 1:52 am | Comment

Oh! By the way, Simon, what with me being in Guangzhou and all that, I’m obviously totally cut off from the outside world. Would you mind writing up a short summary of the final day of the most recent Ashes test match with your usual style and aplomb? There’s a good lad. Thanks mate.

August 8, 2005 @ 1:59 am | Comment

Martyn, that you let us get within 2 runs reflects poorly on your rabble. A lucky win. Still, all to play for and all that.

Fat Cat – it’s funny how Howard’s backing an ID card when he was so opposed to it when Labor suggested it. As for the “levels” of access on Google Earth, I wasn’t aware there are different ones.

I’d be interested if someone finds that article on the implications of using Google Earth and China’s national security legislation. We could play a game of using google earth to find various sites in China.

August 8, 2005 @ 2:30 am | Comment

Simon, I’ve obviously just won your “PLA speed-dating” caption compettiion. What’s my ‘randon prize’?

August 8, 2005 @ 2:38 am | Comment

Martyn, you’ve missed a wonderful test match. There are some magic bowling from Shane Warne and Brett Lee and very courageous batting from Andrew Flintoff. I have to say that the English team has really done their homework this time around. But I don’t quite like the bodyline stuff, no matter where they come from.

August 8, 2005 @ 2:40 am | Comment

Simon, this is the link for that article on Beijing Youth Daily. It’s in Chinese and there are 3 pages:
So happy reading.

August 8, 2005 @ 3:04 am | Comment

Thanks Fat Cat, I was just joking with Simon as he’s a smug Australian. I listened to most of the Test Match on the BBC via the Internet. It was great. The ups and downs were incredible.

I think Australians are each given hand mirrors at school and taught how to do that smug, chin-out, toothless grin they all adopt when talking about sport!

August 8, 2005 @ 3:11 am | Comment

Sorry for beeing a little ditzy in recent time

August 8, 2005 @ 3:23 am | Comment

“PLA speed dating caption contest”


This has the makings of major humor. Did you just pull this out of the air, or has it been done already? I really want to see, if it has.

August 8, 2005 @ 3:48 am | Comment

Sam: http://simonworld.mu.nu/archives/109786.php

Martyn – your prize is your country can win a Test by 2 runs. You lucky thing.

August 8, 2005 @ 5:43 am | Comment

After hearing on the news that the โ€œPig Diseaseโ€ is on the decline, I find this article. Most of my attempts are blocked on searching for more info. Itโ€™s not easy to find info that isnโ€™t taken from state media.

For someone who lives in the middle of this, itโ€™s a bit concerning as the effects are more direct then those who are 5,000km away. So, Richard or anyone that has any new info on the subject, please share.

August 8, 2005 @ 6:13 am | Comment

Ingog, The Horse’s Mouth is covering this topic extensively as the blog-owner lives in Chengdu. He’s also got an “inside” contact in Sichuan.


August 8, 2005 @ 7:48 am | Comment

By the way, the best article I’ve read in long a while re the Chinese economy is linked on both Simonworld, Survived Sars and Shenzhen Ren. It’s called “Limits of Chinese Economic Reform”.

In the words of Simonworld:

“…a must read article that concludes China’s economic growth will eventually force an opening in the political sphere. Along the way it examines the two China’s and other possible constraints. It seems inevitable to many that China’s economy will continue expanding at a rapid clip indefinitely. It will not and cannot.”

Please, nobody should miss it.

August 8, 2005 @ 8:05 am | Comment

Well, while this thread is still alive, I just want to say that the Russian sailors on the damaged submarine are all ALIVE and safe now!
And on Gordon’s blog, he shared his support for the Russians and he said, “Hang on, Squids!”
Just a shout out to Gordon here, to say Thanks, on behalf of all Russians!
(Well I’m a Yank but I’m part Russian and I have some family in Russia….so, a big shout out to Gordon here! And to all Squids… ๐Ÿ™‚
I suggest to the rest of you on TPD, go and visit Gordon’s blog and see his honorable post about the Russian Squids – hey, if we make the Chinese blogosphere like THAT, then we’ll really be doing some good…. ๐Ÿ™‚
Cheers, from Ivan the half-Russian romantic idealist………
….(waiting now for a sullen and ugly reply from American Man or from other trolls. No? No? HEY, Richard, your new policy is working! ๐Ÿ™‚

August 8, 2005 @ 9:42 am | Comment

Ivan, hopefully no more nihilistic or spammy comments anymore. Go for it my friend.

Re the Russian sailors, I’m proud to say that a British Scorpio unmanned sub cut away the fishing nets holding down the Russian sub. Thankfully, the US wasn’t needed. A great effort by the US and the UK.

August 8, 2005 @ 9:55 am | Comment

Martyn, thanks for the plug – and I should say that I wouldn’t have this story if Martyn hadn’t sent it to me!

August 8, 2005 @ 10:31 am | Comment

A rabid anti-Bush fanatic sent me this priceless video clip. Watch it, and maybe you’ll understand why I despair that this dimwit is king of the universe.

(Thanks for the link, Gordon!)

August 8, 2005 @ 10:36 am | Comment

Oh, Martyn, you tempt me. You tempt me to go into a tirade about the supercilious humour of Brits, among whom I lived for many years.
But never mind. Just remember who won at Yorktown, when the British Army all threw down their muskets to break the firelocks, in a temper tantrum after they were stunned by being defeated by the American rabble.
Sorry, Martyn. Overall I like you, but your attempts at British “wit” get on my nerves sometimes, as you often remind me of the most objectionable types of Brits and their attempts at “wit” and “irony”. And the Brits are MOST ironic whenever they go over the top trying to show how ironic they are! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚
Never mind. Lets carry on, as friends, now that Richard has purged all of the trolls…. ๐Ÿ™‚

August 8, 2005 @ 11:27 am | Comment

I actually enjoy British wit, which is infinitely less tiresome than heavy-handed American humor. I’ll take Are You Being Served over Everybody Loves Raymond any day of the week.

August 8, 2005 @ 11:45 am | Comment

Ivan, what the hell was all that about? Are you drunk again? You get on my nerves constantly but I don’t make a big deal about it so try and keep your remarks yourself.

August 8, 2005 @ 11:55 am | Comment

Martyn, I think he was joking.

We all need to use smiley faces when we make a joke that might be misunderstood. Know what I mean? ๐Ÿ™‚

August 8, 2005 @ 12:00 pm | Comment

Perhaps. Wierd bloke. Looks like you haven’t purged ALL the trolls yet…:-)

(Is that you you do it?)

August 8, 2005 @ 12:49 pm | Comment

Richard, very good taste. I like British comedy too.
Martyn, Ivan is OK. I don’t mind him.
Ivan, Martyn’s a gentle soul. His sense of humour is no where as “black” as many of his fellow countrymen. Trust me. I have first hand experience because I’m married to one.
Back to China, (1) I was searching for news on the pig disease this morning and found some comments about anthrax in China. Has anyone got more information?
(2) How was the typhoon going?

August 8, 2005 @ 7:49 pm | Comment

Thanks for the comment, Fat Cat.

Please answer his questions in the new open thread, as this one is closing.

August 8, 2005 @ 8:02 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.