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A message from the EqualityOnTrial regarding site comments


We’ve had a couple of readers write in about trolls in the comments section of EqualityOnTrial, and I wanted to reach out to the community to clarify our site’s policy on inappropriate comments and banning commenters. Our community guidelines addressing these issues can be found here on our About page in full, but this post is a brief overview of the most relevant parts of the guidelines.

Most importantly, our guidelines prohibit posting any message “which is harmful, threatening, abusive, hateful, or defamatory.” In terms of language that is specifically defamatory towards LGBT people, we follow GLAAD’s Media Guide, which can be found here. In addition, “epithets directed at community members are grounds for suspension or deactivation (banning) at any time.”

It is up to the EqualityOnTrial moderators/administrators to give warnings to users who act in violation of these guidelines, and to ban users when necessary. It is also important to note that it is our policy as a site to provide an environment for open debate and welcome comments from those all sides of the political spectrum. Although our site sometimes espouses pro-LGBT views, we support the participation of those who disagree with marriage equality, provided that those users do so in accordance with our community guidelines.

In other words, it is our policy only to ban users if they are using “harmful,” “threatening” or “abusive” language, particularly when it is of a personal nature. We encourage our readers to stand up for their beliefs and to push back strongly against comments on the site that they do not agree with—but remember, all users must respect the guidelines.

If you have concerns about a specific comment or user, please flag it and report it to the moderators. (You can do that here or in the comments.) But for a general rule of thumb, just remember: don’t feed the trolls!

Thanks for being a part of the EqualityOnTrial community.


  • 1. ebohlman  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Could we please have a prohibition against knowingly using the same user name (other than "anonymous" or the like) as another user? If it appears non-malicious, the user should be asked politely by community members to add something to their name to distinguish them, but deliberately adopting the same username as a frequent poster should be cause for at least a warning, even when it's done by a regular poster to mock an anti-gay poster.

    It would also be appreciated if, on slow news days, you'd create an open thread (I suspect there's some WordPress plugin that will let you do this automatically). That should reduce the problem of threads filling up to the point that all comments collapse.

  • 2. Michael Grabow  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Open threads would definitely be a plus.

  • 3. ebohlman  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Also, it would help to close very old threads to new comments so the Recent Comments box doesn't fill up with spam comments.

  • 4. Scottie Thomaston  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I just asked our tech people about this. Seems like a really good idea.

  • 5. Scottie Thomaston  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:08 am

    We've disabled comments on posts older than 180 days. We are looking into the username thing, but so far it seems like the only way to do it is if everyone is required to sign up.

  • 6. ebohlman  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:11 am

    We probably shouldn't require everyone to sign up unless/until things get desperate, but we could still have community/moderator enforcement of the rule (right now it's only a small number of people doing it, so I don't think it would be too much of a time burden).

  • 7. F_Young  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:01 am

    "We've disabled comments on posts older than 180 days"

    I think that is too long. I think 14 days is plenty.

  • 8. Eric Koszyk  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I agree with you. 180 days is way too long.

  • 9. ebohlman  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:44 am

    I'd suggest 60 days at the most, lowering it if spam remains a problem.

  • 10. davep  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Why would it need to be any more than, say seven or fourteen days? The article is old news by then.

  • 11. Jae  |  May 27, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I agree 14 days is plenty

  • 12. JimT  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Your efforts are very much appreciated, as a moderator of two very large site I know how much work is entailed. I do think that maybe 90 days would be better for cutting off comments.

  • 13. bayareajohn  |  May 27, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Agreed, open threads would give a place to post new, unrelated news that currently gets buried in topics where it can not get proper attention.

  • 14. Duration & Convexity  |  May 28, 2014 at 11:52 am

    The most important and ALARMING part of this piece was site administrators writing "Although our site sometimes espouses pro-LGBT views…"…..what in the world? This site is SOMETIMES advocating pro LGBT views? That should be enough for anyone making any sort of donation to this site to discontinue their donating. We were made to believe this site was entirely pro LGBT in view, not sometimes.

  • 15. Zack12  |  May 28, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Indeed, I don't get where this turned into a debate site all of a sudden.

  • 16. Kevin  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:12 am

    I will get my ME news elsewhere then. Thanks.

  • 17. Valeryva  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Yeah it seems like this site will become like Towleroad in terms of toxic comments threads. Sigh.

  • 18. ebohlman  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:51 am

    We're nowhere near close to that point. We have one commenter whose posts, obnoxious as they are, say pretty much the same things that defendants' briefs in ME cases still do (including getting increasingly desperate as time goes on). He's almost certainly doing it to get attention. Just ignore him unless he brings up an argument that hasn't yet been addressed, in which case use him as a "devil's advocate".

  • 19. Scottie Thomaston  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Not to mention, one person was banned from commenting over the weekend. I am not sure if this is that same person, but it may have been.

  • 20. SoCal_Dave  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Not likely since he is posting in this very thread.

  • 21. Eric Koszyk  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:40 am

    So what would it take for trolls such as TKNSC to get banned?

    Do they have to come here and scream racial or anti-gay epithets? Is that the only thing that will get them removed?

    To me it seems that trolls can do whatever they want and nothing happens to them. Again, it makes these comment sections worthless.

  • 22. Eric Koszyk  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

    I disagree. When one commenter posts excessively to the point where a thread has over 200 pointless posts in it then this website becomes basically useless.

    If it gets to that point I know that, I for one, will not be making any more $ donations to it.

  • 23. Rik  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Changing your behavior in response to his actions means that you are allowing that little troll to win and giving him exactly what he wants

  • 24. TPAKyle  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:37 am

    "I will get my ME news elsewhere then."

    Then the trolls win. Who wants to see that?

  • 25. Eric Koszyk  |  May 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    The trolls are winning because the people who created this website refuse to do anything about them.

  • 26. FredK  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:24 am

    So in other words, Jacob, your team doesnt see anything wrong with the recent troll's comments?

  • 27. Margo Schulter  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Thank you for clarifying the policies on trolling and related matters. This comment might also be an opportunity to check whether my comment is visible to you, or to other users. As I explained in a recent e-mail, they show up fine in my text-based browser, or in Google searches, but not when I visit the site on a local university terminal with Internet Explorer. I e-mailed and whitelisted the address for reporting technical problems, and would be glad to whitelist any other address from which you may be sending e-mail replies.

  • 28. CowboyPhD.  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Sad to loose EOT and see it die as a result of a troll.

  • 29. JakeAZ  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Yup, I'm outta here too.


  • 30. Pat  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Seriously, it's quite astonishing if this post suggests that TK has never violated these guidelines. If that's our new reality, it's quite sad.

  • 31. Logan  |  May 28, 2014 at 11:18 am

    EOT much like towleroad is desperate for hits. They willingly will throw LGBT under the bus for money. Time to pick a new site for me

  • 32. Keith  |  May 28, 2014 at 11:29 am

    No one at EoT is throwing LGBT people under the bus. Let us all know when you find a site as good as this one. Good luck.

  • 33. Richard Weatherwax  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:57 am

    I support the current site policy. From the very beginning this site was open to everyone whether for or against marriage equality. We do not want to copy NOM.

  • 34. Michael Grabow  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:10 am

    There is nothing wrong with an opposing opinion. When that person is offensive and clogs threads, then it becomes a problem.

  • 35. F Young  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:33 am

    I think there is nothing wrong with opposing opinions about how to achieve marriage equality, but I do not agree that posts opposing marriage equality belong here. Those types of posts necessarily get in the way of the goal of this site.

    There are plenty of sites where people can argue about whether marriage equality is good or bad, and I avoid them. I was hoping that EoT would be different, and thus more useful.

  • 36. Eric Koszyk  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:15 am

    I agree with you once again. To me, Prop 8 TT and EoT was never about arguing for or against ME. It was all about analyzing court cases and talking about how the movement should continue to evolve.

  • 37. Eric  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:34 am

    The goal of the site was to track the Prop 8 trial. American jurisprudence is adversarial in nature, so expect posts accordingly.

  • 38. R.J  |  May 28, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Well said. This site was originally advertised as a safe haven where we could get LGBT news and updates, not a free for all for trolls. If the site owners want to encouraging trolling to make a buck, many will find other outlets

  • 39. JimT  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I have not seen any other ME site that even comes close to matching what is being done here. Between the moderators and a handful of users here who are very good at reporting on breaking news, analyzing the legal briefs and decisions and providing some excellent supplemental info and links, nobody is going to find a better ME site than this one.

    Those who are threatening to leave and/or stop financially supporting the site because they disagree with the policies and response by EoT need to be reminded that EoT is the best site for analysis and breaking news of the major marriage equality cases.

    Folks, if you keep on complaining, threatening to leave to not financially support EoT, responding to or ABOUT the troll(s), the troll(s) will continue.

    I personally prefer seeing the EoT staff dedicating THEIR TIME towards what they do best, covering the ME legal events. And as a moderator of two very large social networks, I can tell you that even with tighter moderation controls, the trollers will always find a way in.

    That's my two bits, okay, go ahead down vote me.

  • 40. Vincent  |  May 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    "Folks, if you keep on complaining, threatening to leave to not financially support EoT, responding to or ABOUT the troll(s), the troll(s) will continue. "

    Or the EoT team could simply enforce its own rules.

  • 41. Gio  |  May 28, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Then they need to stop pretending to have rules in which theyrefuse to follow. Just state this site has no rules fir posting (and it doesn't) and be honest about it

  • 42. Richard Weatherwax  |  May 27, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    When this site first began, we laughed at the sites supporting prop 8 because they used censorship. Now members of this site are recommending that we censor posts. That is a full turnaround, and would open us to the charge of being opposed to freedom of speech.

  • 43. davep  |  May 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    You think letting trolls have free run of the site so they can fill it with cheap insults is something that is worthy of being protected? I strongly disagree.

  • 44. Bruno71  |  May 27, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Freedom of speech involves governments and citizens. Website comments are commonly moderated. One has nothing to do with the other. EoT is not the government and TrollKid in South Carolina or Southern Christianville is not a citizen with speech rights.

  • 45. R.J  |  May 28, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Dude you ARE one of the trolls. And not a good one either!

  • 46. Two Dads  |  May 28, 2014 at 11:20 am

    The policy is not mandated. Horrible things about Gay couples have been said and EOt moderators look the other way. The site HAS jumped the shark, and I was a big defender of it. But it's gone toward towleroad territory

  • 47. Kilgore Trout  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:05 am

    All that doom and gloom. I’ve barely even noticed the troll.

  • 48. davep  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:23 am

    There is nothing wrong with the policy.

    There is a LOT wrong if the policy is not enforced!

    When someone first violates the policy, they should be PROMPTLY warned via a publicly visible reply from the mods, so everyone knows whether their reports are even being seen and acted upon.

    When someone REPEATEDLY violates the policy, they should immediately have their participation privileges revoked, again via a comment that notifies everyone that this has happened.

    If the mods and admins don't publicly acknowledge these violations PROMPTLY, and instead allow insulting comments to remain visible until the thread is many days old and everyone has moved on to NEW threads (where the violator is posting MORE comments) then the trolls have effectively ben given free reign.

    The site needs to deal with trolls fairly, but PROMPTLY, or the policy means NOTHING.

  • 49. davep  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:36 am

    …As an example, our current troll has just posted a reply in the last hour which violates the policy at least three times in one comment (yes, I used the 'report' button'). And the types of violations in the comment are typical of the stuff this person has been posting here for quite a while, and yet this troll is STILL allowed to participate? Why?

  • 50. Scottie Thomaston  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Can you post a link so I can send it to the tech people?

  • 51. davep  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Posta link to a specific comment? I would not know how to do that. But it's in the 200+ comment "Nevada" article, near the bottom, less than two hours ago.

    And besides, I used the REPORT button, and you guys know the name of the commenter, so how much more info is needed? I'm not enthusiastic about quoting the remarks here, but if that's what it takes, I'll do it.

  • 52. Scottie Thomaston  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:44 am

    I'll go look in the thread.

  • 53. davep  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:45 am

    You can also look two comments below this one, right here in this thread.

  • 54. jdw  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:15 am

    I don't know if you need an example, but here goes:

    * * * * *

    TKNSC · 2 hours ago
    Your statement might be vacuously true, as I can't think of a single gay person that I despise.

    Elton John? One of my favorite singers.
    Jim Nabors? Loved him as Gomer Pyle.
    Ellen? Meh, could take her or leave her, but certainly don't despise her.
    Michael McShane? Nah. His ruling was actually one of the mildest I've read so far. Who knows how things might have turned out if the Oregon AG had actually acted like the defendant she was.

    Now I imagine, if all the rainbow flag-wavers are to be believed, there are many more gay people than that out there. So it might be possible that I despise at least one of them. But if so, I don't know it, much less know whom.

    But let's say I do. Well, it really doesn't matter if they can legally marry now in OR and PA, because they could do that before. The only difference now is they can enter into pretend "marriages" with people of the same sex and the state will be in on the act. Well, good for them I guess. I don't blame them for taking advantage of it. But it's not true marriage, and I do blame the state AGs and governors for "throwing the game" and allowing it to happen in their state without the people's apprval. But it's their state, and it's up to the people of those states to hold them accountable. If they do, then Oregon and Pennsylvania will prove that they aren't cesspools of perversion after all. If they don't, well, they will rightly deserve such ignominy.

    What will really be funny is the ones in Pennsylvania who get fired once their boss finds out about their "marriage", who then see their "marriage" invalidated by SCOTUS next year. That's when I'm really gonna ROFL. Not only at them, but at Governor Corbett also, who will end up spending more state resources unwinding the "marriages" than he would have on an appeal that would have kept the "marriages" at bay until the 3rd Circuit or SCOTUS slapped them down for good.

  • 55. jdw  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

    I don't know about you, Scott… but I don't think any of us come here to have "cesspools of perversion" tossed at an issue that means a great deal to all of us. He's gone to the "perversion" well early and often.

    While it would have been wiser for folks to avoid feeding the troll, both his volume and belligerence is difficult for people to ignore. Especially those who love and participate in the exceptional Comments Section discussions that are of such value here. To them, it's not just that he's taking an intentional dump on *you* website, but that he's taking it on "our" section of the site. It's hard for people to hold back… but it's also very easy for people to just wander away if it keeps up.

    I don't think you want that. I'm 100% confident that most of the comments section readers and poster don't want that. It really is time to step in and eliminate the problem. :/

  • 56. davep  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Not to mention use of scare quotes and the intentionally demeaning phrase "pretend marriages", and the snide rhetoric about 'gay people are can just marry someone of the opposite sex', and thinking that it's "funny" if gay people lose their jobs because they legally married…..

    Come ON, moderators, really? These sorts of insults and anti-gay trolling were not tolerated here in the past, so why are you allowing it now? What's up?

  • 57. jdw  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Totally agree on the "funny" and his regular need to put quotes around "marriage".

  • 58. CowboyPhD.  |  May 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Couldn't have said it better davep!

  • 59. FredK  |  May 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    And now that specific examples have been provided, Scottie and Jacob are not reacting?!

  • 60. FredKfrek  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:47 am

    That's the thing: the moderators have mentioned their general guidelines again, but they did not say anything specific about the current problem: do they think there was nothing wrong with the comments lately and that the guidelines have been respected?
    If yes, then it will really become an uninteresting site.
    If they think there was a violation, why are the rules not enforced? (scottie above mentions that "someone" was banned without being sure if it's the same person: really, you don't know who we are talking about?)

  • 61. sae  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:40 am

    With the exception of the very few trolls this site is great for comments. I have found the vast majority of comments to be polite. The comments section often provides links to additional information. There are many comments from well informed people that I find extremely helpful. Of all of the sites I check this is the site with the very best and helpful comments.

    Ignore the trolls, cut them off or whatever but please leave the comments as they are.

  • 62. Eric Koszyk  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Sorry but we cannot ignore them when they make hundreds of comments, sometimes in the same thread. Most of us don't have the time to sift thru so many comments to actually read the few informed ones.

    If this keeps occurring then the comments section of this website becomes useless.

  • 63. Eric Koszyk  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Sorry, meant this for sae below.

  • 64. ebohlman  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Most of our problem poster's comments are replies to comments in reply to his earlier comments. If people stop replying to him, the volume will drop to manageable levels.

  • 65. davep  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Yes, people should not reply to trolls.

    But NO, that is not a solution and does not replace the need for moderator / admin intervention to deal with repeat offenders.

  • 66. Zack12  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Here's the problem, even if no one replied to him, he is still spamming up the board and thus derailing threads.
    As you said, that is where the mod/admin has to step in.

  • 67. Eric Koszyk  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:11 am

    That's not a solution.

    A solution is TKNSC getting banned from the site.

    He is a troll. Nothing more. NONE of his 157 comments have been intellectually stimulating or informative. None of them are useful to the discussion at hand. Most of them include anti-gay remarks like putting marriage in quotation marks or calling judges dictators.

    There is absolutely no reason for him to be here.

  • 68. FilbertB  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Thank you for addressing this. I come to this exemplary site to be educated -to learn about the various marriage equality court cases, and to gain a better understanding through the informed commentary. I do not post very much, but i read this nearly every day -and press the like button on those who add to the discussion and enhance my understanding of the various issues.
    Best regards to all,

  • 69. Zack12  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:02 am

    I understand the need for freedom of speech but there is a difference between differences of option and being downright insulting and abusive to other posters.
    The troll in question has not engaged in any meanful debate other then to tell us he hopes we will lose and puts the word marriage in reference to us in quotation marks.
    That is a common insult by those who are against us as a way to demean our relationships and he/she has been doing that again and again on this board.
    Telling us not to feed the trolls wouldn't be as much of an issue if obvious ones are dealt with in a quick and timely matter.
    All due respect, that has not happened and it is something I think many of us will keep in mind the next time you ask for donations, especially given the tepid response.
    We are paying for a site that has great legal news and updates, not for a board that will allow one or two people to completely ruin it for everyone else.

  • 70. jdw  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:03 am


    The comments section of this site, all the way back to it being Prop 8 related, are among the best features of the site. Commentators like Doc and Ragavendran and all the rest are one of the reasons so many of us keep coming back.

    Trolls like TKNSC… they drive a lot of us away. They're not here for discussion. All you need to do is look at the avatar to get that.

    You do need to give a couple of people Mod powers, as Doc has pointed out several times in the Nevada comments section.

    The concern that this will turn into a NOM-style site is frankly pretty far off base. Here's the reality: If we wanted to read NOM's side of these cases, we'd go to NOM's site. We're here to keep up to date on the Equality side of these cases, to read analysis about it, and to pick the brains of the commentators on their thoughts about the various cases. If they leave because of trolls, the value of the site drops rapidly.

  • 71. sfbob  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:25 am

    This. ^^^^^

    While I refuse to be driven away because of a few trolls (and I admit I can't always resist the temptation to engage), I know that plenty of people, particularly those who are coming in for the first time, will be turned off if they see a bunch of vitriol allowed to remain here unaddressed (as though it actually represented the views of the site or its contributors) . I have to agree with jdw; there are other sites one can go to to read what the opponents of marriage equality think. It might be useful to have one of the staff visit those places now and again to bring us back a sampling but I we don't really need their contributors signing up. Actually I'm fairly sure most of the folks over there feel the same way.

    The strength of a site like EoT is its ability to keep us and our supporters better informed about what's going on, to provide analysis in ways that we each individually might not be up to doing for ourselves and to provide a variety of views on goals, strategy and tactics…but all on own side.

  • 72. SoCal_Dave  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

    With all due respect, Jacob, you said…..
    Most importantly, our guidelines prohibit posting any message “which is harmful, threatening, abusive, hateful, or defamatory.” In terms of language that is specifically defamatory towards LGBT people, we follow GLAAD’s Media Guide, which can be found here. In addition, “epithets directed at community members are grounds for suspension or deactivation (banning) at any time.”
    but then you said…..
    In other words, it is our policy only to ban users if they are using “harmful,” “threatening” or “abusive” language, particularly when it is of a personal nature.

    Why did you leave out "hateful" and "defamatory"? That is the current problem. We have someone posting here with hateful and defamatory comments. He has called us (LGBT) mentally ill, he relentlessly disrespects our marriages (with his purposefully insulting air quotes). Recently speaking about the people of OR and PA holding their AGs responsible [for not fighting against ME], " If they do, then Oregon and Pennsylvania will prove that they aren't cesspools of perversion after all." implying of course that allowing ME to continue makes them cesspools of perversion. Also in a separate post, called ME a "perverted path".
    Isn't that hateful enough?

    It's not that he is posting a difference of opinion, it's the hate with which he does it.

  • 73. ebohlman  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:50 am

    I have to assume that he considers hateful or defamatory language to be sub-categories of abusive language.

  • 74. Lynn E  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:22 am

    My thoughts exactly. In the space of two paragraphs we went from 5 prohibitions to 3. I'm also pretty sure that the GLAAD Media Guide would frown on "cesspool of perversion," but I have to be honest… I didn't research it.

  • 75. Valquiria  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:23 am

    In other words, EoT is happy to lie down in a tub and be pissed on by obnoxious hatemongering trolls, as long as those trolls don't use the word "faggot" or violate the sacred taboos of GLAAD. Way to lay down the law, EoT. Good luck with your next money-begging campaign. I hope TKNSC and JustMe give generously.

  • 76. Daniels V  |  May 27, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Couldn't agree more. It's especially unnerving that now several people have provided specific examples and Jacob has not even replied. Just reminding everyone of your vague guidelines is ALL you are going to do, really?

  • 77. Kevin  |  May 27, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Could not agree more with SoCal_Dave and Valquiria. This statement of "policy" represents either a) the homophobic view that issues of gay "perversion," "risk" to children, and the naturalness/righteousness of our inherent existence are a legitimate topic for "debate" and that well-behaved faggots ought to abide by expressions of these "views" in the name of furthering "discourse" with individuals who long ago have allowed their fear of sexual difference to crystallize into impenetrable callouses of vilification and disgust; or b) cynical click-baiting to support site visit statistics that can be used for fundraising. In my view, either is contemptible.

  • 78. JayJonson  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I have made several donations to EofT and have been happy to do so because the quality of reporting here has been very good and the comments have been especially helpful. Recently, however, the persistent trolling by a few people have made coming here less pleasant and less illuminating than has been previously been the case.

    I will no longer contribute to the maintenance of the site and toward the traveling expenses of the bloggers unless something is done to prevent the trolling. The quality of the site has significantly been lowered by the presence of the trolls. I would much rather be reading the opinions of the learned commenters here and discussing the fine points of the decisions issued by federal and state courts than having to engage in a debate about trolls. Please ban people like TKNSC.

  • 79. Michelle  |  May 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

    The simple fact remains, EOT is banking on making more money with encouraging trolling, rather than depend on donations from loyal site praticipants. What they aren't anticipating is many site participants leaving the site. The troll has said gay marriage poses a risk to children's health… That's a clear cut violation of EOT policy, which they refuse to enforce

  • 80. Zack12  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I'll add one more thing, one of the trolls has been reported numerous times and nothing has been done about him to this point.
    The fact he is mocking us in this very thread clearly shows that our complaints about him have not been taken seriously.
    I'm sorry if some of us sound harsh.
    We all appreciate the hard work put into this site.
    And I know from experience how hard running a website is with funding always an issue, trying to keep track of updates etc but that is no excuse for the fact one person has been allowed to derail threads with personal attacks and gibberish for close to a month now.
    That is in spite of the fact numerous complaints about him have been lodged.
    All due respect, if you let it continue, the only people that will leave will be the regulars.

  • 81. JayJonson  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Re-reading the post itself, perhaps I am under a mistaken impression. Jacob wrote "Although our site sometimes espouses pro-LGBT views. . . " Huh? If I thought that this site only occasionally espoused pro-LGBT views, I would not come here at all. Please clarify the purpose of this site. If it is not committed to marriage equality and equal rights for gay people, then I don't want anything more to do with it. Period.

  • 82. jdw  |  May 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I confess to be confused by that as well. We all know Scott and Jacob have a track record of being activists in the pro-LGBT movement. I'm at a loss on when EoT *doesn't* espouse pro-LGBT views. :/

  • 83. CarrotCakeMan  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Mr. Thomaston, I would like to draw your attention to another problem. I've tried more than once to send you a question via this website's "Got questions? Email us here." Please ask your coworkers to check into that.

  • 84. davep  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Yes, that function does not work. It results in an ERROR message. Please fix it.

  • 85. CarrotCakeMan  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I've tried the email address spelled out below also, with no response. Thanks for telling me I'm not the only one, davep.

  • 86. Lynn E  |  May 27, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Apparently as functional as the Report function.

  • 87. bayareajohn  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:32 am

    As one of the "couple" members who wrote to EOT about the spam and troll issues, I'm not quite sure what you are trying to say here. It seems like you think you're doing fine.

    First, it's clear that the REPORT button and comments in the report form either go nowhere or are ignored, and have been for at least a year. This is not acceptable.You have volunteers if time and effort are the reason. FIX THIS. And fix the CONTACT US email form that results in "ERROR SUBMISSION FAILED" every time. You only got my mail because I have a real email list from previous correspondence with you.

    Next, the ABOUT page, Guidelines paragraph 1, concludes with this open ended statement: " moderators reserve the right to terminate the account (ban or delete) of a user of the service for any reason at any time." That should be clear enough… and you are within your own policy to defend the site from willful disruption by posters.

    (Odd that there is no Guideline Item 2, it jumps from 1 to 3….)

    In the case of TK, he has repeatedly and clearly stated that he is trying to drive the responses above 100 in each group in order to make the reply chains collapse and make it very hard to follow the conversation, breaking the links from the RECENT COMMENTS section, etc.

    This is deliberate, publicly stated malicious effort to exploit a function of WORDPRESS in order to disrupt the use of this site. Such efforts do not deserve warnings nor hand-wringing about how we don't want to be like NOM. Delete them, early and often. This is not censorship, this is self defense.

    Troll posts are like graffiti, they attract more of the same when allowed to stand. The ban of the weekend finally came when a group of posts I reported went so far as to be purely profane for its own sake. When the level of permissiveness is as high as you have allowed, it encourages some of the weaker minded public to test the limits.

    Regarding SPAM, I personally have reported maybe 150 such advertising posts (typically in older topics) but nothing ever is done to clean them out. Some topics have 20 or more ads as the trailing comments. It's clear to the spammers that this site is good for long-lasting ads.

    We all lose when this site becomes more about trolls than EOT. It's painful and demeaning and wasteful of my time to wade through the bloat that one idiot has caused for all of the rest of us.

    TK has proven that he can occasionally actually contribute to the conversation. He knows what he needs to do to keep it civil, and chooses not to. We are asking you to stop this NOW. Simply delete posts that systematically and purposfully denigrate our people and cause, or attempt to impair our use of the site. NO ONE will call that censorship.

    Pruning dead branches does not kill a healthy tree. Rot does.

  • 88. Pat  |  May 27, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Wow, that's a great summary of the situation, John! I couldn't have said it better.
    That's quite a backlash, here, overall. Hope it helps Jacob and Scottie open their eyes on the seriousness of the situation.

  • 89. Eric  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    If individuals have publicly stated that their intent is to disrupt the site, then not only are they in violation of California Penal Code section 502(c)(5), but they've admitted their intent to commit the crime.

  • 90. Straight Ally #3008  |  May 27, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Folks – it's normal for the other side to get upset when they're losing a battle in the culture war. Truly, the speed at which they're hurtling toward the dustbin of history is breathtaking, even unprecedented. I count myself lucky to watch it as it unfolds – the Civil Rights Act era was well before my time, but I get to witness the next chapter, I'd say arguably the last of its kind for our great nation. And we get to savor the wails of consternation from the other side when same-sex marriage comes to all 50 states! Seriously, I'm afraid of overdosing on Schadenfreude. They literally think God is on their side, so it's going to be devastating for them. For a while, that is, then they'll get over it like they have in every state that's legalized SSM and move on to something else – I suspect the South, of course, will just take longer than the rest of the country. Bottom line – just enjoy the fireworks show and be happy to be on the right side of history.

  • 91. Bruno71  |  May 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    That's all fine and dandy, but doesn't really address the increasing amount of trouble that is being caused by one mean spirited and disruptive commenter. This is not going to end well for anyone if he's allowed to continue in this manner.

  • 92. Straight Ally #3008  |  May 27, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Hmm. Given the amount of traffic on the site, EoT could adopt a version of the "comment hidden due to low rating" strategy that Yahoo uses and delete comments after a certain low rating is reached, as long as downvotes come from unique IP addresses. The comments that would fall under the disruptive category are typically at two dozen plus downvotes. Now, a real troll might delight in accumulating so many downvotes, but their messages would be gone. Thoughts?

  • 93. davep  |  May 27, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    It wouldn't hurt, but it's not a replacement for the site admins enforcing their own policy.

  • 94. Tinmanic  |  May 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    " we support the participation of those who disagree with marriage equality, provided that those users do so in accordance with our community guidelines."

    Really? Do you also support the participation of racists and antisemites? If not, why not? Why is it ok to express bigotry only toward gays?

    Why do you support the participation of users with malicious intent such as TKinSC or variations on that name?

    And rather than simply re-state your policy, why don't you change your policy? "Sorry, that's just our policy" is a cop-out. Restatement of your policy is not the same as an explanation of that policy.

    Free speech is a right against government, not private entities. Websites are allowed to monitor comments however they wish. It would be nice if you folks would do a better job of that, so this place can remain the valuable place you and community have made it.

  • 95. Bruno71  |  May 27, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    The more I think about this, the more excellent a point it is. If someone were on here occasionally making comments like "Jews are miserly" or similar, those comments would get them banned. It's almost as if it's because this is a gay equality site that prides itself on "free speech," they're able to get away with offensive comments against gays more than any other group. Not right.

  • 96. Kevin  |  May 27, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Also, this gem: "We encourage our readers to stand up for their beliefs and to push back strongly against comments on the site that they do not agree with … just remember, don't feed the trolls!"


  • 97. sfbob  |  May 27, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    It does seem like a self-canceling phrase. If there's one thing we've learned after all of our recent successes, using the Constitution and facts as a bases it's essentially impossible to make a rational argument in opposition to marriage equality. So it would appear that the only people arguing against ME at this point would be the trolls.

  • 98. TKinSC  |  May 27, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    So Jacob's post means everything remains status quo. Why didn't he just say that? Is that how they are on this site in discussing it? Speaking in roundabouts – lots of words but nothing has changed. Were they that way when they were asking for money?

    What some here would call your spinelessness means I can just keep posting as I have been. So I think that's great! Thanks.

  • 99. TKinSC  |  May 27, 2014 at 12:45 pm


  • 100. grod  |  May 28, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Jacob and Scottie: This IN YOUR FACE entry by TK illustrates the point. In the context of '…. your spinelessness means I can just keep posting as I have been.' speaks to the self-centered motivation of the contributor. The 19 thumbs down speaks to our reaction that may be a behavioural reward to TK. For illustration purposed, I contrast that with the self-less motivation of one contributor [R] who recently transcribed the not-available hearings of Kitchen and Bishop. S/he inspired me! Faced with anger, frustration and disappointment expressed here by regular contributors and donors who found a home here, Jacob you have a choice, side with us or with TK's status quo. I've been here since very early on and I've been a regular donor. I have a lot of respect for you and other donors/commentators. My comments, inadequate as many times they are, are motivated by a desire to advance the cause…. Yes, initially it may be difficult to distinguish a contributor with contrary views and one who seeks to consistently agitate others. It ought to be straight forward to recognize a troll when an individual posts one mindless comment immediately after others. We offered to help by being your first sentinels. But when a poster seeks to undermine the site as is suggested here, zero tolerance should be the norm. Jacob, please acknowledge that you have heard our plea. G.

  • 101. Tinmanic  |  May 27, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    On certain websites, if a comment gets enough downvotes, it gets hidden from view, and you have to actively click on it to be able to view it. That's the case with Amazon, for example.

    Perhaps you can implement such a feature on this website.

  • 102. Jae  |  May 27, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    I agree with the other posters if you are not for marriage equality, no need to post here. Our marriage equality is not up for debate on this site. Those debates can be found everywhere else. I come here to learn about the court process and the staus pending cases and new developments. I know you may have a hard time censoring things because the website is based on equality and doing so may make you feel conflicted . I feel like as a community if someone is getting off topic you have every right to censor them, and if it's done constantly ban them. We have sharp cookies here and they cannot be a 100% in a toxic thread. NWe are not here to defend ourselves we are here to learn and grow from each other. I will never let a troll run me off and will always support the site. If we leave the trolls win. Being Mr Nice guy does not always get the prize. Thank EOT for all they have done and will continue to do.

  • 103. Zack12  |  May 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    I hope the people that run this site are aware of what happened to Towleroad.
    It used to be regarded as one of the best LGBT news sites around but Andy let the trolls (which includes the one posting here) take over the site and drive virtually all of the regulars away.
    It is now a shadow of what it was and EOT is heading down that road.
    Sorry for the numerous posts but I'm angry about the fact nothing has been done about the one poster and the fact Jacob's post still doesn't seem to address our concerns.
    This was never a debate site IMO and it shouldn't start to be one.
    And even if it was, letting someone call us perverts and not be held to task for it will ensure one thing, posters here will simply go elsewhere for news and debates.
    And as I said before, many of us are going to think long and hard before we send that next check your way.
    Your response thus far has shown you don't deserve it.

  • 104. Jae  |  May 27, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I agree that trolls posts should be deleted immediately or ASAP they will soon get bored and leave as they feed off the attention. I have learned 0 from any of their posts. I have a feeling they feel honored a whole story was directed at them at EOT . I will never respond to one of theirs but to some no response is an agreement.

  • 105. Zack12  |  May 27, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    I've ignored them for the most part but the problem is his/her spamming the threads has ruined several of them.
    That is a bigger issue then people not responding to him.

  • 106. Jesse  |  May 28, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Yes yes yes! Towleroad is the best example. Towleroad was banking on trolls generating more page hits. Instead, it backfired on towleroad and I've heard from good sources towleroad is desperate for ads, as viewership is at an all time low

  • 107. Big Rick  |  May 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    I don't like the troll(s) either, but it's not that hard to ignore his posts, as long as it's only one or two trolls, or maybe one with multiple personalities. If more come along, it could become tiresome. Some moderation of the comments and the posters would be welcome, but only if it is done very lightly, weeding out only the most egregious posts and posters. Just my opinion.

    Aside from that, a lot of people here seem to have a very thin skin. The troll is insulting, yes, but he's a troll, so what do you expect? Just don't let it get to you.

    When the posts go over a hundred and the replies collapse, just click on "Last Activity", and all the recent posts will be at the top. It's really not that much more bother to navigate than it is in the uncollapsed state.

    There have been several articles recently where the posts would have gone well over 100 even without the troll posts.

  • 108. bayareajohn  |  May 27, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Rick, can you not see that the tone and attitude here has changed markedly since one jerk made it his mission to damage us any way he could? You can't just say "ignore him", he's dedicated to creeping over everything like kudzu. Do you just ignore hateful, demeaning graffiti if it's plastered on your home, especially when it's been made clear it's there with intent to reduce your property value?

  • 109. Big Rick  |  May 28, 2014 at 10:16 am

    John, I'd welcome the application of a suitable active moderation policy from the site admins, but after days and weeks of people asking for it, nothing has come of it. The article we are commenting on glosses over the issue entirely. Asking repeatedly has become a tiresome activity. A lot of people are wasting a lot of energy on it.

  • 110. Bruno71  |  May 27, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Reminds me of the mayor of Porterville CA telling bullied kids to "grow a pair."

  • 111. Green  |  May 27, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Dispense with the troll. While he has a right to have an opinion, he has not exercised his right to express it in a constructive and polite fashion.

    I have to wonder what possesses him to come to a gay-friendly website wnd … well, I was about to say "hang around with his mouth open" but instead I'll say "and call the other readers perverted." What is his motivation? Troll, or … I can't think of another.

  • 112. Jae  |  May 27, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Let's hope this is Scottie's warning to the troll from here out his posts won't stand. His avatar alone is enough to ban him from an equality site.

  • 113. bayareajohn  |  May 27, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Unfortunately, the main warning and advice Jacob (not Scottie) offered was to the faithful of the site, not to the violators.

  • 114. TKinSC  |  May 27, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    It's not or they would've said as much. It will be business as usual. They felt they needed to say something to throw the chorus a bone.

  • 115. bayareajohn  |  May 27, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Worrisome that Jacob reduces the "chorus" of anti-troll sentiment to being "a couple users". Perhaps if the REPORT link went to anyone, and the email form worked, they would not have the isolated naive belief that only a "couple" users are upset… and disillusioned… and prepared to walk away if the self-avowed squatter is allowed to take over.

  • 116. Pat  |  May 27, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Surely, if they are reading the overwhelmingly negative reactions to their post, they would know by now!
    But since Scottie did not even seem to know what we were upset about (and even asked davep to provide a recent example of a troll comment, as if they had no idea what's going on!) it seems like they actually don't care much.
    The lack of reaction was disappointing, but today's post is almost insulting.

  • 117. StraightDave  |  May 27, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I'm not convinced they are that much aware of what is really going on here, given that the feedback mechanisms seem to be broke much of the time. I did mange to send and email to the admins/owners/wherever-it-goes that didn't obviously fail, recommending they all read today's comments. Our world is to read and write comments here, interacting with our peers. That might not be their world at all.

    From occasionally reading comments on other sites, I think they carry very little value, so aren't likely to attract the same ownership attention. Here on EoT, I believe the comments "are" the site. This is where it all happens. I normally skim every 5th word of the main post just to get the general subject and then dive straight into the comments. I really cannot believe Jacob or Scottie are intimately familiar with the mood of the members, or they would not be saying what they are saying now. I do not presume such callousness on their part. But Jacob did just throw some gas on the fire. So I invited them to catch up on their reading.

  • 118. Eric Koszyk  |  May 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Send them a message on their Facebook page. It is the only site they seem to read.

  • 119. Lance  |  May 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Very insincere post by Jacob.

    – I get the sense that the front pagers, Jacob and Scottie, etc., just post and, for the most part run. They sound very out of touch.
    – One case in point: A half a year before comments are turned off. Really??? Those spam bots post on comments much newer than that. Out of touch.
    – It's the people that live in the comments, or "house", that see what's doing on not the ones who post on the front page and run.
    – It's like going into a Starbucks in NYC. Looks pretty on the inside until you use the restroom where there's graffiti all over the stalls, toilet paper strewn around like Halloween, and defecation spread about. EoT is becoming one the the internet's bathrooms.

    -DailyKos has no problems with this stuff. Maybe everyone should register. (There's also The New Civil Rights Movement) But then that would require the Jacobs and Scotties to actually do something about the registered offenders.

    – Has anyone been longing for more crap to sift through here? No one is requesting for more of this troll crap – people want less. Listen. Jacob's doesn't validate the reality of the comment section. A "couple" have reported. Talk about minimizing.
    – I will not consider donating until this is addressed. Get your own money together to fly to the Supreme Court. I want the people on my side to be strong and not silly appeasers. One good thing is your true colors are showing now.

    – This isn't the government. It's a privately owned site.
    – And to see the offending commenter post here on this thread to seemingly taunt you… Are you going to do anything about it? Hello? Embarrassing to say the least.

    Wake up!

  • 120. John Paul  |  May 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Embarrassing indeed. Unbelievable.

  • 121. Mark D.  |  May 27, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    What has been bringing me back to this site for the last few years has been the cogent legal insights by commenters into current marriage equality cases. No other LGBT advocacy site has the combination of succinct, focused legal reporting and intelligent readership.

    However, in my daily visits over the last few weeks, I've noticed a trend where conversations quickly go off-topic by both pro- and anti-equality voices, driving away the intelligent debate. I'm here for serious news and debate, not to hear an echo chamber of "suck it NOM" or "perversion" rantings.

    This site is run on the WordPress CMS, a flexible and well-supported platform for blogging and moderating comments. Many tools exist for promoting healthy debate while reducing troll and spam postings. They just need to be properly implemented. Also, the system allows outside volunteers to clean-up spam and troll postings. Several people here have volunteered to help in that way and deserve substantive engagement.

    The non-responses that I've read here and received myself from EOT personnel, when reporting spam posts or pointing out commenting issues, paints the picture of a dedicated, but insular, organization that avoids outside engagement. Sadly, I've come to conclude that EOT is-what-it-is and that and I'll continue to visit — for now — hoping that the forums here avoid becoming, as Towleroad's regrettably became for me several years ago, unreadable.

  • 122. michael  |  May 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    The purpose of this troll, as is the purpose of any troll, is to destroy this site. Judging by the comments here, he/she is succeeding. It's like NOM who seeks to drive a wedge between Blacks and gays with the two groups dissolving into name calling and mutual animosity. That's what this troll is doing successfully here. Instead of attacking the moderators and each other, IGNORE THE TROLL!

  • 123. JayJonson  |  May 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    It is impossible to ignore the troll. Ban the troll and then there is no problem. Why is this so hard to accomplish? I have gotten disgusted about this entire conversation. If action is not taken soon, I will never contribute to this site (or the Courage campaign) again. It is not too much to ask that people who run a site respond to their readers and supporters. Every time I come here I now feel as though I am wasting time rather than learning anything. I am out of here.

  • 124. Background Gal  |  May 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    If I come to your home and rub feces in your face each day, and stop by a dozen more times a day to point at you and laugh, will you not at least wash your face? Am I still welcome there?

  • 125. Rik  |  May 27, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    I agree with you. He is probably sitting at home (probably in his mom's basement) gleefully rubbing his palms together at the fact that he has gotten so much attention and caused so much disruption. It's like how a puppy destroys your shoes once he realizes that it will get him some form of attention. You guys are giving him exactly what he desperately (and rather pathetically craves). Just feel pity for the person who has a life so empty and devoid of love that they need to dedicate hours upon hours to antagonizing people on a website that has nothing whatsoever to do with their life and move on.

  • 126. Rik  |  May 27, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    … and it's nice to see that you can't have a mature disagreement with people who you agree intellectually with on most issues without getting down-voted.

  • 127. Richard Weatherwax  |  May 27, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    All of this because of one troll. What a bunch of dopes. The troll is probably laughing his ass off.

  • 128. Eric Koszyk  |  May 27, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    No, it's because the people who run this website won't do their jobs.

  • 129. Eric Koszyk  |  May 27, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Send them a message on their Facebook page. It is the only site they seem to read.

  • 130. CarrotCakeMan  |  May 27, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    I haven't logged onto Facebook for well over 2 years, and I'm not going to give them any more information about me they can sell.

    But thanks for your helpful suggestion.

  • 131. davep  |  May 27, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Looks like several troll comments have been deleted. Thank you, admins.

    But if/when it happens again, please don't let it go on this long before taking action.

    If you need assistance with that, several participants have made offers to help.

  • 132. Kathryn  |  May 27, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    I agree with the comment about towleroad I hardly look at it any more because of the spamand vicious antigay comments allowed to continualy post this is going the same way and I find wading through dross is opressive so you may not have me as a reader much longer – get a grip.

  • 133. Dr. Z  |  May 27, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Clearly this issue is really emotionally charged for the readers of EoT. I'm seeing a lot of pent up frustration, as reflected in a surprising number of down votes.

    In all honesty I don't think the trolls are biggest problem. If the site was functioning properly I don't think the trolls would be an issue at all.

    The problem is that the EoT staff is ignoring the very people whose contributions make this site possible. Apparently the staff
    seldom if ever reads the commentary.

    Scotty, Matt, Jacob – if you think most of the traffic to this site is driven by the main posts you are greatly mistaken. It is driven by the intelligent and well informed commentators in the discussion threads. That commentary is what many of us are supporting with our donations.

    So the troll problem that people are complaining about, while legitimate, does not tell the whole story.

    The real problem is that people are pissed about donating to support a site, then having their legitimate concerns ignored by the administrators.

  • 134. Zack12  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    You hit the nail on the head.
    This is a board where many of us come to get a better understanding of many of the legal issues, exchange ideas and update the progress on marriage equality.
    It is NOT a debate site where people opposed to our relationships should be given free reign to degrande and insult them.
    The troll is an issue no doubt but the bigger one is how the people who run this site have responded to him/her and other complaints raised.
    The fact he/she felt comfortable enough to openly mock the administrators tells you that our concerns have not been taken seriously.
    Towleroad had the same issues and choose to ignore them and as such, it's traffic HAS suffered.
    Let's hope the people that run this site don't make the same mistake.

  • 135. JayJonson  |  May 28, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Dr. Z has it exactly right. Nearly all the main posts–with some notable exceptions, especially the commentary on court decisions–are about developments that are widely reported elsewhere. The real attraction of the site are the comments by a group of well-informed people who share their knowledge, and often links to other commentary. That is what has made this site valuable and has motivated those of us who have contributed money to keep it online and to help fund travel expenses for the staff. Hence, to be so ignored by the staff when we have legitimate complaints does piss us off.

  • 136. Loren  |  May 27, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    The operators of a site promoting LGBT equality (hint: it's in the name) have a responsibility to be clear in the messages they give but also in the messages they allow on their site.

    The post above says they don't get it. It's a Mitt Romney 47% type of response.

    When you allow the LGBT community to be denigrated on the site you host about that community, that says it's okay to do that and shows visitors that it's okay to that to other LGBT people off the site. "If this is how they take care of their own, I'll do it too." Cue in the verbal abuse. Cue in the bullying. That's not caring for your community. That's negligence. That's not "free speech" (another hint: free speech is a given for the government – not for private sites). That's negligence. Will you own your part in being complicit in the denigrating of the LGBT community? You should. We see it.

    I'm am being upfront with you. Others are too. This has been an intervention – you have had many interventions here. Get the clue. You are being intellectually lazy. Figure out a way to fix this. There are some great suggestions made in this thread. It will require effort for you to do it. Are you up to it?

    If you can't figure it out, shut the site down. We don't need another site on the internet hosting the spread of hate and misinformation of LGBTs.


  • 137. ragefirewolf  |  May 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Here's my beef: Just because we want to be fair doesn't mean that all comments and opinions should be equally treated as if they are actually equal. We should be encouraging intellectual discourse that promotes LGBT equality, or is the title of the sure suddenly lying.

  • 138. Ragavendran  |  May 28, 2014 at 6:50 am

    A simple Internet search brought me to this article about allowing designated community leaders to moderate comments. Scottie, please consider pointing your "tech team" to this:
    Obviously, there may be more sophisticated plugins out there, but this would be a good start. This is the simplest and least disruptive solution to the problem that I can think of. An alternative would be to require everyone to register on IntenseDebate to be able to comment. A note to bayareajohn or others who seem to have working emails for the admins from the good old times – kindly pass this on to them to make sure they get it. Thank you.

  • 139. bayareajohn  |  May 28, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I've sent your message in direct email to Jacob.

    I received several personal emails from Jacob this morning recapping what they are doing. Briefly, he said they banned the profane posts I reported last Friday, and that I am encouraged to "Please do reach out in the future if you feel there are any additional users/comments that you find objectionable." This seems dismally out of touch with the current situation. I told him so in my reply.

    He also said that he's been assured that the CONTACT US has been fixed. Not clear who it goes to of course…. but my test indicates that the ERROR message no longer comes up, and I get a "Submitted, Thanks" page.

    Re SPAM, he says they are too short handed to remove them, but the reports are seen and used to block additional spam. Again, not an indication there that he's read anything here about volunteers.

    Here's my reply to Jacob's email today:
    "Thank you for responding to my email. I think you need to read the comments on your post about this on EOT (128 of them in one day). It looks like 95% of the community is asking for heightened scrutiny on moderation, and many of us are volunteering to help if, as you say, it's too time consuming to do yourself.

    "The posts you had removed over the weekend are not the problem… they were the result of the problem. A single troll has stated his purpose as disrupting the site, and he has. And he's taking your policy statement as proof that he's welcome to do so. And many in the commenting community are taking your response to indicate that you don't know or else don't care. If you value what EOT has accomplished as much as many in the community do, you won't let this go further. – John"

    Jacob replied quickly, saying he read all the comments, and is aware that the site "position is not necessarily popular", but he is "standing by the post" he wrote, that the policy has served well for years and he believes in it.

    He also said the idea of community moderators was a new one to him that he will pass on to the team for discussion.

    I wish he would engage here in the comments himself, and will continue to encourage him to do so.

  • 140. davep  |  May 28, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    The policy has always been good.

    Neglecting to enforce it resulted in the recent problems here being far worse than they should have been.

    Here's hoping they do better at enforcing the policy in the future.

  • 141. Ragavendran  |  May 28, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for passing it on. I hope the team implements some form of community moderation from here on. Without a solution, the problem will persist, like you pointed out (that removing offensive posts isn't a permanent solution) to Jacob. And if he still stands by his post and does nothing, then let's see how well it serves him in the future when the team starts their next fundraiser. I, for one, will stop donating if they don't take any action to *solve* the problem.

  • 142. Eric Koszyk  |  May 28, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Can you please ask him specifically what he meant by this sentence in the 3rd paragraph? I know quite a few of us are perplexed by it:

    "Although our site sometimes espouses pro-LGBT views, we support the participation of those who disagree with marriage equality, provided that those users do so in accordance with our community guidelines."

    Does this mean that they sometimes DON'T espouse pro-LGBT views? Does this mean that they are turning this into a debate website?

    If so then I'll never donate to them again.

  • 143. Pat  |  May 28, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Wow, their reply really shows that they don't get it at all! That's infuriating.

  • 144. Dr. Z  |  May 28, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    One of the problems here is that EoT began as an extension of the Perry case – I believe it was part of the Olsen/Boies strategy for media outreach but was never "officially" affiliated with the case. It's always been a bit of a top-down site, asking for donations but never in my memory asking for volunteers or new blood. The same crew has been running it all these years, and attrition/fatigue/burnout has probably taken its toll.

    Well, the immediate problem has been removed and the troll is gone for now. It's far from an ideal solution but it sounds like the best we're going to get. I will continue to stay here and support the site but probably not at the level I used to. Jacob is out of touch with the site members. Maybe he needs a wakeup call. Having personally given hundreds of dollars a year to support this site in the past, maybe next time I'll give them a one cent donation.

  • 145. Background Gal  |  May 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Riddler to Two Face – "If we kill him, he won't learn nothin."

    I think he might be learning. If he showed up and commented himself here, I'd be more sure of it.

  • 146. Big Rick  |  May 28, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Jacob just posted a lengthy comment. Worth reading, although still has that somewhat confusing "… many of our posts have a pro-equality angle." What makes that confusing, I think, is that most people are under the impression that the site is devoted to a pro-equality angle. That's been my impression, anyway.

  • 147. davep  |  May 28, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Actually, the site was started when it was learned that the court would not allow any broadcasting of the Prop 8 court room proceedings. It was created so that a couple of people could do the next best thing and 'live blog' from the court room.

  • 148. Dr. Z  |  May 28, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Yes I remember that, the actors doing the readings from the transcripts each day. They're probably still out there on YouTube. The site had already been around for a little while before the actual trial started, though. It existed during all the preliminary motions about whether to televise.

  • 149. Big Rick  |  May 28, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    If you click the "About" link at the top of the page, then scroll down to the section entitled " community guidelines", there are a bunch of moderator actions listed. Are those new, or have they always been there? I've never noticed any of them being applied before.

  • 150. bayareajohn  |  May 28, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    They are not new. Jacob references them in his article at the top of this comment chain.

    What's not clear is how much of the inaction is due to the application of the policy and judgement that it does not merit action, and how much inaction is due to "short handed" failure to effectively apply the policy.

    To me, the policy completely supports, nay, demands ejection of 80% of the posts TK has gifted us, and THAT percentage suggests complete ouster due to repeated, deliberate, gloating offenses. But that's me.

  • 151. Zack12  |  May 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Thank you for talking to Jacob Bayarea John, I hope this is the start of addressing some of our concerns.
    I'll say one more thing, for those of us who suggest simply ignoring trolls, it is virtually impossible to do so in many cases.
    One website I no longer go to had an ignore feature that allowed you to block seeing a troll's post in threads but wouldn't extend it to creating threads.
    As a result, the troll would create post after post and push all other messages off the page.
    And despite numerous complaints about that, nothing was done. Hence many of the regular posters got up and left. The mods of that site FINALLY banned the troll in question but too little, too late. They have never fully recovered from that.
    Here's hoping the many posters here have helped EOT realize that they shouldn't make that same mistake.
    This is still among the best LGBT sites on the web and I hope it stays that way.

  • 152. Deeelaaach  |  May 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Whether or not the trolls are allowed to continue to post in violation of the community guidelines, they have done their work (in combination with lack of guideline enforcement) by reducing the quality of this site, sewing lots of division amongst the posters, and in general from all around bad behavior.

    For those of you leaving the site, and for the mods who don't enforce the guidelines leaving them toothless, they have done their work. They're getting you to leave, reducing the power of this site, which in all honesty is reducing its own power. There is no other site like this that I know of. NOM defanged itself. We let others come in an complacently sat by while they defanged us.

    There is no other site like this to go to. Either the mods will enforce the guidelines or they will not. In the meantime we'll lose even more valued posters. So far it looks far more like the latter. The various flavors of TKinSC must be in one helluva celebratory mood.

  • 153. bayareajohn  |  May 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    This just in, TKNSC posts are -all gone-, and Intense Debate shows is as an emptied account.

    I think this is a justified action in this extreme case, and thank EOT for hearing the cry of its users.

  • 154. Zack12  |  May 28, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I'm glad to hear it. Here's hoping EOT can learn from this and go back to being a quality site.
    A couple of people probably aren't coming back but the rest will, and the rest of us are staying put.
    Let's learn from this best we can and move on. This board is still among the best LGBT sites out there and let's hope it stays that way.

  • 155. Big Rick  |  May 28, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I see the TKinSC posts are still there. Perhaps those are not as easy to delete since they are guest posts, like mine, not from a registered account.

  • 156. Zack12  |  May 28, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I'm not even sure if they were the same person or not.

  • 157. Background Gal  |  May 28, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    There were two very different TKinSC posting for a while, one apparently pretending to be the other in order to mock the real one. Then the "real" one got registered on INTENSEDEBATE and stopped using the guest name. It looked to me like the pretender continued to use the guest name to push the issue… posting offensively in order to to force action. Maybe.

    The older offensive guest posts may stay with us, yeah, they probably should go but each may require individual action… probably enough has been done now.

  • 158. bayareajohn  |  May 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I see some other posts by other authors are also deleted, not clear if they quoted offensive bits from TK, or what. Some of the deleted posts were voted positively.

    I believe that most of us hope that such extraordinary actions as banning are seldom resorted to, but that they are not postponed when called for.

  • 159. Zack12  |  May 28, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    I agree with you. Banning should be the last resort but in TK's case, it was called for.
    I got to read his entire DIsquis database and it was devoted solely to trolling this site.
    The fact it took almost 200 comments to do something about it is something that hopefully won't happen in the future.
    As for those who say he is getting excited by the fact we're still talking about him, it's a small price to pay in order to make the site better and get it back to what it was.

  • 160. Jacob Combs  |  May 28, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Hi everyone–I wanted to write here to thank you all for your thoughtful comments and to follow up.

    First off, I want to assure you all that everyone at EOT and Courage cares about this site, cares about this community and cares about making it a place that people feel engaged and encouraged to participate. The policies we've put in place–and that I outlined in my post–are important to us, and we do see this site as somewhere that people can speak both in favor of marriage equality and against it. (Although yes, of course, many of our posts have a pro-equality angle!)

    We understand that trolls that are truly offensive and aggressive can make the comments an unpleasant place for everyone. After corresponding personally with several members of the community, I understand how strongly people feel about this issue. I want you all to know that we have banned TKnSC for that user's crude and personally offensive remarks, and we have also deleted those comments.

    Moving forward, I want everyone to know that you can reach me personally at [email protected] if you think that a specific commenter is breaking the community guidelines or if you disagree with what we're doing as moderators of the site. We're a small team and unfortunately we just don't have time to police the forums the way we'd like to, so we rely on you guys to help point out people who are breaking the guidelines. We read the comments as much as we can, but we can't always read all of them, and your assistance on this front is really helpful.

    Some users have suggested having community moderators. We appreciate that suggestion and will look into the feasibility and advisability of moving in that direction.

    All in all, I just want you to know that we are not ignoring you guys, we are not disengaged, and that we care deeply about this site and this community. Any suggestion to the otherwise is, frankly, wrong and misguided. Please be understanding as we continue to do the best work we can with limited resources, and keep the lines of communication open with us.


  • 161. davep  |  May 28, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks Jacob. As a follow up, can you or the staff verify that the "REPORT" button is actually functioning, that it sends messages and that these messages are being received and read?

  • 162. davep  |  May 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    ….I ask because the 'contact us' function does NOT work, and results in an error message, so I wonder if the 'REPORT' function is also affected…

  • 163. davep  |  May 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    …update – the "contact" email function (located in the "Got questions?" section in the right column of the front page) now appears to be working – I no longer get the error message.

  • 164. Jacob Combs  |  May 29, 2014 at 6:04 am

    Yep–we've checked and confirmed that it's working!

  • 165. F_Young  |  May 28, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    @Jason Combs "…we do see this site as somewhere that people can speak both in favor of marriage equality and against it."

    Well, that's certainly a surprise. I strongly disagree.

  • 166. davep  |  May 28, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I'm kinda baffled by that too. It seems to imply that it would be okay for a hundred new commenters to show up and fill the comments section with religious-based anti-ME rhetoric, or old debunked arguments about 'encouraging responsible procreation' as long as they didn't use blatantly derogatory anti-gay slurs. I can't imaging that the site would think that would be acceptable, so what DOES that remark about 'speaking out against it' mean?

    Exactly what kind of 'speaking out against marriage equality' is there, which would comply with the site's commenting policy?

  • 167. Guest  |  May 28, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Exactly, would we tolerate racist and antisemitic comments? If not why would anti-gay bigotry be tolerated?

  • 168. Jacob Combs  |  May 29, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    I'll be writing a follow-up post that will address this, so please look for that one to come soon!

  • 169. Dr. Z  |  May 29, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Will you also agree to discuss that post in the comments? I think it's time we talked.

  • 170. Kathryn  |  May 28, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I can get all this nonsense in numerous other sites if you are not willing to remove and moderate the site to prevent ignorant abusive comments about the LGBTI community by nefarious individuals then I give you a little leeway of time to sort your selves out – if not then – the bookmark gets deleted and it's bye bye.
    Seriously I have found this site informative and helpful to sort ideas and understand the legal issues and process. However, I can find abuse about LGBT people all to frequently on more and more of what used to be community supportive sites, I dont need these idiots populating my on-line life, its up to you to protect the site from those who want to destabalise it.
    I will be sad to miss you all because reading the above I do not think the site owners have the sense to wise up and get it sorted.

  • 171. Zack12  |  May 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Joe My God runs the best site in that regards, as does Americablog. Trolls get one warning and they're gone.

  • 172. davep  |  May 28, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Hi Kathryn,
    I'm not sure how you got that from Jacob's comment. Where did he say they were not willing to remove and moderate comments? Although it certainly took longer than it should have, they DID remove & moderate the comments, and there is nothing that indicates they don't plan to continue enforcing the policy.

  • 173. Jacob Combs  |  May 28, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    I'll second davep–Kathryn, that wasn't what I was saying at all, and if you feel there are additional comments that are abusive and haven't been taken care of, please let me know! Also, davep–you're right, it did take us longer than it should have, especially with the holiday weekend. We're sorry about that and we will work to be speedier in the future!

  • 174. Zack12  |  May 28, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Thank you for taking action Jacob. I know some of us came off as harsh but it's because we care about this site and don't want to see it go downhill as others have.
    It will take a week or more for it to go back to the way it was before but I'm hopeful that in no time, this site will be the great exchange of ideas that it was before.
    Once again, I know how hard you and others work on this site, and we thank you for that.

  • 175. SoCal_Dave  |  May 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Just want to second Zack's comment here. Lots of us EoT-ers have been up in arms but it's only because we are passionate about this site. It would be a tragedy if we were to lose it. So yes, thanks to unsung heroes of EoT who keep it going and have done so for years.

  • 176. Loren  |  May 28, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    The efforts are appreciated, but speaking truthfully, the offending poster that is now banned was posting offensively for a lot longer than this past weekend. You do know that, right? This should've happened weeks if not months ago. Please learn from that and remember it for the future should something similar come up again.


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