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I apologise for my part in this.

Wonderful news. Congratulations! I assume people can still be critical of the Leadership if they are registered?

There is no registration Justin. Anyone - anonymously or otherwise - can still leave comments but I'm attempting to enforce a higher quality and more civilised conversation.

OK, still good, albeit late, news.

A shame but inevitable due to the antics of a few. Here's hoping the level of debate is raised as a result. I for one may now decide to re-engage on this site.

A far better policy would be to remove the anonimity system.

If the idea is to prevent personal abuse that is fine. If it is to prevent legitimate criticism of the leadership by members and lifelong supporters then I am afraid this site will rapidly lose all credibility and will rightly be considered as nothing more than a mouthpiece for the leadership.

Sorry, mis-read the story: have been down my local this evening...

If you and others return CJ, that would make this policy change worthwhile.

There is no intention, Richard, to stop criticism - only to ask for it to be thoughtful and mature - for people to play the ball and not the man. Loyalists will also have to exhibit the same qualities.

But an honest question has to then be asked - and this is not in itself meant to be the start of an attack - what do we do if we feel that the underlying problem is the man not the ball.

I feel that any attempt to nullify the deeply felt dismay that is exhibited by large sections of the party towards the current leadership and policies is bound to end in tears for the site.

It is a real shame that you have been forced to take this action Tim and Sam. But if it brings back some of the old more thoughtful visitors both positive and critical of the present leadership, then it will be a worthwhile move.

I fully support the policy of moderation. Its been all too easy for anti-Conservatives to wreck serious level-headed debates. This also drags down the level of debate. I love nothing better than to try and argue a certain position with others of a different view. However when people join debates with nothing constructive to say then it defeats the purpose of this excellent website.

The proof will be in the pudding Richard. Samuel and I'll be inclined to approve every comment but a lot of threads have become dull with the same people hogging them - making endlessly negative comments. I'm determined to change that. I hope that with moderation on the threads that they will become more interesting again. Yes, yes, yes, I still want disagreements but they need to be thoughtful.

"I feel that any attempt to nullify the deeply felt dismay that is exhibited by large sections of the party towards the current leadership and policies is bound to end in tears for the site."

Richard, if you read Tim's comments carefully and have been a long time reader of the site, then you should not feel the need to post that kind of comment. Don't turn this into an issue of censorship on criticism of the leadership when this site has been robust in allowing healthy debate in that area.
I feel sad that Tim and Sam have been forced into this time consuming chore by a small group of posters.

I agree that this is a shame but I guess it has to be done for a time at least. It's a shame some Cameroons get so defensive and take things so personally.

If yo have read Tim's post on the Gummer-Goldsmith report it's hard to say that this site is about to become slavishly loyal to the party!

A sensible move. I hope it works in making the debate mature and constructive,


I'm with Richard Tyndall. If one has something to say then have the courage to be identified with what one believes.

An excellent move, and long overdue. Some of the comments have been little short of puerile. Banter is one thing, and quite amusing. I would be sad to that removed, but the outright slagging off of anything the next poster up does not agree with, is simply not on.

That is,l I believe, the biggest problem with this site and I think the editorial staff are looking at the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

If all posters were forced to reveal their names at least to the editorial staff - who could then agree on anonimity for those in sensitive positions - then we would, I believe, see a lot of the persdonal attacks disappear or at least be easier for the administrators to deal with.

I do recognise that it is necessary for some posters to remain anonymous given their positions in the party but use of the site should be predicated on the basis of trusting the editors enough to let them know real names so they can do their job effectively.

Scotty - if the moderation was limited to the original terms set out in the link posted by the editor then I would not have so many qualms. But comments such as "playing the ball not the man" lead me to fear that there is indeed an attempt to limit criticism for the sake of perceived - and non existent - unity.

"I'm with Richard Tyndall. If one has something to say then have the courage to be identified with what one believes."

That is not the answer, there are plenty on posters on this site who use an anonymous tags but who contribute by putting forward thoughtful arguments without resorting to puerile behaviour on this site. Too often I have seen people who have posted comments under their real name "googled" and attacks of a personal nature posted.
I am sorry, but I don't think we should punish anonymous posters who engage in debate within the spirit of this site.

This is a good decision, hopefully it means I, and others who post in support of the leadership (when support is deserved!) can do so without the fear of being labeled a "CCHQ Plant".

Something I've called for in the past and, I hope will bring others like myself back for a regular (or semi regular!) balanced discussion.

I implemented this policy on my own blog a few weeks ago and the effect has been to eliminate the Labour trolls. It has become a much more civilised place, and any delay in approving comments has been compensated by the higher level of debate.

All comments to CF Diary, Seats and candidates and the London Mayor section of ConservativeHome have always been subject to moderation

That's why most of those threads have little or no life in them. Somebody posts a comment, it doesn't appear, and by the time it does the poster has forgotten he ever left it.

If you have abusive posters why not give them one warning and then ban them?

Finally. Good to see this is happening. This is a great site that has in the past been let down by puerile behaviour on the part of some posters.

This policy need not amount to an assault on free debate - I am certain that it is not intended to achieve that effect. Rather, it will improve the quality of the comments made.

Whether or not this effect is achieved depends largely on the restraint and balance of the editor. I have every confidence!

Well done Tim and Sam! Hopefully this will put paid to some of the more puerile comments and personal insults! As many others have said - nobody minds disagreement; it is ill-tempered and spiteful disagreement that causes a problem.

Its long overdue. Especially when this site is used by the MSM to prove a point that the grassroots are not happy with Cameron/Taxes/Immigration/Gay Marriage/Single mothers (delete as appropriate) stance that the party may be taking.

That is a shame. I dislike multiple posts on the same thread by the same punter much more than honest abuse. How about a yellow card, red card system where posts are warned and then (temporarily) banned for breaking the rules. We could all then see which post(s) had broken the rules and learn accordingly.

I have always been against anonymity.

It's a great shame this has had to happen as it will slow up threads and make debate difficult. I can see why it's had to happen though. I've come onto threads, seen the usual suspects and not bothered to get involved.

Although I personally trust the editorial team here to allow a relatively free, if moderated, debate - and nb surely the over-write facility means that Conservative Home has never been genuinely 'unmoderated'? - once it becomes even theoretically possible that an unknown amount of 'off message' material isn't being allowed onto the site, surely Conservative Home will no longer possess the unique selling point that has given it such a prominent place in public discussions of the state of the party, i.e. it will no longer be seen to reflect strands of genuine 'grassroots' sentiment that may have no other forum?

And while I suppose it's possible to argue that the monthly survey to some extent addresses this problem, something is surely lost in terms of the tone of the comments, not just their content. Haven't there been moments when all of us were genuinely surprised by the shrillness, vitriol and passion underlying some of these debates, even when we disagreed with substance of the posts in question? And isn't there something actually quite healthy about realising how serious, profound and, yes, deeply personal some of the disagreements within our party actually are?

This is an excellent idea. Like Andrew, I have seen threads where every other post is by one of six or seven usernames that never do anything but carp and clearly don't represent ConHome readers.

The members survey gives consistent very positive ratings for Cameron and most of the shadow cabinet - but this is not reflected in the comments, and posts by the trolling minority are used in the media against our party.

ConHome is showing great responsibility in doing this so the ever-negative, including those posters who have been warned and banned and just get new handles, cannot use the site to harm the party's chances before a GE.

Already many familiar names are back in this thread! Good news.

Already many familiar names are back in this thread! Good news.

Since moderation was only imposed at 10.20 last night is that really likely?

There has been a lot of offensive abuse lately, indeed I complained about it last week. Obviously I only tend to 'clock' abuse directed by Cameron supporters against their traditional opponents but I can't imagine there's significently more traffic flowing in the opposite direction.

To take an example, I was recently called a 'twat' and a 'moron' by a self-confessed Cameron fan who then had the breathtaking audacity to admit that he was trolling under two different IDs.

So it is indeed good news that this kind of abuse will stop. OTOH I confidently anticipate that CH will continue to provide a platform for debate about the highly-controversial direction in which the party has lately been taken.

Does this mean you're going to stop banning IP addresses?

You appear to have already banned most of NTL's web proxies from posting to CH, so I assume you've also banned those of BT, Pipex etc which would suggest that dial up internet users (most of rural Britain) are unable to post comments to CH.

Will the moderators be working 24 hours a day? If like the BBC's Have Your Say, debate stops at 5pm when the moderators go home, evening use of your site will be pointless as no comments will have been added since 5pm.

Good for you doing this, Tim and Sam. I'm one of those readers who became bored and irritated by the tit-for-tat style comments by the same few people that went on and on in any one thread. I, like numerous others, drifted away from what I felt became a negative, petty site.....a great shame since this was (and still can be), an informative, cutting edge Conservative political website with great links. I'm just glad I popped into this site this morning via accidental links to discover your new policy! I look forward to reading future threads!

Well done, at last.

But like others, I still wish you'd introduce a registration process and ditch anonymous posting.

I think this is long overdue. It's got to the point now where half the time I don't bother reading the comments, when they used to be my favourite bits.

I've been worried for sometime now about what would happen to this site come the GE. While some of the negative posters are no doubt genuinely disaffected Conservatives, it's clear that there are lots of mischief makers probably from other parties (and why not - it's just good guerrilla tactics). I was worried that come the GE, this site would prove to be an open goal for mischievious opposition plants who could engineer internal 'splits' etc with ease.

I sometimes keep an eye on ukpollingreport, and although their comment threads are not as active, I've always been impressed by the mature and sensible discussions that take place there - often between posters who are openly from different parties.

See the Grantham and Stamford thread as an example: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/?page_id=176&cp=all#comments

I would certainly welcome any formal registration process. Some of the more technologically sophisticated ones that allow logging by individual IP which not only would show who the trolls are but more importantly where they are doing it from !

It is sad to introduce moderation, one forum I use for my classic car unfortunately has had to close theirs due to impending legal issues from its use! If it happen on something as innocuous as there, it could easily happen here too.


When looking at the anonymity issue, why not allow a mixture or registration and anonymous posts.

If you look at ukpollingreport, people can register and say which party they support - and many do. Their comments come up with their party logo next to their name.


Why not allow people to register like this if they wish(I'm sure we'd have some non-conservatives happy to get involved in the debate while openly being registered as belonging to another party).

But also have an anonyomous option - so if someone doesn't wish to (or due to their job, can't) be open about their identity, they can choose a pseudonym and make comments, but there's a symbol next to their 'name' which means "this person chose to remain anonymous".

This allows everyone to post, but might mean people give a little less credence to posters who choose to remain anonymous - unless and until they are known and earn respect as a result of their comments.

Some online forums also put a little number next to each name saying how many posts they've written. That would be a very useful way of seeing who is a regular contributor, and who has quickly made up a pseudonym to make a single point. Again, the more posts, the more credibility someone would have. A comment from someone who's apparently never posted before would naturally be given less weight by the readers.

Fine by me providing you are sure you can handle the workload thus created. Personally I would go mad if I had to read every comment on this site. CF and London have very small traffic in comparison with this Tory Diary.

If you are going to censor then you should allow the post to appear blank so that there is a public record of who is being censored and how many posts are being censored.

But welcome to the Establishment.

I think any posts mentioning ROGER HELMER MEP or THE REAL LEADER should be automatically green-lighted.

I fear for your workload, Tim and Sam, but something needs to be done to eliminate the vicious and vitriolic.

Would not another solution be to require people to be more factual, when they are being critical (rather than just accusing someone of being a prat)?

I have been (and no doubt will continue to be) critical of David Cameron but I do try to explain why e.g. I was vastly irritated at being called "delusional" about grammar schools, because, IMV, if DC believes in localism, he should leave such matters to be decided locally and not speak ex cathedra on the subject. That is not consistent.

Thanks for this feedback. Please keep it coming.

Unfortunately the TypePad platform used for this blog isn't sophisticated enough to allow for registration or for special approval for 'favoured' comment-makers.

Harry Phibbs made an excellent case for banning anonymous comments last month but some people prefer not to reveal their identity and I understand that. It's also very, very difficult to establish whether the real-sounding name given by someone is indeed real. On balance I think this new process is the best one. Sam and I will weed out nasty comments and people will judge the quality of a comment by its content - not by who made it.

I think there should be more rigorous registration, and as James has said a symbol displaying the alliegance - if any - of posters.

Each person must 'sign in' to post a comment with a password and username. This would cut down on people posting under multiple names pretending to be different people.

In short - make it more like a forum than a comments thread.

I am pleased that you have taken action to deal with the increasing level of puerile responses. I have no difficulty with genuine debate but just recently the posts had degenerated into personal slanging matches which just destroys credibility of the site. We will need to see whether your actions are successful, I hope they are.

I'm afraid I think this is a mistake because it will create dead periods on the blog (e.g. right now). Possibly it makes you more legally liable for comments, too.

I accept that you have been forced to act, but I’d have thought it would be better and less effort to:

* be harsher about deleting inappropriate messages quickly – before they gain traction;
* have a temporary ban policy – be much quicker to ban people, but reset all bans every day;
* use IP information to “out” (and shame) trolls. E.g. “Mark Fulford has shared the same IP address as Jack Stone” (which I haven’t, of course).

Gosh, all the comments cheering on 'managed freedom', or whichever ChiCom-style phrase one prefers, come from Cameroons. That must be because they're so much more responsible than other members of the party, are relentlessly focused on us winning the next election, and would never themselves have done anything in the past to cause trouble for the leadership [cough - MacGregor - cough]. Thus hoorah! comment threads with all the opinions fit to be listened to.

This does, of course, mean the end of the site as a locus for late-night threads or other chatroom activities. Comments will now be comments, really, instead of conversations - as Traditional Tory points out people will lose interest in a debate when their own comments don't appear. Perhaps the use of the site as a sort of quasi-chat room wasn't what the Editors wanted, but I think it is something to be regretted that the chatroom aspect of ConservativeHome is now dead.

Perhaps in due course some new technical fix will arise that will allow the ConservativeHome chatroom to be resurrected? Perhaps there could even be one permanently-open "Chatroom" thread that was not fully moderated?

Andrew Lilico: agree entirely - one of the great merits of ConHome has been its immediacy. How about this proposal (no idea if feasible technically)

* a new section of the site called, I don't know, "Parish Pump" or "Saloon Bar" or "Water Cooler" or some other name of a place people congregate to gossip

* run this alongside Diary, Platform, etc etc i.e. open to all but clearly and distinctly different from the rest of the site (and Tim can slap disclaimers and health warnings all over the place)

* each day one thread to run continuously to enable our traditional respectful comradely "discussions" carried on without pre-moderation, but subject to post-moderation i.e. with a "do you object?" button at the end of each contribution (and perhaps a facility for Tim & Sam to ban excessive complainers?)

* you might object that having only one thread is a little limiting, but then again most of the extended arguments here have tended to degenerate into repeating the same points ad nauseam anyway - and a 24 hour open thread does cater for the insomniac gossip aspect

* but for a refinement: you can set up a new thread if you've registered with ConHome, so it would be a bit like the Today Programme blog (but you wouldn't need to register in order to post a contribution, so ti would be like the Old ConHome)

* perhaps instead call it "Continuity ConHome"?

Up until about 6 months ago I was a regular contributor to the CH comment threads. (I'm not sure about the "thoughtful and mature" bit!)

The reason for my recent relative silence has nothing to do with the increasing prevalence of unpleasant or puerile comments on the CH threads. Rather, it's because I've become disillusioned with the whole political scene in England which no longer offers any real choice to the electorate.

As ever, my instinct is to broadly agree with the comment posted by Mark Fulford above.

Having said that, I can understand that the hand of the editor has been forced somewhat and that banning contributors hasn't really worked, given the determination of two of the most notorious offenders (the traditionally-minded former UKIP candidate for Portsmouth North and the Robert Kilroy-Silk of the blogosphere) to disrespect the editor and circumvent their bans.

(Perhaps the fact that both have had comments published since moderation was introduced demonstrates the editor's confidence that the worst excesses of such contributors will be curbed by the new system?)

Personally, I feel that registration (via email authentication perhaps) rather than moderation may have been a better way of regulating the quality of contributions without significantly affecting real-time interaction.

I never thought the comments were that much of a problem. Moderation will lose the spontaneity which the site has had. The more pithy comments gave it an edge. I would have left it open and to hell with the moaners. Keep it open to all and leave people to judge each comment on its merits.

Excellent. A long overdue change.

I am pleased that you have decided to implement 'moderation' to the site. Not all contributors are Conservatives. It is part of some Labour supporters' mission to sow the seeds of discontent and will use any means to do so.Remember the Fabians crest? It is a wolf in sheeps clothing.

I suppose one silver lining to this is that at least we won't hear any more maudlin nonsense about 'the wisdom of crowds'.

I apologise for my part in this.

Posted by: malcolm | September 09, 2007 at 22:29

I accept your apology, Malcolm.

It is a fact that politics arouses passions and it is to be expected that many are angered by what the politicians of all parties have done to Britain and what some will continue to do and advocate.
I thank the editor and co editor for giving some of us the opportunity to express that anger and disillusionment and may they bear that in mind when moderating comments.

I already have concerns.

My comments on the Patrick Mercer deselection thread were edited to remove all references to one of his critics (I will not mention who as I am not trying to get round the system and will play by the rules).

Now I am not a lawyer but I did not for a moment think that my comments were either liabelous or insulting. I simply stated what local opinion is of the man (and even stating it in those terms looks stringer than the original comments)

So why was my posting edited?

If this is the way things are now going to develop then there really is a serious problem with this site.

I have enjoyed this site from the outset but I have also visited and contributed to it less of late. Like a previous poster I am also disillusioned by UK politics (including
the Conservative brand). As for controls, the impression I tended to get was that it has been Cameroons rather than Cameron-sceptics who have been most vociferous in calling for controls. If however the levels of debate have been so puerile of late that controls are necessary then it is the prerogative of Tim et al to moderate debate.

To those worried about out-of-working-hours moderation I can assure you that Sam and I will be looking at the site at all different times. There may sometimes be gaps of two or three hours but (outside of midnight until 6am) that will nearly always be the largest gap in authorisation. Sam and I will share pre-bed authorisation duties! It'll be our equivalent of a good night story!!

I'll give some thought to the idea of a wild thread as suggested by William and Andrew...

Mea culpa.

This is a bit like shielding a defendent's "previous convictions" in a criminal trial from the jury. Implies the latter lack the intelligence and ability to deal with the facts of the case on their merits; the subtext being only the judges, lawyers - and nanny - know best.

I am confident that those who read and contribute to conservativehome are quite capable of making their own minds up on the merits, or otherwise, of the arguments presented; or is this another symptom of news management Alastair Campbell style?

I had virtually stopped reading ConsHome because of the relentless negativity of so many of the comments in the last few months.

I will give it another try now that comment moderation has been installed.

Looks like there has been little negative impact on the comments Tim.

Diversity of commenters has improved, too. Different names, wider selection of opinions.

ConservativeHome has had a winning formula.
It's been lively, readible and of great potential value to conservative policy makers who genuinely want to understand the hopes and fears of conservatives.

Of course those who trade petty and personal insults should be warned, but don't become PC and destroy what you have built up!

Be careful not to change things too quickly - let them evolve.

Well done for introducing moderation.

I also became bored of visiting & posting here, as posts were consistently negative, and from mostly a handful of users.

As they seem to spend all their time here I can only assume they are either retired and unrepresentative of the 'grassroots', online brand communications 'executives' AKA professional trolls, or interns from Brown's Stategy Unit.

Let them squeal.


This change to 'moderating' all comments seems to mark the end of a journey for Conservative Home from a place fostering discussion of small c conservative political ideas to Conservative (capital C) tribal watering hole. Perhaps it's something to do with being able to take the man out of Central Office but not Central Office out of the man ;-)

Rigorous and consistent application of your posting policy through blanking comments and publicly warning offenders prior to disallowing posting could provide transparently the control that you seek.

It is noticeable that most of the comments on this thread are supportive of your change of policy. Of course we will never know how many comments that you received were not supportive but simply didn't make it thorough the 'moderation' process. Sadly, this doubt will now be present for all topics.

Incidentally, as noted by Edison Smith @12:25 technology is at hand - the comment forum approach - to enable most, if not all, of the control you want. See the Eureferendum blog as an example.

Congratulations. Just what I suggested in a posting some weeks ago.
A compromise on the nom-de plume issue would be to reject items from undeclared writers: that would control some of the contributions from Labour Party members.

I will make 3 predictions:

- This blog starts moderating comments
- There is a delay in publishing them
- England beat Russia 3 - 0 on wednesday night.

... but seriously, provide the puerile with their own little sandbox (a "Comment Bin" for moderated comments).

It would become an exercise in reinforcing both constructive and destructive participation.

While I appreciate why some people would prefer to see anonymous comments disallowed, I wonder if they appreciate just how easy it is to cover your tracks if you so wish. For instance, this comment carries a perfectly good name and a genuine email address. Those may or may not correspond to my actual identity, and it is perfectly possible to disguise your posting IP. Tor, anyone? I believe moderation is a surer way of eliminating dross, and welcome it.

Nice site ;)

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