Thursday, May 17, 2007

Odds, Ends

Comments: As a writer, you know you've arrived when the anonymous people start coming out of the woodwork. And they have, right on cue. Unfortunately the only place they can spleen-vent where they know I'll see it is in comments here. I'm not sure what to do about it yet; see below.

Numbers: While I was out stat-hunting, I came across this long page of publishing statistics that, while somewhat dated, had some interesting info. I tend to put more faith in stats that are cited with sources versus sites that simply throw the figures out there.

Rumor, confirmed: Night Lost did indeed make it to #12 on Publishers Weekly's paperback bestseller list for May 14th. PW seemed as surprised as I was to find it there, but they did a nice little sidebar spotlight thing for the book. Their circulation should go up a couple thousand points this week as my mother makes every person she knows on Earth buy a copy.

On the comments problem, I have a couple of choices. I can:

1. Keep comments uncensored and open to everyone except SPAMmers (the way it is now.)
2. Moderate the comments and personally remove any spleen-venting unrelated to the post topic along with the SPAMmers (censorship, which I hate, but probably wiser.)
3. Make everyone register if they want to comment, if Blogger has that option (which will kill anonymous comments, I think.)
4. Shut down comments altogether.

#1 is my personal preference, but it means putting up with an unknown amount of harassment from these anonymous venters. #2 is going to slow things down and take up more of my time, which will likely result in cutting back on the number of posts I write each week. #3 makes me feel like I'm penalizing everyone for what a few malcontents do. #4 is definitely a last resort.

We have some great discussions here, and many of you constantly contribute valuable opinions, info and links. We have a lot of fun, too. Maybe I'm being naive and selfish, but I don't want that to end. If you've got a preference on the options, let me know what you think in comments.


  1. Comments: I'd say number one. With a little bit of number 2 thrown in. Just a little bit. *grin*

  2. Sasha wrote: Comments: I'd say number one. With a little bit of number 2 thrown in. Just a little bit. *grin*

    I was thinking of how easy it would be if I moderated comments to only partially censor them. You know, like how they do with bad reviews for blurbs?

    "Ms. Viehl, I think your novels are . . . big . . . and . . . awful . . . charming. . . your books make me . . . never again . . . want to read . . . anything else . . . I hope you never . . . Stop writing! Yours sincerely, Anonymous."

  3. Heh! Love that partial censoring approach. Get some entertainment out of 'em! I'd prefer #1 or #3 if need be, I'd hate to see you waste valuable time moderating comments and writing fewer John and Marcia segments.

  4. Agree. Either #1 or #3.
    Anything but #4, please!

  5. Ditto #1 or #3.

    Sorryto hear about the nasty comments, but look on the bright side; if people can be bothered to come in and say nasty things, then they must have something to be jealous about!

  6. I think #1 would be the way to go as long as you can put up with the nonsense.

    And color me stupid - I just put 2x2 together regarding the Darkyn series and the books some of my friends have been telling me about. So, in order to remedy my ignorance, I just ordered all 4 from Now I'm looking forward to diving in head first.

  7. I'd say #1 too. Let's just ignore the no-goodnicks.

  8. PBW replied, ...moderated comments to only partially censor them. You know, like how they do with bad reviews for blurbs?

    Oh, YES! Anonymous comments automatically means they are fair game for PBW editing. I love it! Post it in a rule on the sidebar and have fun.

  9. Number 1, or 3.

    You're not being naive or selfish. Holly wrote on this very subject some time ago. In a nutshell, her webpage/blog was like her home, where she posted her thoughts. Feel free to disagree - as long as you can back it up - but you're not welcome if you're rude. You play by her rules, in her house, or you can go... away.

    'Anonymous' comments can be used as an excuse to abuse you; make 'em register and take responsibility for those comments. You'll note that most anonymous commenters have the manners to put their names at the bottom of the post - they should be welcome, but again, they should register to protect themselves and their access to your blog.

    I'm just sayin'...

  10. is essential reading on moderation, IMO.

  11. Anonymous5:30 AM

    I agree with Sasha; mostly one with a bit of two.
    I would say number three - but one, it's a pain to log in every time you want to comment, and two, there are people like me who for some inexplicable reason can't log in.


  12. PBW ~ Whatever happened to the ol' mantra of 'if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything?' Why don't people follow that anymore?

    Anonymity is overrated in some instances. I hate to hear that people are being obnoxious online. I read a great article in the WashPost about female bloggers in particular who are being harassed so badly online that they are basically deciding to throw in the towel. I can dig up the link and post it later.

    Oh please don't blog less - whatever you decide. For all the haters, there are still those you touch with a lot of positivity. There are more of us than the bad eggs.

    Speaking for myself, I visit your blog specifically because you have a different voice and so far have been open and honest with us about your opinions and worldview. I love that about the blog.

  13. Anonymous6:21 AM

    I think it's misunderstood fairness when you allow people to abuse you on your own blog. Don't hesitate to give them a kick in the keister. If they can't express their opinion in a constructive manner, they haven't earned the right to post here.

    I'm going with #2 and 3.

  14. I'd say #1 or #1 -- comment moderation would be a serious time suck for you.

    Good luck!

  15. Anonymous7:15 AM

    I agree totally with jeri. My preferences are (in order) #3 and #1. I'd hate for you to have to do comment moderation on here. You deserve to have as much fun here as the rest of us. (Which I guess is also why #3 is my pick. =) )

  16. Anonymous7:24 AM

    What's up with people? Another of my favorite authors posted a blog on a similar subject. I agree with Sasha and A. #1 and some #2.

  17. I didn't see the post(s) in question to know how off they were, but my vote would be for #3. If people have something to say, you've got a right to know who they are.
    I also strongly agree with Holly's approach. This is your living room. Guests should keep their feet off the furniture. :)

  18. Anonymous7:40 AM

    Honestly, I don't think you should have to put up with the nonsense -- it's a distraction, it's hurtful, and it gives people attention that they don't deserve. I'd go with #3. Trust me, even if the rest of us don't like registering, we'll do it anyway for you. :-)

  19. Anonymous7:44 AM

    Someone might have already said this as I don't have time to read all the other comments, but I suggest a combination of #1 and #2.

    The reason is that anonymous, negative comments can spike arguments on the comments page between PBW haters and us loyal fans. Someone puts up something saying, "Nightlost sucks, you can't write" (just an example, I love Nightlost), and then a fan says, "Whoever put up that comment should go to hell 'cause PBW is the best" and it goes on and on from there.

    Therefore, I suggest doing something like deleting the comment and putting your own up paraphrasing it so that no arguments are struck.

  20. Anonymous8:01 AM

    I've been lucky enough to not have much in the way of nasty comments, but I do get hate email. I look at it as part of the job, and I ALWAYS respond, nicely, and simply thank them for their input. That's just me, though and, so far, the bits of negativity have taken offense to my writing, my books, my characters... things outside of me, my family, and my life. That makes them easier to deal with.

    However, a hate poster on the blog, I'd likely just delete and ban their ISP. Like Holly said, a blog is more like coming into your living room. My blog, my rules, and if you can't play nice then you can't come over. I won't let some dipshit with a grudge ruin the party for everyone.

    If someone feels a need to vent their venom publicly yet remain anonymous, no amount of reasoning and niceness will change a thing. It's their problem, not yours.

    Just delete them, block them, and forget about it.

  21. All very good suggestions. Thanks, folks.

    One of my younger regulars (you know who you are) just e-mailed to remind me that visitors who are under 18 need the anonymous function to protect their identity online. Something else to think about.

  22. Over at Making Light, they disemvowel offensive comments. It's hlrs.

    This is however a tough call, I think. If you moderate comments, you still have to read the bile to know you want to delete it. I find this with a little site of mine that regularly gets spammed with disgusting porn references. Yeah, I can get rid of them, but I still have to see them first. yeuch

    So I think the appropriate approach depends on what you want to achieve. Do you not want to be bothered with this bile at all, or do you not want visitors to the blog to see it, or do you want to avoid flame wars breaking out all over the comments?

    Personally, I'd like you to stick with #1, but that's on the basis that I'm not sure what you want :).

  23. Lynn--It's appalling to me that people can be so rude. I agree about the 'living room' analogy. This is *your* space. Don't put up with stupidity and rudeness.

    I would hate to see a few anonymous loudmouth boors change your blogging or give you any more headaches. Do what you need to do and I'll still read and comment, no matter what hoops I have to jump through. :)


  24. Hey, I just wanted to stop by and say Congrats!! :)
    On the comments--do what's easy for you.

  25. I just have comments e-mailed to me so if I don't recognise them, or if they're spammers trawling my archives I can go directly and delete at will.

    However, I don't get nearly as many comments as you do. I also rarely get spammers these days too - is it possible they've realised they never make money this way?

    Please don't stop comments - I think it's one of the pretty facets of this blog.

  26. Anonymous8:38 AM

    Delegate. Persuade a trusted friend to moderate comments for you. Besides saving your time, it keeps you from having to personally read the sludge yourself.

    I like Making Light's disemvowelment approach, too. I think they may have a script set up that automatically disemvowels posts from problematic IP addresses. It's especially effective because it's funny, which is usually not the response the poster was looking for.

  27. I'm nowhere near as busy as you, but I moderate all my comments (I do mine via email) - and I make it very clear I won't post rude/nasty/negative comments. It's your house. People visit here on your terms, not theirs.

    :big hugs:

  28. Oh, oh! I vote for disemvoweling. :) If not that, then #1.

    And congrats on #12 on PW bestseller list!!

  29. Do what works best for you--I'm guessing some combination of #1 and #2. I cringe at censorship as well, but I don't think it's censorship to say you don't want to be constantly dumped on by people who tuned out the talk on manners in first grade.

    And congrats on #12 on the PW bestseller list. I will force myself to eat a brownie in your honour. (Such a sacrifice.)

  30. Okay, here's my two cents. The really good options, I think, are #1 and #3. #1 is preferred, because it's less of a hassle to everyone, but that depends on how foul the haters get, if we can ignore them, etc. If they see they can't get a rise out of us then maybe they'll just give up. I suggest a "Do Not Feed the Trolls" sign. :D

    If we can't ignore the trolls, and they're being just absolutely unbearable, we could go with option #3. I don't think it would be that big a deal for the under 18 crowd. All you need to register is an e-mail and pretty much every teen in the world from 12 to 19 has an e-mail. Also, I don't find it that distracting or time consuming. In my personal opinion, I'd rather take a little longer to post, than making you, Lynn, take more time moderating the posts when you could be writing more awesome novels/writing more awesome posts. Besides, having to register before posting would probably be too much hassle for someone to go who just wants to put some hate-spam.

    Option 2, as I've said, would detract from your writing and posting and that sucks. You're too funny to post less often. Some of us need a laugh to go along with our morning coffee.

    Option 4, do I even need to say it?

    I hope that helps, Lynn.

  31. I'd vote to go with #1 and then switch to #3 if anonymous comments get to annoying. It doesn't bother me in the least to log in before I comment.

  32. I never saw these trolling comments, but I find it baffling sometimes how nasty people can be online. I really think in some extreme cases trolls have some kind of psychological issues. Oh well... I vote for #1 or #3.

  33. I just wanted to mention that there's nothing wrong with censoring comments on your blog. It is *your* blog and you can blog how you want to (blog how you want to, blog how you want to! carried away).

    I allow Anonymous posting on my blog because I know people who don't have blogger accounts, or who get locked out, or who have Trouble with Technology.

  34. Anonymous10:15 AM

    I'm going to say 1 then 3 and agree with the new "rule" that nasty posts are fair game for you.

    I don't mind registering for commenting here but I sort of like the thought that someone who comes upon your blog and sees an interesting discussion and wants to constructively join it can, even if they never come by again. I love when that happens in person, and I like to think it happens in worthwhile or fun discussions on the web.

    That being said, if the nasty comment hurt, disrupt, waste your time, or otherwise bother you, then I'd go for 3. This is your home, and if you don't want strangers dropping into your great garden party because they disrupt you or your guests, close the gate.

    I guess bottom line is I love the discussions on this site and I hate to see anything change unless it has to. If you move a domino, you never know what effect will be had on the other dominoes.

  35. Anonymous10:25 AM

    Hey PBW,
    I agree w. Jaye Patrick -- this is your space -- you have every right to regulate it.
    Hopefully option 1 will remain a viable option, but I would have no qualms about editing spam or flaming, baiting comments on my own space, and I would not bat an eyelash at you for doing the same. Having said that, I think option 2 would be a time suck for you, but perhaps the next logical step. And, it could be fun.
    I don't have a blogger account. If you choose option 3 I'll consider registering. I try to not register at too many places just to avoid too much spam email but I would not be concerned doing so here, because of the way you handle this site, and because of the way everyone else is respectful and thoughtful.
    I would miss everyone else's comments -- so I hope 3 and 4 would never be an option.

  36. Yikes. I'm sorry to hear this. I'd hate to see comments closed because the conversations are great. Yeah, I tend to lurk more than jump in.

    I know LJ has track ISP, but I don't know if blogger does.

    I would say #3 or 1.

    Good luck!


  37. Try to stick with #1.

    #2 would be a pest with the many comments you get. I don't know how Miss Snark manages that, and you get even more, esp. on the giveaway posts. :)

    #3 won't prevent jerks from getting an account. It'll only make it easier for you to block them.

    #4 will make everyone cry.

    Though you should ask people here that if you go with #1, no one please, ever comment on a jerk post and defend you. Attention is what trolls want, and if they don't get a discussion, emails or whatever response, they'll usually disappear.

  38. Anonymous10:33 AM

    I check your blog even before e-mail and enjoy the comments and jump in myself from time to time. I would not mind registering, but as someone noted, that would make it rough on the newbies, so I prefer #1. You need to do whatever is best for you. Even if comments would, under the worst case senario be blocked, don't take away our blog fix. Congratulations on #12, but we all know you should be #1, but that will come soon.

  39. Ill miss the comments and the community your site fosters, but if it's becoming too much work, takes you away from your writing and becomes mentally disturbing, then over the side it goes!

    I haven't been hit with enough bad comments (only 2 that I can think of), but then I'm not out there as much. It's still irritating, but now, after a few times, I pity these anonymous bile belchers. How pitiful a life you must lead that you have to vent your anger at someone you never met?

    And here's a comment I think you'll appreciate, from a newspaper interview with Bob Dylan:

    "You're nothing until you've been booed."

    Have a great day.

  40. Whatever you do, I hope you don't do number 4, but you should do what you have to do. :)

    I think the commenters who said that sending all to moderation will be a lot of additional work, unless you have someone you can delegate it to. I think it's possible to only moderate anonymous comments, which might be an option to explore.

    Congrats on making yet another list!

  41. Anonymous12:31 PM

    You know why I use the anonymous option, but if it goes away I won't.

    I think your management of the malcontented is a good example for other bloggers. I've sent a few of my authors here to see how you handle it. If your patience doesn't run out, #1, please.

    I also agree with Gabriele's suggestion: "Though you should ask people here that if you go with #1, no one please, ever comment on a jerk post and defend you." Your commenters already do a very good job of ignoring the trolls. It won't be a hardship for them.


  42. Boo!

    Ta da, you're someone..glad to help.

    You do whatever is easiest for you. I'd pick 1.

  43. #3. I don't care about having to log in. People should own their words.

    As far as anonymous teenagers goes...a username can still be anonymous. True anonymity on the net is an illusion unless you go to great extents (proxies to mask your IP, or logging in from machines other than your own to post).

    Does Blogger not have an option to allow you to screen Anonymous posters? My Livejournal does. Then again, Blogger also isn't threaded posting, so the time delay between when an Anonymous post came through as opposed to the instant-access of a logged-in user might look weird.

    Sorry, I just went into technobabble. CONGRATULATIONS on the sales! There are writers who hit the NYT list who I stare at and shake my head, but not you, ma'am. You've earned it.

  44. Congrats on your PW listing. That's great news.

    As for the trolls, I like Sasha's suggestion (or the disemvowelment), but whatever works for you. I hope it doesn't turn out to be #4 (we'd miss you).
    P.S. I could lend you psychokitty and she could serenade them (her meows sound like she's trying to raise the dead *g*).

  45. I was thinking of how easy it would be if I moderated comments to only partially censor them. You know, like how they do with bad reviews for blurbs?

    "Ms. Viehl, I think your novels are . . . big . . . and . . . awful . . . charming. . . your books make me . . . never again . . . want to read . . . anything else . . . I hope you never . . . Stop writing! Yours sincerely, Anonymous."

    Looks Perfect to me! :)

  46. I post anonymously because I didn't have a blogger account and I hate making accounts just to reply in comments. Too much to keep track of if I know people by different usernames. Apparently, though, there was some sort of Google/Blogger technology increase thingy, because now I can "log in" with my gmail account. I've purposely still remained anonymous because... I've always been, it's easy, etc. But if you want registration, I'm all for it. #1 still gets my vote, but you shouldn't have to put up with jerks on your own blog.
    (Jess, of typical "Jess" comments, now logged in)

  47. Anonymous4:24 PM

    Okay... Okay...

    I'll stop sending the nasty comments.

    Holly Lisle (not really)

  48. I'd say #1 unless somebody gets really vile... then delete.

  49. Loving the partial censoring, hating that people can't be happy for someone who's worked so hard.

  50. Go for #3.

    That's what I do on my blog. There are two advantages. One, no extra effort on your part. Two, you get to know your frequent visitors (and they get to know each other), so you can feel like you're actually part of creating a little community. While some of your posters are already making themselves known, the anonymous few who will now have to name themselves (the polite amongst the bunch), will now be coaxed out into the open and find the rest of us don't bite. Think of what a liberating favor you will have done them! :wink:

    P.S. Thanks for Marcia and John. I linked to you/it on my blog.

  51. Comments are off for your Friday 20, but I think you have an Eastern Bluebird there. they have many predators so keep a close watch out for them. This is a nice site too

    Good luck with your birds and fledglings - get a handful of maggots to make them extra happy - or even feed by hand - they go crazy for mealy worms!

  52. Sorry, that didn't work, here's the url.

  53. Late to the party, but dealing with the same mischief. Last week, there was a whole discussion in my blog's comment thread about whether or not I have an obligation to delete troll comments (my trolls tend to talk in txt msg spk or to apprise me of my comparative amazon rankings -- so thoughtful!). I keep anonymous options open because I know of commenters on my blog who can't. for corporate reasons, post other than anonymously. Right now, I only delete obvious spam.

    It blows my mind that people make the effort to come to a person's blog to insult them... anonymously. Either do it to my face or don't. None of this half way BS. Isn't that what my back is there for -- so people can do stuff behind it? ;-)

    I say if someone commetns on your blog, it's fair game to do what you want to it -- however, I don't know if blogger has a good filtering moderation system, or an easy disemvowellment. I think you actually have to delete the post and then repost it, which is a pain.

    Good luck, whatever you decide!

  54. Ms. Viehl,

    I didn't know where else to post this but wanted to let you know that the review for NIGHT LOST at Romance Junkies now has a new link because they have updated their software. The new link for the review is:

    Have a great weekend.
    Robin Snodgrass
    Reviewer for Romance Junkies


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