I want to make some comments about comments and also acknowledge a situation that has occurred on the Your Stories page.
First and foremost, I want to remind you all that this is a public site. It is NOT a members-only, password-protected forum where content is only visible to subscribers. What you write in your comments can be accessed and read by ANYONE. So please take that into account when you post.
There has been a situation (i.e. “learning experience”) within the Your Stories commentary that has presented some challenges I was not anticipating, and it has resulted in several changes going into effect. A while back, a dialogue started regarding a therapist accused of abuse whose name was used by the commenters. While I had some misgivings about the person’s name being in the comments, I chose to let things stand as they were. Then, however, the therapist in question discovered her name on the site and responded angrily to the accusations. This put me in a bit of a quandary. As a citizen of the U.S., I believe in the right to free speech, and, as I said above, this is a public forum. However, as moderator of this website and blog, I feel some obligation to provide some boundaries and safety for survivor-commenters.
The situation escalated when the therapist threatened legal action due to her name being linked publicly to the accusations. Since there had not been a formal complaint that resulted in the therapist being found guilty of the accusations, the comments were considered defamatory. So I removed her name from the comments and instituted a new policy that commenters not name names due to potential legal consequences. I also removed the therapist’s comments from the string.
Around the same time, someone else entirely posted a nasty, blame-the-victim comment elsewhere on the site. As a result, I decided to back off my free speech position a bit and more actively moderate comments, removing any “nasty” ones as I saw fit. I wrote up a new Comments Policy that you can read here.
Then I was contacted by one of the survivor-commenters in this situation. The commenter wanted me to remove all her own comments because she was angry that I’d allowed the abusive therapist to post on the site.
So there are a few points I’d like to make here.
Yes, comments can be removed and/or edited. I am occasionally contacted by survivors who want me to remove their comments, for a variety of reasons (often due to a fear of being public), and I try to comply with these requests. I am in no way required to do this, but I do try. Removing and editing comments takes some effort, and I may not get to it immediately, but it can be done. (Having said this, if I suddenly get a bunch of requests to remove comments, I may start to restrict the occasions when I do this. Please take responsibility for what you write.)
What I need you all to understand is that if you were engaged in a dialogue with someone and then I remove your comments, it affects the whole string of dialogue. Any replies to your comments are now sitting by their lonesome selves, making for very odd reading. So my removing your comments affects not only you but everyone you were in conversation with. Please take this into account when you ask me to remove your comments and consider whether there may be an alternate solution (like editing or changing names) that does not affect the whole string.
Now, if you do decide to request that I remove or edit your comments, please provide me with a way of getting in touch if I have questions. There may be additional information I need from you in order to comply with your request. If you do not leave me a legitimate email address, this may cause a delay in my being able to comply with your request.
Regarding this particular situation, I believe I have removed what the parties requested I remove from the Your Stories page. Since other participants’ responses have NOT been removed, this has left a very odd and disjointed string of commentary. Now you’ll understand why.
So, to review, here are the points I’d like you to understand:
- This is a public website, not a members-only, password-protected forum. What you say is not protected and can be accessed by anyone on the world-wide web.
- DO NOT use full names of anyone you are making accusations about. There may be legal consequences for you, for me, for this website. (Note that I have completely refrained from using Dr. T’s actual name in my writings about my experience. That was intentional, to protect my own free speech. You can protect yours by not naming your abusers unless they’ve been formally charged and found guilty of the allegations.)
- Comments can be edited or removed, although this does require time and effort, and it may not happen right away.
- If you ask me to remove your comments, understand that, if you are engaged in a dialogue, doing this affects others, too, and alters the entire string of comments.
- If you ask me to remove your comments, please provide me with a way to get in touch with you in case I have questions.
- Please take responsibility for what you write.
As moderator of this blog, I am doing the best I can, but I am human and sometimes I make mistakes or allow something to fall through the cracks. If that happens, please know that I am sorry. It’s not intentional and it’s not personal. My intention is to provide a forum for voices to be heard, and I’m realizing that sometimes those voices need some protection. I will take that into consideration in moving forward.