Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Factual Inaccuracies

I have been accused in a rather malicious fashion by the father of Simon Abott of deliberately starting a thread on Jersey Politics Facebook Group about the recent Mail on Sunday article on Simon Abbot.

Just to put the record absolutely straight, I did not, as the snapshot presented here shows. Unless I am secretly Rico Sorda, which I doubt!

The statement that I did is therefore a complete and provable lie, but so far, Mr Abbot Senior has not retracted this falsehood.

Rico evidently thought the accuracy of the Mail article, seen by millions, after all, should be a legitimate subject for debate. It was not an area that the moderators had started any threads on, nor did we wish to do so.

But comments on the thread became very toxic, and when the moderators found out, we warned individuals and deleted all the toxic posts. Factual accuracy is one thing, character assassination is another, although it seems to be something the Mail enjoys, hence the attack on Ed Milliband recently.

In fact some of the thread just became mud-slinging between individuals, and nothing to do with the subject Rico had raised.

Two individuals were cautioned and apologised for their behaviour, and the extra work caused to the moderators in deleting toxic comments, one however, - a Jersey politician - told the moderators he would not - using the term "pathetic" and stronger language against the moderators, and was consequently suspended from the group.

There has been no repetition of that occurrence, and the moderators wished to apologise for any distress it may have caused, owing to other individuals posting comments at times of they day when they were not on hand to review posts.

They have also ensured that individuals must not indulge in comments critical of the banned member, who obviously cannot defend himself. It is therefore unfair that he should be criticised. A few posts were made, the individuals given a warning, and they desisted.

At my suggestion, the moderators also met face to face (over coffee) with one of the online critics (and a local blogger) of the way the thread developed, and he was happy for us to make it public on my blog that we had met. He did not, however, give permission for his identity to be stated.

"Thank you for meeting with me to discuss our differences and a possible way forward. I am happy for you to publish that a face to face meeting took place over a coffee between three people with pretty much opposing views on a lot of subjects and political ideology. That a consensus was reached in such a short time can only make these face to face meetings rather than "tit for tatting" on a keyboard a good thing and much more (politically) could be achieved by them. Naturally I believe names should be kept out of it as that will only personalise the debate which is one of the biggest problems over here where people are more interested in the personality rather than the policy."

The outcome of the meeting was that we explained what we had done, and came to a consensus that the best way forward was (1) not to post any further comments , which might ignite the flames again, but  (2) to delete the thread once the furore had died down.

The main criticism from that critic (and fellow blogger) was not that the topic was raised but "it was the way it was discussed that was unsuitable".

We concured with that, which is why we warned posters and deleted comments that were abusive and potentially defamatory.

I have since left moderating Politics Jersey, mainly due to the venomous online attacks from a local politician, and the thankless task of being shot at from all sides.

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