By on July 29, 2009

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43 Comments on “Community Discussion Re: TTAC’s Flaming Policy...”

  • avatar

    I cannot attend as day-job meeting interferes, but here’s my 2 pesos: It is working as it is. VERY WELL. If it ain’t broke…


  • avatar

    Ditto Chuck. Recent increased readership has already resulted in a vast increase in worthless throw-away comments. I don’t want to add flames to that fire. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  • avatar

    I really think the anti flaming is right on.
    It creates discussion, not ranting.
    I have had a recent remark removed, even though I thought it was mild, it still forces me to chose my wording carefully.
    And RF at least let me know my explanation was read by the TTAC commenter.

    The anti-flaming rule forces each of us to TRY to be more factual and thoughtful.

    Reading most blogs, I get ill reading remarks simply aimed at insulting rather than informing.
    Sort of like drivers in cars feeling safe when flipping you off and then racing away safely in their false armor.


    Here, you can’t just flip someone off and run.

  • avatar

    Can’t make the live chat, but here is some feedback anyway.

    Having been edited once for an admittedly unnecessary remark, I have no complaints. Actually I appreciated an explanation being emailed to me. TTAC walks the line between free speech and respectfulness very well overall.

    My only observation is that flaming remarks often get through as thinly-disguised passive references, such as “That belief is typical of the Neanderthal crowd”. How is that any different than calling someone a Neanderthal? It doesn’t really bother me, however it does seem a bit inconsistent.

  • avatar


    Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Allegedly. Anyway, all decisions on whether or not to delete a comment are judgement calls. Except for the ones that simply slip through the net.

    Eddy, Jeff and I do our level best to keep it civil, and try to contact the poster whenever a comment is edited or deleted. But again, sometimes, hitting the delete button is all we can do given the time constraints involved.

  • avatar

    I agree with the crowd so far. If I have not suffered the wrath of Robert, I’m sure I have tiptoed to the crater’s rim a time or two. But the adult supervision can keep someone’s bad day from poisoning the discourse for everyone else. I think your policy is a good one, so keep it up. (And that’s why I like cars?)

  • avatar
    Joe ShpoilShport

    I’m lining up with the rest of you. It’s working.

  • avatar

    I think it’s a good, and effective, policy.

    The way I see it, you can’t win an argument with insults, and if that’s all somebody can bring to the table then they needn’t be involved in the discussion anyway. Everybody reacts emotionally to disagreement, but to allow your frustration to get the best of you and your thoughts demonstrates a simple lack of self control. After all, we are called the “Best & Brightest” — I think we should all have the capacity to engage in a civilized discussion without regressing into a childish squabble of insult-throwing.

    None of us are exactly the same, nor do we ever have exactly similar opinions. If we can’t move past this basic truth and manage to respectfully disagree with each other, then what’s the point of have a forum in which to express our ideas in the first place?

    Now, I like to believe in equality and freedom of expression, and some could argue that this is censorship or oppression of freedom, but to those people I would say this:

    Is it not also trampling on someone’s freedom of speech to suggest that their stupid opinions are invalid and shouldn’t be expressed just because they aren’t yours? Like it or not, we are all equals here, and to patronize others simply for their differing point of view is to piss on the idea of equality and freedom of speech.

    So I say, of any who would try to oppress equality in this community, let them be censored.

    And to anyone who would say that a system like the one we have here is ineffective and unjust: I refer you to YouTube, a prime example of a vastly unmoderated corner of the Web in which anonymous egos are permitted to run amuck and essentially vandalize the place. I don’t think I’m the only one who would never come back here if this site corroded into something like the YouTube comments section.

    That’s my stance, anyway. Feel free to disagree.

  • avatar

    This policy is great, do not lighten up.Even though foul language is not sensored, very few find the need to use it.

  • avatar

    Count me among the ones who think things are working well as they are. Robert, you run a first-rate site, and one that I enjoy.

    I’m also glad to see that I’m not the only one who has had a comment removed…especially since I deeply respect some of the others who also have admitted to their slight misdeeds! But as more than one has commented, I appreciate – rather than resent – this housekeeping. It keeps all of us in the mode of preserving civility on this site, which is something that is sorely lacking on the internet in general.

  • avatar

    I recently had a comment removed. Obviously moderating is always a judgment call, but I thought it was the wrong call.

    I carefully worded what I said not to flame the staff member but the topic itself.

    Although some sites pretty much let anything go, TTAC goes a little too far. With all due respect.

  • avatar

    Policy as enforced is good. Part of what I like about this site is that the comments don’t degrade to the worthless crap that typifies Youtube. Since the topics can touch the grand daddy of trouble – Politics – it’s best to have a rev limiter in place. And since I know that there are those out there who will pick apart a statement that is false, it keeps everybody on their toes and helps reduce garbage comments. Not sure if I had any comments removed, but the fear of being blacklisted makes me be extra careful when countering what I feel is a knuckle headed response…

  • avatar

    An editorial appeared on the site last week which I (among several others) considered to be well below the standard with which TTAC has spoiled us. Knowing that I’d probably run afoul of the no flaming policy, I nevertheless made a couple of comments which questioned the merit of the piece and the editorial decision to publish it. Robert moderated those comments, but he did email me and allow me to argue my case and even offered to publish a rebuttal, which I greatly appreciated and have mulled over. The argument I made to him in a nutshell:

    There are instances where critiques of editorial material are valid. Baruth’s “Maximum Speed” series was such an instance, and Robert recognized the necessity of allowing critical feedback. The site did not self-destruct in a flame war, and indeed, I think it was helpful to blow off the steam the series had generated so everyone could get back to enjoying the better content on TTAC.

    If the comments are already moderated for those who clearly are trolling, why not allow for civilized discussion of the merits of a particular post, including those which take issue with the quality of the post or the decision to publish it? Maintaining a no flaming/trolling policy, keeping comments on subject, and allowing for negative feedback on editorial decisions are not mutually exclusive. If effort is already being expended to moderate comments, why not alter the current policy to allow for some reasoned, coherent, and well-intentioned dissent while continuing to weed out the obvious trolls?

  • avatar

    I recently had a post removed that did not flame any commentators, the original author, or the site. My infraction was providing an opposing point to the topic. Also had a post removed that IMO was obviously tongue in cheek. It was blatantly obvious, but deleted.

    I’m a moderator on a couple of forums, and it’s critical to not over moderate, and yet prevent any personal attacks. Over moderate and you chase people away, allow anarchy and you chase people away. It’s a very fine line. I seldom visit here anymore, because if my opinions are being removed, how many others are too? The site has a great concept, but if it only expresses one opinion, then that’s all the site will be good for. Wonder how long this post will remain before it’s deleted too?

  • avatar

    I can’t make the gunfight at the O.K. Corral tomorrow either (I don’t think), so I’ll share my observations here.

    I think the current policy is working fine.

    I had a comment deleted about a year (or two?) ago. I was not offended by this. I didn’t call anybody any names or anything, but I had strayed too far off the topic. I appreciated that Robert had sent me an email explanation.

    More recently, Jeff (I think) had deleted somebody else’s comment, to which I had just replied. I saw that the original comment was gone, so I went in and self-deleted some or all of my responding post.

    Because the original post had been removed, there was no need for ensuing discussion. And we avoided an unnecessary avalanche.

    Let’s keep it clean. For those who refuse, once in awhile we need a lawman around these here parts!

  • avatar
    H Man

    Getting a toof fixed during the chat; dang.
    Anyway, I’ve been a regular reader (and irregular poster, so to speak) for at least 5 years now. This and Roger Ebert’s blog are the two most consistantly thoughtful and “adult” sites I know of, hence my loyal page-view’ness.

    I say keep it.

  • avatar


    I hope you join the discussion later today (noon). Meanwhile, I do NOT delete opinions simply because they differ from mine. I fact, I actively encourage them (see: yesterday’s UAW editorial). There is an open invitation for anyone to post on any auto-related topic from any POV.

    I never forget that TTAC doesn’t actually belong to me (nor VerticalScope). It belongs to you, our readers. Without you, nothing. You are as entitled to your opinions as I am mine. But I refuse to accept name-calling and off topic meta-discussions. Unless the mtea discussion is the discussion, as it is here.

    Anyway, I hardly expect all of TTAC’s Best and Brightest to hold the same view on any given topic. That would be . . . ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    To be honest I am cutting back on reading TTAC because of the number of unresearched soapboxy editorials, and the way that my responses are edited to protect the delicate egos of the writers.

    Frankly if someone writes an editorial about a car questioning some aspect of it that has been public knowledge for 8 years, they need calling out for being lazy.

    I also find the pack mentality among the so-called B&B occasionally comment-worthy.

  • avatar

    I never know anymore when my comments are considered appropriate…
    I got so pissed off a couple of months ago that I swore never to post anymore…but I still do!
    And patiently await my e-mail from Robert.
    So..I guess it works!

  • avatar

    I’ve never had a comment removed.. i think… but maybe that has to do with the fact that when i do comment i comment about the subject not the person behind it….

    Robert might have twisted ideas sometimes about the ongoing in the Auto industry, and i don’t agree with him all the time, but it serves no purpose to rant about the way he thinks…

    do i think TTAC looks like it’s whining all the time, yes, does it need more car reviews? yes… does it need its flaming policies relaxed? No,

    because you should comment on the subject and offer your view about it, not whoever wrote it…that guy, whoever he may be, should be respected…or F/O!!! respectfully said of course.

  • avatar

    I’ve never had a comment removed.. i think… but maybe that has to do with the fact that when i do comment i comment about the subject not the person behind it….

    Robert might have twisted ideas sometimes about the ongoing in the Auto industry, and i don’t agree with him all the time, but it serves no purpose to rant about the way he thinks…

    do i think TTAC looks like it’s whining all the time, yes, does it need more car reviews? yes… does it need its flaming policies relaxed? No,

    because you should comment on the subject and offer your view about it, not whoever wrote it…that guy, whoever he may be, should be respected…or F/O!!! respectfully said of course.

  • avatar

    I’ve been edited like… ummm, I lost count, LOL

    Only once, I trully believed it was uncorrect, but the part that was edited didn’t really add to the comment so I forgot about it.

    I appreciate Mr. Farago writes you what was changed, the reason, and allows you to go back to him and discuss.

    What’s the GMT hour of the online chat?

    @ oldyak

    sometimes I also prepare for my email, specially when I use a lot of colorful language, and “your comment is awaiting moderation” appears on the top of it, besides my nick.

    I think if we keep respectful to the site and other users, everything is fair play. I mean, there’s no need to flame or insult people if you give an opinion or make an statement.

  • avatar

    I appreciate the no-flaming policy; we’re a group who hold a great variety of opinions on automotive matters, and I think the policy helps us to write like the B&B that we are.

  • avatar

    I recently had a comment removed questioning the reasoning for posting certain editorials. I too thought that my comment had merit in relation to TTAC in general and it was removed for flaming. Have not heard back from RF on my response to his email.

    Obvious flaming, yes should be removed. Questioning the authors about thier motivations for publising shouldn’t.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    detlef +1

  • avatar

    The policy works for me. It’s one of those rare sites where I read the comments. And having in the past participated on forums at, I can tell you it was anything but civil there.
    Got comments removed twice:
    once for a poor penile joke
    once because I pointed out at an error in a post, which was swiftly modified by RF, rendering my comment unnecessary.

  • avatar
    Seth L

    Works for me, I find the comments here really insightful.

  • avatar

    I certainly prefer the current policy to the lack of screening that goes on elsewhere. It seems to go a bit far sometimes–I had one deleted last week–but given the need to make judgement calls this might be unavoidable.

  • avatar

    I’d keep the current policy–it keeps discussions civil and on-topic, and makes TTAC’s discussion more of am Oxford Union and less Hyde Park Soapbox/Crazy Dude on Street Corner/Two Fourteen Year Olds On the Schoolbus Debating Ford vs Chevy.

    I’ve been moderated a few times when I’ve gone off the deep edge and things are probably the better for it. If I can suggest anything, it might be to let people know that they’ve been moderated because it’s hard to tell the difference between “Deleted Because You’re a Twit” and “Deleted Because the Software is a Twit”

  • avatar

    flaming = no
    unrealted comment = no
    obvious political posturing = no
    attacks on individuals = no
    Editorilizing on an editorial = yes

    IN other words, Mr. Farago, I think you are doing a good job. This is one of the few sites where i read the comments. Alot of the other sites are so chock full of craziness and attacks, they are not worth my effort.

    Bravo, keep it up. Let all the knuckleheads beat each other up elsewhere. There are no shortage of sites that service the lunatic fringe.

  • avatar

    I joined TTAC—the only blog to which I belong—BECAUSE the comments are moderated. It’s amazing how much more insightful and thoughtful the discussions are as a result.

    The ability to comment anonymously and without consequence makes most web forums childish. I have learned a great deal from TTAC’s columnists and commentors and hope that it continues to be moderated with the same care.

    John Harris (my real name)
    2009 Mini Cooper S
    2008 Ford E250
    2007 Honda Element
    2005 Acura RSX-S

  • avatar

    My suggestion is to have ONE thread a week where people can get their flame on, preferably on the weekend. Just one crazy thread to get it all out, and keep the policy in place on all other threads.

    Make the post subject real flamebait too (like for example the one where you said GM should kill the Corvette). I think having one a week would be fun. The only restriction on the Weekend Flamebait Thread should be IRL threats and copy/pasting screeds.

  • avatar

    Michael’s post sums up my position –

    I certainly prefer the current policy to the lack of screening that goes on elsewhere. It seems to go a bit far sometimes–I had one deleted last week– but given the need to make judgement calls this might be unavoidable.

    Don’t change the current stance. I quit visiting one blog where the owner felt obligated to leave all posts that were critical of him. Apparently he felt that it would be cowardly to remove them.
    However the strident tone soon enveloped the whole blog and it became pointless to participate.

    A moderated society is a polite and worthwhile society

  • avatar

    While I agree with the idea of keeping a thread from devolving into personal insults, I would disagree with deleting a post because the person disagrees with the article, its premise or its conclusion.

    Complaints about it’s relative “quality” (as in not up to TTAC standards) are just B.S. Those people are simply trying to eliminate opinions and discussions they don’t like.

    As RF said, repeatedly, it’s a judgement call, and can be a very fine line. There are going to be mistakes, both ways.

    Where does “moderation” cross over into “sensorship”? Some posters here would LOVE to see anyone posting opinions contrary to their dearly held beliefs “moderated” right off the site. Thank RF, they don’t get thier way.

    No one’s perfect but overall, I think RF has done a pretty good job here.

    He’s done a DAMN good job turning a knack for wit, sarcasm, and being brave enough to simply say the truth into a world class website.

  • avatar

    I am fully behind TTAC’s policy of censoring PERSONAL ATTACKS. However, there is a BIG DIFFERENCE between a personal attack, and criticism of one’s work.

    Sorry, Mr. Farago, but if I don’t agree with something you wrote, and I say so on this site, that DOES NOT constitute an attack on YOU. It constitutes an opposing viewpoint… and isn’t voicing multiple viewpoints one of the things that makes this method of media great?

  • avatar

    Flaming Policies would be a good name for a band.

  • avatar

    I agree completely with Vorenus.

    If a particular article drifts way to close to the editoral end of the spectrum, but passes itself off as hard news, it needs to be called out. Unfortunately this seems to happen with great regularity. Your site, your opinion, I don’t have to read it – but please call it what it is if it really is an editorial.

    If it is an editorial and presented as such, I assume that also means those of very differing opinions will also be heard. I support your right to decide what and how much.

  • avatar
    Cole Trickle

    This is the only friggin site I read the comments on, because most of the time the wingnuts are censored. It feels like a real community, not a lawless yahoo chatroom from 1997. And I learn things.

    If you can’t present an opposing view in a mature way, move on. There are thousands of places to say “no dude, you are the a-hole.”

    Yeah, sometimes an article sounds like an editorial. Usually when I disagree with it though. Funny how that works.

    Keep up the good work RF. I still haven’t had a comment stricken from the record yet. I’m saving it.

  • avatar

    Keep it exactly as is.

    I am ashamed that I had a comment deservedly edited by RF; it was written and posted in haste/anger, and looking back I regret that it had to be edited. But that’s what makes this blog so awesome. I only belong to forums that are heavily-moderated; I don’t want to waste time sifting through all the jack-ass comments to get to the heart of the matter, and this is probably the most fairly moderated of them all.


  • avatar

    Beware you who idolize money and allow the end to justify the means…

  • avatar

    I almost bailed on TTAC during the red light camera shooting story some time ago, and went silent for awhile. But then I saw the 1st Amendment light and was able to get over my concerns.

    Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    I agree with ↑Monty↑; let’s keep the present reasonably tight rein on Jack-ass comments.

  • avatar

    The quality of the reviews, editorials, news, and especially comments keeps me coming back for more. Being a long time reader and poster, I remember the nerves that came into play when the ads were displayed here, and also some redesign jitters. However that didn’t change the community here and it helped keep the site moving forward.

    So the site will continue to survive if the ongoing anti-flaming policy is kept in place.

    I just can’t figure out the minds of trolls who get their rocks off just by picking pointless fights so they feel better about themselves. I’ve never gone back to sites that have been taken over by trolls. What’s nice is that trolling will never happen here so keep up the good work.

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