As we enter 2022, we are introducing a new comment policy on Live and Let’s Fly that we hope we will encourage robust but respectful discussion.
Live and Let’s Fly continues to grow and so does the comments section…sometimes much to our chagrin. While many read this blog every month, we have a small core (you know who you are) of regular readers who bring us great delight in expressing their opinion on just about anything we write about.
I am deeply grateful for that and appreciate not only your interest, but your passion and your insight. Many thanks for taking the time to comment and for holding us accountable when warranted. This dialogue has helped to shape my viewpoints, reconsider positions, and try to be a more thoughtful writer.
So what’s the problem? In many ways, travel is inherently political and the pandemic and our response to it have created a series of explosive posts that bring out even more explosive opinions.
One solution would be to avoid these posts, but that’s not the editorial direction we prefer to take Live and Let’s Fly in. In almost every case, when I write about a controversial topic or editorialize myself, it is not to create a war in the comments section that will juice up page views but to explore a topic I deem worth exploring. But I do love a good discussion and can point to so many fascinating discussions we’ve had on this blog over the years that bring a smile to my face.
There has been a lot more clickbait on the blog since the pandemic started, but that’s because there have been many more incidents of drunk and disorderly conduct on airplanes in the news, a byproduct of our new era of limited service onboard and mask mandates. There have also been a lot of discussions on vaccines and vaccine mandates because they so directly impact travel and because I am interested in any issue that presents a nexus of law, politics, and travel.
It is those sorts of posts that have drawn the most comments and often resulted in screaming matches or a dueling war of hyperpartisan links that have made many label the comments section on Live and Let’s Fly a cesspool. Sadly, this has led to the exodus of several longtime readers and commenters.
New Comment Policy
There is no right to “free speech” on a privately-owned blog, so the issue comes down to what kind of environment do we want to encourage on Live and Let’s Fly.
I’m not really a bright line guy, which makes laying down strict rules quite unappealing. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts:
- The goal is not to ban anyone. I believe in robust discussion and while no one enjoys the right to comment here, I am far less fearful of “misinformation” and delusional comments than other travel blogs.
- While bigotry, racism, and intolerance has shown up in numerous comments, I believe we are all mature enough (or should strive to be mature enough) to recognize those comments for what they are rather than insist they should be silenced.
- There is a difference, however, in expressing viewpoints most might consider offensive and crossing a line into gratuitous insults that serve no purpose other than to demean others.
- We all (sometimes myself included) must learn to attack the issue, not the poster – treat others with respect, even if you detest their opinion, and do not attack an idea by attacking a person.
- Comments should not be used to launch personal attacks: the harsh words we’ve seen levied between readers are not helpful toward promoting greater dialogue.
- Links have the capacity to be a great tool to inform and to rebut, but too often they are been posted without context.
So what is changing?
- Personal attacks will be deleted and those who launch personal attacks will be banned
- use your best judgment – if you are unsure if a comment crosses the line, you should probably rephrase your comment
- Links will be no longer be permitted
- please develop your opinion in narrative form rather than linking to websites
- Consecutive comments are not allowed
- if you add a comment, please wait for someone else to respond before adding another one
- consecutive comments are allowed to correct a spelling mistake or in order to directly clarify a previous post
Those are three small changes that will shortly go into effect which should again make the comments section on Live and Let’s Fly a more inviting place while also still encouraging a robust discussion. We are not shutting anyone down: you are all still free to voice your opinion.
As has always been the case:
- Profane, pornographic, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate comments are banned
- Abusive, harassing, or threatening comments are banned
- Spam and commercial links are banned
You may have noticed that when you post a comment on Live and Let’s Fly, it does not appear instantly. That is by design. When you post a comment for the first time (using a new email address), it will automatically go in a queue for moderation. We do our best to approve these comments quickly, but sometimes there is a delay: please don’t take it personally.
Going forward (it will take a few days to fully implement), any comment with a link will be automatically deleted. Historic comments (there are over 120,000 of them) will not be altered.
When you cross a line, whether we warn you or ban you will be at our sole discretion. You are free to appeal via the contact form above, but may not receive a response.
We are making a small change to the Live and Let’s Fly comment policy in order to promote a better discussion in 2022. There is room for everyone at the table here, but only if you show respect to others, no matter how much you disagree with them.
Please let us know your thoughts on our new comments policy below, particularly on our decision to prohibit external links in the comment sections. Once again, we thank all of you for commenting and look forward to a great discussion throughout the new year.
@Matthew I think that’s a fair policy and totally agreeable. With OMAAT, you can create an account to post on the blog. Is there something similar on LALF?
Would love have a login with usernames like OMAAT, but not with this theme. Maybe next time we do a site refresh.
Got it! Thanks!
Love banning links.
I was looking for the “upvote” button, but this guy’s old school blog doesn’t have that.
Nope, we do not with the current theme. Perhaps a future version will feature it. I like the upvote feature on other blogs.
@ Matthew — If you switch to logins, I will no longer be commenting. I am not sure how others may feel, but I am strongly opposed to such a policy.
Even if they were introduced, they would always be optional.
In other words, twitter (ye speak with forked tongue). Not surprised for a second. Silence the opposition. Some of us are on to this.
Not silencing anyone. Feel free to spout away.
“I’ve been silenced!” he shouts, unencumbered.
All sounds good. Thanks for addressing it sensibly. Here’s to a healthy ’22 for us all.
Great idea and plan. I hope it works. If so, it will be more inviting for vigorous dialog.
@ Matthew — What is the reasoning behind the consecutive commenting restriction?
Yeah what if you notice a typo and want to follow up with a correction?
I’m disappointed to hear that you’ve lost long time readers. I often enjoy the comment section as much as the content itself (that’s a compliment, don’t worry!) With that being said… These changes are reasonable and links will only be missed by few.
Is there any alternative mechanism to address the link issue aside from prohibiting them entirely? For most of your non-COVID related articles, posted links are rarely problematic and typically useful.
I suspect you know when your articles will be potentially controversial. Can you ban links on those articles that are likely to trigger inappropriate links?
Also, and please don’t take this as a critique of your writing, but I do wonder if you and your readers are breaking enough new ground on the topic that makes it important that you cover the particular topic.
I have to admit to being vehemently pro-vaccination (of all sorts), and I have little patience for those who aren’t. As a result, I feel the need to “correct” what I view as factually incorrect information. I should be better and above that, but I’m not, because I have a seriously immunocompromised family member. Refusal to be vaccinated is a deeply personal issue for me. It’s clear that other readers of your blog are similarly passionate from the opposite respective.
Would you consider a 2 week “hiatus” on stories on the topic and see if (a) that helps raise the quality of discourse, and (b) there is a clamor to have COVID related content return?
I generally like links and think most use them quite responsibly (*cargocult* comes to mind). We will see how this goes and potentially re-evaluate.
Regarding links, I’m intrigued. I’ve seen on Disqus that links trigger moderation so I hesitate to use them and I’m a “worst offender” at times using a lot of youtube links to make a point. You spoke about context. Are some people just posting cat videos?
The only problem I see with links, particularly when they are put in tinyurl form is that they sometimes are used to hide malware. Even if a link is ugly, like two lines of junk, at least I have an idea of what will happen if I click on it. In other words, safety first.
I like one forum I participate in putting it this way: Know the difference between a debate and a discussion. A debate means one holds a position they aren’t changing their mind on and regard the other opinion as wrong and even the other person as bad. A discussion is about respect not only for the other person, but their idea. Maybe they’ll give a new insight into a matter even if one doesn’t agree with their conclusion. I’ve found that kind of thinking has opened many doors into personal growth. One can tell the difference as to when one is in “debate” mode versus “discussion” mode.
I am glad to hear you appreciate the links I provide. I try to use sources that even those who disagree with me would accept as reputable. It is a shame to ban links altogether as it is difficult to explain the full content of an outside source in a comment on a blog post. I think it is mostly the recent barrage of comments from readers like Acura that have made some comment sections nearly unreadable. Is there not a way to ban links only from egregious offenders? Would providing a non-clickable pseudo-URL (a text string a reader so inclined could copy and slightly amend to use) be permitted?
In the late 1990’s, actress Catherine Bell ran her own website, which had a forum. It became too much work for her so she shut down the forum. Later, she shut down the website. I happened to get an autographed photo but those sorts of things are now not only hard to get but out of style.
You get an award
I don’t believe that readers leave because they disagree with the comment section. Readers leaving is a natural development, I have blogs/vlogs I enjoyed 4 years ago but which I no longer have interest for. I read plenty of political stories where I don’t feel the need to comment, so for someone to get upset over that section is really immature.
A comments section where different views are allowed is central to the success of travel blogs. We don’t just come here to view singularly curated and published content but to engage and discuss issues in the travel/M/P community. A lot of us started at a particular website and I’m sure most don’t even go there anymore, especially since the comments section was removed. A lot of us feel that if a blog or news site (which this is sometimes relating to travel matters and policy) removes the comment section, it is afraid of the truth and there is no use in visiting it. I’m cautiously optimistic the new comment policy here will continue to make this blog one of the top 5 in the Boardingarea. All these top 5 allow comments. Those with more restrictive policies (although fair enough) are geared toward deals/MS. Here is still geared toward reviews of service, policy, and news.
Happy New Year.
Lol. Love the USA. A blog about how hard a seat is on SQ becomes a forum for whether you like vaccines or not (if you like trump then you don’t like vaccines). Hilarious.
Speaking of changes, what are you going to do to reduce clickbait and minimize enflaming non-travel posts?
The changes are fair, but I’ll echo something a couple of others have touched on. Not sure I understand the issue with consecutive comments. I’ve done it a couple of times, but it’s either because of a typo or an incomplete thought that I accidentally submit, and there’s no other way to clarify since your system doesn’t have an option to edit previously posted comments. You might want to rethink this one; I’m guessing you don’t want to start dealing with individual requests to edit these things.
On another point:
“It is those sorts of posts that have drawn the most comments and often resulted in screaming matches or a dueling war of hyperpartisan links that have made many label the comments section on Live and Let’s Fly a cesspool. Sadly, this has led to the exodus of several longtime readers and commenters.”
Perhaps you should reflect whether these longtime readers have left because your comments section is a s*itshow (and yes, it is), or because they’ve grown tired of the gratuitous clickbait in general. Let’s be honest with each other – there might have been some news value to reporting the first few instances of disruptive passenger behavior due to masks and lack of inflight service. (I put posts on vaccine mandates and government-ordered travel restrictions in a different basket; those have legit value even if the discussion can get heated.) But sheesh, your post on Wednesday about the woman assaulting an FA is, what, your 95th on this topic in the last 6 months? You can claim you post these things to “explore a topic I deem worth exploring”, but there is simply zero news or human interest value to these posts at this stage, especially since they’re often little more than regurgitations of the same content Lucky and/or Gary already posted about. You made a business decision to prioritize clickbait since it generates traffic and revenue, which is your choice to make. One of the consequences of that decision is you’re going to lose readers who tire of the content.
This feedback is phrased rather harshly, but I agree with everything that was said. Notably, I don’t think longtime readers left because of the toxic comments section. Rather, I think they left because of the change in article topics, which in turn prompted the toxic comments. For example, posts about LH F being awesome or UA GPU war stories are unlikely to have comment cesspools, but posts about mask rage and violent behavior are.
Moreover, I strongly think you should reconsider the ban on links in comments. For example, I might want to link to a (reputable) news story that corroborates what I’m saying in the comments, an airline webpage that either corroborates my point or contradicts my experience, a Flyertalk thread, etc.
Thanks for your comment @MeanMeosh. I understand your frustration with clickbait and that it does not appeal to all people, particularly regular readers. That said, you properly note that it pays the bills and that is an important consideration. Plus, I’d rather write about disturbances onboard than credit cards (i.e., I pick my poison). But I guess where you and I disagree is that I enjoy writing these stories; I get a kick out of every one that I write and would not write so many if I hated doing so.
I guess I’ve never understood why the presence of such content (or credit card content on other blogs) drives readers away if there is enough alternate content. I post four times per day, six days per week. In 2021 I wrote more trip reports than I’ve ever written before – there was so much content beyond the clickbait. Isn’t that enough for you?
Thank You Mr. Klint
Reasonable enough overall.
While MeanMeosh was perhaps a bit less diplomatic than I would have been, his assertions are valid and worthy of consideration.
Good changes. I love the comment section especially on controversial topics, however the recent spamming of links and consecutive posts have gotten out of hand (I won’t name names, but we all know the usual suspects).
Thanks for keeping comments open.
Your site, your rules. All for keeping it classy, and I admit some of my posts should have strived more towards that goal.
We still can point out spelling errors, phew 😀
I have no problem with the changes as a whole, but banning consecutive comments is silly when there isn’t an edit function to allow fixing typos or clarifying unintentionally ambiguous comments. Links can be described for those interested (e.g. ‘the fare can be bought through the Paraguayan website of Oman Air’).
To clarify, you’ll allow racist, homophobic, transphobic comments, as long as they aren’t personally directed at someone specifically in the comments section?
But sure, ban consecutive comments…
We trust you are mature enough to evaluate unpopular or immoral opinions and condemn them accordingly, as do we. The way to change hearts and minds is not to silence anyone we find offensive.
Things are probably only racist, hateful, homophobic, or transphobic to you if you don’t agree and can’t defeat an argument on points. It’s typical for someone to call something racist when someone has made a valid point (truth is not politically correct and the truth doesn’t care about manufactured ism words) and it is easier to shut down an argument with those accusations than admit one is wrong.
Ethan, you sound easily triggered for a person who sounds cis/white/male/straight
I don’t begrudge Matthew the click bait articles or Kyle the pot-stirring topics, they help pay the bills. If a reader is not interested in the article, then he/she may simply skip over it to the next one. Thanks guys, and happy new year!!
Very fair. Like many readers, I generally enjoy reading the comments section as much as I like reading the article. I find it interesting to read about people’s experiences. But I hate reading negative letters that do nothing more than promote their political views or to have a go at someone. As an Australian who has a passion for commercial aviation, I enjoy this website, especially the trip reviews. I no longer have a job that sends me off to various destinations, so I enjoy reading about what service is like on various airlines, many of which I have never flown with. I hope that continues. I wake up every morning, make a large cup of tea and settle down to read “Live and lets Fly”‘. It’s part of my daily ritual. Keep up the good work!
Good idea. Thanks!
@All: we will allow consecutive comments to correct a spelling error or for immediate clarification of a previous comment.
Matthew, I would appreciate a bright line ban on antivaxxer conspiracy comments. They are harmful, dangerous and responsible for the death of a million people. I’m not asking you to ban opinions, but please don’t allow misinformation anymore.