Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Comments on comments

I wonder if it's normal or I'm just turning into a lovable curmudgeon.

But I've been doing this blog now for close to 15 years (way longer than I thought I would).    And because of trolls (which I take as a sign of success) I've been moderating the comments the last three or four.

I love the comments section.  Often you guys have way more interesting observations than me.  Over the years I've met any number of you and have become friends with many of you.   It's kind of like creating a little community, which is cool.

And please keep those Friday Questions coming.

But lately I find my patience is starting to wane.   I'll get a snarky comment or stupid complaint and in the past I generally just let them through.  Now?  Fuck it.   If I read a comment and think "Why is this person even reading my blog, he clearly has issues with it or me?" I now just delete their comment.  Do I have thin skin?  No.  I don't give a shit.  These comments don't hurt my feelings.  I just find them annoying and by posting them it encourages others to be equally annoying.  So I'm deleting more comments now than I have in the past.    And that's aside from any pro-Trump comment, which I delete instantly.

Hopefully the comment section can be fun and a lively exchange of ideas and humor.   But criticizing the content of a FREE blog, attacking other commenters, trying to be funny by being snarky when you're not remotely funny -- sorry, but those comments are no longer welcome and will no longer post.    Yes, this may offend some of you and some may leave the blog.  My best wishes to you wherever you may go.   I'd rather a smaller audience of people who really have something worthwhile to say. 


Y. Knott said...

Comments sections are often depressing reminders that large swathes of humanity are, in fact, cretinous morons of no value to a conversation, to society, or to life in general.

Not so here.

If that's partly as result of your moderation? Not only am I fine with it, I thank you for taking the time to prune the comments of trolls, bots and spammers!

Sol Rosenberg said...

I have nothing worthwhile to say other than; your blog, your rules. Mod away!

All should abide by Wheaton's Rule : Don't be a dick. It would make the internet a much better place.

Sol Rosenberg said...

I have nothing worthwhile to add other than; this is your blog, so your rules. Mod away!

All should abide by Wheaton's Law : "Don't be a dick." It would make the internet a much better place.

AlaskaRay said...

I hear you. I find that one of the most common things I say is , “fuck ‘em”. I have much less patience than ever, but part or that is my constant annoyance at the state of our country and the world. I have only so much patience to go around, and it’s worn pretty thin.

Mick said...

Bravo, Ken!

Rita said...

I saw Natalie Wood's photo and the topic and thought you would talk about the comments about Kirk Douglas and Natalie.

Dana King said...

I wondered about the civility of the comments here. Now I know why it is that way. Thank you for that. I come here each morning for a few minutes of vacation from a day that I can be relatively sure will break my balls one way or another. Your blog gets things started on the right foot. Don't ever underestimate how much I, and I'm sure others here, appreciate that.

slgc said...


So who has been taking my money all this time?

Sean said...

The last one of mine you deleted wasn't pro-Trump (I'm not even a fan or a voter forr the guy). The only category you listed it could, even in theory, fit within would be criticism. But it was done respectfully and deferentially and only suggested there was a better way to accomplish your goal.

At this point I'm not sure where the line is? I mean are you taking the tack that it's not permissable to civilly disagree in your comment section?



Brian said...

How are the Hollywood insiders reacting to the Harvey Weinstein's verdict?

Is this the end of his career or will he come back with the help of his friends?

Mike said...

Do a political blog just to spite the trolls.

Who do you think will win 2020?

ELS said...

I have a complaint!

More Natalie Wood. We gotta have more Natalie Wood.

Otherwise, your topics are fascinating, as an insider's observations being related to us "unwashed heathen" - and they're great! I love learning about things I don't know, especially from the experts. And you are undoubtedly top shelf, both with regards to Hollywood, and with regards to baseball. I rather hope that some week this spring (every spring), you'd give us a brief report/projection on the MLB teams. Just if you need another topic for a couple of columns.

Thanks for sharing, Mr. Levine, and I hope you can find it in you to keep going; you're a daily delight!

Sue Dunham said...

Good job, Ken, filter out the bullshit in life.

Rudy said...

Right on! I know it's not funny or smart, but then neither am I. That's why I need your blog!

Eclecticism is a Virtue said...

Yay! I'm all for the increased moderation.

PolyWogg said...

Appreciate all you do and share. I feel I've learned about parts of the biz than from any other source. And I'm not just saying that cuz you've answered my Friday Questions! :)

I run a small blog, and people frequently ask me questions about the biz I'm in. Most are great...then there are a few where literally the page they're on answered their question. Is it rude to just post the words "Scroll up"? :)

I have little traffic but I always moderate every comment. I have even been known to edit them if one part was good and another was not (replacing the offending text with [snip]). I have been reading some good articles recently on one of the big news sites in Canada, and I have to remind myself not to scroll to the comments to see the 100s of ridiculous trolls commenting about politics on an article about someone finding a lost wallet, for example.

Keep up the great work!

Hmm...not sure that meets the standard of something worthwhile to say, so I'll add a Friday Question for good measure:

One of my favorite plays to see of all time is Salt Water Moon, David French, perhaps partly because I saw a full professional stage version of it. But I loved it. So I thought I would see if I could get a copy of the script. Enter rabbit holes. In the age of the internet, you would think I could click A, B, C and order one. Nope. I could order paper versions through Amazon in book form, or I could email the "personal" site and they'd email me free copies if I was thinking of putting on a performance. Which is a lot of context to ask...why don't more playwrights through their texts up on places like Amazon the way lots of authors have done with their backlists? Not enough market? Rights issues if someone has put it on before? Less control of performance rights if someone can just buy a copy from Amazon and you have no idea if they're putting it on a stage somewhere without compensation?

I guess the shortest form of my question is why don't playwrights or even TV script writers release paper or ebook versions of their texts? Or if I wanted to read some of your plays, even, how would one go about doing that if they will never likely be in a town showing them?

aka PolyWogg

Mark said...

I totally get what you are saying. I manage a few sites where people can comment and it can get frustrating how mean and personal people sometimes get especially behind the veil of anonymity. I also feel that way about my FB page. It is my page and I can curate and edit it in any way I see fit. If I don't like your comment on my post, I am going to do delete it!

Anonymous said...

Yes. Yes.

Many big news organizations have given up on comment sections altogether. The troll volume was just too heavy to moderate, even though jerks were only a tiny percentage of readers.

The New York Times, Google, and some other leading outfits are working on algorithmic moderation. If they come up with a Home Edition of that, maybe you could be a beta tester.

Anonymous said...

I agree, negative comments should be deleted.
I recall when I was on Done Deal and Moviebytes, there
was a lot of negative comments,postings. And the moderators at Done Deal and Movie bytes
never did a good job deleting these negative people/comments. Why was that?
From my experience, most people who are nasty or negative, are usually failures in life.
But by deleting their negative posts, hopefully they will learn.
Negative comments helps no one and MUST be deleted. This is not a political debate or race.
A script community must motivate and help others. It's a difficult journey. And we must help each other. And together we succeed.
I am glad to see Ken is taking actions on this.
Thank you Ken,

Vrej said...

I completely support this commentary on comments.

Roger Owen Green said...

Snark is WAY less funny than people who engage in it THINK it is.

maxdebryn said...

I used to read comments on many of the blogs/sites that I frequent, but I have cut down on doing so the last year or two, because the comments sections have been taken over, to a good extent, by people who think that they're comedians, and others who are just downright hateful, and even scary. I'm pleased to see that you are moderating your comments section.

Bettina said...

Dear Ken, I love reading your blog, it connects me to an industry that I would have no connection with otherwise. Might be a generation thing, but I am not active on social media. If I do have a peek into instagram and sorts it totally sucks me in and steals valuable time ... this said, reading comments from people that would not say anything at all in real life or I would usually not connect with, is at times a bit disturbing and the few times I do read social media content it gives it a bit of a sour taste.
Thanks for making this a bit more of a happy place :) Sunny greetings from a German-American from NorCal!

K said...

You completely right in doing this.

It's your home. And while you would think people know better, they shouldn't come in and trash the place. You're right to keep them out.

And as a reader, I can tell the difference between blogs that care about the comments and those that don't. The ones that moderate and curate the comments have a much more lively conversation and are more pleasant places to visit. There are a handful of blogs where I will look at the comments because of their quality. Yours is among them.

Curt Alliaume said...

Agreed. A blog isn't a democracy.

Jim Grey said...

I've blogged almost as long as you and I've always had a delete first, ask questions later policy to negative comments. It has cultivated a quite pleasant community in my little blog. So: delete with impunity, without apology.

Andy Laitman said...

The extent of my negative snarki-ness on a FREE blog = I applaud anything that gives you a reason to post a Natalie Wood picture.

Sigh. I am not a robot, and promise to be (mostly) a-political on the blogs or posts of other people.
Agree that there is too much negativity and too much rude/obnoxious negativity, beyond polite differences of opinion.

Rob in Toronto said...

Hey Ken - In reference to the rejected spec MTM script you referred to a few posts back, would you possibly let us in on the basic story you created ? It's easily one of my three favorite comedies of all time.

Lothar said...

Make the Comments Section Great Again

cjdahl60 said...

Ken - Thanks for all that you offer via this site and your podcast. I've been a reader/listener for a number of years and greatly enjoy this site. Also, knowing that in your role as a moderator of comments, you've also shielded me from trolls makes me appreciate you even more.

Thanks again.

Tim W. said...

I used to have my own basketball blog that became popular enough I was called up to write as a paid gig (not a lot, but still paid) for an ESPN affiliated team blog. I lasted a couple of years but because of some of the commenters who couldn’t take ANY criticism of the team, it actually turned me off the team entirely for a while. I stopped writing completely. So not only do I understand your frustrations, I commend you on lasting this long.

kent said...

Nice pic.

blinky said...

Maybe if you worked a little more Quantum Mechanics in your blog it would discourage these trolls from reading it. You know they can't understand even the basics of quantum entanglement. I mean come on! They think the Schrödinger equation actually has to do with real cats and not the collapse of the wave function when observed or measured.

Kim T. Bené said...

Yes, keep deleting obnoxious trolls. Stay positive. Stay funny. Stay interesting. Stay YOU!

-3- said...

Now that's the kind of post that makes me want to read the comments. I wholeheartedly support the policy of eliminating Pointlessly negative... let's call them public tantrums.

On the subject of Friday Questions, i've got another that's likely of interest only to me.

I've been re-watching Cheers for the first time in a quarter century, and enjoying tremendously, of course. I'm starting into the 3rd season and i see an episode entitled The Bartender's Tale. This was from 1985 - the same year we released The Bard's Tale (actually the subtitle, but it stole the title of the game).
Did you have gamers on staff? Any clue if the title is more than a random similarity?

And - Thanks for the infotainment!

Stephen Marks said...

Robert Wagner said.....

I love Roseanne Barr, Two Broke Girls, suits that give notes on scripts, plays that are longer than ten minutes, the last 2 seasons of Bewitched, the Houston Astros, dining at La Scala and leaving a huge tip for the hostess and Chris Walken's amazing ability to sleep through anything on a yacht no bigger than the S.S. Minnow used in Gilligan's Island. Let's see if this gets through.

Mike said...

Here's an idea.

Just for one blog allow all the comments to appear.

Like I said above, post a political blog and allow the trolls to comment. And then allow us to kick their ass.

It's the only way they will learn.

Tom said...

If comments sections disappeared from the internet tomorrow (or better yet, today), I would be fine with that. And yes, I fully realize I am making this observation in a comments section.

Thanks for your blog, I never miss reading it.

Andrew said...

Agreed! I love your blog, and the few times you've not posted my comments I could completely understand. You do a great job of moderating, and if you crack down a little more your blog won't suffer at all. Thanks for all that you do here.

Studio Notes said...

It's your blog, do what you want. A month ago I left a comment/critique of the sample of your SATISFACTION script. It was not posted. It may have been construed as "snarky" I guess, but you seem to appreciate snark. But it was also a simple observation of the content and wasn't meant to be mean spirited. I was kind of surprised it didn't get posted.

But it's your blog, do what you want. I'll keep reading.

Michael said...

On my Facebook page, someone constantly disagrees with me about a certain subject. I finally said, the only things I delete here are libelous or racist or sexist, and otherwise I do not deny anyone's right to sound ridiculous.

Steve D. said...

Please Ken, don't let a few less than intelligent posters stop your bloging. I have been a fan of yours for many years and had the pleasure of talking to you several times when I worked on the Paramount lot. I also enjoyed talking shop with Annie and Jon on the set of Instant Mom. You are the first thing I read every morning and it always puts a smile on my face. You are a class act.

Anonymous said...

It takes courage to stand up for what you believe it.
It also takes courage to sit down and listen.
-Winston Churchill

Gary said...

I belong to several Facebook groups that each celebrate a classic TV show, such as The Honeymooners, Dick Van Dyke Show, The Fugitive, etc. It's a place for fans to post interesting trivia, share rare photos, bloopers, etc.

The administrators of these pages have several basic ground rules for posting, with NO POLITICS always at the top of the list. They want to keep the pages a fun place to go, and just a pleasant diversion.

Well you would not believe how often someone ignores the rules and posts a blatantly political message (always in favor of guess who). Luckily these posts can be reported to the group administrator, who then blocks that person from the group permanently.

The fact that these offenders cannot resist breaking that simple rule, knowing full well they will be banned from the group, is both fascinating and frightening.

Jonny M. said...

Ken -

As a reader who has made comments about the nastiness of some this blog's comments, I say thanks to this effort.

Jahn Ghalt said...

(I'm only faintly concerned, since I try hard to be polite whenever I'm critical or dispute, usually, a statement made by other commenters)

I'll risk stating the obvious - this is private (albeit open to all) blog. No "first amendement" applies here. Clearly you may be as "fair" or "tolerant" (and their opposites) as you choose - this is YOUR own playground.

I really like that this playground is SO OPEN - no registering, passwords, etc - only a spam blocker "visual quiz".

The fact that one's comments don't immediately appear clearly implies some form of moderation - and I'm thankful that you (or helpers you may designate) block "the noise".

And I'll second the observation that this playground is refreshingly different from some FAcebook groups - without any "rules" - just the implied one which today yo have made more explicit.

Jahn Ghalt said...

One commenter wrote:

Just for one blog allow all the comments to appear.

Like I said above, post a political blog and allow the trolls to comment. And then allow us to kick their ass.

It's the only way they will learn.

Very occasionally Ken will "vent" about a couple presidents - one retired. Often a 'supporter' will object - and that's as far as it goes.

Maybe the trolls get blocked? If not, it's not so obvious they will "learn". So many are just encouraged by ass-getting-kicked - it's not clear they know they're "on a poster" "getting dunked on".

(which is funny in its own way)

Max Clarke said...

You're right, Ken.

Life is too short to suffer through bad comments and the people who write them.

You might even close the blog to comments as an experiment. More and more writers are doing that. It would save everybody a lot of time.

Will keep reading no matter what you do.

YEKIMI said... (internet arm of the Plain Dealer) has decided that as of Thursday they are doing away with comments on their site because people cannot be civil on it.

Greg Ehrbar said...

I was wondering when you might write something like this, Ken. It's not only the trolls, that are the issue, but there have been increasing tones of unpleasantness directed at your own self. Everyone doesn't have to kiss your ring in the comments, but it's been surprising what some have said directly at you. They can certainly disagree with you, but not AT you.

For the record and no kidding, I do really love "The Flying Nun," but you didn't see me get all bent out of shape that you said it one of your least-beloved shows. It's on a lot of those "worst of" lists. I know and understand why it wasn't a pleasant experience for Sally Field herself. But it was part of my childhood and I still crank up that outstanding Colgems album full blast in the car. I also recommend listening to it on headphones while on the "Soarin'" ride at Disney California Adventure.

Cowboy Surfer said...

(Alec Baldwin as Trump)

Ken Levine, big funny guy Ken. Comedy Ken I call him.

You know he's got a blog. It's an OK blog, not a perfect blog. If I wanted to do a Trump blog it would be a perfect blog. Everyone would say Mr. President, that's a perfect blog. Not that hard Comedy Ken.

I pardoned Rod Blagojevich to work on one, Blago Blog...

Janet said...

I've always been impressed by the comments here, but thanks for all the moderation.

I'm certain that goes a long way to keeping it a clean, well-lit place.

John Nixon said...

I find it discouraging to realize that there are so many people who are so angry about so many things. They are all around us, coiled and ready to attack. Try admitting what your favorite brand of peanut butter is and watch what happens. And politics? I remember back in high school we had to take a Civics class to learn about our political system. That was the class where people slept at their desk, threw spit wads and had the one guy in the back who licked his bicep and used his mouth to make explosive sounds of flatulence. These same people are now 'political experts' exercising their right to be the self appointed protectors of their warped form of liberty. We used to be told that in Russia they were fed a steady diet of propaganda that gave them a false view of the world and caused them to hate us. That propaganda is now coming out of our own TV sets causing gullible people to point a hateful finger at the rest of us. Unfortunately I don't think it's going to stop anytime soon. Ken you're doing the right thing...continue to screen these people out.

Brian said...

I am reminded of one writer said, "I write 'em, you read 'em.", which is a pretty darned good arrangement, but in the age of information, it's nice to hear insights AND ASK QUESTIONS of creative people. It's extra icing on the third helping of cake.

Thank you!!

FRIDAY QUESTION: David Isaacs teaches a class. What would be scripts that you and/or he have worked on that you would show to a class and why?

MikeKPa. said...

Nothing to add to what's already been posted. Isn't it about time for another general topic stream of consciousness blog? In two weeks, I'm going to my first ever spring training in Florida with my adult son and stoked for baseball to begin.

Barry Traylor said...

I enjoy reading your blog with my morning cup of coffee so keep up the good work Ken. BTW among my favorite episodes of MASH are the ones with Allan Arbus as Maj. Sidney Freedman. I happened to catch Dear Sigmund last evening.

Tom Asher said...

Dude, it's your page... tolerate what you want to tolerate!

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Max Clarke: WADR to Ken, the blog would lose a lot of interest to me without the comments. The interactions here mostly draw an interesting group of people whose comments are worth reading. And Ken would lose his pleasure in having created a community.


Calvin Rydbom said...

Cleveland.Com, an extension of the local newspaper, just ended their comment section this week for somewhat the same reason. Its amazing the Asinine way people behave when they dont feel they are accountable for their actions.

Mike Doran said...

I had to think hard about what I'm putting here.

O Times! O Manners! It is my opinion
That you are changing sadly your dominion -
I mean the reign of manners hath long ceased,
For men have none at all, or bad at least;
And as for times, altho' 'tis said by many
The "good old times" were far the worst of any,
Of which sound doctrine I believe each tittle,
Yet still I think these worse than them a little.

That's the first stanza of "O Tempora! O Mores!", written by Edgar Allan Poe in the early 1830s.
The more things change …

Eight more months until the most dreaded election in our history.
Nothing good is coming out of this - for anyone.

Nothing I can add here, I guess …
… so here's the third stanza from Poe's poem:

This is a question which, oh heaven, withdraw
The luckless query from a member's claw!
Instead of two sides, Job has nearly eight,
Each fit to furnish forth four hours debate.
What shall be done? I'll lay it on the table,
And take the matter up when I'm more able;
And in the meantime, to prevent all bother,
I'll neither laugh with one, nor cry with t'other,
Nor deal in flatt'ry or aspersions foul,
But, taking one in each hand, merely growl.

(Hey, if I'm gonna steal, at least I steal from a classic …)

Terry Harvey said...

There are a number of folks out there that simply post negative, snarky remarks without any context I suppose just for the sake of it. To your readers credit I find most of the comments are well thought out and on point. Don't let the arses get to you Ken!

Friday Question. About "you OK?". Practically every show I watch has a moment where one character ask another, "are you OK?" or simply "you OK?" Rarely does a TV episode or movie not have this moment, and sometimes multiple times. Is there any way around this writing device that is used so often? Or is it simply a necessary means for quickly advancing the story by green lighting a character to have their moment and letting the emotions flow? Have you used this dialogue in your stories? Everyone else does and it is easy to see why but do you feel this is a lazy device or a needed one that can't be avoided?

Neal said...

Friday question:

When will you have Stu Shostak on your podcast? You both have a great rapport when you are on his podcast.

Myles said...

Gotta do what you gotta do...Thank you for your blog! It might be free to us but it definitely costs you.

By Ken Levine said...


Stu has been on the podcast. Sometime the first year I believe.


Snoskred said...

I say good on you, it is your blog and your comments section.

Bill and Ted had a thing they would say - be excellent to each other. That is what we need more of in this world. :)

Charles Bryan said...

Ken, I always enjoy what you share with us, both here and on the podcast. I'd either of them a lot if you decided to stop, so greedy little me is okay with anything that you choose to do so that this continues to be a good experience for you. Honestly, the only blogs that I read are yours and Mark Evanier's.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I agree with the others. It's your blog and you can do with it as you please. If you don't want to read my reactionary, rightwing comments it's your loss. But, I always comment under my real name because I'm not ashamed of what I say. That's not to say that sometimes I don't have second thoughts. Maybe that should be the rule. No ANONYMOUS negative comments. That is, if you're going to be a jerk, OWN IT!

On the other hand if we have to be afraid to speak our minds the terrorists have won.

P.S. Yes, I'm a jerk, but I own it.

Mike Barer said...

Now, if I can only get Ken to comment on MY blog.

Casey Heiple said...

Ken, I trust your judgment about moderating comments. I've been around here long enough to remember how bad things got back when comments were completely unmoderated. I'm all for free speech, but I'd hate to go back to the level of ugliness we had then. It never ceases to amaze me how awful people can be when they feel certain that no one will know who they really are.

I'm also glad to see that there seems to have been a reduction in the posts from people demanding that you comment on the latest bit of celebrity gossip they saw on the cover of the National Enquirer at the grocery store. I've never understood why they ask you to do that when you've almost never, ever done it in the entire history of this blog.

@Mike Bloodworth: That's the problem. Jerks don't want to own their negative comments. The only thing that makes them feel brave enough to do what they do is being able to hide beyond the anonymity offered by the internet.

Sami said...

I think it's good to weed things out. I have been doing that myself with actual people in my own life. I don't like it. It makes for some very serious uneasiness for a few weeks, and then I realize that I'm relieved. Also--and I just want to state this because I missed out on whatever Astros controversey happened here--as a Houston native, I am ashamed of the Astros. I feel strongly that the title should be stripped from them. All who participated in the cheating scheme should be banned for life from baseball. I am not a sports fans anymore and have not paid much attention to the Astros since they left the National League, but I am devoted to fairness and honesty and truth. It is more important to be able to tell right from wrong than it is to be able to call balls and strikes. Thank you.

kevin willis said...

Weed away. This is your blog and I second what Casey and others have written about the lack of civility that has come with the anonymity of the internet. Thanks.

Derek said...

So long as you're not interpreting any critique of the Democratic Party (who might not have any buffoons on the scale of Trump in their ranks, but certainly have plenty who wish to strip the rights of our citizens away and who spend their time thinking about how they can go around, under or through the Constitution) as a pro-Trump comment.