The Guido Fawkes blog, a long-standing feature of the Westminster political scene, has followed the lead of the Guardian today in declaring “jihad” against their commenters below the line.
The comments section of Guido Fawkes, which some in the organisation have previously described as “window lickers”, is famous for outlandish statements, mockery, limericks, and non politically correct banter. But today Guido has declared: we don’t want you.
Writing on the blog today, the website’s founder and editor Paul Staines says: “This is a good time to update readers on our periodical jihad against toxic, boring repetitive comments from people who would not want to be sat next to in a pub. We want the comments to be like a fun pub with a good atmosphere and friendly banter. Last year we introduced Disqus comment registration and we were told – by the same boring, repetitive comment makers – that it would be the end of the site. Traffic rose. We blocked 20 toxic trolls last month and it made little difference to even the number of comments received, we still had 81,772 comments. We warned toxic trolls they were in danger of getting blocked and we blocked them for repeat offences. That is our arbitrary policy.
He adds: “They can of course come back if they make the effort of using a combination of new email addresses and proxy servers. Guido has only one question: why bother? There is a website that is almost entirely focused on immigration and Islam – the issues that motivate comment bores most. 2014’s “Islamaphobe of the Year“, Raheem Kassam, confirms that he has no intention of blocking anyone. Breitbart is the place for you to bang on repetitively in a forum that welcomes you. Guido asked Raheem did he welcome our banned comment makers? He replied:
“Bring me your (sick and) tired, your poor (grammar), your angry masses, yearning to be free (to say what they want).”
The news comes hot on the heels of the Guardian announcing their own crusade against their own readers in the comments section, and on the back of Guido revealing that their big money deal with Rupert Murdoch’s Sun on Sunday newspaper had come to an abrupt end.
The news marks a shift in Guido’s approach to free speech. The blog has previously railed against political correctness, and indeed mocked other media outlets for “self censorship” and argued for more press freedom. But the site also has form on restricting speech. In 2007 Guido quoted Guardian journalist Jonathan Freeland, who wrote: “First they came for the commenters, and I said nothing because I did not comment.”
The blog remarked at the time: “That sentiment is Guido’s feeling. The comments here do get out of hand occasionally (imagine what they’d be like if Guido didn’t hit delete). The house rules are mysterious, arbitrary and sometimes inconsistently exercised. But this blog is not a public service, it is private property, no taxpayers were harmed in the production of this blog. Nobody forces you to come here, you don’t have to read it, so if you don’t like it, don’t come back.”
One of the site’s regular “window lickers” wrote: “In an age of universal deceit, running a political blog with an unmoderated comments section is a revolutionary act”.
Writing in Sunday’s Guardian – the Observer – yesterday, Mary Hamilton, the paper’s executive editor “for audience, overseeing participation, loyalty and reach” said: “Certain subjects – race, immigration and Islam in particular – attract an unacceptable level of toxic commentary”. She added: “The overwhelming majority of these comments tend towards racism, abuse of vulnerable subjects, author abuse and trolling, and the resulting conversations below the line bring very little value but cause consternation and concern among both our readers and our journalists.”
Breitbart News believes in the maximisation of free speech on our pages. We only resort to censorious moderation in the most extreme circumstances, such as death threats.