Saturday, December 01, 2007

Gay lifestyle magazines and comment moderation

AXM magazine cover Dec 2007
I hadn't bought a gay lifestyle magazine for a couple of years or more. But when London Preppy blogged that he'd written a short article which had been published in the December 2007 edition of AXM, I had a perfect excuse to go and buy a copy to see what they're like these days.

Of course, the original gay life style magazine in the UK is Gay Times. It's been going since 1984 and it's still around, although it now seems to have been re-branded "GT". In the United States they've got The Advocate which has been going for even longer, since the late 1960's in fact. In the mid 1990's I can remember a couple of others being launched in the UK, namely Attitude which is also still going, and Phase which isn't. I recall how the first edition of Phase was printed in quite a large font, for readability according to the editorial, but a lack of good writers with good ideas seemed far more plausible to me. No wonder it didn't last very long!

The first thing which struck me about AXM was how hard it was to find a copy. Eventually I managed to get one from the W.H.Smiths newsagent chain near the bank where I work, but that was the fourth place I tried. The second thing that struck me about AXM was how full of sort porn it was, in the sense of fit guys wearing few (if any) clothes. But perhaps that helps explain why it was difficult to find a copy!

Looking at the December 2007 edition, the front cover features a cute young blond guy wearing only some 2(x)ist undershorts, and the articles being advertised are about naked footballers and fight club sex fantasies. Being honest with myself, I admit that I do sometimes enjoy reading this kind of material :-), on a short flight or train journey perhaps when one doesn't want to concentrate on anything too taxing. But it's very superficial stuff.

Photo of London Preppy's article in AXM Dec 07And then there was London Preppy's short article, occupying the whole of page 56 exactly as he'd promised. It wasn't attributed to of course, but since he claims that it's his article on his blog, I suppose it's a reasonable assumption that London Preppy and the named author are one and the same. But are they? The reason I ask is because whereas London Preppy's blogging style has an enjoyable cocky confidence about it, the AXM article doesn't!

Perhaps the article's subject matter is the reason for this, because it's all about why male models are insecure. Although modelling isn't London Preppy's main job, with lines like " ... occasionally a photographer or somebody from a magazine will have a lapse of judgment and ask me to do a photoshoot or something ..." and "I know I'm not attractive enough to make a full-time career from modelling ...", he manages to illustrate a model's insecurities very well. But maybe he didn't mean to, because in his blog he says that he's not happy with AXM's subtitle to his article which says that he's insecure. However I reckon that the article's subtitle describes the article perfectly!

All this got me thinking about comment moderation. London Preppy's blog has comment moderation switched on, but so do a lot of other blogs I know, such as HBH's blog, DL's blog, Monty's blog, BV's blog, GBD's blog etc. Is comment moderation a sign of insecurity? When I first started blogging I didn't even allow comments at all, but after about six months I decided to allow comments with moderation. A few months later I realised that I'd hardly rejected a single comment (in fact I'm not sure if I rejected any comments), so I decided to ditch the moderation and try living it fast and loose for a change! But originally, I probably was a bit insecure about my blogging, and in that state of mind comment moderation was useful.

In spite of the occasional malicious or spiteful comment, and in spite of occasional comment spam, I do think that unmoderated comments are much better. One of the advantages of the digital age is the speed at which so many things are now possible, and without doubt comment moderation is an unnecessary brake on the evolution of our thoughts. On top of that, most of the time there's very little difference between deleting a published comment and using moderation to prevent the comment appearing in the first place. Inappropriate comments reflect badly on the comment author rather than the blog author. That applies to anonymous comments too, because even if we don't know who the anonymous commentator is, the commentator himself knows, and the bad karma from leaving bad comments will get him in the end!

So if any blog authors reading this still have comment moderation turned on, why don't you switch it off? Living life in the fast lane is much more fun :-)!


London Preppy said...

I started by having unmoderated comments. I actually posted at some point that it's a copout if bloggers moderate comments and they should be braver than that.

I was also happy to respond to whoever wrote a big aggressive rant if they made a valid point.

However, at some point I got a reader who just started posting insults on a daily basis. Nothing you could respond to - he would just swear at me, tell me to fuck off and leave the country, general nastiness.

That's when I decided to moderate comments. People like that get a kick out of riding on the success of your blog and they think they have an impact by doing that.

Not to mention that there are lots of crazies out there and I;m not really willing to give them a sopabox to climb on through my blog.

I've responded to yuor AXM comment too by the way (over at mine)

GB said...

Actually LP, that happened to me too, about a year ago. In my case it was an anonymous commentator, and it was when he started attacking the other commentators that I stopped allowing anonymous comments. That was enough to deter him. Two weeks later, I started allowing anonymous comments again (even though I MUCH prefer attributable comments to anonymous ones) and thankfully he didn't return.

As I said in this post, somehow, at some point, I do believe the bad karma will get him back!

GB xxx

Superchilled said...

I've been lucky not to have much in the way of prank callers messing with comments - so haven't screened them. Perhaps I just don't have enough popularity for that. But I do prefer to see a thriving commentary and various threads developing in the comments. It is limited by comment moderation - unless the blog author is constantly online to sort through them... Live life on the edge! (and if something unnecessarily offensive gets through - just delete it when you see it)

Monty said...

To be honest GB, I haven't even thought about the whole "comment moderation" thing. I had it on when I first started blogging, but with you, have not yet rejected any comments. Thanks for the reminder, I'm going to switch it off and live a bit daringly! ;-)

Soul Seared Dreamer said...

Apart from an occasional spam here and there (which is just annoying) I've not had any nasty comments EVER or had to delete any comments either (crap I've totally jinxed myself now).. but I prefer to know who is leaving comments so I only allow fellow bloggers to do so.

I'd personally find doing comment moderation on my own blog a pain.

I do recall LP's blog being moderation free some time back.

I subscribe to Attitude, more of a statement to my aunt (who I live with) than for sheer pleasure of reading it.. but I must admit I prefer Attitude over the others.. (I find GT is just an excuse for porn).. but even Attitude has started moving towards soft porn.

Anonymous said...

AXM is all over the place here (South Mancs) while GT--which I usually prefer to buy--isn't. Attitude comes and goes according to the whims of the shops.

I don't know about Blogger but with WordPress (which I use) you can ban people by IP if they're being a nuisance, as I did with some Aussie nitwit littering the posts with homophobic comments.

That aside I leave everything unmoderated since WP has a great range of spam-catching tools (I guess Google works behind the scenes for Blogger) and I find that it's useful sometimes to see what you've just written in case it was wrong! Also makes for a swifter dialogue if the topic is a hot one.

Gay Nairobi Man said...

I only started comments moderation recently when I rebuffed a trolls sexual advances and he threaten to out me on my blog. I always publish all comments though

I need my coming out to people to be at my own choice.

So I guess I will not allow open comments

Bubbler said...

Bearing in mind that I've just surfed onto your blog, I haven't seen much photos of you in the few posts I've encountered, and you've been rather adept at compartmentalising your offline persona. So I'd guess that it would be far easier to give free reign to the comment trolls out there with the level of anonymity you've retained than if you were to have more pictures out, and were less rigid with personal details.