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Submitted by martin on Thu, 30/08/2007 - 18:45

1. No-one at the AWL office deleted Arthur's account, nor, unless there is some technical quirk on the site we don't know about, is there any way we could have deleted it by mistake. We're as puzzled as anyone else about how it got deleted. There is no obvious way of tracking such deletions, but we've asked the techies to investigate.

2. We did delete 6 comments added by Arthur in very quick succession to a piece by Al Glotzer. This is no more "censorship" than would be an intervention by the chair of a meeting to restrain someone who followed the main speaker by demanding to speak six times in succession, and at length.

3. Anyone who accuses the AWL of "censorship" here is seriously off balance. Excuse me, which other group on the British or world left allows such freedom of hostile comment on its website? In its paper and in its public meetings too?

4. Debate? Good idea. Read the piece by Glotzer and the article by Ernest Mandel which it was a reply to - we presented both sides of the debate - think about the issues, and comment. But at appropriate length. If you have a huge screed to contribute, put it on your own blog or website and post a link to it.

5. I talked to Arthur a few months ago because a number of people had expressed concern about the huge volume of his postings. At that time Arthur accepted that the concerns were reasonable and said he would take the main volume of his posting to an offsite blog and limit his comments on our site to brief ones providing links to those offsite writings.

6. Arthur has the right to change his mind, of course; but he could not be surprised if we continued to be concerned, and acted on our concerns. Censorship? No more than the person who wants to intervene at every public meeting at huge length can accuse a reasonable chairperson of censorship.

7. Thanks to Paul for putting the issue succinctly: "Any debate, real or virtual must have rules, or those with the loudest voices, or most time, win out. If the AWL organise, fund and maintain this site, I believe they have the right to set the rules. You could set up your own blog for nothing - as many have done successfully and won a readership".

8. The only thing I'd add is that any "rules" here are very lightweight. We delete comments or unsubscribe users when the comments are obviously spam or "trolling" - or, in Arthur's case, unique up to now and very probably forever, where the sheer volume is so overwhelming that e.g. an important historical document of our movement (important whether you agree with it or not) is smothered by a huge splurge of comments.

Martin Thomas

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