Robert asked:

I see that your moderators pull many comments. The few comments that make it through the ‘gauntlet of censorship’ disappear at month’s end via a full comment board wash. My philosophical question is what is the REAL, GENUINE, TRUTHFUL purpose of these actions? I personally often find that comments are more insightful than the questions, stories or philosopher responses. What place does moderation or censorship have in philosophy? Please send a genuine and truthful answer as I would expect nothing less from genuine philosophers.

Answer by Shaun Williamson

Robert this is a site where people can ask questions about philosophy. They can also comment on questions that other people have asked. What they cannot do is use the site to expound or publish their own philosophical ideas. That is what you have been trying to do Your comments are not relevant to the questions you are commenting on.

You are not being censored, your comments are being removed because they are not RELEVANT to the questions you are commenting on. Don’t try to use the site to publish your own philosophical ideas. Go and write a book or an essay. If you wish to ask a question then ask a question.

Do not use this site to try to publish your own ideas, that is not what this site is for.


Answer by Peter Jones

Hello Robert. This post of yours and others that have not appeared are the reason that this site needs to be moderated. That is, it is posts such as yours that create the need for moderation. They are muddled, opinionated, immoderate, dogmatic and completely out of place in a philosophical discussion. If you cannot see this then perhaps you could try taking an online or college philosophy course and seeing how you get on.


Answer by Stuart Burns

Having read a number of your posts to this forum, I regret to inform you that I agree with the Moderator in ‘censoring’ your contributions (or at least those contributions I have read so far).

Your posts simply expound a particular view without offering any argument, or philosophical basis, for your position. Nor do they appear to address the questions for which your posts are supposed to be an answer. Your comments are offered in the manner of ‘received wisdom’ – offering no possibility that they might be in error in some fashion. They do not offer anything that any other philosopher who might disagree with you, can come to grips with. In other words, I can find no place to suggest where you might have made an error in fact or logic. I can only disagree with you – hardly a propitious beginning for a philosophical discussion, and more akin to theological debates.

Consider your post above. You seem not to understand the purpose and function of the ‘Ask a Philosopher’ web site. It is not a general forum for free posting of ‘comments’. It is designed (and, yes, moderated) to be a forum for philosophical responses to philosophical questions. The answers posted are intended to be reasoned responses, frequently drawing on the large history of writings of well known philosophers.

The questions that I choose to answer, as just one of the contributors, are those questions that tweak my interest as offering some interesting aspect on a philosophical issue. I am sure that other contributors have other criteria for questions that initiate their own responses. So if you would like your contributions to ‘make it through’ the moderation and censorship, you might like to try composing a more pointed philosophical response to some question, instead of simply commenting on the general area of the question.

While you personally may often find that comments are more insightful than questions or philosophical responses, please keep in mind that this web site is not intended for ‘comments’. It is the philosophical nature of the question and response that are the intended format of the service. Perhaps you may find a more suitable venue for your comments on one of the many philosophical forums on the web. I can start you off by suggesting


Answer by Geoffrey Klempner

As the sole moderator for Ask a Philosopher I take full responsibility for all decisions to include or exclude comments posted on answers provided by the Ask a Philosopher panel members. I am also responsible for choosing which of the answers submitted by panel members to publish on the Ask a Philosopher pages.

I do not enter into personal correspondence over particular issues of moderation with visitors to the site. However, I felt that it would be valuable in this instance to air the matter here.

In this case, I felt that my moderation needed to be moderated, so I showed the deleted comments to members of the panel and asked for their views. Those who expressed an opinion, said that they fully agreed with my decision. If they had disagreed, then we would have debated it.

The bar is in face set rather low. We do not exclude comments because they are insufficiently intelligent, or because we think they are misguided, or based on a misunderstanding of the question or the answer, or just plain wrong. One learns from other people’s errors. Apart from spammers, very few comments are deleted. But Robert’s comments on this occasion were below the bar.

Robert is welcome to continue submitting questions and comments. However, if he doesn’t like the way Ask a Philosopher is moderated then I would advise that he looks elsewhere for forums where he can freely express his opinions without fear of being ‘censored’.