On the subject of complaints…

I thought it might be useful for us to have a ‘My gripe with Slugger is…’ thread (and to see how she goes). I’ve been making more interventions on various threads recently in an attempt to draw focus back to discussion. But my fear is that I may actually have only been encouraging a loss of focus as the discussion about discussion takes over from the subject in hand. So if you have any gripes, here’s the place to let rip. They don’t have to be ‘constructive’: just remember to play the ball!!

  • TL

    Oh my goodness don’t tempt the devil!

  • slug


    I have not gripes WHATSOEVER. It is your blog, your time, and you do an excellent job.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to praise the other bloggers, from whatever view point republican nationalist or unionist (or other, Gonzo).

    And finally to praise those commenters who engage without resorting to personal attack.

    I have a couple of concerns (i) people using sectarian names to describe themselves (taig, fenian etc) which I think carries a somewhat primitive/tribal overtone, and (ii) people who start off their replies with “Jesus Christ, slug…”. But these are not Mick’s responsbility.

    Many thanks to Mick for hosting such an intersting, excellent and compulsive blog.

  • fair_deal

    Fuck the begrudgers

    I did gripe at you a couple of times early on but looking back I feel foolish I ever did.

    A very good site maintained by phenomenal commitment if people can’t see that they seriously can’t see the wood for the trees.

  • missfitz

    Ha ha

    Try and complain now……

  • Busty Brenda

    Ah you cowards!!

    wait till Trow gets here!!


  • More pictures would help explain the hard things to my head.

  • ingram

    A voice for the common man.

  • The site can be irresponsible. The two Mick Hall blog is a good example. Someone was allowed to come on and label the DI journo “Mick ‘Up the Ra’ Hall”. Now given the threats reporters at the paper have been subject to comments like this put this man in danger. The comment remained online for at least two hours before it was pulled. There have also been comments posted about others that have remained online for quite a while before being pulled. I’m saying this because it is only a matter of time before someone takes Mick to court for libel. As the owner of the site he is responsible for the content. Given Slugger’s popularity it is increasingly dangerous for it to carry libelious remarks. Unless their is greater vetting of personal attacks I’m afraid I can see someone’s unsubstantiated comments leading to this site being closed down and Mick ending up seriously out of pocket.

  • missfitz

    “The site can be irresponsible”

    The site is not in and of itself irresponsble, and I think you should review that comment.
    Some of the individuals who post here do so in an irresponsbile fashion, and as such the site does need to be monitored and moderated.

  • Pete Baker

    paul p

    “The site can be irresponsible.”

    You mean the commenters can be irresponsible.

    I agree. We should ban the lot of them, Mick!

  • My hat off to you, Mick, for having the fairness to open this thread – thanks possibly to my own complaints or arrogance.

    While it is obvious that anyone who runs such a site is between a rock and a hard place – with too little thanks from anyone in the process – I would recommend that you tighten up the rules thus:

    (1) People’s putdowns of any claims without any explanation should simply be removed. And if they complain, ask for justifications from them before reposting them.

    (2) Don’t be so concerned about possible libel as everyone knows that any serious discussion of anything risks a possible libel action; yet, the actual chances of any action are most remote.

    (3) Don’t tolerate extreme claims unless the poster is willing to provide some justification for what he or she is claiming.

    (4) Encourage posters to use their real names, and if someone is obviously use several names, especially to promote bogus claims, simply shut them down.

    (5) You should call upon more people to fulfill these functions. I would, for example, be willing to do anything gratis that you would deem necessary.

    (6) Impose a modest cost for the service you are providing. I – and I would hope that all the posters who consider your site home – would be willing to pay something for it.

  • TL

    I really do think this site is very well done. And I’m sure we could all dig up something we didn’t like but the point is most of it kicks @ss. AND we should be thankful to everyone who works really hard, at their own expense, to bring it too us. KUDOS.

  • missfitz

    Actually, I take Trow up on his last point. I think thats a good idea. I made contributions at the start but have become dilatory. If there was a set £10 per month fee, that could come out on direct debit I would be happy to pay it. It might not be what Mick wants, but it would certainly bring some self policing to the site as well

  • missfitz

    And another thing, I hate that stupid “you can only post every 120 seconds” yoke. When inspiration hits, it might be every 4 days, but then every 2 minutes for an hour!

  • SlugFest


    You’ve provided a venue for everyone concerned with/interested in Northern Ireland to come together and share their various povs. I’ve learned more on this site in the past year than i have in the previous 4 years of studying NI.

    Sure, Pete needs a kick in the arse every now and then and i truly wonder at what his ongoing Type A personality is doing to his cardiovascular health in the longterm, but other than that a big giant thumbs up (just kidding, Pete 🙂 ).


    Rather than wait for Mick to impose a nominal posting fee as Trowbridge suggested, why not dig into your pockets and donate what you can (donate icon to the left) now?

  • TL

    Yes we should all give as our means allow. I with that…a voluntary subscription would be a good idea but it sounds like work.

  • qubol

    I think you should display the IP addresses of posters or maybe the last 4 digits to discourage trolling etc.
    I also have some difficulty with readability of quotes – what about enabling the HTML tag and giving it an indent and different shade of grey in your style sheet.
    Finally I know that this might clutter things but what about stating the last post time of threads where comments exist so people know if they are dead or alive.
    Oh yeah I would dump those text ads from google – maybe its different with you but in my experience they get hardly any click-thrus – Id put in a banner type ad like the Guardian one instead.

  • It is naive to think that you can guide discussion. You will have better luck herding cats.

    Everyone who comments here is driven to self expression. Most of the time that has nothing to do with your intent in posting the story. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

    If the story conforms in some why with their prejudices, it takes off. I can guarantee that any story with the mere mention of Gerry Adams is good for 50 posts over a 24 hour period. Other subjects near and dear to the frequent commenters is what to call the place or what design the flag should be.

    Anything that has to do with economics or anything really meaningful to life on the island will draw zip.

    It’s not like this is anything new.

  • qubol

    I forgot to say…
    the site is class and even without the things I mentioned it really is a great job. big thanks to you all the mods

  • Garibaldy

    on a technical point, is it possible to get the pages to open at the 25 comments rather than the first 25 to save the hassle of having to wait for the first page to open then going to the end every time?

  • missfitz

    Surely Garibaldi you can do that aleady by just going to the last page ie if it says 1 of 4, go straight to 4?
    Or have I misread your query

  • Garibaldy

    The point is it opens on page 1. If you’re flicking in and out of threads it becomes an annoyance to have to press for page 4. It would be simpler if it opened directly at page 4 was all I was saying

  • Snuff Box

    My gripe with slugger is the constant football analogies from Mick…..’play the ball,play the ball’
    Sure even Ronaldinho plays the man every once in a while. It’s a lot easier and much more fun. It’s a contact sport you cant help committing a few fouls every now and again.

  • Stephen Copeland


    Trwobridge (sic) H. Ford’s 07:44 PM post is sensible. I would like to add a few additional points;

    (1) A limit to the length of individual posts would be good. Sometimes they are whole essays, and lead the thread in a dozen diffeent directions.

    (2) Simple unsubstantiated claims of ‘fact’ without a link or a source should be frowned upon.

    (3) Likewise with simple denials of other claims of ‘fact’ without counter-facts.

    (4) Trolling …. just say no!

    (5) Multiple threads about the same story (Donaldson, eg) are confusing and ultimately discouraging.

    (6) More on culture to balance the emphasis on politics would be welcome. And not just highbrow culture – we probably all watch TV and go to the cinema too.

    On a personal level, and I expect you’ll disagree, I think you tend to give unionist blogs too much enthusiastic exposure. Take, for exaple your intro to pakman’s blog, before there was actually much content on it: “Excellent new unionist oriented blog from Slugger regular Pakman. I think you’ve done the same thing before. Would it not be better to simply note its appearance and let the reader decide whether it is ‘excellent’?

    But overall, you do a difficult job well. If I am sometimes critical, it is because I care. Keep up the good work.

  • ire1us

    I am a frequent observer of your site, but I rarely post. I wish to say “well done”, and thank you for your work. I live in America where solid, hard news about NI is hard to come by. Your site is very helpful to me.

  • Shore Road Resident

    I like this site enormously, except for the bit where hacks from Daily Ireland come on under assumed names and accuse everyone slagging off their tragic rag of setting them up for loyalist assassination. Look – it’s even happened here.
    Let’s not forget that it is the Andersonstown News Group which has been found guilty in court repeatedly over the past few years for printing dangerous lies about other journalists.
    This has included entirely false allegations of being a police informer made against West Belfast-based reporters on two completely separate occasions.

    So you might as well drop it guys – because there are several of us out here in the real newsrooms who have sworn blind to point this out every time you repeat the ‘setting us up’ lie, here or anywhere else. Got it?

  • middle-class taig

    This site rocks, but…….

    Lighten up, slug, for [C*****]’s sake. It’s not a free presbyterian prayer meeting. It’s an Irish political discussion forum.

    I think it’s actually a little sectarian not to engage with people just because they describe themselves as “fenian” or “taig”. If people choose to wear such words as badges to defuse their significance (or in my case, for a bit of a laugh), who are you to query that choice? Do you think Mick should actually ban their use?

    Perhaps if Slug refuses to engage with me by November 24 this site should be run jointly with politics.ie!?


    Only complaint. Hair trigger with the cards re criticism of journos as compared with forbearance on cards re Adams/McGuinness/Morrison and other senior republicans. Forebearance is entirely approriate in my view, but relaxation re shinners sits uncomfortably with routine practice on other public figures. If play the ball is the rule, it should be applied absolutely scrupulously. While shinners are famously unlitigious, do you really feel it’s wise or responsible to feed our insationable appetite for faux-victimhood? 🙂

    Having said that, who the hell has the time?

    Oh, and PeteBaker. Just PeteBaker. My pantomime villain. I know that he’ll provide my daily dose of outrage. More reliable even than A Tangled Web, probably due to the intellectual nature of his blogs. Worth the admission price alone. Can you have outrage-addiction?

    Can we have blogger pictures for use in voodoo cermonies?

  • Fake (milk) Shake


    The site is fantastic. I’ll only complain when you start charging to access it. Muahahaha…(evil laugh)

    Seriously though – you do a fantastic job – the comments on this thread are evidence to that. Fair play to ya for asking though…

    Long live the Slug (and long may it be free…)

    erm…Hi me again. Actually I have one minor niggle. I just hit submit button when I got an error message. It said:

    “The form you submitted contained the following errors
    You are only allowed to post comments every 120 seconds.”

    Even though I haven’t posted today it says that. This happens quite often and I have no idea why. Some kind of problem with your server? Only way to get around it is to hit back button, preview and resubmit….

    That’s my only complaint…honest

  • Jo

    I have no complaints. But thank you for asking.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    My own gripe is with the comments. I’d love to have a commenting facility that can thread down separate themes. There are some issues here that are worth sub threads.

    I can’t respond to everything you complain of… but I will try and blog on some, where some clarification or considered observation might prove useful.

    In the meantime, just keep them coming.

  • joinedupthinking

    I have minor gripes at times but then who doesn’t about most things?
    Overall, Slugger is in a class of its own.
    I would be cautious of trying to adjust it or narrow it to the extent that it loses its character.
    Leave well alone, I say.
    Its working brilliantly don’t try to fix it.

  • Jim

    I had a comment removed last night for a comment in relation to the Donaldson affair. The comment was taken out of context by the next blogger and therefore was soiled and was removed.

    I would of preferred to have been asked to explain the nature of my comment and able to debate any concerns raised as opposed to being hacked.


    Mick, don’t worry too much about using the big stick when it’s needed.Slugger is the best Norn Iron blog for good reason, and that’s because of the ball not man rule, keep enforcing it and things will be fine.

    As for suggestions, how about in order to make the blog more reflective of society as a whole, Unionists get a veto on everything that’s posted?

  • Lafcadio

    Mick – slugger remains a cracking website, and one of very few which I routinely trawl through first thing when I arrive at my desk in the morning, albeit I have had very little time to actually chip in recently.

    one thing that hacks me off slightly, and it’s the fault of the commenters, not you, is a derivative of the “long posts” complaint mentioned by Stephen, namely where a commenter quotes reams of another post, interspersed with his/her rebuttal, or comments – it’s a pain in the neck to read, sometimes hard to differentiate who’s saying what, and just generally duplicative and inefficient. To whoever does this, why not just refer to the post in your response, or quote the salient bits??

    I think you should avoid any temptation to try to charge to comment – a site like this thrives on the breadth of its commenting base, and charging for it would necessarily have the effect of limiting this.

  • best political blog in norn iron, its won awards.
    I echo middle-class-taig’s comments, and feel peteb could do with a rest/sabbatical for a few months.
    His threads/comments have become cynical, sarcastic, dull and boring reflecting his own mind rather than objective realities, like a tree that’s dried up and lost its sap/vitality. This is not what we want.
    So peteb take a rest for a while,
    come and join the plebs in the audience for a while, lighten your load.
    Or swop with me, I’ll fer yer boots 😉

  • Canadian

    I too would like to commend you Mick on a excellent site.

    I was wondering couldn’t a disclaimer to the effect that your web site is not responsible for the views etc… would help to curb any worry about this site being sued.

  • The Devil

    What a gutless bunch of arse kissing fags, why don’t you all make you way to the local mortuary they may have a spare spine to sell you because hell knows you all need one.

    Wonderful Mick this and fantastic Mick that, my o’my you would all give an Asprin a headache.

    You all come on here throwing as much shit as is physically possible against each other, but when it comes to someone in position someone in a bit of power whether it be respected like the supervisor at the local BurgerKing, or not respected like Mick on Slaggerotoole, the Irish yellow streak comes out in you even you beam me up Ulster-scotty types, you all make me sick to my stomach i think i could puke for a month just reading those oh we are not worthy posts.

    If i wanted oral sex this is the place to be, because you are all on your knees already.

    The turkeys on site are too stupid to know what’s going on, the ostriches have thier heads in the sand and the rest are chicken… i tell you the sooner avian flu hits this place the better.

    It was noticeable that certain people with a Shinner political viewpoint wanted the real names of posters…. MC CARTHYIST WITCH HUNT… is this so they can send the thought police to the front door.. or contact thier employer to get them sacked like they have done before with Newton nearly funny Emmerson and others and had another anti Emmerson letter campaign last week in the Irishnews hoping to repeat the sacking.

    As for financial contributions Mick can ask his handlers, appeal to the lottery, or beg the International fund for Ireland, failing that he learn to wash and apply to do Phil Flynns laundry, the Devil looks after his own and he ain’t one of mine.

    If you want to improve the site follow these 5 rules

    1) Ban all gurney arsed shinners reading thier post is like watching Eastenders 24/7 depressing as a women coalition meeting.

    2) Ban all womens coalition and Alliance posts because it’s like reading a Gerry Adams book… nothing in them, blank humorless uninformative nonsense.

    3) Ban all Protestants because in general they are normally quite ugly.

    4) Cut down on the number of contributor, the ones you have are pants and post far too many trivial threads or repeatative ones, and if you want the credit Fealty do the Fecking work yourself, an English boss is a monster an Irish one even worse.

    5) Cut down on the number of threads, slows the pace down and makes the site more manageable.

    6) Make all posters undergo a Eunuch test that should eliminate about 95% of slugger for starters.

    7) Ban all relatives of Shinners unless they are prepare to have a bell attached to their posts so that we know they are UNCLEAN.

    8) Have an insult Pete Baker of the month competition

    9) Find a Shinner who tells the truth competition… i will pay the prize money for this one myself

    10) Stop all links and all references to one Danny Morrison, if he’s into censorship let him be censored.

  • The Devil

    That’s right 5 not the whole 10
    That way you will still only be half as good as me.

  • Pete Baker

    So much for playing the ball…

    [off sarcasm – ‘specially for s-l 😉 ]

  • SlugFest


    Please accept my apologies … i was only slagging and had no intention of fanning the Baker flame.

    Truth be told, i quite enjoy your posts.

    and to hell with the Devil if that makes me spineless!

  • Pete Baker


    No apology needed.. your comment was taken in the manner intended [I hope].

    We all need a kick in the arse every now and then 😉

  • Mick,

    Everyone in Northern Ireland knows and respects Slugger as the most balanced blog on the go. The fact that some people get offended by comments on here, and I often do myself, only goes to prove it’s balance. You can offend some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time….et al.

    Keep up the good work, I can’t remember life before Slugger!!!!!

  • peteb
    that you didn’t cut my post raises my hopes for your improved pathology . You took it on the chin. But hell I guess the devil took the sting right out of it. One hecka of a mean player, imagine playing poker agin him.

  • heck

    I really like this site. When I lived in Nor Iron one did not talk about NI politics in “mixed” company. It was a way of avoiding the difficulties of a divided society.

    This site gives people like me, and unaffiliated republican, the chance to argue with die hard unionists. While I don’t expect we will change each other’s minds at least it gives someone like me an appreciation for the unionist point of view. And the annonimity allows people to not worry about “mixed” environments. Who wants to admit to work collegues from “the other side” that they are a DUP or SF supporter?

    I like reading the comments of Mick Hall, fair deal, and shore road resident(having been a shore road resident myself.), and I’ve started visiting chris gaskin’s blog after reading him here.

    one thing I would like to see is a few side treads that go for weeks. I am thousands of miles and many time zones away and all I can do is add a few comments to the threads before they finish.

    Good site mick. If we ever meet when I am home I will buy you a pint.

  • andy

    Fantastic site. As an outsider I found it has signficantly altered my perceptionof a couple of different issues.

    I am only suprised that you show so much patience with some people.

    Having said that I remember a couple of particular testy types (both called Andrew, although from diammetrically opposed viewpoints) who seem to have been dissuaded from blighting the site.

    On an aside – does anyone know what has happened to Henry 94? I used to like his posts but he seems to have gone away. You know.

  • willis


    What can I add? It is a brilliant site beacuse of the sheer amount of time put in by yourself and the team to chivvy, inspire, tidy and confront.

    Brilliant to see you contributing to “Comment is free”

    So anyway

    Whats wrong with Slugger?

    I’m relatively new to all this and find my main frustration is getting a thread started.

    I often see “hat tip to ******”. which I assume means that someone has e-mailed you with a suggestion for a thread.

    What is the process?

    I’ve tried e-mailing you with a couple of ideas, but I can imagine your inbox is huge and your spam filter might even have got me.

    You were all very helpful last time I asked for direction.

    What about a “Newbies begin here section”?


  • missfitz

    No pain- no gain?

    I think you have to just keep plugging away. I know I was posting for almost a year before anyone acknowledged me, and I felt it was just a big boys club. But I persisted and yapped, and I certainly feel that warm, fuzzy inclusive feeling…

    I suppose the main issue is that this is all ground breaking stuff. Slugger is not a chat room or a message board, its a site belonging to a (gifted) individual who has been able to create a global forum for discussion. That forum is widely respected and attracts some fantastic commentary from a wide range of contributors.

    So who owns it then? Mick is still ultimately responsible for the site content, but I feel that individual contributors need to be mindful of the guidelines and restrictions on posting.

    Do the contributors own the site? No, I dont think they do, although they bring a lot to it. Maybe its like a big playground where there are nice people, and bad boys and bullies and the odd teacher lurking about to give you a whack if you’re out of order.

    Perhaps its the new order. A shared virtual community where ideas can be fertilised and grown and where individuals can also go through that process if they are open enough to it.

  • willis



    I will indeed keep plugging away. It is a fair point though, that if it was easy everyone would be at it, and then where would we be?


  • missfitz

    Ach twould be the end of the world as we know it willis, and frank fuykyama could die a happy man.

    I think on a wholly different note, that there should be a law, something like godwins law, that the game is up every time frank is mentioned! We could call it fitz’s law of limited fook.

  • BogExile


    This site is very bad.

    It encourages intellectual argument, stimulating debate and a meeting place for minds which would not normally engage the same side of a peace line.

    What do you think you are doing? This isn’t a normal society. I demand a forum for badly spelt, splenetic, sarcastic, knee jerk unthinking unionism and occasional bad poetry.


    Keep up the ‘bad’ work you’re a star 🙂

  • TL

    (You’ll have to pull this I’m sure)

    “If i wanted oral sex this is the place to be, because you are all on your knees already”
    -The Devil

    FYI Mick, I performed the above service in lieu of the donation I was going to make.

  • This is a rather obscure complaint to make, in fact it’s hardly a complaint at all, but I have discovered a certain law of marathon Slugger comment threads. As the thread tends towards infinity, the probability that the next post will feature one particular individual citing Ptolemy as an authority increases dramatically.

  • Bog warrior

    Wicked comment from the Devil!!

  • GrassyNoel

    Excellent site, I love logging on here but as stated on an earlier post I was shocked to see that it took me three attempts to voice the opinion that Peter Robinson was winding up the Yanks big time when asserting that the DUP and their supporters are ready to do a deal with Republicans. My first 2 posts were removed and nobody explained to me why. I could not believe the way everyone on the thread was absolutely gushing about Robinson’s speech, which I thought was a bit ridiculous. I don’t think anyone in Unionism believes that Robinson would want to share power with Republicans and to be honest I didn’t think much of the speech. I’m a bit surprised at the level of naivety displayed by Slugger contributors in this regard. And it seems to me you can suggest pretty much anything about a republican’s motives or intentions on Slugger and get away with it. For the first time ever I was genuinely concerned that there was bias in Slugger’s editorial policy. But at least I got my point (or at least ‘a’ point across in the end, even if it took me 3 attempts.

    And will you PLEEEAAASE fix the security word-box thingy so that when you typr the word as it appears in the image, your comment gets posted?

  • missfitz

    Thats intriguing…. who is the ptolemy name dropper? Or I can search? Oh no, just tell

  • Mick Fealty


    The reason it was removed is because you played the man rather than the ball each time. I cannot say it was nasty, but right from the start I’ve tried to cultivate a culture of industry, and textual analysis, rather than attacking the speaker.

    Now interventions may not be consistent (I’m not payed for the hours I put in on the comments zone), but the principle is.

    I cannot find a problem with the security box thing. Sometimes, if you are writing a particularly long post it will change the word you need to input. But generally it seems to be working fine.

    If you are fairly sure that’s not the problem, let me know have some detail on it?

  • GrassyNoel

    Mick – Now my 3rd comment on the Robinson speech has been removed! What was offensive about that one?

    And surely, in certain cases, like a thread about Peter Robinson and a speech which has to be read and interpreted in the context of NI and all that goes on there, Peter Robinson and his track record to date IS the ball?