This page is meant to establish some guidelines concerning comments on my blog. It is informal in tone and is not meant to be a thorough and exhaustive treatise on the ins and outs of commenting on my site. If you have any questions or concerns about it, feel free to contact me, but don’t be surprised if, in the end, I don’t bend over backwards to accommodate your concerns.
I really enjoy it when people comment on things I write. In fact, I love it! Even so, I do need to lay down some ground rules and guidelines. As my intent was and remains to create a forum wherein people can be free to discuss some fairly complex problems, issues, and topics in an intelligent manner, there are some types of comments that are preferred over others and some that are never appropriate.
Q: What is the genetic makeup of a good comment?
Excellent question! A good comment should have all of the following elements present:
- Brevity – meaning keep your thoughts pithy and to the point. No one wants to read a 2000+ word comment, especially me and in fact, I most likely won’t.
- Respectfulness – meaning you assume good faith by operating under the assumption that people mean well and want to do the right thing as they see it.
- Intelligibility – meaning your grammar, syntax, and word choice lend probability to someone reading your thoughts and finding them coherent and understandable.
- Logicality – meaning free of logically fallacious arguments.
- Knowledge – meaning you’re bringing a fresh take on the issue or an interesting perspective and not simply asking questions I’ve already answered or spouting nonsensical statements that make you sound like a conspiracy hack.
You can remember these things using this somewhat-lame mnemonic: “Bad Responses Ignite Loud Kerfuffles.”
Unless you’re just giving kudos or saying you liked something I wrote, make sure your comments have these qualities. I like to respond to people’s comments if they’re attempting to engage in thoughtful discussion (I tend to not respond with “thank yous” to the “I like this” comments; just know that I appreciate them). If I don’t respond, it’s either because your comment was just a simple “Thank you for posting this” or because you failed miserably on one or more of the above.
Q: What kinds of comments aren’t acceptable?
This is a tough one for me. I hate censorship in almost every form but there does have to be a clearly demarcated line between what I will allow and what I will not. While I typically do not delete comments from my site, I reserve the right to do so at any time for any reason. If you don’t like that, then start your own website and make up your own rules as you think they should be. The following is not an exhaustive list of the reasons why I would delete a comment, but it covers the vast majority of the ground.
Comments that will most likely be deleted or altered will typically include one or more of the following attributes:
- Inappropriate personal revelations or revelations about someone else, with or without their permission. I will decide what constitutes an “inappropriate revelation” on a case by case basis.
- Hateful or bigoted statements that transcend mere ignorance and approach malevolence. Comments of this type will not be tolerated.
- Personal attacks, particularly those in which a threat of violence is implicit.
- Spam comments; these include attempts to sell cheap “brand name” handbags, the best coffee you’ve ever tasted, and the insurance policy that changed your life. It also includes attempts to advertise your own website in the form of a comment. (On the latter point, if you have written something on your own website that responds to something I’ve said, you’re welcome to post a link but be sure to include context.)
- Trolling; this essentially refers to intentionally ignorant or inflammatory comments posted with the sole intent to charge the emotional atmosphere of a discussion and draw negative attention to the commenter. Internet trolls are the people who liked to smear their feces on the bathroom walls when they were five and never quite grew out of it.
Q: What is the difference between deleting and altering a comment?
This should be self-explanatory but, just in case it isn’t, let me explain briefly. On occasion, I will alter a comment and usually because its author revealed some personal bit of information about himself/herself or someone else that I have strong reason to believe is inappropriate (though there may be other reasons for which I reserve the right to withhold explanation). The comment still makes a point with the information, though, which is why I simply remove the information in question in a way that doesn’t alter the author’s meaning.
Comments that I have altered will carry the following tag as its first line in a separate first paragraph: This comment has been altered by the webmaster. The word “altered” will include a hyperlink to this page. Furthermore, in an effort to make any edits or redactions as transparent as possible, I will do my best to point out what exactly has been changed. For example, if I am redacting someone’s name, I would replace John Smith with XXXX XXXX, as well any additional information included by the comment author that might identify John, which may include his hometown, alma mater, ethnicity, organizational affiliation, etc.
Comments that I have deleted will show up blank with the following tag: This comment has been deleted by the webmaster because it violates the policy for commenting on this site. The phrase “policy for commenting” will include a hyperlink to this page. The author of the deleted comment will also receive an email from me notifying him or her of its deletion with an invitation to visit this page.
Please bear in mind that I’m not required to take any of the actions noted in this section. If I wanted, I could delete a comment and make it appear as though it had never been there. I could also change a comment and not reveal that I had done so. I do these things as a method of holding myself accountable–I want it to be visible that a comment was removed or changed so people can see how very rarely I do it. (Note: this does not apply to comments automatically deleted by WordPress’ spam blocking service, which I have no control over.)
In due course, I obviously reserve the right to alter or add to this policy page at any point and for any reason. This is my site and, ultimately, I’ll do whatever the hell I want with it. Please remember, though, that the real goal is to have an intelligent and dignified discourse about important topics. If you aren’t yet mature enough to handle that, then I recommend finding another site to troll.
Last updated: November 13, 2013