2012-08-16

New Comment Policy — “What’s All This Then?”

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Tim Widowfield

Freedom of Speech

First of all, before anyone brings up the subject of human rights and freedom of speech, let me be clear:  We’re all for freedom of speech in the public square. But this isn’t the public square. It’s Neil’s blog. Since its inception Vridar has permitted open commenting — you don’t have to wait for approval, unless you’re on the list of spammers who get sent to the trash heap right away or on the roster of off-topic windbags, copypasta commandos, and attention-whores who have to pass muster first. We don’t intend to change the policy.

Neil and I like comments. We don’t want to write in a vacuum, and we certainly don’t want to set ourselves up as knowledge-transmitters like certain scholars who would much rather talk than listen. You certainly don’t have to agree with us. Is there anything more boring that talking to somebody who thinks exactly the same way you do?

So I think we’ve been really tolerant for the most part. Unfortunately, that leniency has often come back to bite us when certain people abuse the privilege. It’s a problem we’ve needed to address for some time. We need to get a handle on comments.

New Rules

Vridar is not my blog. I’m just a lazy roommate who sleeps on the couch, leaves his stuff lying around, and steals beer out of the fridge. So to earn my keep, Neil has asked me to start helping moderate comments. I said I’d be glad to, as long as we can agree on the rules.

  1. All decisions are final. If your comment is denied, go publish it somewhere else.
  2. No abusive language. We get to decide what’s abusive language. We’re not impartial judges.
  3. No threats of any kind. No exceptions.
  4. Your comment must be relevant to the current post. If you want to publish a tract on your favorite scholar, get your own blog. There’s a vast Internet out there.
  5. If you can’t be interesting, at least be brief. If your comment is excessively long and and extremely dull, it will probably be denied. If your comment is really, really long and is not broken up into paragraphs, it will definitely be denied. Seriously, if you don’t have time for minimal proofreading, or if you’re too busy to break your wall of text into paragraphs, then we don’t have time to read it.
  6. Do not repeat your points. If you feel very strongly about a particular subject, start your own blog. Squatters are not welcome.
  7. Fairness is not an issue. If you think your comment was unfairly denied, you may be right. On the other hand, see rule 1.

We’ve already started the process. Neil and I began filtering comments yesterday. If yours aren’t showing up, or if they disappear suddenly, now you know why.

  • ROO BOOKAROO
    2012-08-17 00:10:07 UTC - 00:10 | Permalink

    How about adding academic or religious gobbledygook that nobody can understand without a thorough translation?
    All of it is deadwood and clutter that adds no particle of information.

  • Bryanna
    2012-08-17 11:13:35 UTC - 11:13 | Permalink

    Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of anothers medium. Good for you! 🙂

  • mcduff
    2012-08-17 16:56:06 UTC - 16:56 | Permalink

    “Your comment must be relevant to the current post”.

    Thats the only one I reckon I could have a problem with.
    Sometimes in my net wanders I come across something that I reckon people here may find interesting and relevant in general but there may not be a relevant thread active so I’ll just pop it in with a note saying something like “Seen this? ….”
    I think it’s termed a ‘heads up’ or an FYI.

    Hopefully if I don’t abuse such it would be tolerated as within the scope of this site?

    • 2012-08-17 19:02:02 UTC - 19:02 | Permalink

      If everyone follows your lead in how to appropriately bend this rule there will be no problem.

  • Grog
    2012-08-18 08:53:27 UTC - 08:53 | Permalink

    This is Neil’s blog, so Neil’s rules. I have no problem with that. I also had no problem just not reading posts that were off topic or lacking in brevity. I do support civility though. I respect Neil’s attempt to host a site that engages a variety of views.

  • 2012-10-19 00:01:02 UTC - 00:01 | Permalink

    These appear to me to be very reasonable rules. There is only so much, practically speaking, that one or a few moderators can have the time or energy to deal with, but all the typical trolling and spamming aside, open discussion is to be welcomed overall.

    There is only one idea that I have been toying with recently that I’d like to offer up as a possibility. One of my pet peeves is arbitrary deletion of well-meaning comments that are nevertheless perceived by moderators as deletion-worthy for whatever reasons (often miscommunication; google ‘Matt Dillahunty curious banned’ for a concrete example of this).

    With that in mind, I have been trying to practice a policy of ‘hide with link, before deletion’, in which I simply shunt off a comment out of the main thread (this is usually easy to do on Facebook, for instance, though not always), and explain to the commenter (either with a new comment, or via PM) why it was moved, and providing a link if necessary so that the commenter can retrieve their efforts without any hard feelings involved (I hope; and so far it has worked out fine the few times I’ve needed to do this; but I don’t have a lot of data yet to make a definitive conclusion).

    I don’t know how easy it would be to implement using WordPress (and if anyone knows — for example, if there’s some plugin that makes it easy to do — I would be very interested to hear about it), but if such a thing were relatively effortless, would you guys consider implementing that kind of moderation? It would seriously mitigate some of the likely consequence of ‘hard feelings’ regarding rule #1, IMHO. Might be worth thinking about. After giving the commenter an opportunity to retrieve their comment, you can always delete all traces of the comment, if that’s your preference, which would attain basically the identical overall outcome as a result.

    Cheers!

    P.S. This blog has matured considerably since when I first started reading from it a couple/few years ago. Kudos, guys! Really liking the direction it continues to go in.

    …………………………….

    Submitted on 2012/10/19 at 12:04 am | In reply to Thaumas Themelios.

    BTW, forgot to mention: When shunting a comment is not easy to do, a simple and easy workaround is simply to copy and paste the comment text to a PM or email to the commenter, if contact info is available.

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