Comment Policy, March 2012

For clarity’s sake, I’ve decided to lay out some rules, as well as preempt some troll points. I intend to have two levels of banning: Complete banning from commenting, and thread-banning, where I will not allow a disruptive poster from continuing to comment in a particular thread.

1. Anonymous comments are not allowed. If you don’t want to give out your real name, that’s fine: Use a consistent pseudonym. The reason behind this rule is to prevent confusion and to tie people to a reputation. Being anonymous gives abusive posters a clean slate whenever they return. If someone says something shameful or irrational, it should be traceable to that person’s identity. Think about what you post, because you may have to answer for it.

2. Sock puppetry is a ban-worthy offense. If you use a pseudonym, be consistent about it. This also serves a purpose for reputation. An abusive troll shouldn’t be able to rebrand himself on a whim to dodge uncomfortable outstanding questions from his past. Also, if your arguments really need an illusionary argumentum ad populum to prop them up, it strongly suggests they lack the ability to stand on their own merits. Also, no cheap jokes like [Name]’s Mom or whatever. They’re generally not funny. If, for some non-trolling reason, you’ve changed your posting name, let everyone know.

3. No flooding. The only purpose to flooding a thread with content-free comments is to discourage and disrupt legitimate discussion. It’s done in the same spirit as censorship, even if it is less effective. If you’re going to posts walls of text, they’d better have a relevant point. If there is no point, they serve no communication purpose. If you’re quoting someone else, an excerpt and a citation or link to the original context should be plenty to get your point across.

4. No transparent subject changes. If the discussion reminds you of something interesting you feel like sharing, that’s perfectly fine if you do so in moderation. Repeatedly changing the subject to allegations about someone’s personal life is not fine. Blatant attempts to change the subject away from the core topic are not productive. It’s a way to disrupt honest discussion, just like flooding. This rule is intended to be flexible, and I will warn habitual subject-changers to stop disrupting the thread before I resort to thread-banning.

5. No copy-pasta. You don’t get to spam my blog with a comment posted to multiple sites if you’re not willing to personally write it for me or my readers and address criticism. Communication requires listening. Copy-pasta leads to banning.

6. No commercial spam: The only advertising I will accept is the minimum necessary for keeping this blog free. Commercial spam includes having your name link to an advertising site. I will make exceptions for sufficiently geeky merchandise, but only if it ties into the conversation.

7. Moderation: Currently, I have the blog set so that it requires that I allow the first comment from a particular poster and it automatically holds comments with 3 or more links in them. This is to prevent spam. Don’t cry censorship just because I was away from my computer for a bathroom break. I don’t have a psychic link that lets me know the instant you hit “submit” and it’s just silly to think that somehow I’ve read and censored your comment before you’ve even had time to refresh the page. I get an email notification, and it might take a few minutes if I’m at my computer or longer if I happen to be away from the computer. I have to sleep, you know.

8. My Email Notifications: I intend to keep them, this time. My inbox may get a bit more crowded, but I’ll deal with that. If someone cries censorship because I deleted a purposeless, abusive, or content-free comment, I’ll be able to bring it up and justify the deletion.

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