The comments are the lifeblood of a blog, but they need to be carefully regulated because over a long enough timeframe, all comment sections on the internet trend towards ‘cesspool’. In general, I encourage open discourse and the sharing of opinions and ideas, even those which differ from mine. However, the comments section on this blog is not an absolute free speech zone. I absolutely reserve the right to shut down any discussion which in my judgment has turned toxic, and ban (permanently or temporarily) any people who are persistently contributing to that. Here is a non-exclusive list of the sorts of things which might cause me to take action:
- All commenters are expected to act in good faith. Basically, you can have whatever opinion you want, but you have to be real about it. If you’re constantly shifting the goal posts, playing contrarian, or just saying outrageous things to bait people into responding, you’re acting in bad faith. It can sometimes be hard to tell when someone’s acting in bad faith as opposed to just being bad at expressing themselves, but don’t worry; the difference becomes pretty clear over time. If every discussion you involve yourself in explodes into a shitshow clown festival, you can expect disciplinary action.
- Vigorous disagreement is great. Personal insults are not. Pretty straightforward, eh? There’s a pretty clear line between ‘what you just said was stupid’ and ‘you are stupid’, and I expect you to stay on this side of it. Even if the other guy really is stupid. Don’t try to play rules lawyer on me with this, though; if I think you’ve gone too far, I’ll let you know and that is to be the end of that.
- No harassment. I don’t care how much they deserve it. If you use my website as a medium to pursue your personal vendetta against someone, I will fall on you like a ton of bricks.
- Don’t be creepy. Don’t make sexual comments towards other commenters, don’t start going on about your fetishes (unless it’s topical, I guess), just…generally don’t say or do stuff that makes people uncomfortable.
- Keep your illegal shit out of my comments. You would think this would be obvious, but…well, you would be wrong. Incitement to violence? Get it out of here. Death threats? What the hell is wrong with you. And while I have pretty much no ethical qualms about media piracy, I do have to ask you to not link to illegal distributors in the comments, for my own protection.
- Start in with some racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. talk, get a quick trip to Bantown U.S.A. I don’t have patience for it and my other commenters shouldn’t be expected to either. The use of slurs will almost always trigger this rule (the only exceptions I can think of would be when quoting someone who uses them, or discussing how and why other people use them, when relevant to the topic at hand), but you can be a piece of shit without using them, too. Both will get you banned.
Bear in mind that this is only a list of things which might get me involved. If you try to treat this list as a set of rules where you can walk up to the line over and over without quite crossing over and expect to get away with it, you’re in the wrong place. I don’t have patience for rules lawyers.