Nov 9, 2011
Blog policies (Nov. 2011)
Since it’s been 19 months since I last updated my blog policies, I decided that it’s time to revisit them.
Recently, Tobias Buckell posted an update about his decision to turn off comments on his site entirely. I thought it was really interesting that even though many people warned him that he might lose readers when he turned off comments, in fact the opposite has occurred.
“Traffic surged as I both increased my blogging here, and also found my voice. My voice is me, and me was always self-censoring posts because he didn’t want to get yelled at by people who spend all their free time online being right all the time no matter what.”
I’m a little tired of getting yelled at, too, and it does make me want to self-censor. It doesn’t happen that often, but I can pretty much predict, now, which posts will bring out people who only seem to want to tell me — as harshly as possible — that I’m wrong. I think these kinds of comments are destructive. They don’t foster dialogue. And they definitely don’t make me want to change my mind. They make me angry and nervous and stressed out … and then they make me delete that comment.
The vast majority of people who comment on my site are great. They don’t get all up in my face and scream at me (virtually). I’ve been experimenting with various commenting procedures because I want to continue to have the discussions I have had with many commenters on my blog. For example, I shut off threaded comments. I got this idea after examining John Scalzi’s site, which has great discussions. Not having threaded comments seems to help prevent derailing, so I’m going to continue to not have threaded comments.
I’ve also been trying to be more hardcore about shutting down commenters who are too aggressive or trollish. Sometimes commenters disagree with me when I tell them to tone it down, but that’s the way it goes. It’s my blog, so I get to decide what types of comments are not OK here. You get to do the same thing at your site. That is the Law of the Internet.
There are some types of comments that will consistently be shut down by me. Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- I don’t tolerate homophobic comments.
- I don’t tolerate transphobic comments.
- I don’t tolerate misogynistic comments.
- I don’t tolerate racist comments.
In addition, I encourage commenters to consider whether their comment actually contributes to the discussion. If it doesn’t — if the comment’s only purpose is to tell me that I’m an idiot and shouldn’t be posting this — then I urge you to not leave that comment. It will only derail the conversation and, honestly, it’s unkind.
I urge everyone who wants to comment to think about one thing: Am I being kind and generous in this comment? Yes or no. If no, please don’t leave the comment.
Finally, as I noted back in 2010, I won’t always allow commenting. Some posts will be closed, because they’re not meant for discussion. But if you have feedback for me, you’re always welcome to send me an email. It sometimes takes me months to respond (sorry!) but I do try to respond, eventually.
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