Comment Policy (a.k.a Keep The Banhammer Close)

My philosophy of moderation is, in a nutshell, “If your website’s full of assholes, it’s your fault“. (Alternatively, you could say it’s a strong commitment to avoiding Geek Social Fallacy 1.) This means that it’s the responsibility of the mod(s) to, as much as possible, remove and ban for nasty comments and not the responsibility of the community to argue against or otherwise prevent nasty comments. The justification people generally provide for allowing the community to “self-moderate” is that forums or blog comments are a public forum (hence the name) for speech, and so shouldn’t be moderated to remove speech unless absolutely necessary.

The problem with this is twofold. One is simple: if you do this, it leads to situations like on 4chan or Youtube, where the commentors are all either evil or stupid or both, because the nasty commentors and the stubbornly ignorant commentors chased away all the nice, reasonable commentors long ago. This is not a state I’m going to allow my blog comments to be in.

Two is not so simple, but possibly even more important: Blog comments aren’t really just a public forum, because this is my blog, which means by not removing horrible comments I’m implicitly endorsing them. By allowing the trolls who smell of racism or sexism or a perverse hatred of other commentors to spew their respective shit over my blog, I’m saying this blog is a place where racism/sexism/assholery will be tolerated. But I don’t want it to be a place where those things are tolerated, so, I’m going to make it a place where they aren’t.

Into the actual rules!:

  1. No bigotry. This includes racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and any of a long list of specific and less specific kinds of bigotry I could spend quite a long time naming. The lack of a perfectly clear delineation of kinds of bigotry is intentional: rules lawyering about who exactly you’re allowed to be an asshole to is not something I intend to put up with. I do want to make two things explicit from the start, though. The first is that if you disagree with someone they are “wrong” or possibly “evil” but they are almost never “crazy” (and when they are, that’s usually about as effective an insult as “has cancer”). The second is, this INCLUDES bigotry targeted at people you know I hate. Ann Coulter is a horrible, horrible person but she is not a bitch or a cunt and I will remove your comments and probably ban you if you say she is.
  2. No personal attacks, or generally being nasty to other people. Attack arguments, not people, as much as possible.  (Note though, that not all things that are technically ad hominems are personal attacks. If you claimed your opponent has a financial interest in cobras that’s making her argue that they are cute and cuddly, that’s definitely an ad hominem, it may or may not be a good argument, but I’m definitely not going to call it a personal attack.)
  3. Assume good faith when possible. A considered or justifiable assumption of bad faith won’t get your comment removed, but odd or unjustifiable assumptions will.
  4. Technically speaking, this is not a safe space. I do not promise that either I or other commentors will trigger warning for things you might find triggering, even if the trigger seems obvious. That said, I will try to TW at least for the most common sorts of triggers, and intentionally trying to trigger people is an automatic ban.
  5. Comments should be at least vaguely about the topic of the post unless it declares otherwise.
  6. I realize that this is only one blog on the entire internet, and so eventually it might come up that one commenter recognizes another from some other place. Please try not to continue arguments that started other places. It’s not always entirely possible to pretend like you don’t have history with people, and I understand that, but I also don’t want to be part of a flame war so intense it spans multiple blogs.
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