October 16, 2005

New Comments Policy

Sorry about the tone of my last post. I had a bad day and needed to vent. I also needed to keep the details to myself – for the moment. If you’re Lebanese, please don’t take offense. It is a pleasure meeting most people in this country.

Everything is peachy here now and I finally moved into a nice apartment. I did get accused of being a spy again last night, but it didn’t bother me. It’s just one of those things that happens. (Shrug.) I also like the guy who said it to me, and he was mostly just teasing.

Regardless of the tone of my posts, the comments box has become a bit of a sewer lately. Since I’m the only person who can do anything about that, here’s the deal.

I don’t have the kind of Internet access I am used to having at home. So I have less time to moderate the comments. And since the comments in general are more rude and obnoxious than usual, I will no longer ask rude people to be nice. (It rarely works anyway.) I will simply ban such people and delete their posts without warning. I am prepared to be ruthless about it if that’s what it takes to clean this place up. Once a year or so the comments need a good purging, and this is one of those times. This is always a popular move. We all know who the trolls are. Even the trolls themselves know who they are.

I will never ban anyone simply for arguing or disagreeing with me. I’m not right about everything. Plenty of people know more than me, and everyone has a different knowledge base and set of experiences. I welcome politely contrary comments. I want polite contrary comments.

However, anyone who makes racist comments will be banned. Anyone who accuses others of being racists (or fascists, or terrorists, or whatever) for no good reason whatsoever will be banned. Anyone who hurls personal insults of any kind at me or at others will be banned. Anyone who is not an established commenter and proves to be a jerk in the first post will be immediately banned.

Think of it this way: If I have a party at my house and someone shows up and picks a fight with me or my friends, they will be kicked out of my house. A good host could not do anything less. I expect commenters on my Web site to behave as though they would behave in my house. Everyone is welcome to argue with me and with others. Plenty of people find a way to disagree with me on a regular basis without being jerks about it. I have forged real-world friendships with people who first introduced themselves by arguing with me in the comments. Those who have a hard time with this concept are poorly socialized and need to go somewhere else.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 16, 2005 4:37 AM
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