In the interest of creating a discourse-friendly environment, comments will be closely monitored. In addition to setting up rules to discourage flame wars, I’d like to challenge many of the typical social trends I see in blog communities elsewhere, especially the formation of a consensus culture within the ranks of the regulars. Too often, when someone comes in with an idea that might not be well thought out, or that disagrees with the author’s perspective, the comment thread gets derailed into a lot of piled-on criticism and attacks on the offending commenter by the “faithful” community members. While this is perfectly normal human behavior, it’s not conducive to the kind of no-stone-left-unturned discussion I am interested in fostering.
Here is a set of guidelines to get you started. This list should be considered a living document and I will amend it where necessary as this experiment proceeds.
1. Respect each other. Try to argue ideas on their own merit. Refrain from personal attacks and name-calling. Threats and sexual harassment will not be tolerated.
2. Don’t pile on. If someone says something you disagree with, and another commenter has already said basically what you want to say, err on the side of leaving it alone. Don’t even post a “me too” or an “amen” to it. This serves no purpose except to enforce the sort of in-group/out-group dynamic that I want to discourage. It also makes for long, tedious comment threads.
3. Don’t be pedantic for the sake of being pedantic. Yes, it is important that we use our words correctly to express our ideas, but we all occasionally screw up and word something in a way that isn’t quite accurate. A request for clarification will usually serve better than an assumption of stupidity and an attempt to play “gotcha!”. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. No one wants to read a 28 comment flame war about the meaning of the word “the”.
4. Try not to take yourself too seriously. Don’t get mired in bad thinking in service to your ego. Own your mistakes. Be open to changing your mind.
5. This is not a politically correct zone. If you feel that the world should share the burden of maintaining an offense-free zone around your delicate sensibilities or if you feel personally offended when others question the foundations of your worldview, this is probably not the place for you. This is a place for challenge and growth, not stagnation and head-patting.
The Ban Stick and its Proper Use:
As the author of this blog, I reserve the right to ban commenters who disregard this code of conduct. However, I don’t intend to wield the ban stick with wild abandon. With a few exceptions, I will try to give first-time offenders the benefit of the doubt, and will attempt to engage them in private conversation about the offending comment in the interest of coming to an understanding.
Bullying, harassment, and threats are grounds for immediate bannination. I will try to keep close tabs on comment threads, but please don’t hesitate to contact me if someone is cruisin’ for a bruisin’.
I will do my best not to use the ban stick to police ideas I find distasteful, assuming those ideas are presented in a respectful manner.
Other Comments Stuff:
Because I am uncomfortable with WordPress’s mandated use of Gravatar, I have installed a plugin to allow the use of local avatars for this site. You can still use Gravatar, but you don’t have to. The Coarse Cut is set up to default to monsterID for commenters without local avatars or Gravatars.
All first-time comments will be held for moderation.