Originally, my comment policy consisted solely of directing people to this post by Pastor Eric Brown on the subject of internet conduct: “The Internet and Safe Sin“. I expected then that as my blog gained in readership I would have to hammer out a bit more hard-nosed of a comment policy – it’s just the way of things on the interwebs. That time has now come and gone, so it is that at last I debut this updated policy.
1) I am the sole owner and proprietor of this blog.
I pay good money for my domain name and the right to govern it as I please. For this reason all whining about how you feel I am “stifling your freedom of speech” is absurd at the outset and will be wholeheartedly ignored.
2) Please keep your comments to under 500 words apiece.
I take great pains to try and respond to every person who comments here, but I have limited time (don’t we all?) and I do not appreciate having to wade through an essay in order to respond intelligently. I know there are some thoughts you may have that take more than 500 words to get out there, and if they are any good I would be happy to read them, on your blog. Oh, and FYI, it’s pretty obvious when someone is trying to sneak more words in by leaving multiple comments back-to-back, and pretty likely to make me annoyed enough to delete them all except the first 500 words. Save us both some time and don’t go there.
3) Don’t come out swinging.
Some topics I post on have a degree of controversy about them, so I certainly understand and encourage respectful pushback. I’m a big fan of spirited debate, which means I don’t mind being challenged if you think I’m wrong. However, if your first move out of the gate is to a) attack me or another commenter personally, b) rant and rave about how wrong I am and how you have the truth, or c) otherwise seriously annoy me with your tone, I will pull your post, and in some cases might even ban you from commenting. You have been warned.
4) Don’t repeat yourself, or force me to do the same.
Here I take a page out of Nick Norelli’s excellent comment policy (which I so wanted to steal, but forced myself to be creative and make my own, more tailored to this blog). Basically, I don’t like going around in circles. If a conversation turns back on itself and I find the same points being repeated by one or both parties, it is essentially over.
5) Give the benefit of the doubt.
As a Lutheran, I consider it part of the 8th commandment (the one on false witness, for those who number them differently) to put the best construction on everything. Please try not to read me, or anyone else, in the most negative light possible just because you happen to disagree. Reading one another charitably is one of the best ways to prevent misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
6) Answer the question.
If I ask you a question, it’s because I want you to answer it, not because I enjoy rhetoricals. I’m okay with you rephrasing it (up to a point) if you feel I haven’t asked it well, but if you ignore it I can only assume that you don’t answer because you can’t. Seeing as my questions are nearly always very pointed and deliberate, this would not bode well for your side of the conversation.
7) Respect the written language, and for goodness’ sake, don’t forget about the “Return” key.
Few things make a comment more tedious to read through than poor punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and spelling. So few things, in fact, that I can only think of one: failure to use the “Return/Enter” key to space out your thoughts and avoid that “wall-o-text” look in your comment. You don’t have to have a Master’s degree in literature, but please, have mercy on your dear old gradeschool English teacher’s soul and treat the written word with some respect.
8) When I say we’re done, we’re done.
No, I’m not going to be generous and give you the last word (see #1 above). If the conversation is going nowhere, I reserve the right to pull the plug.
9) Enjoy interacting with me, and with other commenters!
I’m really not as hard-nosed as the above list might give the impression of. I might snarl a bit here and come across as gruff (after all, the whole reason I created this extended comment policy is because some were not heeding Pastor Brown’s points, not to mention taking advantage of my patience – I’m a little miffed by that, and I think justifiably so), but I’m actually just a lovable teddy bear once you get to know me. Really I am. At any rate, the vast majority of people I’ve had comment so far have been respectful and courteous, which is tremendously appreciated. So, don’t let any of the above scare you off – unless you are someone who can’t abide by the standards, in which case, good riddance!