I just deleted four comments from an anonymous commenter at IP (U. of Oregon). I might have left them up if the commenter had identified himself, or posted without insulting us, or without telling us to “get the facts” while himself making reckless assertions, or contributed more to the exchange than his own shrill opinions. Readers are welcome to comment here, anonymously if they wish, and even if they disagree strongly about something. But they should be civil about it, and if they won’t or can’t be civil they should not be surprised if we delete their posts. You are welcome here to discuss and argue. If you mainly want to vent, go to a bar or start your own blog.

21 thoughts on “Comments”

  1. I have a question regarding rules for comments. Are there any specific rules for comments besides the ones you mention in the post above? I ask because I stop by your blog once in a while and kind of catch up. Sometimes I comment, though it isn’t often substantive as I’m kind of out of my depth here. The last two comments I’ve made here were deleted. (Think GIANT ROBOT SPIDERS) I was making a small joke, but apparently the comments weren’t appreciated. I was unsure why, but just decided you guys had gotten a little big for your britches and were indulging your snobbish side. I say that with affection.

    But having seen your recent post on comments I reconsidered that conclusion and I’m wondering if perhaps I violated some rule I missed in one of my absences.

  2. There are no formal rules. I am referring mainly to comments that include personal attacks (I include ad hominem arguments in this category). There are other forms of abuse, obviously. And some of the other contributors here may have a lower threshold for deleting comments than I do, which might explain why someone axed your spider comments. (Or maybe there is more to the story?)

    Anyway, I’m inclined to let most comments be, but my experience is that people who make personal attacks in their initial comments are usually incorrigible, and it’s better to delete their comments immediately rather than waste time quarreling with them or allow them to degrade the tone of discussion threads.

    Speaking of which, I just spent more time than I wanted in responding to you. So here’s the simple rule: Don’t be a jerk. If you have to ask whether a particular behavior is jerky, it probably is. Use common sense and try to err on the side of politeness. I will try to do the same.

  3. And some of the other contributors here may have a lower threshold for deleting comments than I do, which might explain why someone axed your spider comments. (Or maybe there is more to the story?)

    I remember one of the spider comments. It was on a post that I wrote about China’s chances with an invasion of Taiwan. The comment is no longer there, but I sure as heck wasn’t the fellow who deleted it.

    Jonathan is right when he says that everyone has a different threshold for deletion, but I can’t be included as one of them. Considering that I’ve recieved a few death threats in my time, ad hominem attacks simply don’t phase me.

    But this isn’t my blog. I contribute, sure, but it’s Jonathan’s place. What he’s comfortable with is what I’m comfortable with.

    I will delete comments that contain some of the more blatant swear words or pornogrophic messages, though. The blogs where I contribute might appeal to adults but they all have to be family friendly.

    I’ll also delete repeat comments. Sometimes it’s a case of someone hitting the PUBLISH button a few too many times, sometimes it’s an inept form of spam attack by a troll. No need to clutter up my deathless prose with carbon copies of the same comment, though.


  4. I like GIANT ROBOT SPIDERS, especially when they tour Japan. They’re cute. And I’m a jerk, too, but Jonathan has always been nice to me, so I don’t know what happened.

  5. But you’re our kind of jerk, Mitch!

    Maybe we should have a rule that every two serious comments must be followed by at least one funny comment. That might improve a lot of blogs, come to think of it.

  6. Maybe we should have a rule that every two serious comments must be followed by at least one funny comment

    Give me a break, Jonathan, will you? Every time I try to be funny, I have to look up terms like ‘humor, sense of’, ‘comical’, ‘hilarious’, ‘fun’, etc, ect, in the dictionary first. It’s a lot of work, you know.

  7. “Our kind of jerk”: I might observe my husband’s “friends” are my “jerks.” This is partially that guys accept some pretty obnoxious behavior, but it is also his history with them. He remembers the dumb things they did in junior high. He sees how far they’ve come and I see how far they have to go. Our histories with people helps us “hear” them when they write with more sympathy. I suspect we hear new-time posters with less sympathy than old ones because of that.

  8. This is an important discussion to have because it airs your blog’s parameters permitting censorship. You guys with the power to delete comments are Über Gotts. Me, I just have the “Post” and “Preview” buttons, as well as degrees of self-control, at my disposal.

    My libertarian sensibility fears the deletion of comments because the Über Gotts don’t agree with them. And at times when any comment is deleted because it is perceived to be dissonant with a given thread, the purge invokes the Stalinist purges of party officials who were not “in line” with Stalin’s policies during the fifties.

    Where personal offenses are concerned, the offended Über Gott should ask himself if the offense is simply cognitive, or malicious, before hitting “Delete.” In the first case my counsel is “Suck it up.” In the second: “Fire away!”

    It is a fine line, and one that I think Chicagoboyz has walked well so far.

  9. Steve,

    Thanks, but this isn’t about censorship, it’s about private property and editorial standards. This is our blog and we get to set the tone. If by “suck it up” you are referring to criticism, that’s fine. But if sucking it up means tolerating nastiness and name-calling, I think it’s clear that the more of it that we tolerate, the more the comments come to resemble the comments at LGF or an unmoderated newsgroup. That’s just how these things work, especially with popular threads. Since it’s easily possible to argue civilly, and since some commenters become discouraged from commenting if nastiness is tolerated, and since nasty comments tend to elicit defensive responses that further distract from the original topic, I prefer to err on the side of not tolerating nastiness.

    My co-bloggers may have different standards than I do. Personally, I have a low threshold for deleting comments that speculate that our mothers spanked us too much (as did one of the comments that inspired this thread), and I no longer want to take the time to argue about marginal cases.

  10. Johnathan, thanks, but who is arguing? I thought we would agree that intellectual challenges to one’s established cognitive formats should be tolerated, and even welcomed. Malicious, anti-intellectual, hateful nut-jobbery should go.

    In misjudging the difference between the two, a purging editor may rightly face the accusation of censorship. Here’s an abridged psychoanalytical definition of censorship that reflects the repressive tendencies of the office of Censor, that any freedom-loving American should abhor: (from Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition. 2004) “the agency by which unpleasant ideas…are kept from entering consciousness…” This is the edge of the anti-intellectual abyss that any print editor can easily slip into.

    It is a hard job you do. I have commended your filter up to this point, although a few purges have been inconsistent. Just a heads up, bud!

  11. BTW, I see from James’s comment that he did not delete the “robot spiders” comment, so I must have done it. I don’t remember doing it or why, but I doubt that I did it capriciously. Perhaps, Apologist, your “small joke” wasn’t as innocuous as you suggest?

  12. I’ll tell you my rule. If I perceive that the person is being insulting or disrespectful on one of my posts, off it comes. It is discretionary with me, and there are no rules beyond my subjective judgment. I am indifferent to charges of censorship. If anyone wants to call what I am doing censorship, groovy. I have been called every damn thing you can think of at one time or another.

    The blog is our front porch. It faces the street. You may stop in and join the conversation. But I refuse to become legalistic about when I think someone is being boorish. Everyone gets unlimited chances to behave the next time. I hold no grudges. But I am going with my gut on this. If in doubt, don’t post it.

  13. Oh, the heads-up is appreciated. I think arbitrary policies are fine (that reminds me, I need to see if my comments at DU stayed up on the forum). I do it, too. I like; “you can even be a bit insulting, but try to be interesting. Insulting and dull, out you go!”

  14. Geez, I didn’t know being a jerk was supposed to be profound. Now I feel uncomfortable. Alert the lawyers.

    Anyway, let’s watch the GIANT ROBOT SPIDERS devour Hello Kitty. They’re much cuter than she ever was.

  15. Sam S,

    I suspect your comments here would not be a problem, not matter what our policies.


    I said you are our kind of jerk, not a profound jerk. Don’t make me change my mind. BTW, you overlooked the most important part of the Taiwanese VP’s statement:

    “. . . of course, we can afford to be more like Hello Kitty now that we have those neutron bombs. Hey, turn off that tape recorder.”


  16. We’re not sufficiently important, however, for the BBC to hire hecklers. (Their interpretation; The Telegraph’s interpretation.) Instapundit cites USS Neverdock.

    We are reminded of Remington’s telegraph to Hearst. And we are thankful for the bright light and air that multiple media bring to such discussions. This includes Belmont Club’s analysis of the AP photos of the Iraqi election workers’ murders. How attractive a Civil War in Iraq appears to be to some.

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