Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Criteria for comments

Last updated July 11.
(still evolving; if you have suggestions, please share them in comments.)
(And when you start getting irritated reading this, skip to the bottom.)

Comments were straying - ok, stampeding - from the Platonic ideal of thoughtful and open-minded civility, so as of early July 2006 I've turned on comment moderation - which means I look at your comment before it gets published, and I only publish comments that follow these guidelines.

  1. Use your real name or adopt a* pseudonym; we need to be able to tell people apart.
    (On the comment submission form, if you click the "Other" radiobutton under "Choose an identity", you'll be able to enter it there.)

  2. Informative civil dialogue is the goal here - not a "paintball fight at close range"* or free-floating hostility or other ritual warfare-related program activities or payola punditry OR derogatory info about people's personal lives OR - aw what the heck - "attacks".

    Comments that aren't civil will be criticized, ignored or deleted.
    As for what civility is - to quote Yubanet, you know it when you see it.

    As a community, we in Nevada County haven't had much experience with informative civil dialogue. Here's why it's worthwhile. Here's how it works:

    • The "dialogue" part -
      "Dialogue" is a back-and-forth where the participants address each other's points and answer each other's questions. It's not taking turns with monologues, and it's not ignoring or just plain refusing to answer on-topic questions.
      (mine, at least.)

      And in the ideal, it's also not "debating" - debating is about scoring points, dialogue is about teaching and learning.
      In the ideal.

    • The "informative" part - say what you know, say what your level of certainty is, say how you know. Give readers the info (and links) so they can calibrate you.

    • The "civil" part -

      A civil comment is one that doesn't stoop to name-calling, that scores low on the scorning-and-shaming index, that doesn't sound like it came from Rush Limbaugh or his enantiomer*. It deals with issues, not with personalities, tries not to label people, tries to work toward solutions and not to foment conflict.

      Keep in mind that intuition and "common sense" aren't always the best guides to acceptable behavior; we're social primates* and we didn't evolve to be fair to other "tribes":

      • For illustration, Ed Cone's Don't Talk While I'm Interrupting

      • For a tool, Joshua Marshall's Clinton test -
        When I come across something fishy from the [opposition], I try to use what I call the Clinton Test to keep myself honest and steer me right.... the Clinton Test is quite simply, how would I react to situation X if [the one doing it] was [of my tribe (or vice versa)]...

  3. Act your age. If your moral development got stuck at the second-grade level,* please go check out the many websites where you'll feel right at home, and will be welcomed by your spiritual kin.
  4. Rule of thumb: when the hackles are up, step away from the keyboard.
  5. The blogger does not always set a good example; feel free to point it out (gently) when I slip up.

to put these strictures in context:
Sorry for the holier-than-thou tone here; trust me, I've been a lot less holy than thou in the past - but now I make up in enthusiasm for what I lacked in aptitude.


Bruce Levy said...


I sent an email to you requesting a copy of the fraudulent post. I never saw it but I think I should be aware of what it said both to protect myself, and maybe figure out who sent it. I'd appreciate it. You'll have my email address from the email I sent you. Thanks agai

Anna said...

Added criterion #3 above in response to our mysterious schoolboy with identity issues (who used Bruce's name to sign a comment)