Category Archives: Blog Comments

Comment Policy

To date, I’ve had an open policy regarding comments here. Unless something was obvious spam, it goes through. I’ve allowed the infamous Internet troll, Jadegold, to do a drive-by, and I permitted one disgusting remark about my cats to show that felines are often better than humans. I do this because I want to have a free flow of ideas, no matter how much I disagree with them.

Giants_and_Freia

However, being merely insulting and constantly misrepresenting what someone has to say does not add anything of value, and at this point, I’m having to deal with a commenter who insists on repeating those offenses. He knows who he is. If he’s willing to make comments that address the ideas of an article without sinking into twisting words and ad hominem attacks, his comments will be welcome.

I believe in free expression. But the reality of freedom is that to keep the genuine trolls from destroying the process, people have to take turns speaking. And shouting insults at another speaker keeps speech from being heard. It’s something like what is done with the Westboro Baptist Church people. They should be free to express themselves. But they are not free to deny others the same freedom.

405px-Fish_on_Trawler

Your Comments Are Welcome

During my time writing and reading blog articles, I have seen a variety of approaches to comments:

1. No comments allowed.

This means that the reader gets to do nothing but read. In cases like this, the article must stand on its own. Presumably the writer believes the article to be significant in its own right and not in need of discussion.

2. Members only comments.

Members of the discussion group get to comment at will, but if they go squirrelly, they can be cast beyond the pale. This allows the security of being an insider, but it also means that someone can become unpopular easily.

3. Comments allowed, but subject to moderation.

In cases like this, some comments get through, but the owner of the blog decides. The writers usually explain that they get all manner of inappropriate comments that have to be filtered out, but in my observation, many of those comments merely disagree with the writer. Naturally, that’s inappropriate to some people. This method creates a delay in the appearance of comments, so a lively discussion is retarded.

4. Free for all.

There are no filters, no moderation, and no restraint. Comments appear in real time, more or less, but so does spam, and nothing stops a troll.

5. Free for all, sort of.

That’s my approach here. I use the WordPress spam filter, which holds what its artificial intelligence regards as junk comments for my review, but that’s my only limit. Otherwise, anything goes.

Once on the On Point discussion board, a character named “me” kept informing me that I’m a republican (me didn’t capitalize anything, seemingly). I told him several times that I’m not, but he continued in his foolishness, largely because he disagreed with what I was saying. He finally provided his evidence: a Greg Camp who at one point ran for the office of district attorney in Manhattan on the Republican ticket. He told me that I couldn’t be the guitarist for Smashmouth, since he didn’t think that I was “cool.” It was an odd moment having someone repeatedly tell me that I’m not who I am.

On Common Gunsense, the owner, Joan Peterson, lets a few comments through when she wishes to belittle or dismiss them. Mikeb302000 lets most comments through, although there is a delay while the blog writers do whatever they do before approving remarks. This ends up putting comments out of order and slows down the discussion.

Of course, the owner of the blog gets to decide the policy. I favor whatever version of a free for all makes sense. That’s because I don’t want an echo chamber. If readers disagree with me, I’m pleased to entertain their ideas and objections.

This year will be one for shouting and bickering, thanks to the coming election, but I do hope for the possibility of rational discussion, even between those who strongly disagree about the topic. I’ll have more to say on this subject in the future.

Comments, Please!

In a response to my article on Somali pirates, I received the following comment:

“Alan stewart says:

2011/03/04 at 01:07

Your remarkable lack of knowledge is surpassed only by your baboonish sense of your own bravery. It might be best if you confined your opinions to whether coors light beats bud.”

My policy about comments has always been that anything that isn’t obviously spam (thank you, Akismet) will be accepted, and I’m not changing just because of an idiotic remark.  I didn’t promise not to lambaste the same.

The problem with the comment that I quoted is that it tells me nothing about what the writer objects to, other than me.  He claims that I lack knowledge.  I’m sure that I do on many subjects.  I tend not to write about such matters.  If Mr. stewart believes that I’m missing information, he ought to tell me specifically what it is.  Otherwise, the comment is useless.

I’m not being merely defensive here.  stewart’s comment has taught me nothing.  I have not been convinced of the error of my ways.  He did not carry the conversation forward; he shut it down between the two of us.  As such, I fail to understand why he commented in the first place, other than as a schoolyard taunt.

Of course, I know that my regular readers have much more class, and I’m grateful to you.  Anyone who wishes to dispute me is free to do so without editing, but I do hope that such comments will show detail and good reasoning.

If you’re curious, here is my response:

“Greg Camp says:

2011/03/04 at 04:55

Rather than toss insults, would you care to explain your objections? It’s easy to accuse someone of lacking knowledge. It’s more difficult to list the facts that appear to be missing. You knew what a letter of marque is, it seems, and I know what it means. That’s an item of shared knowledge. But will you really begrudge me a bit of bravado, especially as an aside at the end of the article?

Regarding beer, if it must be Budweiser, I’ll take the real one, made in the town of Budweise in the Czech Republic. America’s most popular brews were best described by Monty Python–like sex in a canoe: fucking close to water. My choice when I can get it is a British ale, Fuller’s ESB, for example.

By the way, since they’re proper nouns, Bud and Coors need to be capitalized.”

I hope that I wasn’t being peevish in correcting his slovenly use of capital letters.