New blog civility standard

As most of y’all know, I have a double standard in trying to foster civility on this blog — I allow people who use their real names on their comments greater leeway in their comments. Although there are things that go too far even to allow named commenters to say.

The overall goal is to create a welcoming space where we can have lively discussions of public affairs, without the ad hominem attacks that discourage many thoughtful people from participating in blogs.

Several of my real-name commenters complained that I wasn’t being strict enough with the anonymous folks — allowing them to bait everyone and get discussions off course. I’ll accept service on that. (My only defense, or explanation, is that in deleting all the way worse comments from those same anonymous folks, I sort of get desensitized, so that something that seems over the boundaries to you seems mild by comparison to me. Also, all those years of getting nasty comments aimed at me via mail, phone and other means sort of built up my calluses to where it’s a little harder to offend me than it is many other folks.)

Michael Rodgers suggested a new standard:

If you wish to continue to have anonymous commenters, I suggest you actually implement your policy by requiring the following two things from every anonymous commenter:

(1) Every comment must be on topic.
(2) No comment may be about other people’s personal or professional life, except if such comment is respectful and on point.

That sounded worth trying to me. (But I should add, Michael, that in a perfect world I wouldn’t allow anonymity at all, but I reluctantly concluded years ago that I’d be eliminating a lot of thoughtful, good-faith commenters if I didn’t.)

Then, Kathryn Fenner added a codicil:

How about no personal remarks of any kind towards identified people by unidentified people? Seems fair to me.

So I’ve decided to try those suggestions, and see how it works out.

Everyone should consider this their official notice. I realize that not everyone will see it, as people engage the blog different ways. But for a time, I will also email anyone who inadvertently runs afoul of the new policy — assuming I have a valid email address for that person.

Yours in fostering constructive conversations…

56 thoughts on “New blog civility standard

  1. Silence

    As a thoughtful, good faith commenter, I wish that I didn’t have to remain anonymous, but I have been instructed by the powers-that-be to refrain from using my true identity.

    Like Spider-Man, I must wear the mask to protect my loved ones from danger and retribution, from being placed in jeopardy.

    We superheroes have our reasons for our actions of course, but we can’t always expect non-mutants/mere mortals/average people to understand why we do what we do. If I’m seven times trollier than the average blog commenter, it’s just another one of my superpowers.

    Reply
  2. Dave Crockett

    @ Brad et al.

    Henceforth, Dave C. is fully identified as Dave Crockett. Yeah, I know THAT sounds made up, too, but:
    1. Yes, my name really IS Dave Crockett;
    2. Yes, I do claim 5th cousin relationship to the other Dave Crockett;
    2. No, I do not own a coonskin cap (not since I was around 5, anyway); and
    4. Yes, I have been kidded unmercifully about my name for all of my nearly 60 years.

    Thank you, Brad, for your efforts on this blog. While I don’t comment often and I frequently have some disagreement with your and others’ stated positions, I do find this one of the most intellectually interesting sites in this corner of the world.

    Reply
  3. Brad

    Well, welcome to the ranks of the full-name blogger, Dave!

    And may I say, if you don’t mind my doing so, that as a kid in the 50s I was a HUGE fan of your cousin — who, most people probably don’t know, preferred to be called “David” rather than Davy.

    You know, when I was a reporter covering a rural beat in West Tennessee, Crockett County was one of the five counties I was responsible for. And my bureau office was just a few miles down the road from Rutherfordton, the famous Crockett’s last home before heading to the Alamo (which was in Gibson, not Crockett, county).

    Reply
  4. Doug Ross

    All I want for Christmas is an edit button… or at least a five minute window to delete a post. I make too many typos/grammar errors that I regret three seconds after clicking submit.

    Reply
  5. Juan Caruso

    First, i must commend you, Brad. on keeping me informed on stuff I am likely to have missed – Kudos!

    Secondly, [this] “civility” standard is PC b.s., as no doubt many realized long ago. Limiting (a la courtroom decorum dictates) freedom of expression stifles CRITICAL thinking, which is NOT to be confined by artificial constructs unsupported by pure logic…

    Reply
  6. Herb Brasher

    And a [like] button, except I’d get lazy and push it far too often, which is probably the reason Brad doesn’t have one.

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  7. Brad

    Juan, sorry, but I edited out references to another contributor.

    I’m really trying to get us past this interpersonal criticism thing and stick to the IDEAS. And one thing I didn’t mention in this post, but did on the previous thread on the subject, is that while I’ll be tougher on the anonymous folks, I’m going to do my best to get everyone to focus less on what they think of each other, and more on the issues..

    And Herb, you’re right. I don’t LIKE the idea of a LIKE button very much…

    Reply
  8. Silence

    @ Bryan Caskey – To get a “photo icon thingy” go to http://www.gravatar.com and register using the email address that you use when you comment on this blog. You’ll then get the opportunity to upload a photo. It will work across several different blogging/commenting platforms. It’s pretty easy, and should take about 5 minutes.

    Reply
  9. Silence

    @Brad – The interpersonal relationships and occasional sparring are part of what makes the comment section of your blog a “community”. If I tease you, bud or Kathryn it’s only because I like ya’ll and despite different political points of view, it’s always in fun.

    Remember the “budgasms” thread back on bud’s birthday? Good times.

    Reply
  10. Kathryn Fenner

    Many of us do not enjoy teasing, especially about particulars known about our lives that are not known about the anonymous “teasers” and we aren’t talking good-natured ribbing here. We are talking about snide remarks about our life choices.

    Doug knows where I live and I know where he lives. If he wants to diss my hood, I suppose I can do likewise, but more germane to some discussions may be that he has chosen to live in the exurbs while I live downtown, and how this may color our perceptions of fairness.

    I do not comment on troll sites. I do not read comments on troll sites. It harshes whatever mellow I have been able to muster and I need all the mellow I can get.

    Reply
  11. Kevin Dietrich

    As much as I enjoy open discussion, which sometimes involves contributions from people who have an understandable reason for not wanting their names revealed, there’s no doubt that more than a few folks will say just about anything if they know they can’t be identified.

    I stopped reading the comment sections on most local media sites long ago because it often proved to be a nothing more than a collection of clods interested in either provoking a reaction, grinding an ax or being dead set on demonstrating to the world how little they knew by banging out incoherent thoughts on myriad subjects.

    Reply
  12. tavis micklash

    Kathryn Fenner says:
    November 30, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Many of us do not enjoy teasing, especially about particulars known about our lives that are not known about the anonymous “teasers” and we aren’t talking good-natured ribbing here. We are talking about snide remarks about our life choices.

    My comments were not meant as a judgement on anyone else. Just my own opinions. I take my frustrations out on people at work not here.

    I post with my real name so its not a change for me.

    Reply
  13. Kathryn Fenner

    Tavis, I was responding to Silence, in fact.

    I would argue that a governmental employer may not hinder an employee’s free speech rights. A private employer, sure, but not a governmental one, so Silence should be able to post under his real name.

    Reply
  14. Bart

    What Kevin Dietrich said.

    I don’t mind using my name, Bart Rogers when posting a comment on this site but absolutely refuse to do so on other sites.

    We have our own opinions based on different real life experiences and they do contribute to how we view life and form our opinions.

    If I had to make an educated guess on the I.Q. level of the regulars who contribute on this site, it would be several points above the 120 level. But, it is important to remember, a high I.Q. does not translate to being “smart” or having common sense.

    As the head of a very good college in North Carolina once cautioned me, a well maintained 6 cylinder engine can outperform an 8 cylinder that does not receive the required maintenance to keep it operating at a high level.

    Reply
  15. Silence

    @ Kathryn – I apologize for any snide remarks I’ve previously made, and in advance for ones I may make in the future. All are intended as good natured ribbing. There’s plenty of life details known about us anonymous denizens of Brad’s blog as well, though. I’ve posted many, many details of my life. Some of which are even true.

    Reply
  16. Silence

    @ Kathryn – I do work for (several) private employers. I haven’t worked directly for an agency in over 5 years.
    Besides, it is my spouse – and not my employer – who limits my free speech rights and insists on me maintaining a high degree of anonymity.
    Besides, Brad, Doug & Tavis all know who I am. You do too, I think, don’t you?

    Reply
  17. Mark Stewart

    Bart,

    Life is about realizing potential. Or going down trying. Complacent motoring may run the miles, but that’s not living. I bet you know that.

    Reply
  18. Brad

    Correct. I did not let that gauntlet hit the ground, because it would ignite a series of (attempted) comments that I wasn’t interested in reading.

    I was being preemptive. Like Tom Cruise in “Minority Report.”

    Reply
  19. Silence

    @ Kathryn and Brad – How are we supposed to know who is annoying Kathryn if we can’t say their names?

    Spoiler Alert:
    As you will all recall, Dumbledore consistently used the name of Voldemort/Tom Riddle when everyone else was afraid to, typically referring to him as “He who must not be named”. By doing so, Dumbledore was standing up to Voldemort, he was being defiant and refusing to act scared.

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  20. Brad

    That’s because Voldemort posed an existential threat, rather than a mere nuisance.

    Excuse me for not wanting to be annoyed, but I’m uninterested in having anyone test my civility policy with statements in the general form of “The people who most irritate me on this blog are X and Y,” because then I’ll have to read a whole raft of complaining comments from X and Y trying to defend themselves, and complaining to ME that I’m being mean to them by not letting them do so.

    Y’all don’t have to read the unpublished comments. I do. And I assert my right, this being my blog, to avoid being thus annoyed.

    Reply
  21. Bart

    Mark Stewart says: December 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm
    Bart,

    Life is about realizing potential. Or going down trying. Complacent motoring may run the miles, but that’s not living. I bet you know that.

    Mark,

    You are absolutely right.

    Reply
  22. Silence

    @ Bart – Let me tell you what Silence is packin’ right here, all right. We got 4:11 Positrac outback, 750 double pumper, Edelbrock intake, bored over 30, 11 to 1 pop-up pistons, turbo-jet 390 horsepower. We’re talkin’ some f’n muscle.

    Reply
  23. Steven Davis II

    Silence – Is that a direct quote from Dazed and Confused?

    “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”

    Reply
  24. Kathryn Fenner

    Brad is always a gentleman! I do not agree with some of his views, nor the dismissive tone he sometimes takes, but Brad is cool. So is Doug. So are Bart, Silence, Tavis…..and all the liberals, of course, and Mark Stewart, …..

    Someone who is completely biased against my profession as a whole…

    Reply
  25. Bart

    Silence says: December 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm@ Bart – Let me tell you what Silence is packin’ right here, all right. We got 4:11 Positrac outback, 750 double pumper, Edelbrock intake, bored over 30, 11 to 1 pop-up pistons, turbo-jet 390 horsepower. We’re talkin’ some f’n muscle.

    Gotta admit, that is some f’n muscle. Won’t say what mine is because the gummit has declared it a “Top Secret” and my real name is protected so I won’t fall into enemy hands. Just the force of the exhaust can collapse a 2 foot thick concrete wall – at 40 paces. :)

    Reply
  26. Michael Rodgers

    Kathryn,
    Brad asked you more than once not to go there. It’s like you want to undermine the new civility standard and go back to what it was. I worked very hard to convince Brad to change his implementation of his policy. I don’t appreciate your interest in continuing to call people out.
    Regards,
    Mike

    Reply
  27. Silence

    @ SDII – All right, all right, all right.

    Yup, it was from Wooderson (Matthew McConauhey in his debut role). One of the greatest and most quotable characters in all of cinema.

    “Let me tell you this, the older you do get the more rules they’re gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N.”

    Reply
  28. Silence

    ” I worked very hard to convince Brad to change his implementation of his policy.” – Michael Rodgers

    So while you were hard at work lobbying Brad behind the scenes, were you determined to intentionally prevent people from having a good time? This is how facism starts.

    When they came for the drinkers, I didn’t say anything, b/c I wasn’t a drinker.
    When they came for the smokers, I didn’t say anything b/c I wasn’t a smoker.
    When they came for the blog commenters, there was nobody left to speak out for me.

    Reply
  29. Tim

    “So while you were hard at work lobbying Brad behind the scenes, were you determined to intentionally prevent people from having a good time? This is how facism starts.”

    This is how hyperbole starts.

    Reply
  30. Mab

    “It’s like you want to undermine the new civility standard and go back to what it was.” ~Michael

    “I am for peace but … they are for war.” ~David [Psalm Chapter 120 Verse 7]

    It’s not the first time, Michael, and you are absolutely right. But, I “may be” one of those “two commenters.”

    :) Peace and blessings :)

    Reply
  31. Nick Nielsen

    Guess I’ll keep posting as me, then.

    None of my anonymous handles would be caught hanging around a place like this anyway… 😉

    Reply

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