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Discussion policy

April 16th, 2007

It seems as if I was in tune with the Zeitgeist when I took a few weeks off to think about how to deal with trolls, sockpuppets and other pests. During my downtime, there was the Kathy Sierra harassment case followed by dispute about a proposed code of conduct. It even made Deirdre Macken’s column in the Fin at the weekend.

Different people will have different views about what’s needed, but I no longer have the time or energy to deal with the trouble created by trolls so I want to stop them before they start. That’s why I’ve written my own discussion policy, as follows.

1. This is a forum for discussion. I publish it at my own expense and in my own time. It is not a public place. There is no automatic right to comment here.

2. The purpose of the comments section is to allow constructive discussion of points made in the main post. Comments which include personal attacks on me as author of the post or on other commenters (flames) will be deleted, or edited to remove such points. Commenters with a repeated history of provocation (trolls) will be banned. Comments that seek to score debating points at the expense of others (snarks) are discouraged; this is inevitably subjective, but please try to focus on substantial arguments rather than cheap shots.

4. Coarse language is prohibited, as are racist and sexist comments.

5. Pseudonymous commenting is allowed, but commenters must supply an email address on which they can be contacted. Except in the event of disruptive behaviour (as described under 6 and 7) this information will be kept confidential. Pseudonymous commenters should take particular care to avoid remarks that may be offensive to other participants in the discussion.

6. Commenting under multiple names (sock puppets) is strictly prohibited and will lead to an immediate and permanent ban. Details of persons using sock puppets may be disclosed to others including the operators of other blogs.

7. In the event of a ban, do not attempt unauthorised posting of comments, or harassment through email, phone contact or other methods. Be aware that any such action exposes you to a range of civil and criminal sanctions.

8. Comments are welcome from anyone willing to abide by these rules. Those who don’t like these rules are free to comment elsewhere or to publish their own blogs.

Discussion of this policy is welcome, and the policy may be changed, but the policy is in force with immediate effect, and will apply to any comments made from now on.

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  1. Mr T
    April 16th, 2007 at 20:29 | #1

    Bravo.

    I have always found your blog to be well written and argued.

    Hopefully your new regime will bring back the standard of comments to this same high level

  2. gaddeswarup
    April 17th, 2007 at 09:26 | #2

    A few weeks ago, Jaron Lanier wondered whether anonymity breeds nastiness in the online world:
    http://discovermagazine.com/2007/mar/jarons-world-internet-and-the-war-on-drugs

  3. e sciaroni
    April 17th, 2007 at 10:05 | #3

    More likely, anonymity emboldens the nasties who really have nothing to say.

    I’m glad to see that you’re back. But it is pathetically slow!

  4. jquiggin
    April 17th, 2007 at 11:20 | #4

    I’m harassing my hosting service to improve speed, but not getting anywhere at present

  5. wilful
    April 18th, 2007 at 17:31 | #5

    e sciaroni, are you anti pseudonymous or anonymous comments?

    As long as one maintains consistency in one’s appelation, I can see no reason to object to pseudonyms, and some good reasons to favour them.

  6. rabee
    April 18th, 2007 at 17:42 | #6

    I suggest that the policy be split into a preamble and the rules section.
    For instance:

    This is a forum for discussion. I publish it at my own expense and in my own time. It is not a public place. There is no automatic right to comment here. Comments are welcome from anyone willing to abide by the following rules. Those who don’t like these rules are free to comment elsewhere or to publish their own blogs. Discussion of this policy is always welcome, either send me an e-mail or discuss the rules in the regular “message board” posts.

    1. The purpose of the comments section is to allow constructive discussion of points made in the main post.

    2. Comments which include personal attacks on me as author of the post or on other commenters (flames) will be deleted, or edited to remove such points.

    3. Commenters with a repeated history of provocation (trolls) will be banned.

    4. Comments that seek to score debating points at the expense of others (snarks) are discouraged; this is inevitably subjective, but please try to focus on substantial arguments rather than cheap shots.

    5. Coarse language is prohibited, as are racist and sexist comments.

    6. Pseudonymous commenting is allowed, but commenters must supply an email address on which they can be contacted. Except in the event of disruptive behaviour (as described under 6 and 7) this information will be kept confidential. Pseudonymous commenters should take particular care to avoid remarks that may be offensive to other participants in the discussion.

    7. Commenting under multiple names (sock puppets) is strictly prohibited and will lead to an immediate and permanent ban. Details of persons using sock puppets may be disclosed to others including the operators of other blogs.

    8. In the event of a ban, do not attempt unauthorised posting of comments, or harassment through email, phone contact or other methods. Be aware that any such action exposes you to a range of civil and criminal sanctions.

  7. April 21st, 2007 at 13:29 | #7

    Strikes me as the Soviet Constitution version. Too wordy. I would suggest Kevin Drum’s as ammended

    If I or my bunnies get sufficiently annoyed with you, we will delete your comments. If you don’t like it, tough.

    If you piss Ms. Rabett off, hide. If you are selling something we won’t buy and we will trash your comment. Irrevocably.

    OTOH, we intend to maintain our open door even to trash if they behave themselves.

  8. April 22nd, 2007 at 18:06 | #8

    Eli,
    While Kevin’s has the benefit of brevity, it lacks that of clarity. JQ’s answers the questions about such matters as what will sufficiently annoy the bunnies.

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