Nearly a half million (non-spam) comments have been posted on this blog. One of my favorite things about the blog is interacting with you guys, whether it’s in the comments, by email, or in person. I’ve long been a firm believer in not censoring comments — I appreciate even criticism, and in general I think the negative tone of certain commenters reflects more on them than it does on me. If those people want to make fools of themselves, then so be it.
However, lately I’ve received more and more comments from readers about how they’re not enjoying the comments section as much. There’s no doubt that there’s an increase in the number of people leaving comments that contribute nothing to the conversation, and comments that are racist, sexist, homophobic, hateful, etc. (which is perhaps generally reflective of the dialogue going on in the U.S. right now in general). So I want to do something about that.
I’m not at all interested in micro managing the comments section of the blog. If you’re someone who uses the comments section almost exclusively to be negative, you can continue to do that. That’s not what I’m trying to stop here.
Instead, going forward I’m going to be blacklisting commenters who are consistently hateful in the comments section. I’m talking primarily about people who are racist, religiously intolerant, sexist, homophobic, use bad language to label people, etc. So if you notice a few consistent blog trolls disappear, now you know why.
As we change our policy on this, please keep a few things in mind:
- Just because your comment doesn’t show up right away doesn’t mean you’re being censored. When you post for the first time from an IP, your comment goes into a queue for manual approval.
- As before, just because a comment is on the site, doesn’t mean we endorse it. Keep in mind that team-OMAAT isn’t checking the comments section 24/7, so it’s possible we miss something. Besides, our goal isn’t to analyze each individual comment, but rather to get rid of the people who have a record of doing the above.
- This is all a slippery slope, so please understand we’re using our best judgment here. If you’re a reasonable human being, this won’t affect you, other than that you’ll perhaps enjoy the comments section more again.
Thanks, as always, for reading, and hopefully most of you can appreciate the comments section becoming a less hateful place. Again, this isn’t intended to stop criticism or dissenters, but rather to stop those who are incapable of participating in a civilized manner. Perhaps we’ll eventually publish guidelines on what is appropriate to comment, though I’m hoping “use common sense” is sufficient.