Seriously reconsidering my comment policy.

Forgive me, this is one of those administrative “how the sausage is made” posts.

I’m giving serious thought to revising my comment policy. When I started blogging, I wanted to show a strong respect for free speech and open dialog, and so I committed not to delete anything, no matter how offensive or worthless. I’ve only ever done so when the comment contained a threat of violence.

But that was almost 20 years ago, and the Internet was a different place then. There was no Twitter and no Facebook–ie, no central place where users could engage in conversation. My sense was that I wanted my page to be a place where people could toss out conflicting ideas and make their voices heard–but in today’s online environment, that sounds ridiculous and grandiose.

As I’ve watched ugly comments pile up in recent weeks, particularly on that Bruce Jenner article, that ridiculousness has been underscored. There’s really no need for me to use my miniscule corner of the Internet to protect some asshole’s “free speech.” If a person wants to make their feelings heard, even about a topic raised here, there are plenty of much larger forums in which they can do so freely.

I’d like this site to be a place people can come and read without feeling attacked, even by anonymous commenters. I’ve long held a belief that choosing to read the comments is a choice to be exposed to hate, and I still think that’s true across the web, but this is my site, which I pay for and maintain, and I don’t know any reason that rule needs to apply here.

So while I’m not making any change at this moment, at some point in the coming days I think the policy is going to shift, to something like: “Say something meaningful or don’t say anything at all.” I will still respect opinions I disagree with, even those I find offensive, provided the commenter is contributing something to the conversation (or trying to), and not just being a troll.

If you’re a reader or participant here, and you have an opinion about that, this is the time to speak up. Thanks.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I find this so sad. I wish there were more writers like you and less hate in the world. I wouldn’t blame you if you took down you comments on here-I too have had to do that on other social media channels for myself. After reading your I commend you for what you wrote and your open heart and hope that there will once be a world that we can accept one another, no matter what our beliefs. Thank you for what you do.

  2. Having just read your Bruce Jenner article, I completely understand. The article itself was a refreshing and thought provoking piece but I had to stop reading the comments due to the harsh amount of judgement and cyber bullying.

    I look forward to reading more of your articles.

  3. A friend just shared your Bruce Jenner article, and I was pleased there were 199 comments. I waded in, expecting good discussion – and was immediately put off by vile, hateful comments there.

    I expect that on public sites that have low-level posts (think Cheezburger), but not on someone’s own site. I mean, that’s *your name* up there. You really want your name associated with trolls like those who commented there?

    You might find food for thought in this article by Steve Pavlina. I helped moderate his forums when they were still active, and heavy moderation helped the discussion in those forums stay intelligent, thoughtful, and worthy of people’s time. [It was a low-tolerance-for-b.s. forum 🙂 ]

    http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2009/09/free-speech-in-online-communities-the-delusion-of-entitlement/

    • Thanks for the feedback. Having taken some time to reconsider my comment policy, I am implementing the changes I contemplated here. Appreciate your support.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here