August 5th, 2010
I like to comment on other people’s blogs, and I like it when people comment on my blog. One of the nice things about the blog format is the dialogue that can come out of a blog entry… or even just simple immediate feedback. Commenting is an interesting art. If you leave a comment, you don’t know whether it’ll stay or be deleted. If it’s in the moderation queue, you don’t know if the blog owner will ever approve it.
Some blog owners have a fairly liberal comment policy—pretty much anything that isn’t spam or advertising gets approved. Others have a fairly conservative comment policy—in order to create a “safe space” only comments in line with a particular philosophy or community will be approved; everything else is designated a troll post of some kind.
Each approach has its pros and cons.
In the former case, you get a more real feel for how people think about the blog. On other other hand, it does make it easy for people to troll you, because they know they can argue up a storm without having a foot to stand on, and their comments will still be approved.
In the latter case, you do indeed get that kind of safe community feel, but you also get a very artificial environment. It may appear people are agreeing with you when really you’re just deleting any comment that disagrees with you.
Up until this point, I’ve had a fairly liberal approach, deleting only spam comments. I’ve allowed quite a lot of comments that are extremely inappropriate or even irrelevant, not just comments intelligently disagreeing with what I’ve said. I don’t want to ever create a place in which someone hesitates to comment for fear of having the comment deleted simply because she disagreed with what I’ve said. Disagree all you want. That’s your right. I won’t take that away from you.
Here’s the catch, though: if you’re going to disagree with me, you actually have to disagree with me. No straw men. No arguing with what you think I said without actually reading my blog entry. No oversimplifying my argument when I’ve gone to great lengths to explain how complex an issue is.
And, for heaven’s sake, if you have a technical problem, don’t ask for advice for it here. I’m on the Ubuntu Forums, and so are literally thousands of Ubuntu users (most of whom are much more knowledgeable about computers than I am).
So, in other words, these are the kinds of comments I will be deleting from here on out:
- Spam and advertising—that’s a no-brainer
- Hate speech
- Requests for technical support
- Comments pretending to argue with me but actually arguing with something else
- Rude comments
These are the kinds of comments I will be keeping in:
- Intelligent additional remarks that agree with me or add a nuance to what I’ve presented
- Arguments with other commenters that are actually with other commenters and not pretending to argue with me
- Thoughtful disagreements with what I’ve actually said
- Thank-you posts for something I’ve done
- Corrections for typos I make (Yes, I do occasionally screw up, as regular readers know)
- Questions or clarifications
I have to say I see a lot of regular readers and commenters here. I don’t have a huge readership, but I really appreciate about 95% of the non-spam comments I get. Thanks for reading!