Comments Policy

So writing about the shooting of a teenager and farmers in Palestine lead me to my first slightly out of control comment barrage…
So… I need some advice on a comments policy.
I had this in mind.

Green/Yellow/Red (Traffic Lights – Whee!)

So a topic on green would literally be “these are places for people to be safe”. Deletions will occur for anything outside the boundaries.

Yellow would be Normal basic rules apply, courtesy, ad hominem attacks, nothing outright bullying, no racism/sexism/homophobia. Deletions are rarer but can occur.

Red is unmoderated but I would have the no bullying/racism/sexism/homophobia malarkey here too. Basically say anything with the caveat that anyone else can call you out for it and if you say something particularly stupid and I read it you can expect me to laugh at you. No deletions, your stupidity is forever enshrined. I may even learn CSS to make your stupidity in Comic Sans…

Any suggestions or expansions?


  1. slc1 says

    I have a flash for Mr. Avicenna. Posting something on a controversial topic is guaranteed to draw fire. As Mr. Avicenna has discovered, the Israel/Palestine issue is one of those topics that will inevitably generate more heat then light. However, if he thinks that Israel/Palestine is contentious, try posting something on male circumcision. It is my experience that the emotions on that issue run very high and make the emotions on Israel/Palestine pale in comparison. For instance, Dr. Peter Lipson, who posts under the moniker PalMD and used to be on Scienceblogs, usually got, at most 10 to 20 comments on a thread. When he posted something on circumcision, he had gotten over 300 comments when I stopped accessing that particular thread.

  2. Gnumann+, Radfem shotgunner of inhuman concepts says

    It’s you house, and I’m not exactly a regular here. So I’m not going to comment much, I just wanted to give my two most lowly coins of the nomination of your choice on this:

    ad hominem attacks

    You might want to avoid this expression. Most commenters will be familiar with the ad hominem fallacy, but not as many will be familiar with the expression “ad hominem attack” and the difference between this and employing an ad hom fallacy.

    The difference might lead to some confusion. If you want people to stay clear of insults and negative characterisations of others, it’s better to say so in plain language.

  3. F [nucular nyandrothol] says

    Actually, I think many people will be familiar with the (actually pretty bad and mostly misused) phrase ad hominem attack. Yeah, I’d avoid that. Either argumentum ad hominem or personal attacks, whichever fits the occasion.

    I’d have another “flash” for Mr. Avicenna, but i can’t think of anything irrelevant and pointless to say. (There’s my heat generation.)

  4. says

    I think when there are topics you just don’t want to have comments about, for any reason, you should just close comments.

    I think having a DHS color scale to comments is fucking stupid.

  5. says

    Whenever I see one of your posts, I always feel that it’s a great safe spot. :) Of course, I may be biased since I really like you, even though we have never met!

  6. Fizzing thru da Fizzics says

    I don’t flash (culturally sensitive). Whatever policy you feel you need to apply, I will still visit daily.


  7. says

    I like it, bit different to anyone else’s policy which is usually consistent(ish) across all posts. Although you’ll need a footer to every post to re-iterate the policy for that particular post as most people will not be aware of the traffic light system you use. Could work as a quick way of rooting out those who read the 1st paragraph then start ranting without reading to the end.

  8. says

    I was actually thinking of a header. If you noticed I like art and thought of drawing up some images that make headers to indicate what each comment policy is. Rather than be a plain red /orange/green bar I was planning something a bit fancier.

  9. latsot says

    My only advice is to try it out and be prepared to modify the scheme if it doesn’t work. To do that, you’ll need to think about what ‘working’ means. Your objective for red threads will be different from the other colours so think about what you’re trying to achieve and how you’ll measure it.

    The traffic light system might turn out to be overkill, but you’ll only find that out if you measure it.

    Overall, I like your approach to moderation; the idea that if people are free to say whatever they want, then it will remain there to haunt them forever is appealing. So is the idea of threads where people can comment safely even when they feel vulnerable.

    A slight concern with the traffic light system is that it might take more effort than it’s worth to consistently apply the policies. But, again, this is something you can measure.

  10. says

    I figure that there will be a level of self policing since the rules and status will be clear on exact comment policies. It may be overkill but it does provide a level of commenting freedom unavailable. I am a bit busy at the moment with exams so expect to see it implemented in around 3 weeks when my exams are done.

  11. bradleybetts says


    So threads such as the Palastine one would be unmoderated (other than basic rules of courtesy) whereas posts on say, rape culture or other topics where people are liable to reveal something very personal would be heavily moderated? That seems like a good system to me. I like the traffic light idea; it’s clear and difficult to misunderstand.


    Way to be off-topic.

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