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Mar 11 2012

Comment Policy – An Update

I have just made some updates to my comment policy. Please take note of the following additions.

*

1: Be respectful of other commenters in this blog. No personal insults; no namecalling; no flame wars.

In comment threads in this blog, I encourage lively dissension and debate. I do not, however, accept personal insults aimed at other commenters. I am fine with vigorous and even snarky critiques of ideas and behavior — but when that crosses the line into personal insults, I stop being fine. “That’s a stupid idea” is okay (I’d personally prefer it if you worded it differently, and if your critiques of ideas consistently takes that tone I might ask you to dial it back, but just by itself it won’t get you banned). “You’re stupid” is not okay.

UPDATE: Actually — I’m going to amend this. I’d personally MUCH prefer it if you don’t use personally insulting rhetoric aimed at ideas. I’m not going to absolutely rule it out — yet — but I’m going to VERY STRONGLY request that you not do it. If someone is being infuriating, please take the high road. Be the bigger person. Find the pleasures of skillfully disemboweling someone with icy politeness. And do not play the “But they said it first!” game. Do not assume that, because someone else was insulting first, therefore it’s okay for you to be insulting back. Do not escalate things. Dial things back.

UPDATE: 9: Do not behave atrociously in other blogs. If you are barely walking the line of acceptable behavior in this blog — but you have a pattern of foul, demeaning, sexist/ racist/ etc., insulting, violently threatening, or otherwise reprehensible behavior in other blogs — you will be banned from this one, with no second chance, and no warning.

UPDATE: 10. Don’t be an asshole. If you are barely walking the line of acceptable behavior in this blog, but you are consistently being unpleasant, nasty, snide, sarcastic, nitpicky, assuming the worst possible intentions, or otherwise just generally being an asshole — towards other commenters, or towards me — you will be banned from this blog. If I’m feeling generous, I’ll give you a warning first — but I make no promises in that regard. If the entire tone of a conversation is going south, and it’s clear to me that you’re the one making it go south, you’re gone.

*

Please respect my comment policy, and my right to have one. Thank you.

103 comments

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  1. 1
    Lou Doench

    Okey Dokey…

  2. 2
    julian

    Number 9 may put me on a thin rope…

    Ah well. Not having to deal with people hiding behind “well that didn’t happen here” is worth having to watch my key typers.

  3. 3
    I'm_not

    The real problem with freethoughtblogs is there isn’t much freethinking. It’s almost impossible to criticise the bloggers without a ton of abuse, it is incredibly incestuous and simply doesn’t do what it says on the tin.

    I respect you Greta and many of the bloggers here but it has become a caricature of itself.

    Your new rules will, hopefully, lead to civility in the comments and I’m sure that is your intention but again and again I have this feeling of “toeing the party line” and that is surely the opposite of why we are here isn’t it?

    Of course I’m not advocating nastiness or unreasonableness, and I know that hearts are in the right place but it just doesn’t seem to be working. Am I allowed to say that?

    It seems to me you are all in your little world with your accolites and anyone daring to express an opinion slightly off the doctrine gets fucked. This is especially true of those of us outside of the US, and indeed the few freethoughtbloggers who aren’t American, for example Kylie, seem to feel that too if I can quote her post on the Ohio slave posters. I don’t presume to speak for her of course and if she wishes to contradict me I will retract.

    What is this place for Greta? What is it doing well? It isn’t doing free thinking very well and it apparently can’t even be civil.

    These comments are offered with an open heart and in the spirit of friendship and hopefullness.

  4. 4
    Utakata

    Once again, I apologize for stepping over that line. Yes, I let that Severo get under my skin. And replied in a manner that was not suitable for this blog. Nor was it healthy overall. As I said then, as I say now…I do stand by what I stated, I do not stand by how I presented it. Please accept my apalogy. I’ll try to do better next time.

  5. 5
    carpenterman

    “Don’t be an asshole.”
    Really, that’s almost all the advice anyone ever needs, ever. If everyone followed that rule, this would be a very different (and probably far better) world.

  6. 6
    julian

    I for one frequently refer to people I want to have a dialog with as being incestuous.

  7. 7
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    If you are barely walking the line of acceptable behavior in this blog, but you are consistently being unpleasant, nasty, snide, sarcastic, nitpicky, assuming the worst possible intentions, or otherwise just generally being an asshole — towards other commenters, or towards me — you will be banned from this blog.

    *applause*

  8. 8
    Robert B.

    @ I’m_not

    Um. If you feel that local blogs are unhealthily uniform due to dissent getting hated on by other commenters, isn’t a strong courtesy policy good? This is a policy that will restrict exactly the sort of “majority yells louder” effect you’re worried about. Greta will totally warn and/or ban people who are on her side, I’ve seen her do it.

    Since you are even now giving an excellent demonstration of courteous disputation, any dissenting ideas coming from you personally, at least, should be safe.

  9. 9
    Infophile

    Find the pleasures of skillfully disemboweling someone with icy politeness.

    This can indeed be quite pleasurable. Even when you aren’t adding any content, being more creative with your criticisms will make them infinitely more memorable. Observe the difference:

    1. “That’s stupid.”

    2. “While I won’t condemn your right to espouse such ideas, I do wish that I didn’t just have to reread Moby Dick to counter the intellectual damage I inadvertently did to myself while attempting to make sense of that idea.”

    Of course, since that doesn’t actually say anything about the idea in question, it’s probably still not a good idea, under Greta’s new request. I’m simply using this as an illustration of how not being directly insulting can work much better. In a real argument, address the problems with the opponent’s point. If they have insane implications, spell those out in grueling detail to get across the same effect as a clever insult.

  10. 10
    Jack Rawlinson

    *Sigh*.

    It seems like sooner or later all my favourite bloggers seem to feel the need to become increasingly dictatorial about comment policy. Freethoughtblogs, but not so much Freespeechblogs. Ah well. Your blog, your decision, of course.

  11. 11
    Steve Bowen

    Freethoughtblogs, but not so much Freespeechblogs. Ah well. Your blog, your decision, of course.

    I don’t see anybody stopping you saying anything you want, just perhaps the way you choose to say it.The relative anonymity of the internet seems to encourage some people to interact with those they disagree with in ways they wouldn’t in any other public forum and it spoils the debate. I’d much rather hear a discussion than watch a punch up whether on a blog on in the pub.

  12. 12
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Number 9 may put me on a thin rope…

    Ah well. Not having to deal with people hiding behind “well that didn’t happen here” is worth having to watch my key typers.

    I’m going to assume she intends this as an avenue for preemptive measures against habitual trolls and worse like concentratedwater and that she’s not actually planning to ban, say, 19/20 of Pharyngula regulars.

  13. 13
    nmcc

    Another one bites the dust.

    Incidentally, since you’ve referred to commenters’ activities on other blogs, I hope you’ve banned Richard Dawkins, because he calls people stupid all the time. For not being able to point to Africa on a map, for example. And even whilst he’s handed over control of his online shop to be (allegedly) plundered by an (alleged) crook over A PERIOD OF 3 YEARS, thereby showing a level of stupidity far in access of any hapless map reader.

  14. 14
    nmcc

    Excess, even.

  15. 15
    eulercycle

    Freethoughtblogs, but not so much Freespeechblogs.

    So……good thing they chose to name it FreeThoughtBlogs.

    I’m not sure why people so often conflate a dislike of insulting language with a dislike of free thought and lively debate. The two aren’t the same. It is perfectly possible to promote free thought and incisive criticism while simultaneously restricting insulting language. In fact, it is almost necessary to do so.

  16. 16
    GBJames

    I’m_not, Jack Rawlinson, nmcc: Do I understand your position correctly? Y’all don’t seem willing/able to recognize any limits to hostile/abusive/trollish conduct in blog comments. If I’m wrong, please clarify what you think such limits should look like.

  17. 17
    nmcc

    I can’t speak for others, but my own view is that those who run their own blog or website can do what they like, and ban whom they like, and for whatever reasons they like. I couldn’t care less what they do.

    Except, the thing that gets my goat, is, when it comes to the atheist bloggers, they seem to have a bizarre tendency to shout the loudest about how democratic and tolerant they are of free speech, whilst threatening all kinds of dire consequences on those who don’t conform to their arbitrary rules on what constitutes acceptable speech.

    Richard Dawkins in particular never shuts up about how the religionists are forever complaining about being offended by the free speech of others, and then employs the ghost of Lavrenty Beria to curtail free speech on his own website.

    I was banned on his website for perfectly legitimate comments that he didn’t like that I made elsewhere – on a thread extolling Dawkins’ participation in a ‘Free Speech’ rally in London. Not that I’m that fussed about being banned on his website as I have long ago considered Dawkins to have lost his marbles. (Oops, sorry, probably overstepped the bounds of decency there and have now forfeited my right to free speech.)

  18. 18
    GBJames

    So, in other words, nmcc, your complaint is that you got banned over at someone else’s site. And you don’t like atheists. That does not answer the question I asked. I’d appreciate it if you could clarify what you think the limits should be.

  19. 19
    ragarth

    “Freethoughtblogs, but not so much Freespeechblogs.”

    FTB exists to allow bloggers of all shades to voice their ideas on issues important to the atheist community. As commenters we provide feedback on those ideas, and socialize in a rather abstract way.

    “Your a stupid cunt.” Provides no value to an argument or idea expressed and doesn’t facilitate socializing.

    “Your idea is stupid because…” Provides value to an argument or idea, and encourages counter argumentation and hence socializing.

    If you’re upset by not being able to use ad hominems, then maybe you should reconsider your argumentation tact and whether it *really* does anything to help the atheist cause.

  20. 20
    Ariel

    nmcc #17

    I can’t speak for others, but my own view is that those who run their own blog or website can do what they like, and ban whom they like, and for whatever reasons they like.

    This is also my approach. If someone states clearly that he doesn’t want me in his house, then I don’t go there, no matter what his reasons are. End of the story. The same with a blog (in this case even a ban would be unnecessary; a clear statement, either in public or in private, by a blog owner, would have the same effect).

    Except, the thing that gets my goat, is, when it comes to the atheist bloggers, they seem to have a bizarre tendency to shout the loudest about how democratic and tolerant they are of free speech, whilst threatening all kinds of dire consequences on those who don’t conform to their arbitrary rules on what constitutes acceptable speech.

    My experience with the atheist bloggers is not that comprehensive to justify such an accusation (I visit regularly too few of them). As for Greta’s blog, my impression is that she doesn’t punish the dissent as such (I disagree a lot with her, so I should know). Of course rules like “don’t use personally insulting rhetoric aimed at ideas” or “don’t be an asshole” are vague enough to permit arbitrary/idiosyncratic/manipulative interpretations (e.g. declaring comments with similar level of haughtiness and venom as “insulting”/”fair”, depending on whether the blogger likes the ridiculed idea). So the real trouble would come if such rules were applied selectively, with a double standard. However, so far Greta’s implementation of her own rules hasn’t seemed to me overly unfair and objectionable, and if nothing changes in this respect, I don’t see a reason to cry havoc.

  21. 21
    Gregory in Seattle

    Don’t be an asshole.

    All the rest is commentary.

    If you need inspiration on how to get your point across without making a(n) (insert appropriate body part here), I would recommend looking to Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker and John Scalzi for examples.

  22. 22
    kagerato

    I think it’s a little sad that you have to explicitly lay out these points 9 and 10, Greta. I would have thought that they were largely common sense.

    The real problem with freethoughtblogs is there isn’t much freethinking. It’s almost impossible to criticise the bloggers without a ton of abuse, it is incredibly incestuous and simply doesn’t do what it says on the tin.

    Yes, and these assertions were proved clearly by the hailstorm of insults and hatred laid on “I’m_not”, followed by a not very delayed ban-hammer.

    You might have had a point if you were replying to certain Pharyngula threads, where trolling and counter-trolling seems to be pretty much the norm of comments. I haven’t noticed any of the other blogs here having such a free-for-all abuse fest. Since PZ has a very lax and arbitrary moderation policy, this seems to be evidence of standards for discourse having the intended effect.

  23. 23
    Kagehi

    I don’t see anybody stopping you saying anything you want, just perhaps the way you choose to say it.

    Hmm.. While I am often one of those that tries to take the high ground in this respect, I do think there are times where doing so is a bit like handing the issue to someone without teeth, so they can gum the issue, instead of stating, clearly, and precisely, what your opinion of a subject is. There are some things which, imho, do not deserve better, though they do deserve explanations as to why one has a one word (possibly 4 letter) opinion of them.

  24. 24
    Greta Christina

    I’m a bit baffled by the accusations that Freethought Blogs in general, and this blog in particular, don’t support free speech. Is the problem that unpleasant commenting behavior will be met with a barrage of hostile opposition from other commenters, as is the case in blogs that are largely unmoderated, such as Pharyngula? Or that unpleasant commenting behavior will be moderated and eventually banned, as is the case here? It seems that we can’t win — either way, we get accused of stifling free speech.

    But it’s a moot point. Having a comment moderation policy is not a violation of free speech. People have a nearly- absolute right to say what they want, how they want. They do not have the right to do so in my blog. My blog is MY free speech space, and commenters are guests in it. If someone wants to say something that falls outside my comment policy, they are free to start their own blog and say what they like there.

  25. 25
    Lutzifer

    i m not reading the comments very often, but i think this is bantastic! :D

  26. 26
    Lutzifer

    also, on the matter of free speech. Free speech ends where libel / slander / uncalled for and unjustified insults begin. Also, banning somebody who does not follow a basic rule of netiquette is an act of communicating one’s position, hence also an act of free speech, in the private, or somewhat public, space a blogger calls his virtual home.

  27. 27
    Don Quijote

    All I have learned on this subject is that mncc is pissed off that s/he was banned from Richard Dawkins site and doesn’t like it.

    Also s/he thinks Dawkins is stupid because he handed over part of his business to a trusted friend who allegedly duped him. Something like this happened to me and it happened because the person was a trusted friend who I trusted completely. In the end though it was that person who suffered the consequences of their actions. I lost a friend.

    People who find some sort of satisfaction in these unfortunate occurances are way beyond despicable.

  28. 28
    horsehairbraider

    This does not seem like a tough policy to follow, so I’m surprised. It sounds like a version of “argue about the argument, not the arguer” to me. I think under these rules you can even say, “I don’t like so-and-so.” But you can’t call them names. Why is that so hard?

    If all you can do to further your argument is call other people names, well, IMO… you don’t have much of an argument.

    It is stated quite explicitly that anyone is allowed to disagree, as long as they disagree politely.

    Sad, but I think the art of conversation is dying.

  29. 29
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I don’t see anybody stopping you saying anything you want, just perhaps the way you choose to say it.

    Purely as a point of fact, Greta HAS in fact limited what people are allowed to say, not merely how it has said (a commenter was recently threatened with banning for [accurately, if I correctly interpreted the intended recipient of the comment while skimming the thread] stating that another commenter was “dishonest”, so it’s not simply limited to “harsh” or “abusive” language like “moron” and “bugfucker”).

    If you’re upset by not being able to use ad hominems, then maybe you should reconsider your argumentation tact and whether it *really* does anything to help the atheist cause.

    An insult is not the same thing as an “ad hominem,” which refers (slightly simplified) to the use of an insult as a premise. Attaching an insult to a conclusion is not an “ad hominem.” Please use the term correctly.

  30. 30
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Free speech ends where libel / slander / uncalled for and unjustified insults begin.

    As a further point of fact, free speech absolutely includes “uncalled for and unjustified” insults, provided they would reasonably be interpreted as statements of opinion rather than of fact. However, private citizens are not obligated to provide a platform for any particular kind of speech.

    As another, the policy makes no distinction between justified and unjustified insults. Is it that hard to discuss this accurately, people?

  31. 31
    mnb0

    Slight modification of #10: if you want to behave like an asshole/troll, like I often do on christian sites, do it within the rules set by the blogger/moderator. Back down if you get a warning.
    As a result I have pushed dozens of buttons but never ever received a ban anywhere.
    Don’t write: “you’re stupid.”
    Don’t even write: “what you wrote is stupid.”
    Write: “what you wrote could be refuted by a ten years old” and thén continue to fillet.
    Hat tip for annoying creationists: whenever they misrepresent the evolution theory remind them of the Ninth Commandment. Lack of knowledge or understanding is nót an excuse according to their holy book.
    Hat tip for annoying pro-lifers: remind them of Leviticus 27:6. It basically says that post-natal abortion is allowed.

  32. 32
    Greta Christina

    Slight modification of #10: if you want to behave like an asshole/troll, like I often do on christian sites, do it within the rules set by the blogger/moderator.

    mnb0 @ #31: No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

    I am going to be very clear on this point: Do not behave like an asshole or a troll on my blog. Period.

    This is exactly the reason I put #10 into my comment policy. I am sick to death of commenters who stay barely within the letter of my comment policy, but violate its spirit on a regular basis. So I will say yet again: If you are barely walking the line of acceptable behavior in this blog, but you are consistently being unpleasant, nasty, snide, sarcastic, nitpicky, assuming the worst possible intentions, or otherwise just generally being an asshole — towards other commenters, or towards me — you will be banned from this blog.

    IMO, you should stay away from that type of behavior on other blogs as well. Playing an “Oo, I’m not quite crossing the line!” game with comment policies is one of the main things that makes Internet culture obnoxious and unpleasant. I won’t presume to tell other bloggers how to moderate their own blogs; but I don’t like this behavior, I don’t think it’s clever, and if it’s advocated in my blog, I will speak out against it.

    Oh, and for the record: You do not get to modify my comment policy. You can politely suggest changes to it — but I am the only one who can modify it. Thank you.

  33. 33
    Makoto

    If I’m hanging out at my place, I can regularly spill soda on the floor, and it’s okay. If I’m hanging out at someone else’s place, they can ask me not to come back if I regularly spill soda on the floor.

    This seems simple to me.. we’re all guests in this blog space. Our First rights mean we can make our own blogs if we choose, where we can do whatever we want, but here, we’re asked to behave. If we can’t behave, we’re told to leave. This.. seems so simple that I’m surprised anyone is arguing against it.

  34. 34
    George W Thrush

    So what’s with the latest post where you say “we don’t silence free speech simply because we don’t like its content”?

    How does that jive with your rules, without even getting into the whole c*nt arguent again?

  35. 35
    julian

    @George W Thrush

    We don’t. If speech incites violence, promotes bigotry or harms others in some way that’s hardly censoring ‘because we don’t like its content?’ I’d argue if an action does lead to greater needless hurt for others it is moral to stop it.

  36. 36
    Greta Christina

    So what’s with the latest post where you say “we don’t silence free speech simply because we don’t like its content”?

    How does that jive with your rules, without even getting into the whole c*nt arguent again?

    George W Thrush @ #34: I have said this before — in the comment policy itself, even — but I will say it again, as clearly as I can.

    You have a free speech right to say what you want.

    You do not, however, have a free speech right to say what you want IN MY BLOG. My blog is MY free speech space. Not yours. You are a guest in it.

    If you want to start your own blog and say whatever you want in it (within some very wide parameters, such as libel laws, copyright laws, etc.), I will absolutely support your right to do that, even if I think what you say is vile. But this blog is MY SPACE, not yours, and you do not have a First Amendment right to comment in it.

  37. 37
    Kagehi

    Just going to say one more thing, in that #9, as written, sound a lot like the “policies” of a great many places, in which you see the headline, “X was fired when it was discovered they did Y some place else, and the group Z thought it might, somehow, reflect badly on them.” Most of the time I rail against such things, and the attitude behind it. This cases is a… bit different, in that those posting are doing the *same* thing, in different places, and in both case **in the public**, and it is thus a “bit” like showing the people at one office your private porn site, while hiding it from your main office, when working for a day care organization.

    The posts being made are all public, regardless of where they are made, and as long as the same alias is used in both places, its likely that the commentary from one will get linked to the other, even if there is no intent on your part to have their behavior *there* associated with their behavior *here*.

    Never the less, I still don’t like the phrasing, implying that ones status in one place *must* be predicated on their choices in some place that isn’t related, which may include cases where the intended audience “expects” different behavior. It makes me uneasy, even when I understand the reasoning behind it. At least some of the negative reaction may stem from similar unease, and its, frankly, just about the only thing in there I do find less than entirely positive.

    Though, much of the complaint may be just from people liking to cross the lines, for not even what I consider reasonable grounds (and it usually takes some doing to get me beyond fairly mild negativity, compared to what you are addressing).

  38. 38
    George W Thrush

    @Greta, 36. I think this will become a big discussion point some time in the community. We are “freethinkers”, who use “fretthoughtblogs” to discuss freethought stuff. When we are not allowed to trsnslat free thoughts into free speech I think there is a problem. If I wanted to call those who disagreed with me “f*ggots* or “c*nts” I would visit YouTube. I really wish these blogs (freethought) would allow people to call other f*ggots and c*nts. I would love to see such people suffer the humiliation of ignoring. Sadly a few “regulars” (ugh!) simply can not ignor these idiots and seem to find interest/self-affirming worth in engaging them (also religious people, another discussion). I wish rhey wouldn’t.

    But if all my wishes came true I would be writing this on a gold plated computer on the beach. I am not.

    What’s my point?

    I long for any old Yahooxx1536436c879g9g794t97 to come in here, dump a comment calling us all f@ggots, and leave, without a ripple. It won’t happen because of people desperate to rail against the slightest provocation. But I wish.

    And so you must have comment criteria.

    *Sigh*

  39. 39
    Greta Christina

    Kagehi @ #37: I’m not talking about comments in other blogs that are somewhat more obnoxious or unpleasant than I personally like. I’m talking about truly reprehensible behavior. If you’re more of an asshole at Pharyngula than you are here, but you respect both the letter and the spirit of my comment policy here, I couldn’t give less of a crap. But if (to give just one example) you threaten to kick someone in the cunt in another blog, you will get no quarter here.

  40. 40
    Cipher

    I long for any old Yahooxx1536436c879g9g794t97 to come in here, dump a comment calling us all f@ggots, and leave, without a ripple. It won’t happen because of people desperate to rail against the slightest provocation. But I wish.

    I’m unclear on what purpose you think that would serve. I do not think “the humiliation of being ignored” stings the way you think it does. Do you think the youtube comments are a useful model for informative and intelligent discourse?

  41. 41
    Greta Christina

    I think this will become a big discussion point some time in the community. We are “freethinkers”, who use “fretthoughtblogs” to discuss freethought stuff. When we are not allowed to trsnslat free thoughts into free speech I think there is a problem.

    George W Thrush @ 38: I’m really not sure why this is such a difficult concept to grasp. You are entirely free to translate free thoughts into free speech. You are just not free to express absolutely any idea you want, in any form you want, ON MY BLOG. This blog does not belong to you. It belongs to me. It is my free speech space, in which you are a guest.

    I’m going to quote the relevant section from my comment policy:

    This is my blog. Mine, mine, mine. I ultimately have the right to moderate the comments here in any way I like. As it happens, I generally moderate this blog with an extremely light touch: I don’t delete comments simply because I don’t agree with them, and I don’t ban commenters simply because they disagree with me. But if I chose to ban all commenters whose names end in the letter W, or to delete all comments that post at 1:13 in the afternoon on any 17th of the month, I would be within my rights to do that. And it would not be censorship or a restriction of free speech.

    Again, I refer you to the This Is My Blog principle. This is my free speech area, in which I am free to say whatever I want, and which I am free to moderate in any way I see fit. If I were a newspaper publisher, I would have the right to decide which letters to the editor I did and didn’t publish. Think of comments here as letters to the editor. My right of free speech means that I have the right to decide which letters get published in my newspaper, and which ones don’t.

    Or think of it this way: Commenters in this blog are guests in my home. And I have the right to decide who I let into my home and who I don’t.

    If you don’t like my comment policy, you’re free to visit other blogs… or indeed to start one of your own. Starting your own blog is cheap/ free. You can say whatever you want in your own blog, and you can set up whatever fickle, autocratic comment policy you like. But in my blog, please respect my right to moderate it as I see fit.

  42. 42
    rorschach

    and that she’s not actually planning to ban, say, 19/20 of Pharyngula regulars.

    Well, she doesn’t have to ban me because I don’t comment here in the first place. If I want Saudi Arabia, I can go to Kagan or Loftus (he’s left now, but yeah). I just don’t understand what the point of blogging is, if you want your commenters to be nothing but chattel or polite yaysayers who must take care to carefully tiptoe the boundaries of the minefield of etiquette and netiquette. I want robust debate on my blog, and not for commenters to have to study the fineprint of my terms and conditions for an hour before they type a comment. Goodness.

  43. 43
    Severo

    The #9 addendum seems to be the FTB blacklist. Offend the host of one blog and you will find yourself banned from all.
    Fair enough.
    As Rorshach says above: “you want your commenters to be nothing but chattel or polite yaysayers”

    and to quote Greta:

    “fickle, autocratic comment policy”.

  44. 44
    GBJames

    Really, rorschach? Chattel and polite yaysayers?

    All of this wailing for threatened liberty is just a bit ridiculous. Like complaints of freedom being trampled by laws against public defecation. And this isn’t even the public square! It’s Greta’s lawn, for Jeebus’ sake!

  45. 45
    rorschach

    It’s Greta’s lawn, for Jeebus’ sake!

    It sure is. And may we never piss on it, or her lawn. I will do that by not posting here, easiest solution. The alternative looks rather complicated.

  46. 46
    GBJames

    If this is too complicated, rorschach, I’m left wondering how you manage to button your shirt.

  47. 47
    Predator Handshake

    I’m wondering how some of you who are finding these comment policy updates too complicated go through daily life in society at all. There are a lot of laws out there and you probably don’t know about every one of them; is yours an experience of constant anxiety about which law you may be breaking at any moment?

    Or do you have a feel for what sorts of behavior are acceptable, from experience observing and living in society, that allows you to live your life without having to think about such things every second?

    This is the very first lesson I learned from another website that I post on: if you’re in about to post something and aren’t sure if it’s going to be acceptable, you don’t have to post it! Lurk for awhile and figure out what flies and what doesn’t.

  48. 48
    DSimon

    The only condition under which the policy prevents people from disagreeing, is when one is unable to disagree without being an ass.

  49. 49
    nmcc

    “People have a nearly- absolute right to say what they want, how they want. They do not have the right to do so in my blog. My blog is MY free speech space, and commenters are guests in it. If someone wants to say something that falls outside my comment policy, they are free to start their own blog and say what they like there.”

    Or, as Stalin might have said to his critics, ‘I ran all the risks in building up my dictatorship, if you don’t like it, you can fuck off and find some other dictatorship to criticise.”

    I agree with you though, if commenters don’t like your rules,- even the rule that says ‘I’m the greatest supporter of democracy and free speech there is, unless you say something that infringes my rules, in which case, I’m not the greatest supporter of democracy and free speech at all’- they should ignore your blog and go start their own, or comment elsewhere.

    Though I suppose you should be thanked for showing yet again that the ‘new’ atheists are full of shit and that any world in which they got the upper hand would look exactly like a world run by any other group of self-regarding hypocites – religious or otherwise.

  50. 50
    nmcc

    No idea what a ‘hypocite’ is, but I recognise a hypocrite when I read one.

  51. 51
    GBJames

    I would like to note again, nmcc, that while you are clear that you do not like atheists, you appear incapable of stating what you think a reasonable comment policy might look like. To me, that failure says it all. If you are not willing or able to address the question at hand, you are just throwing a temper tantrum.

  52. 52
    nmcc

    My apologies, cbjames;

    I didn’t reply to your earlier comment because the the answer to your question was already contained in my previous comment.

    As you haven’t recognised that, I’ll say it again; I couldn’t care less what the rules are for ‘moderating’ comments, on this blog or anywhere else.

    But let’s not have the ‘new’ atheists spout off continually about their hatred for the intolerance of the religionists in their attitude for ‘free speech’ whilst they are forever beavering away to concoct their ludicrous apologies for stifling the very thing they extol.

  53. 53
    nmcc

    ‘G’b James. And 2 ‘the’. Sorry.

  54. 54
    GBJames

    Got it, nmcc. I hadn’t understood that your non-answer was an answer. As far as this thread goes, you are trolling. Your comments would be appropriate over in somebody’s “why I hate atheists” thread.

  55. 55
    Tim Martin

    I love how whenever these comment policies get debated (see Libby Anne’s blog for another example), the rude people who are the reason for the policy show up and complain about how they’re being hopelessly shackled by draconian laws.

    Yeah, that you think this sort of thing is draconian is exactly the problem.

  56. 56
    nmcc

    Well, okay, I’ll say it again: Let those who run their own blog or website set their own rules; but don’t let them spout off about how they are the greatest exponents of ‘free speech’ when their actions show that they are anything but.

    The owner of this blog has said that she is entirely in favour of ‘free speech’ – as long as it’s the kind of speech that she approves of

    Now, she’s already said, if you don’t like it, piss off.

    Right, so that’s clear.

    Here’s how you can test the ‘new’ atheists commitment to genuine ‘free speech’: Go on to Richard Dawkins’ website and ask (ahem!)to start a discussion about where the money that his supporters contributed through buying his merchadise went to. You won’t get a discussion about that, because he wants to bury the evidence of his stupidity in trusting to an individual the operation of the income/expenditure of his on-line shop.

    Now, let’s talk about ‘free speech’. Or, rather, let’s acknowledge that the ‘new’ atheist creed is; it’s a one-way street; anything that makes us look super-clever is to be supported and propagated, and anything that makes us look like mere mortals can (indeed, must), be hurriedly overlooked.

    Incidentally, I’m a life-long atheist, so your barbs in that regard land as damp squibs.

  57. 57
    kagerato

    nmcc, I’m quite sure Greta and others have explained many times already that free speech has nothing to do with private speech, and private property rights supersede your ability to say whatever you want in someone else’s space.

    Free speech rights granted by the First Amendment are about what the government cannot do. I would argue that it should apply to government-sponsored or subsidized organizations like corporations and churches, but it often doesn’t. It certainly doesn’t apply to individuals — not in the least.

    What you’re arguing for is very close to the abolition of private property, whether you realize it or not.

    This isn’t a public space, whether you understand it or not. You can see it from public, but it’s still not public. It is the equivalent of a private building you can view by standing in the public street.

    In short, get over yourself and stop needlessly antagonizing people with bad analogies and misstatements of the law.

  58. 58
    Leum

    If people’s free speech rights are being violated by not being able to post whatever they damn well like on Greta’s blog, then I posit that Greta’s free speech rights are being equally violated by people who don’t read her blog. If freedom of speech includes the right to be heard wherever you want to speak, then it logically follows that not listening to speech violates that freedom.

  59. 59
    nmcc

    Ooooh!, leave Britany alone!!

    Arguing against ‘private property’? Fuck, I wouldn’t want to do that! Not whilst Richard Dawkins’ website is being financed by that wooden top (and bottom) Todd Steifel. (Or, as he helpfully explained, ‘rhymes with ‘gleeful’, or, as anyone not imbued with Dawkinsesque myopia, rhymes with parasitical, talentless, brainless prick).

    Of course, in connection with that thorny issue of private property, I could go on to mention a billionaire who uses his ‘private property’ to sexually abuse underage girls (see Skepchick website for details) and his stalwart, loyal friend, Lawrence Krauss. But, not only would that violate this blog onwer’s sensitivities in regard to ‘free speech’, would call into question her association with the ‘new’ atheist crowd of anti-religious, sectarian bigots like Richard Dawkins.

  60. 60
    Greta Christina

    I never stop being amused by people who insist that dissent is being stifled in a blog — even when, at that very moment, they are dissenting, and are not being banned.

    Here’s the funny thing about this charge of any dissenting opinions being stifled and the only permissible comments being ones that agree with the blogger: It’s a testable claim. And in the case of this blog, it’s a testable claim that is clearly false. Comments are made here on a daily basis that disagree with my opinion. Often radically so. This very comment thread, the one we’re in now, is Exhibit A. Just in the past week, this blog has hosted extensive dissenting comments on libel laws, feminism and sexism, the use of nudity in blogs… and, of course, my comment policy in particular and the existence of blog comment policies in general. So the charge that I ban anyone who doesn’t agree with me is actually pretty silly. Testable claim; tested; patently false.

    But this is actually something of a moot point. Because even if I did delete all dissenting comments and ban all dissenting commenters, it would still not be a violation of anyone’s free speech rights. Because — as I keep saying, and as nobody complaining about this policy has responded to — YOU DO NOT HAVE A FREE SPEECH RIGHT TO COMMENT IN MY BLOG. This is my blog, my free speech space. Your free speech right gives you the right to plant your campaign signs on your own lawn. It does not give you the right to plant your campaign signs on my lawn.

    In fact, it occurs to me: I’m asking people to modify their speech in my own space. This is apparently a terrible violation of the right to free speech. But somehow, asking me to modify my speech in my own space — which is exactly what people are doing when they ask me to not moderate my blog — somehow, that’s not a violation of the right of free speech. Hm.

    Anyway. I’ve spent too much time on this already. Back to some actual work now.

  61. 61
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    nmcc,
    Please drop the complaints about Richard Dawkins and your vendetta against being banned on his website. This thread is about Greta’s updated comment policy. You are derailing, and violating the comment policy while doing so (“brainless prick” = over-the-top insulting and uses gendered slurs).

  62. 62
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Oops, made that plural. “Prick” is A gendered slur.

  63. 63
    Severo

    Greta: “Testable claim; tested; patently false.”

    Not really, as we don’t have access to those you’ve banned and the comments you’ve deleted. Still.
    This thing about it being a ‘private’ space and you’re ever so personal blog… it’s also under the banner of this Freethoughblogs business, whatever that is and whomever is ‘in charge’.
    Many blog authors under this banner claim to be spokepersons or in some way represent the “skeptical/atheist” community, if such a thing exists. So in that sense, it could be argued that this blog isn’t quite as private as all that. There is a certain responsibility involved.

    Like maybe owning up when you’ve been shown to be wrong on other threads rather than just ignoring it. Greta. Hello?

  64. 64
    Aerik

    >UPDATE: 9: Do not behave atrociously in other blogs. If you are barely walking the line of acceptable behavior in this blog — but you have a pattern of foul, demeaning, sexist/ racist/ etc., insulting, violently threatening, or otherwise reprehensible behavior in other blogs — you will be banned from this one, with no second chance, and no warning.

    GOOD! This is a good point, and it should be near the top. It’s what Justicar did, and it’s what MRAs do. It’s what the westboro baptist church does.

    If you want a safe space, you gotta kick out assholes _no matter where they act like assholes_

  65. 65
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Severo @63:

    Not really, as we don’t have access to those you’ve banned and the comments you’ve deleted. Still.

    I was going to ask if you’re kidding, but something tells me you’re not.
    It doesn’t matter if Greta has banned commenters or deleted posts. Nor does it matter if you have access to them. There are still plenty of dissenting commenters on many of her posts. This alone demonstrates (as she said) that dissenting thought isn’t being squashed. Some commenters have been blocked, I’m sure. Perhaps some comments have been deleted. All that would tell me is that some individuals violated Greta’s comment policy.
    I’m just as curious as Greta for the ‘free speech deniers’ to address the idea that this is Greta’s blog and she can run it how she sees fit.

  66. 66
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    (forgot this part)

    Severo @63

    Many blog authors under this banner claim to be spokepersons or in some way represent the “skeptical/atheist” community, if such a thing exists.

    Before we can move further, can you name any of these blog authors who claim to be spokespersons or represent the “skeptical/atheist’ community?

  67. 67
    Utakata

    And while you’re busy mustering up an answer for Tony’s questions, when are you going to apologize for your behaviors?

  68. 68
    Utakata

    Edit: @Severo

  69. 69
    rorschach

    Greta, it’s not so much about those who write dissenting comments, for me it’s more about those like myself who choose not to comment here in principal because of your comment policy. Think about it. People who may be in absolute agreement with what you write or say choose to not write it here because of this restrictive comment policy. It’s your rug, as I said, but if it was my blog, I would want to hear those voices.

  70. 70
    julian

    Think about it. People who may be in absolute agreement with what you write or say choose to not write it here because of this restrictive comment policy.

    Umm

    I’m not trying to pick a fight or trying to diminish what you could be contributing to any discussion but, if someone is already in complete agreement, and for similar reasons, there isn’t much for them to add to the discussion or conversation. Better to hear from dissenters or those that disagree if the goal to refine your position, convince others or expand your own understanding of the issue and your ideas.

  71. 71
    Kagehi

    GOOD! This is a good point, and it should be near the top. It’s what Justicar did, and it’s what MRAs do. It’s what the westboro baptist church does.

    If you want a safe space, you gotta kick out assholes _no matter where they act like assholes_

    And this… is *exactly* why I find the wording problematic. I hate acronyms BTW, or assumptions that everyone should “know” who a name refers to, but the last one on that list… well…

    I realize, even without you having said so Greta, that this is hardly your intent, but.. it took how many posts before someone suggested it was a positive trend, and presented one of the most homophobic groups on the planet, and their “posting policy” as an example of enforcement of such a rule (I can just imagine what they define as “inappropriate”, and are willing to ban, likely without leaving the original content, so people can see the reason, instead of having to simply, “believe them”. One hopes it is a poe. One doesn’t dare assume it is, lest it turn out they actually thought you meant that their model is one your own should reflect. o.O

  72. 72
    julian

    @Kagehi

    I’m sorta confused now. I read the comment as saying groups like the Westboro Baptist Church get away with their reprehensible behavior because they do it elsewhere and then behave politely around company they do not wish to alienate.

    It seemed to be supporting the new rule because, simply because you are on your best behavior here, we can still get you for inappropriate conduct elsewhere if it severe enough. (The homophobia, among other things, of the WBC being a prime example of what would be deemed as unacceptable anywhere.)

  73. 73
    Kagehi

    Wait, what? How in the world do you read what I said and get that. I am saying that the wording “could be” interpreted, and would seem to have been, as a suggestion that if you don’t like what someone is doing someplace else, you can just ignore them if they post where you are too. I.e., pre-emptive censorship. Greta didn’t intend it this way, yet we have someone within #64 posts who seems to be implying that this is, presumably, exactly what was meant. Its not that the people from WBC are being nice one place, but not someplace else, it is that their **own** policy, which this one is presumed in #64 to reflect, allows banning decent. And, as I stated, one can easily imagine that they might find anything from merely using swear words, to someone saying, “That isn’t actually true, and here is why.”, as “inappropriate content”. Worse, by extension, if they do ban people based on what they post other places, then they could take the later tack, by simply banning all posts by “anyone” that disagrees with their ideology.

    This is the “extreme” version of the idea that offense someplace else = banning here. And, it is what is troubling about using such a standard at all.

    To tell you the truth, I personally consider it a sort of matter of transparency in deleting posts too. I can see moving them, so they don’t muck up the thread of a discussion, but removing them is a problem, since it erases the evidence of *why* they are removed. It is also #1 S.O.P. in the “enemies” camp for removing all possible dissent, and giving the appearance that no such real dissent ever happens on their sites. Its not something that, being honest, we should be, imho, doing at all, if we don’t want to be accused of using the same distorted criteria they do, as justification for removing not “offensive” posts, but merely ones we don’t like.

    If you remove one, you *will* be accuse by them of it, as has already been implied by one of the trolls that showed up already, and other people will believe them, because it ***is*** how they run their blogs, so, by extension, they believe that everyone else must do the same, and will insist its true of any we create too.

    In the end, this whole discussion is about “language use”, and “appearances”. It does no good to fail at both, while trying to control someone else’s misuse of the same. Even PZ’s method of ripping vowels out of some posts, while funny, present the an “appearance” of, if not among us, then among those who will do everything they can to use such imagined slights against us, and their own readers, as though they are telling the truth, and some are being banned for merely “disagreeing”. After all, if you have no proof as to what they actually *did* post, how can you even say they posted at all, if you want to deny its existence (as they so often do), or prove that it was comment policy, and offense, not content, that caused a removal?

    We are dealing with experts in misrepresenting facts. It does us no favors to remove such facts from the table ourselves, leaving them able to claim that it wasn’t what *we* say they wrote, but something perfectly reasonable, that got them banned. If you like, you can call this *my* framing argument. I rather hope its a more rational one than what some of the people that use the term keep whining about. lol

  74. 74
    Utakata

    @Kagehi

    “I hate acronyms BTW…” But you just used one! O.O

    @everyone else

    …anyways, every blog I’ve been to has their own comment policy. Whether it’s Why Evolution is True (“If you wear your religion on your sleeve, then you have to present compelling evidence for it. Or meet the banhammer.”), or Bad Astronomy (“Please keep things suitable for work”), or Pharyngula (“You can say what you want here – but if you become a nuisance, here’s the dungeon and a dead pocupine, cupcake.”) And now Greta Christina’s Blog (“don’t be an asshole.”). I am not sure how this is any different…or anymore censoring than the others in their own ways. So I am don’t know what the issue is…

    …and it’s true, I would like to saying anything I want on anyone elses’ blog. But ultimately it’s their blog…and they can do what they want with it. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else. Quietly if all possible. It’s after all Greta Christina’ Blog (says so right in the title) and not yours. /shrug

  75. 75
    Dabu

    Act like a serial dispenser of the brown & smelly round here, or at the neighbours’, and you’ll be disappeared!. Or turned into a desolate,howling shade outside the windswept gates of Gretaghast.

    But, hey, comments policies are a truly anthropic principle. If it makes this blog an inhospitable universe for your intricate form of snowflake life, there’s always others around. For example, you could venture beyond the event horizon which civilized discourse surrounds, and join the /b/tards.

  76. 76
    Greta Christina

    Greta, it’s not so much about those who write dissenting comments, for me it’s more about those like myself who choose not to comment here in principal because of your comment policy. Think about it. People who may be in absolute agreement with what you write or say choose to not write it here because of this restrictive comment policy. It’s your rug, as I said, but if it was my blog, I would want to hear those voices.

    rorschach @ #69: Right. Because I am just dying to hear the voices of people who aren’t willing to treat others with basic civility; who enjoy picking fights purely for the sake of picking fights; who hog conversations and consistently hijack them to whatever topic they want to discuss; who express intensely bigoted and hateful ideas; who proselytize for their religion without being willing to engage in any sort of back-and-forth conversation about it; who obsessively nitpick minor points in a conversation while ignoring the actual content of it; who use my blog as a place to hawk their commercial products; who have a history of vile and abusive behavior towards others; who use my blog to seriously break the law; who don’t respect the fact that this is my blog and that I have a right to moderate it; and who generally behave like assholes.

    And I want to hear from these people… why exactly?

    I hear from people like this plenty in the rest of the Internet. They have lots of places to express their views. I prefer to keep my own blog as a place where people can have conversations without that. Incivility on the Internet has a real chilling effect. If I don’t have a comment policy and instead let incivility run free, some people will not feel welcomed, and others will. If I do have a comment policy that keeps incivility out or limits it, a different set of people will not feel welcomed, and a different set will. No matter what I do, some people will not feel like this blog is for them, and will not want to participate in it. There is no way I can please everyone. So I’m pleasing myself, and am working to create a place where people can disagree and debate, often passionately, without becoming toxic. That’s what I personally like, and find most invigorating. If you don’t want that, then you are free to take your business elsewhere. If the restrictions I described here makes someone feel seriously hamstrung in their ability to express themselves, I’m probably not very interested in hearing from them anyway.

  77. 77
    mnb0

    @32: “You do not get to modify my comment policy. ….. I am the only one who can modify it.”
    That’s not how I meant it – me not being an native English speaker and such. Replace “modification” with a more suitable expression if you like.

    “Back down if you get a warning.”
    Alas you did not comment about this essential point.

    “you should stay away from that type of behavior…..”
    No, sorry, I am having too much fun. Moreover I don’t have any problem if I become the target either.

    “I never stop being amused by people who insist that dissent is being stifled in a blog….”
    I think this debates are silly. What are those people going to do about it?

    It amuses me to notice how christian morality still influences you. It’s the same with your thoughts about death (and a few other topics, but those articles are too old that me commenting makes sense).
    Back on topic: see it this way. If someone walks the line your only remedy is to make that line narrower, after which a commenter can back down and stíll walks the line. Where are you going to end?

  78. 78
    mnb0

    Addition: it is completely possible to enjoy fights, including sarcasm etcetera, without expressing hateful and bigoted ideas and without hijacking threads. You do it yourself and I that’s a major reason I have read dozens of your articles the last few weeks.

  79. 79
    Severo

    @Tony “Before we can move further, can you name any of these blog authors who claim to be spokespersons or represent the “skeptical/atheist’ community?”

    [Before we can move further :)]
    Well, otherwise Tony, what’s the point of a collective of bloggers under the same banner? Would you expect me to believe that PZ (for example) doesn’t view himself as some sort of representative/spokesperson? Come on, his ego is well up to the task! And as Greta says herself, “Freethought Blogs is itself a paying gig”, so this is a professional endeavour associating a number of people on an atheist/freethought platform.
    Of course they are free to do so, and free to employ whatever policies they wish without any sort of standards.

    Tony:”All that would tell me is that some individuals violated Greta’s comment policy.”
    That is poor logic Tony. They’ve been banned, therefore they deserved the banning, otherwise they wouldn’t have been banned. Right?

    And when blacklist banning, comment ‘disappearing’ and editing, wholesale fabrication, unfounded accusations, guilt by association, revisionism etc etc are employed (as I have had direct experience of on other freethoughtblogs) it begins to look much less like ‘freethought’ and more like political suppression.

    I can understand that that will sound like hyperbole and overreaction/sour grapes to most here… until it happens to them.

  80. 80
    Predator Handshake

    Severo, if you think PZ considers himself a spokesman or representative in any capacity of some “atheist movement” then you obviously haven’t read him very carefully.

  81. 81
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I’m going to amend this. I’d personally MUCH prefer it if you don’t use personally insulting rhetoric aimed at ideas. I’m not going to absolutely rule it out — yet — but I’m going to VERY STRONGLY request that you not do it. If someone is being infuriating, please take the high road. Be the bigger person. Find the pleasures of skillfully disemboweling someone with icy politeness. And do not play the “But they said it first!” game. Do not assume that, because someone else was insulting first, therefore it’s okay for you to be insulting back. Do not escalate things. Dial things back.

    If you need inspiration on how to get your point across without making a(n) (insert appropriate body part here), I would recommend looking to Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker and John Scalzi for examples.

    Now I realize why this has always bothered me.

    It’s the undertones of classism.

  82. 82
    Severo

    @Predator Handshake

    Quite possibly. But then, if he’s such a freewheeling maverick, why the ‘freethought’ collective? Is it not to specifically promote anything?
    Or is it solely a business enterprise? Clicks = cash? That would certainly tally with the observations of controversy manufacture and incestuous linkage.
    But then, a random one-eyed search even pulls up examples such as:

    “How Should the Atheist Movement Talk about Religion?”
    - why ask PZ Myers? He has nothing to do with the Atheist movement ,right?
    But oh, hang on:
    “I speak as a representative of the scientific faction of atheism” ~ says PZ Myers.

  83. 83
    Predator Handshake

    @Severo: you didn’t find it appropriate to include the full context of what he was saying?

    But here’s a central issue of contention: FAITH. No one word personifies the absolute worst and most wicked properties of religion better than that. Faith is mind-rot. It’s the poison that destroys critical thinking, undermines evidence, and leads people into lives dedicated to absurdity. It’s a parasite regarded as a virtue. I speak as a representative of the scientific faction of atheism: it’s one thing we simply cannot compromise on. Faith is wrong.

    Also, from the very first paragraph of the summary you quotemined:

    There is no dogma here, so there is no “should”: let a thousand voices roar. So we can have angry atheists and conciliatory atheists, and since there is no central authority, no pope of atheism, no one can say that one or the other is “wrong”.

  84. 84
    Severo

    @Predatory Handshake

    Yes, I agree. That was rather badly done on my part. (why was he asked though?)
    The quote was hastily found and tagged on the end, apologies for the sloppiness. It doesn’t affect the rest of the comment however, nor it’s veracity. You could quite easily ignore that quote and focus on the questions if you like.

  85. 85
    Predator Handshake

    Severo: I didn’t comment on the rest of your questions because I am not qualified to answer them for you. My only involvement with FTB is that I sometimes make comments on the posts.

    As for why PZ was asked that stuff, you could again consult the post that you pulled the original quote from. This little discussion is way off topic though, so I think it would be best to just drop it.

  86. 86
    Severo

    @Predator Handshake

    “I think it would be best to just drop it.”
    Agreed.
    Nevertheless I think that it was valid to point out that this isn’t just an individual’s blog and that it is tied to a collective, and also point out the commercial aspect.

  87. 87
    Cipher

    Hi Kagehi! I think you’re confused about what was going on with the Justicar, MRAs, and Westboro Baptists comparison there. Being familiar with the first two and about as familiar as everyone else is with the last one, I feel I can explain. A great many of the male supremacist trolls we have been unfortunately deluged with here at FTB have a certain posting pattern. Once they get kicked out of one blog for reprehensible behavior, they just move on to another; there, they pretend to be all sweetness and polite dissent at first, then either ramp up their behaviors or continue arguing the same points they have previously shown themselves to be willing to get really really evil about. So you get someone elsewhere on the internet saying, for instance, vile things about women, and then they come to your blog; no matter how politely they want to dissent about your rights and personhood, it’s ill-advised to treat them as an honest interlocutor, and it does make some people feel very unsafe, especially if it seems that the other people in the space haven’t noticed or don’t care about their bad behavior elsewhere. So the point wasn’t that Justicar, MRAs, and WBC ban dissent, it was that they abuse the leeway and chances which they are given in new spaces.

  88. 88
    Kagehi

    Hi Kagehi! I think you’re confused about what was going on with the Justicar, MRAs, and Westboro Baptists comparison there.

    Yes, and I had sort of hoped that it was meant in the context you describe, not as it could be interpreted to imply. The problem was, as written, is hardly clear that it was (and, frankly, I have never been good with names, so its not at all certain that I would catch “who” was making the statement, and derive, from that, the real intent). Its hardly impossible that it was meant “precisely” how I concluded it might have been intended, by someone, or overextended by others.

    However, besides that issue, there is the simple fact that the brighter trolls use aliases, and even proxies, where they can, to get their stuff posted. And, while the whole of “freethoughtsblogs” might have some way to track the IP, its far more likely that only the individual blogs will, in which case, going by the person’s alias is a problem in and of itself. Its hardly impossible for there to be two people who coincidentally use the same one, nor a certainty that they will use the same one here as they do every place else, or even, for that matter, possible, if you suspect its an alias of an alias, that you can go to some other blog, find out what the IP is, and thus “know” who should be banned.

    Simply put, presuming that someone’s behavior some place else counts would only be valid is you had their real name, and physical address, since even the same IP isn’t a 100% certainty that you are not banning someone based on coincidence, rather than known behavior. Heck, I am particularly lucky in that the one I use nearly every place isn’t even a common enough name that it appears for more than maybe 2 other people, in a google search. But, that is hardly the case with trolls. They often pick something biblical, or ridiculous, linked to what ever they are arguing, and there is a finite number of absurd names you can derive in such a manner.

  89. 89
    TechSkeptic

    What cant you say what you want to say without being an asshole? how is that hard? Do you talk like that when you discuss something at your friends moms house? how are you capable of doing that there and not here?

    Look, I just edited my own post, which started out with “good god some of you people are stupid”

    its not that hard.

  90. 90
    Cipher

    What cant you say what you want to say without being an asshole?

    *shrugs* It’s not necessarily “asshole” behavior to use a less-than-civil tone. There are things worth saying that I, for one, simply can’t say without saying personal, uncivil things. (That said, when I see people here at Greta’s saying things I don’t consider worth responding to politely, even icy-politely, I just don’t comment. It’s not perfect as a response, but respecting Greta’s space overrides my concern. But if some of the arguments I’ve seen here were instead taking place in a relatively restricted meatspace situation like “my friend’s mom’s house” I would end up digging holes in my palms with my fingernails and would need to find somewhere else to hang out.)

  91. 91
    Greta Christina

    Severo, please take note of my updated comment policy. In particular, please take note of the following:

    If you are barely walking the line of acceptable behavior in this blog, but you are consistently being unpleasant, nasty, snide, sarcastic, nitpicky, assuming the worst possible intentions, or otherwise just generally being an asshole — towards other commenters, or towards me — you will be banned from this blog. If I’m feeling generous, I’ll give you a warning first — but I make no promises in that regard. If the entire tone of a conversation is going south, and it’s clear to me that you’re the one making it go south, you’re gone.

    You are barely walking the line of acceptable behavior in this blog, but you are consistently being unpleasant, nasty, snide, sarcastic, nitpicky, and assuming the worst possible intentions. Conversations are going south, and you’re one of the primary ones making that happen. I’m feeling generous, so you are now getting a warning. If you don’t dial it back, you’re going to be banned.

  92. 92
    SallyStrange

    Geezum crow. People.

    Basically, if you’re going to comment here, consider it a challenge to your writing skills. Say things in a way consistent with Greta’s policy. It’s more difficult than how I might normally do it, but that’s part of the challenge. Be creative. Be thoughtful. Be deliberate. It’s actually great practice if you’re interested in the art of writing.

    If you can’t handle it then comment on some other blog. That’s it. Seriously. That is IT. Your loss, really, and nobody else’s. See that? That was subtly insulting towards those who aren’t up to the challenge. But of course, if you’re commenting here then you ARE up to the challenge, right? So obviously it wasn’t aimed at you, therefore no need to take offense. Just keep the conversation going.

  93. 93
    Cipher

    And when blacklist banning, comment ‘disappearing’ and editing, wholesale fabrication, unfounded accusations, guilt by association, revisionism etc etc are employed (as I have had direct experience of on other freethoughtblogs) it begins to look much less like ‘freethought’ and more like political suppression.

    That’s an interesting viewpoint, Severo. Have you considered alternative explanations? For instance, perhaps instead of being suppressed for their political viewpoints, the people in question were expressing those political viewpoints in ways that appeared indistinguishable from trolling. I understand, though, that some political viewpoints are difficult to express without seeming like a troll – bigoted, deliberately obnoxious, or evil. I suppose that could be a concern for some.

  94. 94
    Cipher

    But, Sally, as I know you already understand, the way one chooses to express oneself communicates its own messages. There are things that simply cannot be said politely. Subtle condescension has its place, of course, but it only gets one so far; there are arguments that simply should not be taken seriously, and sometimes I feel that the people who try to use those arguments get the mistaken impression that there is room for debate due to the politeness of their interlocutors. Often I feel it’s important to communicate directly and unambiguously that some viewpoints are unacceptable, not only misguided, incorrect, or irrational. In such situations I often find it can be very important to clearly communicate anger directly at a person, rather than at their ideas. Does that make sense?

  95. 95
    Cipher

    I’m sorry to be all threadhoggy, but I just wanted to apologize (primarily to Greta) for appearing in my above posts to be arguing against the comment policy. I meant to dispute the specific claim that all things that one could reasonably want to say can be communicated without breaking the comment policy. I recognize now that by posting that in this particular thread I am appearing to argue against the policy, and generally being a derailing butthead. I’m sorry. It was my SIWOTI/inner nitpicky pedant getting the best of me.

  96. 96
    Amblebury

    I think you’re being very accommodating having a commenting policy at all.

    There’s no reason for you not to turf out anyone who you feel is crossing a line, no justification required – it’s your blog. That you bother to forewarn people is testimony to the civility you expect from others.

    If that ‘strong’ quote thing comes out looking laughable, it’s because I’m really distracted with my particle physics right now.

    (HTML fixed – GC)

  97. 97
    Amblebury

    Bah! Back to the drawing board.

    Charlie

  98. 98
    Amblebury

    Yes!

  99. 99
    Cry4turtles

    I applaud Greta for working to keep it civil. Perhaps it will enrich the topic fodder and those who have different ideas won’t be stifled. I am nonconfrontational but love to learn from my peers. As soon as someone call me stupid, dumb etc., I’m afraid my side if the dyad shuts down and the only thing learned is the level of hostility my receiver is capable of.

  100. 100
    Cry4turtles

    To clarify, the level of science knowledge on FTB tends to fire me up. If the discussion is the laws of thermodynamics, I may ask a question. A hostile response might look like this, “You must be new here. Anyone in their right mind would not ask such a stupid question.” What would that accomplish? A more productive response could sound like, “There’s an excellent thread at…”, or,”Check out this website/blog.” Good teachers never degrade students for questions/ideas. Perhaps this strategy could even be utilized with theists, some who may seriously be questioning their faith.

  101. 101
    GBJames

    @ Cry4turtles: That strategy doesn’t work well when the trolls come out. For them, ridicule is entirely appropriate.

  102. 102
    Cry4turtles

    I’m not saying to give trolls a soft pillow, but they usually reveal themselves early on versus someone who really wants to learn and have an appropriate conversation. Sharing knowledge and experience doesn’t have to be painful or degrading.

  103. 103
    Greta Christina

    Please note: nmcc has been banned from this blog, for violating the “Do not behave atrociously in other blogs” policy. If you’re wondering why, here’s why.

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