In order to maintain a certain minimum level of quality control, I reserve the right to moderate the comments that appear on my blog. To avoid spammers, I require that all first-time commenters must be approved before their posts will appear—a nuisance, but sadly necessary in this age of robospam. After that, you can expect your comments to appear automatically as soon as you post them, provided you do not abuse the privilege.
Abuse, in this case, does not mean that you cannot disagree with me (and in fact disagreements frequently make a blog more interesting, and are a valued contribution). What it does mean is that comments that are persistently trollish, tedious, unimaginative, and/or otherwise noxious, may get you put on the moderation list. Note that this is not a ban. I only ban for extreme offenses, such as spamming, hacking, identity fraud, harassment, and so on. Mere trollery will only get you put on the moderation list.
The Moderation List
The moderation list means that all of your comments will need my approval in order to be published. If you have gotten yourself put on the moderation list, it will be rather difficult to obtain my approval, but it will not be impossible. To qualify for publication, your (moderated) comment must meet three criteria:
- It must be interesting (provocative is even better, provided it satisfies the other two criteria).
- It must be accurate (i.e. it must not misrepresent the facts and/or the arguments of others).
- It must advance the discussion of the topic.
The last criterion is perhaps the most subjective, but just to give a few examples:
- Ad hominem attacks do not advance the discussion.
- Tangents about alleged rules of debate, and/or who is or is not following them, do not advance the discussion.
- Repeated reiterations of points already refuted do not advance the discussion.
- Pointless hair-splitting does not advance the discussion.
- Honestly addressing your opponent’s arguments does advance the discussion.
- Presentation of new, verifiable evidence does advance the discussion.
- Conceding points raised by your opponent does advance the discussion.
- Concealing or misrepresenting your true position does not advance the discussion.
- Changing the subject does not advance the discussion.
And so on. Note that if you are not on the moderation list, you need not fear that I will go over every one of your comments to see whether or not it advances the discussion. The above criteria only apply to those who are already being moderated. Note, however, that repeated and persistent failure to advance the discussion can get you put on the list, if you’re a nuisance about it, so if you’re going to comment a lot, have a care for the quality of your comments. If you only comment rarely, you are very unlikely to ever be put on the moderation list.
Any commenter who is put on the moderation list, and who feels that their arguments are being unfairly stifled, is free to post their arguments on their own blog, and to comment here with a BRIEF announcement giving a link back to their blog, with a short description of the arguments they are addressing. I reserve the right to edit the comment if anyone tries to abuse it to circumvent the moderation policy, however I will publish the link (or a shortened version thereof). In this way anyone who is interested in hearing the commenter’s side of the story can have access to it, without undue burden on this blog.
All Decisions of the Blog Author Are Final
If you have any objections to my moderation policy, you are welcome to withhold your comments and/or to post them on some other blog. If I have placed anyone on the moderation list, it is because I have concluded they are a detriment to the quality of the blog and to what little free time I have to spend on it. I will not, therefore, discuss such moderation either on the blog or via email or through any other channel; if you wish to be restored to full commenting privileges, you can re-earn the right by posting moderated comments that meet the above criteria. All other attempts will be ignored.
Sorry to be so stuffy about it, but I hope you can appreciate my desire to maintain the quality of the material on my blog.