Comments Policy

I’ve always moderated comments on this site. My original intent was to follow an extremely open comments policy, but past incidents have prompted me to be more strict. Here’s how things work these days:

  • All comments are moderated. WordPress has a very good spam filter, but it’s not perfect, so I keep close tabs on things. Your comment won’t appear until I’ve approved it, but I very rarely go more than two or three days without checking in (usually it’s every day). If your comment hasn’t appeared on the site within a day or so, that’s probably why.
  • WordPress has a feature that allows all follow-up comments to appear, once an initial comment has been approved. However, this had led to trouble a couple of times, when an approved commenter went off the rails. So I’ve stopped allowing that. Additional comments still need approval. If you notice that a follow-up comment hasn’t appeared, I probably just haven’t gotten to it yet.
  • If I notice that you’ve left a long and thoughtful comment requiring a long and thoughtful response, I might temporarily hide your comment until I can give it the response it deserves. Be patient — this rarely takes more than a few days.
  • I block or delete comments which reveal that the writer hasn’t carefully read the post. A recent one, for instance, suggested the definition used as part of a discussion in a post was incorrect — even though the post itself linked out to three different definitions, and none was explicitly supported. The comment didn’t offer a corrected definition, either.
  • I block or delete comments that don’t meaningfully contribute. For example, if the only purpose of a comment is to make fun of the spelling errors made by a previous commenter, or to tell a long and rambling story that adds nothing, chances are pretty near 100% that I’ll delete it. It should be reasonably clear from my own posts and comments that my philosophy is to tread lightly where spur-of-the-moment mistakes are involved, and Internet comments are often as spur-of-the-moment as things get.
  • I don’t like to delete comments once they’ve been approved, or edit my responses to them. However, a recent incident convinced me that this is sometimes an acceptable approach. In that case, the comments were distracting from the point of the post and this blog, so I chose to delete them to keep the focus where it should be.

Feel free to comment frequently, as long as you’ve got something to contribute.

(updated 5/8/2016)

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