Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Comment guidelines

I am vehemently in favor of allowing comments on blogs.  I am in favor of allowing comments on my own blogs so that they may become forums for conversation about things that matter (instead of just me shouting at the rain), and I am in favor of other people allowing comments on their blogs so I can disagree with them openly instead of just muttering angrily to myself.

However, I find I'm made uncomfortable by anonymous comments.  At best they are a not-very-exciting mystery, but at worst they give me the feeling that I'm in a dark alley trying to have a conversation with a masked person.  That's not the sort of situation I like to be in on a regular basis.

The following are comment guidelines for this blog, applied now and not effective retroactively:

1. All comments must be signed with some sort of legitimate identity.  This can be a full name, a first name only, or a handle that is consistent and is connected to a significant online presence.  This leaves room for those who don't want their names on the internets, but allows us all to feel like we're talking to real people.  Commenters are encouraged to identify themselves as completely as possible.

2. Comments may not contain offensive or hateful speech, threats, or other content you wouldn't share in church.  (A vibrant and frank church, that is.)

3. Comments not made in the spirit of these guidelines will be deleted without apology.

4. Interpretation of the above guidelines is the sole responsibility of the blog moderator (that's me) and all decisions are final.

I will continue to technically allow "anonymous" comments so people can comment without signing in to Blogger/Google/OpenID, so long as these guidelines are followed.  If I have to, I will restrict posting to people who are signed in through one of the affiliated services.

This does not represent a change to a heavy-handed moderating style; I will continue to encourage all thought and points of view on this blog, will continue allowing authors to post at will without editorial oversight, and will only delete comments I feel I cannot allow to stand.  Note that while anonymity has been an issue, hateful/offensive stuff thus far has not, so I am laying out obligatory precautions rather than reacting to something that has already happened.

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