Discussion Policy

I try to run a tight ship, so that comments become a useful supplement to the main post.  When I have comments turned on for a post, I keep the window open for ten days, to keep my workload manageable.  You might also look for the article re-posted at Resilience.org, which supports an open-ended discussion forum.

I do not approve comments that are off topic or too tangential, no matter how agreeable or flattering they might be (some simply thank me: I appreciate this, truly, but do not add to the conversation).  I will approve civil, thoughtful comments that are in marked disagreement, as I think they add value and dimensionality.  However, I will often write a response/correction and then end the thread to prevent fruitless bickering.  So, make your point (succinctly) and be satisfied with that.  One of the nice things about running a blog is the ability to truncate non-convergent conversations.

I also am not fond of long comments or persons who keep flinging comment after comment, no matter the degree of agreement.  The aim is to provide diversity, and keep things brief enough that readers are not overburdened.  A long comment becomes a chore for me: I have to read it all to make sure nothing inappropriate lurks within, and I would rather not (usually just don’t).  I imagine reader reaction would be similar.  The formatting that WordPress imposes stretches long comments to many screens-worth of vertical space, which I imagine discourages readers from continuing (or skipping).

Here are some guidelines:

  • Be civil and respectful.  Refrain from abusive commentary and sarcastic insults.  Your comment should come across as thoughtful and patient.  Avoid SHOUTING, and profanity.
  • Keep it short.  No rants or screeds. I have to vet every post, and long ones discourage me from investing the time.  If you have complex thoughts that require more than a few short paragraphs, I’ve found that starting a new blog is a great way to express such ideas: post a link to your content.
  • I will limit the number of comments from a given author on a particular post. This partly addresses a loophole in the “keep it short” rule, but also avoids spats. It may seem unfair, but I often exercise the privilege of having the last word when the gulf is wide.
  • I will decline comments that reflect a gross misunderstanding of the original post, or that I deem to be absurd (the second law of thermodynamics is a crock) or at the very least irrelevant on timescales of interest (we’re going to conquer interstellar space; we’ll live in digital form after the “singularity”).  If it’s too far from my perception of reality, I don’t want anyone to think it has credence by dint of its being present on this blog.
  • Folks who violate the ethos will have a bigger hurdle to get over for acceptance of future comments.
  • Many comments echo the same points. Sometimes if a comment (even respecting the rules above) is redundant, I will not burden readers with another instance. The best policy is to read existing comments and contribute original thoughts.
  • I may edit posts that are too long, have uncivil elements, but contain a kernel worth sharing.  This is rare, though: usually such characteristics result in denying approval.

I will post any updates to my discussion policy on this page.

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