I will put these guidelines in two sections, so that the rules are distinguished from the guidelines. Rules are what we enforce, whereas guidelines are suggestions for making your comments edifying. We reserve the right to change these rules whenever we feel like it, since it’s our blog.
1. No anonymous comments. You do not necessarily have to tell everyone who you are, but you do have to tell the moderators. If your general anonymity winds up giving you a sense of having no accountability (reflected in your posts), then your posting privileges will be revoked.
2. Stay on topic. The topic is defined by the post, not by the rabbit trails that often pop up in the comments. Admittedly, this is quite difficult for the mods to police, but keep this in mind.
3. Personal attacks are forbidden. Heat is not necessarily forbidden. However, personal attacks are. We prefer light to heat. Think of it this way: debate is a logical give and take on the issues, whereas altercation is a shouting match. We want debate, not altercation. We do not require any one perspective on a particular issue. We welcome comments from all points of view, as long as they adhere to these rules.
4. If you have a complaint about moderation, do not complain on the thread, but write a private email to one of the mods. If you have a complaint about one of the other commenters, take it up with them privately, as a public shouting match would not only violate rule 3, but also rule 2. The mods will be the first to admit that we are not consistent all the time. There are way too many comments for us all to police perfectly, and we’re human, to boot. If you forget that, then try to imagine what it would be like for you to moderate a blog that gets well over fifty comments per day on average (and well over a thousand hits per day on average), and sometimes as many as six or seven hundred comments in a single day.
1. Ask yourself this question before you post: “Would I say this directly to that person if that person was standing right in front of me?”
2. Write one tone gentler than you think you need, and it will probably come out about right. Blogs are notorious for attacks, and plenty have come on this blog.
3. Pray about your comment if it is in a debate and pray specifically about this issue: “Am I writing this merely to win an argument, look good, and stroke my ego, or am I writing to edify the readers?”
4. Just because you can post a comment does not mean that you have to post. Not everyone has the right to be heard just because they can be heard.
5. Be succinct, get to the point, but also read your comment from the other guy’s perspective, and seek to imagine how he might read it (or misread it), and correct accordingly.