I don't recall it ever happening before, but apparently a reader had a strong negative reaction to my blog this evening and left comments to that effect on a couple of posts (the ones immediately following this one, if you're curious). Hey, to each his own and all that; nobody is universally loved, after all. I mean, Gandhi came pretty close -- and he got assassinated.
But the comments left give me cause to revisit my comments policy, which I now realize I haven't revised since I switched from the YACCS system to the Blogger one.
1. This is a blog, not a message board. And it's my blog, so I am the only one with the right to post whatever I wish in this space.
2. Comment moderation is ACTIVATED; no comment will be published here until I personally approve it. If you want to attack me and tell me that I'm fat and I'm stupid and only an idiot would wear overalls in public much less post photos of same on the Web, fine, but the comments will not be published, and I probably won't even read them all the way through before rejecting them.
2a. I find attacks on my girth fairly pathetic. First of all, the photos don't convey accurately what my body shape really is (I recently had someone tell me that they thought, by my photos, that I was well over six feet tall, when I'm only five-ten). Second, I'm overweight but fairly strong and in good health. Third, the last time I can remember being made fun of for my weight was when I was in seventh grade, and that was twenty-two years ago. So, while I'm mildly intrigued by the possibility that I'm either being made fun of by an actual seventh grader or by an adult who's failed to mature at all since they were in seventh grade, I'm not that intrigued by those possibilities. Again, I shall click the "delete" button and move right on.
3. As of this writing, Blogger's commenting system does not seem to currently allow for tracking and banning of ISPs, so all I can do to people whose comments are deemed by me to be unwelcome is delete the comments. But rest assured, if Blogger changes the comment system to allow for wholesale ISP banning, I'll use that option if I see fit.
That said, ANONYMOUS COMMENTS ARE NOT ALLOWED. Sorry. I used to allow them, but certain parties found it too difficult to play well with other children, so I made this change. If you wish to comment, you are required to have an account either with Google or with one of the services recognized by the OpenID initiative. I realize that may be a pain in the ass for some, but that's the rule here as of 1-30-10.
If I should decide to "ban" you from commenting, then I will simply reject all of your comments starting from my decision to ban. This is important: the comments will be rejected unread. Once I decide that you are not worth my time and thus no longer allowed access to my comments, there is really no way for you to rectify the situation. Live, learn, and find some other blog to pester. And if you feel compelled to keep firing shots across the bow, by all means, keep doing so. It's your time you're wasting, not mine.
4. Don't bother crying to me about "free speech". There is nothing inconsistent with my commitment to free speech and my refusal to allow people to trash the forum that I own. That you have a right to speak does not imply that you have a right to an audience, nor does it imply a right to use any forum that exists as you see fit. The rule here is: Want free speech for yourself? Get your own blog.
5. Please restrict comments to the topic of the post at hand. If there's something you really want to call to my attention, my e-mail addresses are posted in the sidebar. Off-topic comments stand a good chance of being deleted.
6. If you want me to take your comment seriously, then consider that tone matters. Any insulting or condescending tone taken with me, or any implication that something I've said is not to be taken seriously, will not help conversation along; persistent use of such a tone will only push me closer to banning you.
And if I decide that I'm on the verge of banning you, you will get ONE warning, and it will consist simply of a message from me along the lines of "You're being a dick; stop it or the next dickish comment you post will be the last." I will not take time to explain the dickishness of your behavior; the task of figuring out why I think you're being a dick will be left to you.
7. Occasionally I will close comments -- possibly on threads where dialog is becoming more heated than I care to entertain, or on other posts where I am simply not interested in debating the point of the post in the first place. If I close comments, that does NOT mean that one is free to respond to that post in comments on another thread. Any comments in this vein will be deleted as soon as I learn of their existence.
And trying to shame me about closing comments by suggesting that I'm not comfortable with opposing views will be ignored completely. I consider opposing viewpoints before I write something; if you have something legitimately new to bring to conversation, that's one thing, but I am under no obligation or moral duty to allow people who disagree with my political views space in my comments to air their talking points.
8. Comments that seem "on topic", but include a commercial link of some sort that is unrelated to the post at hand, will be considered spam comments and deleted accordingly.
Basically, what it all boils down to is simply this: I will be the one to set the rules on my own blog, and if my rules aren't to someone's liking, then their main -- and only -- recourse is the "back" button on their browser.