Blog Comments Redux

I have banned a couple of serial violators in recent days after various warnings, deletions, and other signals failed to do the trick.

Steve Clemons is shutting down comments on The Washington Note for a bit because his guidelines for civil discourse “are being flagrantly violated.”

I am notifying a few commenters that they are banned. I will not tolerate ad hominem attacks on anyone and the regular escalations that take place here. If folks want to communicate on policy issues, feel free to write to me privately.

I regret having to take this action but [several named commenters] are regularly out of line — and they are contributing to a climate here that I refuse to support and be part of. I don’t care what other value they bring in other commentary.

I will decide when to bring comments back — but these commenters will not be welcome until I receive notes from them outlining how they will contribute to discourse here and what they will do to curb their tendency to escalate beyond tolerable limits.

While the rancor at OTB isn’t nearly at the point where I’d consider shutting down commenting entirely, I have banned a couple of serial violators in recent days after various warnings, deletions, and other signals failed to do the trick.

A healthy dialog is part of the value of running a policy oriented blog, and I’m happy to get vigorous disagreement in the comments. Commenters are, in a real way, part of the OTB community. But it only works if the discussion stays at least at a bar room level of friendliness. So I’ll take this opportunity to remind readers of our site policies and especially this plea:

Remember that the people under discussion are human beings. Comments that contain personal attacks about the post author or other commenters will be deleted. Repeated violators will be banned. Challenge the ideas of those with whom you disagree, not their patriotism, decency, or integrity.

In truth, I don’t dogmatically delete comments that inch across any of these lines but I do tend to do so for egregious or repeated offenses. My tolerance is largely a function of the signal to noise ratio of a commenter’s overall contribution to the discussion, with regulars who routinely add something worthwhile getting substantially more forbearance than those who are mostly annoying.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, OTB History
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Gerry says:

    Actually, you’re link is to Steven Clemons, who works at The Washington Note. Steve Benen is over at The Washington Monthly.

  2. Franklin says:

    Gerry-

    I think you mean “your”, you big ignoramus!

    /hee hee, just testing the limits

  3. Michael Reynold says:

    But we can still make fun of Sarah Palin, right?

  4. James Joyner says:

    Gerry: Fixed. I’ve been making that mistake for years for some reason. It was understandable when I only knew them from their blogs, but I actually know Clemons quite well now.

    Michael: Yes, within very broad limits.

  5. Blog owners, like yourself, tend to err on the side of caution.

    It’s your site; get rid of anyone that annoys you or detracts from it. No explanations or apologies needed.

  6. Gerry says:

    Franklin- yeah.

    I noticed it the moment after I hit the post button. Unfortunately for me, there’s no way to edit comments (stupid blog software!)

    Oh well- at least I wasn’t popping off about grammar. I was going to post a second comment, but then punted on the hopes no one would notice and if they did they’d have the decency to let it slide. Naturally, you proved me wrong. Jerk. (kidding!)

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    Well one of my questions about who has/hasn’t been banned has been answered.

  8. Sarah Palin says:

    But we can still make fun of Sarah Palin, right?

    Not if I’m a commenter.

  9. George says:

    > I noticed it the moment after I hit the post button. Unfortunately for me, there’s no way to edit comments (stupid blog software!)

    Here’s what’s likely to be a post that breaks the guidelines (ie off topic) – why doesn’t the software allow editing? It seems to be common enough on other forums.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    “I hope truth matter.”

    Odd that you would hope that something that you don’t practice would matter…

  11. MarkedMan says:

    I, for one, hope that truth does not matter in this case. Political insight is not so rare that we need to put up with childish insults just to ensure ‘balance’. I’ve gone sour on OTB for a couple of weeks at a time because a post I’ve been trying to follow has suddenly flooded my inbox with 20-30 “I know you are, but what am I” level insult fests. I vow never to bother coming back, then eventually yield, vowing never to turn on email notification, only to find I’ve lost a thread I’ve been participating in and can’t find it anymore. (BTW, James, did your tech guy ever respond on the ability to find all of my previous posts?)

  12. Jay Tea says:

    James, you ignorant slut.

    (Just testing…)

    J.

  13. I have banned a couple of serial violators in recent days after various warnings, deletions, and other signals failed to do the trick.

    Testing… Testing… 1… 2… 3…

  14. Linda says:

    I’ve never quite understood the need for name-calling and ad hominem attacks, from either side of the aisle. It detracts from any debate.

    There are a couple of conservative talkshow hosts on Sirius Radio that stoop to unnecessary (and unflattering) name-calling of some of the more prominent people on the Left, and they’ve lost me as a listener because of that. Make your point without the childish antics.

    Yes, I know there are hosts on the Left who do the same, with regards to those on the Right, but that is their forte. Which is one of the reasons I don’t listen to them.

  15. matt says:

    Everyone’s comments being moderated?

  16. Have A Nice G.A. says:

    🙂

  17. Neil Hudelson says:

    So a commentor who has repeatedly advocated violent death against other commentors is still around and commenting on this thread, and the ever-racist superdestroyer is commenting on other threads.

    Was anyone actually banned?

  18. Neil Hudelson says:

    And just to clarify, G.A., none of that was directed at you. (Since we’ve had our tiffs in the past I’d thought I’d make that clear. I’ve actually come to like you just a little bit ;))

  19. michael reynolds says:

    Damn. I’m kind of liking G.A. too.

  20. tom p says:

    am I still allowed to annoy?

  21. Axel Edgren says:

    I would prefer an extremely hateful and vitriolic intelligent person to an amicable Palin supporter. I wish this blog thought as I did, but…

    I realize that having a somewhat healthy, inclusive blog means you have to pretend certain things and allow for truly offensive stupidity and degeneracy as long as it is presented non-offensively. I just worry that people will think rulesets created for convenience and functionality are based on ethics and communication as it *should* be.

  22. James Joyner says:

    Axel:

    My view is that truth will out. Palin is demonstrably unqualified to be president — and most Americans have already figured that out for themselves. But debate only works if people from all sides of the issue are able to contribute. If one side shouts the other down, there’s no way to change anyone’s mind.

  23. jwest says:

    James,

    “Palin is demonstrably unqualified to be president..”

    At some point, you should try to write an article that lays out your reasoning for that statement.