Reminder about the OTB TOS

We (the Authors and Mods of OTB) wanted to take a moment to remind everyone* of the site’s Terms of Service (TOS) and, in particular, the portions on civility:

  • 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.
  • The use of profanity stronger than that normally permitted on network television is prohibited. A substantial number of people read this site from an office or in a family environment.

As of late, we’ve been a bit lax in enforcing these rules. Our hope was that the community would self-regulate. Unfortunately, phrases like “blow me,” “fvck you,” and/or “STUF” have gotten far too common. The commenting feature here is meant to inspire conversation, not personal attacks. It’s time for that to stop.

We appreciate that this is a moment where political tensions in the U.S.** are particularly high. That said, it’s worth taking a step back and reminding ourselves that — by and large — when it comes to the day-to-day political ins-and-outs of the U.S.*, we’re all spectators hoping for what we think to be the best outcome.

We (the Authors and Mods of OTB) ask everyone to take a deep breath and then a step back from the edge. Otherwise we are going to have to break out the moderation stick. And following T. Roosevelt’s advice, it’s a big stick — you don’t want to be on the receiving end.

If there are any questions or issues that need clarification, please feel free to respond below.


* – This is truly directed at *everyone.* Complaining that you are being singled out — or that someone else is getting a free pass — is missing the point of this post. What is past is past. This is focusing on the future. Wasting space complaining about *your* treatment is in violation of the TOS, in particular:

  • [posting] Comments that are completely off topic.
  • [and] Any form of trolling, defined as comments that appear intended to send the discussion in a fruitless direction, including repeated raising of only tangentially related points.

** – To our International readers: Rest assured, we don’t think the US is the whole of the world. But just because we didn’t call out your home country by name, doesn’t mean that the TOS doesn’t apply to you.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Environment, OTB History, Parenting, , ,
Matt Bernius
About Matt Bernius
Matt Bernius is a design researcher working to create more equitable government systems and experiences. He's currently a Principal User Researcher on Code for America's "GetCalFresh" program, helping people apply for SNAP food benefits in California. Prior to joining CfA, he worked at Measures for Justice and at Effective, a UX agency. Matt has an MA from the University of Chicago.


  1. Todd says:

    This is one of the few political blogs that actually has semi-intelligent discussions in most of the comment threads. But like anything else political these days, it’s not surprising that sometimes things get a little out of hand. Personally I think that a good way to keep things sane is to use the “kid looking over my shoulder rule” …. i.e. would you want your children or grandchildren to see what you’re writing in the course of some of these “debates”? And more importantly, would you want them to emulate you when interacting with their own peers?

    If the answer to either of those question is “no” that’s probably a clue that some self-reflection may be required.

  2. Dr. Seuss says:

    “I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”

  3. John Peabody says:


  4. wr says:

    “Unfortunately, phrases like “blow me,” “fvck you,” and/or “STUF” have gotten far too common. ”

    This is blatant discrimination against dyslexics!

  5. Matt Bernius says:


    This is blatant discrimination against dyslexics!

    Ytliug as charged.

    Sassing the mods is of course a TOS offense (no it isn’t), but I’m letting this one slide based on the fact that you have the “I’ve worked with Dick Van Dyke AND Sammo Hung, super secret, liberal get out of banning free card.”

  6. Electroman says:

    How is it possible to ban someone from these comments? This is a technical question – you don’t have to log in or anything.

  7. @Electroman:

    The probably ban your IP.