Sunday, March 08, 2009

Comment Etiquette and Comment Rules

I need to inform readers that, while I have not made the decision yet, I am quite seriously considering turning on full comment moderation. Full comment moderation, if it were turned on, would mean that no comments would be posted until reviewed and approved.

Needless to say, this is not, in my view, an ideal state of affairs from a few angles, not the least of which because it takes a great deal of time, and second of all because it can delay the good discussions as well.

I should note that there are many very good comments and commenters here, and they should continue on. They add a great deal to the NLM, and are very valuable. Thank you to them.

But there has also been something of a swell of inappropriate comments in the past weeks and months, no doubt because of continuing growth. These must cease and therefore, expect more liberal comment deleting beginning now and, if need be, bans. All NLM writers have the power here to delete comments and to ban commenters, and I will send them a note to accordingly feel quite free in this regard.

Whether we will turn on full comment moderation will depend upon the response to this reminder, and how the comments are manifest in the next while.

The preferred moderation, however, is self-moderation, and the exercise of some self-discipline.

It seems to be time for a reminder of the NLM combox rules:

Critique Principles not People.
Be Discriminating, but don't Nitpick.
Be Academic not Acerbic.
Be Principled but not Polemical.

What is not acceptable then:

Personal Attacks

What is acceptable:

Constructive critique
Charitable debate
Challenging, but in a friendly way, and with good reasons.

Asking questions (without accusation) about whether something is being done correctly in the liturgy, or what a rubric is is also fine -- this is a liturgical site after all, and can be a good resource for those interested in those matters; I do not want to discourage that, but I would in so asking, ensure you do not go on the attack, nor lose sight of the good. All the difference in the world can be made by how such matters are raised and by keeping an overall perspective.

If you are stating a personal position and opinion, that is also fine, but then make sure you make that clear and don't turn it into an absolute if the Church hasn't; make your case for your position and principles.

The comboxes can add a great interactive dimension on a blog, particularly the debates, but not if it is reduced to mere complaints, attacks or nitpicking.

A further note:

It has become evident that sometimes some people also pass comment while having evidently not fully read (or only skimmed) an NLM post or comment thread. This means they often miss nuances, context, qualifications or otherwise that may be crucial to understanding a point.

This can be an issue as well, for it not only can lessen the value of a comment, it can also increase the possibility of misunderstandings that can turn into comments that need to be moderated.

Therefore, if you are going to comment, please ensure you have adequately read and tried to understand what you are going to comment upon, before commenting upon it. And if you aren't sure you are understanding correctly, then state that, making a caveat in your critique, or take the time to ask for clarification.

A Final Note

There are 100's and 100's of comments which are posted here everyday, and there are also thousands of readers. Accordingly, it is difficult to micro-manage them so long as full comment moderation is not on.

Accordingly we need your help in identifying problematic comments. Please email me if you see a comment that you believe is a problem, or a comment thread that you believe has lost control.

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