I’ll keep my main message simple. Basically, do as you were taught by your kindergarten teacher:
Play nicely with others.
I offer no hard and fast rules to follow. At the bare minimum, I expect common decency.
The objective of this blog is truth-seeking and truth-telling, and I take this very seriously. That said, my desire and intention isn’t to force my understanding onto the unwilling (no one here is being held against their will) or to go out of my way to slaughter anyone’s sacred cow (though I take no responsibility for injury to sacred cows that may be incurred). If that sounds like your kind of thing, we should have no problems.
I love quality discussion and want to encourage it. I want to learn and try my best to understand, even opposing views. And I want to attract to my blog those with a similar attitude. But it is obvious that not all commenters share this attitude. Besides trolls, some people just want to argue, criticize, nitpick and complain while others are plain negative and annoying.
I want discussion, but I don’t want negativity which too often brings out the worst in me. I particularly don’t like mean-spiritedness, neither in myself nor others. I want to discuss, not argue or have a battle of wills. This isn’t a place of formal debates and so there are no debate points to be won. Bonus points, however, will be rewarded for intellectual humility, curiosity and insight. When conflicts and misunderstandings occur, offer me the benefit of the doubt and I will do the same.
Quality discussion is honest discussion. I will accept nothing less. I won’t tolerate anyone who purposely or consistently misrepresents my view or the views of others. I won’t tolerate anyone who cherrypicks data or otherwise refuses to deal with all the facts at hand. I won’t tolerate anyone who consistently distracts from the main point of a given post and of the discussion that follows. I won’t tolerate whatsoever any kind of game-playing or wasting of my time.
Whether you agree or disagree, do so nicely, honestly and fairly. If you contribute to worthwhile discussion, then you are free to comment as much as you want. If you detract from worthwhile discussion, then your comments will be deleted and eventually I’ll block you entirely. I may give you a warning and explanation or I may not.
This standard of worthwhile discussion will be applied to all equally. If you think I fail my own standard, you are more than welcome to call me out on it. Still, this is my blog and so I’m the judge about this standard.
As a note of explanation, I don’t like censorship. I resisted coming to this point.
I’ve never had a comment policy before and I had never blocked anyone until recently. My blog operated with an open-door policy for several years now. I’d argue with people. I sometimes even told them to go away because they were annoying me, but I never blocked them outright.
I’m a generally tolerant person in my own way. I can handle a fair amount of conflict. I can argue with someone over one thing and then be perfectly fine with them later. I don’t want to hold grudges, although I’m fully capable of that. I tolerate disagreement, even when it turns into conflict, for the simple reason that I love discussion so much.
Some recent exchanges, however, led me to rethink what I want from this blog and the discussions that happen here.
Obviously, not everyone is worth trying to communicate with. But if a comment is posted, I’m nearly incapable of not responding. I’ve increasingly come to dislike arguments. And too often online interactions descend into arguments, if not worse. I have this immense faith in the worthiness of discussion and so great hope for worthwhile discussion. Despite this, I’ve found that maybe not as many people share this attitude as I’d like. Intellectual honesty and humility seem extremely rare traits.
This is something I struggle with as well, but the important part is the striving. If I sense a genuine desire for intellectual honesty and humility, I can and will be immensely forgiving of any failures in that regard. But if I don’t sense that, I’m not going to waste my time.
For my own mental health, I feel I have to become more discerning in how and with whom I interact. I don’t need any help in being depressed. This blog is my space and I need to take responsibility for the kind of atmosphere that is created here.