Dos and Don’ts
“Comments should be true, useful, and kind, i.e. you believe what you say, you think the world would be worse without this comment, and you think the comment will be positively received.”G. Gordon Worley III, commenting guidelines
The following guidelines, rules, and norms apply to all commenters, including ourselves. In the stressful and disorienting (sometimes outright dysfunctional) world of the internet, we all need to be reminded of the basic courtesies that are so easy to forget when all normal social expectations and behavioral cues are absent. Imagine that the other person is a physically in front of you. Act as if they were a real person because they are. Treat others as you would want to be treated. And treat others as they would want to be treated. Be your best and highest self.
- Be kind, considerate, compassionate, patient, tolerant, and forgiving.
- Be curious, questioning, open-minded, humble, and willing to learn.
- Be relevant, interesting, thoughtful, meaningful, and comprehensible.
- Be honest, truthful, straightforward, sincere, and authentic.
- Don’t be evil.
- Don’t be annoying.
- Don’t be an asshole.
- Don’t be a troll.
No Tolerance Policy
Keep in mind that the guiding vision of this blog is that of egalitarianism, according to a left-liberal worldview of radical imagination. But, as left-liberalism is a moving target and as left-liberalism points beyond itself, this is an extremely broad guiding vision (expansive and inclusive) that allows for diversity and dissent, within certain basic moral limits of egalitarianism itself. Nothing that contradicts, opposes, attacks, or undermines egalitarianism as a motivation, principle, and ethos will be allowed. We are all equal individuals as part of a single human race with a universal human nature, here in this common society on this shared planet. Act accordingly.
This blog is a safe and welcoming space for the likeminded, not a battleground for adversaries. In the comments section, there is no interest in nor tolerance for giving voice to certain topics, attitudes, and behaviors; and with greatest emphasis on zero tolerance for intolerance, not to mention even less tolerance for bullshit (for example, a pet peeve is false equivalency; just don’t!). Discussion along such lines will only be allowed in terms of criticism, analysis, and understanding or otherwise in adding context and background. There is a vast distinction between ‘is‘ and ‘ought’, as well as between what ‘was’ and what ‘shall’ and ‘should’ be; this is the distinction between description and defense — don’t cross that line.
The naughty list (that will change over time) includes but is not limited to the following (in no particular order):
- Inegalitarianism, illiberalism, anti-democracy, unfreedom, anti-leftism, right-wing demagoguery, pseudo-libertarianism (as privileged rights for the ownership-ruling class), socialization of costs, privatization of the commons (along with other public goods and resources), and various forms of theft from the public;
- Prejudice, bigotry, stereotyping, xenophobia, misogyny, misandry, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, attacking the underdog, refusal to empathize with victims, lack of sympathy, hatefulness, mean-spiritedness, and fear-mongering;
- Cruelty, violence, bullying, hate crimes, oppression, right-wing authoritarianism (all authoritarianism is right-wing in being socially conservative, even Stalinism and Maoism), social domination orientation (SDO), sociopathy, psychopathy, sadism, narcissism, and Machiavellianism (the last four known as the Dark Tetrad, or minus sadism as the Dark Triad);
- Slavery, genocide, persecution, terrorism (state and non-state), funding or arming terrorists, overthrowing democracies, destabilizing regions, cruel economic sanctions, and other forms of mass violence and atrocities, particularly war crimes and crimes against humanity;
- Far right ideology and practices, neo-imperialism, neo-colonialism, neo-conservatism, military idolization, war-mongering, military adventurism, wars of aggression, militarized policing, police statism, and mass incarceration;
- Oligarchy, autocracy, plutocracy, kleptocracy, capitalist realism, neo-fascism, neo-feudalism, neo-liberalism, pseudo-liberalism, high-inequality banana republics, social Darwinism, and the cynical extremes of realpolitik;
- Religious fundamentalism, theocracy, anti-Semitism, anti-Palestinianism, sectarianism, and pseudo-tribalism (group identities according to abstract and absolute categories, including but not limited to racism, ethno-religiosity, and ethno-nationalism);
- Dogmatic nationalism, hyper-patriotism, populist isolationism, McCarthyism, fascism, Nazism, ‘cultural Marxism’ bullshit, QAnon paranoia, and extremist conspiracy theories;
- Scapegoating, racism, race realism, racial supremacy, segregation, apartheid, eugenics, genetic determinism, and faux ‘human biodiversity’;
- Reactionary rhetoric, reactionary co-opting from the left, doublespeak, dog-whistle politics, corporate media narratives, ‘mainstream’ frames, pushing the Overton window right, oppressive gatekeeping, and propaganda;
- Mindless groupthink, hyper-partisanship, lesser evilism, false equivalency, faux moderate centrism, authoritarian elitism, and condescending paternalism;
- Et cetera.
But also disallowed is:
- Anti-intellectualism, scientific denialism, ideological dogmatism, lack of humility, willful ignorance, and unwillingness to listen and learn;
- Excessive contrarianism, confrontationalism, argumentativeness, nit-picky criticalness, antagonism, divisiveness, aggression, and incendiary words;
- Slander, trolling, trollish behavior, dishonest rhetoric, game-playing, off-topic comments, cryptic comments, drive-by commenting, non sequiturs, and acting in bad faith (*see below);
- Et cetera.
There will not be permitted any advocacy, defense, rationalization, or excuse-making of the morally reprehensible; nor mindlessly expressing and ignorantly repeating the rhetoric and propaganda thereof; nor even casually sympathizing with such positions and their proponents. Doing so — particularly if blatant, egregious, and persistent — could result in an immediate deletion of comments and possibly a permanent ban. Prior to such actions taken, there may be no warning or explanation given. But, generally, this only applies to extreme cases. Benefit of the doubt will be offered. And no ill will is intended.
The purpose is to create and maintain, promote and encourage a positive atmosphere for relating well, for what Buddhists call right relationship, particularly in terms of right speech but also right conduct. So, despite what may appear as harshly restrictive prohibitions, there is plenty of room allowed for nuanced discussion. It’s not so much that entire topics are being silenced within and banished from respectable society but that only meaningful and moral dialogue is desired. The prohibitions, rather than absolute and unforgiving, are conditional and context-dependent. Their application will be determined case by case.
That is to say nothing is entirely out of bounds. The prohibitions are less about the topics themselves and more about how they are discussed and what is motivating that discussion. So, tread lightly and hew closely to good intentions. Besides disallowing bad behavior (e.g., trolling), it is primarily inegalitarianism, the reactionary, and such that is prohibited. Before commenting, simply ask yourself if your words in any way oppose, contradict, or conflict with the basic moral vision of this blog. Ask yourself if you are positively contributing or detracting from those positively contributing. If your intentions match the intentions of the blog, you should be fine.
Let there be no confusion and misunderstandng. If further explanation or clarification would be helpful, please ask. Or if any part of the comment policy seems morally wrong or unfair according to the blog’s stated values, make your case in the comment section below and do so with as few words as possible. This page is not meant for debate. Any decision made is final.
A General Message
Welcome! You have entered someone’s personal space. This blog is a work of love and dedication. All commenters are here as guests and should treat this blog like visiting the home of a friend or neighbor. There is no reason to keep your guard up nor to treat others as suspect. Be respectful and use your best manners, but also relax and leave your problems at the door. If you do so, the host will treat you with hospitality and graciousness.
Diverse views, new information, and useful recommendations are welcomed and encouraged. Open debate and challenging positions are tolerated, within the above detailed constraints. Even direct disagreement and harsh criticism can be fine, up to a point. But easygoing discussion, friendly conversation, and fruitful dialogue is preferred. There are no debating points to be won. The highest and most worthy of truths can only be sought in collaboration, through respectful dialogue and mutual understanding.
This blogging project is motivated by radical imagination and revolutionary vision. It is dedicated to intellectual inquiry, liberal-mindedness, and the public good. If you oppose those values and that worldview, if you are unable or unwilling to keep your mind open and to change your views, if you can’t back your arguments with evidence and careful thought, if you lack goodwill and refuse to offer the benefit of the doubt to others, then you are in the wrong place — you are free to voice your opinions elsewhere, but not here. Otherwise, feel free to engage and dialogue to your heart’s delight.
At the most fundamental level, a moral impulse cannot be logically argued, cannot be scientifically proven. Attempting to do so would be pointless, frustrating, and unhelpful; and so debate and argument on this level will not be allowed. One either shares a common moral attitude as a moral foundation or not. The moral vision represented here is of fierce compassion, unrelenting and uncompromising, but specifically siding with the underdog, speaking truth to power, and standing against oppression and injustice. It is hoped that others will join in this aspiration.
Keep in mind that no space will be given nor time wasted on pointless arguments and unhappy conflict involving basic issues of fact, values, and principles. The territory of topics covered in this blog is immense, but the intention is narrow and focused in maintaining a holding space for possibility and a refuge from the madness of the world in this stressful society during this reactionary age. Please respect this intention and respect others here who agree with this intention. Thanks in advance for your cooperation!
An Example of Good Comment Policy
The following are the official Guidelines from a public forum, to be specific The Metamodern Forum, but the gist of it captures what is wanted for this personal blog. Shared below are the relevant parts:
Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree
You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid:
- Ad hominem attacks
- Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content
- Knee-jerk contradiction
Instead, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation. […]
Always Be Civil
Nothing sabotages a healthy conversation like rudeness:
- Be civil. Don’t post anything that a reasonable person would consider offensive, abusive, or hate speech.
- Keep it clean. Don’t post anything obscene or sexually explicit.
- Respect each other. Don’t harass or grief anyone, impersonate people, or expose their private information.
- Respect our forum. Don’t post spam or otherwise vandalize the forum.
These are not concrete terms with precise definitions — avoid even the appearance of any of these things. If you’re unsure, ask yourself how you would feel if your post was featured on the front page of the New York Times.
This is a public forum, and search engines index these discussions. Keep the language, links, and images safe for family and friends.
*Info on Bad Faith Communication
The Endgames of Bad Faith Communication
from The Consilience Project
8 thoughts on “Comment Policy”
This made me smile. And I haven’t smiled much in the last couple of days. You obviously share my instinctive aversion to brevity and love of the the perfect, exactly descriptive adjective. I came here via a Facebook link to an excellent article about why an otherwise rational, un-monstrous person might have voted for DJT. Or, anyway, it helped me understand that, though the real point was what allowed his rise in the firs place. I’ve struggled with that. And that struggle has lead me to rethink the entire progressive agenda, or more precisely, the way in which that agenda is expressed. But I come from the privilege world of the white, upper-class, and I know it is hard, if not impossible, for me to truly understand the situation of the poor of any race or creed. It is also hard for me to try to effect any change without not just coming off as condescending, but actually being unintentionally condescending. Plus I have a tendency to lapse into a somewhat pedantic style, mostly out of a serious devotion to… clear meaning, I guess? Frankly, I don’t really know why I am writing this except that I am grieving and in shock and have had to acknowledge the very real role I played in letting this happen. Also, I’ve had a few glasses of wine. I crave real discussion of issues that matter. I really want someone on the other side to engage in a meaningful and constructive way, but in our polarized environment, that is difficult. I really want to believe in the basic goodness of humanity, but DJT has made that really hard. He’s also forced me to take a closer look at the assumptions involved in making that statement. So now I really hate him! It’s never comfortable to confront our own biases…
I’m glad I amused you. I amuse myself all the time. But I fear that my amusement is too often one-sided.
BTW which post were you looking at? I wrote a number of posts where I discussed Trump.
“And that struggle has lead me to rethink the entire progressive agenda, or more precisely, the way in which that agenda is expressed.”
That is what I like to hear. I’ve been rethinking many things these past years. I’ve identified as a liberal for as long as I can remember. But I’m starting to wonder what liberalism means or could mean. Maybe there is a flaw within the liberal worldview.
“Frankly, I don’t really know why I am writing this except that I am grieving and in shock and have had to acknowledge the very real role I played in letting this happen.”
Also good to hear. I’ve been wanting to see the political left, especially Democrats, to start doing some serious self-questioning and soul searching. As someone on the political left, I want a political left that is strong and has a worthy vision. But at present, we on the left have lost our way.
“It’s never comfortable to confront our own biases…”
We humans are complex creatures. It’s easy to get frustrated and to let that let you get cynical. I’m always struggling against that. I’ve been thinking that I’m not cynical enough, after seeing the crap go on this election on all sides. But I don’t want to be cynical.
By the way, we entirely changed the Comment Policy. The intention didn’t change, but how it was written did. Nonetheless, we retained the lack of brevity. That is simply our style.
About your comment, we read it again. How are you feeling now that the Trump presidency has ended? Are you still feeling demoralized? Have you gained any insight or perspective?
We’re working class radicals, political dissidents, and non-partisan independents. So, we don’t find much hope or inspiration from neocons like president Biden. This is the whole reason Trump got elected. It’s more of the same.
Mr. Steele, I just recently stumbled across older comments, from 2015 regarding issues of race and poverty and I thoroughly enjoyed them. But, just at the moment when I thought your comments couldn’t be any more on point…you shook things up when you told Stan your ethnicity. I felt like you dropped the proverbial mic and I imagined everyone heard crickets! Like what???? Moreover, you engaged in discussion and shared thoughts about why Hispanics were included in the white category…hence the reason for my comment. In my opinion…there appears to be some code of conduct around force, specifically frequency, type and amount, that delineates for the powers that govern. And my hunch has led me to ask the question of whether or not it’s for the purpose of not confusing or convoluting the current “order” of things. Think about it…adding Hispanics in with Caucasians provide clearly defined lines, for that perpetuate the “black” against “white” mentality. Although statistics show Hispanics are, at times treated disparagingly they, along with Caucasians, are less likely to loose their lives while in police custody. What are your thoughts?
I don’t remember that specific discussion. Stan hasn’t been around to comment. Could you share the link or the title to the blog post where Stan commented. I’d be curious to look back at it. But I could imagine the kind of interaction it was.
As for your opinion and hunch, I get the gist of what you’re getting at. But maybe you could give me some more details. There definitely are codes of conduct… of many varieties, for different groups, and serving one purpose or another. That is how the social order is maintained. Certainly, there is a central “purpose of not confusing or convoluting the current “order” of things.”
I’ve written about the racial order in terms of ‘black’/’white’ mentality. Almost any group can assimilate into ‘white’ culture, except blacks. I’ve met many Hispanics and Native Americans who could pass as basically ‘white’, at least as ‘white’ as many Southern Europeans. There are also many people with Asian ancestry that more or less look ‘white’.
In early America, Hispanics weren’t considered a separate demographic category, at least not on the national level. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that issues of national identity became more important in terms of ethnicity/race. It was exacerbated because of high levels of immigration. It later on led the Second Klan, mostly operating in Northern states, to focus more on ethnic immigrants than it did on blacks.
I’ve written many posts about this kind of thing over the years. I’m not sure which posts may be relevant to your inquiry. Here is one post about a fascinating topic, orphan trains, and it directly relates to the issue of Hispanics.
I would add an additional perspective. The increase of Hispanics could complicate the racial order. That is because the Spanish Empire had a different racial system. It wasn’t based on clear ‘black’/’white’ divide. Instead, it involved gradations of skin tone. Unlike the American racial order of the past based on a particular slave system, the Latin American racial order doesn’t have simple categories of ‘white’ and ‘black’.
There is an anecdote that made this clear. A ‘black’ American traveled to some Latin American country. He was speaking to people who, to his mind, were ‘black’. But they didn’t identify as ‘black’ because to them the label had a specific meaning that didn’t apply to them. It was amusing because the ‘black’ American couldn’t accept the notion that blackness was a social construct and so there was no objective perception of it.
American ideas of race have been heavily determined by the assimilationist demands, often oppressive persecution, directed at non-WASP ethnic immigrants during the eras of World War and Cold War. Prior to that, those of European ancestry with darker skin, hair, and eyes weren’t treated the same and their whiteness was sometimes questioned. Even the light-skinned Irish were of doubtful whiteness to centuries of the English.
Race used to be another word for ethnicity. Even earlier, race was applied to class distinctions, treating aristocracy and peasants as separate races. Even what we see today as a single ethnicity, such as the English, is built upon what once was considered dozens of ethnicities. The notion of race that became popular in the US this past century is highly unusual, never before having existed. Multiple past strains of thought went into its formation.
It’s highly probable that racial ideology will be transformed over the coming century. We might move more toward the Latin American racial order. Also, as socioeconomic inequality increases, a class element is making rigid certain distinctions. If inequality gets bad enough and is entrenched for long enough, we could return to seeing the upper class and lower class beginning to be treated as separate races. It’s always been a powerful element of the Social Darwinian vision.
Here’s the article.
I was revisiting your comment. So, I went back to the linked article. It appears the comments section has been eliminated. That is a shame. Oftentimes, there is more useful info and analysis in the comments section than in the articles themselves. But many websites have been taking down comments sections.