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