Commenting Suggestions

Don’t let your cat post for you. They never contribute anything intelligent.

I don’t have an official comments policy here and I’m not planning on introducing one anytime soon, since small blogs like mine can really only operate on a case-by-case basis (I have first-comment moderation turned on as a first line of troll defense; blame the Internet for that), but in my time as a blogger and internet denizen, I’ve learned some principles that I think people ought to follow, not just here, but everywhere.  These are, as it were, more like guidelines than actual rules–you aren’t likely to get moderated for most of these–but you should follow them anyway, because they make for stronger arguments and anyway they generally fall under the umbrella of decent human behavior.  In no particular order, I suggest that you:

  1. Don’t turn my blog into your blog.  That is, don’t show up and comment a protracted, contradictory opinion on every post.  Am I interested in people’s opinions, even if they disagree with me?  Yes!  Am I interested in encountering a tedious wankfest every time I check this blog?  No!  I’m not going to elucidate the difference between voicing your opinion and just trying to get attention, because you already know.  Move your mouse to the bottom of the screen.  See the footer?  See where it says “Blog with WordPress?”  If you click on this link, then you can start your own blog where you can voice your own opinions on any subject you like, anytime you like, with no risk of moderation.  And it’s absolutely free!
  2. Don’t sockpuppet.
  3. Don’t derail conversations into being about you.   I don’t care if the topic of conversation shifts away from the topic of the post and all kinds of fun conversations arise that way, but showing up in every post and demanding that people help you get a date or deal with your personal problems is just plain obnoxious.  In response to a particularly common one: If you are depressed and/or have other mental health issues, see a psychiatrist.  Do not talk to random people online.
  4. Don’t quote the dictionary.  Nobody interested in having a real conversation has ever referenced the authority of Merriam and Webster (unless, I suppose, the conversation is about dictionaries).
  5. Don’t make ad homines.  Setting aside that you shouldn’t because it’s mean, let’s be pragmatic: You shouldn’t because it’s a bad argument.  When you call someone fat and ugly, you’re admitting to the whole internet that your argument is worthless and you know it.  Related: Note that the plural of ad hominem is ad homines.
  6. Don’t say “I’m not racist, but…” (or “I’m not sexist…”, or “I’m not homophobic…”, or any variation).  If you weren’t racist, you wouldn’t say something that required such a preceding statement.  “No offense, but…” is also a red flag.
  7. Similarly, don’t reflexively protest “I’m not sexist!” (or racist, or homophobic) as if the term were a meaningless insult (“I’m not a poopyhead!”).  These words have meanings.  You can’t just deny that the label applies to you because you know it has bad connotations, since it might apply to you.  If someone calls you sexist–especially if you’ve repeatedly been called sexist, and if you’re aware of a pattern of speech or behavior that results in people saying that–and you don’t want to be called sexist, harness the power of cause and effect and stop doing it.
  8. Don’t call people “baby killers.”  This will not make pro-choice people feel convicted.  It will make them imagine you with steam coming out of your ears like a teakettle.
  9. Other terms to avoid: “reverse racism” (or “reverse discrimination”), “misandry,” “gay agenda,” ‘females” (as a substantive adjective), “liberal media,” “politically correct/incorrect” (I’ve already mentioned that one).  All these terms say far more about you than about who you’re criticizing.
  10. Don’t talk about your sex life or lack thereof.  No1curr.
  11. A personal bugbear: Don’t say “begging the question” unless you know what it means.
  12. If you are not a part of a marginalized group, don’t claim to understand their situation or prescribe what they should do, because seriously, you have no idea.
  13. Don’t compare someone or something to a Nazi, slavery, or the Holocaust unless it actually is a Nazi, slavery, or the Holocaust.
  14. Don’t victim blame.  From “gay people caused X natural disaster” to “she shouldn’t have been wearing that outfit” to “poor people are lazy,” this just makes you a mean, vindictive, horrible person.  Notice I’m not saying it makes you sound like a horrible person.  It means you actually are one.  Because a non-horrible person would not say that sort of thing.  Period.
  15. Finally, don’t be a know-it-all.  Nobody knows it all.

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