Saturday, May 05, 2007

Comment Policy

WASP has been blogging for 1 month. WASP has had a 'comment moderation' policy in place from day 1 (April 6th 2007). We simply delete comments we feel are not helpful. This policy seems justified in the light of the issues they have had over at Atheist Revolution...

reposted from: Atheist Revolution
my: highlights / emphasis / key points / comments

The increased presence of Christian trolls on this blog has prompted me to do something I probably should have done a long time ago: develop a comment policy. I'd like to encourage everyone to review this policy before leaving comments. I have heard the increasing complaints, and I'm now far less tolerant of disruptive trolls.


First and foremost, please understand that this is an atheist blog. The author is an atheist, and the intended audience is made up of atheists, secular humanists, and other freethinkers. Of course, I welcome theists who are genuinely interested in learning something. However, those interested primarily in argument, antagonism, or proselytizing should go elsewhere. You see, blogs are not intended as places for readers to debate each other. This is what forums are for, and I can recommend some excellent ones that value atheist-theist debate if it would be helpful.

March of the Asshats: What is a Troll?

There are several forms of blog trolls, ranging from those who engage in "drive-by link sharing" to those who camp out and hurl insults, make threats, or otherwise try to disrupt the blog. The current infestation of trolls on this blog are primarily of the civil but antagonistic type. Some do not appear to understand how blogs work (i.e., blogs are not the appropriate place on the internet to facilitate debate among commenters); others are bent on converting atheists to their particular brand of superstition. However, they share a common feature. They are not here to learn but to argue, and the nature of their argument is irrational. They insure that comment threads grow too long and veer of topic quickly by attempting to debate their fellow commenters on every little source of disagreement. They have no recognition that blog comments are supposed to be relevant to the blog post. They are determined to share their "good news" without realizing that we do not visit atheist blogs to be antagonized by Christians.

The best way for rational readers to deal with them is to ignore them because this deprives them of what they want most - argument. Since this is not happening and complaints from valued readers are on the increase, I am pushed to act. The presence of trolls on this blog has been significantly disruptive, and it will no longer be tolerated. The comment policy that follows is both a final step before I switch to comment moderation and a guide which will be used if this switch is necessary.

Comment Policy

The following comment policy was adapted from Lifehacker, Making Light, and God is for Suckers!, with modification to increase applicability to this blog.

  1. Stay on topic (i.e., the post topic).
  2. Contribute new information to the discussion.
  3. Don't comment just for the safe of commenting.
  4. Know when to comment vs. when to e-mail the author. Use e-mail when what you want to say doesn't contribute to the public conversation.
  5. Be respectful and remember that nobody likes a know-it-all.
  6. Make the tone of your message clear.
  7. Own your comment (i.e., anonymous commenting is discouraged and will probably not be allowed much longer).
  8. Be succinct and remember that brief comments are more likely to be read.
  9. Be courteous and avoid personal insults.
  10. Avoid Christianspeak. It makes you look stupid and contributes nothing of value.
  11. Do not feed the trolls. They thrive on argument (the less rational, the better) and will keep returning as long as they find folks willing to debate them. If you find yourself tempted to argue with a Christian troll, please read this first.
Given the current severity of the troll issue, I will delete offending posts without warning if I feel it is necessary to preserve the value of this blog. I will also ban repeat offenders. If I do not see a significant difference quickly, we go to comment moderation.

Comments at Atheist Revolution


I must say, I have never quite understood the need to go seek out people of different ideals blogs just to argue. I have never gone to a christian blog unless it is to read something someone is remarking on in one of the atheist blogs. Even then I never comment on their blog. It is theirs, it belongs tho their community.

Thank You.

Gravatar Yes Toni, I know exactly what you mean. I've done some enjoyable cross-blog posting with Christian bloggers, but I have little interest in visiting their blogs and leaving provoking comments.

Gravatar I've got to say, I disagree somewhat. As an atheist who sometimes writes dissenting comments on Christian blogs, I feel that dissenting voices help keep blog writers honest. Now obviously there is a difference between that and real trolling, but I am worried that trying to prevent argument in the comments is a sad step.

Gravatar Is it merely preventing an argument, or is it trying to keep the blog and comments productive? I don't comment here often, but I do read the posts--and I'd like to be able to comment more often, but frankly, I can't get through the comments most times to even bother. I don't have time to read through 40 comments to find 3 useful and/or insightful ones to bother with.

I'm all for this trolling crack-down. Thanks.

Gravatar Pejar,

I have no problem with readers disagreeing with me. The problem I have is with readers leaving comments attacking other commenters and turning every thread into the same endless theist-atheist debate. It is really a matter of relevance. I'm not trying to eliminate dissent, only to keep it relevant.

Gravatar IsThatLatin,

This is exactly what I'm going for. This is my blog, and yet I often feel exactly as you describe feeling - that I can't comment on my own blog because of having to wade through all the irrelevant crap! I want you to be able to comment, and I'd like to be able to do the same.

Gravatar In my opinion, the most important rules are "keep comments on topic" and "be nice".

If the post isn't about whether God exists or not, neither should the comments be.

Gravatar Blog rules are always at the discretion of the blog owner.

Gravatar I don't comment often here. But, like others, I found the comment threads burdensome because of Xian trolling. I'm an Ex-Christian and atheist. I've heard it all before, lived it all before. It's arrogant and rude.
So, thank you.

Gravatar As a theist who reads and appreciates this blog, I welcome the new policy. It IS a drag scrolling through dozens of comments trying to follow the original buried thread. And it's also tiresome to have to see the same old theist/atheist debate played out each time, regardless of what the actual topic is (or was). Thanks!

Gravatar In the same way we don't open the door to just anyone in our own homes, we also have the right to judge who we wish to let in the door of our personal blogs. I do not allow anonymous posters on my Stardust blog, and I will not allow people to proseltyze to me on my blog the same way I will not allow anyone to proseltyze to me on my own doorstep.

Even with "community" blogs, such as GifS, we also have the right to edit as need be and keep out troublemakers who are obviously there for their own agenda and only mission is to force others to hear their message.

Just like we filter out spam mail containing sales pitches for various services, products, pornography and other "junk", we also filter out "sales ads" for various brands of religious beliefs. As atheists, we do not have to allow the religious to use our atheist blogs as billboards to promote their sky daddy beliefs.

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