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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Comment Policy

Everyone seems to be posting their comment policies lately. Here's mine:

I don't have an explicit policy.

I do delete obvious spam, no surprise there.

And sometimes, maybe it's the last straw after a string of irritating comments, maybe I've had a bad day, maybe a comment crosses some line, e.g. racism, maybe I misinterpret, but there comes a point where I go from passive to aggressive at which point one of three things happens:

I respond with my own comment, and the tone isn't always pleasant. I usually regret this right away, pleasant tone or not, and, fortunately, I have the power to fix it. So I do - I delete my own comment.

So, it's my own comments that get deleted the most. By a huge margin. It's not even close. The only complication here is if someone has already responded to my comment. Then I'm usually stuck leaving it.

At this point I promise myself I will never, ever again respond to anyone in comments, at least not negatively - it doesn't do much good anyway and I don't always think the response through as much as I should - and that lasts until a comment sends me over the line again, I respond and regret it, make the promise anew, but really mean it this time.

The second response is to delete the comment. I usually regret this too, but not always. But mostly I do regret it and, after a bit, if I was smart enough to "unpublish" rather than "delete" the comment, I repost it. However, if I'm sufficiently irritated to take action, I tend to choose delete since, at the time, I have no intention of reposting the comment, ever, and it saves me the trouble of deleting it later.

The third response is to ban the person from commenting at all. Right now, there is one person in that category, but the number changes over time. I've lifted it three times for that person (more or less, can't remember for sure), but it hasn't worked out very well and a more extended break is now in place. I might lift it on some particularly forgiving day, but for now, it stays.

I don't do this unless there have been repeated instances where I've had to ban someone's comments. There's no list of things I can point to that says this is what will cause you to get banned, this won't, it happens when I've had enough. But it's always after repeated troubles and interaction, so while it's often a surprise to the person when they get banned, it shouldn't be.

But even in these cases, even when someone deserves to be banned, I start to feel I should give them another chance and, after awhile, I almost always lift it. How long before the ban is lifted varies, sometimes it's an hour later, sometimes it's the next day, one time it was many months later, there just comes a day when I feel like lifting it and do. And it's mostly worked, when people comment again their behavior changes or they quit commenting altogether. But not always and there's no doubt someone will get banned again before too long. Hopefully, they'll even deserve it.

One last thing. As the election approaches and the trolls begin coming out in force I plan to get more aggressive, particularly in removing arguments I find wrong or misleading, etc. I won't try to list what will or won't get comments removed, but I will know it when I see it - if it pollutes the discourse I will remove it, and I will be the judge of what does and does not cross the line. I'll probably make mistakes, but that's how it goes - it's a pretty big job just keeping up with comments and I'll do the best I can, but it comes down to my judgment about what I do and don't want appearing here. Some of you won't like it - but some of you don't like it when I don't do anything to moderate comments - so anything I do (or don't do) will cause objection from some people. So, I'll just do what I think is best. Once the election is over I'll probably relax things once again.

So, that's it, that's how it works. It pretty much comes down to me removing the things I think ought to be removed, and if something is a persistent problem, keeping it away for a more extended period. If there's no adaption after a few iterations, the ban becomes permanent.

Ultimately, I want to encourage, not discourage comments, and to maintain a healthy and informative discourse (so, please join in, the more of you who comment the better). I wish I had the time to moderate comments more effectively and to interact more, but that's not possible - e.g., I may not actually have the time to do as much moderation as I'd like as the election approaches, and I certainly don't do as much as I'd like now. So I depend upon those of you who do participate to help me to make comments a place where people can respond intelligently to information in the main post, interact with others doing the same thing, and help all of us to learn more about the topic in the process. It's always disappointing when the comments deteriorate into one of the many degenerate forms comment threads can take.

    Posted by on Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 12:30 AM in Economics, Weblogs | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (9)

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