Speaking your piece is one thing – and disturbing the peace ought to be another – but sometimes the subject under discussion can be contentious and in the interests of keeping things on an even keel we thought maybe we’d revist the lay of the land hereabouts a little.
At the most basic level you’ll find that anyone with an existing WordPress account can use it to post comments on the site but if you want to have a natty little avatar pic that shows up when you click on one of those little throwback stars you’ll want to combine (or replace) it with a Deadsplinter account at which point you should be good to go on the commenting side of things.
If you have any desire to knock out anything Above The Line it’s still a good first step as you can then drop someone who already does such things a message to indicate your intentions & someone will get back to you about how that side of things shakes out. For the time being, though, this is really intended more by way of “things to bear in mind when commenting” on the basis that if we all do then hopefully that might continue to be a thing we can agree we enjoy doing.
Mostly it’s pretty simple when you get down to it. Arguably this whole post could just be big block capitals spelling out “DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE” and nobody would find that hard to abide by but it would suck to find out that copybooks got irrevocably blotted and anybody got their toys taken away because it’s hard enough to have nice things the way things are going and generally speaking I think most of us agree that Deadsplinter is a nice thing to have.
DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE
Signs that you might be being an asshole (and let’s face it, most of us can be some days) are not limited to but may include:
- repeating someone else’s point (sometimes maybe you’re still typing when the other comment posts and don’t see it until afterwards but generally speaking) just doesn’t really contribute to the conversation so it’s worth avoiding
- similarly whilst imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery it’s pretty much another form of repetition and likewise does little to promote much by way of conversation
[N.B. reinforcing/restating a point previously made is not to our mind the same thing but if you’re not sure maybe think about rewording what you want to say until you are]
- cut&paste has its place (citations are always welcome) but outside of an Open Thread should generally include some acknowledgement of the fact if, say, you want to repeat a comment made in a previous thread rather than refer/link to said comment
- Open Threads are by definition somewhat immune to the notion of being hijacked but those not so labelled are to be respected – a dim view will be taken of any hijacking of such threads
Mostly the above are things that just aren’t a good look and will tend to get fairly short shrift among our little band of variously-minded merrymakers. Since as a rule we all seem to get along pretty well without any feathers getting ruffled (but one of the most frequently demonstrated things about the internet is how easy it is for the wrong end of the stick to wind up being the only bit anyone can get a handle on and things escalate remarkably swiftly) we’d also request that before rising to anything that resembles bait you try to see if you can figure out a way to read the intention behind the comment you want to respond to that doesn’t make you want to light up the author. There’s a fair chance that otherwise your response will land about as badly with them and before you know it where there could have been a bit of dialogue that might be of interest to one or two others there’s just a disagreement that’s barely of interest to the parties disagreeing. It may seem like it went out of fashion but a bit of respectful disagreement goes a long way.
Again, it’s not a hard and fast rule and we lack the trappings of your professional tyrants but the opinion of the community may if required be expressed in suitably forceful terms and the discretion of the editors is a broadly static line in the sand that is best left uncrossed if you have an ongoing interest in saying much of anything in these parts. Generally this probably falls under the heading of “read the room” but being as it’s a virtual room it’s all right if you aren’t sure exactly how to go about that and generally if you feel like you have a question there’s a fair chance someone will be happy to provide an answer.
Some things are beyond question and generally ought to go without saying but for the sake of completeness (and because a lot of us remember the dire state the pre-kinja, ex-gawker comment sections got into and have no desire to revist it) here are some examples of things to be considered beyond the pale:
Trolling (again, the final arbiter is likely to be “the discretion of the editors”)
Sock Puppet Accounts (one of you should be enough – cf. the repetition thing)
Likewise harassment (or anything that seems unwelcome from the recipient’s point of view) is not something we’re prepared to tolerate – so we’re not demanding anyone be on their best behavior but we’d prefer not to deal with anybody’s worst.
Ideally anyone who can keep a mostly civil tongue in their head and has something they’d like to say ought to be able to say it hereabouts and we aren’t so oversubscribed that we want to get precious about this sort of thing but in the same way that sometimes it pays to have the little sign behind the bar that starts “the management reserves the right…” we hope that the point stands without having to be made.