A word about blog comments

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Before you read any of the rest of this, I want you all to know that I appreciate those who take the time to comment here and via e-mail. I'm grateful for your feedback, both positive and negative.

Still, comments here aren't a free for all, and I want you to know why.

For the first year and a half of BatesLine's existence I didn't have comments enabled. I encouraged readers to drop me an email if they had something to say, or to participate in the forums at TulsaNow.org or LivingOnTulsaTime.com. In explaining why, back in December 2003, I echoed the reasons of group-law-blogger Eugene Volokh, and added that I'd rather encourage participation in established forums about Tulsa politics rather than dilute the discussion further. Volokh's concerns about reputation and time resonated with me. I don't have time to play comment cop, and yet I can't simply allow comments to become an open forum. Comment spam is too prevalent, and while I don't mind polite disagreement, there are some comments that I just don't want using my bandwidth.

I first enabled comments following the Whirled's legal threats against me back in February. At various times I've required all commenters to be registered with TypeKey, allowed everyone to post immediately, or combined TypeKey with moderation, which is where things stand now. If you have and use a free TypeKey login, your comment is online automatically after you post it; otherwise, it's held for my decision to "approve" it for posting or not.

I put "approve" in quotes because I don't necessarily approve of the sentiments expressed in the comments that I allow to appear.

My criteria for choosing which comments will appear and which won't are entirely arbitrary and capricious. I observed one blogger attempt to establish an objective basis for editing or deleting comments or banning commenters, and she seemed to spend a lot of time defending her decisions. I'm not going to go down that road. If you feel unjustly censored, you are free to start your own blog.

If you don't see a comment of yours appear, it may be that I haven't seen it yet, as I only check a few times a day. It may also be that I saw it and decided not to publish it. If that happens, it doesn't mean that I won't publish another comment of yours, or that I'm upset with you; I just decided not to post that one.

I am unlikely to publish a comment if it is wildly off-topic, is inflammatory in tone, uses vulgar or profane language, or is a personal attack on me or my friends and allies. If I think a comment is going to cause things to get ugly -- even if the commenter had no such intention -- I will probably not publish it.

So far I have been pretty liberal in allowing straying from the topic of the original post -- no longer. If there's a subject you think I ought to address, instead of posting an off-topic comment, drop me a line at blog -AT- batesline -DOT- com. I may or may not respond -- don't take it personally if I don't -- and I may or may not get around to addressing that topic. This is my personal blog, not a forum or message board. There are some good message boards and forums out there which provide for more interactive discussion and the opportunity to raise whatever topic you please, and the best thing about them from my perspective is that someone else is responsible for moderating them.

Other bloggers are much tougher on this issue than I am. My friend Scott Sala of Slant Point became fed up with spam and has disabled comments and trackbacks completely. Phillip Johnson has some characteristically blunt comment rules. My favorite is rule no. 1:

Don't expect me to reply to your comments. If I feel strongly, I might reply in a blog entry. If I have time to waste, I could even post a comment of my own every now and then. (No promises on that.) But don't look for me to mud-wrestle with critics in my own blog-comments.

Rule no. 4 should be heeded, too:

Don't feed the trolls.

I don't intend to preach about this often, but I thought it would be useful to let you know my perspective on comments. Again, I do appreciate those who comment here, as well as those who just read.


Elaine Dodd said:

You made my day using "pretty liberal" in describing yourself.

Best regards,

Originally posted at October 27, 2005 08:50 AM. Copied from deleted duplicate entry.

Glad that gave you a smile, Elaine, but of course I meant "liberal" in the sense of excessively permissive. And I've repented of it. :)

Originally posted at October 27, 2005 10:22 AM. Copied from deleted duplicate entry.

mad okie said:

Yeah, I definitally wouldn't describe him as pretty :D

Originally posted at October 27, 2005 10:12 AM. Moved from deleted duplicate entry.

susan said:

For those who may not know, Elaine Dodd who posted a comment above is the "former" Democrat Tulsa representative. Her husband's name is Doug Dodd and in his earlier career, he was also a radio personality:)

Elaine Dodd said:

Hi Susan,
Allow me to correct you on one point. I am the former Tulsa County Democratic Party Chairman. I have never run for anything other than party office.....yet!

Elaine Dodd

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 27, 2005 12:06 AM.

At-large councilors was the previous entry in this blog.

A neighborhood and the airport is the next entry in this blog.

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