Saturday, November 18, 2006

Guide to Comments - Under Development


Comment publication on this blog is autocratic, and the blog owner is the autocratic. There is no "rule of law," there is no "freedom of speech," and no right of "due process" for people who post comments. The combox of this blog is not your soapbox.

Non-publication of your comment is not a judgment on you as a person or even, necessarily, on your comment. More than once someone has emailed me to let me know that a comment they had made had not been published: I'd never even seen it.

Sometimes great comments stay unpublished for months, before I get around to responding to them. Sometimes great comments never get published in the combox, because I devote a blog post to answering them.

If you think your comment is vitally important for people to know, leaving it in a combox is not a responsible way for you to achieve that objective.

1. The Purpose of Comments
a) Objectively, the purpose is to edify.
b) Subjectively the purpose is to edify the beneficiaries of the comments. The primary beneficiary of your comments is going to be the blog author, since he's the one who normally reads them. Secondary beneficiaries of the comments are the public, if the comment gets published.

In short, the primary purpose in your providing comments should be to interact with the post, not with the public in general. Sometimes comments are an efficient way of publicly interacting with the post, but not all your comments are going to get published.

2. What Happens to Comments
So far, I've taken the approach that I get few enough comments on my blog that I can read each one and decide whether to:

1. Post it
a. With response, or
b. Without response; or
1. Reject it
a. With response, or
b. Without response.

Comments fall in various categories.

1. Comments that are virtually always quickly approved without response or with a limited response:

a) Pleasantries: e.g. I'm glad I found this blog Thanks for that post, it was nice.
b) Supporting comments: e.g. In addition to what you said, I would add ...
c) Tangential but non-controversial points: e.g. You know, what you wrote reminded me of ...

2. Comments that are virtually always eventually approved with a response:

a) Polite correction of the post: e.g. "That should be Tertullian not TUrtullian!"
b) Polite disagreement with the post: e.g. I think you're overlooking verse X, which says Y.

3. Comments that are sometimes approved, sometime rejected:

a) Random controversial comments;
b) Polite comments that include some seriously heretical doctrine or some seriously slanderous/libelous content;
c) Rude comments generally;
d) Inflammatory comments; and
e) Comments to the effect of: "don't comment on my comments" or "delete your rebuttal of my position."

4. Comments that are virtually always rejected, often without comment:

a) Insults, Bare Opinion Criticisms: e.g. "You and/or your post is dumb." "I guess you won't post this since you don't post anything these days that could graze your monologue. "
b) Inflammatory Nonsense: e.g. You Calvinists/Christians/Monotheists/Theists hold your ridiculous beliefs because of space aliens and Adolph Hitler.
c) Strenuous Blasphemy.
d) Spam or whatever you call it when someone posts simply to provide a link for their own web site.
e) A post that links to a web site that is mostly (a), (b), or (c).
f) Posts demonstrating that the author of the post has not read the blog article he has critiquing. An example would be if I wrote an article that demonstrates that a certain group believes a certain thing (using evidence), and I receive comments that suggest the person read only the headline, like "where's the evidence for your assertion?"
g) Posts in violation of a ban. I very rarely ban folks (as of today, the ban list is back to zero), but if you've been banned, don't comment.

3. Useful Thoughts on Comments by Others

11. (warning, background images appear to be intended representations of the second person of the Trinity)
12. (the URL is a bit misleading - also, many of the guidance items are clearly facetious)
26. (warning - coarse language)

4. Less Useful Thoughts on Comments from Others


5. Ways to Keep Track of Comments

1. Many sites have comment feeds. This site is no exception. Virtually all blogs have a comment feed.
2. Many sites will let you receive followup comments by email (most blogs have this feature) or will let you receive notifications that followup comments have been posted (bloggers that use Haloscan often have this feature).
3. You can use a service like Co.mments (discussed here).

6. Reasons not to Permit Anonymous Comments


That's all for now, though I suppose I'll have to update this post from time to time.

May God give me the grace to show similar courtesy to the blogs of others as that which I request of those who blog here,