All comments must now be approved by me before they appear. Though I do not require that comments express my position or otherwise agree with me — I do in fact welcome discussion and debate, even with people who disagree with me — I do require that comments meet these two criteria before I approve them:
- They must be tied to an established online identity. This could be a Tumblr account with an established posting history or a longstanding Twitter, Facebook, or Google account with an actual publicly accesible posting history — anything that the Disqus comment system allows when logging in, if I can tie it to an online identity in which someone has an actual stake. Note that it is not necessary to reveal your real name — just to tie your comment to an account in which you have an identity-building stake. No throwaway Twitter accounts that you registered for ten minutes ago. No Facebook accounts that don’t Follow Facebook’s own guidelines about name usage. Leverage a legitimate online identity that you’ve spent time and care developing in order to log in before you comment.
- The issue involved here is ruling out anonymous trolling. If you won’t stand behind what you say, then I’m not going to give you a platform to say it.
- It must be a high-quality comment. You don’t have to agree with me, but you do have to be intellectually honest. This means that you can’t intentionally overlook relevant information, distort someone else’s meaning, elect to reply to tone while ignoring content, assign motives to anyone without evidence, insist that everyone must be smarmy, whine about how factual evidence that other people brings up hurts your feelings, or otherwise be an asshole. I will write a blog post early next week on what I mean, specifically, by “be an asshole,” but for now, here's a starting point.
Because, when it comes down to it, this is my blog, and I’m not obligated to host low-quality content by anonymous trolls who feel entitled to spout their ignorant bullshit all over it. If you’re thinking about yelling “Censorship!,” then I would like to remind you of what Randall Munroe said on the topic:
If you want to post low-quality, dishonest, anonymous content, even content about my content, you’re welcome to do so. You’ll just have to find somewhere else to host it.
Keep it polite. Keep it honest. Tie it to a real identity that you’re actually invested in. Or your comment won’t appear.
Yes, this will delay the actual posting of comments. Sometimes I’m offline for long periods of time, even days. This (in the context of this, as explained here) is (an example of) why we can’t have nice things, like moderation-free commenting.