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New Comment Policy

Cutest mod ever!
Cutest mod ever!

As promised, here is the new and I think improved comments policy.

It’s a bit long, but that’s in part because I’ve included sections that are designed to hopefully eliminate some of the contentious and often repetitive debates that have erupted in the past over the issue of ableism — in particular the use of words like “crazy” and “psycho” and the like. In the future, I am hoping that we can simply link new commenters to the policy (in particular, the “notes on ‘crazy'”) section and avoid a lot of the drama.

This policy is stricter towards those who “dig in” and insist on using problematic terms even though they’ve been informed of the rules about them; if they’ve been linked to the comments policy and persist in arguing or behaving badly, they will be banned. I’m also asking regulars to rein in their language in criticizing first-time offenders, and to not argue back with them if they persist. (There’s not much point to it, because offenders who persist will be banned.)

Not all of the changes and additions to the comments policy are in response to the ableism debates; I’ve also taken into consideration other controversies here, as well as comments policies on other blogs and broader discussions online about the best ways to moderate sites.

One other change: I will also put regular reminders in posts that all new commenters should read the comments policy before posting.

I am very much cognizant that many people who regularly read this blog — some of them who comment here regularly, some of whom are lurkers or only occasional commenters — are frustrated by the flame wars that have erupted here from time to time. I am frustrated as well, and troubled by the personal attacks I’ve seen in these discussions, directed not at trolls but at other commenters here in good faith.

I hope this new comment policy can end some of these flame wars before they start. If it doesn’t, I will (reluctantly) have to resort to shutting threads down and even suspending some commenters.

So here is the new comments policy. Discuss. Suggest improvements. Be civil.

Welcome prospective commenters!

Unmoderated internet forums quickly become shitheaps, so we have a few rules here. One thing to remember right off the bat: this is a feminist blog, designed (mostly) for a feminist audience. You don’t have to be a particular kind of feminist to post here, or even a feminist at all, but you do need to keep this in mind.

First comments from new commenters – or old commenters changing their name – automatically go to moderation. Regardless of your politics, if you start off here with a jerky or tediously argumentative comment, or if you trigger some other red flag for me, your first comment will never see the light of day.

MRAs, MGTOWs, PUAs, Red Pillers, “Equalists,” #GamerGaters and the like: you will be allowed to post here, if your first comment is amusing and/or not especially egregious, and if you more-or-less behave.

But I reserve the right to revoke your posting privileges at any time for any reason. You have a right to your opinions, but you don’t have a right to our attention. I am especially not interested in hearing your thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian (or some other target of angry dude harassment online).

Oh, and I sometimes set aside threads here as “no troll, no MRA” threads. If you post in one of them, even politely, you will be banned.

If you’re NOT an MRA or a troll, welcome!

You’re who this blog is really meant for. The comments too, provided you can participate in a generally constructive manner and can treat those you disagree with here with a certain degree of respect. Snark is fine; attacks and accusations and namecalling, not so much. 

If someone – whether a troll or a regular commenter — is acting badly enough to possibly warrant a suspension or ban, EMAIL ME OR THE MODS. That’s the fastest and most effective way to get it taken care of.

Some slightly more specific guidelines.

No bigotry (misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, body shaming, and so forth). No slurs. I’ve put the worst ones in the mod filter, so comments containing them won’t appear. If you want to discuss someone else’s use of a slur, disguise the word so your comment won’t get caught by the filter – though if you do this as a “clever” way to use a slur yourself, you may well find yourself banned.

No threats or violent comments. That includes telling someone to “die in a fire” or remarking that so-and-so would probably be better off dead. This rule is in effect even when you are talking about vile misogynistic shitbags.

No gratuitously nasty personal attacks. Yes, discussions can sometimes get a bit contentious. You’re not required to be perfectly nice all the time. Just don’t be a total asshole. And don’t drag your disagreements with someone into every thread.

No doxxing or posting of personal identifying information. Don’t spread rumors or speculate without evidence on the possible criminal activity of anyone else, whether this is another commenter or a misogynistic shitbag.

No rape apologism, pedo apologism, victim blaming, and so forth.

Don’t misgender anyone. If you do it accidentally, apologize and get it right the next time. If you do it deliberately, you’re out.

Don’t attack anyone for their sexual preferences or kinks, so long as they involve consenting adults. Refrain from weird or creepy sexual oversharing. Whatever your opinion of sex work, don’t disparage sex workers, or use words like “whore” as a pejorative. (Feel free to talk about MRAs who are using the word pejoratively.)

Don’t attack people for their religion or their lack of religion.

Don’t be a mansplainer or indeed any kind of ‘splainer. That is, don’t lecture anyone on something they know better than you, particularly if that thing is their lived experience.

Don’t post too much or try to make threads all about you. Try to avoid drama.

If you have personal issues you want to bring up, that’s fine! Use the troll-free open threads set aside for personal stuff. I’ll post a new one every couple of weeks. (I also start threads regularly to discuss big events in the news that people here are concerned about; feel free to email if you think something has happened that warrants one.)

No sockpuppeting. No lying. No misrepresentation of yourself or other people. No posting in bad faith – e.g. posting friendly comments here while trashing the site and/or the people on it elsewhere.

No pile-ons. If a number of people have already offered the same criticism of another commenter, don’t add more comments to the pile.

All this said, you don’t have to be perfect to comment here. As sociologist Katherine Cross (@Quinnae_Moon) has noted, very few people arrive “fully formed to the world of activism, the perfect agents of change, somehow entirely cognizant of the ever shifting morass of rules and prescribed or proscribed words, phrases, argot, and thought.”

I want this blog to be open to all those who genuinely oppose misogyny and bigotry more generally, even those who may slip up from time to time.

Still, if you’re new here, or new to feminism, and the regulars here are telling you to avoid certain words, or pointing out something that you’re doing that’s problematic, don’t take it as a personal attack (unless it is couched as a personal attack, in which case email me). If they tell you to avoid particular language, uh, avoid using that language, and don’t explain that in your country calling a person a something-or-other is perfectly fine.

You don’t have to agree with all the rules and/or cultural norms here; but while you’re commenting here you are expected to respect them. If you think a rule is really, really wrong or ridiculous, don’t argue about it in the comments; send me an email about it.

And this brings us to the issue of ableism, which has been a contentious one here.

NOTES ON “CRAZY”

Avoid “crazy” talk. That is, using words like “crazy,” “psycho” and the like to describe the terrible ideas and actions of people you don’t like. It’s stigmatizing to those dealing with mental illness, who really don’t need the extra indignity of being compared to MRAs. Try using words like “ridiculous” or “absurd” or “terrible” instead. Call someone an “asshole” instead of a “psycho.” Try to avoid internet diagnoses of mental illness, and don’t use autism or Aspergers as an excuse for someone’s shitty behavior.

Saying someone is “paranoid,” “delusional,” or “narcissistic” is fine, if you don’t mean it as a diagnosis; these are useful descriptive terms.

If there is evidence that someone you are discussing does indeed have a mental illness, and this is relevant to the discussion, it can be appropriate to bring this up, though you should keep in mind that a hunch is not evidence.

All this said, words like “crazy,” “psycho,” and the like are extremely common, and plenty of people (including feminists, progressives, and people dealing with mental illness themselves) use them casually without intending to stigmatize those with mental illnesses. There’s a difference between saying “crazy people should all be locked up” and “boy, Eraserhead sure was a crazy movie!”

If you’re someone who uses these terms casually, and doesn’t actually want all “crazy” people locked up, it doesn’t make you an evil person, but you need to refrain from doing it here. (Again, if you disagree with this policy, and feel a need to make this disagreement known, DO NOT ARGUE ABOUT IT IN THE COMMENTS, send me an email instead.)

If you are a regular commenter here, and someone uses a problematic term like “crazy” or “psycho,” remind them gently that this is not how we do things here, and send them a link to this comment policy (and possibly the Welcome Package as well). Unless what they have said is particularly egregious, do not insult them or question their motives.

If they argue, remind them that arguing about this rule is also not allowed. If they continue, do not argue back; send me or the mods a note and they will be banned. (This may take a little while, so be patient and please do not give in to the impulse to argue with them.)

If others have already reminded them of the rules, move on.

Again, if someone is acting really shitty in the comments, whether a troll or a regular, SEND THE MODS (or me) AN EMAIL.

One other thing to keep in mind:

MRAs read this blog. So I would strongly urge you to comment here using an anonymous handle that cannot be traced to your real identity. And to be very careful about revealing any sort of personal information on this blog. If you inadvertently post something using the wrong account, or that otherwise reveals personal information, let the mods know so we can remove those comments.

Oh, wait, one other other thought:

Enjoy yourself!

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Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
5 years ago

@David

Uhm, I apologise if I’m overstepping here, but I might as well put it out there before your writeup on the latest misogynist rampage… I know that you sometimes end such posts with a mention of aggrieved male killers’ suspected-possible-maybe-according-to-their-mothers “Mental illnesses,” and I’m not really sure why.

I’ll refrain from listing most of the reasons why I don’t think it’s necessary, as you’ve heard them all before, but one unique and important one is this: It throws open the door to ableist remarks in the comments and undermines both the rest of your otherwise excellent points and our callouts. “It’s not ableist to say he’s just crazy, David said he was crazy,” etc. Even with the new rules in place, I still think it would be prudent for you to cut them off at the pass by just omitting any speculation on their mental state entirely.

Again, apologies if I’m overstepping. >_>;;

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
5 years ago

*On killers’ mental states entirely. So nervous about posting this that my grammar exploded.

Orion
5 years ago

Too expand, I feel placed in the position of the popular or cool girl and that’s literally a position I’ve never been in before. Maybe that’s what I am here, but it’s not something I know how to be. So sorry if I’m bad at it.

WWTH, I can sympathize with that discomfort. I grew up homeschooled, in a homeschooling group made up largely of very intelligent and/or very troubled kids who had been pulled out of school because they were having seriously bad experiences. (I never went to school and had a very different story) Many of us were autistic, half the rest of had social anxieties, and all of us were perceived as “weird” whenever we interacted with the mainstream. Once you pulled us out of the schools we came from and put us into one group, inevitably some people (myself included) were going to become more popular and well-connected than the rest, but many of those people were already invested in their self-image as misunderstood outcasts.

Much weirdness ensued.

Orion
5 years ago

I’ll refrain from listing most of the reasons why I don’t think it’s necessary, as you’ve heard them all before, but one unique and important one is this: It throws open the door to ableist remarks in the comments and undermines both the rest of your otherwise excellent points and our callouts.

I have always assumed that David acknowledges those facts/that thread of interpretation to foreclose, not open, the discussion. Maybe it doesn’t work in practice, but it seems like saying giving a passing mention to the idea going round that some shooter was bi-polar should dissuade people from jumping in shouting about the shooter being bi-polar as thought it were a revelation. Plus, honestly, I do think that the mental health angles are legitimate news; they just can’t be allowed to derail everything else. Reporting the facts, then making clear that you’re editorializing on a different topic, is a reasonable way to handle it.

katz
katz
5 years ago

Hey David: This is the kind of thing I was talking about when I mentioned sniping in other threads (specifically the first sentence). We agreed we’d respond to comments like that with a simple boilerplate linking to the policy, but instead she jumped in to complain about our “‘ZOMG DA ABLEISM’ outbursts”. To put it bluntly, marinerachel started the last fight and I’m concerned she’ll hang around for the purpose of continuing to start fights.

marinerachel
marinerachel
5 years ago

Cute!

I’m not responsible for people engaging in a long-winded discussion to which I contributed maybe six (I think four or five but maybe one or two more) comments. The notion I am in any way at fault for the argument is HILARIOUS. It looked like a lot of people grumping about my nastiness contributed a lot more to breathing life into that discussion and perpetuating it than I did. If anything, the fact many people came out of the woodwork and said “You know what? You’re pissing me off hardcore too” speaks to the fact people who persistently made the comments section a lousy place for a lot of posters created the uprising (which is the wrong word – it was nothing close to an uprising. It was just a disagreement in which a lot of people expressed dissatisfaction over the conduct of some regulars.) I just expressed exasperation over a trend and some people felt sufficiently empowered by it to express their own frustrations. No one was forced to engage, much less at length. That’s the fault of the people who engaged in the “fight” (it was a textual argument on the internet – who thinks that constitutes a fight? Cause being shitkicked by my dad during which I tried to resist having my eyelid or lip split by punching and kicking is what I call a fight.) I won’t be held responsible for what I “made” other people do. I’m not in an abusive relationship anymore!

The fact of the matter is I don’t recognise or know who you or nearly anyone here is. I have a bad memory for faces and names and people in general due to a long history of cocaine, alcohol and prescription drug abuse so I’m entirely open to the possibility I should remember you or be familiar with your avatar but I don’t. For example, I don’t know if a contribution is from you or cassandrakitty as I don’t know who is who except I know one or the other is gone and your presence tells me that is cassandrakitty, which I will soon forget. I don’t know individuals on the internet to target them though and if I tried would likely confuse them with someone else. It’s a bloody trend I’m critical of, of which I imagine a lot of people are contributors as it’s something that occurs with thanks to multiple people engaging in a dogpile. Who specifically is responsible for it, I don’t know because I don’t have a memory for these things nor do I care. If you think that’s a criticism of you that says more about you than I.

I find it silly that you’re attempting to portray me as a snake in the grass though, waiting to strike. I want stuff like your last post to stop – as much as I stopped taking the behaviour of others personally years ago, it still doesn’t feel good to be publicly targeted by you – not to stir up more of it, hence shrieking at someone to cut the shit before it happened again. If you don’t want to see the trend mentioned elsewhere, while I think that’s silly because everyone seemed to think I was the asshole for thinking it was a wet-blanket move and that it was appropriate conduct, fine. Why not just tell me? I’m not unreasonable. I’ve never been guilty of using ableist slurs, not because I genuinely believe they’re problematic under the vast majority of circumstances but because it’s community guidelines a large number of people with pull here have agreed to. I have a perfect record of following rules like “no ableist slurs” so why tattle on me instead of telling me “I don’t care for that, please stop”? If you never want to see ableism thread rerouting referenced again, that’s fine. I would love if it weren’t a real concern; I mentioned it because I thought another example of it was brewing. If I was entirely wrong and no such thing was going to occur (though it appears other people did begin taking shots at the guilty party after I had told them to stop) that was my bad judgement and pessimism and an unfair criticism for which I am sorry.

But tattling to David on me, implying I sit in waiting, rubbing my hands together, looking for the opportunity to start shit storms I have virtually no participation in? Really? That’s so close to a conspiracy theory (can a single person with literally zero social influence execute a “conspiracy? Probably using the word wrong) I don’t know what else to call it. I don’t even have time to monitor discussions here! How would I benefit from starting falling-outs I neither engage in to any significant extent nor witness? I have a job as well as a band and school and a personal life.

Just fucking ask. If you don’t want to see something referenced for WHATEVER reason, tell me. If I think it’s completely stupid I’ll probably wait for David’s ruling on the matter and if he agrees to it I may decide I’m sufficiently inconvenienced by the blog’s rules that I don’t want to be here any longer. More likely because not using specific words or referencing specific ideas or trends or whatever isn’t hard and I don’t feel sorry for myself when I’m asked not to do something, I’ll just modify my behaviour.

Christ on a cracker.

Tracy
Tracy
5 years ago

Been away for over a week, and just want to say a huge, huge thank you @David for this. I’ve been a reader and occasional commenter here for years, seen the ‘regulars’ come and go, and you addressed things that I’d also noticed again and again. I appreciate the effort you put in here, and the time and energy you put in to the commenting policy.

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