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: