Saturday, October 24, 2020

Rules of the House


Today seems like the perfect time to take another look at a post I wrote in 2013. Yes, really.

There’s a New Sheriff in Town August 23, 2013

It’s about comments. Yesterday I had some visitors to the blog’s Facebook page who were unfamiliar with the rules of the house. In fact, it was pretty clear that they believed that any such boundaries for acceptable behavior did not apply to them. 

Professional news sites set a policy for comments.(n.b. - - since this was written, many have eliminated the comment function.) But we, as individual bloggers, have to set our own boundaries. And that is completely appropriate. If you comment on my blog, you are a guest in my house, so you have to obey house rules.

In the disclaimer posted on my blog are the following words:

I encourage discussion in the comments section but I have no patience for trolling, or really any kind of nastiness. 

Over the past year I have been moved, more than once, to remind commenters that they are welcome to disagree with the contents of my blog but that I will have zero tolerance for people who go after my family. Imagine needing to tell people that dragging someone’s family is out of bounds. 

It is stunning to me that Columbia/HoCo has people who feel so justified in their point of view that they believe absolutely no filter is necessary when engaging in online discourse. The results have been disastrous. I can’t control the whole world of local social media, of course. But I can set boundaries for my own small part of it.

Comments are welcome, but commenters should realize that for each blog there are rules of the house.

I realize that a blog which provides commentary on local issues may sometimes hit a nerve. Ordinary discussions may become more heated. Readers may not always agree with my take on things. That’s okay. If I am going to provide a space for comments I have to be willing to deal with a variety of viewpoints. But going after my family is not an acceptable way to interact. It has nothing to do with the blog. It is, frankly, the last resort of people whose arguments are so thin that they cannot win on their own merit.

So I’m going to update the disclaimer. It will now read:

I encourage discussion in the comments section but I have no patience for trolling, or really any kind of nastiness. Warning: my family is off limits. Transgressors will be banned.

I’d like to believe that this will be the end of it, but experience tells me that posting a warning is valuable mostly in that I can point to it when the next person tramples on the boundaries. Because there probably will be a next person. May I respectfully suggest that if you think that rules don’t apply to you, that the Facebook page for my blog is not a good fit? 

Tomorrow I’ll be back to telling community stories. I’m looking forward to that.

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