Here’s the deal

The tone, attitudes, language and lack of civility on this blog’s comments thread have become unacceptable lately. I don’t know if it’s because of the heat, or because it’s summertime and some of you are juveniles with more time on your hands than usual, or something else. But it’s got to stop.

I have tended to allow a fairly rowdy discourse during the nearly three years I’ve run this blog, with only a scant set of basic rules (which still apply) and intermittent crackdowns on those who break them. The deterioration into comment-thread wars over the past week-plus, however, have convinced me that this is no longer adequate. (Don’t bother looking for the discussions in question; I have removed more than 200 comments from various threads in recent days.) This blog, like all AJC blogs, particularly Opinion blogs, is intended to be used for civil discourse.

The following rules are effective immediately:

1. Anyone who comes onto the blog with personal attacks and little to nothing of substance to say will be banned permanently.

2. Anyone who refers to another commenter by anything other than the handle the latter uses will receive a ban of at least one week. This may sound like an extraordinary measure, but it is the source of most of the recent commenter fights — and, more generally, has long been a catalyst for breakdowns in commenter civility. For example, adressing “ScamVet” instead of “AmVet” would result in a ban. A shortened version of the handle may be acceptable (e.g., “yuze” instead of “yuzeyurbrane”) but only if there is no obvious intent to insult. As I will be the sole judge of that intent, I recommend you err on the side of not being too cute. The ban will also be applied to anyone who refers to commenters by previous handles they used.

3. As is my standing practice, anyone who steals another person’s handle will be banned indefinitely.

4. Any comment that is plainly irrelevant to the discussion will be subject to removal.

5. More specifically: Any comment that refers to discussions on another AJC blog’s comments thread will be subject to removal. These comments only serve to distract from the discussion on this blog and to start fights among commenters. If you have something to say in another blog’s discussion, say it there. If you have been banned from that blog, my blog is not a place for you to air your grievances, or a mirror site for you to try to participate in it anyway.

6. Because I cannot monitor the discussion 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and because the discussion tends to deteriorate when it’s clear I’m not monitoring it, all comments on weekdays will be subject to moderation between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. If necessary, I may extend moderation to all comments between the hours of 7 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Monday. If further necessary, I may resort to indefinite use of moderation at all hours.

7. Individual commenters who violate any posted rule for this blog will be subject to temporary or permanent bans, or indefinite moderation.

I regret having to take these steps. But know this: I truly could not care less what effect these measures have on the number of comments published on my blog, despite the opinion among some of you that this is an important number to me or the AJC. Do not test my resolve to clean up the discussion on these threads.

– By Kyle Wingfield

57 comments Add your comment

GTT

July 10th, 2012
10:40 am

Good for you. The internet needs cleaning up overall civility-wise, but taking care of your own little patch of ground, so to speak, is a start. Maybe others will follow suit.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 10th, 2012
10:42 am

I think points 1-5 and 7 make 6 unnecessary, but that’s just my opinion, don’t get bent or anything.

Bob Loblaw

July 10th, 2012
10:43 am

This is no time for double talk!

Gravy Train

July 10th, 2012
10:44 am

1. What do you expect when you throw red meat to barely educated people who only get their news and opinions from talk radio and Fox News? (Both of those outlets encourage hysteria and character bashing)

2. I bet that the AJC is more concerned with hits on your page than they are with the number of comments.

3. I’m sorry to hear that your “base” audience has such a hard time expressing themselves in an appropriate manner. It seems to be a prevalent problem among “Tea Party” and “Neo-Con” folks.

4. Do you not expect some people to be angry when you use this blog to promote plutocrats and fascism? (Per my understanding: a plutocrat is a very wealthy individual who believes that very wealthy people should run the government. Fascism is a government run by a select group of very wealthy people or corporations.)

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 10th, 2012
10:44 am

Can we still insult obozo?

Mandingo

July 10th, 2012
10:48 am

Long overdue Kyle, Your blog has/had become an open sewer.

Kyle Wingfield

July 10th, 2012
10:52 am

I Report @ 10:42: If everyone proves they can abide by 1-5 and 7, perhaps 6 will become unnecessary. Until then, however, there’s ample evidence that it’s very much needed.

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

July 10th, 2012
10:53 am

Man it must have really got out of hand.

Ill admit to pushing it a little myself but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

Ive begun to blame the 24 hour news cycle for the lack of civility in American Politics.

For example:

If you watch MSNBC you will get an idea that all Republicans are evil and up to no good.

If you watch Fox and listen to talk radio you will get the exact opposite impression.

Neither is true.

But people sit there and watch or listen to that stuff and get angrier and angrier.

And the networks cant throw the red meat out there fast enough.

I wonder if this kind of thing is even possible in American politics today. Sadly I think not.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1955&dat=19860205&id=EAoyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=DqcFAAAAIBAJ&pg=5740,3818506

Gravy Train

July 10th, 2012
10:54 am

Kyle, I would like to see you write an entry on what the benefits of deregulation have been for the economy and the common man. Because as I look around today, I can’t see any. We, the commoners, got a bunch of lost jobs, lost pensions and retirement funds, devalued real estate, bank collusion. They, the corporations, banks and robber barons got tax payer funded golden parachutes. Also, at what point has a big bank or corporate conglomerate regulated itself in the last 20 years? Is there no such thing as ethics and morals in the business community?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 10th, 2012
10:54 am

If these same rules were imposed on the obozo reelection campaign, it would fall silent.

Political Mongrel

July 10th, 2012
10:55 am

@Gravy Train: That’s not what fascism is; that’s oligarchy and plutocracy, which are often combined into plutarchy. They are characteristic of fascism, but there’s considerably more.

For a good description of fascism: http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm Many of these characteristics, by the way, apply to the preferences of the GOP and their supporters.

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

July 10th, 2012
10:55 am

Ill add as well I dont think its as one sided as Gravy Train makes out.

There is plenty of blame to go around.

But it does seem like the anger factor is a little higher on the right.

Kyle Wingfield

July 10th, 2012
10:56 am

Gravy Train @ 10:44: If you think these problems exist only on one side of the aisle, you are reading selectively. In fact, the instigator of all the recent unpleasantness is not someone I would describe as a member of my “base.” (For the record, that person, Soothsayer, has been permanently banned from this blog.)

You are correct, however, about number of hits vs. number of comments. And in my experience, there is no correlation between the two.

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

July 10th, 2012
10:56 am

Also, at what point has a big bank or corporate conglomerate regulated itself in the last 20 years?

A: Never

Is there no such thing as ethics and morals in the business community?

A: No there is not.

Gravy Train

July 10th, 2012
10:57 am

I think the term “obozo” clearly breaks your own rules. Let’s see how long it takes for you to address that.

Kyle Wingfield

July 10th, 2012
10:59 am

Gravy Train @ 10:57: See No. 2 on my original list of rules. And read the whole item.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

July 10th, 2012
10:59 am

IR/YW, I agree with your assessment @ 10:42.

Gravy Train, you apparently didn’t internalize Kyle’s message.

I could name 5 posters off the top of my head who can’t pass Rule #1 on a daily basis.

Good changes, Kyle, and long overdue.

So, what’s your topic du jour on matters of substance? :D

Kyle Wingfield

July 10th, 2012
11:00 am

Btw, there’s a new post upstairs.

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

July 10th, 2012
11:01 am

Dusty

July 10th, 2012
11:01 am

Oh my, I think this means I can’t mention BurgerKing. Off subject!! Even KIng Solomon would not object to the mention of a delightful Whopper! Or the BRAVES! I PROTEST!!

JF McNamara

July 10th, 2012
11:02 am

Sad it had to come to this, but these are just comment killing regulations. We need a freer environment not more overbearing regulations…Its what America was built on. Freedom.

Sorry Kyle, but I couldn’t help myself. I guess self regulation failed on Wall Street, Kyle’s blog and just about everywhere else its been tried. It’s overdue though. People were going way over the line.

stands for decibels

July 10th, 2012
11:03 am

Anyone who refers to another commenter by anything other than the handle the latter uses will receive a ban of at least one week

I’m assuming that a shortened form is ok.

I bet that the AJC is more concerned with hits on your page than they are with the number of comments.

I think the raw number of comments is subject to misinterpretation the same way that, oh, RBIs are in baseball. It’s nice to have RBIs, but they’re a lousy single metric upon which to base someone’s individual production. If that makes any sense.

arnold

July 10th, 2012
11:04 am

I agree since we have biased network news 24 hours a day, social intercourse has become less than civil. I also think that the Internet, by allowing anonymity, has helped contribute to incivility.

I think Kyle is correct in placing restrictions on this blog.

Thanks Kyle.

MarkV

July 10th, 2012
11:04 am

Kyle,
I wish you would also apply more stringently the part of your basic rules regarding the insults to public figures. You have reserved ”the right to take down comments that include gratuitous name-calling about anyone,” but you seem to have an extremely high tolerance for insults to President Obama.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 10th, 2012
11:04 am

Kyle, it’s your blog, you can do what you want, but you know just as well as everybody else, this whole thing was brought upon us by just a few newcomers who had nothing to say to begin with and with them being muzzled, I imagine they won’t be around very long.

I’m not trying to say that the rest of us are the second coming of Miss Manners either. But that doesn’t mean you need to become a TSA agent, letting the obvious terrorists walk through security while you have @@’s pants down around her ankles. Just sayin…

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

July 10th, 2012
11:06 am

Kyle, I hope #6 is not necessary. As a good conservative, you know that shotgun approach reeks of liberalism. Kinda like a Dem Mayor, disgusted at the bullet holes in the stop sign in front of his house, trying to ban all handguns in the city, rather than have the police catch, arrest, and throw the book at the offender. Obviously, you can’t monitor all weekend, but you could take a quick peek on Monday and take decisive action on Monday until you had expunged all the guilty parties and maybe it would correct itself.

Otherwise, good rules and glad you implemented them.

td

July 10th, 2012
11:06 am

Since this Presidential election will go down in history as one of the nastiest in the history of this nation then I will predict that this blog, the other blogs in this paper and social sites will get mean and nasty as well. I have already seen it (BTW Kyle, I think your blog is really one of the less nasty blogs I have seen) on the social networks and other blogs in this paper and other sites.

Kyle: I like you but IMHO you will only have other conservative bloggers on this blog by election day if you truly enforce these rules.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

July 10th, 2012
11:13 am

Mark V
Oblamer is a public official, who volunteered for the position, which in itself comes with a healthy dose of criticism and abuse. He has a bully pulpit to vent his spleen to the world, we have Kyle’s blog which reaches thousands (?).

When he stops calling Romney insulting things, and deliberately distorting his positions, maybe we could revisit the issue.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 10th, 2012
11:15 am

Isn’t it amazing how 10:55 was able to respond to 10:54 in under sixty seconds, reading 10:54, compiling it’s comment and finding a link to post? Wanna talk about violating rule #4? A paid blog propagandist attacking Republicans with total lies?

Kyle Wingfield

July 10th, 2012
11:18 am

MarkV @ 11:04: You don’t think I allowed a boatload of insults about Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, et al. during the primary? And toward Romney — and Nathan Deal, and David Ralston, and so on — now?

Aquagirl

July 10th, 2012
11:19 am

When he stops calling Romney insulting things, and deliberately distorting his positions, maybe we could revisit the issue.

Until then we can look forward to further rumination about Michelle Obama’s @$$ on this blog. What a treat.

Kyle Wingfield

July 10th, 2012
11:19 am

I Report @ 11:04: The newcomers may have been the impetus, but in a lot of ways they were just the final straw. Most of this has been building for a long time.

Kyle Wingfield

July 10th, 2012
11:21 am

Rafe @ 11:06: I hope No. 6 becomes unnecessary. But right now, I am spending a good hour as soon as I come into the office dealing with the detritus of the previous night. That cuts down significantly on the time I have to do the other, more productive parts of my job — including posting more frequently so that comment threads don’t get quite so out of hand.

Kyle Wingfield

July 10th, 2012
11:24 am

Aquagirl @ 11:19: That kind of rumination could easily run afoul of No. 4.

AmVet

July 10th, 2012
11:40 am

Hear! Hear!

And kudos, Kyle.

Now, let’s all play nice!

MarkV

July 10th, 2012
11:55 am

Kyle Wingfield @11:18 am

Kyle, you must be kidding. Any serious examination of the blogs shows an excess of crude name-calling of the President over anything about other public figures. Just look how quickly you got the post @ 10:44 am today

Logical Dude

July 10th, 2012
11:56 am

Kyle says: I regret having to take these steps.

Me too, but sometimes you have to take some steps to keep your blog civil and readable to the general public.

I’m surprised this step needed to be taken, but I didn’t see all of what happened either. These are common sense rules that you have listed, and anyone should be able to follow them easily. (the hardest one may be not to use someone’s previous handle if they commonly respond to it).

I’m still disappointed in people not using the President’s actual name, though. But it does give me a good indication on the character of the people using it (or not using it), so I’m glad that’s not banned outright. :)

AmVet

July 10th, 2012
11:59 am

My 2 cents worth?

Public officials and other notables, celebrities, etc – who not blogging here – are fair game.

It is the PERSONAL insults that are the problem here.

But our moderator will deal with that as he see fit, I’m sure…

Dusty

July 10th, 2012
12:13 pm

MarkV and Logical Dude,

So glad to see your concern about public figures and how we address them. Keep it up.

From now on I shall expect to see you two condemning anyone who posts such as ” Bushie, W, Bushie Jr, GWB, Bushbots, Bushdidit, Bush ” and other forms of endearment from our liberal ladies and gentlemen. You are going to be very busy. .

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

July 10th, 2012
12:15 pm

MarkV @ 11:04: You don’t think I allowed a boatload of insults about Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, et al. during the primary? And toward Romney — and Nathan Deal, and David Ralston, and so on — now?

I will give you an example where you were not even handed.

Obama was allowed to be called a Muslim, Kenyan, Terrorist and all sorts of lies without a peep.

But the second someone mentioned that Romney was a Mormon, which isn’t a lie, you jumped up real quick to defend him etc.

Dusty

July 10th, 2012
12:24 pm

Enter your comments here

arnold

July 10th, 2012
12:37 pm

How about referring to Bush as “Shrub”? :-) It was OK with Molly Ivans.

MarkV

July 10th, 2012
12:38 pm

Dusty @12:13 pm

My answer to you is essentially the same as what I wrote to Kyle: Let’s start by keeping some sense of proportion. There is no comparison between the crudeness as well as frequency of the name-calling of the President and what people may have called here president Bush. Personally, I do not see anything wrong in referring to the former president as GWB (those are his initials, aren’t they?) and would not object to anybody referring to the President as BHO. But even names like “Bushie” (which I do not condone) cannot be compared with “obozo,” oblamer, “ etc.

JF McNamara

July 10th, 2012
1:07 pm

@MarkV,

Use the insults to filter who you reply to and what you read. If someone disrespects the office of the President, you can be sure they aren’t going to have a good point or opinion. That goes for both sides.You can disagree with someone’s beliefs and still show them respect.

MarkV

July 10th, 2012
1:36 pm

Rafe @ Holliste@11:13 am

Apparently you cannot distinguish between name-calling (which you are again guilty of) and perceived “distorting positions,” which is in the eyes of the beholder.

MarkV

July 10th, 2012
1:44 pm

JF McNamara @1:07 pm

I agree with you and most of the time I ignore the worst offenders. By “ignore” I mean that I do not respond to their writing. It does not mean that I do not see it. When Kyle deplores the lack of civility, I think name-calling of the President should be pointed out to him as an issue.

Logical Dude

July 10th, 2012
2:48 pm

Dusty@12:13
I was disappointed when people called Bush “Dubya”, until that seemed to be common across the board for everyone, even his strongest supporters.
Also, it is more of an indication on the character of the person using the term(s). I generally don’t comment on its use too often, because nowadays, I know that anyone using those terms really don’t deserve a well thought out response.

@@

July 10th, 2012
3:18 pm

The ban will also be applied to anyone who refers to commenters by previous handles they used.

Not sure why that one’s necessary.

HECK! Some of my harmless comments are still awaiting moderation. No problem.

kelly

July 10th, 2012
5:30 pm

@ arnold, it’s Molly Ivins. And she was a national treasure.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 10th, 2012
7:11 pm

um, test-

Disclosure forms reveal that Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Whackjoberman Schultz, a member of Congress from Florida, previously held funds with investments in Swiss banks, foreign drug companies, and the state bank of India.