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