Friday, September 15, 2006

New Comments Rules

All things must come to an end, and it is with a tinge of regret that I announce that the Harris Protocol, while well wrought and worthy of emulation, is no longer required reading for Dawn Patrol commenters.

For example, I will no longer require commenters to support their data. Go ahead, say that 6,000 people each year die from watching vintage Saturday morning cartoons; I'll trust other commenters to request the citation.

I will also no longer enforce little rules I made up that are not specifically cited in the Harris Protocol, such as staying on topic. Oh, I'll get out my "delete" finger if a troll comes along, if someone tries to promote their own blog or another product, or if someone uses profanity (or links to an obscene site), but other than that, let the topics fall where they may.

The problem with the Harris Protocol, and this is not the Harris brothers' fault, is that it assumes commenters will enter into the comments realm as they would enter into a professional debate: with an overriding attitude of courtesy and respect. Without such a foundation, all the rules in the world won't make for reasoned dialogue.

So, in the Harris Protocol's place, I am hereby instituting a single, overriding rule for all commenters to observe:

When you comment on my blog, be nice to other commenters and to me.

Nice doesn't mean syrupy, and it doesn't at all have to be complimentary. It can be witty and it can be edgy. But it is always courteous, respectful, and sincere. When being nice, one may use sarcasm to make a point, but one can never use it as a cover for condescension or personal disgust.

The vast majority of commenters here understand this, and I'm grateful. It's only for the sake of the few who don't that I say this, so that they may take this as their cue to flee to the corners of the blogosphere where not-niceness is tolerated.

I used to think that as long as commenters who displayed personal anger or condescension towards their fellow commenters followed the Harris Protocol, it was worth it for me to tolerate the pall of resentment that darkened their scribblings. Dialoguing with people of alternate views, I thought, might not change their minds on issues, but it could at least change the part of them that wanted to demonize their opponents.

But I started noticing on other blogs that these same commenters whose open resentment I tolerated were bragging about how they took on the [expletives deleted] commenters on the Dawn Patrol.

Well, they can keep bragging now if they want — but they'll no longer be able to express their disrespect for others in this forum.

If your comments are deleted or banned as a result of this policy, and you wish to explain yourself or apologize, drop me a line at the address at left. Thank you for your cooperation.