Dear Readers and Commenters,
The comment section has become a key part of WOLF STREET, thanks to our informed, engaged, and thoughtful commenters. The comment section is where people add their experience, insider knowledge, data, or points of view, or where they ask related questions that we as a group can try to answer. Many readers have told me how enriching they find the comment section.
This has also been the place to point out factual errors and (sometimes hilarious) typos in the articles. We appreciate that.
This comment section is like a living room where interesting and knowledgeable people are invited to share their views in a comfortable environment, without shouting or invective. There is a good amount of disagreement, and that’s great, as long as it is fact-based and civil.
WOLF STREET is a business, finance, and economics site, not a political site. Readers from across the political spectrum are invited and should feel comfortable. So when writing a comment, for those moments, we check our political views at the door, so to speak. It’s OK to mention politicians and policy issues. It’s not OK to descend into partisan bickering.
First protect your privacy. This is not a guideline, it’s up to you, and you can do it however you want. Most commenters are already doing this:
- Use an alias as screen name when you log in, instead of your real name, or you use your first name (such as “Mike”), along with a number to keep all the Mikes separate, such as “Mike009.”
- Use a fake email to log it; or an email that is used exclusively for logging into comment sections and the like but is not used for personal stuff or business.
Over the years, I’ve been trying to develop some guidelines. But enforcing them isn’t always easy. When I moderate comments, I try to tread fine lines, navigate gray areas, cling to slippery slopes, and walk across thin ice — not always successfully. “Errors have been made,” as they say.
To make this easier to navigate for everyone, I have finally written down some guidelines. I hope they will make things a little clearer. I may update them as I go.
1. Try to stay on topic. Comments out of the blue on some totally unrelated issue are potential fodder for the comment shredder.
2. The comment section is not a link dump. A link to a source when needed is encouraged. But links on unrelated topics tend to go into the comment shredder.
3. If about 5% of the comments under one article are yours, it’s time to back off. So if the article has 80 comments and 4 are yours, it’s time to slow down. If you’re in a substantive constructive discussion with another commenter, some back and forth is OK. But once this discussion is starting to hog the comment section, or becomes argumentative, it may get blocked.
4. If comments by the same commenter keep saying the same thing, they become a “broken record,” and broken records are tossed out.
5. Comments that are in bad faith, badger other commenters, or attack other commenters ad hominem become fodder for the shredder. If you criticize, please target the comment, not the person.
6. Comments that insult our authors or other commenters will likely not make it. This includes terms of endearment, such as “libtard” or “fascist.”
7. No name-calling. Use the correct names of officials and politicians. For more pizzazz, add their title (President Trump, President Obama, etc.) A great way to get comments blocked is by using descriptors or nicknames (such as “Hitlery” or “Orange Face”).
8. WOLF STREET is not the place to post propaganda, including industry propaganda. It’s not the place for theories about 9/11, assassinations, CIA actions in the 1970s, and other historical events.
9. WOLF STREET is not a website about war, the Civil War, WW I, WW II, WW III, a “coming” civil war, nuclear war, etc., what might have caused them, or what might cause the next one.
10. Other triggers for blocking: Discussing religion, race, or sex; diving too deeply into stereotypes; or calling for acts of violence against an individual or groups, or in general terms.
11. WOLF STREET does not tolerate any kind of hateful speech or bigotry. Violators may be permanently barred from commenting.
The comment section has a set of tripwires that will stop comments in their tracks. These comments then go into the moderation queue where they may languish for a while. Perfectly good comments can also get caught up in these tripwires. But they will be released at some point. So be patient.
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