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Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Just a very brief reminder that I won't post comments that contain ad hominem. I've had to reject a number of comments today and yesterday in the Jonathan Greenwald thread. It's too bad, because many of those comments contained much that was thoughtful and illuminating; but a comment is rejected if it contains any direct personal insult aimed at another poster. Sorry, but I dislike flaming and I have a ".1-tolerance" policy (i.e., very close to zero) in effect to keep it suppressed.

ADDENDUM: I hasten to add that I've seen no truly offensive and certainly no illegal behavior from visitors to this site. The comments I'm talking about are very similar to posted ones, but include some form of inconsiderateness, many of which can be quite mild. I just don't think that comments like "her picture sucks" or "that comment is absurd" do anything to further a discussion. True, this is censorship, but, as I've said before, this is not a forum.

I think it goes without saying that almost all of the comments posted here are friendly, intelligent, and polite. Every day I'm impressed by the number and the quality of people who read T.O.P., and that extends to those of you who leave comments. The genesis of this post is simply that Blogger doesn't provide the email addresses of people who leave comments, so, when I reject one, I'm unable to contact the writer privately to explain to them why I've done so—something I would otherwise try to do.

The most frustrating kind of comment is one that is polite and mature all the way through until the very end, when the writer just cannot help adding what you might call a "kick." The effect is somewhat like this:

Reader X commented that combat boots are suitable footwear for photography. While I wouldn't presume to dictate to anyone what kind of shoes they should wear, combat boots are heavy and don't dry quickly, so, with all due respect, I would suggest that Reader X hasn't tried Adidaboks—if he had, he would know how superior they are.

His mother is obviously a skinhead.

The problem for me is that Blogger doesn't allow me to edit comments. If it did, I would just chop off that last line and publish the comment; but I can't. So, in many cases, that last kick means I have to reject the whole comment. You can see my dilemma.

Oh, and "WTTW" stands for "word to the wise."


Blogger ijak said...

I agree completely. ... If that stuff never shows up on a site, the results are more beneficial to all.

When I was a kid, my dad used to say to me when I complained about any childish attacks on my peers. ...

"Jack. If you have nothing nice to say about them, don't say anything at all."

Many years later, I realized how much animosity, fighting, and hurt feelings that simple advice has saved me. Not to mention how much time has been saved in all that wasted conversation, and trying to repair broken relationships.

It is a good policy.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Adam McAnaney said...

ijak: I agree (obviously).

Mike: I'll bite. What does "WTTW" stand for?


11:14 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Word(s) to the wise.


11:22 AM  
Blogger Adam McAnaney said...

That would explain why I didn't get it...


11:27 AM  
Blogger Ken Tanaka said...

Haw. Upon my first look at TOP today I saw the "WTTW" heading. Being a Chicagoan I immediately assumed that TOP would be mentioned on our primary PBS station, "WTTW" (which stands for Window To The World). It took a few sips of a caffeinated beverage for me to home-in on reality.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Dr. Spoke said...


I agree 99.9% with your policy Mike. (I would push for 0 tolerance myself) I think that our society is way to tolerant of abuse and rudeness. It is refreshing to see someone who believes (as I do) that there is no reason to be rude just because you disagree with something someone else says or believes.

12:23 PM  
Blogger tom said...

TOP has given me many things.

But this is the first time it gave me a wet keyboard.

"His mother is obviously a skinhead."

Thanks for making me spit Coke over my laptop, Mike !

3:32 PM  
Blogger mlougee said...

Mike, I agree w/ your .1 policy, but here's a slight alternative (requiring your more work on your part, sorry...).

Could you copy/paste the best parts of a comment, editing-out the .1 "bad"stuff, and then add it as a comment via your username (also providing the commenters name, of course). This is what newspaper's "letters" editors do, yes?

Probably not worth your effort, but just a thought.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Dierk Haasis said...


For a few years now this word is hurled around as a catch all argument. It has apparently lost all meaning.

First of all, this is your house, and everybody in any civilised, open society has the right to tell his [invited or not] guests what not to say. That does not preclude them from thinking and having their own opinion: 'I'm entitled to my opinion!' - 'Yeah, but who says we are?!'*

Internet's various forms of public interaction with no responsibility - that is anonymous - has led to a redefinition of censorship I find highly dubious and dangerous. People use insults ad homninem attacks, bad grammar, worse choice of words and are all out gross and impolite - under the guise of free speech.

Free speech never came that free, it is based upon consideration, sense, reason and considerate-ness. You can state facts 'matter-of-factly', even blunt, simply because no opinion in the world will change a fact; the world, at the moment, is a slightly odd shaped ball. You can argue as long as you wish, and in any kind of language you like, this does not change.

It is obviously quite different with opinions and matters of taste. They have to be reasoned, if only by 'hey, that's how I feel'. Still, nobody else has to share them. If I don't like a specific person's photos, it's a matter of taste, not fact. Hence, a procamation about my feelings has to take this into account; 'her photos suck' does not, it is an absolute, not an opinion [that is, it is an opinion hiding behind the the structure of a factual claim].

Since people have come to abuse their rights to free speech - mind, this is a Western-centric viewpoint, folks in totalitarian countries still know the high value of free speech - the came up with the 'censorship' accusation. Well, try to behave and nobody else has to forbid or edit your comments.

Just think what would happen if you had to say something inconsiderate to the guy standing before you [yes, he is a bully of a man] ...

And how would you react if somebody comes up to you insulting you in your face? From Hollywood actioneers I can deduce it would lead to something close to World War 3 ...

*I think this is from Blake's 7.

1:24 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

The NYT has a good article about free speech, blogging, and anonymous comments.

The last statement by Tim O’Reilly really hits the mark. Civil dialogue is the better form of free speech. And it moves the dialogue forward.

9:29 AM  

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