I’ve never had a formal comments policy on my blog.
But since launching the blog just over a year ago, I’ve received numerous off-topic, nasty and profane comments, and have wrestled with the best way to manage comments.
On one hand, I believe in free speech and don’t like being a censor. On the other hand, I want this blog to retain a civility that too many other blogs lack.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. It was a tough piece, but it was intended to focus on his shortcomings as a media communicator – not to serve as a personal attack or a referendum on the Obama Administration. But after my post received coverage on several conservative blogs, some readers used it as an excuse to write some obnoxious or ugly stuff.
Here’s a sample:
“He also looks like a weasel…”
“…you’re talking about the same pap Barry has been regurgitating for the last 2 1/2 years.” (from a reader referring to President Obama using a pejorative term)
“It is delightful to watch someone less competent than Dear Leader trying to explain Dear Leaders’s mistakes…” (another reader speaking about Obama using a pejorative term)
These comments are only the latest. Here are a few others that have appeared on the blog over the past year:
“so let me understand your org Media training is teaching people to spin?? YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM! You Know that this is just not right yet you don’t care!!”
“You sir, are a spin doctor and assertions to the contrary are fooling no one but yourself. The misconception is yours. Denial of obvious facts only damage your credibility, so why not just embrace it? Hey, at least he didn’t say your were Minister of Propaganda, for which Media Training Consultant is just a frilly euphemism.”
“If you’re going to give advice as media ‘experts’, shouldn’t you at least provide your videos with decent audio? Sounds like you are recording off the camera microphone. That’s unprofessional.”
Those are just the ones I’ve posted. I’ve also received much more profane comments that I’ve chosen not to post. Those brave comments typically come from anonymous posters.
But until now, I’ve never had a specific policy regarding comments on the blog. As I’ve wrestled with what my policy would be, I kept coming back to this thought:
There are a lot of jerks in the world, and I don’t need to pay for the privilege of giving them yet another platform to spread their angry rants.
So here’s the new blog commenting policy:
NO JERKS ALLOWED.
I will gladly accept comments from people who disagree with my perspective, challenge my facts, and rip apart my conclusions. I will take comments from people who think media training is a dishonest profession, from people who think I’m not qualified to make certain judgments, and from people who accuse me of bias.
But I’m done posting ad hominem attacks, off-topic comments, comments that refer to elected officials (or others) in pejorative terms, comments that are unnecessarily antagonistic, comments that don’t relate to the topic of the article, and other comments that come across with more hostility than substance.
I’ll continue to post anonymous comments, as long as they meet the above standards. And I retain the right to violate my own rules if posting a nasty comment casts some sunlight on an ugly point-of-view.
There is no shortage of websites and news channels that profit from hostile and angry debate. No matter how many times I’m accused of censorship, I’m not going to allow this blog to join their ranks.
No jerks allowed.
What do you think? How have you managed nasty comments on your own blog? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.