Disqus and Combox Blacklisting

It looks like it’s time for my quarterly reminder that there is a combox policy, and that dialog with trolls is not part of my job description. I know a lot of bloggers just have a free and open comment policy: anything goes! I don’t.

If you’re too tired to check out the whole combox policy post, here’s the quote from Augustine that starts it off:

The time at my disposal does not allow me to linger on all the questions that may be raised by men with time on their hands and with a curiosity for finer points–the kind of people who are more ready to ask questions than capable of understanding the answers.

–St. Augustine, City of God, Book XV–

I’ve been getting the typical drive-by atheist squibs lately, and they all get wished away to the cornfield. And then I tell myself, “It’s really good that you did that, Tom: really really good!”

If your comment is premised on the fact that God doesn’t exist and anyone who believes otherwise is a fool deserving mockery, then just go away.

If you want to ask a question or make a comment from a skeptical or non-believing perspective in a genuine interest of inquiry or dialog, then go right ahead.

Just one reminder: I’m not an apologist, I’m a catechist. My ministry is not to defend the faith on basic points, but to teach the faith to those who have ears to hear. Apologetics enters into that at times, but I’m just not going to re-engage every single theological issue for everyone who toddles along with a chip on his shoulder. It’s not a good use of my time, and other people do it better. I really just don’t have the patience for it. It’s a character flaw, I’m aware of it, and I’m okay with it. It’s only by the grace of God that I’m as civil as I am, since I spent the entire first part of my writing career being a caustic critic notable for my skill with nasty comments. Perhaps the comboxes are my penance for that.

I’m always reminded of Evelyn Waugh, who was criticized for being a nasty man while also claiming to be a pious Catholic:  ”You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I wasn’t a Catholic. Without supernatural aid, I would hardly be a human being.”

Disqus has a helpful two-punch of spam-marking and blacklisting. Blacklisting has a little description box that allows you to tag each subject with a reason for the ban. I usually just use “asshole,” since it’s a good catchall to describe anyone who winds up banned. If you suspect your comment might contain high concentrations of assholery, just save both of us the time.

Here’s the weird thing: when I moved from being a game and computer blogger to a Catholic blogger, I had this image of comboxes flooded with fundamentalist Christians on anti-Popery crusades. I have never, in over a year here, had a single fundie Christian comment here in a negative or impolite way, despite my fairly obvious low regard for the founding falsehoods of Protestantism in general and fundamentalism in particular.

Oddly enough, only about 5 of my 600-odd posts have been about atheism in any substantial way, but 100% of my banned readers have been atheist. Make of that what you will, but whereas before this blog I had a fairly neutral opinion on non-believers, my experience here (even prior to pissing them all off) has been an eye-opener.

One other thing. I don’t live on this page, and I’m still getting used to Disqus. Comment moderation is on, and it may be a full day before I’m able to approve a comment.

And to all the other readers and commentors, my thanks for your patronage and input. I read everything, even if I don’t reply to each comment.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    That explains a few things, thank you

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    Oh, you’re never a problem! Thanks for posting!

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Only I just get a bit impatient from time to time- and end up triple posting while things are still in moderation.

    Wait 24 hours….wait 24 hours….good new rule for me to adopt.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    You’e on automatic approval here. It should appear right away.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Oh, ok….got to teach Rebecca Hamilton that trick….might help if my own blog was based on Disqus instead of blogspot.

  • Heloise1

    I am not Catholic. I am a concerned Christian who sought out Pathos as a learning tool to better my understanding and as an escape form all the negative and very frightening news.

    Thank you for explaining your outlook. I have lurked on a lot of web site comment threads. I rarely comment any more. However, I’m sure I picked up more than a few bad habits along the way.

    The Evelyn Walsh quote is wonderful! I’m sending it out. Thanks again for all you do.
    God Bless.

  • Jakeithus

    As an evangelical protestant, I’m happy to hear that my spiritual kin haven’t been causing problems in the comments.

    In online discussions with atheists, I typically hear how believers of different denominations hate each other and can’t get along.That hasn’t been my experience at all, as what we have in common overcomes our divisions.

    I think the difference is that it is much easier to find respectful disagreement between individuals on a sincere quest to understanding truth. When one party has already decided that quest itself is pointless, and implies that you are an idiot for exploring the topic at all, then there’s really nothing to discuss. It’s not universal of course, but in my experience I find more atheists in the second camp.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    The differences among Christians are, in truth, fairly minor, as CS Lewis observed. I object to Sola Scripture and some interpretations of Sola Fides, but those differences don’t negate the most important truths of Christianity, which is that Jesus is the second Person of a Triune God who is the uncreated Creator; Jesus died for our sins and rose on the third day with a promise of everlasting life in his kingdom; and the Bible is the word of God. When you agree on that, the disagreements are less important.

    I can have perfectly civil discussions with non-Christian theists because even though our understanding of God is very different, at least we share a common recognition of the metaphysical reality. It’s almost impossible to talk about things sensibly with people who believe every single thing is reducible to physics.

  • hamiltonr

    Rebecca Hamilton can just barely manage to log in Ted. To teach me tech tips, I’ve first got to be teachable, which I don’t think I am. : -)

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Yeah, which is exactly why “automatic approval” for some posters might be useful to you.

    Not that I know how to do such a thing. I ended up turning off moderation in my own blog just to have a conversation with Bill S. (one that surprisingly, seems like it might actually be going somewhere- I just hope it doesn’t get interrupted with random spam from Korea again).

  • Heloise1

    Ah! Physics. when you are forced to engage these types, perhaps you should ask them to come back when they have read and pondered The Dancing Wu Li Masters.
    Granted, the author is a Buddhist, but his insights are universal and rigorous. Best of all, he can Prove it! lollollol!!!eleventy.

  • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

    Blogger’s comment system is truly garbage. Every major third party system out there has more features than it has, and all that is available now is the new Google+ comment system.


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