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.

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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.


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