I moderate comments lightly. This is a conscious choice I’ve made. As best I can recall, I’ve never banned anyone in close to seven years of blogging (though I definitely threatened someone with banning once). And even lesser forms of moderation I don’t do all that much. But I do have a few rules I’d like people to follow (note that I’m stealing bits and pieces from PZ’s and Natalie’s policies, but intend to be looser even than PZ is, mainly because they gave me ideas for things I’ve never had problems with, but are worth preempting):
First, if you use a pseudonym, pick one and stick with it. I’m starting with this one because it was recently violated by okstop/Landon. I don’t think any harm was meant by it, since the second comment signed “okstop” came with a note “this is Landon, by the way.” I may have been guilty of inadvertently breaking this rule a few times in my internet career (say, by signing one comment “Chris Hallquist” and another “Uncredible Hallq”), so I understand how that can be done innocently, but I’d still people rather not.
If you must change pseudonyms, please mention this in the first comment under the new pseudonym. But I’d prefer people avoid doing even that. Just stick with a name.
It should go without saying that impersonating other people is not acceptable (this last point stolen from PZ).
No slurs. Natalie’s rule #2. It’s never come up here to the best of my knowledge (if I’ve missed something please let me know), but should the situation arise, I intend to enforce this rule exactly as it appears in Natalie’s policy.
Respect other people’s privacy. Another one I’ve never had to deal with to the best of my knowledge, but here just in case. See PZ’s and Natalie’s policies for details.
No spam. Personally, I consider “spam” to include comments that don’t really have anything to do with the discussion, and serve only to promote your own stuff. You can link to or quote yourself if it’s relevant. And you can disagree with me about what parts of “the discussion” (whatever that is for a particular post) are important. But if the relevance to a post is really, really, shaky, you may get disemvowelled.
You can insult people, but comments that are only insults may get squished. Honestly, I tend to be pretty lax about this. If there’s some way I can squint at a comment and see an attempt at a substantive point, I’ll probably let it through. But just in case, you’ve been warned.
On top of this, I’d strongly encourage readers to be very careful with insults, and ask yourself if you have good reasons for them before posting. But I won’t judge disputes about whether your reasons are good via comment moderation. The only rule I’ll enforce is that you must at least try to say something of substance when you’re harsh on someone.
I’ve tried to be complete, but reserve the right to moderate comments, or even ban people, for other reasons. I’m adding this one mainly because of an incident where one commenter, among other things, showed up in Jason’s comments to tell Jason to read a bunch of links, and then got nasty when Jason didn’t drop everything he was doing to read them. This was apparently a reflection of mental illness on the commenter’s part. Doesn’t fall under any of the above, but not something I want to put myself through. And since I can’t anticipate every possible variation on that kind of situation, I’m making this a general warning.
Don’t worry too much about this last one. It’s for extreme circumstances only. My general attitude towards comments is that if I dish it out I should be able to take it, and if a stupid fight breaks out in the comments other people can ignore it. I ask you to try not to be stupid, but I won’t try to enforce not being stupid.