Kris and I and RJS monitor the comments on this blog, and RJS does only her own posts so I take the responsibility for most of it. Here’s a core value — to use the jargon of our day — of this blog: we want to have civil conversations.
I once did a series on conversations on this blog and need not rehearse that all now — it was called The Art of Conversation (so you might see if you can chase it down through the search button here).
Before I give the ruling analogy, a brief observation: comments on blogs reveal the underbelly of humans. I can’t read the comments at CNN.com or at many other sites because they are frankly too ugly, insulting, and irresponsible. In a word, they are uncivil.
When we got this blog going one of the major values was to have civil conversation and that means we can disagree but we can’t get too strong or accusatory about it. Again, yes, I have to determine when the lines are crossed. But that means this…Too often in the last few months I’ve had to write to people to tell them their comments were either over the line or getting too close. Two responses to my letter are typical: the first one gets defensive and perhaps accuses me of being a Rightist or a Leftist (yes, I get both each week), then accuses others of being uncivil and thinks that excuses that person’s incivility, and my response is that the response indicates we’ve got a problem. The second response says “Thanks” or something like that and we grow together into civility.
Here’s the way it works and I will be ramping up the monitoring here more than I could do at Beliefnet: imagine you are at an outdoor, busy cafe with a friend (like the one in Siena above). We are talking about things over a cup of coffee. What you would say to me, and the tone you would say it to me — and remember we take the posture of friends and not enemies — is the tone to use on this blog. (Excuse me, Peggy, for not describing the blog as the “One T Saloon.” By the way, my name has only one “t”.)
As no one really sits at a cafe anonymously in a serious conversation with a friend, so anonymous comments will not be permitted. No more “Your Name” or “Anonymous.” In 5.5 years of blogging I’ve seen that anonymity is often a cloak for ranting or uncharitable comments.
We have no problem with disagreements, but they are to remain civil. Frankly, RJS is far more patient with some of you than I would be and I applaud her willingness to engage an uncivil set of statements because a good question was enmeshed in the heat. So, here’s a good piece of advice when you want to disagree with someone at this site: Tell us to whom the comment is directed and then the best way to engage is to ask a genuine question. Some questions aren’t genuine; they are lead-ons or insinuative that you know better and you just want to set someone up. If you don’t have a genuine question for the one to whom you address your question, wait until the fire cools and then ask the question. It works, believe me, it works. I’ve learned this and am still learning this.