Monday, November 22, 2004

Commentariat

I've been asked for my views on comments and comments policies. Alright, let me quickly post about that and blog policies in general since it's something I've been meaning to do for a while. This may as well stand as the current policy on this blog until/unless I feel the overwhelming desire to figure out how to make a pretty box pop up with some purpose-written policy on demand.

I think my views can be summarised in the following few points:

* A blog is private property. The only rules are those set by the owner of the blog and as such they are the ultimate arbiter in any disagreements, whether they be right or wrong in the matter.

*Some blogs are hosted on other people's servers or with free software that comes with conditions. *looks around* In such cases, the blog owner may themselves be subject to restrictions. Anything outside those explicit restrictions are fair game for the whims of the blogger.

* A blog doesn't need to have comments to be a 'proper' blog. They're a courtesy enabled by the blog owner, not a 'right' that the world at large has over a blog.

* Comments are - by and large - in existence to discuss the same topic as the post that they're attached to, not just some public megaphone. As such, spam should justly be deleted as should commenters that stray too far from the topic or from reality in general.

* An interesting point that was brought up at the ASI's Democracy and the Blogosphere event was that of libel/slander. If a blogger believes that someone is being libellous or slandering another, the comment should be deleted - for the protection of the blogger, if naught else. I think that this really has to be considered in context, though, as some bloggers wouldn't know a libellous statement if it came up and bit them on the ass thigh. The law probably hasn't caught up in providing us with precedents to work from (has it? anyone?)...so it's best to be on the safe side, remembering that a blog is still a public forum (albeit privately owned).

* If you don't like it, go elsewhere. Preferrably somewhere far, far away where they still spear and sauté the more annoying people in the village.

_____

There are a few people that have put these points in a different (usually more witty) way in their general policies:

Andy, Lead Simiant over at World Wide Rant has a rather long and frightening policy that reveals a lot about his psyche as well as the site in general.

Mike, Anger Management Consultant at Cold Fury has a lovely statement:

"While I enjoy and heartily encourage comments, even ones which disagree with my own opinions, please note that I can and will delete comments and ban IP's capriciously and utterly at my own whim. This is not a debate club, and I am under no obligation whatsoever to host insults, slander, and/or total bullshit. Complaining about it is futile. If this injures your delicate sensibilities too severely, click on the link to CWI Hosting on the main page and get your own damned website. It's not all that expensive, it's not all that difficult, and then you can say whatever you like."

Perry, Overlord of Samizdata opines:

"Samizdata.net editors are God and God moves in mysterious ways. If you have an article, comment, rant or smart-arse rejoinder that you would like to contribute to Samizdata.net, e-mail it to us and we might publish it suitably edited. Or not."

...and, most succinctly, Mike - Supreme Leader of A Western Heart states:

"Note: If the editors consider your remarks to be unworthy, they will delete them."

I think everyone now gets their drift and mine.

M

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