Comment Policy

As you may have guessed from the category titles here on Daylight Atheism, I consider this site my second home. Think of the comments as me opening my doors to whatever guests would like to drop by for a friendly discussion. The reason I have comments is because I welcome reader thoughts and feedback, even when they disagree with me - perhaps especially when they disagree with me, for as I've said in the past, it's through the mutual testing of viewpoints and the clash of debate that truth is laid bare. Thus, if you feel tempted to leave a comment, I strongly encourage you to do so. I value the ideal of free speech and want to see people speak their minds.

But, all that being said, this site is private property, just like any other home - and I consider it my responsibility to eject the occasional rude or ill-mannered guest, so as not to disrupt other people's conversation. This page is intended to provide a friendly advisory as to what kind of commenting behaviors I find unacceptable. I don't like having to ban anyone from commenting, and I'll use less drastic remedies whenever possible, but I won't hesitate to ban when it's warranted. Please bear this in mind. If you take issue with a moderation decision, please contact me by e-mail.

Here follows the list of offenses:

Spamming. Link to external material when it is relevant and pertinent. If the only purpose of your comment is to advertise your book, website, or herbal weight-loss plan, then you are a spammer and will be dealt with mercilessly.

Criminality. Obey the law at all times. Any attempt to harass, threaten, slander, or incite violence against any person is punishable by immediate banning.

Incivility. Be as polite and civil as possible. I realize that internet debates often get heated, so I'll try to use a light hand when enforcing this, but if your comments show a pattern of rudeness, flaming, or personal attacks, I will take action. A good rule of thumb is to attack the argument and not the person making it. For this same reason, racists, sexists, and other noxious bigots will be swiftly banned.

Sock-puppetry. Choose an identity and stick to it. You can comment anonymously if you wish, but don't try to masquerade as multiple people or pretend to be someone you're not.

Unoriginality. Your comments should be your own thoughts, in your own words. When quoting relevant material, try to keep the excerpts brief. Don't say the same thing over and over again.

Preaching. Theist commenters are welcomed on Daylight Atheism, but bear in mind that atheists do not gather here just so that we can be more conveniently proselytized. Attempts to sermonize or recite apologetics at us are frowned upon. A good rule of thumb is that if you want to have a genuine conversation with us, you're welcome to stay; if you only want to convert us, you can expect to be shown the door.

Soapboxing. Related to both unoriginality and preaching, this occurs when a person has a pet cause which is the only thing they ever want to talk about, regardless of the topic of the thread. If all your comments keep coming back to the same point, you're soapboxing. Don't do this.

Imperviousness to reason. I don't expect that everyone who debates here will change their minds, but I do expect that people who debate here will show at least some responsiveness to arguments raised against their position. If your typical response to a counterargument is to repeat your original argument in unchanged form, your presence will soon grow tiresome. Acknowledge the things that other people say to you and respond accordingly.

Thread derailing. Leave comments that are relevant to the post being commented on. A certain amount of topic drift is inevitable in any long-running discussion, but I reserve the right to close comments if the thread has wandered far afield, and to take action against people who are consistently responsible for thread derailing.

Trolling. The last offense is hardest to define. Like pornography, I know it when I see it. The essence of trolling lies not in any single comment, but in a pattern of behavior: persistently antagonizing other commenters, monopolizing the discussion, commenting just to provoke a response, and generally behaving in a way that produces more heat than light. Trolling is annoying, unproductive, and a drain on other people's time and energy. Trolls are not welcome here, and I will not hesitate to remove them in order to clear the air for legitimate, good-faith discussion.

All these rules can be concisely summed up as follows: Use common sense, argue in good faith, and don't be a jerk. The purpose of the comments is to facilitate a conversation that will enlighten and benefit all participants. Bear this ideal in mind, conduct yourself accordingly, and I won't need to take any action, which will make all of us happy. Daylight Atheism has a friendly and thriving community of commenters, and I welcome everyone who joins, so if you have something to say, then please feel free to share your views. Happy commenting!

January 23, 2009, 3:01 pm • Permalink

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