On Commenting and Posting. Again.

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I’m about to head off for a long vacation to travel and write a book about teaching the AP Language course I have taught for the past six years. While I hope to post on occasion as I travel, my guess is that I will find walking across northern Spain and visiting Prague a bit more interesting than writing another one of my rants here. I’m largely leaving the site in the hands of others for a bit, and the truth is that I don’t want to burden them with moderating comments any more than I have to.

In the past few weeks, it seems that commenting has become an issue once again. I’ve had e-mails asking me to ban people, to delete threads, and to end commenting altogether. I’d hate to the latter, when threads like the one under “Why Labor” are so thoughtful and interesting, despite disagreement between some of the commenters.

The truth is that I rarely read comments, on this site or others. Balancing all my hats leaves me little time to write, and even less time to read comments. If you’ve been insulted by a comment left here that I didn’t moderate, I’m sorry. Odds are that I didn’t see it, but I don’t want you to feel like my leaving it represents my endorsement of it.

What used to be a source of insight and entertainment has become a little too angry and a little too strident–and from me, that’s saying something. I worry that, by adopting a laissez-faire approach, though, I have kept other people from wanting to engage and be part of a discussion that could be useful again.

While I tried to develop a comment policy, that seems largely ineffective at making people happy. So let’s try a metaphor. If you were to come into my house or classroom, you’d be welcome to argue ideas with me and the other people there. I deeply believe that argument is among the most powerful methods of learning, and I try not to discourage it when I can. You might even get a little too passionate, a little personal, and maybe even a little mean. We all do on occasion. But if you came into my home or classroom and bullied people or used vicious personal attacks on them, you wouldn’t be welcome for long. I’d encourage you to try a different approach, and if that didn’t work, eventually I would ask you to stop visiting.

In a lot of ways, this site is my home online.

So here are the rules:

  1. Everyone starts with a clean slate now. I don’t want to go back and police old conversations, and I don’t have the time to do it. We all start fresh, with future comments judged on their merits.
  2. Remember we can learn from each other, even from people for whom we have contempt.
  3. Adhere to the guidelines of a house guest: don’t bully people, don’t insult, don’t name call, and don’t dominate the conversation in a way that makes other people feel they can’t speak.
  4. No sock puppet accounts. Please comment under one name as consistently as you can. I do understand the need for anonymity, but, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, it drives me crazy when people comment under multiple names. I suspect that’s because it’s often a cover for abuse.
  5. If you feel someone has broken these guidelines, please don’t fight it out on the site. Drop [email protected] an e-mail (with as much detail as you can) and I will check it as quickly as I can. If I don’t respond, be assured that I will look into it.
  6. If you’re repeatedly a rude house guest, I will probably change the locks and turn off the lights when you come by. I doubt I’ll send you an e-mail explaining myself, but I will block your access to the site as best as I can.

Let’s all see if we can start over. Welcome to my house. Please wipe your feet, and leave your old battles at the door. We might just have a nice party going that other people want to join if we handle it right.

Thank you.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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Mr. TemperanceNorma DuffyBob WilliamsDrunks for Denny Recent comment authors
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LK
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LK

Thank you, Don, for not banning me at the behest of a few rightwing plants, losers, and ne’er-do-wells. Hell, this very same rabble got me banned over at cowsquirrel site, and hence, they feel emboldened and empowered to do so here. They would love to have me banned, for then, all the lefty sites would be as milquetoast as the state dailies. If you go back and search the archives, you will find that I NEVER attacked another poster unless they attacked me first. And really, I simply cannot understand that mentality. WHY attack another poster for simply posting something… Read more »

Mark T
Guest

While in Prague, if you’ve a chance, the John Lennon Wall was inspiring to me, or at least a memorial to his inspiration during the time that Soviet troops darkened the atmosphere of Czechoslovakia. It’s a more colorful place now even as fascism makes its heavy inroads via the EU. Your frank admission that you receive private emails requesting that you censor and ban people is affirmation to me that the barely concealed structure behind the Democratic Party is censorious and oppressive. The way that Democrat-based websites routinely remove links to thoughtcrime sites is also testimony. It is not tracel… Read more »

Mark T
Guest

I believe you. The party does not operate in that manner. I know that.

But in my nine years of blogging, wherein I used to delve into party politics and drew many more comments, never once did anyone ever contact me privately about anyone’s comments. But I know that various others have complained to blog administrators about me, and without fail, these have been Democratic Party regulars.

Turner
Guest
Turner

As a marginal Democrat and occasional commenter, I’ve never contacted a blog administrator to complain about what someone else has posted. Unless a poster is making vile, baseless and almost actionable statements about someone, I’d be opposed to having him banned.

I’ve said before that I think good manners are overrated. Those who can’t stand the rough-and-tumble of blog commentary need to go elsewhere.

lokywoky
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lokywoky

Dear Don: Hope your “vacation” is a good and productive one. And the non-Don comments above are a prime example of just what Don is talking about – flame-throwing as usual. Could you guys just go get a bottle and a blankie and please leave the rest of us alone? Please? Off-topic as usual, blaming everyone else for your problems understanding the world, and making blanket condemnations for whatever perceptions whether it be “righty” or “lefty” adds nothing to understanding on anyone’s part. I know you all think you know everything and everyone else is dumber than rocks but please,… Read more »

Norma
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Norma

Have a good vacation Don, You deserve it!!!!

Turner
Guest
Turner

Larry, You got one thing wrong. The 2 women who interrupted Bernie did so at a relatively small event in a park. There were maybe 2,000 people there. The event on the Univ. of Washington campus that drew 12,000+ people was not interrupted.

Montana Mama
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Montana Mama

You know, I wrote one post, two sentences long, objecting to one repeated phrase. I did not name LK, nor make any personal comments about him. Since then, he has referred to me nine times, calling me an inbred and other names. He has accused me of “attacking” him. He has accused me of trying to get him banned. He has accused me of trying to have him banned at another blog. For the record, I have done no such thing. I have not contacted Mr. Pogreba about LK. I have no idea why LK thinks I tried to have… Read more »

Bob Williams
Guest
Bob Williams

also Stop space-hogging.
(Hogging the far end of the feed trough.
Sometimes kinda like a mean hog!)

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I don’t understand.

Montana Mama
Guest
Montana Mama

Oops. Anonymous was me. Guess I have to sign in every time I comment?

Drunks for Denny
Guest
Drunks for Denny

Be sure to visit the U Fleku brewery in Prague.

http://en.ufleku.cz/

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