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:
- 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.
- Remember we can learn from each other, even from people for whom we have contempt.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you feel someone has broken these guidelines, please don’t fight it out on the site. Drop firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
- 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.