Probably time to have a comments policy, eh?

Right. The Uncommon Priors comments policy (slightly revised):

1. I like people to comment. You should do more of it. (I’ve also noticed that I have very many more men rather than women commenting, and it seems a little odd. I’d like to hear more women’s perspectives on some of this stuff.)

2. But this is not a democracy. This is an absolutist one-man despotism, and so I’ll delete anything I please for any reason I please or no reason at all. (Which doesn’t mean too much, because I don’t think I’ve ever deleted a non-spam comment. But lately I’ve been annoyed enough to consider it, in each case only leaving the offending comments to serve as an object lesson for future malefactors.)  The same goes with banning IP addresses and pretty much anything else within the bounds of the law and basic morality as interpreted by my personal and unfettered judgment.  (Anything here that might be interpreted to suggest I actually regularly exercise control over comments, such as to take me out of any ISP’s safe harbor that might otherwise apply, should be interpreted some other way.)

3. My opinion on anonymous comments is basically the same as Brian Leiter’s.  The posterior probability of a comment’s being obnoxious and/or idiotic, given its being anonymous, is waaaay higher than the prior.  Of course, #2 above should indicate to you that this doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll do anything to such a comment since, from your perspective, all decisions are wholly arbitrary.  But let’s be realistic: if I start nuking comments on a large scale, the anonymous ones will be the first to go.  Also, anonymous comments are a sign of cowardice.

4.  Otherwise, don’t be an asshole.  Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in person.  And if you don’t know whether or not you’re being an asshole, make an inductive generalization from people’s normal reaction to you: if they generally think you’re an asshole, you’re probably an asshole, and you’re probably acting like one right now.  Don’t say it.  On the other hand, if they generally like you, or even think you’re a little too timid, go ahead and say it.  This requires some self-knowledge.  Also, see #3.  If you feel moved to comment anonymously and you’re not revealing some fact that some powerful person wants to keep secret, revealing an opinion that some powerful person doesn’t like, or making unreasonable commitments about things like job market choices that ought not to be held against you in the future, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re about to say something assholeish.

5.  Number 2 applies to itself, and to this post in general: my authority is unbounded, even by paradoxes of self-reference.  I can square circles; I can define the set of all sets that are not members of themselves.  And all is subject to equally non-binding retroactive revision without notice.  On this blog, I am the Leviathan, Louis XIV, Stalin, Kierkegaard’s version of God, and the English Parliament, all rolled into one.  This is a government of man.  No law applies to me, including without limitation the laws of gravity and excluded middle.  The enumeration in the Comments Policy, of certain powers, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the tryant.  Do not taunt happy fun blogger.

6.  But don’t be scared by the menacing remarks of 1-5.  I love you!  (Unless I hate you!)  Comment!  Lurkers will be shot on sight!  (Or site.  Ba-da-bum.)


9 Responses to “Probably time to have a comments policy, eh?”

  1. Mike Says:

    Comments policies are for bureaucrats, not dictators.

    A dictator need not state a policy. He just does whatever he wants, and that’s that.

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    I’m a benevolent dictator; I don’t want the knock on the door in the night to come as a nasty shock.

  3. Paul Gowder Says:

    Also, as you can see from the revisions, I like to think of my comments policy as a creative act. Sort of a dadaist thing.

  4. Stephen R. Diamond Says:

    The article about narcissistic grandiosity Leiter referenced comes to mind. Do you realize that your blog is read scarcely more the one three million from the top? You’re a long way from attracting trolls, but fantasy is nice, eh? Except, you’ve put the world on notice about your appetites, in case anyone ever gave you discretion over any important matter.

  5. eric Says:

    In a better world, “don’t be an asshole” would be the only rule necessary. Sometimes I think we live in the mirror-world to that one.

  6. eric Says:

    @Stephen R. Diamond: “You’re a long way from attracting trolls, but fantasy is nice, eh? ”

    Surely that comment deserves a special award in the an(n)als of trolldom. Perhaps “Best (unintended?) irony by a troll”?

  7. Paul Gowder Says:

    Eric, I was just thinking that myself.

    Stephen, and you’re not even the first troll I’ve attracted! Wow, my deepest fantasy has become reality, huh? (Also, you have no idea how many people are reading this thing. The statistics are not public.)

    I should also have a #7: “if you’re too illiterate to be able to tell the difference between tongue-in-cheek hyperbole for comic intent and narcissistic grandiosity, bugger off.”

  8. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    I should also have a #7: “if you’re too illiterate to be able to tell the difference between tongue-in-cheek hyperbole for comic intent and narcissistic grandiosity, bugger off.”

    As a very wise man once said, “It’s a fine line between clever and stupid.”

  9. Paul Gowder Says:

    Indeed, Comrade! Indeed! (But you’d think an actual Saturday Night Live reference would clue people in, huh?)

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