Trolls and other objectionable Commenters: Guidelines


Please note: In Comments, if you post a link, the comment will get automatically "held" until we see the notification and accept/reject it.

PLEASE keep your comments short and to the point. If you don't, you may get edited. Again, if you add links in Comments, then you'll have to wait for approval, which sometimes takes days because we get so busy here. Now down to business:

Sometimes we at TPC get nasty, vicious comments on our posts, and you'll see that we delete most of them. We're allowed, it's our site, it's a "business" of sorts, and businesses have rules. Theaters and libraries make you be quiet, stores make you pay if you break things, and any place of business sets its own standards for behavior. We do that, too.

We often get asked why we're allowed to have our opinions, but "stifle free speech, the First Amendment" of others in Comments with edits or deletions.

First, about the First: Read the Constitution. That's about preventing the government from stomping on your rights, not about your fellow citizens (who host blogs) from insisting that you treat each others (and us) with respect. It's not about editors running political websites. It's about government.

And did you know there's a difference between our political commentary in posts, and your addressing each other in Comments? We may get snarky and call some extremist a loon in our posts, but you are NOT allowed to call another commenter names in Comments. One is an opinion piece, the other is addressing someone directly, as you would face to face in public.

Second: This is an opinion site. That's what we do. We snark, we opine, we snipe, we joke, we analyze, we are a little idiosyncratic, and we're allowed. Oh, and we're Progressive. If you disagree with us, fine. If you don't like our p.o.v. feel free to go elsewhere. In fact, start your own blog, and say whatever you'd like, that's your prerogative.

You are welcome to visit and schmooze as long as you engage in basic common courtesy.

Here are a few guidelines:

As of January 1, 2009, I decided to make every attempt to delete troll comments if they are:

  • Uncivil
  • Pointlessly rambling
  • Serve no other purpose other than to attempt to provoke a fight
  • Redundant (ie: posting the same comment in several threads)
  • Argumentative, simply spewing lies, without providing substance/facts
  • Excessive in length (that goes for sympathetic Comments, too)
  • Random, uncalled-for, irrelevant snottiness without regard to the content of that particular post

If I left anything out, please feel free to add to the list.

There are exceptions to all of these, of course. If a comment is longer than usual, but it's from a Commenter who adheres to protocol 99.9% of the time, we tend to be lenient. If a Comment is relatively innocuous, but simply annoying, that's no biggie either.

Freedom of speech is one thing. Spewing gratuitous hostilities in an otherwise congenial setting is another. That's superfluous and destructive.

Setting standards for an environment that nurtures friendly, respectful, and spirited conversation is paramount. Anything that crosses the line will hereby be deleted.

I'm adding one more: No spam. It gets deleted, so don't even go there.

So, what have we learned? Baiting and insults are no-nos. Not a difficult concept. My YouTube site has garnered the most vile comments I've ever seen, especially when I post videos of President Obama. The consensus is that YouTube is a stomping ground for the "barely literate, bio-hazardous scum" (a quote from a fellow YouTuber). I've had to stop allowing comments on some posts.

That segues me into a relevant article that a Twitter pal of mine, Plutoniumpage, linked me to. Here are random excerpts from an interview with Stephen Fry. Please go read the whole piece:

  • "Of all the stinking, sliding, scuttling, weird, entomological creatures that inhabit the floor of the internet those comments on blogs are the most unbearable, almost beyond imagining..."
  • "Their resentment, their desire to be heard at the most vituperative level, at the most unpleasant and malevolent, genuinely ill-willed malevolent, level is terrifying..."
  • "There is something faintly disgusting in someone who merely wants to have sycophantic voices cooing in his ear and licking his inner thigh... but on the other hand it is a bit much that somehow people almost feel they have a right to be heard in their insulting of me. If I don't want to hear people being unpleasant about me I should have the right to turn it off."
  • "...[S]ocial networking sites are making people more isolated as they turn to their computer screens rather than meeting people in real life."
  • "The idea that the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact. If people are more informed then they become more engaged and if they are more engaged then they can become more empathetic."

And-- to quote a very civil, very wise, very brilliant man-- that's the way it is. But here at TPC at least, we try to keep it pleasant.

UPDATE, borrowing from the the Washington Post guidelines:

Inappropriate content includes any content that:

  • infringes upon or violates the copyrights, trademarks or other intellectual property rights of any person
  • is libelous or defamatory
  • is obscene, pornographic, or sexually explicit
  • violates a person's right to privacy
  • violates any local, state, national, or international law
  • contains or advocates illegal or violent acts
  • degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or other classification
  • is predatory, hateful, or intended to intimidate or harass
  • contains advertising or solicitation of any kind
  • misrepresents your identity or affiliation
  • impersonates others

Rules of Conduct (from '')

      1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
      2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
      3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
      4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
      5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Photographs on The Political Carnival site (please read):

Photographs from other sources sometimes appear on TPC for humorous or illustrative purposes. As it is not our intention to use these images in any inappropriate manner or to infringe upon any rights held by others, anyone holding legal rights in the use of these images who wishes to have them taken down please contact us immediately requesting such removal, with which we will comply promptly.


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