Some time ago (August 2010) Rosie proposed the following:
Some of the commenters have complained that we do not adhere to our stated comments policy. The policy and the complaints can be read here.
I would suggest that we enlarge on this policy, and before laying down some ground rules, would ask the contributors here, both bloggers and commenters, to read this draft position paper and suggest some amendments and improvements.
The data is mostly drawn from this site, though I have been influenced by other tendencies I have observed in the blogosphere.
Broadly, I would keep to a liberal comments policy, but would note that there are objectionable commenters that have to be dealt with by deletion, editing, abuse or mockery.
“Trolls” are a well-known type of commenter, and can be left out of this paper. But there are other kinds of objectionable commenters, who commit offences against the intellect, manners or morals. For methodological convenience, I shall divide them into the following categories:- “Cunts”, “Arses” and “Shits”.
Cunts are so defined for their intellectual dishonesty. They argue in bad faith, ignore any counter arguments, pile up straw men by the barnload, make stuff up, put words in your mouth that you not only have not said but would never dream of saying, make wild accusations eg if you write about the same topic as another blog, you therefore agree with that blog in every comma, full stop and hyperlink, and if you don’t write on a particular topic that for them is big news, you are creating a deliberate diversion and your non-coverage is a sinister ploy . (For an example of this kind of Cuntishness see here from comment 10 on.) If you quote from writer X, you therefore agree with writer X’s every utterance. If you quote from a reputable source, they will google mine that source until they find something discreditable it published back in 1973. They fill the thread with irrelevant matter, hoping to use tanks of verbiage to crush what they failed to shoot down with counter argument. They adopt a patronising and/or jeering tone. They will never answer a direct question, either weaselling out of it or ignoring it or saying that the reason you asked this question was another diversion. They are Poundstretcher Alastair Campbells, intellectual loudmouths who are absolutely incapable of admitting that an opponent may have made a telling point, or has any motive other than the lowest form of partisanship.
The chief Cunt on this site (and many others) is johng.
With Arses it’s not a question of their political opinions, which may be perfectly acceptable, but of manner of expression. Arses shout and swear and scream diatribes against all those who have annoyed them in some way, whether it’s the Pope, the Labour Party, the bloggers on this site and other sites, or fellow commenters, even inoffensive ones. They post pointless abuse, insults and violent fantasies in comment after comment so that reading through the thread is like picking your way between the pools of vomit along Lothian Road/Sauchiehall Street [insert your local street famed for drunken debauchery] on a Sunday morning. Arses are better people than Cunts or Shits (see below) but they are a nuisance and put off other commenters, just as any guy ranting impotent violent threats while holding a can of Carlsberg is probably a better person than George Galloway, but you would still rather not share space with him.
The chief Arse on this site (and many others) is Will.
With Shits it’s morals rather than manners or standard of debate. In the society outside the blogosphere, Shits two-time their partners, betray their friends, play politics in their jobs instead of getting on with the work, neglect their children and aged parents and are rude to people who are forced by their position to be polite (waiters, airline stewardesses and the like). There’s only a limited capacity for Shittiness on blogs, which are built out of words rather than actions and it is primarily implemented by “outing” someone who wants to stay anonymous or writing comments in their name expressing racist, sexist or otherwise disgraceful views. Chasing commenters around blogs to shout abuse at them on different sites or insulting tentative or daffy but harmless commenters crosses over from Arsiness to Shittiness.
Our last Shit was a BNP creep called Curious Freedom, who “outed” another commenter, one Willywipples or some such stupid name. The most famous blog Shit is Orlando Figes who used sock-puppetry to savage his rivals’ history books and praise his own and then set lawyers on the rivals when they rumbled him. Threats of litigation, though they can certainly be defended in some cases, are usually a sign of Shittiness. Andy Newman has started to dabble his feet in this kind of turdery in the Galloway/Viva Palestina case and now is threatening more litigation against another blogger who “made clearly libellous and derogatory remarks of an explicit sexual nature about [Newman], and two respected academics and bloggers“, so though I wouldn’t call him a Cunt or an Arse as a rule, he’s in danger of turning into a Shit.
I would therefore suggest the following blogging policy:-
Cunts:- given that they reveal their own Cuntishness with every lousy argument and lie they produce and in that way damage their own cause and reputations they should be allowed to comment but should be taken to task and ridiculed
Arses:- should have their comments edited or deleted. The unarsey comments they make should be allowed to remain.
Shits:- should be banned immediately.
There are also reasonable folk, the ones who disagree with the blog post and other commenters but who do so honestly, make a case for their disagreement, and can write with wit, cleverness, information or common humanity. They should be welcomed and engaged with.
(NB: since 2010 some names -JohnG for instance – have largely disappeared from our radar while new ones have arrived. As for Will…he seems to have turned to Jelly. Readers’ suggestions for a consistent comments policy for this site are welcome).