It pains me that I have to institute a comment policy. I genuinely don’t like censoring people, and it seems strange that a book discussion site would inspire the desire to argue in a nasty, voluminous manner, but there you go.
Here’s the summary for those who resent reading more than 500 words in a sitting: You can call me names in a passionate discussion, you can’t call anyone else names in a passionate discussion, don’t have political arguments, engage in debate in good faith, don’t be That Author and don’t mock people you suspect may be living in a reality different than your own.
Got it? If not, here it is in detail:
1) I don’t mind if people call me names from time to time. It happens in passionate discussions. People get worked up and say mean things that are not the whole of their argument. (An example of a person getting worked up: “Bitch, please! Let me explain why only a fool could think Jim Goad is right!” or “Are you a fucking idiot? This is the best book ever and here’s why!”) But if the sum total of a comment is nothing but insults, ad hominem attacks or pointless vulgarity, I’ll just ban you outright because I really don’t want to mod my comments, give warnings, etc. (An example of pointless abuse: “You dumb bitch, stop writing because you’re dumb and a bitch.”)
2) Though I don’t mind if people call me names in passionate argument, don’t do it to each other. Do not insult another commenter here. If you need to disagree with another commenter, name-calling, excessive profanity used to demean or just being a complete asshole will get you banned. I write the content and can deal with any fall out my opinions create but other readers don’t come here to deal with abuse, so don’t do it, okay?
3) Though some of these books I discuss are political in nature, this is not a political site. It is a book review site. There is a fine line between arguing about the book and arguing about politics. This is not a hard and fast rule but if you could easily have the argument on, say, Free Republic or Democratic Underground, then this is not the site for the argument. Admittedly, this may not be enforced as hard as the others but please do your best to stick to the content of a book and not your greater belief in politics.
4) Arguments need to go somewhere and not just be two people reciting the same info back and forth. If a back and forth does not evolve, I’ll likely ask everyone to back off. Fail to back off and I’ll just ban you. This is not a place to convert people to your way of thinking via comment threads that look like a LiveJournal fight (and it never works anyway – arguments like that never convince anyone of your point of view). If you are involved in a comment thread that can be summed up as follows, then stop after the second round:
But interesting debate happens here. I will never tire of interesting debate. Interesting debate is not typing the same thing over and over again until the other party quits or wears you out instead.
5) I really, really dislike banning authors. It violates my sense of fair play to ban anyone whose work I have criticized. However, if an author engages in any of the above activities, and won’t back off when asked, I have no choice. This has only happened once and I hope it never happens again. And it should go without saying that authors who attack those who review their books never, ever leave the situation looking good. If you hate my review and want to tell me so, feel free but if you cross over and engage in the bad behaviors listed above, I will ban you.
6) Some of my book discussions attract interesting people. The paranoid, the neurodiverse, the strange. You may run into one of these commenters. You will know them if they discuss being abducted by aliens, having their mind read by the NSA, knowing where Jim Morrison is really living these days or watching as babies were murdered in basements by the current Republican National Committee chairman. Do not mock them or in any way make fun of them. If they are right and those things happened, it will make you look like an asshole. If you are right and those things didn’t happen, it will make you look like an asshole. So don’t do it and I won’t ban you.
7) I don’t accept advertising in any form, so even if your comment is not spam outright, if you are plugging a book, better to contact me directly because I don’t want my site to serve up third party advertising in any manner.
Edited on 9/7/11 to add:
There are times when it is appropriate to use proxy servers to leave comments. For instance, if you think the government has implanted a chip in your brain, I can understand that you may be a bit paranoid. Also, if you are leaving comments on some of my more sensitive entries, like those dealing with Peter Sotos, I can see how a proxy server may help. It’s hard in the modern world to discuss openly certain elements of the human sexual psyche because people are all too willing to demonize thoughts as behaviors.
However, if you are using a proxy server because you are argumentative and want to evade appropriate punishment for engaging in acts 1-6 as listed above, or because you are in possession of social beliefs that while not illegal could earn you the derision of others (sexism, racism, irrational hatred of other religions, etc), or because you have convinced yourself that your beliefs are so outre your identity must be hidden like you are a modern day member of the French Resistance, I may ban you. I will probably disenvowel you. I hate doing both because both detract from time I could spend reading or writing about reading. I take no joy dealing with cowards and fools.