When you do me the honor of contributing a comment to this blog, I get a message asking me to “approve” it, which I always do.
Or almost always. (I’ve had to recognize and reject two or three of the spam “comments” that mostly get filtered out before I have to see them.)
There aren’t many restrictions: I write whatever I like; to make comments, you don’t have to be registered and logged in, and you too may write whatever you like – almost.
However, I’ve now received a comment that is not spam and that I have to reject, though it comes from a friend whom I certainly “approve.” It makes me realize that there may have to be a few rules (as are laid down by the moderators of discussion “listserves” that I’ve belonged to).
One rule, though perhaps a flexible one, could be: Please don’t paste in lengthy texts from elsewhere. This comment was 561 words, of which 532 were copied from some other email source. You can give links to articles found elsewhere on the Web. Just be careful not to give too many links, because one of the WordPress settings is: “Hold a comment in the queue if it contains 3 or more links. (A common characteristic of comment spam is a large number of hyperlinks.)”
A second rule might be: No chain letters. This comment may not be the worst sort of chain letter, since it doesn’t ask for money to be sent to anyone, but the quoted text ends: “This e-mail is intended to reach 400 million people. Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.”
Thirdly: No racist polemic. By that I mean language that attacks the whole of, or a majority of, the members of an ethnic or religious subset of humanity, using clearly derogatory words and aimed at provoking hatred and hostile action.
There are harmless jokes and generalizations about a race, tribe, denomination, country, district, gender, or age-cohort that can’t be forbidden. But if you say that a set of people numbering in the millions is stupid, ignorant, superstitious, filthy, and criminal, that is racist polemic.