Ground Rules

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.

6 thoughts on “Ground Rules”

  1. I would rather have to abide by space rules than ground rules, but I understand the necessity and will promptly forget them as I guarantee I will never have to check them to ensure that my potential responses are allowed.

    “On dit quelquefois, le sens commun est fort rare.” -Voltaire

  2. So, Guy, are you saying that if I happen to find another potentially distasteful hand gesture in a nebula, I am still free to post a (I hope) humorous comment and link to it? I just want to be sure that I’m not going to be offending anyone’s sensibilities, because you know how lots of people, especially from that country over there in your hemisphere, are really uptight about that kind of thing. *Those* people get bent out of shape way too easily! You know who I’m talking about . . .
    By the way, which hemisphere are you in exactly?

    1. I must be weary-witted this evening (we took a long ride today), I’m afraid I DON’T understand who or what you’re talking about, but it doesn’t sound like anything that ought to be censored. Tell us about that finger or whatever it is that you’ve detected in a nebula.

      I’m still in my native north hemisphere.

  3. I am glad that you review your online comment section for posts that are overly lengthy or are hateful.

    Anonymity on website comment sections has fostered a steep decline in civil discourse.

    I welcome good Moderator oversight of online comment sections.

    On a separate note to give you feedback as to the content of your blog: I appreciate your work.

    It is your astronomy focused posts that primarily interest me but I encourage you to write about any topic compels you to put a pen to paper.

    Longtime Astronomical Calendar purchaser,
    Glenn T.

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