Blogcritics was founded 18 months ago, and we have worked hard to keep our disciplinary hand as light as possible from the beginning. We’re almost all adults, the reasoning goes, and so we should all know how to act like adults. There are now over 450 authors at Blogcritics, and while the vast majority of those people have never caused a problem of any sort, the problems that have developed over the last year have only gotten worse.
This leads to a difficult decision, one over which we have agonized for a long time. Many people have offered suggestions about what they felt would solve the problems, and most of those conflicted with each other.
We do not believe the problems are caused by any one person, and we’re not going to kick out a half-dozen people to sidestep the current issue, because the problems will only crop up again eventually with another group of people. To use a metaphor probably borne from watching Deadwood late last night, the Wild West needs new rules.
We welcome suggestions about these rules, which can be modified if we’ve overlooked something. We want to make the site more pleasant to read and a more pleasant place at which to post. That’s the goal, always.
House Rules for Posts and Comments
1. No more posts about Blogcritics.org.
By this we mean that the “Et Cetera” column should be reserved for items that aren’t “Books,” “Music,” or “Video,” but not for anything related to the operation of Blogcritics.org itself. While we truly appreciate the spirit of recent efforts to raise funds for Blogcritics, even those kinds of posts simply jar the readers of the site who are not Blogcritics themselves. We are working on an alternate method of letting Blogcritics communicate with each other out of the public view, and any site-related information should be kept there.
2. “Your” post is not entirely yours.
Regardless of the technical limitations of MovableType as currently configured, when you create a post it is not entirely “yours.” That is, you contribute the content, and we will not modify it beyond correcting obvious spelling and grammatical errors. However, we may take various additional actions, including but not limited to: choosing alternate and/or additional categories, modifying and/or adding Amazon ASINs, re-formatting the Title and/or Excerpt, or anything else not related to the primary content of the post itself. You may not delete any post, though you are allowed to add additional notes to the post itself, so long as those are clearly marked with “Update:” or a similar designation. As an extreme example, let’s say you post something and find out later that you were hoaxed. We suggest modifying the title to include ‘(HOAX)’ and adding an update at the end of the post with whatever information led you to determine that the post was actually a hoax. While it is human nature to want to cover up our mistakes, you provide a more valuable service to readers in leaving the information there.
3. All posts will be open for comments
In addition, those comments are not at all under your control. Keep in mind that not everybody spends all day at this site, and it is unnerving to the casual reader to encounter inconsistencies. Not all comments will make you happy. Don’t worry — those comments are linked to the name of the person posting the comment, not to you. We will edit or delete comments based on the comment itself, unrelated to the content of the page on which it appears.
4. Any post may result in debate, even a cookbook review. Any post may receive no comments at all, too, even a post on a hotly contested political issue. Try not to worry about it. No, that’s not really a rule, just good advice.
5. Do not label people
This is very serious; labeling of people will not be tolerated in posts or comments. You may be convinced in your own mind that so-and-so is a xenophobe, a thief, a racist, or dangerous to society, but you may not say so. You may address statements or ideas, and are certainly welcome to debate issues all day and all night. Simply be sure that you are debating the ideas or policies or statements, and not the person. Since we can anticipate questions about this, here is an example: Blogcritic A states that all men are stupid, especially northerners. Blogcritic B may think to himself that Blogcritic A is a bigot, but he should only say, “That statement is bigoted.” If a person consistently makes bigoted statements, the pattern will become clear to everybody without any need to identify the person in any way.
6. No ad hominem statements
Yes, this is exactly the same as rule #5, but many people are confused about the definition of ad hominem, and this principle is important enough to merit two rules. No Blogcritic may attack another Blogcritic, period. Debate the idea, debate the statement, make accusations with documentary evidence, or simply express your disgust, but with the statement, not the person. It is not acceptable to say, “You’re just saying that because you’re XYZ.” People are more complex than any labels, and labels serve only to derail serious debate.
7. No posting personal information on any member who has requested it not be posted: most particularly, no posting the “real name” of a member who does not use that name online, or who has requested that their real name not be posted.
In this first draft, that is all: seven rules that could easily be written as five. One might even get the idea that nothing has really changed, but it has: for the first time we are asking that members constrain their speech to certain degree. We welcome comments, and reserve the right to add, subtract, multiply or divide these rules at any time.
Please take this opportunity to start again with a clean slate, to shake hands and move on, and to make Blogcritics.org the wonderful site it can be.Powered by Sidelines