Use your commonsense.
All the other rules and some explanations (the fine print)
Because the available software isn’t perfect it will sometimes produce false negatives and positives. So we will then moderate comments manually, both by inspecting any comments the software has placed ‘in moderation’ and deciding whether to delete, modify or publish. I expect we’ll have some hiccups with this software – most blogs do. So if something happens that you don’t like, do your nervous system and us a favour and assume that it’s a glitch, a hiccup, a snafu which will be resolved fairly quickly with good will on all sides.
Once comments are published, moderators will also browse them and delete or modify any that have survived our software but which they consider have nevertheless breached our comments policy. We hope to have the blog moderated by volunteers from our community as it grows. We will be recruiting volunteers from contributors to our blog, most particularly from commenters who are making the most worthwhile contribution to our discussions.
Especially at the outset, we realise that it may not always be possible to rely on volunteers and will accordingly supplement this with resources from our trusty secretariat whenever necessary. Moderators will be doing their best to be independent, objective, fair and as positive as possible. But having had some experience with such things, we will enter into correspondence about moderation decisions sparingly, and – with the exception of general comments on this post – privately by e-mail exchange.
A one paragraph explanation of rule one
You are free to make your points clearly and, if you disagree with someone, to say so, if you wish, forcefully. If you cross a line (which admittedly cannot be drawn with absolute precision) and become abusive, defamatory or vexatiously repetitive, or if you breach someone’s privacy, you will be in breach of the policy.
‘Off-topic’ comments can sometimes be useful. So they are not banned. But please use them sparingly. We reserve the right to remove them if we think that, on balance, they are more likely to detract from the quality of the thread – by derailing the discussion – than they are to improve it. In particular, whomever is the author of the original post also has the right to remove comments that are not on topic. If you want to propose that another topic be discussed, an alternative is to email us – see below – and propose it. Please be patient, especially early on in the process of establishing this blog.
If you wish to comment on our application of the comments policy, you are welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to comment on the policy itself please feel free to do so in the comments thread below. We’ll review the comments policy in light of comments within six weeks of commencing the task force.
If you wish to comment pseudonymously – using an alias to prevent people from knowing who you are in your day job or in some other ‘life’ – you are welcome to do so. Pseudonymous commenting is often the best way to tap into the knowledge and expertise of people who have good reasons for remaining pseudonymous. On the other hand trolls – those who deliberately provoke and disrupt online discussion – are often pseudonymous and as a result, pseudonymous commenters should realise that moderators may give them somewhat less leeway in allowing intemperate comments.
Those who are detected ‘sock-puppetting’ in a vexatious way – commenting under different assumed identities to gain some tactical advantage in a forceful debate – will be banned.