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Monday, July 24, 2006

Reviewing the rules

It's been a while since we've had to go over the rules of civil discourse here at treppenwitz.   Considering that there are a lot of newcomers who seem anxious to participate in the discussions here but who are apparently unaware of the local culture, it looks as though a short review might be in order.

First of all, this site does not adhere to a strict party line.  We do not require that comments or commenters be right wing, left wing, religious or secular.  I happen to be just right of center on most defense-related topics... but I'll be the first to admit that I've learned far more from people who don't share my opinions than from those who do.

However, I do not allow the gratuitous use of insults, profanity or intentionally demeaning references to individuals or groups.  If you disagree with something I have said or with a comment left by someone else, you MUST figure out a way to attack the idea... not the person expressing it.  If you mount a personal attack on an individual (or on the group to which you think the individual belongs) instead of dealing directly with the issue at hand... your comment will almost certainly be deleted.

Second, you must leave a valid email address with your comment.  If I think you have crossed a line with something you have said (and being the site owner, what I think counts for a lot), I will often email you and offer you the opportunity to modify your comment so that it can be resubmitted and become part of the discussion.  I have done this with countless comments from both the right and left, and more often than not the commenter is more than willing to restate his/her position in such a way that is not unnecessarily offensive or confrontational.  But if you use a bogus email address I can't give you that opportunity... your comment will just go away without a trace.

Next, if your position is such that it cannot co-exist with other positions (e.g. calling for the destruction of Israel or for the killing of all Palestinians/Arabs), I will assume you are not interested in exchanging ideas and will delete your comment.  An example of when this rule might be set aside would be the theoretical discussion of what might happen if the current conflict became global or if non-conventional weapons were introduced into the conflict.  In that case, the discussion would center on what extenuating circumstances might have to exist for such a thing to come to pass... not your desire that it should do so.

Another no-no:  Leaving a comment that has no direct connection to the post on which it is left.  This is a sure way to have your comment deleted.  The same can be said for leaving unrelated links to sites that support your agenda but do not relate to the current discussion.  Don't do it.

There is no moderator here other than the site owner (me).  A recent commenter from Escondido California claimed that she was "the moderator of this forum" and took exception to my deleting a few comments, saying "not one utterance of a vile or curse word was made by the one posting whose posts you did not like. They have only uttered what you refuse to or prefer not to hear. There are ways to get around that." 

I beg to differ.  Here are a couple of samples of the comments that have gotten the ax in the past 48 hours:

Your[sic] an idiot [name of another commenter]. You are also probably an Nazi who would gas little children whose race you believed was sub-human. Your posts indicate you hate Arab people with such a vengeance you can justify any action that eliminates them from the face of the earth. You are one sad little bastard.

Just to review... what's wrong here?   Correct, the writer attacked another commenter rather than discussing the topic.  Oh, and the gratuitous and insulting use of profanity was the kiss of death.

Another one... this time directed at me:

Censorship?? Is the truth hurting here? What next, book burning coz we know where that will end. You should know better but I guess your current situation shows you have learnt nothing from history. And I still think [name of another commenter] is a sick crazy dickhead.

Again, it completely ignored the topic under discussion, brought in gratuitous accusations of nazi-like behavior... and then ended with yet another defiant bit of profanity.  Hasta La Bye-Bye!

To be fair, there are a few regular commenters here who like to test my patience and frequently cross the lines of propriety.  However I haven't banned them because they will always allow themselves to be reeled back in.  I don't like that they take advantage of this leeway... but I view it in the same light as I would a smarmy courtroom attorney who blurts out a statement he/she knows will not stand up to opposing counsel's objection, but which the jury will now be unable to forget no matter how sternly the judge instructs them to disregard it.  In other words when it gets to be too much I send them an email or an IM (the blogger equivalent of being called into chambers) and read them the riot act.

One last thing.  I try to hold myself to the same standards of conduct to which I hold commenters.  However, being the site-owner does have certain privileges.   If you look through the archives you will see that I almost always apologize publicly for crossing the line.    True, I may not be the boss of you (as my kids like to say), but I reserve the right to break the rules occasionally... and to exclude you from the discussions if you try to follow suit.  I know... not fair, but there it is.

If you want to share your ideas - even unpopular/controversial ideas - you are welcome to do so.  But if your intention is to interrupt the flow of ideas and be deliberately disruptive to the community here at treppenwitz... You will be barred from participating.  We do not feed trolls in this forum.

This isn't some town square where you can get up on a soap box and shout anything you want.  This is my living room.  I may not have invited you here, but I left the door open... you walked in... and that makes you my guest.  Please act the part or I will show you the door.


OK, (hopefully) 'nuff said. 


Posted by David Bogner on July 24, 2006 | Permalink


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» Blog Civility #245 from I Speak of Dreams
At Treppenwitz, David Bogner reviews the rules of blog civility. One of his commenters suggests posting a link to the rules in the sidebar, as I have done. I recommend this for every blogger: figure out what your rules are, [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 24, 2006 7:55:39 PM


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thanks Mr B. as my rebbeim always say, "chazarah, chazarah, chazarah..."

ppl actually said those comments?


Posted by: Tonny | Jul 24, 2006 4:01:25 PM

David, it may not be a bad idea to have a link to this post on the right side of this page. You can entitle it something like decorum policy....now that I have read this post I understand it's all theat cursing that has deleted all my great posts. I really have to cut that stuff out!

Posted by: Jewish Blogmeister | Jul 24, 2006 4:09:22 PM

I agree totally and have the same standards on my
The way I see it it's "my house my rules."
If I threw a party, even one with an open door policy I wouldn't let one of my guests insult another or muck the place up with all manner of filth.

Debates are great, personal attacks are lame.

People may not realise how laborious is it to edit comments - the fact that you would email a commentor regarding possible changes rather than just hitting delete speaks volumes about your dedication and willingness to hear the "other side" of things.

Posted by: Shifra | Jul 24, 2006 5:42:24 PM

I hate to be the first to attack the owner of this blog and comment on a totally unrelated topic, but darn it - the photos on this blog are just plain OLD! Geeeeze!!! Please have your photographer and photo editor update that section ASAP. I know, it's hard to get good help these days - especially in these parts.

Posted by: Yeshara | Jul 24, 2006 7:09:03 PM

Yeah... what Yeshara said! I second that opinion - related or not, it's an EXCELLENT idea!
Please note that the request had NO cursing or name calling either!!! ;)

Posted by: val | Jul 24, 2006 8:41:35 PM

I WONDERED what that warm flush around my ears was all about.

Posted by: Scott | Jul 24, 2006 8:59:26 PM

To borrow some Seinfeld-speak: Good for you, David, for laying down/reiterating the rules -- you're "master of your own domain!"

Posted by: Pearl | Jul 24, 2006 9:08:47 PM

I just love those who whine about "censorship." Would they say the same things in your living room? Would you allow them to stay in your home if they did? Of course not, and neither would they.
And it IS your living room; I doubt that any commenters are paying for your bandwidth and expenses.
You'd think some people were raised by apes, from the lack of manners they display.

Posted by: Beth | Jul 24, 2006 10:01:36 PM

Good on ya, David. A refresher on what is expected and permitted in your corner of the 'sphere is never a bad thing.

Posted by: Lachlan | Jul 24, 2006 10:49:58 PM

I'm glad you laid out such a specific set of rules, so that there is no confusion over what gets deleted and the standards are applied fairly to everybody.

Posted by: Irina | Jul 24, 2006 11:15:49 PM

You sick Nazi Bastard. Who do think you are, ruling over this Blog like a stormtrooper, while you remain busy bayonetting Arab children as they walk to school, all so that you can take advantage of their poor defenseless mothers and have your way with them, @$$^#$^@ and%&*#(#$( and %^% %$$ and then turning them over and doing it to them again, only backwards.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Jul 24, 2006 11:44:34 PM


I blog about things at work on a blog associated with my employer. I've included the link in URL under my name, but here's the link in case people find it somewhat difficult:


On the home page of the blog, in the right-hand column under the heading "Important Posts" is a link to my comment policy.

I suggest you do something similar. If you ever find the need to restate the policy, all you need to do is post a link to the original post.

Also, I wouldn't mind at all if you decided to borrow any ideas from my own comment policy.


Posted by: Rick | Jul 25, 2006 1:04:58 AM

Dang, we like you, Bogner. This is not for publication. It is merely fact. My husband and I are new to your blog. Already, it is required reading for our homeschooled, future Israeli (G-d willing) sons. (Okay, they don't get to read everything, or look at certain interesting photos of terrorists post-dirtnap. But they get to read the stuff that inspires and educates.) Thank you for saying what we want to say better than we can say it. Chazak v'amatz. We look forward to sharing Israeli soil with you and your lovely family in about 18 months. Or sooner, if the world gets too wacky too fast.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Jul 25, 2006 4:22:41 AM

This is like a dare for me to get into trouble. LOL. Right on, though.

Posted by: Seattle | Jul 25, 2006 10:55:50 AM

Poor little strawman doesn't have any eyes.

Posted by: Ozzie | Jul 25, 2006 6:30:48 PM

Am I the only one who finds that straw man thingie unsettling, if not actively terrifying?

Posted by: JSinger | Jul 25, 2006 8:44:39 PM

My wife was involved rather heavily in a US blog, and that guy had the same attitude: it was his living-room. I like that attitude, as it promotes diversity in blog content and rules.

Cheers! This blog is rapidly moving "up" my list of favorite places to visit.

Posted by: Poison P'il | Jul 26, 2006 12:58:29 AM

Tonny... Anyone who has spent any time with an ADD case like me says the same thing. :-)

Jewish Blogmiester... I actually secretly hope that my readership will go back to the same manageable size so I won't need to remind people how to behave.

Shifra... It may not always seem so, but I maintain that I have much more to learn from people who don't think like me than those who do. that is why I take the time to let people restate their comments.

Yeshara... Yeah, yeah. I have a backlog of photos that need posting. When peace breaks out... I promise. :-)

Val... Kudos on the clean language. Here's a suggestion: When the kids come to visit... take a gazillion pictures of them so I can have a moment's peace. K? :-)

Scott... I can't slip anything by you, can I. :-) Now if only you would reply to my emails...

Pearl... Ouch (once again)

Beth... Well said. I am constantly amazed by the bad behavior that the perception of anonymity encourages. By the way, I have been making my way through your archives. You have a very enjoyable site!

Lachlan... Thanks. But I hate to be bossy over here. It is such a buzz kill in light of the usual good behavior I've enjoyed on treppenwitz.

Irina... Oh, don't worry. I'm sure I'll be inconsistent in lots of other ways. But I have to make the effort. :-)

Jordan... As you were nice enough to leave a valid email address I will give you an opportunity to rephrase you comment. :-)

Rick... You have obviously thought this out way more than I have. I'm regrettably not that proactive about such things. Maybe you'll inspire me. :-)

Rutimizrachi... Why thank you. I don't know what I did to deserve that, but I will take kind words whenever and wherever I can find them.

Seattle... You were the last person I was thinking about. Really!

Ozzie... Kinda weird, no?

JSinger... It has me a little spooked and I slapped the thing together.

Poison P'il... Thanks. I am always flattered and please when people stop by to see what has fallen out of my head.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 26, 2006 12:53:37 PM

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