OK, I really don’t know how many “New Blog Orders” there have been; I just thought “Mark IV” sounded good.
Anyway, here’s the new deal, for now: Comments won’t appear unless I approve them. (And yes, we’ve been here before, in a previous regime change. The video above of me explaining this very same approach was shot during a family gathering at my house in July 2007. See how unhappy I was with having to take this approach? That’s the way I look now, only without the grubby beginning of a beard. Sort of amazing, isn’t it, that as fed up as I was then, I’m still trying? I’m nothing if not persistent.)
I’m going to do that for a few days at least, and then I hope to go to something less stringent, not that there are a lot of options. I see, for instance, that WordPress provides the option of “Comment author must have a previously approved comment,” which sounds nice, but what good is it really? I prefer to judge a comment by its own merits, not by who posted it. Lee, for instance (and Lee really resents being picked on, and he’ll probably see this as being picked on, but let’s face it; his name is the one my readers most frequently bring up as an irritant), sometimes posts perfectly fine comments that add to the conversation. I’m not saying it happens every day, but it happens. So, going by my own preferred standards, I would approve that one good comment — and under the “Comment author must have a previously approved comment,” he would then have carte blanche to return to his habitual ways.
Ultimately, the place where I think I’ll end up is that I’ll open the gates back up, but I’ll make a point of checking comments several times a day, and just delete anything that doesn’t contribute to this being a place that encourages thoughtful people who want to engage in good-faith dialogue.
And I know those people are out there. Just this morning, I was meeting with a prominent local attorney — a public-spirited guy who is a great public speaker and has a lot to say — mentioned to me that there was NO WAY he was going to spend any of his life wrestling in the mud with a bunch of trolls on a blog. And the bad thing about that is, he is just the kind of person I wish would join in with our dialogues here — I want lots of people like him, from across the political spectrum (and those of you on the left or right who think there are no thoughtful people with something worthwhile to say on the opposite end of the spectrum; well, you’re part of the problem).
So in this latest effort to foster the kind of place that he and other like him would consider worthy of his time, I’m going with a standard that goes beyond the mere absence of incivility. I’m going to look for posts that actually contribute something. I’m going for positive attributes, rather than just the absence of negative ones. Because serious people (or for that matter, people who like to have a little fun, just not at other people’s expense) deserve a blog that answers that description.
At this point, some of you are furiously writing to me to say, “You just want comments that agree with you!” which is ridiculous. That’s a ploy to get me to back down on enforcing standards, and post something that calls me and people who agree with me names just to prove how “fair” I am. Well, you know what? I’m not falling for that. I’ve heard it too many thousands of times from people who just can’t be bothered to disagree in a civilized manner.
I know that I’ve always given precedence to people who disagree with me. And anyone who’s followed my career and is not seriously challenged in the reading comprehension department knows that about me. But from now on, you’re going to disagree in a way that it doesn’t run off well-behaved people. You’re going to disagree in a way that makes people think, “Maybe he’s got a point” instead of “What a jerk!” I realize this is going to be a challenge for some, but I hope the rest of you will appreciate it.
And if you don’t, or if you just can’t bring yourself to meet the new standard, you are completely free to go start your own blog. This one’s mine, and I’m not going to waste time with it unless I think it’s getting better, and providing a worthwhile forum.