On the road again...time for a comment policy

At the time this post is scheduled to appear, I should be somewhere over the Midwest on my way to California to attend a surgical meeting for a few days. Don't worry, though, Orac-philes, I haven't left you in the lurch, without that Respectful Insolence that I like to dish out and that you (well, most of you anyway) like to read. There are posts already written and scheduled to appear tomorrow while I'm learning about the latest in surgical oncology. Also, meetings usually provide pretty good blog fodder, which means I'll probably come up with something for Friday too. After that, I'll play it by ear. What this trip will also mean is that my monitoring of comments and e-mail will not be as frequent as it usually is. Don't worry; I'll see them all eventually and respond where appropriate.

It seems to me that, in order to complement the e-mail policy that I posted a few days ago, this would be as good a time as any to put in writing a comment policy, particularly given the comments in yesterday's post about herbal medicine in Africa and AIDS. I visited this issue in the old blog once before. Basically, I mostly concur with Ahistoricality's comment policy, which, boiled to its essence, is "it's my blog."

The bottom line is that this is not a democracy. I like to think of it as a benevolent dictatorship. Comments that, in my opinion, are off-topic, self-aggrandizing, or trollish may be deleted if I decide that I don't like them. Commenters who consistently engage in such comments may be banned entirely at my discretion. In addition, as Ahistoricality said:

I reserve the right to delete comments for other reasons, at any time, and to do so without explanation. I may delete comments by people who I don't like; I may delete comments with language I don't like; I may delete comments with arguments I find offensive, troubling, or simply too wrong to bother with; I may delete comments that are poorly written; I may delete comments that are unkind or unnecessarily vulgar or otherwise offensive; I may delete comments which attack myself, my friends, relations, colleagues, heroes or admirers without extremely good grounds.


Because it's my blog, of course. Anyone who doesn't like it is free to start their own blog and trash me to their heart's content. I may even link to such posts if the mood strikes me or someone says something particularly pithy about me. One additional point: I've decided that I will no longer put up with is someone playing Filibuster and monopolizing a discussion with large numbers of repetitive comments that do not advance the discussion.

Of course, in practice, as long-time readers know, I'm generally incredibly tolerant of most commenters, even pretty obnoxious ones like Fore Sam and JB Handley, perhaps so much so that it sometimes ruins things for other commenters. I tend to pride myself on stimulating and nurturing a free-wheeling discussion, so much so that in 16 months of blogging I have only banned one person that I can remember. (Indeed, I've been asked why I've put up with certain commenters for so long, and, quite frankly, I sometimes wonder why I put up with them myself.) Of course, back on Blogspot, banning someone involved manually deleting comments, but here on ScienceBlogs, I can use filters.

In actuality, none of this is any major change from the usually lax way that I've always run this blog; I just felt that now is an opportune time to put a policy in writing. Finally, just because I reserve the right to delete anything or ban anyone for any reason doesn't mean that I'll actually delete posts or ban commenters, except in uncommon cases.

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Very nice and well-reasoned, as usual. PharmGirl, MD, reminds me that when she's attending on medicine or oncology, the students, interns, residents, and fellows are told similarly that she runs a benevolent dictatorship, not a democracy.

When you're an attending physician yourself, you can run the team the way you want.

When you don't want to discuss things here by Orac's rules (or the rules of 99.99% of us), you are welcome to start your own blog.

Safe travels!