Brief Blog Notice: Changes to the Comment Policy

We’ve updated the ever-evolving, often changing comments policy and added a link to John Scalzi’s excellent “How to be a good commenter” article. As an experiment, I cleared the moderation queue giving previously banned commenters a second chance.

Here is the current policy in its entirety:

Commenters (including blog authors) are asked to adhere to the philosophy laid out by Wayne C. Booth:

“Intellectual understanding is one of the best versions of the Golden Rule: Listen to others as you would have others listen to you. Precise demonstration of truth is important but not as important communal pursuit of it. Put in terms of Kant’s categorical imperative, When addressing someone else’s ideas, your obligation is to treat them as you believe all human being ought to treat on another’s ideas.”

~Wayne C. Booth (My Many Selves: The Quest for a Plausible Harmony)

We also ask that you read Joe Scalzi’s excellent article: How to Be a Good Commenter.

We strive to provide an open environment for the free discussion of ideas and ask that you respect the opinions expressed by the authors and by other commenters. Dissent is an essential part of the discussion; we ask only that you provide evidence to support your views and respond thoughtfully to comments challenging those assertions. We reserve the right to moderate any comment and have a low tolerance for spam, trolling, ad hominem attacks, and sock puppetry. We ask that you not dwell on typos, as it is an unnecessary distraction. Commenters are encouraged to strive for clarity and brevity. The authors of Southern Fried Science may remove any comment they deem objectionable, off-topic, or annoying.

Comments are community moderated through Like/Dislike buttons. Comments that receive 10 net likes will be highlighted so that new readers can find the best comments. Comments that receive 10 net dislikes will be placed behind a link wall so that spam, off topic, and incomprehensible comments won’t clutter the discussion. If you do dislike an otherwise legitimate comment because you disagree with its content, we encourage you to leave your own comment explaining why. Comments that contain 3 or more links are automatically held for moderation.

We employ a variety of spam filters to stem the tide of robotically generated comments. Sometimes those filters mark real comments as spam and hold them for moderation. If you comment doesn’t appear within a couple of days, send us an e-mail and we’ll take a look.

Avatars are randomly assigned and keyed to individual IP addresses. If you would like to use a custom avatar, we sync with the Gravatar network. You may visit their website to sign up for  globally recognized avatar.

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments are welcome.

If this is your first time commenting on the blog, please acknowledge that you’ve read this policy by declaring you favorite style of barbecue in your comment. First time commenters must have their comment approved by a moderator before it appears.

We are going to use a much heavier hand in comment moderation from this point forward. Comments should be constructive, relevant, and add something to the conversation. Think of the comment thread like the Letters to the Editor for our blog. Everyone has a chance to submit comments, but not all unsolicited comments will be published.


  1. Southern Fried Scientist · October 15, 2012

    FYI, we’ve ditched the avatars to make things more streamlined.

  2. Anne Jefferson · October 19, 2012

    I like the opening quote & the philosophy here, but I wonder about the potential for the 10 dislikes rule to be taken over by trolls as a way to get rid of substantive objections to their trolling.

    And what will you do if someone forgets to append their favorite style of barbecue. It’s eastern NC, by the way. I never liked bbq until I discovered that you could make it with pork and without all the gloppy red/brown stuff.

    • WhySharksMatter · October 22, 2012

      “I wonder about the potential for the 10 dislikes rule to be taken over by trolls as a way to get rid of substantive objections to their trolling.”

      An interesting point, Anne. To the best of my knowledge, this hasn’t happened yet, despite many troll-heavy conversations since we’ve instituted this policy.

  3. Stephanie Zvan · October 19, 2012

    Hmm. I think my favorite style of barbecue is whatever the locals do well.

    I’m still personally fond of the “consider me to be a capricious god” style of comment policy. I can see that this might not work as well in a pantheon, though.

Comments are closed.