by James A. Bacon

The comments section of Bacon’s Rebellion is a patch of the Wild West on the Internet. Laws and rules are frequently ignored. There are too many ad hominem attacks, too much skirting around profanity restrictions, too many excursions into rhetorical no-man’s land, and too many flaming wars. There’s gold in them thar hills — worthy comments that add value — but you have to sift through a lot of mud to find it.

I have given serious thought to shutting down the comments , but they serve an important function. They allow readers to supplement or contradict authors’  arguments with logic and evidence not contained in the posts. I especially value the stories readers tell based on their personal experiences. In the end I decided that I don’t want Bacon’s Rebellion to be a conservative echo chamber, and a vigorous comments section would prevent that.

With my new job, I no longer have the time to police the comments. But there’s a new sheriff in town. Welcome Carol Bova, whom regular readers will know as a long-time contributor. Her mission is to improve the tenor of the conversation and make the comments section a place more readers will want to visit — and even participate in.

The rules are simple:

  • No profanity… No clever efforts to evade the restriction by substituting characters or using synonyms.
  • No ad hominem attacks, no insulting other commenters.
  • No wandering way off topic. Stick to the topics raised in the post or logical offshoots of those topics.
  • No snark. Well, exceptionally witty snark might be given special dispensation, but routine, run-of-the-mill snark will be deleted.

Commenters are welcome to disagree vigorously — that’s what makes the comments interesting to read. But the dialogue must be civil, and it must introduce new logic or new evidence to the discussion.

I have asked Carol to patrol the comments more aggressively than I did. I expect there will be a lot of caterwauling when comments are deleted. Be assured that all points of points of view are welcome. They just must conform to the rules of civility and relevance.

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17 responses to “New Sheriff in Town”

  1. William O'Keefe Avatar
    William O’Keefe

    This is all reasonable as far as I am concerned. Keep Bacon’s Rebellion going even if a few commenters can’t stay on the topic.

    1. VaNavVet Avatar

      Must provide “new evidence” so what does that mean for good old opinions?

      1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
        James C. Sherlock

        “Good old opinions” can be logged with emojis provided for that purpose. New evidence provides new evidence.

        Authors get criticized here for both
        – excessive length of what are by definition opinions based on analysis of facts, and
        – the fact that they do not provide every bit of evidence that critics would like to read even if authors rejected such evidence as un-compelling compared to what they cite. Critics call that cherry-picking.

        It is impossible to be brief and all encompassing.

        If a critics have evidence that they find compelling, they are welcome to cite it and say why they find it more compelling than the author’s.

        The best do. Most don’t.

        Jim is trying to restore professionalism and civility to his project. It had turned on many occasions into a sewer.

        God speed and many thanks to Carol..

  2. Deckplates Avatar

    Articles which are timely, researched and of relevance to us, rate their worth in discussing the points. I believe that our constructive comments, providing different perspectives to those points, will help us to share ideas to fix problems and improve stuff. More importantly, points of view well thought through, especially in a cause & effect scenario, almost always add value. And who cares where the good ideas come from, as we always can learn from everyone.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      No one disparages constructive comments. Not Jim nor any of the authors.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        but apparently if the author does not consider a comment “constructive” ?

  3. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    Dang! With a headline like that, I thought maybe Chapman got taken down… alas…

  4. Troublemaker Avatar

    No comment!

  5. vicnicholls Avatar

    Thank you Carol.

  6. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    Maybe it’s those darn ads !

  7. Carter Melton Avatar
    Carter Melton

    Good call, Jim…..thank you.

  8. Like the legislative rules about “germane” amendments and such, there’s still a lot of leeway left here. I for one hope the emphasis is on enforcing civility and fact-based discussion. Carol, given the provocation you have steadily and gracefully outmaneuvered over the years around Mathews, you should have no trouble making Jim’s wider audience toe the line.

  9. To address comments tonight on another post which I will delete as off topic:
    I will use my best judgement and not explain each deletion.

    Added note: The rules cover all of them.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Cancel culture?

      Power corrupts…

  10. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I appreciate this approach and I thank Carol for taking on this somewhat thankless and time-consuming task.

  11. Thomas Dixon Avatar
    Thomas Dixon

    The best way to cast light on the progressiveness of the commenter is to say you are going to moderate the civility of the speech.

  12. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    “synonyms for snarky: On this page you’ll find 22 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to snarky, such as: cynical, snide, irascible, irreverent, sarcastic, and spiteful.”

    “What is another word for satirical? Some common synonyms of satiric are ironic, sarcastic, and sardonic. While all these words mean “marked by bitterness and a power or will to cut or sting,” satiric implies that the intent of the ridiculing is censure and reprobation.”

    Mighty fine line… if the author were Swift, he’d be on the Reader’s Digest Best list. Kurtzman, and BR mothers reach for a cigarette lighter and gasoline.

    Rule 4. What is this? And what does it mean? Is this the BR version of the Electoral Count Act? For two-plus years I have been labeled (rightfully) the snarkiest commenter, and for all that time, not one commented deleted. Clearly a peaceful transition of snide. Now suddenly along comes the John Eastman of censorship and all is upended.

    As for civility, I’ve only encountered one regular commenter in this category. Yeah, people bite, but I assure you the Captain has bitten as severely as he’s been bit — the same with everyone here with the aforementioned exception.

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