My cat Harriet disapproves of incivility and crackpottery in the comments section. (Actually, she doesn't really care either way, but you find an illustration for a commenting policy page.)

My cat Harriet disapproves of incivility and crackpottery in the comments section. (Actually, she doesn’t really care either way, but you find an illustration for a commenting policy page.)

Update: Unfortunately, because certain commenters are refusing to abide by my rules, I have decided to close comments on older blog posts completely. You can still leave comments on most posts published within the last 30 days. I also reserve the right to close comments on any post at any time simply because moderating comments is time-consuming. Newspapers don’t publish every letter to the editor they receive; it’s not about agreeing or disagreeing with points, simply that not every opinion needs to be shared in every medium.

Most people who read this blog play nicely with each other and with me. However, occasionally someone will come along who needs a reminder, so here are a few simple rules.

  1. Please refrain from insulting, denigrating, or otherwise treating each other disrespectfully in the comments section. If someone says something you think is idiotic or asks a question you think is ignorant, please keep that opinion to yourself. If you feel the need to respond to someone based on their gender, sexual identity, race, religion (or lack thereof), age, nationality, weight, or any other attribute that’s not germane to their blog comment, please keep that response to yourself and pause for a minute to examine your humanity. I will ban you if you post such things.
  2. This is my blog, which means I own what I write here. I hope I get my stuff right, but we’re all subject to temporary brain failure from time to time. So, if you see an error, please let me know about it. However, please remember that you’re a guest on this blog, and be polite.
  3. On a similar note, the comments are not a space for you to expound on your own theories, promote your own ideas, or tout conspiracy theories. I reserve the right to edit or delete comments of that sort summarily. You can start your own blog and write whatever you want there (within limits, of course), but you don’t have the right to expect me to provide free advertising space for you. If you feel the need to compare yourself to Copernicus, Einstein, or Galileo, then you’re probably going to find yourself edited or deleted.
  4. Please keep comments as much as possible on the topic of the blog post to which they are applied. If you start arguing over the relative merits of one computer over another on a post about dark matter (for example), I’ll be forced to go into schoolteacher mode, and nobody wants that.
  5. If you blind link (that is, link without a clear explanation of what you’re linking to), I reserve the right to either delete your comment or edit it to remove the link. My readers deserve the right to know what they’re clicking on.
  6. I will do my best to catch and flag all spam, but sometimes a message will get through before I have a chance to police it. Please be wary of clicking any links in comments as a result.
  7. I am a fairly busy person who does a lot more than blog. I’ll do my best to respond to comments, but it’s inevitable I won’t respond to each one, so please forgive me if I don’t post a reply to every comment or question. This is especially true if the comment requires a long answer (e.g., a detailed explanation that might need another post to do justice). Again, I’ll do my best, but I can’t guarantee it.

For more thoughts on comments and civility on blogs, see John Scalzi’s hilarious “kitten setting” post.

3 Responses to “Commenting policy”

  1. 1 Stephen Hurrell July 15, 2013 at 09:40

    Hi Matthew,

    While reading through your commenting policy a few questions occurred to me and I would be grateful if you could respond just to satisfy my curiosity. You mention that “if you feel the need to compare yourself to Copernicus, Einstein, or Galileo, then you’re probably going to find yourself edited or deleted”. But I note that you call your own blog Galileo’s Pendulum and you include a picture of Copernicus as part of your own Facebook page.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way but I’m intrigued how you feel you relate to Galileo and Copernicus. Could you explain your thoughts on this please?

    All the best.


    • 2 Matthew R. Francis July 15, 2013 at 10:16

      I don’t compare myself to Galileo or Copernicus in any particular way. All scientists and science writers are trying to understand our Universe a little better, so in that sense I guess I’m in their camp. (Also, Galileo played lute and I play mandolin. He was a much better lutenist than I am a mandolinist, though.) However, I don’t claim I have a big original theory that will solve all the problems in physics, and I don’t place any of my small scientific contributions in the same category as those of Galileo, Copernicus, Einstein, or whoever. I think I’ve written one blog post about my original published research, and while I obviously think it’s interesting work (or else why do it?), I don’t claim it’s going to change the way we think about the world in any profound way.

      Both Galileo and Copernicus were wrong in large, important ways — yet their work was essential to the science that came later. Naming the blog for Galileo and using Copernicus’ image are ways of stressing both the continuity and evolution of the scientific process over centuries.

  1. 1 Housekeeping: New pages, comments policy and more « Red Wine & Apple Sauce Trackback on June 5, 2014 at 02:14
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