Miss Martin’s Classroom Rules of Manners

Additional posting guidelines and rules for those who post on my columns. I welcome input, opinions and suggestions.

New Oct. 18, 2008: Those used to posting off-hand comments on other forums will discover that they may have become the victim of the fact that since I’ve instituted these news rules and guideline the comments section of my columns has begun to draw many more repeat readers to the columns than before. Most of the comments are well thought out and well written. They add to the original post with new perspective and challenging ideas. This has led me to be even stricter in removing posts that aren’t up to the standards being set by the majority of posters.

Miss Martin was my wonderful fourth grade teacher. In my entire student life no teacher ever had cause to call my parents, except one time. And that was Miss Martin.

My transgression was breaking her strict rules for classroom manners. One day the music teacher was giving us our do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti’s and I behaved rudely by walking between her and the class. I was sternly rebuked by Miss Martin and later in the day she called my mother. When I got home my mother, who really didn’t think it was the crime of the century, none-the-less gave me a talking to about good manners.

I can’t say this scarred me for life, although some may suggest I am now taking this out on those whose comments I delete.

Miss Martin’s rules for posting on Hal Brown’s columns

The following standards are in addition to those established for all of Capitol Hill Blue:

… we believe in civility on this web site and comments may be reviewed, moderated or removed if we feel they contain obscenities, racism, bigotry, anti-Semitic remarks or attack other posters.

The rules against obscenities, racism, bigotry and anti-Semitic remarks are usually clear-cut. The rules against attacking other posters is open to interpretation. This is an attempt to assure civility on my columns and unless others want to adopt them for their blogs or column, they only applies to mine.

Rather than censoring out parts of posts, I will delete entire comments which don’t meet my standards for civility towards other posters. Anyone can copy their posts and email them to themselves, which is an easy way to omit portions and post them again in an acceptable way.

As for writing about politicians and others in the news, I don’t expect posters to be more civil than I am.

I will err on the side being too strict in deleting posts that I think are in the slightest way disparaging of fellow posters.

To give an example from a recent post, even saying another poster is “posturing” will be reason enough to delete the entire post. Such language while seeming benign, and hardly what would be called in web jargon “flaming”, too frequently leads to escalation and then an entire thread can deteriorate into name calling.

A few posters write posts making good points, some obviously putting a lot of thought into what they put online, but add a word or phrase disparaging another poster, and thus may end up having their entire message deleted.

Anyone can rewrite and post deleted comments again adhering to my standards of civility to other posters.

I am not going to defend every deletion decision I make but I hope most members of this commenting community understand I am not about to suppress any opinions on issues as long as they meet the overall CHB guidelines which are on the bottom of this page.

All relevant comments, critical ones included, are welcome New: as long as they add something to or advance the discussion. With the exception of friendly remarks which enhance the sense of camaraderie and community they should be on topic or they also will be deleted.

Comments added to promote an unrelated or barely related cause will also be deleted.

I have already deleted a side remark about me. For one thing I couldn’t figure out what the poster meant.

Try to avoid sarcasm directed at others who post. Even if you mean a comment about another poster to be humorous, it may not come across that way to everyone who reads it. I know this is dictatorial, but I am the sole judge of when humor crosses the line to what may be hurtful sarcasm.

Please try to keep criticism clear and constructive.

Sockpuppets

Sockpuppet identies and sock-puppeting, as defined by Wikipedia, are not allowed. A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception within an Internet community. In its earliest usage, a sockpuppet was a false identity through which a member of an Internet community speaks while pretending not to, like a puppeteer manipulating a hand puppet.

In current usage, the perception of the term has been extended beyond second identities of people who already post in a forum to include other uses of misleading online identities. For example, a NY Times article claims that “sock-puppeting” is defined as “the act of creating a fake online identity to praise, defend or create the illusion of support for one’s self, allies or company.”

The key difference between a sockpuppet and a regular pseudonym (sometimes termed an “alt” which is short for alternate, as in alternate identity) is the pretense that the puppet is a third party who is not affiliated with the puppeteer.

Images

The posting of images is prohibited. I post images from the public domain, or which I own or have permission to post.

Use of non-approved html

Posters must post in black font. The must not change font size. Use of italics, bold, underline, and list codes is permitted. Quotes should be put in the blockquote tags.

Thread hijacking and trolling is not permitted.

“Thread hijacking in internet forum communication is the act of steering a discussion off-topic by discussing a subject entirely unrelated to the subject at hand. While this can be an intentional act of trolling, it is often accidental – caused by participants in the discussion responding to a throwaway remark, thus taking the thread off at a tangent to the original subject matter. The results often provoke a feeling of resentment from the author of the original post.”

“An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response[1] or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.” (Wikipedia)

Attempts to sidetrack thread discussion is often subtle, so I will judge each on a case by case basis taking into consideration prior posting history and give the poster one or two warnings. If they persist, subsequent posts will be deleted if they have any hint of trying to subvert the subject of the discussion.


Guidelines, not rules, to help make this one of the best political comment threads on the Internet


  • Early comments should address specific issues raised in the column.
  • Comments can and should add to the ideas and opinions expressed in the column.
  • As posters add their opinions I expect the thread to develop and in a sense evolve beyond the column itself.
  • Especially on controversial subjects if everyone adheres to these guidelines it’s likely that the comments section will take on a life of its own and be more like chapters in a book written by different authors.
  • If and when this happens remember the title of the book and stick to the overall subject.
  • Ideally those who read columns but don’t post will discover that the comments are as interesting, or more interesting than the column.

    Because our comments don’t run on for many pages like those on mainstream websites they are more likely to be read. Several thousand people read each column and my hunch is that your comments are read by more people than read any given comment on a website where 50,000 to 200,000 or more read a typical column.

    10-03-08 Update

    Any implication, even ambiguous words which suggest bigotry in regards to race, religion or sexual preference will not be tolerated.

    Any suggestion that a poster wants harm to come to anyone, a public figure or another poster (with common sense exceptions) will be deleted.

    While I always appreciate it when posters use their real names, if they do so with an advanced degree, if their field of expertise isn’t obvious, it should be included along with the degree.

    Posters should never use the name of someone else. Since in almost all cases others share one’s name, when you use your own name you should make certain you identify exactly who you are.

    The posting of images is prohibited. I post images from the public domain, or which I own or have permission to post.

    6 Responses to "Miss Martin’s Classroom Rules of Manners"

    1. neondog  September 29, 2008 at 12:56 am

      Hal: Since your example references my post I feel obligated to comment. You site my post and state: “generally even saying another poster is “posturing” will be reason enough to delete the entire post. Such language while seeming benign too frequently leads to escalation and then an entire thread can deteriorate into name calling.”

      Commenting on another’s position, or calling them out on their stance is what dialogue is all about and fair game in my opinion. My posted reply did not come close, by many a country mile, to meeting CHB’s interpretation/definition of “attacking another poster”. Your censorship and removal of my response was unjustified and I once again challenge you to post it “unedited” with a full explanation for why you censored it. Let the community members of CHB be the judge of these comments and your actions.

      CHB states: “Please remember, however, that we believe in civility on this web site and comments may be reviewed, moderated or removed if we feel they contain obscenities, racism, bigotry, anti-Semitic remarks or attack other posters.”
      So to infer a poster is “posturing” reaches the level of
      racism, bigotry, or anti-semitism and is considered an “attack”?

      Now I will rest my dull quill and defer to your barrel of ink.

    2. Hal Brown  September 29, 2008 at 3:18 am

      You referred to a fellow poster as posturing. It fits my interpretation of an attacks on other posters.

      The CHB rules don’t say “and an attack” they say “or an attack”.

      Criticize each others positions, ideas, and opinions without criticizing them in any way, shape or form.

      I believe if we all adhere to this the comments will remain civil and won’t degenerate to personality clashes. You can call someone out on their stance without calling them names.

      Saying a poster was posturing has nothing to do with presenting a cogent counter-argument.

    3. almandine  October 20, 2008 at 10:05 pm

      OK, your excellency…

      what about the statement “Good for McCain if it serves to tone down the belligerance” was outside your RULES?

    4. Hal Brown  November 3, 2008 at 9:10 am

      The rules of courtesy apply to what you write about what posters write about each other.

    5. Hal Brown  November 3, 2008 at 9:16 am

      The rules of courtesy apply to what you write about other posters.

    6. acashionst  December 7, 2008 at 2:32 pm

      I agree with the rule of courtesy to other posters. Our replies should be courteous, thoughtful and to the point.
      Alice Cashion

    Comments are closed.