I’ll be frank here: once a comment thread goes beyond twenty-five or so, I quit paying attention unless it’s my post. For the latter I accept responsibility for monitoring what goes on. For the Baron’s posts, which are much more frequent and elicit many comments, I have neither the energy nor the desire to act as policeman, and he doesn’t have the time.
After twenty-five comments or so, there is nothing new to be said. It’s a MEGO (my-eyes-glaze-over) experience for everyone but those involved in putting forth their arguments, ad infinitum.
The exigencies of the present situation have caused several discussions between the Baron and me as to the best way to handle the problem of overly long threads. As they travel interminably down the page, these marathon sessions are usually dominated by two or three people, though not always the same crew in each thread. Have you noticed there seems to be an inverse relationship here: as the same few people continue arguing there is usually a rise in temperature without a parallel increase in light?
I remember when Wretchard, The Belmont Club’s proprietor, instituted a rule limiting comments to three per person per thread. He included himself in that constraint. If you’ve read Wretchard, you know he is an eminently sane and accommodating fellow. Thus, if he felt impelled to establish such a rule, there may be wisdom in it.
Can you see it coming? The new rules for Gates of Vienna?
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First the old rules, since it is obvious they need reiteration:
1. Civility: No name calling, gratuitous insults, personal slurs, denigration of someone’s intelligence, etc. Cleverness and/or subtlety in this regard don’t count. Denigration, no matter how well-phrased, still reflects badly on the attacker.
2. Temperance: No exhortations to commit violence or foment insurrection, etc. And no imprecations against whole groups of people.
3. On-topic: We generally don’t delete off-topic comments, but reserve the right to if they are excessively long. A brief off-topic mention of something you think we should know is perfectly fine.
4. Decorum: We are a PG-13 blog, because the parents of homeschoolers allow their older children to come over here to further their education. Please make your point without resorting to foul language or explicit descriptions.
5. Brevity: Limit comment to less than five hundred words.
Now THE NEW RULES:
6. Four comments per person per thread. Period. This will save lots of headaches for the blog administrators – all we have to do is count.
7. No portage of old arguments over to new posts. In other words, back to number 3: commenters must stay on topic.
There is also a codicil to #5: commenters may not divide up a thousand words into two run-on comments separated by a “continued”. Anything over five hundred words is an essay and not a comment. It belongs on your own blog. Please feel free to leave a link to your essay and readers may follow it to take up the conversation there.
This whole thing is a headache. If implementation of THE NEW RULES doesn’t work, newer rules will be even more draconian. I refuse to permit my blog to become a dysphoric swamp.
Gates of Vienna is not a democracy; the rules of the house are those imposed by the proprietors. This is a private space into which people are welcomed to read and, if they wish, to leave their thoughtful responses to what is on offer.
The bickering will stop, at least on this blog.