A popular Catholic women's website has decided to update its comments policy. Now, I can't link to that particular website, because every time I do so I get into what might be called "more trouble than it's worth," and thus have decided that it's better off to avoid directly linking to or discussing what's being shared there, as the better part of valor, so to speak.
Besides, I don't have any quibble with the notion that a website should set its own comments policy. If a website wants to declare that commenters may post on any day but Tuesday or Friday, between the hours of 7am and 7pm EST, and that all comments must begin with words beginning with vowels, that's a website's prerogative. I may find the comments policy at Rod Dreher's new blog (which is excellent, by the way) rather annoying compared to the rough-and-tumble of his older blogs, but having had the responsibility a couple of times of moderating the comments on one of his older blogs, I can understand the advantage to the blogger and his team of having a stricter comments policy. So as far as the Catholic women's site I mentioned is concerned, I have no quibble with the idea that they can lay down new rules whenever they like, in the hopes of producing the kinds of comments they are after and minimizing the kind they're not. If I, or anybody else, doesn't like it, we don't have to post comments there.
But I did want to talk about one thing that was said. The author of the post at that Catholic women's site said something about political blogs wherein people apparently feel free to call other people "idiots" if they disagree about candidates and voting, for instance. Now, I'm sure the author is talking about relio trulio political blogs which make their money on page hit advertising which benefits from the stirring up of combox controversy, not the blog of a mere political dabbling Catholic such as this one. But just in case there's ever any confusion, I should mention (as gently as possible) that actually calling someone else an idiot is not allowed on this particular blog. I may put up with it if you direct such a comment at me, but I won't put up with it if you direct such a comment at another commenter.
In fact, there are three types of comments I will delete on this blog:
1. Comments that attack other posters or call them names, or otherwise personally insult them.
2. Comments that employ excessively rude, rough, or hostile language.
3. Comments that say that they Liking my very blog post good!!! while embedding a link to the Psychic Herbal Discount Shoe Network, or some such thing.
I delete far more of "3" than any other; which brings me to the next point.
As bloggers go, I'm blessed in my commenters. Truly. Those of you who chose to engage here, to share your thoughts and ideas and opinions, and enter into vigorous debate and discussion of the thoughts, ideas, and opinions of others, are intelligent, thoughtful, civil people--overwhelmingly so. I never mind if conversations here get heated or passionate, because I know I can count on most of you to hold the line, and avoid the kind of petty insults that plague other blogs. This blog wouldn't be much without those people who chose to comment--because I think of blogging as conversation, not a kind of pontification on high which is then to be mulled over and appreciated by the readers (honestly, does that work for anyone, even Andrew Sullivan?). I learn a lot from commenters; you keep me honest, and inspired to try harder to do better every time I sit down in front of the computer to write a post.
I don't say it often enough: I appreciate all of my readers, and especially those of you who take the time to leave comments and tell me what you're thinking, or how I'm wrong about something. I would never want a blog to be an echo chamber--disagreement, even passionate disagreement, is not at all disagreeable as far as I'm concerned, because it forces me to take stock of my ideas, to read more about issues, and to pay greater attention to the world around me, far beyond my comfort zone of home and family and parish and community.
So, to all of you: thank you. Keep those comments coming!