poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

December 7, 2009

Comments Policy

Filed under: Meta — poemless @ 2:45 PM

Allow me preface the following by saying that comments are not only welcome, but encouraged. They make me feel loved, and, more importantly, have the power to inform and enlighten. On a serious note, I am not here to dictate. I write in order to acquire knowledge as much as to disseminate it (… perhaps moreso.) So corrections, dissent and other points of view are invited.

That said, I have an authoritarian streak.

In view of the wild increase in comments here over the past few days (thank you for your participation), I’d like to remind/notify everyone of the house rules regarding comments.

1. Comments are moderated. All first-time commenters must be approved by me. Sometimes even regular commenters will be queued for approval if they are using a different computer, handle, e-mail address or something. I try to approve comments as soon as possible, but please be patient. I will get to them.

2. Some commenters have reported a lag time between posting a comment and seeing it appear. Again, please be patient. Comments should eventually appear, but if they don’t, let me know. They may be caught in moderation or the spam filter.

3. There is a “reply” option after every comment. If you are replying to someone, for the love of god, use the freaking reply button already.

4. “Outing” commenters is prohibited. Revealing any personal information, including the name, of other commenters is not allowed.

5. Ad hominem attacks on other commenters is prohibited.

6. Keep all personal vendettas and past rows personal and in the past. Do not bring them here. And grow up.

7. Do not monopolize or hijack a conversation. If you have left the last 5 comments, maybe it is time to go for a walk or something. This blog is not about you. That doesn’t mean you are not worthy of a blog. Just that you should get your own.

8. I reserve the right to delete anything I find spamming, trolling, threatening, hateful, deceitful or otherwise abusive.

9. For that matter, I reserve the right to delete comments, ban posters and censor my blog as I see fit. (This way, when I don’t do these things, I will turn out to be a kinder person than I thought I was. Which seems preferable to the alternative, somehow.)

10. Make me think.

I hope I haven’t scared everyone off. I really have a high threshold of tolerance for subversion, dissent, obnoxiousness, righteous indignation and the obscene, as well as different ideologies. The only things that I have really no tolerance for are racism & sexism & hate-mongering.

I was reading the comments yesterday and was genuinely thrilled. Not by the number of them, but by how informed they are, and, most importantly to me, by how individuals with rather different political/ideological viewpoints were all taking part in the discussion. I absolutely never want this to be a place where anyone feels discouraged to participate in discussion because they might have an unpopular position. The readership of this blog includes communists, socialists, free-market liberals, democrats, republicans, conservatives, those who support the current Russian administration, those who oppose it, Christians, atheists, bankers, lawyers, academics, playwrights… I cannot even begin to express how much this delights me. I ask that anyone who contributes to this blog please respect this. Feel free to speak your mind. But be prepared for others to disagree with you.



  1. Wow, 82 comments that is like a blog post on Crooked Timber. I do not think I have gotten 82 blog comments total in the last five years. I would be surprised if I have even had 82 readers during that time.

    Comment by J. Otto Pohl — December 7, 2009 @ 11:09 PM | Reply

    • Half of them are probably my own…

      Comment by poemless — December 8, 2009 @ 1:33 PM | Reply

  2. You’re smart to do this. It is something that I should have done a long time ago . . . but now I just don’t care. I do know that I’ve lost a lot of readers because of the vitriol on my site. If you’ve scared a few away with your policy, all the better.

    You should make a page that has this and even insert an abridged version above or below the comments field.

    The problem, however, is not making a policy, but enforcing it. 🙂

    Comment by Sean — December 7, 2009 @ 11:56 PM | Reply

    • I have to disagree with Sean in a big way here.

      Humans are passionate animals, who love struggle. Note that the posts with the greatest amounts of comments are those that devolve into intense firefights, as are the most contentious blogs (just look at Streetwise Professor: his posts on financial clearing have 0-5 comments usually, those about how evil Obama / Russia are: usually dozens, and the one savagely criticizing my demographic projections for Russia – almost 200!).

      Quite simply Sean, hate is the lifeblood of any successful blog (at least in terms of comments, as our friend LR proves). I wish I was lucky enough to get a pack of rabid Russophobes to frequent my blog. That way, more Russophiles will muster themselves to repel the attacks.

      Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 8, 2009 @ 2:06 AM | Reply

      • In my experience, the quantity of comments doesn’t not necessarily translate into quality of comments. Quite the opposite actually. Nor does it mean you have any more readers.

        Plus debating people like LR are complete wastes of time. Debating lunatics means engaging lunatics thereby giving their lunacy legitimacy. It is better to leave them to bark at the moon.

        Comment by Sean — December 8, 2009 @ 9:42 AM | Reply

      • I have created policy for my blog. One size does not fit all, and everyone else is free to run their site as they see fit, as fits their needs and wishes.

        “Hate is the lifeblood of any successful blog…”

        We define success very differently. And if you are correct (it’s possible) I respectfully return that ticket too.

        I will try to provide a place for discussion free (as humanly possible) from the vitriol that has defined some other English-language Russia blogs.

        And allow me to repeat what I stated clearly at the top:

        *Corrections, dissent and other points of view are invited.*

        If someone is unable to present an argument without resorting to name-calling, stereotyping, or other small-minded distractions, my comments policy is the least of their problems.

        Also, this is not a public forum or community blog or town hall or soapbox for people to vent their personal griefs. And I say that as someone who took too long to realize this about other blogs and only recently figured out that having my own site might be the best way to make myself heard.

        Comment by poemless — December 8, 2009 @ 2:06 PM | Reply

        • Please don’t think I’m telling you what to do with your blog! That was not the intended impression. No need to be so uptight about it. 🙂

          Comment by Tolya — December 10, 2009 @ 4:16 PM | Reply

          • But not being uptight would be out of character for me. 😉

            Comment by poemless — December 17, 2009 @ 12:19 PM | Reply

    • If I had actually been smart, I would have closed comments on this post before publishing it.

      Comment by poemless — December 8, 2009 @ 1:35 PM | Reply

  3. A good number get turned off when it gets especially stupid and insulting in an off topic manner.

    It’s a fine line between something lively and substantive, versus a more crankish route, that’s distant from the actual subject matter.

    This topic has a subjective side that can nevertheless be measured with some objectivity.

    Some would no doubt say that (among others, take your pick of some folks employed at The Economist or WaPo) so and so earns a severe rebuke. In another instance, I’ve seen sucking up to ******** *****, after she parroted the standard English language media misinformation on former Yugoslavia.

    Sucking up to the existing status quo of imperfection reflects the kind of wannabe careerist opportunism, evident in the “Russia watching” field.

    Comment by confidential — December 8, 2009 @ 2:57 AM | Reply

    • Evident throughout the whole blogosphere, but point well made.

      Comment by poemless — December 8, 2009 @ 2:07 PM | Reply

      • Some more than others. I’d like to think that there’re some who don’t take that route.

        On this particular, the blogosphere isn’t so different from a good core of the established venues.

        By default, one can end up going thru much of the blogosphere with apprehension.

        This is along the same lines of how many Americans vote for their political leaders.

        Comment by confidential — December 8, 2009 @ 2:25 PM | Reply

  4. FWIW, I agree with poemless and Sean, and strongly disagree with Sublime Oblivion.

    Comment by Kolya — December 9, 2009 @ 2:36 PM | Reply

  5. Meh. I’m only taking my cues from Coulter, Limbaugh, Moore, Hannity, Malkin… i.e. people who are orders of magnitude more than successful than all of us combined. It’s called realism. 🙂

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 9, 2009 @ 4:21 PM | Reply

    • But the cost of that “success” has been the destruction of any meaningful political discourse. All you get from those people is nihilist rhetoric where winning the argument is more important that discussing the issues or ideas in those arguments. Politics has been replaced with performance. It’s a kind of discursive fascism where honest interlocutors are browbeaten into engaging in the same rhetoric to defend their honor. In my opinion, the monetary gain of these individuals has contributed to the impoverishment of American democracy.

      I’ve read more substantive political discussions in Bolshevik Party Congresses in the 1930s than I’ve heard on most American talk shows.

      Comment by Sean — December 9, 2009 @ 11:14 PM | Reply

    • Once again, I agree with Sean. But I assume, Sublime, that you are not being serious. Or perhaps you are simply interested in mass appeal instead of quality. Yeah, I know that the word “quality” can be very subjective, but would you judge the work of a scholar by how much mass appeal it has? Are the best novels the ones that sell the most? Are the best films the ones that are blockbusters?

      Comment by Kolya — December 10, 2009 @ 10:09 AM | Reply

      • I’m judging success by the standards of the American people instead of liberal limp-wristed mochaccino-sipping America-hatin’ degenerates. 😉

        But no, really, I agree with all that you and Sean are saying. Perhaps my irony was laid on too thin to be really perceptible. I too would much rather people judged success in a more refined way.

        Comment by Tolya — December 10, 2009 @ 4:09 PM | Reply

        • My apologies, Tolya. I should have known better. I am a perpetrator and a victim of such misunderstandings all the time. It just goes to show that there is nothing beyond the text. It almost makes me wish there was a irony or sarcasm smiley face. Or is one and I’m just to stupid to know? Of course this would sap the life out of a great literary convention . . .

          Comment by Sean — December 11, 2009 @ 12:10 AM | Reply

        • Tolya, in your comment before last I suspected you were being humorous, but then I wasn’t totally sure. The fact that I don’t know you in person is a factor, I’m sure. It happens to me too. In “real life” I often joke with a straight face. I confess that part of the fun is to see who “gets it” and who doesn’t. But more than once nobody in the group realized that I was being facetious. Once, in a rather serious setting, I miscalculated badly. It was both amusing and disheartening to realize that all those folks actually thought that I seriously believed in the stupidity I just uttered. Moreover, judging from their expressions, most of them thought that my claim that I wasn’t being serious was a lame and cowardly attempt to cover my tracks.

          Usually I enjoy irony, but sometimes people who use it want to have it both ways: if what they write is met with approbation they claim credit for it, if it’s met with condemnation then they claim they were being ironic.

          Comment by Kolya — December 12, 2009 @ 1:28 AM | Reply

          • It’s deadpan humor. IMO, one of the finer varieties, as I’m sure you’d agree. 🙂 I’ve had that kind of coming-back-to-bite-you-in-the-ass-cuz-noone-gets-it thing too several times too, though thankfully not in any “serious” settings so far!

            Comment by Tolya — December 13, 2009 @ 4:18 PM | Reply

    • I’m certain these are not people who should be imitated. Unless you’re attempting some kind of ironic “Russkii immigrant boy comes America and embraces evil system with aim of exposing it’s very evilness allowing him to get rich while the joke is on the natives and take the moral high ground while acting like an ass” performance art thing.

      Comment by poemless — December 10, 2009 @ 1:04 PM | Reply

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