If you’d like to post a comment here, these are the rules (put in place in October 2007):
The Short Version
1. Civility in exchange. 2. Initial private mediation in conflict situations. 3. All posters must provide their real name, a verifiable email and the name of their hometown or institutional/organisational affiliation if applicable. 4. I uphold the right to protect the anonymity of sources used in any writing on this site, if necessary. 5. I retain the right to delete any comment in retrospect, if necessary. 6. I pledge to neither knowingly nor willfully intend to cause harm to others by what I write.
The Long Version
[Adapted from draft Bloggers Code of Conduct]
(1) We take responsibility for our own words and reserve the right to restrict comments on our blog that do not conform to our standards. We are committed to the “Civility Enforced” standard: we strive to post high quality, acceptable content, and we will delete unacceptable comments. We define unacceptable comments as anything included (but not limited to) or linked to that:
* is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others
* is libelous or knowingly false
* infringes upon any copyright, trademark or trade secret of any third party. (If you quote or excerpt someone’s content, it is your responsibility to provide proper attribution to the original author.)
* violates an obligation of confidentiality
* violates the privacy of others
We define and determine what is “unacceptable content” on a case-by-case basis, and our definitions are not limited to this list. If we delete a comment or link, we will say so and explain why.
(2) We won’t say anything online that we wouldn’t say in person. The exception here is to protect a confidential source, in which case, we may omit certain private details or otherwise obfuscate the source of the information, given the public nature of the Internet.
(3) If tensions escalate, we initiate contact privately before we respond publicly. When we encounter conflicts and misrepresentation in the internet, we make every effort to talk privately and directly to the person(s) involved–or find an intermediary who can do so–before we publish any posts or comments about the issue. Bloggers are encouraged to engage in online mediation of unresolved disputes.
(4) When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we will take considered action. When someone who is publishing comments or blog postings that are offensive, we’ll tell them so (privately, if possible) and ask them to publicly make amends, unless it is considered that doing so will only inflame or worsen the situation. If those published comments could be construed as a threat or of an illegal nature, and the perpetrator doesn’t withdraw them and apologize, we will cooperate with local law enforcement regarding those comments and/or postings.
Comments or posts that are deemed offensive will result in a request – private, if possible – that the commenter or poster make public amends, if practical. If those published comments could reasonably be viewed as illegal (threat or otherwise), we will report the comments and commenter to police.
This is very important to build a civil online society where people feel free and protected as we feel in real world by our neighbours. While the doctrine of ‘agree to disagree’ applies, we must build a trust among each other.
(5) We do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments, as we believe authors and commenters must take personal responsibility for their own views. We believe that anonymity, in its various forms, is a major contributory factor in creating incivility and encouraging the open expression of prejudice in the blogosphere, which stymies proper debate. We require commenters to supply a valid email address before they can post and to indicate their place of residence (hamlet, village/town/city) or, if applicable, their institutional or organisational affiliation. Anyone found to be operating under an alias will be barred from posting comments at the site.
(6) We ignore the trolls. We prefer not to respond to nasty comments about us or our blog, as long as they don’t veer into abuse or libel. We believe that feeding the trolls only encourages them; ignoring public attacks is often the best way to contain them.
(7) We reserve the right to keep our sources private. We will only divulge such information upon order of the court.
(8) We retain the discretion to delete comments. While it is very important for blog owner to take responsibility for what appears on that blog, the blog owner has sole discretion for determining whether a particular comment is unacceptable.
(9) We affirm the principle to do no harm. A blogger must not use his or her blog to willfully cause harm. A blogger must consider the impact of his or her actions on others. A blogger must not send his or her audience to harass other bloggers or people.