There was a time when I was one of those freedom of speech nuts who felt I had a right to stick my ore in everywhere, including the comments on other people’s blogs. You know, confusing the non-existent right not to be edited on other people’s websites with the right to free speech. Thankfully I’ve grown up a bit in recent years. Freedom of speech is very important, absolutely vital, but it does not include a right to effectively deface other people’s expressions of their right to free speech with your own rantings. As long as people are free to set up their own blogs you will have true freedom of speech. Don’t just take my word for that. Far wiser people than I have come to the same conclusions. The following articles make interesting reading:
- Dave Winer – The Unedited Voice of a Person
- Joel Spolsky – Learning from Dave Winer (this article sums it up perfectly IMO)
The above posts make a very good case against allowing comments at all. I’m not that much of an extremist. I have had a lot of exceptionally helpful and useful comments on this blog over the years and I don’t want to shut down that stream of information. BTW, I’m not talking about comments that agree with me, some of the most helpful comments have been those disagreeing with me. After all, how does people saying “‘I agree” help anyone to expand their knowledge or understanding? So, if people want to argue against my points in a civil way they are not just welcome to post their comments but encouraged to. Some good debates can get going that way after all.
However, if you can’t be civil and you don’t have anything useful to say then don’t expect your comment to be approved. This is my blog, and I get to choose what is and what is not appropriate on it. Hurling abuse and insults at people is not acceptable. Since this is a family friendly blog swearing is not on either. Neither of course are racism, sexism, homophobia etc. etc.. If all you want to do is curse at me and tell me to go back home to my own country you really are going to have to find an alternative outlet for your rantings.
Believe it or not but this hasn’t been an issue before in over two years of blogging. In that time I think there was only one non-spam comment that I didn’t allow and that was from a right-wing Christian loony telling me I was going to hell for not agreeing with Fred Phelps. However, this morning I’ve deleted three comments for being insulting, pointless, or racist. One comment actually had the potential to be useful but sadly the author just couldn’t manage to remain civil while disagreeing with my point of view so he’ll have to find another outlet for his views. I’m going to add a commenting policy into the side bar this evening along with that Creative Commons notice I’ve been meaning to add to the template for the last year or more.