I regret having promoted Richard Dawkins latest book. What I should have done is to suggest people refrain from buying it until we hear something from him that places his insensitive and idiotic comments, those uttered on PZ Myer’s blog Pharyngula regarding Elevator Gate, in some sort of explanatory context that makes Dawkins look less like the rest of the emotionally disturbed highly offensive lumps of drek that inhabit certain blogs which I shall not name. See, in that post I tried to do two things that miserably failed. I tried to demonstrate bridge building, and I said a very simple seeming thing that required more than a third grade level of comprehension to get. Fourth grade, at least. Bridge building with people who revel in bridge burning might be possible but it is not worth my effort*, and exposing slightly complex conversations to the emotional and cognitive borderline of the blogosphere is just asking for trouble.

That is context, background, but not explanation for something I want to make clear to you, dear reader. When I first started up the X-Blog, I had two goals, and both were formed in relation to my blog at Scienceblogs.com. The first was to separate out, most of the time, what I write about topically. I stated that I would not be held to some idealized version of topical separation that others might form in their fertile imaginations, but that I would more or less blog about science and science related topics (including science education and policy) on Scienceblogs.com and other political or social topics here on the X Blog. That has actually worked out fairly well, and I’ve not had too much trouble making that distinction.

The second objective was to move the free-wheeling no holds barred often nastier discussion over here to the X Blog, encourage those of you who, for some reason, have decided that being offensive is a good thing and part of your mode of expression, to take your severe tone and your snarky language here, to allow my Scienceblogs blog to develop a more PG-13 demeanor, in line with our National Geographic association.

With respect to my blog at Scienceblogs.com, that has worked fairly well. The offensive comments, those with the severity and snark and insult, most recently have only come from Climate Change Denialists and the occasional Nuclear Power Apologist. And, I have allowed the AGW denialists to have a bit of room in the commenting section for one reason only: To demonstrate to those just tuning in how far out on the fringe they are. But, as that has largely been accomplished, anti-Science yammering in general is now re-disallowed. Let the accusations of censorship Begin! I don’t care! I’ll delete them all! Bwhahaha!!

But with respect to the other part .. moving the drek over to The X Blog, I now see that this was a mistake. Drek is still drek. It still smells, it still annoys, it still serves no purpose. I learned this when the angry children of the blog that shall not be named came over to the Dawkins post and started giving me and various readers a hard time for not subscribing to their version of MRAdvocay or misogyny.

Now they are banned, and no longer welcome here. It pains me to do that because one of those assholes was actually someone I consider a friend. But a friend who has no ability to respect is not a friend, really. Might as well cut that bit of gangrene off sooner than later.

So now let me explain the new commenting policy to you. It is very simple.

The part where you insist that it is my responsibility to ensure your right of free speech? No. It is not. I am the arbitrary Hand of Blog which shall smite your comment any time I want to, and you are not welcome to do whatever you want at The X Blog. Not even a little. I will write my blog posts, you will read them, and you will comment respectfully to the other commenters and to me. And I will be respectful to you in return. If that is not acceptable, you should have little difficulty finding something else to do.

And there will be transgressions and regressions, and thus forgiveness. Up to a point.

I need to do this because I need to be more comfortable with certain things I’m doing. You may need to embrace this new approach for similar reasons, whether you know it or not, though I don’t expect everyone to feel the same way. And if you don’t feel the same way, you are of course free to express yourself.

*For those who take “it is not worth my effort” for “I’m trying hard to do it” let me be more clear: I am not interesting in building those bridges. Not. That’s a negative. Negation.

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26 thoughts on “X Blog 2.0: New Policy

  1. Regrettable that online discourse has forced you to do this, but completely understandable. I hope it doesn’t generate exponentially more work for you. Good luck!

  2. GMV, probably less, not more work. We’ll see.

    I do want to expand on one point, or rather, resate it: Where I said that I regret having tried to build bridges, those were bridges between progressives and feminist vs. MRAdvocates and Dawkins fan-people, commenters on the blog that shall not be named, etc. To repeat what I said, I regret having tried to build a small bridge. Regret means I wish I had not done it. It was a futile effort. I’m not doing it any more. No bridge, just a big chasm. With them on the other side.

    Please do not confuse toned down rhetorical milieu with bridge building or liking everybody.

    (It may not be obvious that I’m speaking to a spate of comments which a) get it all wrong and b) were gleefullydeleted.)

  3. I have not agreed with every position you have taken, but most of the time I just move on – an argument isn’t worth it. I still don’t see the reason for you to write 2 blogs. There is no reason “sciencey” stuff can’t be posted here. I just see it as more work for you. I just subscribe to both so it matters little to me.

  4. NEBob, good point, but actually it does not work out that way. Sciency stuff could be posted here, but that is not the culture of FTB. When we have our (secret and totally boring) private conversations, its about community building among atheists and freethinkers. Only a couple of the other bloggers here are scientists. There is certainly no anti-science sentiment here at all (all pro science, in fact) but it’s a different place.

    Meanwhile, Scienceblogs.com is a science place. When I communicate with the overlords and such at science blogs, it is about science and opportunities related to that. I got to interview David Attenborough the other day because I blog at Science Blogs, for instance. As I pointed out in my post on this (http://goo.gl/w2iqH) I’d take a blogging slot at NGS if they asked me to. Staying at Sb.com and working with NGS is a little like that and very comfortable for me.

  5. After once being called a troll in [on? at? what is the right word?] That Blog, I realized there is something in the water there.

  6. Science over there. Free thought here. So many partitions! Come visit south Texas, and over a bottle of wine or tequila, you can say whatever you want!

    You can even complain about all the guns. 😉

  7. Obviously, you still have that bad taste in your mouth.

    Richard Dawkins has nothing to explain and nothing to apologise for. Either justify your reasons or suck it up.

    Further, do you really think people are stupid enough not to see your game here – ie. complaining about linking to Dawkins’ book, and then doing it again!!! Page views? Traffic? Check. Check.

    Oh, and stop talking about bridge building – you have done your best to burn that particular bridge. So again, stop crying.

    Perhaps the atheist community should initiate a “boycott” against those who needlessly stir the pot? Sound familiar?

    Have a good think about it.

  8. Tim. You are a pathetic idiot. I have written extensively on this, and my reasons are justified. Dawkins has something to apologize for.

    Regarding my game: Linking to what? There is no second link to Dawkins book. The accusation that a blogger does something for traffic is always there for someone to use who has nothing else to say, isn’t it?

    This, I love: Oh, and stop talking about bridge building – you have done your best to burn that particular bridge. So again, stop crying.

    Those round goopy things in the front center of your skull? Use them to look up at the original post and read about bridges. I’m burning this bridge, Tim, not building it. Burned. Not not burned. Burned. It’s in bold. Bolded. DON’T MAKE ME USE ALL CAPS. It’s even in a damn footnote. Seriously man.

    Have a good think about it.

    OK, I will. Right now ……

    Done. You are dismissed.

  9. NEBob says “I have not agreed with every position you have taken, but most of the time I just move on – an argument isn’t worth it.”

    Well, done Greg; just the sort of attitude you want to encourage. Wouldn`t want to waste all that time having discussions and arguing different points of view and so forth!

  10. I certainly don’t care what Munk thinks. Should I always agree with everything? Should I argue for everything I don’t agree with 100%. Of course not. I never said I ALWAYS move on if I don’t agree. Read the words, Munk.

  11. Trolls obsessively refuse to move on, or at least, so it seems. They just keep going until they get permanently diverted to the spam bin. I wish you could use their comments for something, though. Like compost.

  12. By “building bridges” I presume you’re not referring to when you falsely accused people of DoS’ing your site and raping their girlfriends.

    You really are a piece of work, Greg.

  13. Greg I’ve read you & listened to you for a long time with pleasure & I’ve learned some stuff along the way. Thank you for that.

    What you’ve written here isn’t useful ~ please stop throwing your toys out of the pram.

  14. TylerD, did you actually read the part about building bridges? No. You did not. I bolded it and and footnoted it and you still could not understand it.

    You are dismissed.

    Michael, thank you for your concern.

  15. the TROLL was on a blog and was just like staring at the comments
    commenting about everything but then again he was commenting about nothing
    and then the moderator came in and the TROLL didn’t even know he was there

    the moderator called the TROLL on his comments and he didn’t even notice it
    and then moderator started using cap: TROLL! TROLL!
    and the TROLL goes, what, what’s the matter?
    and the moderator writes, what’s the matter with you?

    the TROLL goes, there’s nothing wrong moderator
    and the moderator writes, don’t tell me that, you’re gonna get banned.
    the TROLL writes no, man, i’m don’t wanna get banned, i’m okay
    i was just thinking you know, why don’t you get me a Pepsi?

    and the moderator goes, no, you’re getting banned
    the TROLL goes, i’m okay, i’m just commenting
    the moderator goes, no you’re not commenting, you’re spouting crap
    normal people don’t comment that way. you are dismissed.

    the TROLL writes
    “just give me a Pepsi, please?
    all i want is a Pepsi and you wopn’t give it to me
    all i want was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi
    and you won’t give it to me, just a Pepsi!”

  16. I don’t think the point is about quelling argument; I think it’s more about reducing obsessive trollish circularity, and generally tamping down rampant assholery.

    One possible working definition of a troll is someone who keeps bringing up the same point over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, somehow believing that it will (1) become true because of repetition; and/or (2) devastate a playing field of opponents by The Sheer Power of Its Self-Apparent Truthiness.

    An asshole is a troll who takes it ad hominem.

    A few fewer trolls and assholes is fine with me, for what it’s worth. Launch coutersalvoes from wordpress or blogspot if you want to use your right to speak, but you know, when you come into someone’s home and tell him he’s an idiot while you’re shitting on his coffee table, you can’t be too surprised when he shoves you out the door and locks it behind you.

  17. I am worried where all this is going – it is starting to feel as though anyone who disagrees with you will automatically be branded as a troll and dismissed. There have been 2 dismissals in this thread already! I am a regular reader of your blog, and agree with you about dawkins ( albeit not so vociferously) but can’t help feeling it is against the spirit of “freethought” that I should have to run the risk of a ban whenever my views may clash strongly with yours. Imposing such a climate can only have a negative outcome for all of us, surely.

  18. Warren:
    I don’t think the point is about quelling argument; I think it’s more about reducing obsessive trollish circularity, and generally tamping down rampant assholery.

    That and specifically, I don’t want people who are getting in line to call Rebecca Watson names or who have created blogs who’s sole purpose is to hate feminists, etc. etc. commenting here. I’m not interested in engaging with them. In fact, some of “those” people may even have valid points about certain things. But they are not making points that we would otherwise not see as part of the discussion. In other words, they may have value to add to the argument, but it is not unique value and it comes with too much baggage … and yes, the trollish circularity is a big part of that. A good example is the troll who kept arguing to me that I was a lair because I tried to be nice.

    Rudi, I hope to not brand anyone who disagrees with me as a troll. Warren (above) is a good example of this. As I recall, we started out disagreeing.

    Imposing such a climate can only have a negative outcome for all of us, surely.

    I think if you saw the shit that I have deleted over the last five days you might not think that. Also, I don’t think it is the case that since I started this new policy only people who have agreed with me have been commenting.

  19. When I put up the letter to Dawkins, I saved all the comments I deleted from it and put them up (under the fold) in a separate post. Nobody who read them seemed to think they were anything like an important part of the discussion.

  20. Greg –

    ‘As I recall, we started out disagreeing.’

    No we didn’t. :p

    (Strictly speaking, we actually didn’t – I think we were talking past one another. I’m every bit as much in favor of strong regulations regarding gun ownership as you, I think. Where we parted company was in perceived tone more than anything else, I believe.)

    Rudi –

    There is a qualitative difference between heated dissent and simple prickishness, and it might even be measurable in some cases. In the thread Greg linked to from here, you can actually see those differences.

    Some people have points to make, and make them reasonably well; others are more interested in playing lawyer and obsessing on what they consider to be significant points of fact (which are not), or bogging the discussion by refusing to mutually disagree on some element of the argument and move on to other matters.

    Can you see why it makes sense to ban the people who insist that they must be recognized as being entirely correct, to the detriment of every other aspect of conversation?

    A troll, no matter how articulate it may be, remains a troll, and is not interested in discussion – it’s interested in sledgehammering all perceived opposition into silence. In that sense, a troll is a bully, and I don’t think there’s a good reason to tolerate bullies in any setting. The right to speak is not a right to dominate, a right to belittle, or a right to hurl abuse.

  21. Exactly, we didn’t! But at first we had to figure that out and it took a bit of time.

    And by the way, I never REALLY ban anyone forever. I just put there name on the list and then selectively delete their assigned comments but let through any that I deem worthwhile, and every now and then I erase the list except for Dave Mabus.

    (The recent Abbie Smith posse probably includes a few names that will never be unbanned, but I’m not sure yet. Depends on if they get witty or something worthwhile. Not likely though.)

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