Thursday, September 15, 2011

Comments Policy

I haven't had one of these officially in place, beyond the things I've mentioned in the About page.  Some unpleasantness in the 2011 applicants' comments, however, have prompted me to review my approach here, so let me just briefly outline what I believe and why, what you can expect of me as the host and moderator, and what I expect of you in return.

  1. First and foremost, this is my site.  Period.  I run it for your edification, information, and enjoyment.  I reserve the right to preserve those qualities aggressively by any means necessary.  That means deletion of comments and, if necessary, banning of users.
  2. I believe that your edification, information, and enjoyment are maximized by allowing open and frank discussions unencumbered by ties to your real identities.  (If you need evidence for this, check out the comparative level of engagement here with that on the various GovLoop PMF resources; nothing against GovLoop, of course, but adding someone's real identity tends to hamper some kinds of communication).
  3. To date, I have pursued this belief by maintaining a purely anonymous comments system.  I understand that there will always be trolls.  They are inevitable, even with more robust identity solutions.  The problems I encountered, however, were exacerbated by the inability to deal with each commenter as an individual.  
  4. I am changing my policy for this PMF season to be pseudonymous rather than purely anonymous.  That means you will have to register some account.  I don't care whether you want to use your real name or not.  That is your choice.  What I care about is my own ability to maintain the greatest level of edification, information, and enjoyment possible in this format.
  5. From you, I expect civility.  Joking, snark, sarcasm, criticism, complaints, bellyaching, and the like are all allowed.  But I expect that you do not harass one another or make abusive comments about individuals involved in this process. Racist and/or sexist remarks will likewise not be tolerated here, and I reserve the right to remove any comments that fail to meet the standards here. Or for any reason, really. Additionally, I will ban repeat offenders.  
So I think that sums up the what, how, and why of my approach to comments.  Feel free to express your opinions about this policy here, whether they are positive or negative.  
Finally, should you have any concerns about any of this and don't want to air them publicly, you may contact me at Yeah, that's me putting a real email address on a webpage.



  2. @pmfellow,

    I'm wondering if and how these new policies differ from the de facto stance toward sexist language you suggested in April of this year.

    On April 14, 2011, I expressed discomfort with a blatently sexist exchange in the comments to the "Preparing for the Job Fair" post. In response, you wrote "You all can happily hang yourselves if you like, as long as you don't take any actual current or former PMFs with you. :)" The series of comments referenced breast size in relationship to job offers and was derogatory toward female Finalists.

    Is it still your policy to condone language that is derogatory to women, as long as those women are not Fellows? I hope that you will find my concerns deserving of your consideration now that I am a Fellow!

  3. Wait, sexism exists in an internet comments section?

  4. @rebecca: I understand your concerns, and part of what prompted me to review and alter my policy was the sheer level of trollishness that occurred earlier. One of the consequences of having a slow summer after the raucousness of the preceding period is that I get to go back and see what I can learn from my users in terms of what works and what doesn't work. Clearly the anonymity didn't work out as I had planned.

    I would like to personally apologize to you and to any others who share your concerns if I was dismissive of your complaint (and reading my response now makes me feel I was). One of the things pseudonymity will allow is a much harsher punishment for those who cross such lines. I just hope I do a better job the next time around.

  5. Also, regarding my previous comment, I feel I have to say this:

    The policy under which I operated during the last application cycle was intended ONLY to protect anonymity. I think I might have given the wrong impression when I suggested otherwise, but I never really considered it my goal to prevent rude or insensitive speech. I unfortunately didn't have a clear definition, even in my own head, of the kinds of things I wouldn't tolerate, though, so we can see what the result was.

    I will edit the above policy to make clear that sexism and racism have no place here either. I don't feel I need to apologize if that spoils anyone's fun.

  6. Can we still make fun of JDs?

  7. I received my NOR and was rejected because I did not complete the online assessment when I had actually done just that. I wish that there was a way to follow up with this glitch. I have sent an email but who knows what may come of it.