Some of you know that this is not my first “Truth” website. Back before the turn of the century, I bootstrapped a website called The Truth About Cars, from zero viewers per month to knocking on a million. I eventually sold the site, worked for the new owners and then quit. So I know how to do this website start-up thing, and what happens when you do. After the jump, I’ll share some stats on The Truth About Guns’ development. Suffice it to say, TTAG is gathering viewers at about 10 times the pace enjoyed by TTAC during its formative years. Eight months in, and The Truth About Guns is already experiencing growing pains. Specifically, flamers. So here’s where we are and how we’re going to deal . . .
Since February 2010, we’ve gone from zero page views per day to well over 3,000. To date, we’ve played host to 361,294 unique viewers. We’ve arrived here without any advertising income or marketing expenditure—with the help of a team of outstanding freelance writers and understanding firearms manufacturers. And a cadre of loyal readers.
We’ve gathered this traffic (that’s you) by dint of our original content. Every day, the TTAG team posts some ten items: news blogs, gun reviews, firearms-related opinion pieces, YouTube videos, practical advise and God knows what else. Welcome to post number 2,298.
Now that we’re no longer flying under the radar, the comments section is starting to ping. Whereas we used to get none to a couple of comments—and still do on most posts—some of the posts are starting to rile people up. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.
Yes, well, some of the latest members of our Armed Intelligenstia are a little too . . . aggressive. For example, I just removed a comment that said, simply, “bullshit.” In another post, commentators called me a douche and a f***ing idiot.
I understand the commentators’ anger. I welcome passionate readers, knowing full well that my own experience pales next to that of our average reader. Disagreement? Factual corrections? Fire when ready! When we make a mistake, we’ll acknowledge it and make a correction (noting our mistake in the comments section).
That said, I refuse to allow our comments section devolve into name-calling. I will not allow TTAG to become a picnic over a sewer. And so TTAG’s commenting policy is the same one that I created for The Truth About Cars:
No flaming the website, its authors or fellow commentators.
And that’s it. Practically speaking, I edit or delete flaming comments. If an offender has provided a legit email, I notify them of any change or deletion and offer them a chance to duke it out with me off-line. No holds barred. I also offer our main editorial space for more respectful disagreement.
This comments posting policy is by no means perfect. There’s an obvious disconnect between publishing posts that call people idiots (perhaps with a few more words) and not letting commentators call the author of those posts an idiot.
By the same token, how can we let a commentators call someone who isn’t a commentator an idiot, but not a fellow commentator? Does that mean someone can log in and comment and avoid further flames? In a word, yes.
As I said, our flaming policy isn’t ideal. But keeping out name-callers attracts a more thoughtful forum. It creates a safe place where people with strongly different views can communicate with each other. It reflects my personal view that it’s better to arch an eyebrow than call someone an asshole. Better for the archer, better for the archee and better for observers.
If you have any complaints or disagreements with The Truth About Guns, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will answer your email and attempt to sort out any issues regarding our editorial policies or perspectives. It’s the best I can do, and I do it for you. Thanks for reading.