Ah, crap. Just when we thought things were settling down around here, the TTAG Fire Department gets another 911 call to go put out some flames. And potentially, evict some arsonists from our happy little group of campers. Tsk, tsk. But in order to preserve a more perfect TTAG, and to try to head off more Napalm at the pass, as it were, we thought a few words on our comments policy might be appropriate. To wit…
RF established TTAG as a place where writers and readers can discuss, well, the truth about guns. We call ’em like we see ’em, and unlike a lot of sites, when we don’t see ’em we don’t make ’em up. We don’t always get everything right. But when we drop the ball, we fess-up, apologize, take our lumps and move on, a little older, and presumably, a little wiser.
As far as comments (and commenters) go, a couple of things to note. We love our readers. They are the reason we get to do what we do. And unlike old-style, print journalism, we get near-instant feedback on our work. If we get it wrong, we hear about it, in a hurry. (On a personal note, there’s only been one story I wrote that raised the ire of most of our readers. And when you guys decide to come down on someone, you are ruthlessly efficient. Ouch.)
We do our best to present all sides of an issue. And just because someone has a view that runs contrary to our own positions does not mean their voice gets stifled. On the contrary, we oftentimes ask those contrarians to turn their comments into a full-blown post, so our readers can see a wider variety of opinions on a topic. In fact, many of our writers started off as commenters, graduating to writing about their passions for all things gun-related.
Note that our resident Liberals/anti-gun guys (that would be MikeB302000 and Magoo) have not been banned. It’s rare that either RF or I agree with either of them on just about anything. Yet, their voices are not censored. Why? Because they typically play nice, and keep it civil. (Although Magoo has been getting a little too snarky and personal of late. Still…)
But there is one, common thread that runs through our writing and the responses from our readers. Civility. At TTAG, you’re entitled to your opinion. You are NOT entitled to spew hate, get personal, and generally make an ass of yourself. To date, we’ve only had to ban two people from TTAG. Both were banned for being obnoxious tr0lls who’s constant refrains contributed nothing to the discourse. When they exposed themselves as having an irrational devotion to flaming, they were warned. When they did not heed the warnings, they were banned. Permanently.
There’s a difference in “banning,” “moderation” and “censoring.” And that difference bears some explanation here.
When you write a comment, most of the time, our blogging software (WordPress) posts it automatically. But there are certain things that will trip the WordPress trigger, as it were, and put your comment in the moderation queue. These include (but are not limited to) adding URL links in your comments and using certain words that are on the WordPress “naughty” list. This process is completely and utterly automatic.
We (RF and I) get notices by email that we have comments needing moderation. Keep in mind, neither of us sit in front of our respective computers, breathlessly awaiting a notice that we have a comment to moderate. That means it may take a couple of hours before we get around to approving or deleting your comment. We also have the option (seldom-used as it may be) to edit your comment, so that it can be published without violating our rules. Typically, we don’t edit comments, because we don’t want to filter your expression. That’s why if you say something inappropriate in a comment, it may not make it onto the site.
So what’s “inappropriate”? Well, to begin with, any kind of racial slur, intensely personal, derogatory comments, and any kinds of threats are considered inappropriate, and just won’t fly. If something is particularly heinous, we have the option to ban someone from the site immediately. But we generally try and give someone a warning before we invoke TTAG’s version of the death penalty on a commenter. On the other hand, if they establish a pattern of abusive comments, we reserve the right to spike ’em right then and there.
The other way your comments might get sent to that big dead letter box in the cloud is if it trips the WordPress SPAM filter. You’d be surprised at how many spammers try and sneak in some ad for their crap in our comments. As we speak, we have over 800 comments caught by our spam filters. (We have multiple filters.) As a result, chances that you see spam masquerading as a comment are between slim and none (And “Slim” just left town. Heh.)
We realize that everybody’s got an opinion. And when it comes to guns, those opinions can be, well, pretty strong. We also realize that things we say here on TTAG may get your motor running, and every now and then, may cause you to respond in print with a skoche too much passion. We get it. And that’s generally okay. Don’t feel as if you have to be afraid to comment. On the other hand, if you think it’s okay to spew hate, bigotry, and ignorance on our site, do yourself a favor and take it someplace else. Because if you don’t, we’ll do it for you.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging experience.