“My roommate is a high-strung moron.” This was the first line of a letter to “The Ethicist” column, in the New York Times Magazine, September 18, 2011, and it reminded me that I wanted to blog about “Comments” policies.
This “my roommate is a moron” type of statement, and its close cousins (e.g. “my fat, ugly, stupid friend, sister, brother, mother,” etc.), will be familiar to anyone who writes online and allows Comments. Comments can be useful, informative, responsive, educational, helpful, and thoughtful. However, they generally are not. I’m not sure why and won’t waste time wondering why not.
For practical purposes, though, it’s useful for blogs and websites to have a Comment Policy so readers and Commenters are forewarned about why they may see the Comments they do see and why their own Comments might not see the light of day.
There are many examples of blog & website Comment policies. I like the Social Media policy at the Multnomah Public Library that includes Rules for Commenting.
We are drafting our own formal “Oregon Legal Research Blog Comment Policy.” In the meantime, here is a preview of what it may look like, that is, not unlike the Multnomah County Library policy.
The OLR blog encourages public discourse and comments, but the blog administrators reserve the right to edit or delete comments that include any of the following, which is copied directly from the Multnomah County Library Rules for Commenting policy:
“Rules for commenting:
Protect your privacy. Do not post personally identifying information. Young people under age 18, especially, should not post information such as last name, school, age, phone number, address.
Posts containing the following are against library rules and will be deleted before posting or removed by library staff:
Off topic comments
Duplicated posts from the same individual
Specific and imminent threats
By choosing to comment you agree to these rules.”