I’ve been meaning to write up some rules of etiquette for the comments section of this blog, so here they are! This post is not aimed at anyone in particular (except for the parts that are). As with any rules of etiquette, these guidelines are designed to let everyone know what is considered appropriate behavior. Once everyone knows what is expected of them, we can all relax and enjoy a better interactive experience because we know what the rules are.
The rules are not intended to overwhelm you or frighten you into silence. I generally enjoy reading the comments, and I wish more of the lurkers would feel comfortable enough to stop lurking and start commenting. If you are a first-time commenter, don’t worry, I won’t decapitate you for making an error. However, if you start to comment on a regular basis, I will expect you to adhere to these rules.
So here they are, the Official Commenting Etiquette for PastaQueen.com! They’ll probably make me sound like I have a bug up my ass, but I was just at the health fair and I swear my colon is clean.
1) Do not make personal attacks.
Please to not make personal attacks on me or on other commenters. Think of the blog as a party happening in my living room. If you would not say something to me or my guests in my living room, do not say it on the blog. Polite disagreement is fine. Slamming someone’s face into the guacamole dip is not.
2) Please stay on topic.
Please only leave comments that are relevant to the conversation. It is ok for the conversation to steer onto a tangent as long as it happens during the natural flow of conversation. However, if a comment has nothing to do with the original post or with another comment, it doesn’t belong on that post. If you leave several comments on a post and do not seem to be getting a response from other readers, you should consider whether your comments are appropriate to that post. (That means you, Jere.)
3) Do not leave spam or ads that are masquerading as comments
I am not an idiot. When you leave a comment that is simply meant to increase your site’s PageRank, I can tell. It will not be approved. You are wasting your time. Please go away.
4) If your comment is longer than 500 words, it should be a blog post on your own site.
While I’m happy that some of the discussions on my site elicit deep thought and analytical thinking, the comments section is meant to be a place of discussion, not speechmaking. If your comment is longer than 500 words, it deserves to be a post on your own blog. That way your post can be the focal point of the comments section of your own blog instead of derailing the discussion here so it becomes about your comment instead of about the original post. You can start a blog quickly and easily at Blogger.com or WordPress.com. Once you’ve posted your entry, you may link to it in the comments section if it is directly relevant to the post you’re commenting on.
5) Unless a link is directly relevant to the discussion, do not link to it.
If you have a web link that is directly relevant to the discussion, it is ok to post it even if it’s a link to your own site. However, it is not ok to leave a link to your site in your comment without reason. This qualifies as an ad, and if you wish to advertise on my site you may do so at reasonable rates here. There is a text field in the comments form where you can leave your site link. If readers of my blog find your comment interesting enough, they will click on that link on their own. Adding your link at the bottom of your post for no other reason than self-promotion is considered to be rude.
6) Do not leave your name in the body of your comment.
There is a field in the comment form to enter your name. Leaving your name in the body of your post is superfluous. I know some people do this because they consider it polite to sign their post. In some arenas, that is proper etiquette, but on this blog it is considered to be a social gaffe. Please restrain yourself from doing this.
7) Please read at least the first 5-10 comments.
Some of my entries elicit a lot of comments, and I do not expect my readers to read every single one before commenting. However, please read at least the first 5-10 comments, or at least skim some of them. I can tell when you haven’t done this because 10 or more of you will leave the exact same advice on a post, acting as if you are the first one to do so. This makes the conversation repetitive, and less like a conversation and more like a lot of people talking at once without listening to each other.
8) Please read the entire entry before leaving a comment.
Sometimes people read something in a post and are so filled with the need to share that they leave a comment before reading the entire post. This might work out ok sometimes, but other times it makes you look silly because you ask something or point out something that is already addressed in the latter part of the post. For your own sake, read the whole post before commenting.
9) Comments may be edited or deleted at my discretion
This is not a democracy. It is a totalitarian regime ruled by PastaQueen and defended by the macaroni military. I may edit or delete your comments at whim. I will be happy to deport you if necessary. Don’t make me whack you with my scepter!
10) Don’t make an ass of yourself.
This is more of a recommendation than an actual rule. I used to remove comments from people who were exceptionally rude or cruel, but lately I have simply allowed them to be posted. Then I let the community decide if and how to reprimand the individuals for their inappropriate behavior. If you want to be a jerk, I am not going to protect you from yourself.
So there they are, the official commenting rules. I reserve the right to update these and add additional rules as it becomes necessary (translation: as people find new ways to annoy me). These rules are meant to make the interactive experience more enjoyable by setting clear boundaries on appropriate behavior. As I said before, they are not intended to overwhelm or frighten you. I hope you’ll join us in the conversation! And thanks for following Rule #8!