It is quite difficult to get banned from commenting on my blog, but some – I think a grand total of about four out of a number of commenters well into the thousands over the last seven years – have managed it. With sufficient hard work and dedication, you too can join this select group.
I blog in part because I have a belief, justified by my comment volume and estimate of visitor numbers, that many people are interested in what I have to say. But I mainly do it because I enjoy writing and enjoy the stimulation and challenge of regular comment on it, including critical comment. That’s what makes blogging a good use of my time. You will not be banned for disagreeing with me, but you will be banned if you waste my time.
I repeat: You will be banned if you waste my time. You will not necessarily be wasting my time if you are critical, obnoxious, or insulting – I have plenty of regulars who are all three. You will be wasting my time if you bring no content to the discussion other than insults and advance only arguments I have heard and discounted before. Arguments I have heard before have value only if they are accompanied by new evidence, and I am strict about what constitutes new evidence.
While you will not be banned for insulting me, you may be banned for rudeness to other commenters. This blog attracts an exceptionally articulate and intelligent crowd of regulars; I prize the fact that someone once described it as the only place he’d ever seen a civilized debate over abortion, and I will not tolerate behavior that I view as damaging to that quality.
I have banned people for attempting to masquerade as other commenters. I will ban for sock-puppeting if I discover it. But I will not be more specific about the sorts of things I will or will not ban for, because I have discovered this: when I try to be open, fair, judicious, and balanced, there is a category of troll that will constantly push my limits and attempt to use my own scruples, sense of fair play, and respect for the norms of civilized debate as a weapon against me and against the health of the community around this blog. Coping with this sort of thing is a waste of my time.
Therefore, remember that this blog exists for my purposes and not anyone else’s. I reserve the right to be unfair, obnoxious, arbitrary, tyrannical, and ban people at my whim. Protesting this will get you banned, because I will interpret it as yet another attempt to jerk me around by my sense of fair play.
If you have been warned that you are trolling or that you are in danger of being banned, you can move back towards good standing in one of two ways: (a) By making me think, or (b) by making me laugh. Don’t repeat yourself, that won’t help. Flattery won’t help either, as I find fanboys nearly as annoying as haters.
Finally, I note that if you ever succeed in changing my mind about something, I will cut you large amounts of slack for a long time afterwards even for behavior that would otherwise get you banned. Not many people ever manage this, and I value the few that have accomplished it quite highly.