I tried; I really did. North Dallas Thirty decided he wanted another go-round, and I threw a few punches but tried to get right back into the spirit of the proceedings. Evidently he didn’t read the post, because — of course — he kept it up.
Are there Marquis of Queensbury rules for blog commenters? If there aren’t, there ought to be. Not that people would likely pay them any more attention than they did Gay Patriot’s call for civility.
The problem is that you really can’t treat all commenters the same. In a perfect world, where all the inhabitants were angels, you could certainly do this. But not in this world. Some commenters do start fights. And then they perpetuate them. The only choices they give those they attack are (A) turn and run away, in humiliation, tails tucked between our legs or (B) stand and fight. I don’t think I’ve made it any secret which of those two options I will always choose.
Perhaps, if you allow that sort of conduct to go on for too long on your blog, you lose the ability to put a stop to it. I don’t have that problem yet, as I’m only just beginning to get a readership of any size. But when I do, I will have at least this one rule:
If you attack another commenter, you’ve started the fight. This will be recognized as the situation. And if I do not step in to put a stop to it immediately, the commenter who has been attacked has the right to fight back. I have to let him or her do that.
At some point, naturally, I will need to step in and ring the bell to end the match. I’ll have to close the comments on that thread, or whatever else seems necessary. I would only ban people I regarded as trolls or habitual troublemakers.
On the now-closed Gay Patriot thread, Cinesnatch asked a very good question. He wanted to know exactly what a troll really is. As far as I can recall, from that tangled thread, he didn’t get an answer. My answer would be that it is someone who shows up on a blog only to make trouble.
Somebody called Cinesnatch a troll, and this is quite unjust. He was making an honest effort to be fair, and simply not getting anywhere with it. As far as I have ever seen, he has always been a responsible commenter. One of the reasons it’s unclear, to so many people, what a troll really is is that anytime somebody says something another person doesn’t like, they are called a troll. After a while, the word simply loses its meaning.
As for me, I hope to learn something from this past weekend’s Gay Patriot donnybrook. That is to make sure I make my points clearly, and not take the bait when some idiot attacks me. Sometimes, in comments, I rush — and when I do, I frequently pay for it later. I also need to realize that life is too short to waste arguing on commentary threads.
I will close this post with a quote from that great American sage, Rodney King: “Can’t we all just get along?”