Commandments of commenting

by andybechtel

In recent weeks, I’ve been commenting on news sites on occasion. I try to be a voice of reason amid the chatter, usually attempting to clear the air on misconceptions about journalism.

It isn’t easy. As anyone who has spent time reading comments, they are often vitriolic, sometimes idiotic.

News organizations have talked about trying to improve the level of discourse. After all, they can decide whether to allow comments and which ones will be published.

Here’s my suggestion for those of us who want to read and write comments on websites and blogs in a constructive way. I’m calling them the 10 commandments of commenting. They apply to comments on desktops, laptops, smartphones and (of course) tablets.

Maybe if we could agree to these guidelines, comments will improve. We could discuss the issues of the day, challenge each other and (maybe, just maybe) learn something.

I’m willing to live by these commandments. How about you?

1. Thou shalt use your real name.

2. Thou shalt not use animated avatars.

3. Thou shalt not be a sock puppet.

4. Thou shalt not use the -tard suffix.

5. Thou shalt use attribution, including links, when making disputed assertions of fact.

6 Thou shalt not use ALLCAPS.

7. Thou shalt not violate Godwin’s law.

8. Thou shalt not issue imperatives for the “sheeple” to “wake up.”

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.

10. Thou shalt stay on topic and remain civil.

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