Friday Feminism: Blogging while Feminist – a 3-comment rule?

I was reading something over at Pharyngula today where PZ Myers was alerting his commentors to brace for an influx of creationist debaters following a particular story getting picked up by both Digg and Reddit, and he reminded them of his 3-comment rule for dealing with newbie debating opponents.

Don’t attack without mercy until they’ve made stupid claims in at least 3 separate comments.

PZ recommended this to his readers when he found that the regulars in the comments threads were getting a bit too zealous for his taste, and the discussions were descending into vitriol spitting contests without enough leavening of actual interesting discussion.

I am all for vigorous, unhindered language and the expression of strong opinions, and I think dumb ideas need to be dealt with harshly, but we also need to allow opportunities for those ideas to be fully expressed. Too often, the conversations are beginning to go like this:

Stranger: I think…
Old hand: [Pulls out six-gun, shoots stranger down]I do believe I didn’t like your accent, stranger, and you were a bit cross-eyed.

I’m certainly seeing rather a lot of this around on some of the blogs with loyal regulars laterly: there’s a circling of the wagons going on against the newbies, whether they’re genuine antagonists or just people who aren’t au fait with the zeitgeist. As PZ says,

if it keeps up all we’re going to have left are the twitchiest, most psychopathic contributors.

So what do you think? Would regular feminist commentors voluntarily imposing on themselves a 3-comment rule before handing the newbie his scalp perhaps improve the tone in a few places?

I rather like PZ’s vision for how the conversation would progress in this envisaged new order:

Stranger:1I think all women are chattel.
Old hand: Pardon me, friend, but are you using humor, irony, sarcasm, or satire? Are you perhaps about to expand on a deeper philosophical point?
Stranger: 2No, I just think women are meant to serve my needs.
Old hand: This sounds like a most unfortunate and disagreeable belief. Why should you hold such a demeaning attitude?
Stranger: 3Because the Bible, which is the literal word of God, tells me so.
Old hand: [Smashes whiskey bottle over stranger’s head. General brawl commences.]

See? Isn’t that much better? You can still have your fun in the general melee, but let’s just slow the onset down a little, hold fire for a few minutes, and see if we can get a few words through the macho murk first.

I reckon bring it on. Make it absolutely clear to all concerned that they have no-one to blame but themselves.

About tigtog

writer, singer, webwrangler, blogger, comedy tragic | about.me/vivsmythe

10 comments on “Friday Feminism: Blogging while Feminist – a 3-comment rule?

  1. I agree with this. Sometimes I see people going a bit overboard when responding to someone else’s comment when the remark itself isn’t very clear or could be interpreted in multiple ways.

    Also, I have trouble explaining myself a lot of times, and I’m afraid I’d say the wrong thing which is why I rarely comment on blogs. I tend to realize a bit later after I wrote my comment that it could be interpreted in a different way that I meant it to. I’m probably not the only one that does this.

  2. I like it too — it’s more polite like. Let’s be civil, can’t we? (And also I’m with Lurker up there: I’ve come off like an ijit a time or two when I just didn’t understand the context of a given community, and been flamed at for it. Why *not* assume people mean well until it’s proven they don’t?)

  3. I agree with the principle in established communities, but for personal blogs I don’t think it works. Lots of bloggers barely get three comments per blog post.

    The trend I see is that a lot of bloggers are just opting out of comments entirely. Dealing with spam and idiots is hard enough, but negative criticism is hard to take, particularly if your blog is a labor of love and you aren’t making money with it.

  4. Agreed, Elaine. This principle is very much for the blog that rarely posts anything that doesn’t attract at least 20 comments.

  5. Employing such a rule on personal blogs is perhaps what they need the most. That way one doesn’t have to deal with more than one idiot at a time. Groups promoting society changes benefit from being percieved as civilised in dealing with opponents.

  6. […] question was innocuous. While it would probably best if all bloggers/commenters could stick to the 3-comment rule, having to deal with the same disruptive comments — even when they are made with the best of […]

  7. I’m not sure I could agree with this, except possibly here, where an extremely high value seems to be placed on open, civil discussion. Some things aren’t worth debating; if someone says in comments to a post on rape that bodily autonomy for women is a privilege that can be revoked at any time, there is basically no possibility that someone saying that has anything of value to add to any discussion. We don’t need to wait for them to give two more moronic opinions to determine this.

  8. Feministing needs this.

  9. I would say it varies depending on the subject of the post. A post about rape should not be a free-for-all for trolls (people can do damage in 1 comment, let alone 3). A post about something less triggery could have the 3-comment rule.

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