Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Initiating an AFB Policy Change

As a courtesy to our readers, contributors, commenters and fellow bloggers, we've reached a point where we need to have a serious discussion on a policy item.

While it has been my intent from the beginning to make this blog an open forum for the discussion of ideas, I think I need to clarify a couple of things. First, off-topic comments promoting a website will be deleted, or, at a minimum, ridiculed. While we've desired to create an open forum, this shouldn't be construed as "post a comment and promote your website."

Also, comments that contain cursing will be edited or deleted at the discretion of the blog contributors. While we don't object to a person's ideas or opinions, we reserve the right to police our site as we see fit. I won't tolerate certain things in poor taste, and while it makes no sense to enumerate these, rest assured that we'll know it when we see it.

We'd like this site to be PG or PG-13 and be a resource for people looking for conservative commentary and opinion on Constitutionally-consistent balanced government. To that end, we're going to take a careful look at comments and, quite frankly, links. I'd be interested in how others have handled this...

Suppose an otherwise great blog has some objectionable content; for argument's sake, let's say that it is rough language in the context of a post (rather than pictures or video, which to me is pretty clear-cut and isn't anything resembling a gray area). It seems like the options are to de-list someone; ignore it (readership beware); privately request that it get cleaned up (seems too intrusive for my tastes); or "rate" your links. Has anyone run into this issue, and what thoughts do you have on the matter?

For the record, and those of you who know me best will attest to this, I have been known to curse. Especially when angry. But I try my best to keep the Lord's name out of it, and thankfully I report I do a pretty good job of that. However, in mixed, or polite, company, I am really good about holding my tongue, even in the most difficult of circumstances. And I consider this space to be polite company.

Welcoming your thoughts and comments, as always.


John Savage said...

Mike, I think most bloggers' policy is that linking is not construed as an endorsement of everything a particular blogger says, and it would be unreasonable for a blogger to be held responsible for what his friends might say. In some quarters it's thought worse to not link someone whose blog you read all the time, than to blogroll someone you don't agree with on certain issues.

I suppose there are people who are more likely to judge you negatively because you endorse a blog they strongly dislike, than judge you positively because you endorse blogs they do like. I tend to be one of those who judges more by the shared positive tastes than by the negative ones. I suppose that speaks to my personality, and you can see it in the fact that I'm up to about 60 blogs on my blogroll and it's still growing. Others think of blogrolling as a much stronger type of endorsement, so they keep theirs shorter.

If I had received a larger volume of very negative comments, my policy would probably be different too. But so far, I've been pleasantly surprised to get very few. When I get them, I just say, "that goes with the territory", and ignore it as long as the commenter doesn't come back.

Some bloggers actually have a disclaimer to the effect that blogrolling doesn't imply endorsement of everything that's said on the linked blog. Usually that goes without saying, but you can always put up such a disclaimer if you must.

Michael Tams said...


Thank you for the comments.

I know there's folks out there who have kids who use the computer and probably view this site. Perhaps a disclaimer to off-blog links is the way to go. I trust, of course, that this isn't the last comment on the issue, and I hope my fellow contributors chime in as well.


Terry Morris said...

For me it is not about endorsing/not-endorsing this or that blog's whole content. Certain things to me simply go without saying. I don't think we need a disclaimer saying we don't endorse this and that.

On the issue of using excessively foul language such as the F-word, or taking the Lord's name in vain, from my point of view (and only from my point of view do I presume to speak), it is simply unnecessary, offensive, and really just plainly disrespectful of the unsuspecting who would just prefer not to encounter it.

At Webster's the one way you can count on your blog never making my blogroll (and I don't give a hoot what you think about it, I have my reasons) is to engage in erecting these kinds of language barriers. What your commenters do or say is something altogether different.


Michael Tams said...


Thanks for the comments. I can't say yet if I agree or disagree. I recognize that excessive use of foul language is detrimental to your effectiveness, unless of course you're a stand-up comic. That said, I can't claim innocence in my personal life, though I do what I think is a fine job not taking the Lord's name in vain (the most serious cursing in my opinion). I do try and keep my writing professional.

The other side's argument, which I think John summed up neatly, is that being on a blogroll isn't an endorsement.

As you say, the comments are an entirely different thing. So the issue is the blogroll, and since I'm not yet convinced one way or the other (though I'm certainly leaning in one direction), I'm hoping we'll hear from a few other voices (you know who you are).


Terry Morris said...

"That said, I can't claim innocence in my personal life,..."

Neither can I, Mike, nor am I trying to give anyone that impression. It would simply be untrue.

But you know, sometimes things just come out while you're speaking with someone face-to-face, whether you're arguing with them, or you're trying to stress a point, or you're in an excited state, or whatever. That's understandable. But we're talking about the written word here.


Call Me Mom said...

That is a challenge.

I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it however you please?

It seems just plain common sense to clean up one's language when one is writing for a public venue. It's hard to understand how anyone who chooses to express themselves in that manner in a blog can have enough sense to be worth reading, even if it is their normal speaking pattern. For that reason, I always feel like I have to take such folks with a heaping helping of salt if/when I read their blog.

However, that's neither here nor there as far as the blogroll on this blog goes. Supposing someone really does have something worthwhile to say and for whatever reason, they choose to express themselves with vulgar language, do we want to post a link to their site?

I'm thinking that it's folly to believe that only the blogs of those contributors who choose to express themselves without the use of rough language contain all the wisdom on the net. I have no doubt that we would all object strenuously to posting a link to anything that was truly foul. That said, what sort of standards do we want to encourage in our corner of cyberspace?

I tend to think that people will live up to whatever you expect of them. While it would be intrusive to ask someone to clean up their blog for the sake of a link, I don't think it's intrusive to remark in the comments section that it's a shame we wouldn't feel comfortable linking our site to theirs because our children read our site and what kind of example would that set? (My teenager does, you know.)

If there is a specific site that one or more of us come to consider of value enough to post a link to, despite it's rough language, we could always include a warning about the language on the link.

Michael Tams said...


Thanks for the comments. I'll wait a little longer to let some more comments come in, but this is important because it means a potential delinking. AoT is a really good blog, but if we've got kids looking at our blog, I don't think we can adopt a "viewer beware" attitude with respect to our links. While mine are too young yet, if I put myself in your position, I'd want to maintain a consistent linking policy. It's the right thing to do.


Anonymous said...

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