Here at Cosmic Variance we’ve been having a bit of an internal review of our comments policy and have decided to implement a few new guidelines. These are intended to improve the quality of the discussion, minimize any insulting or inappropriate behavior, and generally make the comments section a more interesting and hospitable place. Our existing comments policy reads "We love comments and aim to cultivate a lively and enjoyable space for discussion. To this end, we will not hesitate to delete comments or ban commenters who are excessively impolite or who otherwise derail the discussions. Disagreement with anything we may say is welcome, so long as it is civil and constructive. We’re all about light, not heat." We’d like to clarify and supplement this with
Since our comments section is not intended for protracted discussions of individuals’ pet theories or personal hobby-horses, we will be deleting comments that attempt to reorient the discussion towards such directions. When we are talking about science, questions from non-experts are especially welcome. However, this blog is not the proper venue for non-experts to present their revolutionary new theories of the Universe, and attempts to start such discussions will generally be deleted without warning. The blogosphere is a big space, and people are always free to start their own blogs to discuss such theories. In fact, many have already.
Frank and challenging discussions are a good thing. Indeed, disagreement with the substance of posts or comments is acceptable and even encouraged, as long as it is constructive and polite. A review of most comment threads provides ample evidence that many different viewpoints are allowed. Nevertheless, "criticize" and "disagree" are not the same as "insult", and we do not think it is appropriate to use the comments section to truly insult others. We will be deleting comments that do that.
We will do what we can to ban commenters who repeatedly violate these, or any of our other guidelines. Blogging is our hobby, not our job, and we have little desire to enter into detailed discussions about why this or that comment is inappropriate. Better to be safe than sorry.
To be frank, we feel that a number of personal disputes, off-topic comments and people using our comments section to conduct public discussion of their own pet theories and issues is lowering the quality of the discourse, and we would like to avoid this as much as possible in the future. We won’t be perfect at this, so bear with us, and hopefully this policy will serve its purpose.