Commenting Policy for JoshuaKennon.com
The community that has naturally developed at JoshuaKennon.com over the past decade is an exceptional one that is worth protecting and preserving. In that spirit, we want you to understand how comments are treated, when they are moderated, and how to behave if you want to participate. This is also a chance for you to understand the mechanics of what happens behind the scenes.
Why Was My Comment Marked as Spam, Removed, and/or Was I Banned from Commenting?
If you are reading this message because one or more of your comments has been kicked to moderation, there are primarily three reasons a comment that is not spam might be marked as spam, a comment might be removed, and/or your account might be banned from making further comments. These are:
- Disqus Made a Mistake and Flagged Your Post – When a comment is submitted, Disqus, the blog’s comment system, automatically analyzes it. Disqus is notorious for flagging comments as spam when they are not, in fact, spam. It’s so sensitive that Joshua Kennon himself often has to approve his own comments, as the site owner. Over time, it seems like the algorithms at Disqus have gotten better but it’s still far from ideal. You may have done nothing wrong – your comment might be perfect and lovely – but it still might be filtered automatically before a person has had a chance to look at it. In some cases, this is due to the comment itself – e.g., certain language patterns and/or comments with links are more likely to be identified as spam. In other cases, Disqus has a reputation score assigned to you that determines if you are a good-faith commentator who leaves high quality responses. Your comments might be approved then marked as spam five or ten minutes later by Disqus. We have given up trying to figure out what it’s thinking, especially given that it will sometimes let through several obviously spam-like posts in a row. It is an enigma. It’s better than the alternatives, though, so we still use it.
- Members of the Community Flagged Your Post – The Disqus system has a built-in protection system that allows members of a community to flag a post as spam. In some cases, if a person – particularly one who has not been part of the community in the past and who appears combative, hostile, and/or generally ignorant – shows up and seems rude or otherwise inappropriate given the community’s overall tone, individual members of the community hit the “mark as spam” button and when a specific threshold is reached, the comment is moved to the spam filter using this crowd-sourced approach. In almost all cases, that has turned out to be a good thing because the comment is usually then deleted by a human moderator when and if it is ever reviewed. Think of it as the patrons of a restaurant throwing out someone who became too rowdy or inconsiderate of others.
- A Human Moderator Made the Decision and Manually Flagged Your Post – There are multiple human moderators. Yes, Joshua Kennon himself has moderating authority as the site’s owner but other members of the community have the power to flag comments as spam, delete comments, and/or ban users entirely if they are disruptive.
This brings up another important point: if your comment is moderated by any of these methods, you might see a notification that it has been marked as spam, removed, and/or your account has been banned by “Joshua Kennon” or “JoshuaKennon.com”. This does not mean that Joshua Kennon himself had anything to do with it. In fact, given how much he works at his asset management company, and that he can be away from the community for days or weeks at a time, he may not even know you exist. This is because the Disqus community itself is named after the site, which began as his personal blog and is called – you guessed it – Joshua Kennon / JoshuaKennon.com. If your first contact with him is you freaking out, irate, blaming him for something he hasn’t even learned happened, yet, he’s probably going to say, “Peace out” and outsource it for someone else to solve as his free time is valuable and if he had to deal with these things all the time, he wouldn’t bother publishing the site at all. Furthermore, the power to ban users is not used lightly – historically, it has occurred less than a few times per annum. When this is done, it was almost always because the person showed up having no history with the blog’s community and was immediately combative, adding little to the discussion, and/or otherwise behaving in a way that generally screams, “I am miserable.” Note that dissenting opinions are not only welcome, but openly celebrated, at JoshuaKennon.com, provided they are made in good faith, intended for honest discussion, and backed by fact. If you were flagged by either the community or an individual moderator, it was not because you posted an unpopular or contrary opinion, it was overwhelmingly likely it was because you came off as – and please forgive the language – an asshole. Passionately defend your beliefs but be kind. If you cannot handle that basic level of human decency, you are neither wanted nor welcome. This isn’t a broad public site meant for the masses, it’s more like a private book club meeting in a corner coffee shop. Not everyone is invited.
At the present time, JoshuaKennon.com does not engage in the practice of so-called “Shadow Banning” but it may appear that a comment is visible one minute and not visible the next because various caching technologies employed both at the server level and/or the Content Delivery Network may cause the site to update at different rates.
If you have a comment that you believe was removed in error, or you would like to ask to be reinstated to the community, send a message through the JoshuaKennon.com Contact Form. Please note that several weeks, even months, may go by before someone gets to it. If you don’t hear from us, please don’t assume the worst. Also, please be aware that Joshua Kennon himself will almost never override the judgment of another human administrator / moderator as he has empowered them to protect the nature of the community and wants to give them the space to do their best work.
A near-certain way to be banned from the community is to disregard all of this and immediately start mass posting about how Joshua Kennon is censoring your comments. As stated above, he may not even know you exist at that point as all actions taken on behalf of the community have his name stamped on them due to the domain. He is probably not even paying attention to you unless he happens to catch your comment on one of his coffee breaks, early in the morning, or late at night when and if he goes on a kick and decides to work on this site. Otherwise, he’s too busy running Kennon-Green & Co.®.
What Are the Community’s Commenting Guidelines?
The social compact around here is based on the idea that each idea should be evaluated individually and on its own merits. You will not be judged, banned, or censored for posting a dissenting opinion, including opinions published by Joshua Kennon (in fact, those are among his favorites if they are well-argued and intelligently supported). Share your stories. Explain your experiences. Communicate with others. In doing so, the only major rule (and, again, please forgive the language): Don’t be an asshole.
That’s really it.
It covers practically everything.
Ideas reign. Share your ideas. Attack ideas, not people. Don’t make generalized, lazy, broad sweeping claims about entire groups of people based on their gender, biological sex, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc. Yes, discussing population-level statistics is inevitable in a community that tends to get into some fairly deep discussions about socioeconomics but there is a major difference between doing so honestly and simply attacking an individual or group. Try and give people the benefit of the doubt when it seems like a mistake was an honest one. Be kinder than necessary. Be patient. Be understanding. Treat others like you would want to be treated. The person on the other side of your comment is most likely a real human with actual emotions; loved ones who care about him or her, dreams, aspirations. Do not forget that. Act accordingly.
Remember that being here is a privilege, not a right. You are not entitled to have your opinion heard. For the sake of fairness, please understand that even if you make otherwise excellent points, you won’t last long around here if you create a hostile environment that makes other members of the community less likely to post their thoughts and exchange ideas.