One of Autostraddle’s core values is community – specifically, creating a space for a new generation of kickass lesbian, bisexual & otherwise inclined ladies and their friends. For now, the main tool we have to encourage community is comments on posts. We have really funny readers, and we love getting to know you and hearing your opinions. Dialogue with readers is so important to us, in fact, that we are working hard to make sure that Autostraddle remains a safe place for discussion as we get bigger and better. With that in mind, we’ve put together some guidelines on commenting; nothing has really changed, but there are a few things we expect from you and a few things you can expect from us.
Things Autostraddle Will Do:
+ Respond to you and think you are awesome. We encourage conversations between the team and our readers. So when you post a comment, don’t be surprised if a team member responds. Seriously, we love your comments; we read every single one of them. We even talk about them amongst ourselves when you’re not around because they’re hilarious, and we wish we had written them. We might even call you out for a good comment on Did You See That Comment Fridays!
+ Encourage respectful debate. We understand that not everyone agrees with us. A diversity of viewpoints is good, and discussing those differences often leads to more intelligent opinions. So please, if you think we (or other commenters) are wrong, tell us. Let’s talk it out!
Things Autostraddle Will Not Do:
+ Reveal the identity or personal information of a user. Ever! Even if their comments are really mean.
+ Delete or edit a comment at a user's request, even if it’s your own comment. We encourage you to think carefully about what you want other people to see before you click “Submit Comment,” because we will not go back and edit or delete any comment because a user asks. That said, we may edit comments we think are inappropriate. So if you think there’s a comment that is abusive or unsuitable, feel free to point it out to us!
+ Allow a comment to remain on our site if it’s deliberately abusive or hateful. We welcome debate and discussion, and we are interested in hearing your opinion. But we do not allow hate speech or slurs of any kind (ethnic, gendered, based on sexual orientation, trans* status, etc.), ad hominem attacks aimed at our writers or readers or any type of body-shaming or body-snarking or negative assessments of a woman's physical appearance (this means ALL women). We want Autostraddle to be a safe, fun place for readers to interact. So be respectful in your reactions both to our pieces and to other readers’ opinions. We really do not want to delete comments, so please don’t be mean!
If you see an error in a post, please email us [laneia/at/autostraddle/dot/com] so we can make the fix! If you comment to point out an error, we will delete the comment after we make the correction, for your sake and for ours -- it's confusing to readers when the change has already been made and corrections aren't a part of the thread's conversation, either. If the correction is only one line of the comment, we'll just delete that one line. This is a policy we've come to after doing this for three years and speaking with users.
On Accusations of Bad Faith
The community blog "Shakesville" lays out the problems behind "accusations of bad faith" in this impeccably perfect "community note." We recommend all commenters check it out, but here's an excerpt:
Caring about this community is not an abstract concept to me. It is concrete and it is personal and it is an active practice.
Here are some other things you need to know about me: I make mistakes. I feel shitty, really shitty, when I make a mistake that hurts someone in this community.
I convey all of the above as preface to this: Because I care about this community as I do, it is singularly infuriating and hurtful that I am repeatedly accused of acting in bad faith when I make a mistake. Or just do/say something with which someone disagrees. The overt accusations or veiled implications—deliberate or otherwise—of bad faith, deliberate cruelty, hidden agendas, indifference, etc. are profoundly demoralizing.
And I am demoralized.
I, and the other contributors, are axiomatically assumed by many Shakers to be acting in bad faith if we err (or even if we are perceived to have erred, but haven't), even as we are simultaneously expected never to err at all. Shakesville was founded by a person, and it is managed and nurtured by people. And the continual proclamations that "I can't believe this would happen at Shakesville, of all places!" every time I, or one of the contributors, makes a mistake, necessarily implies that perfection is expected of us, as if Shakesville is a magical kingdom created of pixie dust and not a virtual space made possible by the hard work of people who are flawed and fuck up just like any other people. Our charter specifically provides room for us—and everyone else to inhabits this space—to fail, as we inevitably will. If you won't support the provision of that room to fail, then you're not providing a safe space for us.
I understand the impulse to react viscerally to something one of us posted, especially if it's hurtful. And I also understand that no one thinks it should be a big deal if they comment before thinking, just this once. But you are not alone. And if only an infinitesimally small percentage of this readership reacts viscerally by making the accusation that I was deliberately hurtful, that still makes about 20 times every single day I am being told, on the blog and in my inbox, that I act in bad faith.
As we've said, we like conversation and debate here. But we would like those conversations to be productive. With that in mind, we'd like to share this comment (via Racialicious, originally left on io9) on how to properly critique an argument. It sums up everything we think about unproductive criticism, so keep this in mind when you're commenting. Thanks, Moff!
Of all the varieties of irritating comment out there, the absolute most annoying has to be “Why can’t you just watch the movie for what it is??? Why can’t you just enjoy it? Why do you have to analyze it???”
If you have posted such a comment, or if you are about to post such a comment, here or anywhere else, let me just advise you: Shut up. Shut the fuck up. Shut your goddamn fucking mouth. SHUT. UP.
First of all, when we analyze art, when we look for deeper meaning in it, we are enjoying it for what it is. Because that is one of the things about art, be it highbrow, lowbrow, mainstream, or avant-garde: Some sort of thought went into its making — even if the thought was, “I’m going to do this as thoughtlessly as possible”! — and as a result, some sort of thought can be gotten from its reception. That is why, among other things, artists (including, for instance, James Cameron) really like to talk about their work.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to think about a work of art. I don’t know anyone who thinks every work they encounter ought to only be enjoyed through conscious, active analysis — or if I do, they’re pretty annoying themselves. And I know many people who prefer not to think about much of what they consume, and with them I have no argument. I also have no argument with people who disagree with another person’s thoughts about a work of art. That should go without saying. Finally, this should also go without saying, but since it apparently doesn’t: Believe me, the person who is annoying you so much by thinking about the art? They have already considered your revolutionary “just enjoy it” strategy, because it is not actually revolutionary at all. It is the default state for most of humanity.
So when you go out of your way to suggest that people should be thinking less — that not using one’s capacity for reason is an admirable position to take, and one that should be actively advocated — you are not saying anything particularly intelligent. And unless you live on a parallel version of Earth where too many people are thinking too deeply and critically about the world around them and what’s going on in their own heads, you’re not helping anything; on the contrary, you’re acting as an advocate for entropy.
And most annoyingly of all, you’re contributing to the fucking conversation yourselves when you make your stupid, stupid comments. You are basically saying, “I think people shouldn’t think so much and share their thoughts, that’s my thought that I have to share.” If you really think people should just enjoy the movie without thinking about it, then why the fuck did you 1) click on the post in the first place, and 2) bother to leave a comment? If it bugs you so much, GO WATCH A GODDAMN FUNNY CAT VIDEO.
Please refrain from ending your criticism of this-or-that part of this-or-that post with the phrase, "Really, Autostraddle?" or "Come on, Autostraddle..." Also, quoting the post and then saying "Really?" right afterwards is also against the law. It's like nails on a chalkboard to us, it makes us homicidal. Thank you.