Comments Policy

Some guidelines for commenters

Guidelines are idiosyncractic so accept that up front and that will be fine and there will be no need for wailing or gnashing of teeth that might contribute to vast dental bills. We have modelled our guidelines after the policy of Language Log and Gary Schwitzer with a nod to Grice’s Maxims.

Be brief. Blog posts may be very long, long or short; blog comments should tend towards the short because, as you know, they are trickier to read and format. If you have a lot to say or need to post a number of links to make your point then please post it on your own blog and link to it in your comment with a brief summary. If you don’t have a blog, you could start one easily just for that purpose. That way, you will always have a copy of your posts and one day you can bind them in a book and hand them out to neighbours or grandchildren for the holiday season.

Be relevant. Again, as the authors on this blog, we write about whatever topic catches our attention or interests us. As a commenter however, we ask you comment on the contents of the post you’re commenting on. If you want to write about something else, then please do it on your own blog and people who are interested will read it. Yes, passing quips and exchanges are fine and by and large most people recognise when these are acceptable. If a comment is off-topic for a post but is relevant to the blog we might move it to Off-Topic: however, if it is off-topic for the blog, we may stop moving the posts and start deleting them after a warning.

Be informed. If you haven’t read around on this blog, don’t pretend that you have because it is irritating and Santa will find out and you won’t make it onto the Nice List. Unless you have a very good expectation that other commenters know what you are talking about because they are familiar with you or the topic, then please take the time to be specific: [specific person] discussed this in [specific reference] is better than “didn’t someone say something like…google it if you want to know more”.

Be polite. If you don’t know what this means, then please think about whether your comment will add anything useful to the discussion. Most reasonable people don’t intrude on a conversation brusquely, without introduction, shouting the odds and then act hurt and surprised when it isn’t received with undiluted rapture or enthusiasm.

Be appropriate. We will delete comments with product pitches, profanity and legally dubious allegations. We also don’t have any obligation to provide a platform for people with a sole obsession and a history of spamming the internet with it. E.g., the proper placement of bicycle clips on the legs to avoid chain jams or the anachronistic use of varnish on chromium on steam-train exhibits in various museums. You may be Dr Alfred Crockus and be driven by a desire to inform the world about Shatner’s Bassoon, but, that is not relevant to us. If you have an enthusiasm, blog about it but don’t spam us about it or expect us to provide a platform for you.

Be yourself. Sock-puppets, posting under multiple user names and impersonations are profoundly irritating. We reserve the right to delete such comments or bring attention to this.

Comments that violate these guidelines will be followed by a warning; however egregious violations may just be deleted. Repeat offenders may be placed on pre-moderation or even disemvowelled. Modifications to the comment policy are to be expected.

Most commenters don’t need guidelines so, you know who you are and as you were: the guidelines are here for the commenters who do.


As always, the HolfordWatch Complaints Department stands ready to refund double the subscription that you paid to HolfordWatch to read our blog if you are less than fully satisfied.