14 February 2009

Comments Policy: Boundaries

Comments to this blog have been enabled again.

I recently disabled comment posting here, for two primary reasons:
[1] an argument appeared to be developing; civilized disagreement is fine here, but brawls are not.
[2] I was observing what seemed to be an escalating violation of boundaries, when I needed to focus all my resources on a specific issue and had no energy to spare for boundary reinforcement.
Item [1] is self-explanatory; item [2] requires some background.

This blog has actually had a comments policy ever since it began.

Initially, comments were completely disabled.

Given my own experience with badly managed discussion groups in realspace and poorly moderated message boards in cyberspace, I was reasonably certain that I would soon see trolls or hecklers [a troll, in my definition, is a 'stealth' heckler, someone who engenders conflict deliberately, generally an abuser]. I had neither the time nor the inclination to filter out trolls and hecklers or to referee disputes involving them.

Over time, I realized that this was an overly hard boundary and could be modified. This blog now allows all readers to submit comments for moderation. That is, one need not be a blogger or be registered at Blogger.com to submit a comment. Comments may be submitted anonymously.

However, I screen them.

I do not post multiple repetitions of the same comment, once an answer has been provided;
I do not post comments from IPAs that have submitted abusive content in the past, especially if the same IPA posts under different screen names when doing so [sock-puppetry];

[note: bloggers with multiple screen names are a different story and I recognize this.]

I do not post obvious heckling;

nor do I post overly fulsome praise.

[Extreme, unrealistic praise is usually the first move in an idealization-devaluation cycle, whether conscious or otherwise. These cycles always end badly. It's far easier and kinder to all concerned not to allow such cycles to start in the first place, once you know the signs.]

Sincere thanks and honest compliments are always welcome, of course, as are
respectful disagreement,
respectful presentation of alternative viewpoints [within limits; trying to persuade me that abuse is a form of 'free speech' will not get anywhere],
and posts offering additional information and useful links.

I will also not post comments that violate certain boundaries.

Family-friendly language is essential. [PG-13; mild profanity]
Family-appropriate topics are essential; there are other, excellent sites which address, with great courage, recovery from the most profoundly damaging events a human being can experience, and such events are best addressed on those sites.

I cannot provide ongoing counseling; there are other, excellent blogs that use their comments sections more like modified message boards, and those sites do provide direct personal counseling, both from peers and from the authors. There are also excellent message board communities available, with password protected areas in which it is safe to discuss one's deepest sources of pain.

I do not post comments that identify other sites, individuals, etc. to their detriment. If there is information in these comments that I feel ought to be posted, I will post a paraphrased version, and indicate that I have done this. I also post responses to emails, when appropriate, without posting the email content.

Finally, I will not post comments that violate my own boundaries.

Comments that question my choice of topic, presentation style, etc., will be posted and responded to if they seem to be honest questions.

However, comments that attempt to control what I post here, i.e., what I am free to think about and discuss in pursuing my own recovery or sharing the lessons I've learned, will not be posted.

Lest anyone think that babies are being thrown out with the bath water in such cases, here are the criteria I use to differentiate control from persuasion:

Persuasion attempts. When heard, acknowledged, considered, and rejected, persuasion listens, understands, respects, responds, and accepts. There may be multiple exchanges, but there is no escalation. Persuasion can agree to disagree.

Control attempts. When heard, acknowledged, considered, and rejected, control ignores, insists, then demands, then attacks. There will be multiple exchanges, and there will be escalation. Control has to win at any cost.

A sense of escalating pressure, unreceptivity to communication, and/or impending attack is an indication that you are dealing, not with attempted persuasion, but with attempted control. They are different things, and require different responses.


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