New Comments Policy And How The Comments Now Work

The comments system change is in progress, with most of the features in place. Since the system works differently than the old one in some important respects, I’ve updated the comments policy. Here’s the new version. The beginning is similar to the old one, but there are a number of additions.

Before you comment, imagine the following. You are seated in a comfortable chair at a table with all of the other commentators. You have gathered to discuss an issue of mutual concern, and you are aiming to learn something from the conversation. Take off your shoes if you’d like. Wriggle your toes. Appreciate the wonders of everyday life in the twenty-first century. On the table in front of you is your favorite beverage. Through the window is your favorite view. And seated next to you is a child, who you brought with you for a lesson on how to discuss controversial issues with strangers. Are you imagining all of that? Okay, now you may be in the right mindset to comment.

But please read the rest of this before you do.

Daily Nous is an online space for philosophers, academics, students, and other interested parties to discuss news and issues related to philosophy and the philosophy profession. People disagree about these things, and the discussions can get heated at times. Those participating should be able to distinguish between criticisms of ideas and arguments, on the one hand, and personally insulting rhetoric, on the other. Sometimes the latter can be disguised in the words used for the former, so please choose your words carefully. If you’re making a criticism, please do it kindly. And if your ideas and arguments are on the receiving end of criticism, please don’t take it personally.

More generally, let’s aim for more thoughtfulness and less obnoxiousness. Humor and lightheartedness are welcome. Just don’t act like a jerk.

Here’s how comments work at Daily Nous:

Comments are entered in a text box beneath the post, below any existing comments. The first time you comment at Daily Nous, you will need to login via one of these four widely used social media services: WordPress, Google +, Twitter, or Facebook. You do that by clicking on the associated icon at the top right of the comment box.

Once you are logged in, when you submit a comment, it will be immediately visible to other readers. The page does not need to be refreshed for new comments to appear. This way conversations on Daily Nous can be more like, well, conversations.

Alternatively, you may comment without a social media login by entering in a name and email address below the comment box (your email address will not be visible to other readers). One disadvantage to this method is that commenting this way requires me to manually approve your first comment from that email address. As a result, its appearance on the website may be substantially delayed. (Readers used to me approving comments throughout the day as they came in on the old, pre-moderated system should understand that I am no longer doing that.) Please note:

  • First, those commenting this way must submit a working and accurate email address. If I suspect your email address is fake, I may choose not to publish your comment (you can email me if you think I have made a mistake about your email address).
  • Second, the name you use in the comments should be consistent throughout your commenting here. If you attempt to use multiple nicknames or handles (i.e., if you engage in “sockpuppeting”) you will be banned from the site. Further, while you are not required to use your real name or a variant as a handle here (though I encourage you to do so), no handles or email addresses may contain the word “Anonymous” or “Anon” or the like. Pick a name and stick with it.

Once your comment is posted, it will be visible for others to read, to reply to, and to “like” (this feature isn’t yet back in place, but it will be returning soon). The reply function should nest your comment below the one to which you are replying. The reply button appears on the bottom left of a comment (you may need to mouse over the comment text for the button to appear).

The commenting system also allows you to read and reply to comments via email. You can receive emails when new comments are made on a post and use the “reply” function in your email application to comment. The email you receive will reproduce the latest comment, provide a few lines of the original post, and, if available, show you a few other recent comments. If you reply to the email, the content of your reply will appear as a comment on Daily Nous.

It is also possible to “report” a comment if you think it is in violation of the comments policy. To do this, click on the “report” button at the bottom right of the comment. If a sufficient number of people report a comment, it gets removed from the site and sent to the moderating queue for me to look at. If you see a comment you think doesn’t fit with the comments policy here, report it. However, please do not use the report function to mark mere disagreement with a comment.

Since the readership is now charged with comment moderation, I will not be pre-moderating comments. However, if I spot a comment that should be removed, I will remove it. Please note: the publication of a comment on Daily Nous does not imply that the content of the comment is endorsed by me or anyone else associated with Daily Nous.

If you believe there is a problem with the functioning of the commenting system, or have questions about it please email me.


OK. That’s it. We’ll see how this works. It will likely be a little glitchy at first, and it may take some getting used to, but I am hoping that these changes will encourage quality discussions here at Daily Nous, with more people from across the profession joining in. Thanks for your participation, and for the suggestions that led to these changes.


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Brian Weatherson
Brian Weatherson
8 years ago

That’s a quite expansive definition of sockpuppeting I think. I didn’t think that someone who commented under one name (e.g., their own name) on one thread, and commented using a different pseud on a different thread, on a different topic, was sockpuppeting.

As I said on the earlier thread, I think it’s great for people to use the same handles across multiple threads; it makes the macro-level conversation more enlightening. But I didn’t think violations of that desiderata should result in bans.

Brian Weatherson
Brian Weatherson
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
8 years ago

Thanks Justin; like Jonathan I’m really grateful for all the work you put in to making this site work.

Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
8 years ago

This generally sounds good (although I agree with Brian’s suggestion). Thanks for all your work on this!

I think that it might be helpful to have clarification about this passage:

“Those participating should be able to distinguish between criticisms of ideas and arguments, on the one hand, and personally insulting rhetoric, on the other. Sometimes the latter can be disguised in the words used for the former, so please choose your words carefully. If you’re making a criticism, please do it kindly. And if your ideas and arguments are on the receiving end of criticism, please don’t take it personally.”

First, should we take it it as implicated that personally insulting rhetoric is inconsistent with the commenting policy? The statement here doesn’t literally say so—it just says we should be able to to recognize the difference.

Second, assuming the policy does prohibit some degree of ad hominem attacks, I think that we need a bit more guidance as to what is and isn’t acceptable. For example, in the recent thread about criticisms of the PGR, there were some comments whose main point wasn’t at all about the merits or problems of the PGR—instead, they were arguing that you, Justin, were in a feud with Brian Leiter. With respect to the ‘criticize ideas’–’criticize people’ dichotomy, those seemed pretty clearly to me to fall on the latter side; should we take your having approved them as an indication that this kind of ad hominem focus is acceptable?

I know this is a slightly fussy question, but it sounds like you’re handing over a decent amount of responsibility to us readers, so I think it’s important that the guidelines are clear.

Reply to  Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
8 years ago

Just want to point out again that suggesting that Justin was in a feud with Brian wasn’t supposed to be any sort of attack. What’s wrong with feuding with Brian?! And it was in response to a very specific claim that Justin made that I was honestly taken aback by.

Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
8 years ago

Also: how do I get my picture to appear like Brian’s and yours?

Professor Plum
Professor Plum
8 years ago

I understand the need to move to this kind of system, but I’m skeptical it can work unless you bring more clarity to the comments policy. Also, I think it should be stressed that the bar for flagging a comment is very high (I.e., willful disregard of the comments policy rather than a comment that is on the borderline), and there should be some way of tracking people who are too quick to flag comments.

I’ve never understood the comment policy (which might explain why I’m someone who has had many comments refused publication). Given that we are all adults, why is the standard is framed in terms of what is appropriate to say in front of a young child? Given the ambiguity of that standard, I fear that people are going to shut down views that they don’t happen to agree with or find politically correct. Given that no one wants to waste time commenting only to have their comment removed, I hope you will work to address these issues.