Since this is a blog written by philosophers, discussion is its lifeblood. Accordingly we encourage ample discussion in the comboxes. But there are practical matters to consider too. The design of this blog is very similar to that of the once-famous, now-defunct version of Fr. Al Kimel’s theology blog Pontifications. That includes the physical format, and the rules, of the combox. And that presents several issues for those who post comments.
1. Appearance. There is no “preview” function: you can’t see what your comment will look like before you post it. We suggest that the way round this problem is to compose your comment in your preferred word-processing program and save it therein before you copy-and-paste the whole thing for posting in the combox itself. That way you can view it and make changes as needed; and you will also avoid losing your comment in cyberspace before you’re ready to post it. But remember: you have to compose in text-only mode, which means that your HTML formatting, if any, will have to be done by manually entering the tags in your word-processing program. Rich-text formatting of comments does not carry over into the combox. The font style and type-size of comments is always the same once the comment is posted.
2. Content. Under some conditions, your comment will be caught in the moderation queue for approval before it appears. That happens to every first-time commenter, and to every comment that contains more than 2 hyperlinks. Our purpose is to reduce automated “spam” commenting. Also, if we deem it necessary, we will tag the user ID of a given commenter for moderation every time they try to post a comment. The administrator’s experience on other blogs has been that such a screening device is sometimes necessary to prevent abusive comments from being posted in the heat of controversy. If that happens to you, be patient. Comments awaiting moderation can’t be approved quickly if we’re busy; and if your comment is rejected, the administrator will tell you why. Abusive comments that appear without having been moderated can and will be deleted at the discretion of the administrator. In extreme cases, a given user may be banned from commenting at all.
3. Closing a combox. You might find on occasion that comments on a given post are no longer allowed, or that none were never allowed in the first place. When that happens, it’s because the administrator sees fit to save himself and his colleagues the work of reading and moderating comments in the case at hand. That might be because the discussion has played itself out; or, if no discussion was permitted, it was because none was called for.
4. Other guidelines for commenters. Keep your comments civil and topical. Personal insults or attacks cannot and will not be tolerated. Also, try to keep your comments reasonably short. Both the boxes themselves, and the type-size allowed in them, are rather small, so long comments are hard to follow. If your point requires a long comment to make properly, consider making it a post at your own blog, or starting your own if you don’t already have one. You can always link to comments in our combox by their permalinks if you need to.