Oh, what a warm womb of anonymity the Internet provides for the frustrated, the voiceless, the inadequate, the terminally unpleasant, the unpublished writers, and the grown men who live in their mothers’ basements on welfare!
Shrouded by the cyber-cloud and cocooned behind a fake screen name, you can be anyone you want to be on the Internet—especially someone stronger, more attractive, and braver than you are in real life.
The best thing about the Internet is that it allows a forum for everyone to express their opinions. That’s also the worst thing about the Internet.
Just as we don’t believe all men are created equal, neither do we believe all opinions are equal. It’s true that opinions are like assholes and nearly everyone has one—but not all opinions are of equal merit. For that matter, anyone with a fair degree of sexual experience knows that not all anuses are of equal utility, either.
It wasn’t very long ago here on Taki’s Mag when commenting on articles wasn’t even an option. We made this option available because some of us are Greek by birth and others are Greek in spirit—we value the public exchange of ideas as expressed in the ancient Greek agorai and—even though we’re not nearly as keen on Italians—the ancient Roman fora.
But we also suspect that if, say, someone were to stumble in half-cocked and fully loaded to a public debate in ancient Thessaloniki and started doing nothing but shouting wild, unsubstantiated allegations about the other debaters, they would have either been gently escorted away from the marketplace or perhaps even publicly executed.
Try to envision our comments section as a cocktail party which is open to everyone—unless you start screaming, breaking things, and pooping on the floor. As with cocktail parties, such behavior tends to drive away those who are actually fun and interesting.
Although we are generally despondent about the quality of public discourse in the Anglosphere, we like to believe that most of our readers are intelligent and are therefore able to comport themselves intelligently, no matter how vehemently they disagree with what we’re saying.
The reason for even having a comment section is not for you to praise or insult the writer in question, but to discuss the ideas expressed in their articles. If you disagree with their points, you’re encouraged to explain why. Although it shouldn’t need to be explained, things such as “logic” and “facts” are crucial for making an effective counterargument.
If you have points to make, then for Christ’s sake and the love of Pete, by all means make them. We have never banned a commenter for expressing an “offensive” belief or one with which we disagree.
Commenters typically get banned for committing one or both of the two deadly sins—for being stupid or for serial rudeness. These are the same reasons we’d 86 them from a party.
If, over what we deem to be a reasonably lengthy probationary period, you prove yourself incapable of making a point and instead lean solely on logical fallacies as your rhetorical crutches, you will promptly be banished from the premises and given a one-way ticket to Stupidville.
If you establish a consistent track record of bringing absolutely nothing to the discussion beyond cheap insults and rude treatment of our writers and other commenters, our cyber-bouncers will toss you out the doors and onto the sidewalk. Insults are fine—we love skillfully phrased takedowns, even if directed at us—as long as you wrap them around a logical point. But if insults are all you have, find another cocktail party. You remain absolutely free to act like a child everywhere else on the Internet.
Now that we’ve covered the two deadly sins, we need to discuss a few unsavory character types that always tend to emerge on public message boards. Emulating these character traits will result in your lifelong excommunication.
THE HIDDEN-HAND THEORIST
This type of commenter can’t seem to constrain themselves from invoking various permutations of Godwin’s Law—just as the statistical likelihood of someone being called a Nazi eventually approaches 1 on Internet discussion groups, so will the probability of our writers or other commenters being accused of carrying water for Zionists, corporations, Republicans, and sundry other shadowy puppeteers. It is intellectually dishonest, logically retarded, and conspiratorially delusional to accuse someone of being the sockpuppet of sinister string-pulling masterminds merely for expressing their sincere opinions. If you’re going to lob such accusations, you will be required to present documented evidence to support them; otherwise, this tactic may backfire on you when we turn around and prove exactly who the paid mouthpiece is.
THE ONE WHO ALWAYS MAKES IT PERSONAL
Without the efforts of our Publisher, Executive Editor, and Copyeditor, there would be no website for you to anonymously criticize. Judging from some recent potshots, it may not have occurred to you that our Executive Editor has been aware for her entire life that she is our Publisher’s daughter. What you’re probably not aware of is that she’s also written for numerous other publications and is currently writing a book that does not in any way involve our Publisher’s sponsorship. Our Copyeditor/Fact-Checker (his name rhymes with “slim road”) is also keenly aware of his highly publicized misdeeds from moldy days of yore. He has also never shied away from discussing them and will eagerly argue anyone into the dirt over the specifics—but not here. If you want to spar with him about matters entirely unrelated to his articles, email him and he’ll gladly set up a time and place. But unless you’re able to establish what any of it has to do with the article in question, you will suffer a swift digital curb-stomping. Same rule applies with all our other writers—if you make a habit of avoiding the topic and relying strictly on ad-hominem attacks, you’re ad-outta here. If you can’t stay on-topic, you can’t stay on here.
We once deemed it proper to shit-can someone who’d left hundreds of comments without so much as a positive morsel among his massive trash heap. Said person also serially indulged in hidden-hand theories and false imputation of writers’ motives. If you think we’re all liars and everything on here makes you profoundly unhappy, then why in the name of the bloody Virgin Mary are you on here? If you’re that freaking miserable, either kill yourself or take your misery elsewhere. After banning such types, we’ve also noticed a disturbingly surprising trend for many of them to send follow-up emails blaming their behavior on medical conditions. One of them attributed it to the fact that he’d neglected to take his psychiatric medication. Another blamed it on abnormally high ammonia levels due to Hepatitis C. Yet another recently claimed his vengeful cyber-antics were due to being recently diagnosed with bowel cancer. Yeah, fellas, we might have a shred of sympathy for your medical conditions—real or imagined—if your personality didn’t get in the way.
THE ERRONEOUS PEDANT
We take pride in checking, double-checking, quintuple-proofing, and vetting the accuracy of the articles we publish. Like a cruel dog trainer cracking the whip on an anguished poodle, we run each essay through a rigorous series of flaming hoops before letting it go live. If there’s another website with fewer typos and bungled facts than ours, we’d honestly like to see it so we can learn from the masters. And if we misspell something or get a fact wrong, we encourage you to point it out in the comments. But lately we’ve noticed a trend where commenters attempt to “correct” items but wind up being absolutely wrong. Therefore, you should Google before you leap. We’ll cut you slack on one errant leap. But if you get it wrong twice, you’re an annoyingly stupid jerkoff and we’ll let you fall off the cliff.
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