I’ve started to practice Aikido. That sounds impressive. At the moment, it mostly involves me having far more skilled people repeatedly throw me to the mat.

Make no mistake, I love it. And, I plan to become a lot better at it. Why? Because practitioners of Aikido defend themselves without harming their opponent. Instead, they sense an attacker’s intentions and respond in a way that incapacitates them.

The philosophy behind Aikido aligns with what matters to me. Because of this, I’m already noticing how I can use the principles of Aikido in other aspects of my life.

Case in point: My evolving view on blog comments.

Random, I know. My mind works in orthogonal ways. Here’s what I mean:

When I was a less experienced blogger, I would relish the sight of a blog comment. Ooh! Someone noticed my blog! And they took the time to comment! Win!

Since then I’ve written 480 blog posts and published over 2,694 approved comments. That’s cool. I’m happy many people have taken the time to comment thoughtfully and with consideration. I’ve enjoyed some of the conversations I’ve had.

Here’s what I don’t like:

  • Uncivilised discussion. Stupid or ugly comments that do nothing to further the conversation.
  • Comments from people who didn’t take the time to read the article.
  • Comments from anonymous posters intending to attack me or other commenters
  • Pointless comment spam. My spam blocker (Akismet) has blocked 12,731 spam comments since August 2015. Still, spammers are getting smarter. Too much spam requires my personal attention to delete. Comments like these wastes my time. I could spend this time doing much more productive things.

Unproductive comments on my personal blog are more than enough. I have also had to contend with comments on other sites to which I contribute.

Commenters on SL Blogger Support tend to comment politely even when they disagree. Perhaps it’s the nature of the community there. For this reason, I’ve been happy to write 22 articles for this blog in 2015. I’ve published 334 comments associated with these posts, almost all constructive.

Commenters on New World Notes are plentiful, anonymous and (perhaps consequently) much less helpful. With few exceptions, reading comments on Hamlet’s, Iris’s and my posts is not rewarding. I’ve thus limited my posting to that site. Who’s got time for that? Hamlet seems to have the stomach for it. That’s not an area I want to develop.

Firestorm is one of Second Life’s most high traffic sites. Thousands of people read every post, and many people comment too. Upwards of 50 per post. Firestorm’s comment policy is ‘anything goes’, with which I don’t agree. But it’s their blog, and they make the rules. I can accept getting hate mail because my principal activity with Firestorm isn’t blogging. My goal there is much bigger, so it’s worth it.

I told someone close to me that I was preparing myself for loads of hate mail from my next Firestorm blog post. Surprised, they looked at me and asked: “Hate mail? Why would you get hate mail from volunteering to help people?”

I had to ponder the question and realised I’d become accustomed to this new reality. I didn’t like that I had and that feeling was a catalyst to doing something about it.

Indeed, how is that behaviour even possible, let alone acceptable? It doesn’t happen in my day to day work. I’ve never in my life been the recipient of the vitriol I’ve received while blogging in Second Life. And it’s not because I’m a doormat elsewhere. I voice my opinions in all domains of life. My feelings don’t generate such odious passion in people I interact with in day to day life! Only here. Only in Second Life.

On my blog, I’ve considered disabling comments altogether. Bigger blogs have led the way in this regard – including Re/code and Copyblogger. Both these sites and others cite similar concerns as I’ve listed above. Trends suggest that more people comment on social media. Some argue that social media is a better place for such conversations. Besides, there’s greater SEO value in that as well.

Copyblogger has since reversed their decision, deciding to apply a comment policy instead.

And this leads me to my Aikido move:

As of this day forward, I’m implementing a comment policy on this blog, much like Copyblogger’s:

I welcome thoughtful and civilised discussion. I reserve the right to edit or delete comments as I see fit, without explanation.

Ok, it’s the same as Copyblogger’s. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel is there?

How should your comments look? Your comment

  • Will have a way to identify you as a commenter
  • Is smart, relevant and expands on the article’s premise. Read the article before you comment.
  • Carries the conversation forward
  • Offers useful and constructive criticism
  • Is any combination of the above

Here’s how to get your comment blocked (or deleted after the fact in case I am sloppy):

  • You show you didn’t read, watch or listen to the content
  • Your comment is an off-topic rant
  • You threaten or defame anyone
  • You are a douchebag (I don’t need to spell it out, everyone knows).

A few other tidbits:

  • I will moderate comments to allow comments from people who register and log in to comment. I recommend signing up with Gravatar.
  • I will automatically close comments on articles older than seven days
  • I will manually approve comments that fit the above criteria.

What if you want to want to comment on something I write but don’t wish to abide by my rules? That’s simple. Put it on your site, not mine. If you want to link to my posts, that’s fine too.

As a final word: I want to thank everyone who’s taken the thought and care into writing well-reasoned and considered comments on my blog posts. This policy won’t affect you at all.

I’ve loved having you. Is there something in my post that strikes a chord? Is there something I’ve written with which you disagree? Is there something you’d like to amplify or counter? Go ahead, make those points! All I ask is that you do it with grace.

As a result of this move, I expect to see a marked drop in comments to this blog. That’s great! It’s just another stride towards quality and away from quantity.