Comment Policy was last updated March 2022.
First and foremost, Balloon Juice is a community, so our commenting policy is a combination of objective standards as well as some more subjective community standards for decency.
So while there will be some very clear lines that cannot be crossed, there will also be some fuzzy areas that we will deal with when we get to them. It’s not a black and white world, and this is a liberal blog, so you will just have to deal with some nuance.
To Flag a Comment that Violates the Policy
If you see a comment on Balloon Juice that you believe violates the standards that are set forth below, and you want flag the offending comment for attention, please do both of these things: 1) send email to John Cole and 2) use the Site Feedback form and select Report a Problem. Be sure to include the name of the thread that contained the offensive comment (or a link to the thread) as well as the person’s nym and the date and approximate time of the comments.
- First offense: 3-day timeout
- Second offense: 1-week timeout
- Third offense: 1-month timeout
- Beyond that: banned
Things That Will Get You an Immediate Timeout
- Sexism, racism, ageism; homophobic outbursts, targeting of marginalized groups, etc. We’re not going to put up with personal attacks beyond a joking nature, nor will we tolerate targeted harassment of commenters. Take your shit somewhere else.
- Explicit calls for violence. Obviously things said in jest such as “guillotines” or nonsense like that are recognized for the hyperbole they are. But direct, actionable threats or calls for violence are out, for obvious reasons.
- Targeted harassment of other commenters or front pagers.
- Intentional disinformation campaigns.
- Posting links to inappropriate websites or sites that compromise a user’s security.
- Divulging personal information about a commenter or front pager (real name, address, place of work, etc.)
- Calling for explicit violence or war crimes in Ukraine.
- I am sure you idiots will think of something else so I will just leave this here.
Intentional Disinformation Campaigns, in Detail (#4 above)
Intentional disinformation campaigns include anything that is known to be false with the slightest bit of knowledge and or research. These include, but are not limited to:
- Obama is a Kenyan Muslim.
- Climate change is a hoax.
- Vaccines cause autism.
- The world is flat.
- Nicotine is not addictive.
- Iraq had WMD
- The DNC stole the 2016 election from Bernie
- Seth Rich was murdered by the DNC
- Sandy Hook was a false flag operation
- There was no Russian interference in the 2016 election
Take that bullshit to reddit or 8chan or whatever. It will not be tolerated here.
Things You Should Avoid That May Lead to Punishment
- Just generally being a no-life asshole who derails every thread with your own personal hobby horse. Yes, we have the pie filter, but some people don’t like to use it. They shouldn’t have to suffer because some idiot has come in and posted 75 comments that have nothing to do with the original post.
- Repeated attempts to derail a conversation. Unlike yours truly, we have actual experts here – Adam, David, Tom, and others are good at what they do. We are lucky to have them. When they are trying to have a serious conversation and you are just trolling or being a jerk, you take away from the rest of us. You are stealing a valuable asset: their time and wisdom. It’s selfish and irritating, and I don’t want to see it.
- Again, left blank here for other things you all will inevitably come up with.
Process for Bans
If you have been flagged for inappropriate behavior, one of the front pagers will spam your comment. Once that has been done, they will email me, give me a link, and I will figure out what to do. I will consult with them, but I will have the final say, so direct your venom and incoherent tweets and emails at me.
My Closing Note
I absolutely hate that I even have to have these policies, but there it is. I don’t expect it to be a big problem, because most of the people will self-select out and go somewhere else where their nonsense is appreciated (reddit incel forums? Red State? Who knows? Who cares?)
For the most part, you are free to talk about whatever you want. Obviously there are some things we will not tolerate, like racist, sexist, and otherwise bigoted bullshit. But my overall philosophy has been that you are, within limits, able to post whatever you want, because it only reflects on you. When you say stupid shit, you’re the one who is standing out in public with your pants around your ankles looking the fool, not me.
We’re not going to delete comments, and we’re not going to censor you, unless you commit the offenses listed above. If people don’t want to hear your rambling nonsense, well, that’s why we have the pie filter (ALL HAIL CLEEK!).
Just don’t be a dick. Treat people decently (I’d say treat them the way you want to be treated but I know some of you self-loathing idiots will take advantage of that), and you will find that people will be good to you in return. A lot of us have known each other for a good long while. We want new people to feel welcome.
This is a community. Treat it like one.