Comments policy

Paul Raven @ 3:15 am

Futurismic Comments Policy

The whole point of blogging and social media is conversation, and Futurismic supports and encourages discussion, debate, dissent, and the sharing of information. We believe everyone has the right to say and believe whatever they want to, provided they do not force those opinions on anyone else.

We also believe in the right to comment anonymously… but greater minds than ours have observed that with anonymity, occasionally, comes behaviour that is at best unpleasant and at worst deliberately abusive or offensive.

Futurismic is, we hope, a community. Think of it as your local pub or bar, where you can sit down and have a chat about the cool things you heard about this week, maybe meet some new people and have them join in the conversation. So far so good.

But there’s nothing more destructive to your conversation than some masked-up person with an attitude who steps into the building and starts smashing tables and telling everyone their opinions are wrong without entertaining the same potential wrongness in their own opinions.

This, sadly, is why a lot of real bars and pubs now have doormen.

It’s also why Futurismic has a comments policy, which you are reading now – and by which you agree to be bound should you choose to comment here. Don’t worry, we’re not going to try to take away any of your rights; we just want to protect our own.

You own your own words

In the same way that Futurismic‘s bloggers and writers are considered to be the owners of their own posts and essays, your comment belongs to you in perpetuity. In other words, if you start a discussion and it gets too hot for you, don’t come running to us. Concede defeat, or argue your corner, but don’t ask us to delete your comments or any replies to them just because you didn’t think about the consequences first.

You are also fully responsible for the legality of your comments. Should you commit libel or a similar crime with your comment, Futurismic will not hesitate to cooperate with legal authorities who request assistance, up to and including supplying IP addresses for commenters. We believe in your right to anonymity, but we’re not getting locked up or sued on your behalf.

Take your hate elsewhere

Depending on how it gets interpreted, the First Amendment (and its equivalent in other countries) essentially entitles you to the right to hold any opinion you like and to speak your mind about it in public.

That applies here, as far as we’re concerned, but with a few caveats. Basically, if Futurismic staff or community members deem a comment to be broadly and unnecessarily abusive or stereotypical towards any individual person or gender, race or class of people, we reserve the right to delete your comment.

As Charlie Stross put it so neatly: “this is our soapbox”. If you want to rant about something we won’t allow here, go start your own site. It’s a free internet – but this corner of it is ours to do with as we will. That’s our freedom of speech.

Denial, dissent, proselytism

We like dissenting voices at Futurismic; we don’t aspire to being an echo chamber. We also adhere to the scientific methodology which states that there is no such thing as concrete proof of any theory, only a sufficient mass of evidence that makes refuting a theory pointless and counterproductive, and that knowledge is advanced by debating and testing theories and propositions by holding them up against solid documented evidence accrued.

Yeah, you can see where this is going.

Perhaps, for example, you believe that anthropogenic global warming is a conspiratorial fiction dreamed up by a shadowy cabal of sinister leftists hell-bent on enslaving the world into a politically-correct lock-step planet ruled by scientist-kings. You’re entitled to that belief. You may even debate opposing beliefs in the comments here – but refer back to “You own your own words” further up.

However, should your debating tactics descend to shrillness, which we shall define here as any one or more of the following:

  • continually refusing or neglecting to back up extraordinary or specious claims
  • ad hominem attacks
  • broad sweeping statements based on racial or political demographics
  • reflexive labelling of any view opposing your own as fascistic or Nazi in character

… then we reserve our right to amend, disemvowel or delete your comment and, if we decide it necessary, ban you from commenting further.

Argue your point politely and logically, and you can defend any opinion you want – up to and including the frankly implausible fantasy about global warming mentioned above. We will not delete or ban comments just because they disagree with what Futurismic or anyone else says. We will, however, delete or ban comments that represent people being unnecessarily shitty.

And yes – “shitty” is a value judgement, and we’ll call it how we see it, as is our right. If you can’t live with that, we suggest you don’t comment at all.

As a blanket rule, proselytisers, evangelists and crusaders for any religion, philosophy or political creed (including atheism) will be disemvowelled if their comment adds nothing to the conversation.

Spammers beware

We have noticed a recent trend where, frustrated by increasingly effective spam control software, SEO companies are being paid to leave genuine human comments on blogs like Futurismic, using an SEO keyword as their name and a link to a commercial website in the URL box.

We’re aware that everyone needs to make a buck, but there’s an obvious point to make: all comment-author links on Futurismic are set to “nofollow”. That means you’re wasting your time, you’ll get no SEO juice from commenting here. The first few times, we’ll just remove the URL. Continual re-offenders will be barred from commenting entirely.

If you feel we’ve deleted a URL unfairly – in other words, it really is your own business or site that the URL points to – drop us a line using the contacts page. Hint: using your name instead of a keyword is much more likely to convince us you’re genuine.

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We don’t think any of the above is particularly unreasonable, but in these trigger-happy litigious times, we thought we’d best lay it all out in words. We’d love to hear your feedback on this policy; drop us a line using the contact page.

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