My rules for commenters are pretty much the same as everywhere else. The comments policy at Language Log is basically identical to mine, for example. I do have one specific rule, however, that is perhaps more stringent here than elsewhere:
1.) If you have never commented here before, and …
2.) You’re being rude, and …
3.) You don’t seem to have read the whole post …
…your comment is going straight to the garbage. I don’t want to moderate a forum for axe-grinders who stumbled onto my site through social media, read maybe the first paragraph, and go off on bizarre only-kinda-related rants. So just keep it civil.
This is not the same as disagreement, by the way. I like disagreement! But debate is a very different thing than rage and trollery. I support your right to be a jerk online just like I support efforts to save the spotted hyena. But that doesn’t mean I want jerks or hyenas in my house.
I should also mention a few recent changes in how I deal with comments (as of late 2014). Although I’ve been loath to discuss the issue here, this website has attracted some unpleasantness over the past year. As such, I’ve made two decisions.
First, I now moderate new posters’ comments. I love hearing from new people, but there have been too many post-and-run misanthropes here, and I’m not hosting nastiness. This is also a crucial spam-prevention measure.
Second, I am no longer allowing commenting on posts older than three months. I had a hard time with this decision. I used to find it fun the way old posts sometimes turned into de facto discussion forums. But these years-old articles become huge spam magnets, and I don’t want to spend my days deleting junk links to German dating sites.
That’s pretty much it. I like keeping the tone here similar to that of an informal dinner party: everyone might get a little loose of tongue after a few beers, but nobody should be here to settle scores. Be civil and articulate, and you’ll be welcome here any time.