You may have noticed that, when you go to comment today, there's a note about comment moderation being turned on. I hate having to do that, because it slows down the flow of discussion (especially when I'm away from my computer for a while), but the number and degree of poor behavior in the comments the last few days told me it was time to slow the flow for a day or two (or more) until some people start behaving better.
Most of you are wonderful, smart, funny, and add so much to the discussion that other critics frequently express their envy about the quality of the comments here. It's not an understatement to say you guys are just as important as I am to what makes this place special, and often times more.
But there's been a boom in the overall number of comments lately, and with that has come people who either don't know the rules, or don't care, so after the jump, it's time once again to run through the things you should keep in mind before commenting:
Rule #1: Be nice. This is an opinion blog, and a place where people can and should argue passionately for their point of view. But there's a difference between arguing with passion and arguing with hostility. If you can't find a way to express your viewpoint without insulting other commenters, or getting strident and self-righteous -- say, equating your opinion with fact, and deriding other people for not seeing the truth of your words -- then either tone down your words until they're more respectful to other people, or don't comment.
Rule #2: No spoilers. There are many, many places on-line to read and discuss the latest scoop about who's dying, who's going into a coma, who's about to have sex with a ghost. This is not one of them. Here, we only talk about episodes that have already aired (and only aired here in the States, when it comes to Brit import shows like "Doctor Who"). No discussing stuff you've read on other sites, no discussing previews for upcoming episodes (which have become increasingly spoiler-y in recent years), no discussing the hot rumor that your second cousin's best friend's former roommate heard while hanging at the craft service table on "Private Practice." Anything I consider even vaguely spoiler-y gets deleted. Period.
Rule #3: No talking/asking about shows I haven't blogged about yet. I am only one man. I can only watch and write about so many shows in a given day. Sometimes, it may take me days or even a week to get caught up on certain shows I follow. Sometimes, I may just skip over an episode and come back with a post for the next one. Posting comments in, say, the "Chuck" thread to ask, "When are you going to write about 'House'?" is not helpful. I'll get to it when I get to it. Or I won't. And what's really annoying is when those questions then lead to lengthy discussions in the comments about the show I haven't blogged about yet (and, likely, haven't even watched yet).
Rule #4: No politics. Things got really ugly around here in the run-up to the election, particularly any time I would write about Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and everyone on both sides lost their damn minds. Given that we live in the world, and that many shows deal with current events, it's impossible for politics to never come up as a subject, but if you can't discuss it only as it relates to its use on a show, don't discuss it. Saying you find Fey's Palin impression funny (or not) is fine. Accusing the party you don't endorse of being socialist or fascist is not fine. If you can't relate your point to the show and only to the show, don't do it.
Rule #5: If you can't be bothered to at least skim all the comments yourself, don't comment. This has come up a lot lately in discussions of shows like "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica," where the comments routinely pass the 100 mark, and sometimes edge close to 200. After the number of comments reaches a certain point, we start getting comments that begin with phrases like, "I don't have time to read all these comments, but has anyone thought about (a question that 12 other people already asked and answered)?" I understand that your time is valuable, and it can be a pain to go through all the previous comments, but it shows real disrespect to the people who already commented, and it's also really irritating for the people who actually do bother to read every comment.
Rule #6. What did I say about being nice? Given that most of the recent violations have been about Rule #1, it bears repeating. This shouldn't be that hard, but sometimes, it is. Talk about the shows, not each other. Period.
I'm going to leave the comment moderation on for the rest of today, and possibly overnight (even though it means everyone's "Lost" comments will have to wait for approval until morning), and then we'll see. I really don't like doing this, but it's either this or I start being much less reserved when it comes to deleting comments I feel are over the line.
So behave, everybody, and we can get back to the fun business of arguing about TV. Cool?