We’re long overdue
for another open thread.  Now is the time
for you to post that otherwise off-topic comment I’ve had to delete.  From Being Itself to mental health, from
Mickey Spillane to John Coltrane, from Dada to Prada, in this post everything
is on-topic.  Naturally, the normal rules of decency and
civility still apply.

I see from
some drama in the comments section that I once again have to comment on the
tiresome topic of trolling.  As longtime
readers know, I try as far as I can to let the comments section police itself.  There are two reasons for this.  First, in the interests of free discussion
and in order to make all readers feel welcome whatever their level of knowledge
of the subject matter of a post, I think it is better to err on the side of
letting some lower-quality comments stand and leaving it to readers to decide
what is worth responding to.  Second, I
am extremely busy and simply don’t
have time to read through, let alone micromanage, most combox discussions.

To be sure, I’m
not some Democrat mayor; I don’t let lunatics run riot.  There are a few especially psychotic trolls who
I consider banned forever and whose comments I always delete because they have
proven themselves to be utterly obnoxious and irrational – routinely posting
little more than insults, unhinged rants, personal obsessions, obscenity or
blasphemy, etc.

But there
are others I have banned for lesser offenses and whose return I have tolerated because
they have shown themselves willing to curb their more unpleasant
tendencies.  That does not mean that I
think their comments are of high quality. 
But it does mean that I have judged that, if other readers would simply
follow the rule of not responding to people they regard as trolls, these people
will not pose a serious problem.

Think of it on
the model of a party.  Some of your
fellow guests will be so interesting that you could talk to them for hours;
some will be good for maybe ten or fifteen minutes of conversation before you
run out of things to say to one another; some will be total bores; and a
handful will be completely obnoxious – getting drunk, starting fights, acting
lecherously, etc.  Now, a good host should
throw out people in that last category, but should let all the others stay and
leave it to the guests to figure out who is who.  And of course, a person who is boring to one
guest may not be to another.  There’s no
need to go on and on about how boring some fellow guest is.  If you don’t want to talk to him, don’t.  If others do, that’s their problem.

Finally,
please remember not to post off-topic comments. 
Other than the nastier troll comments, there’s nothing more annoying
than a comment that begins “This is off-topic, but…”  If it’s off-topic, don’t post it.  I will delete
it and all responses to it.

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