Were you ever banned here? You may now once again comment.
All I ask is this: just don’t deliberately antagonize people.
Don’t panic. It’s not as crazy as it sounds.
I’m dissatisfied with the way discussions go here and I want to do some things to shake things up. One of the problems I see is a lack of dissent — in part because I think people jump down dissenters’ throats.
So I am welcoming dissenters. Including anyone who has been banned.
Now: nobody has ever been banned for dissenting. By and large, they have been banned for behavior that should not be tolerated on a civil blog. However, because of the nature of the Internet, I recognize that there is an overlap between those who are uncivil and those who dissent. What’s more, I’m not entirely sure that the fault lies entirely with the banned people. I am often concerned that dissent sparks a chorus of accusation that causes people to be defensive and thus uncivil.
Here is the key: I don’t intend to allow anyone to deliberately antagonize people for the sake of antagonizing them. If a previously banned commenter tries to do that, those comments won’t appear.
I should also add that I am not yet comfortable with the idea of dropping my “moderate” list. Because the previously banned do tend to make comments that should not appear on the blog.
But if they make non-antagonistic comments, why shouldn’t those comments appear? And if you were previously banned and you behave, I will undo your moderation status. Just make a couple of non-antagonistic comments to show your good faith, and then ask to be unmoderated.
So: everyone who has ever been banned on this blog is once again welcome. That includes Christoph, and start-a-blogfight Joe, and Brad Friedman, and Jeff Goldstein, and actus, and AF/blah/etc., and Ed from PA together with the millions of other names he has used, and that guy who wanted me to die in a one-car crash, and a bunch of other people I can’t even think of.
I’m also tired of grudges, and I think sometimes grudges are rooted in part in people being banned. So if I can work to eliminate grudges by unbanning everyone, great.
Do I think all those people, or most of them, will come back and comment here? Nah. It might make no difference at all. Want to declare that you would never come back here regardless? Fine. Go nuts.
But what the hell. I’m looking for a change.
PERHAPS MORE IMPORTANT STILL: I would like to ask people to start trying to be more charitable. Even when dealing with someone whose history you don’t like, try to see the good faith in their arguments if possible. If someone says something that is factually wrong, don’t accuse them of lying right off the bat. Provide the true facts and gauge their reaction.
I very often see a lot of bitter back-and-forth between people whom I like to some degree. If I can see the good in both parties, why can’t you?
99% of all Internet debate is bullshit — people responding to strawmen and otherwise ignoring or distorting valid opposing arguments. Let’s see if we can create a place where the percentage is a little smaller than that.
P.S. In other words, my amnesty is not designed to lower the quality of argumentation. Far from it. I’m hoping to improve it — and I think accommodating more viewpoints is important to that goal.