First off, calm down. Don’t read that as “please calm down”—we’re not asking anymore.
For some reason I’ll generously assume to be a combination of cabin fever and excitement at the onset of spring, things have gotten way too heated and way too personal on the comment boards. It has to stop. You’re driving us nuts.
I understand us web editors may be partly to blame for the confusion over what’s allowed and what isn’t. The truth is there are no hard and fast rules (except, of course, those forbidding content that might get us sued). Sure, we expect civility and good humour and a modicum of intelligence from all of you, but even those rules can be bent a little here and there.
What it comes down to is this: if we think a comment is having a destructive influence on a discussion, we’ll delete it. That’s it, that’s all. This is, of course, an entirely arbitrary rule, and some individual bloggers are bound to have different tolerance thresholds than others. Don’t hold your breath expecting that to change. There’s a reason the overwhelming majority of the discussions here are smart and informative, and we think our (mostly) hands-off approach has a lot to do with it. For the most part, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt has worked well so far and we’re hoping this gentle kick in the behind will set everything straight again. (But don’t kid yourselves: there’s a Plan B if it doesn’t.)
Our other message goes out to those who’ve taken to baiting us into being more aggressive than we’d like to be by overusing the “Report” button every time their feelings get hurt. You know who you are and so do we. Quit it. It’s annoying and we’re not going to tolerate it much longer.
In short, think of the boards as an open-house party—everyone’s welcome and encouraged to mingle, but no one has a right to be there. We will always reserve the right to kick people out of our house when they get too bothersome. You’d do the same at your place.
I’ll be hanging around in the comments if you’ve got any questions.