The comments problem

I’m changing my comments policy. From now on, comments will automatically close after a post has been up for 90 days. I have also updated the rules to be more concise, and put them on the sidebar.

Why? Well, because people haven’t been reading or following the rules, and honestly, the amount of awful comments that I get is seriously draining on me. It makes me not want to log in and check comments. It makes me not want to even publish anything at all. It is also interfering with my ability to keep up with conversations with other bloggers across WordPress. If I’ve dropped a conversation with you at some point in the past several months… or really, the past couple years… well, this is probably why. I’m sorry.

In the past, I’ve been targeted for harassment. I’m not going to say by who, and if you know about it, please don’t mention their name here, because that would go out like a Bat Signal. It hasn’t been that bad, overall—certainly not on the level that I’ve seen happen to others. I suspect this is mostly because I haven’t responded to it, I just delete the comments immediately, and I’ve been pretty quiet here. It’s not like I’m well-known outside of ace spaces or anything, and I don’t even check Twitter. Most of the problem was solved back when I closed comments on That One Post. But still. Even though the scale of the problem has been relatively small, it still gives me anxiety.

I don’t want to remove comments completely, because it’s one of the primary ways I interact with the ace community, and it’s been a really positive thing throughout this blog’s existence. I’ve noticed that most of the harassment comes in on posts that are already years old, so I figured that closing comments on old posts would mostly curtail the harassment.

Besides, most comments coming in on old posts are not really helpful. Often it’s someone who wants relationship advice, which I don’t do anymore because it’s too much emotional labor (and honestly, a lot of times it’s some allo looking for an excuse to be shitty to their asexual partner). Sometimes people want to argue with trolls that have long since moved on, or pick a bone with me for some position that I’ve long since changed my mind on. Sometimes people just want to thank me for writing the post—which I totally appreciate, of course, and sometimes those comments really make my day… but. There are other ways to say that. There’s a like button, and there’s also a contact form. So in the end, I figure that I’m not going to be losing out that much by turning comments off on older posts. If I just get anxiety that there’s any new comments on those posts, and I don’t even want to check what the comment says, why leave it open?

I’ve actually already been testing this out for the last month or so, without posting an announcement about it. The policy has been working out for me so far, so I’m going to make it permanent.  90 days seems like a good amount of time to leave comments open for, but I may end up changing that if it ends up feeling like it’s too short or too long. I’m also going to continue to keep comments closed here for new posts that are cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda, since most people comment over there on those anyway.

These are my updated rules:

  1. No harassment, hate speech, bigotry, or intolerance of any kind. This includes intentionally spreading false information for the purpose of fomenting hate.
  2. No victim-blaming, oppression olympics, or ranking different forms of victimization. Never use someone else’s experience as a rhetorical tool to help you make a political argument.
  3. Do not offer unsolicited advice. Do not tell other people how they are feeling. Do not play armchair psychologist.
  4. Do not reveal another person’s identity or share confidential information. Do not out people. Exercise care when linking to other people’s personal blogs.
  5. Do not pose as anyone else. No sock-puppeting.
  6. No compulsory sexuality. Do not imply that having sex is a goal that everyone should strive for. Do not suggest that anyone ever owes another person sex, in any situation.
  7. No asexual elitism, and no sex-shaming. That means no suggesting that ace people are somehow “better than” non-asexuals, and also don’t say that sex is dirty, shameful, etc. You can say that it you FEEL that way, but not that it IS that way.
  8. This is not a 101-level blog. Do your own research about the topic at hand before posting. It is not my job to educate you.
  9. Do not ask me for relationship advice.

Major changes are in bold. The changes to #1 are pretty self-explanatory, I’ve already explained #9 above, and I’ll refer you to Queenie’s Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices series to explain the addition to #2. But I think people may not immediately understand the changes to #3 or #7, so let’s take a look at a few examples of comments that break those rules, shall we?

An anonymous person left this on my post about losing access to therapy:

I stumbled on your post tonight and know that my ‘advice’ is not asked for. Still, maybe it can help you or others. If you’re up for it, I want you to know:

– predators/abusers/narcs are quite common to find under the professional masks of (mental) health providers. Ding, ding, ding: you found one. Use those references to know who not to approach for therapy.

– you might want to look into therapy conducted over phone, email or chat. It has its own advantages and disadvantages, but it can work and might tide you over.

– do you know DWIL forum? It’s on babycenter, but enough people (like me) with no kids and no wish for kids find a lot of help there. It helps you deal with your in-laws and family of origin, specifically the toxic ones. And your sister? Toxic.

This is absurdly condescending and wrong on so many levels that I just can’t even. Why on earth would this person have ever thought this was a constructive or useful comment to leave me? It’s so insensitive. And a recommendation for some forum about babies? I don’t understand. Please send help.

I see a lot of unsolicited advice around the internet about phone/email/chat therapy, btw, and no, it isn’t a reasonable option for me. I mostly hate all of those things (chat is okay-ish, but I’ve kinda stopped doing that for the most part in the past few years and I really don’t understand how text-only chat could work as therapy). And I don’t live alone. I don’t have access to a private space where I could regularly conduct therapy over video chat or over the phone. My home is just not private in that way. I suspect many people who receive this kind of unsolicited advice are also not in a situation where this would be practical to implement, so I’d really like to see people suggesting this less often in general.

Also, this is a comment that came in several months after that post went up. How would you know that I don’t already have a new therapist by that point, anon? You’re making so many assumptions.

These kinds of comments are just so unhelpful that I’m outright banning them.

Next… Here’s a comment left on a very old post (I uh, copied this into a draft and then forgot which post it was on, whoops. It’s not really relevant though):

I know this post is very old, but i wanted to reply to this post anyway.
Each time i read a person attacking asexuality, it feels like a vain attempt to attack what is unassailable. They feel so frustrated and feel inferior because deep down they know that sex and dirty and shameful.
Asexuality represents a challenge and a threat for they fragile safety, so they try to reverse the situation by turning a good thing in something bad like a handicap for example.
Problem is we don’t have the same views of sex. And objectively it’s just a dirty, ridiculous and undignified behavior.
I know some people think it is immature to feel that way, but i don’t care. After all sex is a schizophrenic topic, parents are afraid to reveal the truth about conception and sex to their young children. And children are disgusted by the thought of their oarents having sex.
Sexuals never feel as comfortable with sex as they seem to appear, it’s just pure arrogance.
I’m asexual, sex-repulsed, and i can’t imagine how anyone could feel otherwise given what sex is all about and far from being a human ideal.

I have always been against the kind of asexual elitism on display here. That has never been a secret. I even made a whole post about this once (wow, that was almost a decade ago, and no, this isn’t the post the commenter was replying to). And I’m certainly not known for posts about sex-repulsion. So I’m pretty confused about why someone sent this comment to me. Also, this comment was left on December 22nd, 2016 and I feel like I went back in time. Am I on AVEN in 2005 now? Anyway, it’s against the rules too. Multiple rules, actually, because there’s some armchair psycho-analyzing and ableism going on here too.

Oh, and I love that this person calls asexuality “unassailable” here, given that we had a whole Carnival about how no one can fulfill the ideal of the unassailable asexual.

Just so we’re clear, it’s totally cool to talk about sex-repulsion and how you feel about sex… but as soon as you start saying that sex (all sex, including 100% consensual sex) IS bad/dirty/wrong/shameful or whatever, that’s crossing the line. As soon as you start saying things like “sexuals are inferior” (or feel inferior) or that “asexuals are more evolved” (NO, evolution does NOT work that way! There is no such thing as being “more evolved” than someone else!), you’re crossing the line. I’m confident that people can make this distinction and watch their language carefully enough not to cross that line.

I’m tired of hearing these things, and I won’t put up with it on my own blog.

So there you have it. There are my new comment rules.

Maybe with these in place I can relax enough to start actually posting some stuff. Probably won’t have anything for a little while yet, especially not heavy stuff, but we’ll see. I was thinking of posting some game reviews if anyone is interested in that. What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “The comments problem

  1. This is important and good. Thumbs up all the way too this post. While I hate not being able to comment on posts, even old ones sometimes, usually yeah the real time comments are good is when it’s a fresh post and a current conversation with multiple commenters. And I can’t always comment anyway. I learn to deal.

    My blog has never reached a level of popularity where this would be necessary although the prior who comment years later with advice about my relationship with my abusive mom still upset me a lot and I relate to the anxiety feelings after getting certain comments on my fanfiction or anonymous asks sent to my tumblr so if I see I have new ones of those I often am afraid to check what the comment is/who it’s from in case it’s hurtful/upsetting…

    Good luck going forward with this blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, it’s not even the volume of comments really. Like I’d still go weeks without having any comments at all… it’s more the ratio of good to bad ones. Part of that is because sometimes people would get fired up about something and then leave several comments in a row, not realizing that moderation takes a while and that their comments weren’t going to get through because they were against the rules anyway.

      You can always message me if you want to talk about an older post… or, since your comments tend to be so thorough and detailed, you could even turn some of them into new posts on your own blog if you want. I’d certainly read them! :) And thanks!

      Like

  2. Wow. As a neuroscience student actually doing a placement in a schizophrenia research lab, and as an ace with a family history of mental illness, I genuinely cannot even begin to process that comment you quoted about all sex being schizophrenic.

    I’m really sorry that you have to deal with utter diatribe like that and everything else you’ve described. It’s awful and no-one should ever have to deal with that.

    I think your choice to close comments after 90 days is a great idea, and I hope it works. I’ve been following your blog for donkey’s years, since before the hiatus and rebranding, and it’s always insightful and thought provoking.

    Liked by 2 people

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