REGISTRATION NOW REQUIRED TO "COMMENT"
IMAGES ENHANCE THE MESSAGE
This arrangement has been much more satisfying. I can use images that emphasize my points. I tease folks when they ask about those images by telling them that my readers are the comic book crowd, so they like funny pictures. Actually, I think those images make the blog better... but, then, I would. I suspect most of you agree.
The "Comments" feature, however, is a whole different story. When I first began publishing A BUBBLING CAULDRON my goal was to draw more folks into the discussion of what I thought were important community issues. I know, for a fact, that I've been able to do that simply from the number of comments sent to the blog, and by personal anecdotes provided to me privately by readers who have become active in the community because they read something here that either provoked or inspired them.
LOVE AND HATE
Some of you like what you read here, and some of you hate it. I'm OK with both polar views. I'd rather have everyone who reads this blog agree with me 100%, but I know that's not going to happen. We all have opinions, no matter how wrong some may be. OK, that's another tease...
MY HOPE FOR "COMMENTS"
My hope was that the "Comments" feature would enhance the discussion of issues raised here - that opposing views could be articulated with passion and clarity in an attempt to convince each other of the wisdom of our respective opinions. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes it doesn't. To those of you who have participated in those discussions and kept the debate at a high level, thank you. I REALLY DO want a broad discussion of issues and, as I've demonstrated in the past, I do my best to post both sides. I really do want your participation because, quite honestly, many of your comments are much better than mine and explain issues much more thoroughly.
BIG CHANGES! A NEW DAY...
However, way, way, way too often more than a few of you - on both sides of issues - use the anonymity afforded by this comments feature to just be plain nasty and rude Your snide, caustic innuendo and flat out crude remarks contribute absolutely nothing to the discussion. You wouldn't speak that way to your mother, but you do here assuming nobody will know who you are. Well, those days are over. I'm just tired of having to read all the crap that comes through, many of which I just automatically delete now because they are just unacceptable. If you read through some of the recent comment threads you'll probably be saying, "Really? You've received worse comments than these?" Yeah, sadly, I have and still do.
So, I've decided to treat the comments on this blog like the old "letters to the editor" submitted to newspapers. You had to sign those and the result was a fairly civil discourse. I DO NOT want to shut off the comments completely, but BEGINNING IMMEDIATELY I will post no comments if I have not received registration by the author and verified it. I understand the need for anonymity for some of you. Fear of retribution is a very real fact of life these days. I also understand that many of you are so gutless, such cowards, that you will never even consider posting if I know who you are. To those folks I bid a not-so-fond adieu... don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.
HERE'S THE DEAL...For the rest of you, I'm looking for a solution that will work without making too much more work for me at this end. I thought at first that I'd require every commenter to register with Blogger in order to post, but that's not good enough. I need to know who you are, and to be able to verify your identity if I feel it's necessary to confirm that you actually submitted the comment in question. So, here are the new rules, which will mean a whole lot of work on my part, but may be worth it in the long run. If not, and if I can't come up with a better solution - "Facebook Comments" is not an option - I'll just disable the comments feature. I don't want to do that. As I said earlier, I value your participation.
THE NEW RULES - MY TWELVE COMMANDMENTS
1 - Every person who posts comments on A BUBBLING CAULDRON MUST register BEFORE posting their first comment, even if they are registered on Blogger. NO EXCEPTIONS!
2 - You MAY use your own name (my preference) and/or a pen name, but NOT the name "Anonymous".
3 - Pen names MAY NOT be offensive, either in fact or by innuendo. If the pen name you chose is taken or unacceptable I'll advise you by return email so you can pick another.
4 - You MAY NOT use another person's name.
5 - Only ONE person may use a specific pen name.
6 - You may NOT register under more than ONE pen name. Pick one and make it work.
7 - You MAY register a pen name AND your proper name. Each requires separate registration.
8 - Foul language, flaming and other offensive language will NOT be posted. If you have strong negative feelings on an issue, find a creative way to express yourself that demonstrates your cleverness, not your nastiness. I'm the sole arbiter of what gets posted, but with a registration policy we can discuss it "off line", if necessary. That does not mean that I'm going to give you a call if I don't like your comment. It either makes the cut or doesn't. If you're anticipating rejection, send me an email.
9 - I will still not be able to edit comment submissions. It's a go or no-go situation.
10 - To REGISTER you MUST send me an email with the word "Registration" in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org BEFORE submitting your first comment. If you don't - if you are not registered - your comment will be rejected without notification to you. Once registered your comments MAY be posted if you remain civil and focused on the issue at hand. Of course, none of you will send nasty comments if you're registered, so I'm not really concerned about that.
11 - Your registration email MUST include a VERIFIABLE email address AND A TELEPHONE NUMBER where you can be reached to verify your information.
12 - I GUARANTEE TO YOU that your identity, email address and telephone number will be held with complete confidentiality. NOBODY else will have access to that information.
TIME TO REGISTER IS NOW
OK, those are the new rules. I hope those of you who choose to continue to participate in the discussions here will take a couple minutes to send me an email with the information required to register. Please don't wait until you've got a head of steam up on a subject, spend a lot of time telling me and the readers your views, only to have it summarily rejected because you're not registered. Register now. There is NO grace period.
PRETEND IT'S YOUR MOTHER...
It's not a rule, but when you submit a comment I hope you'll pretend you're making your case to someone you respect greatly - it doesn't have to be your mother - and try to keep the personal attacks and vitriol out of it. Remember, I still decide what appears. In the past some otherwise excellent, relevant comments have been rejected because of some unnecessary nasty, over-the-line slam about someone.
LOOKING FOR QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY
I expect the number of comments on this blog will drop like a rock, at least for awhile. I know we will never again see those 100+ comment threads because many of you just like to shout at each other and I'm eliminating most of that opportunity. I do expect, though, that the threads will be more thoughtful, of higher quality and much more worth reading. And, of course, the number of page views will also plummet. I'm OK with that, too. If I was trying to attract advertisers that would be a different matter. I'd probably just let the free-for-all continue and let the hit counter spin away. I'm going to write what I choose, the way I choose whether the readership drops or not.
HERE WE GO....
So, let's try this. I know it might cramp your style in the beginning, but it will be worth it. It requires a ONE-TIME STEP on your part - the registration. And, of course, you have to remember that name you chose. I will have to begin keeping records of registrants and contacting them to verify their identity. Oh, yes. I'm going to DISABLE THE "WORD VERIFICATION" FEATURE to make it just a little easier for you to post a comment. The robots can try all they want, but nothing gets through unless they're registered. Please tell your friends. Thanks for your cooperation. NOTE: The "Word Verification" feature has been turned back on. Too many robo-comments. Sorry about that.