How to Be an Opinionated Commenter on io9 and Not Get Dismissed

Illustration for article titled How to Be an Opinionated Commenter on io9 and Not Get Dismissed

Whenever io9 publishes a post that sparks debate, your intrepid editors have to face the inevitable. Somebody with a commenter account is going to be a jerk. But it doesn't have to happen that way! Whether we're arguing over politics in science fiction, or how much the new Spider-man movie will suck, there are a few simple guidelines you can follow if you want to have a giant argument without getting dismissed from a conversation. The simplest way to think about our policy is that we allow you to insult ideas, but not people. See below for a complete rundown of io9 commenter tips and guidelines.


[last updated: 06.27.12]

1. Do not insult or hurl mean names at actual humans.
By "actual humans," we mean other commenters or writers on the site. If you've just read a post that you disagree with, do not say, "You are a fucking idiot who has obviously never seen a single episode of [my favorite scifi franchise]." That part where you called the author a "fucking idiot"? That was an insult. We like to argue with you about our opinions, but we don't like being told we are idiots. So if you want to avoid being dismissed, try arguing with the ideas in posts, like this: "[My favorite scifi franchise] did not have a bad ending — you're totally wrong. I'm right, and here's why." Same goes for talking to your fellow commenters. Feel free to disagree and debate, but as soon as you insult somebody you're going to be dismissed. We do not, however, care if you denigrate fictional lifeforms. Insult Predator as much as you want.

Please note that io9 has no policy against profanity. You are allowed to curse as much as you want, as long as you don't insult anyone.

2. In general, we are not amused by comments whose sole purpose is to debate whether a lifeform (usually female) is hot enough for you to hit.
We all need to go to the "hot or not" place sometimes, but in general explicit comments about cellulite and breast size are best kept inside your head. Feel free to wank over the sexy pictures we post as much as you want, but we don't want to hear about it, OK?

3. Do not troll.
Trolling can mean many things, but for our purposes here it means trotting out a tired cliche or stereotype in order to say that someone's opinion should never be taken seriously. When you disagree with somebody, you say their opinion is wrong. When you troll somebody, you say that they are incapable of forming opinions. If you say, "Japanese people do not know how to write stories," you are trolling. Essentially, you are saying no Japanese person's stories should be taken seriously. That is different from saying, "I hate this story that a Japanese person wrote." Another common troll strategy is to say that a post on io9 is unworthy of debate because it was written so the author could get cash for page views. This is trolling because it does not engage in any way with the author's opinion. Instead, it suggests the author categorically cannot form an opinion because she or he is writing for money.

4 . Snotty comments about spelling, grammar, or other errors are a subset of trolling.
We do not mind having you correct us - in fact, we depend on it because we are not perfect. However, using an error as occasion to insult the author of the post or another commenter is trolling. If you say something like, "Maybe if you could spell things correctly, we'd take your review seriously," then you are trolling. Offer corrections in a neutral way, for example: "Batman is misspelled," or "Actually, that character's name is Bob and he is the mother of the alien's sister."


5. If you believe somebody is repeatedly causing problems or trolling in your conversations, please write to one of us.
Our email addresses are on the "about" page, linked from the bottom of every page on the site. You can talk to us if problems in your conversations are getting out of hand. There are many good reasons to write to us, including in situations where you think you were dismissed unfairly. Just remember that if you choose to make comments that cross the lines we've drawn in this post, you'll probably find yourself booted out of a lot of discussions. We adore having lots of conversations, and we love a good debate. But we think of io9 as our shop — we spend all day in here working and writing, and we're going to escort you out if you start calling people names, yelling, or pooping on the sofa.

Final note:
All the editors and contributors to io9 thrive on your comments and input. We can't count how many times commenters have pointed out errors that we need to fix in our posts (thank you!), or given us amazing post ideas, or filled the comments section with hilarious jokes, cool images, brilliant analysis, and insane trivia. We love having you around, and we're hoping this post will help more of you to stay around for a really long time.



Annalee Newitz

@geekzilla: I would say that insulting a group could fall under #3, "trolling." Obviously, context is important. People here often argue about religion, and there is definitely a way to say, "I disagree with your beliefs" without saying "You and all your god-loving pals are stupid." So I would say that as long as people stick to debating ideas, it's fine.