12 Oct 2009

Blogger lynchmobs - Get out the pitchforks!

Given recent comments, let's overtly explain what my intentions are as a blogger and how I moderate my blog against the general intrusions of internet nonsense. Paleoglot discusses comparative linguistics (most often on Proto-IE and ancient Aegean languages), but I will often speculate about things that are of interest to me based on existing facts. Please note the following:
  • Fact-based speculation and random speculation are not the same nor on a par.
  • Healthy fact-based skepticism is not equal to toxic absolutive skepticism based on petty feeling.
  • Speculation is not a danger to Reason for those with minds sophisticated enough to separate fact from fantasy.
  • In fact, without speculation, we lack a vital step in the learning process since speculation helps us reflect on the implications of new information.
  • We must have clear reasons for our objections, not just for our personal conclusions.
  • I reserve the right to delete comments that I deem unconstructive (whether abusive, factless or downright nutty).
  • I don't distinguish trolls from genuine but stubbornly ignorant persons - both are unworthy to have voice in an academic forum. (ie. This isn't a kindergarten.)
There are no quicker ways to make my trigger-happy finger delete your comment, besides being insulting to other commenters, than to have people repeat facts and references over and over, chastise me for merely blogging/speculating/expressing, or reducing one's rebuttals to vacuous denials of facts presented without further substantiation.


  1. I am quite amazed at all this. I have been blogging in Irish for about six months now and have only found courtesy and respect for people's opinions and feelings. Disagreement is expressed forthrightly and often strongly but rarely in a manner that might give offence. References and sources are shared and if information is sought a question is asked. It is in everyone's interest. So, please continue deleting offensive comments. Delete this one, in fact, if you think it is not to the point.

  2. I think it all depends on the nature of the subject being discussed, a moderator's philosophies of forum maintenance and also tolerance levels of said moderator.

    Subjects like politics or fashion produce nothing but diverse opinions in the end and there is no right or wrong answer. Since everyone is right without effort, these subjects are very ego-affirming and coincidently popular.

    However, it's not so that anything may be correct in history and linguistics where facts are paramount and personal feelings need to be checked at the door. So there are always some who want to stroke their egos and beat dead horses while never living up to the much higher standard of logical substantiation. The potentiality of being disproven is much less ego-affirming afterall so some can't and don't make the switch between politics and facts.

    One has to be firmly aware that in any academic subject, there are corrupting political forces. A moderator may be overly tolerant and accept any gunk from a commenter without challenge. For example, Proto-Indo-European invariably attracts neonazi nuts because of the misuse of the PIE theory for Nazi propoganda in WW2. The topic of Etruscan can strangely enough attract Albanian or Turkish ethnocentrists who pursue fundamentally ignorant views about history.

    When one speaks of "respect", one usually means in the mistaken sense of civility. I insist on intellectual respect above all else, a respect for others that obligates one to automatically provide substantiation for one's views without the need for begging. When a moderator on the other hand places more emphasis on "respect for other's opinions" over "respect for logic" due to an empty desire to feel social camaraderie, this delusion opens the door to online trolls and unquestioning ignorance. I've seen too many knowledgeable and constructive participants being patronized with and silenced by "let's just try to get along".