I've been fairly proud of the community that comes to this blog, and for how much better it generally has been than, say, the average Guardian message threads.
Lately, however, it seems that the comment section has been going downhill, and no one benefits when that happens.
There has been a significant increase in comments - over 250 before noon today - and I cannot monitor them all. Many of them are pointless, many of them are insulting, and many of them have been unsubstantiated out-and-out lies.
I would prefer that the comment section remain unmoderated, mostly because I don't want to waste my blogging time with being a referee.
* Avoid personal attacks and insinuations altogether. Period.
* If someone says something particularly offensive, flag it as offensive. If enough people flag it the comment will disappear.
* If your comment will not illuminate the discussion, don't bother posting it. Even if your adversary appears to have the last word.
* If you are making a factual claim that others dispute, back it up with verifiable facts that others can check.
* A little humility goes a long way. If someone proves you wrong, admit it. It is remarkable how much more legitimacy one gains by admitting mistakes.
* As much as possible, give commenters the benefit of the doubt.
* If you believe a commenter is a troll and is not interested in serious debate, do not feed him or her. Ignore and flag instead.
Let's keep the signal to noise ratio as high as possible, because if the comment section turns into a cesspool, I'll have to remove it.
And if you need to let me know something, email me. I cannot keep track of all the comments at the current rate and I am missing many of them.
(I've added the above guidelines to the FAQ.)