David Zeman is senior editor at Bridge.
Here at Bridge we love reader comments on our website. At their best, they broaden perspectives, create a more intimate forum to engage with our audience and absolutely make our journalism better.
But we’ve noticed with alarm that in recent months that way too many submissions have fallen short of our standards for thoughtful commentary that can advance civic debate.
Here are some examples of comments that make our website monitors sad: The use of words like Nazi, comparisons with Nazis, even comparing someone favorably with Nazis, is not a promising signal that your sentiments will elevate conversation. Informing commenters or Bridge reporters they suck, are idiots, or would benefit from performing an act that is physically harmful likewise falls short. Political insults with words ending in -turd are not only conversation stoppers but lack the cleverness to slide past our vigilant gatekeepers.
For commenters who want to be critical of Bridge articles or the people and institutions we write about: Have at it.
Want to be angry or passionate about political turns in state government? We’re all ears (and eyes).
All we ask is that you allow the logic and wonderfulness of your writing to carry your argument, rather than personal attacks, name-calling, threats of violence, hate speech, dog whistles or broad stereotypes.
Vulgarity or obscenities, while personally cathartic, are prohibited and we will remove them from our website, along with their authors. For what it’s worth, we also frown on SHOUTING, drive-by putdowns or diatribes that exceed the length of the articles you are eviscerating.
If we can keep these guidelines in mind, Bridge’s website comment section will continue on swimmingly. If personal attacks continue to flood our comments section, we will be forced to end it, which would be a significant loss for Bridge readers, reporters and editors. We thank you for reading, for writing and for caring about the topics we cover. If you have any questions, or just need someone to name-call, please send your comments my way instead at firstname.lastname@example.org.