Monday, July 02, 2012

laying down the rules

We all get them.  Those multiple-addressee email from the guy you met on the flight from Athens five years ago -- and, in a moment of weakness, gave him your email address.

They almost always arrive in batches.  Ten or fifteen at a time.  Filled with jokes of indifferent taste and wit.  Or, often, merely, a link to an article with a cryptic "this says everything" or something equally noncommittal on the part of the sender.

I have several good friends who send me the "link" emails.  Because I know them well, I usually understand exactly why the link came my way.

For some reason, I am starting to receive similar messages in my blog "comments" section.  Four of them showed up today and yesterday.  Two to the same link with almost exactly the same cryptic note.

I have not published any of the four.  And this is why. 

The comment section is for people who want to have a conversation about their reactions to the topic of a post.  This is a First Amendment free speech spot.

But we are all interested in what readers have to say.  Not what some editorial writer in Baltimore has to say or what two spinsters in Omaha rattle on about.

Readers should feel free to incorporate the thoughts of others with their own.  We all do that.  Some people, like Joe Biden, seem to forget that the thoughts came from someone else.  But readers need to put their own arguments out there on the firing line for people to discuss without hiding behind the shield of a third person's opinion.

Of course, there are rules of etiquette to follow here.  We discuss issues, not personalities -- despite my cheap shot at Joe Biden.  Issues are open to all forms of polite discourse.  Attacking personalities with emotion-laden labels is simply an admission of running out of reason.

There is another reason to minimize links in comments.  They are perfect Trojan horses for bad cookies.  To mix my electronic metaphors.

Let me pile on one more reason.  I have worked on enough "letter to the editor" committees in political campaigns to know the source of many of these "link" posts.  This blog has little interest in becoming just another message board for campaign-directed propaganda.  We like to generate our own political propaganda.

So, here is the deal.  Political posts will undoubtedly appear on mexpatriate between now and the American elections in November.  Feel free to support your respective candidates and issues with your own rational arguments and Marquess of Queensberry rules.

Because I undoubtedly will do the same. 


Gary Denness said...

What's this Steve?! You want the style of discourse on your blog to be determined by the rulings of an English noble?!! I never thought I'd see the day.

I'm quite convinced that the closer we get to November, the quicker the dear Marquess' rule book will be thrown out the window, and the gloves will come off... :)

Someplace Guy said...

You made a cheap shot a Joe Biden?  wow ;)

Andean said...

Like the ru-lin... and the etiquette involved. I like the stand, you took. Afterall it is your space.

Steve Cotton said...

I suspect my tongue was embedded deeply in my cheek when I chose our rule arbitrator.  The gloves have long ago been left in the changing room.  American politics has a long tradition of being just a bit gruesome dating back to the 1700s.

Steve Cotton said...

Well, it is the reader's space, as well.  I just like hearing what they have to say.  And my experience is that links often lead to spaces that are intellectually -- how should I out it? -- exotic.

Steve Cotton said...

We all have our little slips.

Andean said...

links... as the Trojan horse is of... engineering -

And thank you for providing the reader's space.

John Calypso said...

I am unclear when you say LINK.  I do understand the SPAM attempts as well as the multiple addressed jokes or recipe groups etc.

I get the occasional generic "Your Blog is written well and very interesting" blah blah blah which always has a commercial address to link to - is this to what you are referring?

I do not enjoy getting the multiple addressed jokes or prayer chains - but as you suggest they are often from real friends who just seem to get caught up in that nonsense - the DELETE key is one of the most useful keys on the board.

Steve Cotton said...

The "link" emails I was referring to have a link to an article that the sender finds interesting.  But the sender seldom says why.

With close friends, I can usually figure it out.  But I do not want the comments section to turn into a bulletin board for other articles.  I would like to hear their opinion. 

It would be a bit like having a conversation with someone who kept pushing articles in front of you instead of talking with you directly.

Kim G said...

The frightening thing about those chain e-mails is often how little thought one's friends and acquaintances put into forwarding them. I can't tell you how many such things I've received that were simply unbelievable, and upon 30 seconds of research, proved to be completely false.

Alas, human nature never changes. Call someone a witch with enough people copied on the e-mail, and the charge will stick.

Thanks for providing a forum free of such nonsense.


Kim G
DF, Mexico
Where we now manage to get such tripe in Spanish too.

Steve Cotton said...

De nada.