Thin skin – my two cents

Austin has been carrying the load on this topic, but I want to give you my two cents.

One reason a comment does get trashed – and I do this once in a while – is because it ignores previous answers. Let’s take an example: Someone in the media makes an argument about the quality of the health care system based on survival rates. I write a detailed argument (nay, a series of them), on why this is problematic. I don’t expect this will change the world, but I expect that readers of the blog will at least consider the points I make.

Later, when discussing quality, a commenter uses the old survival rate argument to dismiss any data on our poor showing. I point them, in a polite response, to my previous discussions on survival rates versus mortality rates. The commenter ignores me.

This happens over and over again. Each time I post on quality, the commenter says the same thing about survival rates. (S)he never engages my arguments or data. (S)he keeps repeating the same initial argument. (S)he dismisses anything I say, calls me an ideologue, sometimes insults my intelligence, and calls on others to do the same because – obviously – SURVIVAL RATES.

We run this blog as a dialog. I’m more than willing to engage your solid arguments. So I beg this commenter to read the former posts and answer my points. If they can be refuted, I swear I’ll change my mind.

That’s how debate works. You make an argument. I counter it. You counter my new argument. We learn, so that we stop repeating talking points and try to move the ball forward. What doesn’t happen in a debate is that you ignore my argument and repeat your first statement. Over and over and over again. That forces me to waste my time repeating myself. We all lose. That commenter is not trying to advance our understanding. (S)he is trying to halt progress.

Sorry, but you can’t do that here. Feel free to start your own blog.

So, yeah, by the tenth time a commenter has posted the same argument over and over again, never acknowledging my first rebuttal or engaging in any thoughtful growth at all, I start to censor the posts. You had your chance. I let you say your piece many, many times. You’re not saying anything new. You’re trolling.

From our comments policy:

Related, a high volume of comments from the same individual (which amounts to the same thing as fewer, longer comments) slows down moderation…

This is an evidence-based blog, so we strongly encourage citations to support any claims that are not obviously true. Administrators may not approve comments from individuals who post suspect assertions without credible evidence. (Credible evidence is not a link to someone else making the same unsubstantiated assertion.

Individuals who submit comments that cannot be approved for the reasons given above may find subsequent comments blocked as well, independent of content. Submitting the same comment multiple times could lead to revocation of comment privileges as well.

If you don’t like that, so be it. But if I make the effort to try and engage the world and it’s arguments, I expect you to do the same. We set a high bar here. If you don’t like it, that’s ok; you can go read something else.


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