I turned my conversation with [Dominique] Brossard to the digital Capital Times....The trick is to figure out who is "well-meaning." Sharp criticism and biting satire should count as "well-meaning." The term we use monitoring comments on this blog — to the extent that we get into the comments, which is always an incomplete process — is "good faith." We get to apply our subjective judgment about that, but it keeps us from drawing the line over notions of "civility." A mainstream newspaper will have trouble being intuitive about the good faith of the very best creative and comical comments, and their monitoring is likely to slide into insipid enforcement of a civil tone, which makes the comments almost pointless. I say almost, because there is some point to the look and the feeling that comments are accepted.
Her reaction to our plan to scrutinize comments for relevance and taste? “I’m so happy to hear you say this because I’ve been speaking with different people who (think) we should stop allowing comments. I say, look, it’s a great opportunity for us to engage, where well-meaning citizens may have something important to say and can add to the discussion.”
Brossard's "well-meaning" might be the same thing as our "good faith." My commenting instructions seen above the window where you compose your comments — say:
We value all comments made in good faith. I love different points of view and even edgy modes of expression. What we delete are bad faith comments, comments that we believe have the ulterior motive of destroying the conversation and driving people away from this forum.Here's the post where I announced the "good faith" standard.
There might be a commenter who impresses us with a clever form of expression, even as he hurls insults. My orientation toward free speech has made me very tolerant of people like that, even when they attack me and the commenters here. I've gone very far defending edgy and harsh expression. That's part of why my new policy is about the good faith/bad faith distinction. That distinction depends on the writer's purpose, and purpose can be hard to discern, especially in clever writers.