Brief Note on Ad Hominems in Comments

A commenter this week noted a “thinly veiled ad hominem” directed toward him in a prior comment. I am now changing my threshold for considering these personally-directed arrows to be off-limits. I am going to be quicker to decide they need editing or deleting, in other words.

The new wording in the Discussion Policies is:


2. Comments must be civil and clean. No ad hominem attacks. Thinly veiled ad hominems are still ad hominems. (This includes a loose and broad usage of the term involving personal sniping, not just the technical sense of a particular logical fallacy.)

Having said that, I have to compare it to being a basketball referee, something I do in our church league. There are always judgment calls. Referees don’t always get it right (even if we did, the players, fans and coaches would still disagree), but it’s our job to call it the best we can, and to keep calling the game based on our own best judgment.

Another referee parallel: we can’t promise we’ll see everything. That applies here when there are a lot of comments in a short time, when there are very long ones, or when I’m involved with things other than blogging. I hope the objective is clear, though, at any rate.


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