A Quick Note on the Malleting of Comments
I’ve recently begun to see an upswing in comments which begin with some variation of “I expect this comment to be deleted/malleted/otherwise expunged, but…” I think this is done for two reasons. About five percent of the time it’s someone genuinely not knowing whether what they’re about to write is going to cross the line with regard to my moderation policies. The rest of the time it’s a warding spell and/or pre-emptive smugness at transgression; either “not in the face!” or “see, I told you.”
Either way I find it passive-aggressive and annoying, so here’s a new guideline I’ve begun implementing: When I see some variation of “I expect this comment to get the Mallet,” I’m going to stop reading the comment there, and will most likely then Mallet the comment — not necessarily because the comment was in itself mallet-worthy (although it might have been, who knows), but simply because I’m a people-pleaser and don’t want to disappoint the person making the comment.
This is a policy in line with my policy for people who start comments with “This is off-topic, but…” in which I also stop reading and then just delete the comment, because the site policy asks people not to post off-topic comments in threads, too.
Basically, if you acknowledge that you are likely about to act in a manner contrary to the rules of discourse on this site, and then go and do it anyway, you probably deserve to be malleted, and you need to think about why it is you believe the rules are different for you. Also, and related, if you are using these phrases as warding spells or reverse psychology, you haven’t really paid attention to how I run this site.
But what if I genuinely believe my post might transgress? Well, you have two options: Either revisit your desire to post the comment and reflect what it is about you that is making you post a comment you strongly suspect I will not allow to stay up on the site, or, alternately, just post the damn thing, and I will decide whether it stays or goes, and either way you will have learned something.
I do understand some of you really do come from a place of being concerned that you’re about to be a problem. While I appreciate you putting your concern up front, please understand that the cautionary phrasing you’re using is often co-opted by people trying to psyche me out into letting their terrible comment stay. So honestly, just post your comment without preamble. If you go over the line I’ll let you know. It’s not really that big of a deal.
Also: resist the temptation in the comment thread of this entry to put snarky “I BET YOU WILL MALLET THIS” or “Off topic but –” comments. I am on to you, people.
Great chat everyone! Now let’s go out and have some fun!