Participate & discuss

START Journal gets more interesting when readers discuss the content. But please, remember this advice when commenting articles:

1. Stay on topic.

We enable comments on specific articles to hear more about the content of the post. Don’t change the subject.

2. Contribute new information to the discussion.

Twelve people saying the same exact thing in one comment thread is useless and irritating. Before you comment, read the entire thread and make sure your comment offers something new to the conversation.

3. Don’t comment for the sake of commenting.

Commenters who only say “First!” or “Nice site” on an open thread have no business hitting that “Post” button at all. Further, only spammers comment for the sake of adding their name and URL to a web page.

4. Know when to comment and when to e-mail.

An comment is a public one-to-many communication within the context of an article. An e-mail is a private interaction.

5. Remember that nobody likes a know-it-all.

The best kind of comments come from thoughtful, knowledgeable people who add more information about a topic. However, tongue-lashings from condescending smartypants will go over as well on someone’s article as they would in that someone’s living room. When fact-checking, pointing out a typo or dead link or asserting a dissenting opinion, do it in a respectful, friendly way.

6. Make the tone of your message clear.

No one can hear the tone of your voice or see your facial expression online. Sarcasm, in-jokes and exaggerations can easily be taken the wrong way in a public forum.

7. Own your comment.

Anonymous commenting, while sometimes necessary, can be seen as cowardly. Build your identity and own your words by placing your name and weblog address on your comments wherever possible.

8. Be short and concise.

Longwinded lectures are for college professors, not comments.

9. Cite your sources with links or inline quoting.

To comment on specific bits of an article, copy and paste the lines in question and add your response below each section. If you’re referencing information located elsewhere, provide a short summary and a link to your source so others can click through for more information at their discretion.

10. Be courteous.

Chances are something someone says in a comment or post is going to irk you. Still, personal attacks are unacceptable, useless and can quickly degrade a discussion. Resist the urge, and be respectful and objective at all times.

11. Don’t post when you’re angry, upset, drunk or emotional.

There’s no taking back a published blog comment – once you post, it’s there for everyone to see and for Google to cache.

12. Do not feed or tease the trolls.

No matter how many articles like this get written, there will always be people who surf around the Internet and inject pointless vindictiveness into any available textarea. Don’t let the terrorists win. Do NOT acknowledge these people with refutations, disagreements or even a mention of their screen name.