When we first launched the site it was based on the premise of Wheat & Tares. The parable cautions:
“pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak), lest you destroy the wheat also. Therefore, let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest is full ripe.”
One of our founding principles is a very light moderation policy.
What does wheat look like? What does a tare look like?
It’s fairly hard to tell which is which, except of course that the wheat in this image is ripe and golden, whereas tares don’t ripen to a golden yellow. That’s the point really. We’re all tares on this earth until we ripen and are then harvested (based on who or what we’ve become). It’s too close to call in the meantime, and it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.
We might be wheat or we might be something that looks like wheat but doesn’t actually contribute positively to society. The difference is that people have capacity (unlike tares) to actually change our nature. And people do change their nature, all the time.
While our goal at Wheat & Tares is to have a light moderation policy, that doesn’t mean we are hands-off. We certainly have goals as to the kinds of discussions we would like to have. We would like to help as many people contribute successfully to discussion on this site as is possible, so we have drafted the following goals, guidelines, and policies to help you understand from where we are coming.
1) We like to talk.
We want you to talk with us because that’s fun. Even more, we want to encourage a diversity of comments, because we think that thoughtful disagreement and discussion on those disagreements improves us all.
If you feel like lurking, you can lurk around if you want and we won’t track you down, but we’d really like it if you would speak up and tell us what you think.
It’s OK if you don’t post on every author’s posts! If you really like one blogger’s posts, but another blogger’s posts gets your blood boiling, you don’t have to post on that second blogger’s posts every time to express your displeasure. In fact, we’d rather it if you didn’t. With a diverse range of writers, we think there should be something for a lot of folks…in fact, if you think there’s a really interesting voice that would fit in with our cast of bloggers, try to reach out to one of the permabloggers, and we might be able to work on guest posts!
2) We don’t like trolls, internet pyromaniacs, and soapboxers.
If you want to go start a fire, go somewhere else. If you do try to start a fire, we will contact you either in a response comment or in an off-site email about what we would like changed in your comments. We understand that sometimes, people just need to be informed that they have inadvertently crossed a line…so we are willing to reach out and provide that helpful warning.
We are looking to discuss and debate, but not to argue. There is a difference and if that doesn’t seem clear, we’ll reach out and help you with it.
Each of the bloggers who writes posts on site is at liberty to determine the topicality of comments on their posts. If you attempt to derail discussions with pet issues that are irrelevant to the topic at hand, we’ll also reach out to you.
3) We work hard to avoid editing and deleting comments.
As we said in our second point, if we find anything objectionable, we will try to work with you about it. As a result, we will try to avoid editing, censoring, or deleting comments.
There are a few exceptions, of course…if you yourself request that a comment be edited or deleted, we will take that into consideration. Additionally, if we are unable to contact you about your comments (or if you don’t answer our emails or change your behavior), then we will take bigger steps — possibly including a time-out from commenting. We generally will not edit or delete a comment based on the request of another person, unless there are other factors at play (trolling/sock puppeting/etc.,)
4) We don’t always agree, but we always want to play nice.
Disagreement is a fact of life, and we actually like that. Disagreement is not throwing tomatoes, so don’t wear your heart on your sleeve (we also aren’t offended by mixed metaphors.) That being said, play nice. The rules for “nice” are pretty much the same as for Kindergarten.
If you dislike a comment (either tone, content, or the strength of reasoning), we encourage you to comment in response.
5) We dislike dogpiling as much as we dislike preaching to the choir.
Dogpiling on people with divergent views breaks point 4, and it harms our efforts in point 1. For people to feel comfortable commenting, we want to create an environment where people with different views will know their views will be given a fair shake — even if we don’t agree.
As we mentioned before, disagreement is a fact of life, and we actually like that. Discussions where everyone agrees feel like standing, stagnant water to us, and said discussions are probably about as hazardous to our health. We want views to be challenged, so if we feel there is preaching to the choir, we will do what we can to find some way to challenge that. If you like a comment (either tone, or content, or the strength of reasoning), then feel free to press the like button!
6) We like to pretend that we are rational (enough), intelligent (enough) thinkers, and that you are too.
We hope that you can think the same of us and other commenters.
We’re pretty confident that nothing said here is going to rattle the foundations of civilization, so don’t get too worked up about commenting.