I'd like more people to comment -- there are regularly 200-300 readers every day, occasionally more -- but I suspect I need to set out some clear guidelines about what may be said, primarily to establish a "clean, well-lit place" (in Garry Trudeau's formulation) where the shy will feel emboldened to speak up and the voluble won't scare them off.
So here we go:
1. Obvious "spam" or sales-pitches will be deleted on sight.
2. Comments must be in English. I make exception only for gallery people wishing to offer me an exhibition (Hi, Rupert und Manfred! Wie geht's?). Don't worry if your English isn't great: you could even try using Google Translate.
3. Comments must be relevant to the post. "Relevance" is a flexible term, and can accommodate irony, humour, and tangents (remember those? a bit like Juicy Fruits, but sharper), but attempts to steer the conversation away from the topics addressed in the post will be frowned upon.
4. Comments must be addressed to me, or to the world at large. Comments may certainly take up ideas or threads introduced by other commenters, but should not be addressed directly to other commenters. As in any well-run meeting, you must speak "through the chair". I have thought hard about this, and I think it's the best way to enable the sort of civility that will encourage the timid or uncertain-of-mind to speak up.
5. Comments must be civil. I'm prepared to be taken to task over my views, but not to be abused. The same goes for other commenters. Trolls (i.e. "someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion") will not be tolerated.
6. Comments should be meaningful or amusing. Mere noise such as "nice pics!" or "Great post!" will be ignored, and may even be held up for ridicule (by me only, however: droit de seigneur). That's a joke, by the way, except for the "ignoring" part.
7. Bear in mind that comments are indexed by Google. This may feel like a
private space, but it isn't. If I think a comment will attract
unwanted attention, I will either ignore it, or I may ask the commenter to resubmit a
Note that all comments are "moderated" i.e. I get to see them and decide whether to publish them or not. A comment which breaches these guidelines will simply not be published, even if the rest of the comment is sensible or even brilliant.
Obviously, I reserve the right not to publish any comment for any reason I see fit, guidelines notwithstanding. If I feel the need to add more guidelines, I will edit this page.