Just a reminder about the Feministe comment policy, and specifically our policy on guest bloggers:
Feministe, as part of a site tradition that aims to share the public platform and give readers a taste of our favorite writers and issues, frequently hands the keys to the site over to guest bloggers. Our guest bloggers are chosen by the Feministe crew and approved by all of the regular writers. We expect all commenters to respect our guests as they would the house writers.
Moreover, we invite all these folks write with us because we are their fans and supporters, and because we’re interested in the kind of discussion that their ideas will inspire. While we are very much their fans, that does not mean that we endorse every minute detail of their opinions, much like we can and do disagree with one another. This kind of ideological diversity is a feature of having a group blog, not a bug. Moreover, this kind of diversity is more representative of our feminisms than vetting one another’s writing for cohesion. Our guest bloggers write and publish posts without any kind of editorial review, but with our express support.
As writers, we don’t expect to please everyone, but we do expect that criticism will be hewn to the opinion being criticized and not veer into the likeability of the person expressing it. We will attempt to warn those who are getting into this territory before moderating their comments.
Please also keep in mind that the point of our comment sections should not be fault-finding. We invite a diverse group of guests on each summer because they start interesting conversations; we often specifically select writers who aren’t enmeshed in the feminist blogosphere. The guest bloggers are guests in our home, and we expect commenters to treat them respectfully. We also expect commenters to act like grown-ups and engage with the posts rather than simply hunting for an errant phrase to criticize.
I’m writing this now because over the summer, we’ve gotten a lot of negative feedback about the comment sections here — that new writers and commenters don’t want to participate, that writers in this space feel like they have to write defensively to fend off nitpicky and intentionally-misreading critiques, that the regular readers of many of our guests don’t want to participate here because it’s such a hostile atmosphere. To be quite honest, I feel like that too — that my writing is more focused on buffering against the inevitable critiques than actually writing. It’s made me a worse writer. It’s definitely made me more jaded, and less interested in engaging with online feminist and social justice communities. I can only imagine how it makes our guests feel.
We’re currently brainstorming ways to make this space less toxic, but in the meantime, a humble request: Please don’t be jerks to our guests. Before you comment, consider: Am I adding anything to the conversation, or am I commenting because I found one particular minor sidenote thing irritating? Is this comment about the post itself, or am I coming into this post with a series of my own issues and biases and commenting from that place about my own shit? Am I commenting with the understanding that we’re all more or less on the same side here, and this is a social justice blog where all of the contributors are at least trying to write in good faith? Am I trying to move the conversation forward, or am I trying to shut it down?
Thanks in advance. I know we have many wonderful commenters and fantastic readers, and I’ve been as guilty as anyone of being a total a-hole in the comments. But our guest bloggers are lending their time, talents and thoughts to this space with very little in return; they are being wonderfully generous, and I hate to see them treated poorly. So if we could all show the guests a little extra respect, I would appreciate it.