If you’re still with me, here’s the back story: when we relaunched CityBike.com on New Year’s Eve 2017, replacing our bag-of-dogshit old website with the new hotness (our “internal code name” for the new site) you’re reading now in a days-long fit of “let’s just stay in” hacking and pizza, we left WordPress’s built-in commenting system in place. Works fine, more important things to work on, and so on—but we started to bump into its limitations pretty quickly.
So we switched to Disqus, a widely used commenting / discussion system “Trusted by millions of publishers” last weekend. A few of those millions of publishers are motorcycle websites—good ones like Asphalt and Rubber, and shitty ones like… well, you be the judge. Anyway, therein lies the magic of Disqus: the synergies of cross-site engagement and engagement and retention blah blah blah.
For you, the reader and hopefully the commenter, one of the cool features is the ability to add images to your comment. We expect our readers, being learned men and women of the motorcycling sciences, will use this to share charts, diagrams, and other assets exemplary of deep thinking and discussion, not played-out memes. It is, of course, up to you.
Disqus even offers this typically cute emoji-fication thing, which we immediately implemented because we love how language and interaction have been dumbed down to puerile pictograms, removing the need for any attempt at nuanced communication.
Just kidding, of course. We detest the dumbing down of discourse as much as any good self-absorbed pseudo-intellectual, but we do think it’s cool for readers to be able to give us a quick, simple thumbs-up, the equivalent of a smile or laugh if we were talking in person. So here’s our version:
By the way, I wanted to replace “What do you think?” with “Show us on the doll where this story touched you” but our editorial review board shot me down.
Existing comments have been ported over, but alas, while they have the original commenters’ names attached to them, they are orphans, not tied to Disqus accounts. Such are the trials and tribulations of transitioning. Someone’s certainly gonna gripe, but such is life, eh?
This is probably a good time to mention our recently updated (AKA created) commenting / discussion policy. There’s an extensive, exhaustive (and exhausting) amount of mind-numbing legal mumbo jumbo, but it boils down to this: discussion on the internet is often disgustingly dreadful, with intelligent, fun, or otherwise good conversations drowned out by trolls and argumentative assholes.
We’re not inclined to host more of that muck, just as we wouldn’t let random, self-absorbed dickheads camp out in the break room here at World Headquarters, spewing “alternative facts” (which we call by their true name, lies), saying mean things about our friends and insulting our moms. We’re going to be somewhat heavy-handed in shutting down such assholishness, and we’ll happily point out the stupidity of the “but… free speech!” whining: you are free to say what you want, but you can’t necessarily say it here, in our house.
Here’s the relevant stuff from our terms:
These are the rules. Using CityBike.com means you agree to abide by these rules. Don’t like the rules, don’t hang ’round here. Obviously, the concept of “abiding by the rules” is most relevant to commenting and discussion—it’s not like we can do much about it if you’re just browsing in an antisocial manner.
We’re pretty cool, not like Jimi Hendrix or Annie Lennox or whoever defines “cool” for you, but in that we’re tolerant of all kinds of people and all kinds of stuff. Well, almost all: we’re not tolerant of racism, homophobia, misogyny, and other empty-headed hatred and prejudices; we don’t like general assholishness; and we’re not real tolerant of bullshit (other than our own, of course).
We also abhor ad hominem attacks, people who are incapable of critical thinking, commenters who don’t read the stories, articles, columns, or comments they’re responding to, and people who comment just to start shit. There are other types of crappy conduct we haven’t detailed here, because we like being mysterious, but you get the idea.
What this means is that while we’ll generally take a hands-off approach to moderating comments, if you’re engaging in behavior like those listed above, you’re gonna get called on it, and if you don’t cool it, you’re gone. It also means we might just ban bad actors without warning, depending on our mood, and we may be perceived as maddeningly inconsistent. Like we said, these are the rules. Don’t like the rules? Go create your own independent moto-journalism revolution and accompanying website, and act like an asshole there.
In short: be cool, and everything will be cool; we’ll all be like little Fonzies.