Comments Policy

Who has the right to post comments on this blog?

Apart from me, no-one at all has the right to post comments. Posting is a privilege, not a right.

Okay, so who is allowed to post comments here?

Anyone at all, up until the stage I ask them to stop or suspend them. I welcome comments, and they add a lot of enjoyment to the blog for myself, and I am sure others. Advertising spam however is always unwelcome and is deleted and blacklisted on a regular basis.

How do I comment?

You can register to comment at  You must supply an username and an e-mail address.  It is up to you whether or not you comment under your known name, or a pseudonym.  However be aware that commenters who use their actual name will be allowed more latitude with their comments as they are saying they are happy for their name to be associated with their comments.

Why has my comment not appeared?

If you are a new commenter it will be held for moderation as an anti-spam check. Once your initial comment has been approved, all future comments will appear automatically. It can take a few hours for someone to check the moderation queue, so just be patient.

If you are an existing commenter and your comment never appeared, the system may have suspected it was spam – especially if you have links in your comment. If you think this has happened to you, let us know at I tend to check the spam queue once a day for false positives.

If your comment has disappeared, it has probably been reported as being potentially abusive. A moderator will review the comment and decide whether it meets out comments guidelines.

What is the easiest way to get banned?

To attack me personally. Quite simply it will not be tolerated. I welcome people to disagree with my views, to correct my errors, to debate what I assert, but if you attack my integrity, my character etc I will terminate your privileges.

What sort of comments are unacceptable

I’ve provided details below of what is unacceptable, and will result in warnings or suspensions.


Do not make comments that could get myself as publisher, or you, into a defamation suit.


Trolling I define as an attempt to deliberately disrupt a conversation by being grossly offensive or massively off topic. Examples are turning a debate into a religious flame war, or stating all Catholics are complicit in child abuse, all Muslims are terrorists or the like.

Comments on a post should be a response to the topic of the post. While some thread drift is inevitable, do not try to divert the thread into another topic. Use the daily General Debate for other topics.

Personal Abuse

I want arguments attacked, not people. As an example it will be unacceptable to call someone a moron, but it will be acceptable to say their argument is moronic. That may seem a fine distinction, but an important one. However don’t try and push the distinction to breaking point. If you say that someone’s argument has the integrity of a syphilitic pygmy  (for example), then that would find you with a warning or strike.

There is greater latitude when it comes to public figures such as MPs. They can and should be criticised, but not to a degree when it is just nasty abuse.

Gratitious references to attributes people have no control over

People can not choose their gender, race, skin colour or sexual orientation. There will be times when those attributes about a public figure can be a legitimate discussion in relation to an political event. For example the media have quoted Grant Robertson on whether his sexual orientation may be a factor in the leadership election.

But slagging off an MP, or non MP, on the basis of something they can’t control will get a strike or a warning.

Likewise grossly offensive generalisations are not acceptable either. Treat people as individuals. This is not to say one can’t discuss group characteristics (such as why certain races are over-represented in crime statistics), but it should be done in a way which is not derogatory of the entire group.

In terms of humour, I have a wide tolerance for humour which makes fund of generalisations, so long as the intent is to be humourous, not to be nasty. If you are not sure of the difference, then don’t do it. And generally keep that stuff to the general debate. I do not want to be a politically correct blog, but I do want it to be a place where people wouldn’t say anything in the comments, they wouldn’t say to someone’s face.


I swear. Too much, according to my parents. I have a fairly wide tolerance for swearing so long as it is not directed at someone. Calling someone a c**t is almost never acceptable, but the use of the word in other contexts may be. Telling someone to f**k off is never acceptable. I’m the only one who makes that call on this blog. Sometimes swear words can be an effective way of adding emphasis. But use them too much, and they lose the impact. I’m not going to be a language nazi, but I will deal with complaints when swear words are directed at individuals, or used in a way which is trolling or disruptive.

Personal Details

Give other commenters the courtesy of referring to them by the name or alias they use on this blog. Do not reveal personal details about them such as their name, address, phone number etc. unless it is somehow connected to a public issue. If in doubt, check.

General Debate

The general debate thread has no set topic, so nothing there is off topic. Moderation will be slightly lighter in the General Debate, but abusive comments will still face a sanction.


Comments are not vetted before they appear. They are also often not read later on by myself as editor, as I do not spend all day reading the comments. I have a day job. Hence if you think a comment is unacceptable, you need to bring it to my attention.

The only two ways to do this is to e-mail Tweeting about it, blogging elsewhere on it, facebooking it – none of these are ways to complain. I need people to e-mail me, as that allows me to see it in a dedicated inbox, and have myself or a moderator action it. Be aware it can take a few hours for action to occur – none of us are paid staff.

In your e-mail please include a link to the actual comment (which can be found by clicking on the date and time of the comment).

The other way you can signal you think a comment is unacceptable, is to click on the link which says “Report Abusive Comment”. If a certain threshold is reached of people reporting it, then the system will automatically hide the comment from view, and place it into moderation for a moderator to review. This can be the quickest way to remove an abusive comment from view. This should not be used for comments you merely disagree with, but only ones that are abusive.

Warnings and Suspensions

If you post an unacceptable comment, you will either get a warning or a strike at the discretion of a moderator. A table at the end of this page will show the status of warnings and strikes for commenters.

The impact of a strike is below:

  1. Strike 1 – no suspension
  2. Strike 2 – no suspension
  3. Strike 3 – one week suspension
  4. Strike 4 – two weeks suspension
  5. Strike 5 – one month suspension
  6. Strike 6 – two month suspension
  7. Strike 7 – three month suspension
  8. Strike 8 – six month suspension
  9. Strike 9 – one year suspension
  10. Strike 10 – permanent ban

How do I get unsuspended?

We will try and remember to do it at the end of the period, but if your account still doesn’t work then e-mail and ask to have your account reactivated. Once we have done that, you will need to reset your password, and you can comment again.

If you try to get around a suspension, by setting up a second account, then that may result in a permanent ban. Writing styles tend to be quite distinctive, and it is often easy to spot if someone has set up a second account.