I took part in some Twitter exchanges with two fellow bloggers and tweeters on the perils of trolls last night. One was Frances Coppola and the other the blogger known as Puffles2010. I don't always agree with either, of course, but both make serious and worthwhile contributions to debates and both get ground down by trolls, as I do on occasion.
Puffles' best friend (you have to follow to understand) pointed out his 'house rules' during this exchange and they have made me rethink my own comments policy. As a result I have entirely reframed this policy.
I once said comments were welcome on the blog. I've changed my mind on that. In a fundamental change of policy I now make clear anyone can offer a comment on the blog but whether or not I accept that comment is entirely up to me. I've done this to make very clear that comments are published on this blog entirely at my discretion. The new comments policy is as follows:
This blog is written by Richard Murphy as a narrative commentary on tax, economic and related issues. It is not intended to be a discussion forum. You may, however, offer comment for publication here but in doing so you acknowledge and agree that I am under no obligation to publish any comment submitted and that the following conditions will apply to all comments offered for publication.
The first condition is that you have the legal right to offer the comment submitted and that it does not infringe the right of any other persons. You will be responsible for any costs arising if it is found that that you are in breach of this condition. Comments that do not appear easy to trace are unlikely to be published for this reason.
Secondly, the comment offered must be intended to develop the themes I am discussing. There are ample opportunities in a wide range of media for opposing the opinion I offer and you are welcome to use them. This blog is not one of those places. This blog is focussed on providing creative solutions to the tax and economic issues we face in the interests of all rather than a few. If your comment is not a constructive contribution to that process it may well be deleted.
Thirdly, I reserve the right to edit and amend any contribution to make it suitable for publication if I think it appropriate without consulting without you first or having liability to you for any change made.
Fourthly, I reserve the right to delete any comment or block any commentator who I decide is behaving in a disruptive or disagreeable manner and shall have no obligation to explain why or consequent liability as a result of doing so.
When trolling removes the fun from blogging I think such conditions entirely fair. And candidly, it's tough luck if you disagree.