July 2014: Could I ask people not to sign their posts with common first names only? I have regular commenters called John, Ian and Chris, but other people have signed comments with those names and it can be confusing. Please, if you’re new, at least give yourself an additional initial – be John P. or John S. – or invent a name to use on this blog, it doesn’t have to be a real one. Thanks.


In December 2013, I changed from a name-based user banning system to one based on IP numbers.

I have very few user bans in place on this blog. It’s long odds that someone else who wants to comment here will be reassigned those IPs in future, but if you find yourself unaccountably unable to comment, drop me a line.


The first time someone comments, it’s held for my approval. After that, the person can comment freely, although any comment containing more than one link will be automatically held for approval (because this resembles features of comment spam).

In this context approval means I see no reason the comment shouldn’t be posted. It does not necessarily mean I agree with it or endorse it myself.

I reserve the right to delete abusive comments or close commenting on a post if the tone becomes hate-filled or drifts to ad-hominem shots or irrelevancies. I also balk at having my blog used as a soapbox by anyone trying to co-opt every topic to promote an idée fixe of their own. Personal attacks on me or on other commenters are also not welcome here.

Fundamentally, I want comments to make good points, or answer questions that have arisen, or add clarifications or interest in some other form. Disagreeing – civilly – is also beneficial. Trolling – posting to provoke – is basically boring, and can get you banned.

I keep a pretty close eye on the comments. If you make a comment in the wrong thread, please repaste it to the correct one, and I’ll notice and delete the mistaken one.

I do fix typos and formatting in comments, up to a point.

Je suis contente de voir qu’il y a quelques gens qui participent ici en français et j’aimerais souligner que c’est aussi bienvenu que l’anglais.