Code of Conduct When Commenting

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Last month was a record month, fueled by a front-page story at Reddit. This blog had 27,663 unique visitors with 52,343 visits and 125,164 page views. That’s an astounding amount of support from the PHP community and the programming community at large. Thank you. I’m overwhelmed, and excited that this blog has the ability to reach large numbers of people. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy discussing programming best practices, as well as talking about the things that matter to PHPers around the globe.

With this infusion of readers, a number of issues have begun to surface related to the comments, and particularly, the appropriateness of some users’ comments. While many of these comments are left in moderation, and never reach the end-user, I believe it is crucial that each and every comment be beneficial, useful, and appropriate. Thus, it is necessary to lay down the criteria I will use to judge the worthiness of a comment before it is approved, or the worth of a comment if it is posted without moderation.

This is in no way an attempt to censor the comments posted here; they are a crucial component of the discussion. It is important to remember that there are no rights when it comes to commenting on a private blog; however, I am committed to honest discussion and debate. This code is designed to encourage that, while clarifying the boundaries of what is acceptable.

1. This blog is about PHP.
Each post here, for the most part, is about PHP (with few exceptions). It is my goal to provide high-quality content about developing PHP, and each post is designed to do just that.

Thus, it is not really alright for people to post comments along the lines of “PHP sucks for this” or comments about why PHP is a poor language choice for whatever it is that I’m writing about. It is alright to discuss how it is done in other languages – provided the discussion enhances everyone’s understanding of the points raised in the blog post. This blog is an inappropriate place to debate whether or not PHP is better than Rails or Python; that discussion has its place elsewhere.

2. This blog is in English.
I’m proud of the fact that readers from around the world come here to read the entries that are posted. I recognize that while PHP may be language-agnostic, others may have a preferred language, and may not be the most competent in English. That said, because this blog is in English, the comments must also be in English. Comments in other languages are not helpful to those that do speak English (which is the vast majority of visitors here).

I have already licensed my content for reproduction in other languages, and you are free to translate it into your language and publish it for discussion in that language. But comments made here must be in English.

For that matter, links posted must also be in English, as must names (no Chinese characters, please; they’re often captured by the spam filter anyway).

3. The anonymous comments feature is disabled for a reason.
I have staked my reputation to what I write here. My reputation lives or dies by my accuracy, my poise, and my ability to generate excellent content three times a week. When I write something, I stand by it; this is because I have to, not always because I want to (and sometimes I write things that are incorrect and have to eat some crow).

With that said, I think it creates a double standard if people try and comment without being linked to their words. Since most comments try and add value to the discussion, it’s important for people to be able to judge credibility. Anonymous comments don’t allow people to determine this credibility.

If I can’t identify you, then your comment stands almost no chance of being approved. This means that if your email address is clearly a forgery, or your name is “Anonymous” or “Won’t Say” or something like that, I’ll probably reject or remove the comment. Credibility and accountability are crucial in the discussion, and I am in favor of both.

4. Discussions are not personal.
Attacking others is just wrong. Please don’t do it. This rarely happens; however, if it does happen, the offending person will have to be banned. The comments are a place to ask questions, and if someone proposes something inaccurate or incorrect, it is acceptable to challenge them. But it’s not acceptable to attack them.

Comments aren’t the place for reporting grammatical or coding errors
Occasionally I make mistakes. When you discover one, use the contact page to let me know, rather than posting it in the comments. The reason? Because once the mistake is fixed, your comment is irrelevant and incorrect; this isn’t beneficial to anyone.

I’ll probably update this as time goes on, and I look forward to the discussions that will happen in the coming months. There are a lot of exciting posts coming up soon, and I look forward to discussing them. These points will help keep discussions civil, reasonable, and informative for those who come later.

Brandon Savage is the author of Mastering Object Oriented PHP and Practical Design Patterns in PHP

Posted on 12/8/2009 at 1:00 am
Categories: Uncategorized, Technology

Rob... (@akrabat) wrote at 12/8/2009 2:49 am:

For what it’s worth, I think that you probably want to make it as easy as possible for someone to report a typo.

The contact link requires scrolling back up to and opening in a new window (so we can continue to see the error we want to report on screen). When we get to the contact page, we discover that we need to open our email client and start a new email as there’s isn’t a mailto: link to enable us to automatically launch into a new email window. Finally we have to unmangle your email address after copy/pasting it into the To: field.

It’s easier to type directly into the form on the page where the typo is :)

You can always delete the comment once fixed.



Martin F wrote at 12/8/2009 5:18 am:

I deal with improving the quality of comments submitted on a daily basis. And writing a news/blog post only helps until it slips out of the top few posts. If you want people to read this before they post a comment then you’ll want to put it close to the comment box, otherwise it will be all but forgotten in two weeks when it’s off the front-page.

Brandon Savage (@brandonsavage) wrote at 12/8/2009 9:58 am:

Hey Rob, that’s a fair point. I just looked at it from my perspective as a commenter, and I hate when my comments are deleted. Also, often times the comment has other stuff in it besides the fix, so it’s dicey to remove a comment that’s half useful.

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