Housekeeping: Comments Again

Over the past couple of weeks, mostly since posts on the Ferguson grand jury debacle, there have been new readers at SJ posting comments who are unfamiliar with either the nature of this blawg or how comments are addressed here. Regular readers need not read further; you already know all of this.

SJ is a law blog.  By that, I mean that its contents are, except when I decide they’re not, law related and directed toward lawyers and judges.  This doesn’t mean that the subject matter shouldn’t be of interest to others, but that you’re largely voyeurs to a law-related blawg.  See that word, “blawg”?  That’s a bastardization of law and blog. It’s used for a reason, because this is not a political blog, or a cause blog, or a blog for people who believe in social justice, whatever that means.  It’s a law blog.

Part of the “attraction” for lawyers and judges here is that I do not allow the comments to devolve into shallow, mindless, rants about how all cops are evil, or all lawyers suck, or pretty much “all” anything.  We deal with specifics, with the nuance of law and individual cases and fact patterns.  I attempt to offer ideas that address matters at a level of depth that illuminate aspects of the criminal justice system.  Whether I achieve that is another matter, but it’s what I try to do when I write.

For the life of SJ, which goes back to 2007 over almost 7000 posts, I’ve sought to foster a reasonably solid level of discussion at the level that practicing lawyers and judges would find interesting and useful.  Others with significant levels of expertise, such a readers with law enforcement experience and academics, have added to our understanding of the law, and they are both welcome and appreciated, as they bring greater breadth and knowledge to the discussion.  But as JCC noted the other day:

SHG and I may never agree on the resolution of a specific incident, but we would probably agree in many respects on the solution to what leads to them. However, SHG and I have spent time (on opposite sides) in furtherance of the same thing. I suspect that many of the posters here have not that weight of experience…

His point is well taken, and has become overwhelmingly clear.  There have been far too many comments that fail to reflect the level of education, experience or knowledge that I and other lawyer readers of SJ expect and desire from the commentary.

The comments have become a problem. From time to time, I’ve considered banning comment from non-lawyers, and lawyers have occasionally urged me to do so.  While there is much to be said about eliminating the empty noise, every once in a while a non-lawyer offers insight that reminds why they should not be banned.

That said, most of the non-lawyer comments are truly worthless. I understand that some of you feel some inner need to express whatever pops into your minds, and you believe your opinion must be heard, but few of you have thoughts that are illuminating to lawyers who practice criminal law.  If you need to express yourself, there are plenty of other places on the internet where you can rant at will or enjoy whatever catharsis you need. Just not here. Reddit immediately comes to mind.

And then you get all butthurt that your comments aren’t appreciated.  As if SJ exists for you, and you alone. Sorry. It exists for me. You get no vote.  You don’t have to like either what I write or how I handle comments, but your only recourse is to go elsewhere.  Don’t worry, my feelings won’t be hurt.

Before you leave a comment, ask yourself if what you have to say is something that rises to the level of illuminating, or at least interesting and humorous, to lawyers.  Stay on the narrow topic of the post, no matter how strong the urge to go down some path that you think is absolutely critical.  Do not leap to ridiculous, mindless, one dimensional conclusions.   Don’t write about your feelings. Trust me, no one cares. They have their own.

Nor is anyone interested in what you think about how I manage SJ. This is not a democracy; you don’t get a vote except with your feet. Don’t like it? Leave. But don’t complain.

My plan of action going forward is to be brutal in trashing comments that add nothing illuminating to lawyers who practice criminal law.  If your comment doesn’t appear, it’s because I deleted it, and I deleted it because I think it below the level of thoughtfulness I want of the comments here.  If that angers you, press the blue button on the sidebar. Do not email me to complain. Do not leave more comments calling me mean names. I’ll delete those as well.

Telling me that you “like the content, but” will not buy you any latitude here.  Consider what happened with Judith if you doubt that I’m serious about this. I would rather have no comments than stupid comments, and since this is my blawg, the decision is mine alone.  There are no tummy rubs at SJ. There never have been, and it’s not going to start with you.

So read if you want, but before commenting, ask yourself whether you really have something worthwhile to add.  If you’re not a lawyer, chances are that you don’t.

51 thoughts on “Housekeeping: Comments Again

  1. rylen

    Check the link to JCC’s comment (first link in the post). It goes to wp-admin and those of us without admin privileges get an error.

  2. Matthew I

    “…there have been new readers at SJ posting comments who are unfamiliar with either the nature of this blawg or how comments are addressed here.”

    Perhaps an update to the comment policy in the sidebar is in order? The current, vaguely weak statement that “I invite thoughtful comments, but please keep it civil and respectful” isn’t as specific as the unwritten* policy of “Before you leave a comment, ask yourself if what you have to say is something that rises to the level of illuminating, or at least interesting and humorous, to lawyers…”

    *Unwritten except for the odd post-on-comments, I mean.

    1. SHG Post author

      If you read the additional stuff below the actual comment box, it says:

      All comments are subject to editing or deletion if I deem them inappropriate for any reason or no reason. Hyperlinks are not permitted in comments and will be deleted. References to Nazis/Hitler will not be tolerated. I allow anonymous comments, but will not tolerate attacks unless you use your real name. Anyone using the phrase “ad hominem” incorrectly will be ridiculed. If you use ALL CAPS for emphasis, I will assume you wear a tin foil hat and treat you accordingly. I expect civility from you, but that does not mean I will respond in kind. This is my home and I make the rules. If you don’t like my rules, then don’t comment. Spam is absolutely prohibited, and you will be permanently banned.

      The sidebar explanation has been there from the start, when the readership was almost entirely lawyers and judges. The quoted portion above was added later, as greater explanation was needed. But this rarely does any good. Nobody reads it, and even if they do, they don’t see how it applies to them, as their comments are important.

      Worse still, as I allow more non-lawyers to comment, each justifies his comment on the basis that I let some other guy offer a similar comment, and then it devolves from there. And at the same time, lawyers stop commenting because they don’t care to become embroiled in arguing with non-lawyers.

  3. Tim Cushing

    You know who else hated inane comments from non-lawyers? Hitler. (Il Duce at least ensured comment responses were timely.)

    I have further thoughts on this farce of a commenting system posted at my personal web page.

    [Link deleted because asshole.]


  4. AngryChiAtty

    I suspect sadly that the only people who will carefully read this post, understand it, and resolve to abide by it are the people you probably didn’t have in mind in the first place when writing it.

      1. Anne Krone

        “Doo process” would be where you put the hair net on so you don’t drip Jeri Curl onto your suit.

  5. Anne Krone

    A non-lawyer’s guide to posting on Simple Justice.
    1. Read the whole post. Top to bottom. And the links Scott provides, because he thinks they are relevant. Look up any words you don’t understand. If you don’t know how to look up words, leave now.
    2. If you come across a legal term, it means one specific thing to a lawyer (unless the various interpretations of the term by various jurisdictions is the subject of the post). If you don’t know what that thing is, don’t guess, and don’t ask for an explanation. Look it up. If you can’t use legal terms correctly, leave now.
    3. Having done the above, do you still have something to say about the topic? Then post, but don’t be upset if Greenfield still thinks you’re an idiot.

    1. SHG Post author

      You did this just to screw with me over the “use the reply button” rule. Not a chance in hell you were going to goad me on this. Nope. Won’t happen.

      1. William Doriss

        Anne Krone is the best so far today. Ha. How true! I like Angry Chicago (?) Atty as well. Well spoken, my man. “… lawyers stop commenting because they don’t care to become embroiled in arguing with non-lawyers.” Here we go again with ScottsoMania on a slow day in BlawgerVille.

        Everybody has an opinion; but not everybody’s opinion is worth much. I get it, to paraphrase yourself.
        Personally, being a civilian who never even aspired to the lawyerly kingdom, I “enjoy” the non-lawyer comments more than the professional or academic ones, for the most part. Hey, this blawg is not only for your amusement, but for ours as well. Or don’t you get it? Please do not be so “narrow-minded”! Some of us actually want to learn about the mysterious craft you indulge in, but were afraid to ask,… until you, SHG, came along, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed down the internet pike when we were least expecting you. And then you ridicule us for not being up to par.
        Take a chill pill, brother. Truth will out! And Justice WILL prevail?

        We do like to hear from Judge Kopf and other members of the bar, but Carl David Cedar takes the cake as far as I’m concerned. After posting him earlier this year, you lose all credibility in your statement of rules and policies. Wishful thinking on your part. Good Luck! We see what goes down.
        I’m outta here, never to return, Reddit-breath. Rules were meant to be broken. Remember that,
        “…lawyers stop commenting because they don’t care to become embroiled in arguing with non-lawyers.” Lawyers will never stop commenting, or foaming at the mouth for one reason or another just because some dirty civilian climbs on board. Get real, Scott. Who really do you think you’re talking to? And who on god’s earth do you think you’re kidding?

        1. SHG Post author

          It’s kind of fascinating to watch as both ends of bipolar take their turn. You always hate these posts, but then, I warned you not to read it so it’s your own fault.

  6. Turk

    It’s not all bad. Comments demonstrating a lack of comprehension from non-lawyers may also give you insight as to how lay jurors think (though not nearly as colorfully as the comments on a Daily News or NY Post article).

    So stop saying the glass is 100% empty, when in fact, it may actually have a few drops in it.

    1. SHG Post author

      That only plays so far. We’re well past it by the 50,000th non-lawyer comment. But if you’re interested, you’re welcome to all the non-lawyer comments I trash.

  7. LTMG

    It’s a credit to your blog and your standards that attorneys and the occasional judge post comments here. By all means, please keep enforcing the standards.

  8. okay

    I don’t expect this to show up on the site because it is your site and I respect your right to choose what appears on it. I have followed your site for some time now and I was never quite sure how to read your comments. So I inquired. Not to be “appreciated” but to be sure I was getting your “tone”. Now I know you are an overly sensitive self-important asshole and I should be aware of that when reading your comments in the future. Thankfully you write well and have something to contribute and because I’m far from felling “butthurt” I will continue to read your blog because it’s still worth my time. So thanks for your work, I sent a link to that Emily Yoffe’s post to some friends that I feel are woefully uninformed on the issue. It hadn’t come up on any of the other sites I follow. No doubt that makes you fell all special inside, because I will continue to read your work while you can make a big deal about ignoring me.

    p.s. Have you considered that the big problem with the justice system is that lawyers and judges only care about the opinions of other lawyers, judges, and the hanger ons that are the cops?

    It’s not a joke so don’t dismiss it as such.

    1. SHG Post author

      If you had followed SJ for some time now, you wouldn’t have asked that question. As for my being an “an overly sensitive self-important asshole,” that’s probably the most valuable contribution you’ve made here. See?

      According to the dashboard, your first comment here was 11/24. You then wrote a comment I called “inartful,” in that it was hard to understand, but once I did, I found it insightful. I have nothing against non-lawyers. I have a problem with non-lawyers writing mush and drivel.

      To answer your question, few non-lawyers understand the problems of the system well enough to understand the implications of their ideas. It’s not that I think only lawyers and judges should have a say, but that not enough non-lawyers are knowledgeable enough to offer any meaningful ideas. They know what’s wrong with it, but so do most of us. We’ve got that part down.

      This isn’t to say that non-lawyers think they are, or think they have ideas that are valuable, but most aren’t. I think that’s unfortunate, as non-lawyers should know how the legal system works.

      See Turk’s comment about how non-lawyer comments can help us to understand how non-lawyers who will be on our juries will think? What he’s saying is that by reading non-lawyer comments, we learn how little they know and how monumentally ignorant they are of the law, the system, etc. In other words, comments offer lawyers insight into how stupid people can be. Was that what you wanted to know?

      1. William Doriss

        Make that, ““an overly sensitive [comma] self-important asshole,”…
        We’re a stickler for correct spelling and punctuation here at SJ.
        You just cannot come on here, splitting your infinitives, mis-
        spelling words and otherwise mis-abusing the English language. A word
        to the wise; think deeply, spell correctly and for godsake use punctuation
        when necessary. No ALL CAPS, and no Foul Language permitted. Or you
        go to the Simple Justice Woodshed on the back of the lot for a [virtual] thrashing.

        P.S., As in all walks of life, you have to “know the rules” before you
        are permitted to “break the rules”. Just like in New York. Get it buster?
        Finally, valuable contributions we don’t need; money we need. These are
        hard times, irregardless of what the govt. says. Donations accepted!
        Cash is preferred,… Amerikan!

    2. Sgt. Schultz

      Since SHG won’t say it, I will. Read what you’ve written. Do you see the part where it says:

      Thankfully you write well and have something to contribute and because I’m far from felling “butthurt” I will continue to read your blog because it’s still worth my time.

      It’s still worth your time? Do you think this matters to me? Do you I read it because you think it’s worth your time. Does anybody else but you give a flying fuck that it’s worth your time? Do you think SHG gives a damn if it’s worth your time? Do you think gives a flying fuck whether you read it or not, or whether you comment or not?

      You are a warped, puny, ignorant, narcissistic dude. You may not know it. You can’t grasp it, but it’s right there, in your own words. If you stopped reading this moment and never came back, it’s not that no one would care. It’s that no one would ever notice. No one. Try it and see. I promise, SJ will go on, just as it did before you made a petty annoyance of yourself, and no one will ever know you existed.

      As for SHG being an asshole, I’m sure his feelings are hurt, but he’ll get over it.

      1. okay

        The comment was for him. I really didn’t expected to show up on the site. I meant what I said, I really do respect his right to choose what shows up on his site. As for you it mattered enough to you to reply.

        1. SHG Post author

          Imputing motive to others is the refuge of scoundrels. SS tends to get agitated by all narcissists, not you in particular.

  9. david

    You can sulk all you want, but I’m still not giving you the rights to the limerick security software idea.

  10. Clarence

    I’ve been reading here, every post, since 2009 – never made a comment. Not even a peep.

    I think along the lines of “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” Maurice Switzer. (Not Mark Twain, not Abraham Lincoln – I looked it up!)

    But today, I am making an exception: This is the second time in two weeks (see comments – Forget Super Lawyer. What about Super Blogger?) that this site has labeled me a voyeur.

    You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Just call me, Clarence. As in Thomas. And maybe in another five years I’ll make another comment.

    1. SHG Post author

      You’re right. Voyeur really isn’t a great choice of words, but I couldn’t come up with a better one. So help me out?

        1. David

          I like “spectator” but perhaps “bystander” – because it suggests standing by and doing nothing – would be better?

          “You are a bystander reading this legal blog intended for lawyers; do not comment unless your comment will be interesting and informative to me – not others, me – and you can phrase it briefly and politely. Compliments do not interest me and may provoke a rude reply.”

        1. Maria

          I prefer lurker to voyeur. This is my first (and probably last) comment at SJ.

          Just wanted to say that as a layperson I appreciate SHG’s approach to comments.

          Wow, editing this harmless comment took way longer than reasonable. Back to lurking/voyeuring.

      1. Clarence

        Nothing simple & snappy comes to mind.

        I just thought you might like to know there are a few Clarence Thomases within your readership. Observant reader is the best description. Observant: watchful and adhering to the rules.

        And now I will become as Clarence Thomas (observant) again.

  11. Jake DiMare

    Ahh, I’ve begun to measure my participation in SJ not by the number of blog posts I’ve read, nor comments I’ve left, but in cycles of the comment housekeeping post I’ve survived as SJ’s ‘too stupid to realize he’s not wanted non-lawyer commenter’. I believe this is #3 for me.

    Fear not non-lawyers! Hang in there! You may eventually get a nod from Scott in the comments. You may even be mentioned in a post or two. If you’re incredibly persistent…All much to Scott’s annoyance, something you say in a comment on SJ might even spread to the conversation on other law blogs. The key is not to get discouraged.

    Or maybe not. But if you hang around here long enough and you will get smarter. (and probably comment less)

    1. SHG Post author

      Get off my lawn. Notice how themes repeat themselves with each new wave of n00bs. It gets tedious for me. Now that you’ve reached your third round, no doubt it’s become tedious for you as well.

  12. John Barleycorn

    Your friendly neighborhood shrink can get you in touch with a pharmacy that can hook you up with dealer who is slinging for the source.

    In the mean time I got nothing.

    I do like the image of your “gates” being stormed though.

    Hire a few interns to make your life more “fun”.

    Otherwise pass the fucking hat or charge admission.

    Stop whining and start deleting before you look like a bitch crying wolf.

    1. John Barleycorn

      In fact why not get creative? Sub sub comment threads. Fuck it would be madness paid.

      Your front pages stand on their own.


      That gets you off and I hate to say it but I doubt you carry that load for “load” sake. Even if you are a prude and a cranky pedistrain on the way to the office.

      William and I will chip in on the sub sub thread just to yank your chain and tune up the select few we feel like tuning up. (I can’t speak for anyone including William who resides from the states east of the Mississippi but WTF)

      Pay to play it has to be a wet dream of CDL’s across the nation. And you know why the cheap seats sell out.

      You do have options that are only limited by your stoic lifting.

      I have been keeping an eye on your “career” pitch count (for gambling reasons) and you ain’t no knuckle ball pitcher.

      Just saying….

      1. John Barleycorn

        SJ front pages FREE

        Main comment section (reviewed and filtered by your roofing crew, interns, or your editor) FREE.

        Sub Comment threads. $9.99 a year. Duck and fuck the edit.

        Who knows what sort of gems are hiding in the rough?

        Simple is the stupor of stupid but I don’t really give a shit I have already hired a broker to track your URL.

        If you ever fold it is going to be profitable and spectacular.

        I love ya!

        Please do start a tunes only sun thread.

        It is your mission to keep “us” entertained isn’t it?

        Seriously though cut out the middlemen.

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