AAC Comment Guidelines


One of the very best things about this site is the huge amount of wisdom and experience that you, our readers, share in the form of comments. And by far the majority of the time you are reasonable and self-policed—thank you.

But even so, here’s what is, and is not, acceptable in the comments to this site.

#1 Stay on Topic

Please stay on the topic of the parent post you comment on.  And further, please don’t just dump your comment on any old post and expect us to move it. We do not move comments.

The best way to find the relevant post for your comment is to use the search box at the top of the site.

#2 Not A Forum

AAC is not a forum where any participant can start and drive a conversation. This difference is the major reason that the debate here remains civil and useful instead of degenerating into the flame wars and general silliness of the forums.

Think of commenting at AAC as attending a well-run meeting, with a strong chairman who sets an agenda (the article) and guides the debate, rather than being subjected to a mob all shouting at the top of their voices.

#3 Author Availability

Generally, although I (John) am here pretty much 365 days a year, AAC writers only monitor comments to articles for a couple of weeks after original publication date. This is only fair since they are paid on a per-article basis only.

In a perfect world we would pay them an annual fee to monitor and answer comments on older articles, but unfortunately our revenue stream does not run to that. Also they are all very busy with other things.

The result is that if you comment or ask a question on one of the other author’s articles it is unlikely they will answer. That said, I will give it my best shot.

#4 Be Nice

Feel free to disagree with an AAC author or another commenter, but be nice. And understand that we have a more old fashioned and strict definition of nice than many forum moderators.

These are some of the actions that can result in comment deletion:

  • Any sort of personal attack, said or implied.
  • Any indication in your comment that you think that someone else’s opinion or way of doing things is stupid—wrong is fine, but stupid is not.
  • Please be careful with and use sparingly forum language like LOL (laugh out loud). If you are expressing a different opinion from another person and use LOL in the wrong place, what are you saying? Yes, you got it, that their opinion is laughable—not nice.
  • Watch out for expressing an opinion as a fact. (I know I need to improve on this one.) Starting a comment disagreeing with someone else with “that’s interesting, but my thinking is” is far less likely to turn the debate hostile than “you are wrong and this is the way it is”.

#5 Your Public Profile

Our system shows your first and last name above your comment. We know that’s unusual, but we have found that this use of real names contributes materially to the friendly and collegial nature of the discussion.

However, if you have a valid security reason for not wanting your name displayed on your comments, please email us and we will change it manually.

That said, understand that nothing else shows about you, so displaying your name is not going to put you at risk unless you have a very high profile and a unique name. Think Justin Trudeau—no, he’s not a member, but we live in hope.

If you would like to grace your comments with your smiling mug—a good idea we think—you can set that up by clicking here.

#6 Photos or Graphics In The Comments

We use standard WordPress comment code, which does not support photographs or graphics in the comments. The reasons are that:

  • Allowing people to upload graphics to our server would add a big risk of being hacked.
  • We go to a huge amount of trouble to optimize our images so that they are as small as possible and therefore don’t slow down page loading. This optimization process is quite complex, particularly these days when our site must serve different sized images for different device screen sizes and resolutions. The point being that a single uploaded image to the comments that is not so optimized could double, or even treble, the page load time. Multiply that by say 10 images in the comments to a post and it would be easy to end up with a post that took a minute or more to load—not acceptable.

All that said, there’s an easy way to share your images or diagrams with other AAC members:

  1. Upload the image to an image sharing site. Here’s a list and many of them are free.
  2. Make sure the image is public.
  3. Copy the URL from the bar at the top of your browser. Here’s how (scroll down to tip #7).
  4. Paste it into your comment at AAC, where it will automatically become a clickable link.

#7 Don’t Put Words In Our Mouths

One thing that just drives us authors up the wall is when someone who has clearly not read the post properly starts arguing against something we never said or even implied. Nothing, but nothing, makes my delete finger more itchy.

#8 No Politics or Attacks on National or Ethnic Groups

I don’t need to expand on this one.

#9 No Religion

Faith is important to many of us, but please keep yours to yourself. This is simply not the place.

#10 No Veiled Advertising or Promotion

Please don’t try and promote your services or products in the comments. Phyllis and I have spent 15 years and tens of thousands of dollars building AAC to what it is today. If you want to leverage that effort and reach our audience, please consider becoming a corporate member.

#11 You Grant Us Rights to Your Comment

When you make a comment you retain the copyright but you automatically grant us world-wide rights to edit, publish and move that comment as we see fit.

And yes, that means that your comment may become part of a chapter of an Online Book that is available to members only. If that bothers you it may help to think of it this way:

We are, in effect, running a nice club full of civilized people in a tough neighbourhood (the internet) by policing the door and making sure the roof doesn’t leak. And, like a club manager and doorman, we deserve to make a salary for doing that.

So perhaps you who benefit from the “club” can recognize that the wisdom you share at AAC makes the site a more desirable “club” for new members, which, in turn, keeps the lights on.

#12 Members Only

Only members may comment. Answering comments and questions is very time consuming and therefore it’s only fair that we focus our time on the people who support this site, our members.

Thank You

A huge and heartfelt thank you to all of you who comment, and particularly to you regulars who have become friends, even if we have never met.