You are a guest of Slugger, behave!

Sometimes I think I’m no better than the man who strays down the wrong street in Belfast and runs into an attack he should have seen coming a mile off. In which case, it’s probably all my fault for retaining Slugger’s open door policy. I’m refering to some of the off-the-wall abuse being thrown at public figures recently and in two threads in particular.

On occasions there has been a whole scale abandonment of the one golden rule of the site – play the ball, not the man! More than once, in the last few days I’ve had it thrown back in my face with an accusation that the site is biased, as if somehow that would absolve them of the one requirement for posting on here – ie to be civil to your opponent.

This is not a take or leave it. You have to adhere to it, or your post will get wiped, or the thread will be closed, or if you persist, you’ll just get banned.

The apotheosis was Ruth Dudley Edwards thread. Now, through the running of this site over the last few years I’ve come to know Ruth, and I know she doesn’t mind a robust exchange. She can give it and take it by turns. But, as the editor of the site, I do mind.

Buried in that thread were some good points. But it was mostly buried in a hail of invective that hid them perfectly from public sight. When I went in to ask people to refrain from the ad hominem attacks, I was simply accused of being biased and (shock, horror) a Unionist.

To which I can only respond, so bloody what! Leaving aside the fact that I’ve never made it explicitly known what my politics are (though I’ve no problem with people speculating), at no point is anyone on Slugger asked to agree with anything blogged here. In fact we have always encouraged a people to advocate their own oppositional views.

However, that cannot be done without at least a modicum of civility!

Civility is not a political value. But it is a pre-requisite for people who diametrically oppose each to argue and reason over things they fundamentally disagree on. Without it the comments zone becomes a free for all with the loudest voices taking all prizes.

So, to be blunt, from now on be warned. I’m determined to keep this public dialogue space. But if anti-personal diatribes are more your thing and you wish to ignore the basic rule of the site, you may find yourself sharply back in cyberspace and looking for other lodgings!

  • criostoir


    you’re a big pompous jaffa twit.

    thank you for your site.

    Incidentally; you’re often complaining that not enough people chip in to cover your costs / reward you for your generous time. Do you have a target income and have you divided it by the number of people using the site regularly to give us some idea of the decent contribution. If you got £10 a year from everyone who visits the site at least twice a week would you be or just making do?

  • Mick

    Yellow Card! 😉 And in answer to your question, mad rich! A phenomenal amount of people pass through this site. Which is the way the net works. Only infintessimal fraction actually donate a bean. Though I would say those who do are unstintingly generous and come from all parts of the political compass.

  • SlugFest

    Mick (and everyone else),

    I fear i may have gone a bit to far with you in the RDE blog … please accept my sincerest apologies.

    I have nothing but respect for the work you do on this site.

  • Gerry O’Sullivan


    I think you’re too lenient, to be honest. Yellow/red cards are all well and good, but if the offender knows that they will be welcomed back in a fortnight, then it’s not too much of a sanction.

    How’s about a “Three Strikes and You’re Out” approach?

    First offence: Warning.
    Second: Sin bin for a month.
    Third: Permanent exclusion.

    Also, a Commenting Guidelines Page, accessible by a link from the comment area, with a box that every commenter must tick to acknowledge that they agree to abide by the guidelines.

  • Mick

    Good ideas all Gerry. Though I think that last might take some technical fiddling. Personally, I think the site needs a technological overall. We’ve a lot of design features here that were ahead of their time two years ago. I’m working on a funding proposition at the moment, which I hope will generate sufficient funds to make that possible.

  • Mick

    SF, I doubt it was you I was thinking of. I don’t mind taking the odd shove, it’s the stampede towards routine incivility that I’m railing against.

  • peteb


    there is a Commenting Policy page already.. and anyone who posts a comment is automatically assumed to have agreed to abide by it.

  • slug

    Mick is right. Civility is the key.

  • Joe

    The 3 strikes and you’re out policy has had very mixed results in the USA legal system. It has ranged from people being sent to jail for stealing the equivalent of a loaf of bread, to juries exonerating people in the face of incontrovertable evidence because they didn’t think it would be fair to jail them for life. Here in Canada we have Mandatory minimum sentences for killing which has resulted in obvious cases of injustice.
    Don’t go there!

  • Gerry O’Sullivan


    I think you need to be more specific than just making an assumption. If someone ticks the box and then posts an abusive or inflammatory comment, they need to be aware that they risk severe sanction.

  • peteb


    I understand your point, but the reality is that there is no real need for anything other than the site owner’s discretion. The compiling of a commenting policy is a step towards making sure everyone understands that such discretion will be applied fairly and evenly.

    But ultimately it’s up to those wishing to comment to familiarise themselves with the standards expected.

  • G.M.C.

    This site is also very disorientating and actually often seeming lofty where there is apparently also hardly ever the supposition of clarity of of explaining simply one’s own position from which a comment is expunged from the posters. As I experience it as such, there is a voretx of what is “the yet to be discernable”. Things can seem esoteric here, and genuinely very diverse, and this is not always the case, though also quite frequently the case. Something of the meeting of say the . It is both fresh and continually surprising and lets say a little difficult and also very positive. One doesn’t know, of course, but many times and then again many, many times. Sometimes it is also erxciting, human and elevated and inspiring in a way which I find has been missing for a few years, and had been missing to a lesser degree for perhaps a couple of decades in reportage.

    For myself in writing I am managing lately to avoid the easy option of being soft on the knock of the obscure and distant, and conversely in reading often for me assumed aloofness of many authors is a friend who is always in the bar anyway though not telephoned, and what is called extreme relativity or perhaps extreme epistemoligical agnosticism is called for naturally at frequencies and in occurrences of dimensions one is not used to.

  • Joe

    So you’re a believer in String Theory G.M.C?

  • spirit-level

    A fund-raiser could be Slugger T-Shirts and Mugs.
    Gerry’s idea is brilliant, having a pop-up with an “I agree/I disagree” disclaimer is just a bit of code, that any HTML programmer could do easily.

  • Setanta

    We all go a bit daft now and again, to bar people takes the craic out of it. Keep up the good work. Sure if we can’t work togetjer in cyberspace then we have no hope in real life 🙂

  • southern observer

    I think its only fair to point out that RDE herself has sailed a bit close to the wind – as you will find out if you read the thread in its entirety.I’m not whingeing BTW – in fact I thought it was quite hilarious.
    Nevertheless what is sauce for the goose ought to be sauce for the gander.

  • cladycowboy


    ‘A fund-raiser could be Slugger T-Shirts and Mugs.’

    Will you have ‘spirit-level’ printed on the back of your slugger t-shirt? 😉

  • cladycowboy

    The recent trend of football strips having stars on, denoting European/World cups won by them, could be copied with little red/yellow spots to show how many cards received from moderators on your slugger t-shirt…. i’ll get my slugger brand coat…

  • cladycowboy

    MCT is going to have his shirt littered with little red spots 😉

    P.S I would support letting him back early but its a little quare,cocky and confident of him to break his ban

  • ch in dallas

    A finely worded mea culpa. The mark of a gentleman is to accept responsibility for his actions ,accept the fall out, and apologize. Well played!

  • Susan

    I too Mick must apologise. No referee is ever consistent and it is easy for people like me to sit back and engage in whataboutery and highlight a difference in treatment between Susan McKay and RDE threads.

  • The sheer neck

    Apology or not, you are making an idiot out of Mick and his rules by coming back here to waffle on about why and how you broke the rules after being supposedly “red carded”. Show at least a little respect, at least! (As I recall this is not the first time you have pulled this stunt, either.)

    I think it is this utter disregard and complete disrespect for the site that is a major part of the problem.

  • slug

    Respect for Mick means respect for his rules.

  • Dick Doggins


    Instead of conventional warnings and such like, have you considered alternative justice, public flogging, the birch, a day or two in the stocks!!!!!!

    I`ll get my coat.

  • martin

    T0 all,

    My friend Davros has been missing for quite a long time–I have asked people on this site on numerous occasions as to his well being–only to be met with a wall of silence–someone out there knows something-and if no-one provides proof of him being ok within 3 days I will have no alternative but to contact interpol–as I dont regard the PSNI or the Gardai as acceptable police forces

  • fair_deal


    Don’t know what happened to Slugger’s Davros. Have you tried the email he used on here?

  • slug

    This seems an appropriate moment to say that I don’t like conversing with people who use sectarian names for themselves (e.g. ‘t***’, a word I have NEVER used).

    When people use such names, and the red-carded invididual was the most obvious, I often felt like responding, but could not do so because of his name.

  • joc

    Isn’t Davros quite active on the “sister” site as MR ?

    Or did I completely mistake that one ?

  • United Irelander

    If you’d read United Irelander you’d know of the fate that befell Davros. To find out, see here.

    Gerry O’Sullivan: “By the way, MR, as we’re talking about identities, have you seen that “Davros” fella knocking around at all? I haven’t seen him on Slugger for a while.;)”

    Madradin Ruad: “Davros ? He’s dead, murdered by trolls.”

    There you have it folks.:)

  • peteb

    That’s not how I remember his last post, UI 🙂

  • martin

    The Trolls who murdered Davros must be brought to justice-I believe I would have cross community support on this one—We might’nt have always agreed with his politics but I think I can speak for everyone when I say we all liked him.

  • tra g

    madradin ruad

    Alive and well

    Catch him over at Balrog

  • martin

    Madrradin Ruad = Davros ,is that what your saying Tra g

  • martin

    Ok people you have left me with no choice–Im contacting interpol regarding the dissapearance of Davros o Toole