Commentariat Rules

If Wonk Bridge cannot be a haven of reason and moderation for all who would seek to benefit from its output and its community, then it is nothing. 

At Wonk Bridge, we understand that one of the principle benefits of a news outlet is that it not only allows readers to learn from experts of various stripes, but that it also allows those experts to learn from readers, and readers to learn from one another.

It’s for that reason that we want to build one of the world’s finest Commentariats at Wonk Bridge, one which completely disestablishes the historical ivory tower approach which has kept the expertise of institutions and the reading public separate, giving a platform to our own creed of pacifistic pluralism, while making our news process more directly accountable to our readers.

Rules of Engagement

Anyone who leaves a comment on a Wonk Bridge article is a member of its Commentariat – to do so, you need only register with us as a user. You will see that you are able to comment on any paragraph on any story that is published on the website., as well as engage with other commenters who have left notes of their own. You will often find that writers and other Wonk Bridge staffers will venture into comment sections to join the discussion.

When interacting with your fellow commenters, please bear the following in mind:

1a. The Principle of Charity

It is the typical vice of the polemicist to believe that, whereupon you have found the lowest motive your opponent in debate could possibly hold, you have found the correct one. It is a negative tendency which has made collective digital life immeasurably worse since its en masse adoption as a component of the rhetorical lingua franca.

When using Wonk Bridge, commenters are expected to uphold the Principle of Charity. The Principle requires interpreting a speaker or agent’s statements as rationally as possible and, in the case of any argument, considering its best, strongest possible interpretation. Do not attribute motives of bad faith to your interlocutor unless you have strong evidence that such motives are in effect. Do not, under any circumstances, use personal attacks in your addressal of other commenters.

We must run the Wonk Bridge Commentariat as a place of fairness, where persons may be free to experiment with ideas and notions that are not their own, or that may cause some discomfort within reasonable bounds, in the name of honest inquiry and intellectual progress. If this is to be possible, we must all conduct ourselves with decorum and charity towards our fellow users.

Please extend this Principle of Charity as generously to our writers as you would to other commenters.

1b. Use of Charitable Terms

Words which can be used to describe malevolent action, or to refer to discrete schemas of malevolent action – words like ‘Nazi’, ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, ‘homophobic’, ‘transphobic’ – are cheapened by colloquial use. Please refrain from easy use of them where their aptness is not thoroughly in evidence, and report any instances where you are convinced a fellow commenter is acting under prejudice.

1c. Spamming & Trolling

Users who persistently post spam content – including product advertisements, repeat comments, non-pertinent links or memes, graphic images – will have their memberships revoked in short-course and, if it is adjudged that their actions were carried out with the intent to harm other users (e.g. via the spreading of Malware of viruses), will be blocked from re-applying to membership of Wonk Bridge.

The purpose of Wonk Bridge is not to give means to those people who enjoy irritating others for sport. For that reason, we take a particularly dim view of trolling behaviour – this includes deliberately targeting other users in order to sour their experience of the site, directing foul language towards fellow commenters, . Persons found engaging in this kind of activity will be reprimanded and, if the behaviour does not stop, the user in question may find their membership revoked.

Commenting Your Way into Contributorhood

Browsing the comment sections of notable online publications, it becomes obvious that a considerable number of commenting readers hold greater powers of research, analysis and articulation than the tenured writers whose works they are commenting on. It is also evident throughout the media at large that paths into the profession are few for those without existing connections, or the benefit of a journalism degree.

When it comes to evaluating the scholarly rigour, literary style, and factual perspicacity of our articles, we see no difference between our writers and our readers. For that reason, at Wonk Bridge we have established a chain of promotion that will give the most exceptional among our commenters the opportunity to come aboard as writers.

The commenters who are ultimately invited to become contributors will have been consistent authors of high-quality comments for a period of six months or more. They will have demonstrated in their comments a desire to edify their fellow readers, and challenge writers where necessary. They will have shown the ability to handle subject inquiry at reasonable length. They will have demonstrated an urbane manner of respectfully rebutting or disputing those whom they disagree with, and so too an ability to assess apparently conflicting views on a subject in terms that are not purely oppositional.

The specifics of their style or background will not be important. The pleasure of running Wonk Bridge heretofore has been giving community and expressive outlet to people who, some for many years, had believed that they were the only ones who thought about technology is the way that they do. If this idea resonates with you, and you have things to say about technology and an effective way of saying it, you need only show it. Our editors will be in touch.

Flagrant Breaches of Commentariat Rules

Please be aware that Wonk Bridge reserves the right to immediately terminate the membership of any user who is found acting in breach of these rules; who has been seen clearly and intentionally attempting to offend, defame, or otherwise insult one of their fellow commenters, including on any grounds related to race, age, gender, sexual orientation or nationality; who, as mentioned in 1c, has been found to have posted spam content with intent to harm other users; and who addresses their fellow commenters in foul or aggressive language.

Users whose memberships have been terminated in this way will be blocked from re-application to the site.