Front Porch Rules

The Internet is a great big world, public and open to all. Some of us set up shops, theaters, or bull horns to offer services, entertainment, and information to the discriminating Internet public.

Some of us set up houses, wanting to provide more personal connections over the Internet. We’d even love it if those connections resulted in conversations.

But I tend to think the biggest falsehood alive on the Internet is that an unmoderated “Comments” section equals conversation. It doesn’t, because real conversation only happens in a protected and valued space.

Whenever anyone is alarmed or disappointed by a negative, hurtful, or even perceived offensive reaction to a shared thought on the Internet, the response is that the Internet is Public, and you have to Deal With It.

You wouldn’t tell a homeowner that they shouldn’t have built a house if they didn’t want taggers to come paint graffiti on it. You wouldn’t tell a store owner that they shouldn’t have gone into business if they didn’t want someone to steal from them.

So don’t tell a blogger they shouldn’t blog if they didn’t want to let the Public have free reign on their site.

This is my Front Porch. The street is public. The house is available for anyone to walk up to and ring the doorbell and say hello, and maybe wait around for a cookie or some tea.

But I have every right to not answer the door, or to kick you off of my property if you are endangering, disrespecting, or being malicious toward myself or my other guests. I don’t have to accept or maintain the existence of anything I don’t want to in this space.

I am the curator of this porch. This is a space where

  • the human beings behind the voices are valued above their words;
  • stories are shared and listened to;
  • varying perspectives are welcome;
  • curiosity vanquishes judgment; and
  • nobody tries to “fix” anyone or their views.

So be aware, that if I delete comments or block users, even if it seems unreasonable to you, it’s my front porch. You do not have a right to be here or say whatever you want. You are a welcome guest until you become unwelcome.

And if you think that makes me hypocritical for “not valuing varying perspectives” or “being judgmental,” then you are not understanding that something you said (or the way I interpreted it) was a violation of the respect this space. I may get it wrong sometimes–I’m human too. Text-based conversations are very difficult to maintain because communication is vastly more influenced by tone, context, experience, and body language than by the actual words used.

I’ll do my best to be a good hostess, and I appreciate the willingness of my guests to get the most out of this space. I want it to refresh and stimulate, to rejuvenate and invigorate.

I look forward to coming out with a tray of lemonade and ginger snaps the next time you come around!