Read the Roolz

Traffic has continued to increase on this site—we’re up to between 25,000 and 30,000 views per day—but with that good news comes the bad. The influx of new commenters is, to my mind, changing the tone of this site. Perhaps used to the impoliteness and insults pervasive on other sites, some new commenters are engaging in Roolz violations.

For all new commenters, click on “Da Roolz!” on the sidebar to see what we expect when  you comment here. And follow those guidelines.

In particular, we’ve seen a lot of these violations lately:

1. People trying to dominate a thread with their own concerns. Certain subjects bring out people who want to comment over and over again or engage in one-on-ones with other commenters. As I’ve said, if your comments constitute more than 10% of a thread, you’re probably commenting too much. Have your say, and if you get into an extended one-on-one argument with someone else (these are nearly always futile at changing people’s minds), take it to private email.

2. Do not tell me what to post about or what not to write about. This will get you banned very quickly. I am not, of course, saying that readers shouldn’t send me items they think would interest all of us, for I welcome that. What I really mean is that readers shouldn’t tell me stuff like “more biology, fewer cats”, or, as happened on a recent thread, tell me that I really shouldn’t have posted about the topic at hand.

3.  Please try not to hijack threads. There has been a lot of this lately, in which readers will turn a discussion to their private concerns, which often have little to do with the topic at hand. Sometimes I let this go, as it can be interesting and productive, but it sometimes comes perilously close to trolling.

5. Do not insult other commenters or your host. When I put up a serious post, discuss the issues politely and not the personalities of those you disagree with. For example, I don’t mind at all if readers take issue with what I say, but if they add gratuitous insults or slurs (e.g. a suggestion that I’m “disingenuous”), they’re likely to be removed or given a time-out. Treat this website as if it is my living room, which, in an intellectual sense, it is. And that means not micturating on my carpet.

If you want to engage in invective and name-calling, there are plenty of other secularist sites where you can do that; but you won’t do it here. As Sam the Lion said in “The Last Picture Show,”

You boys can get on out of here, I don’t want to have no more to do with you. . . I’ve been around that trashy behavior all my life, I’m gettin’ tired of puttin’ up with it. Now you can stay out of this pool hall, out of my cafe, and my picture show too – I don’t want no more of your business.

It’s much less important to me to have high traffic on this site than to have civility, mutual respect for our common humanity, and a sense of community. And, of course, substantive and useful discussion—as well as humor.

Again, if you’re new here, or haven’t looked at the guidelines lately, read “Da Roolz!


  1. JBlilie
    Posted May 21, 2014 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    Thank you sir! That’s one of the reasons I always come here …

  2. Ian Hewitson
    Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    New boy here. Da Roolz well and truly understood and, yes, it’s also why I like it here.

    I wouldn’t dream of suggesting to Professor Coyne that he should post about any particular subject, other than to say, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO START TALKING ABOUT THE WORLD CUP? THERE’S ONLY 3 WEEKS TO GO!

    • Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:09 am | Permalink

      Sorry, the World Cup in which sport?


      • Chris
        Posted May 21, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        Well… football instead of handegg!

      • jeremyp
        Posted May 21, 2014 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        You don’t need to mention which sport when talking about the World Cup. Everybody knows it’s football (and by “football” I mean the one where controlling the ball with your hands is mostly illegal, not American, or Australian or rugby (union or league)).

      • Posted May 22, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        Quidditch, of course!

  3. Sean
    Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    “2. Do not tell me what to post about..” I have been guilt of this. I apologize !! Love the book, and love the site. Thank you Proff Coyne!

    (p.s. just cant help m self when I see a video of cat saving a boy from a dog last week!!!)

    • Sean
      Posted May 21, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      Have you guys seen today’s Google Doodle!!! How can I not violate Roolz #2 ??!?!

      • Posted May 21, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        I knew about that last night, since it was up in the UK, and have just posted about it. That’s not a rule violation!

  4. Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Well, I’ve been guilty of long 1on1s when trying to pin down evasive religionists or apologists.

    I’ve been admonished and I’ve accepted that with (I hope) good grace.

    In my defence, I often review and respond to comments via email, when it’s harder to gauge how long and insular a discussion has become (the width of the comments and the lack of a direct Reply link are giveaways on the website). And, via email, it is very easy to keep commenting after Ceiling Cat’s paw has come down, further annoying him, because you haven’t yet seen that email!


    • Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      How do you get the email addresses, though? It is always most imprudent to post one’s email address online.

      • Posted May 21, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        It’s the website address. He is saying that when he subscribes to a post and further comments are emailed to him (from the website), he replies to the comments by replying to the email (rather than going to the website).

    • darrelle
      Posted May 21, 2014 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      I don’t know Ant. I doubt Ceiling Cat had you in mind.

      • JBlilie
        Posted May 21, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink


      • Posted May 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        What can I say? Catholic upbringing. You never stop feeling guilty!


        • darrelle
          Posted May 21, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink


          You’ve just given me insight into my wife. And her mother.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      I also have a hard time gauging how much I’ve posted by proportion (I blame poor math skills) but I usually know when I’m in violation. 😉

  5. cubswin84
    Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    What happened to #4?

    • Posted May 21, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      #4 violated Da Roolz and was expunged.

      • Marella
        Posted May 21, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        Expunged is such a brilliant word. Say it slowly and with emphasis … 🙂

        • Posted May 23, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

          Yes, I like that word. I wonder if something can be re-punged after it’s been expunged. Or if it was ever really just punged in the first place. It’s one of those words like “disgruntled,” which is great, but “gruntled” is even better.

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 21, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        Or PCC’s channeling Supertramp.

  6. darrelle
    Posted May 21, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    I insist on cat posts!

  7. switchnode
    Posted May 21, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I wasn’t sure whether to post this in the comments somewhere or email Professor Ceiling Cat directly, but as long as the site’s under discussion I may as well ask here—has anyone else been having trouble with the RSS feed? Lately it’s taken to duplicating almost every post, sometimes notifying me hours apart; I’ve never had this issue before. Is this my reader finally cracking up on me, or WordPress being finicky and recalcitrant as is its wont?

    • Thanny
      Posted May 21, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      I have the same problem. I use Feedbin as my reader. This is the only WordPress site in my list, so I don’t know if it’s site-wide or just here.

    • Vin
      Posted May 21, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      I wrote my own RSS aggregator, so I’ve got more than a passing familiarity with the raw feed details. Not sure the inner workings of the software you’re using, but it probably is happening when a post is edited. The GUID is the same, but the content has changed, so it likely appears again in your reader. I know (for the one I wrote) it uses a hash of the content to see if the post changed (as not all sites are good about making unique GUIDs for entries) and puts it up again when it sees a content edit.

      • Thanny
        Posted May 21, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        That’s certainly not the case here. Before this duplication started happening, none of the posts that Jerry edited (usually to fix minor typos or and the like) were duped in the RSS feed. Now, every single post is duplicated.

        Beyond that, I just checked a couple of the posts, and each duplicate in the feed is identical (saved content has same hash).

  8. Marella
    Posted May 21, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Thank ceiling cat for da roolz I say.

    • Dawn Oz
      Posted May 22, 2014 at 12:29 am | Permalink

      Roolz makes for a civil society – thank you again Jerry for spending your precious time with us all.

  9. wejuli
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been a subscriber for close to two years but I’ve never actually read the Roolz until now. I find them reasonable and fair. Greetings from Uganda and keep the posts coming!

  10. NAY
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! – Sorry.

%d bloggers like this: