The Duck of Minerva

A Short Note on Editorial Policies at the Duck of Minerva

7 September 2012

There’s been a lot of on-blog and off-blog chatter about reactions to Brian’s most recent issue of The Canard, which some (though certainly not all) readers found offensive for its satirical use of stereotypes about the Democratic Republic of Congo. Brian wrote a rebuttal to his critics, which also triggered a negative reaction among segments of our readership. Other commenters weighed in to question whether posts in the style of The Onion ought to be held to the same standard as regular academic posts

Despite the strong feelings on all sides, almost everyone conducted themselves in a civil and productive manner. One commentator, however, crossed five or six lines (and an ocean, for good measure) in a reply that concluded with hopes for Brian’s death. I somehow missed the comment for a few hours. My standard response to unacceptable behavior in comments is disemvowelment, but I was unsure whether to leave any trace of the offending reply

Before I could make a decision, Brian’s rebuttal disappeared. PTJ and I independently contacted Brian, who confirmed to us that he had deleted it on his own initiative.

I want to take a moment to clarify some important points about the editorial policy of the Duck:

  • We are not a magazine or a journal. Each blogger is an independent writer who is responsible for his or her own content and who produces it free of charge for the benefit of those who feel like reading it. There is no full-time paid editor. We do not censor or modify the substance of posts. I occasionally edit an already-published piece to ensure it conforms to style guidelines, such as font, font size, line spacing, and so forth. But that’s it. So if you want to provide specific feedback on a blogger or on a post, it is most appropriate to email that blogger directly or leave a comment in the thread.
  • Building on that, you should read every post as if it comes with a disclaimer that “the views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of any other blogger at the Duck of Minerva.” In fact we often disagree with one another, sometimes openly. However we also recognize one another’s right to write freely. We hope that the tone and tenor of comments in the future will reflect this basic notion of academic freedom and express concerns or make corrections of fact without needless ad hominem attacks against individual contributors or the community.
  • We expect some basic level of civility from members of our community. We will, at a minimum, edit comments we deem particularly noxious or engaged in unproductive trolling. We reserve the right to disemvowel or delete comments; we will exercise this right at our discretion. Comments that hope for the death of others, for example, will likely be deleted.