Site Policies and FAQs

Revised May 2019.

Copyright Notice

I own the copyright to all of my writing. Guest bloggers retain their own copyright. Quote all of us freely! Do not reproduce entire posts!  Link & attribute always!

Questions

Please submit your questions at the email address at this link. If you get an error message there, it’s because I’ve temporarily suspended questions until I clear out a backlog.

By sending me questions or posting your comments to the blog you are granting me the right, in perpetuity, to use, quote, alter, and/or display those questions and comments however I see fit both for commercial and non-commercial distribution in any medium. If this concerns you, use a pseudonym and remove identifying details before you send.

I do not share your personal email address or identity, with one exception: People who threaten or harass me or other posters will have their names, emails, and IP addresses shared with their internet service providers and, if necessary, law enforcement.

I don’t answer even close to all questions I get, and I don’t answer them in any particular order.

Please keep your questions brief, around 400 words.

Also, we’ve been at this a while. Consider doing a search or clicking around in the list of categories to see if we’ve answered similar questions before you send!

Comments Policy

Without exaggerating or bragging, this is one of the best commentspaces on the internet. That’s because we moderate things. Not every point of view deserves to be heard. Unmoderated spaces tend to be full of assholes.

Anonymous posting is allowed. Using a consistent identity is encouraged.

The first time you comment, it will automatically go to moderation.

After that, your comments will theoretically show up immediately, though the spam filter frequently eats legitimate comments, even by regular posters. Comments that contain multiple links or comments posted in quick succession by the same poster will almost always go to spam. I clean out the spam trap as often as I can, usually at least once or twice/day, but please be patient and realize that I am not glued to the computer.

Of course, sometimes comments don’t show up because I delete them. This is a dictatorship, and I can delete any comment at any time for any reason, and I have no time for rules lawyers. There may not be a warning or explanation of why your comment was deleted. Due to comment volume, I do not have time to explain each moderation decision.

If your comments are getting deleted a lot, maybe they are they doing something from this list:

  • Misognyny, slurs, racism, homophobia, transphobia, gender essentialism (“Well, how can you expect men to do x?”), ableism, harassing to other posters, mansplaining.
  • This is a gender-inclusive space. Respect people’s pronouns, don’t assume a person’s gender, be graceful if someone corrects you when you get it wrong. I realize different sites have different rules and different reasons, and there’s no settled, agreed-on way to handle this, but on this site, please consider:
    • Rethinking the automatic inclusion (on the rise recently) of someone’s assigned gender at birth (AFAB, AMAB) or applying blanket terms like “women and femmes” that are intended to be inclusive but often are unintentionally transphobic. Alternatives:
      • Do we actually need to know what gender someone’s parents thought they used to be when they were babies to parse a situation that’s happening now? Instead of auto-including the assigned-birth gender, maybe think of it as a perception issue – “Genderfluid, nonbinary, people often read me as female.”
      • If you think gender/misogyny is impacting a situation, kindly spell out how and risk being clunky if the alternative is trying to apply a blanket term that implies that, for example, transgender women and cisgender men have a single common definable set of experiences and reference points (they don’t). Thank you.
  • Full of code-words like “misandry” and “beta-male” that indicate that you are a Men’s Rights Activist. Go visit We Hunted The Mammoth and troll to your little troll-heart’s content, MRAs! Here you will find only derision. You’ll find derision there, of course, but you also might find people willing to try to engage with your bizarre rants.
  • You’re correcting another poster’s spelling or language without actually contributing anything to the discussion, which tells me you are tiresome and pedantic and don’t belong here.
  • You asked for advice but tediously explain to every single commenter at length why that advice won’t work for you.
  • You’re derailing a thread, either by making everything about you or by using one of these tactics. People are REALLY friendly here and will try their best to explain things to you, but you’re not owed an endless personal tutoring session.
  • The discussion has become uncivil and has devolved into personal insults, threats, advocating violence, or turned into a pile-on.
  • You are trying to diagnose a stranger’s mental illness through the internet. Even if that were possible, usually knowing a diagnosis doesn’t equip the letter writers to DO anything about it. It’s far more constructive to focus on behaviors and what you can say and do about those.
  • Body shaming, body snarking, diet talk, mentioning specific weights or sizes, positing what constitutes “healthy” or “unhealthy” eating. We’re like the son of the bride of Shapely Prose over here about that stuff.
  • Your comment is way too long. We don’t need your whole life story! Also, learn to love the line break. Don’t make us parse an undifferentiated wall of text. I’m going to get much stricter about this, including turning comments off on posts. If 200 people leave 1,000-word comments, that means I read 200,000 extra words every time I write any words. This is unsustainable for me. Have consideration.
  • Your comment is just a link to your own blog without adding anything to the discussion (that’s called spam!).
  • There are no points for class participation, so if both sides of an argument are well-covered by previous comments, we don’t need to read endless variations of the same opinions. Especially so with pile-ons – when a problematic thing has been addressed, we don’t need every single person to address it.
  • This is not an exhaustive list. We are one of the most heavily trafficked blogs on WordPress, and I’ve had to make a lot of snap judgments about whether this comment is really adding something to the discussion. If it makes me feel a dull ache behind my eyes, out it goes.

Sarcasm, curse words, gentle mocking, criticism and vehement disagreement are generally allowed, as long as the overall spirit is constructive and in good faith.

Having your comment deleted or being asked to stop commenting in a particular thread or to move on from a topic of discussion is IN NO WAY an invitation for you to send me lengthy emails detailing your thoughts. If I wanted to read Your Thoughts I would have let you keep posting them.

A common misunderstanding: I do not read and approve every word of every single comment before (or even after) it posts. It’s impossible. The volume is just too high. So sometimes problematic stuff makes it through. Please don’t assume that if it showed up it cleared some kind of Captain Awkward Approves Of This Filter. If there’s something I should definitely see, email me, send a Tweet, and I will try to deal with it ASAP. I’m saying this because I get a lot of “HOW could you LET THIS happen?” flak and it’s like “’cause I was asleep or at work and this poster followed the rules up ’til now.”

Closing Comments

I’ve recently changed the settings to automatically close comments on posts after 30 10 days. I frequently close comments sooner, for example, when an influx of MRAs or other Internet Assholes show up (you won’t necessarily see these, since I delete the posts from the mod queue before they show up, but I do and they wear on me), a thread has become particularly contentious and/or when I run out of time and steam to moderate a particular discussion. The forums staffed by a group of volunteer mods are there for continued discussion.

Trigger Warnings/Content Notes

People write in about some really serious stuff here – for every fluffy question about internet dating there are many more about abuse, mental health issues, sexual assault. The whole site should probably have a giant flashing warning sign around it, so I don’t put a trigger warning on individual posts. Instead I do try to use post titles and categories (that you can see right underneath the posts) that tell you exactly what you’re in for and put the harder stuff behind a jump.

Finally, all advice is caveat emptor. You’re getting Some Lady’s opinion. Sometimes it will be what you wanted to hear, and useful to you. Sometimes it won’t. Sometimes it will be funny and entertainingly written. Sometimes it will not be. We all have off days. I have my own issues and biases that definitely affect how I approach questions. I own that completely, because it’s my opinion about what might work. I never claimed to be in some position of impartiality and calm acceptance. You’re the expert on your own life. Take what’s useful and use it. Give us alternate ideas and perspectives. My hope is that even if you don’t like what I have to say, someone in the comments will get you and get your problem in the way that you need.

Some actual frequently asked questions:

1. We all like talking to each other so much. Can you have open threads or a forum the way other bloggers do?

Periodically, yes, they are a good way for like-minded people to have a topical discussion. I’ve come around on these. 🙂

2.  “I don’t understand the inside jokes or reference someone made. Shouldn’t you make  a glossary for things like ‘Jedi Hugs’ and ‘African Violet’?”

Someone did! It’s here.

3. Can I do a guest-post? 

Are you a regular commenter and participant in the community? I might invite you to post, and you are also free to pitch things you think would be relevant and interesting to the community. For example, see An Introvert Went To A Speed-dating Event.

Are you someone who just stumbled across this blog because it ranks high in the WordPress stats and want a new outlet for whatever stuff you write or some cool infographic you created?  A WORLD OF NO.

4. What does LW mean?

Letter Writer

5. I saw an inappropriate or offensive ad on the site, can you take it down?

We’re ad-free as of 2017, and will stay that way as long as Patreon support stays above $2000/month. So, if you see ANY ads here, contact WordPress.com.

6. Do you have a Facebook page?

Nope. Don’t wanna.

7. Why do you ask people to spell out polyamory & polyamorous in questions and comments? 

Some Polynesian readers asked me to, as “Poly” is a pre-existing prefix/tag for that community. It’s not a slur to use the shorthand to mean polyamory (or polymath or polycarbons for that matter), and whether or not you want to keep using the shorthand in conversation or inside communities and forums dedicated to polyamory (where there is no chance of confusion) is up to you, but on the site I’d like to keep it simple and spell it out. It seems like an easy request to honor.

You can always reach me at welcometoawkwardtownATgmail or on Twitter at @CAwkward, though I ask that questions be submitted through site here. I greatly appreciate donations to keep the lights on and the internet connection running. Thanks for reading!

72 thoughts on “Site Policies and FAQs

  1. Yes, Cary Tennis does like you, and therefore I like you, too! Glad to have found your site and associated rules, and look forward to reading and contributing, too

  2. I wish there was a way to subscribe to reader comments in RSS. I like to follow the discussions here, but it’s hard to find the new comments, and I end up having way too many tabs in my browser just to go back and do a visual scan to try to find what’s new since I last checked. Of course, if I comment, I get the option to get notified of new comments to that post, but I would really like a way to get all comments on all posts!

    1. I will look into this. Do you currently use the option to be notified of follow-up comments in a thread via email? You can choose that when you comment in a discussion by clicking the little box below the commentspace.

        1. I managed to set it to e-mail me every comment/new post by going to my wordpress.com settings, looking at blogs I follow, Edit List and then clicking on the get comments by e-mail ticky box. This has the possible disadvantage of subscribing to comments on every post (though it filters the e-mails by post it comes from in my Gmail account so not too bad for me)

        2. If you click the RSS icon in your address bar or similar (depending on your browser – I use Chrome) then it should give you the option of Captain Awkward.com > Comments Feed (or something to that effect) so you should be able to subscribe that way. 🙂

      1. Me too, but I’m ok with people posting very short comments so that they can get the emails – I mean, obviously that person is invested in what’s going on!

      2. As you discovered, for *any* site running WordPress, you can get the all-comments feed by using
        http://blogURL/comments/feed
        I find that Google Reader updates several times a day, so I don’t seem to have problems with a 10-comment limit per day using that.

        For following the comments on any individual post (and conveniently avoiding the horrors of the evil Threaded Comments), you can use
        http://blogURL/post-name/feed
        For example, the recent post “My friend’s wife has forbidden us to communicate”
        https://captainawkward.com/2012/08/13/327-my-friends-wife-has-forbidden-us-to-communicate/feed

          1. Nope, it’s “Already.”

            I find that I would like to retire that on this site. An uphill battle, I’m afraid.

      1. There’s also, confusingly, DFTBA (don’t forget to be awesome) from the Nerdfighterverse. I hope I’m not the only one who always has to double-check for context.

  3. I notice that the word limit is now 400 words. Does that mean those of us who submitted longer letters prior to the new rule should resubmit? Mine was *exactly* 500 words — I was so proud of myself for whittling it down to that extent — but I can whittle further if need be.

    1. Er, please infer a smiley face around the “proud of myself part.” I was poking fun at myself for finding it hard to reign myself in, but it reads a lot more petulant than I intended.

    2. I’m waiting to make an official announcement until later this week when I’m “back” to blogging, but basically this:

      I have about 700-1,000 unanswered questions in my inbox. If I wrote an answer every single day for the next two years that would maybe dig me out of the past, but then 10 new questions would come in every day. There is no way to decide what to keep and what to delete without emailing every single person and asking ‘Is this still important?’ So, in a hard decision, I deleted them all this weekend and am starting over later this week.

      I highly encourage people to resubmit questions. I’m sorry about yours- I’m sure you worked hard on it, as did everyone, but I could not afford to hold any one question as precious. Just as soon as I can I am going to find a way to edit the textbox for submitting questions so it forces people to max out at 400 words.

      1. Kudos on the site redesign. It’s obvious you put a lot of work into this (meaning both the site and the advice).

        I was just wondering if something like Carolyn Hax’s Haxfiles, where she provides questions to her readers for them to answer, would work on your blog. I did see the faq on open threads and how it is still time consuming to moderate them, and I am sure moderating reader answers to questions would also be work. It’s just a thought.

        Thanks for keeping the blog going. I like reading your advice.

  4. Since the Sexy Typewriter site isn’t up any more, would it be possible for you to repost ‘Captain Awkward and The Man Who Would Not Break Eye Contact’ here? It gets referenced in a few places and I clicked the link and *poof*, no post.

    1. Fixing links in year-old posts is not a priority. Such is the emphemeral nature of the Internet!

      However, here is the nutshell: I went out with a guy on a blind date. He would not break eye contact. I asked him to stop. He did not, and in fact, relished that he was making me uncomfortable. It was super-creepy and awful, so I excused myself to go to the bathroom and bribed the waitress to rescue my coat from where he’d hung it behind him so I could sneak out the back door. Then he sent me a several thousand word email about my “betrayal” and how I would be “punished.”

      I think the original piece had something about the “lidless roving Eye of Sauron eye-fucking me from across the table.”

      And yet? Not my worst date.

  5. Any plans to add an “Updates” section to the blog? I’d love to know what happened to the LWs after they implemented the advice, if any would be willing to share their experiences.

    PS- I totally love the CA Glossary!

  6. I was wondering if you might consider having an open thread suggestion/request function that is separate from the question-asking-page. I’ve quite liked having a topic thrown out to the commenters when you don’t have the time for a full question (such as the anxiety or heartbreak open threads), and I admit I do have a topic that I think would be excellent for the awkward hivemind.

  7. Is there any way to turn off the infinite scrolling thing your blog does? I want different pages, not scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. It drives me up the wall to be honest.

  8. I thought I remembered you having a blogroll, but I can’t seem to find one with the new layout. I am wondering if this was on purpose, because I highly respect your opinion and am a bit sad I can’t check on what you like on the internet. But I can also think of a couple of reasons it might be gone, just wanted to ask. Thank you for all the work that you do to make one of the best internet spaces, you are my internet idol!

    1. The new layout didn’t transfer it over, and I’m ok with that – I wasn’t updating it regularly, people were hassling me about what was in it if it was something they didn’t like. I post lots of links to things I’m reading on Twitter if you follow me there.
      Thanks for the kind words, and thank you for reading!

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  13. Given that not all questions are answered, that they are answered in no order, and they are selected based on interest in the topic,

    Is it kosher to submit 2 or 3 questions on distinct topics as separate 400-word emails?

    1. I made a decision last year to spend more time writing posts (& other projects) and much less time moderating comments. “No comments” is the default now and for the future. I turn them on occasionally when I have time to give discussion the necessary attention.

  14. Question: can I borrow your commenting rules with attribution? I am experimenting with discussions that will be about race, gender, sexual orientation…and really, really love the way that commenting works here. I do not want to open these up and have them fill with trolls. If not, that is also fine! I just think they are really good rules and don’t want to reinvent the wheel. If so, let me know the best way to attribute these to you so that you get credit.

    1. Hi there, I would say you may borrow the rules but it will work better if you recreate them in your own language for your site’s culture since so much of it is my weird sense of humor, yes? Just linking back here with an ‘inspired by’ thing in that case, and good luck!

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