elephant’s new D****bag-free Comments policy.

Via elephant journal
on Aug 6, 2010
get elephant's newsletter

Source: instagr.am via Kit.~

Our comment policy: rude comments will be deleted. Critical but constructive comments are more than welcome—respectful debate and conversation with those we may not agree is a part of our mission.

Update: Please: no comment.This policy is not new, no longer. For the 1st 1.5 years of elephant’s online existence I took pride in never deleting a single comment. For the last few years, as we’ve grown, we’ve sadly grown up and now regularly delete meanie comments. But our mission remains the same—exactly the same: to nurture a culture where compliments and criticism are equally respectful and genuine.  ~ ed.


Be Nice, or We’ll Kill You.

Internet Comment Phenom: Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Mean Person.

or ?

Recent (nice) comments from a single blog post:

“I love you Elephant J! You guys bring the crazy anger out of everyone haha =) ♥ “”Holy crazy stick, i gotta say elephant seems to bring the crazy out like no other.
‘don’t talk about bad things cause then you bring attention to them. hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. wahhhh’ Seriously people the point of this article is to develop discussion around a practice that everyone here finds less than ideal. yelling at elephant for bringing this up is silly and creates an environment of silence where others are afraid to speak up.””Really, no where else on the internet can you see such a display of like-minded people getting so uptight and offended with each other. Spiritual adherents getting all caught up in illusion, ego, and needing to be right. Constant source of amusement for me, thanks!”


From now on, due to (regretful) complaints by some readers and writers, elephant will happily delete any comment that is rude, employs mean-spirited fbombs…that sort of thing.

If you see a comment you find objectionable, not in view but in expression, email us and we’ll review it promptly. Mean comments get deleted.

I find this change in policy regrettable, personally. Up to now, over the course of two years, we’ve deleted maybe one or two comments ever (our comment system, Intense Debate, does reject overlong comments from time to time). Why? I’ve aspired to host a forum that is open to all opinions and passions. For that’s our mission: to extend “the mindful life” to those who didn’t know they gave a care. And we can’t do that very well by playing thought police within our little choir.But now, thanks to a few f*****g d*****bags, that open policy is ruined for all us.I want to make one thing very clear: this change in ele’s comments policy is not because I, or our authors, have hurt feelings and are curled up in the fetal position on the second floor of my home wearing two-week-old boxers feeling sorry for myself. In fact, I’ve welcomed harsh comments on my blogs for years: I learn a lot and become a better person because many of you are f**k**g ***holes.One thing will never change: elephant welcomes dialogue, and respectful, thoughtful disagreement—however passionate. Indeed, it’s what we’re for.Overall, our traction with our readership has been inspiring. We have twice as many Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers as many media outlets 10 or even 100 times our size. Our readership on elephantjournal.com itself is arcing at a 45 degree angle. Life is good.And so, we (politely) ask that our readers, and ourselves, to be as measured in our anonymous online debates as we would be in person, if we were friends with different opinions.This comment policy, in a more sophisticated way, has been in place for years at sites like Huffington Post, and Treehugger—which actually used to require readers to click a button that says “submit my respectful, thoughtful comment.” I love that.So, as a sort of goodbye to the Land of Unnecessarily Rude Comments, enjoy Mr. D’s more-respectful-than-many comments on our Facebook Page.~#
Steve D Posting this after yesterday’s exchange [see comments on Feminist Hack of Maxim] is potent evidence of your cluelessness. Complain, complain.#
Jennifer Jones Hunt: Steve… Are you threatened by the article or by the picture?#
Tanna Riggs: I clicked, couldn’t help myself :)#
Steve D: Waylon says no one complains [when he posts photos of males in media] so I thought I would contradict him. I think it’s clueless because Waylon engages in cheap attention getting image trafficking, then acts as though his audience is repressed and puritanical.I find this posturing hypocritical and disingenuous. Threatening? Who are you kidding? Elephant is incapable of it. It’s too needy of ‘friends.’


Tish K. P: Women get to click on this one, because men haven’t been exploited enough ; ) I’ll take the guy on the left :D#
Jennifer Jones Hunt:
Images are used to represent, prove points or possibly even get people thinking. Unless, of course, the audience views themselves as repressed and puritanical, in which case they would allow themselves to be threatened by an image. So then,… Waylon’s not the one at fault for you feeling threatened…#
Tish K. Park
A person doesn’t have to be repressed and puritanical to have mixed emotions or disapprove of the quality and/or quantity of the images or articles are shown. They can really like the images ; )I read the links that elephant journal put, regarding their viewpoint, I understand, and I’m not against their viewpoint.Just as with anything (food, activities, etc.), balance and fun is important, like eating healthy, but having times for indulgences. Images, like anything else do affect people, positively and negatively.As responsible human beings, we know that garbage in, garbage out. I have nothing against sex, nakedness, etc. Give me a little garbage sometimes ; )But overdo a certain type of image, and I might be missing out on something else that’s important, interesting, or fun too, that would also keep my perspective in balance.#
Jennifer Jones Hunt
Tish – I’m certainly not saying that one must be repressed or puritanical to be threatened by an image. As with any form of art, we all have our unique appreciation of aestethetics. I’m simply using the words that Steve used when accusing Waylon of using cheap attention grabbers… Again, subjective. The point I’m making is that since these images are subject to personal preference, it’s not the person who creates or uses the art who is at ‘fault’ for others’ reactions.#
Tish K. Park I agreed with that. I guess I should have said that. Sorry.#
Jennifer Jones Hunt No worries, dear. I certainly agree with you that diversity is always a good option!#
elephantjournal.com Wow, respectful dialogue! With thanks to both of you for showing how to disagree (and agree) without being disagreeable. Something we men have to work on—we prefer “posturing.”#
Stephen, respectfully, I’d remind you that we often (me, my many writers) disagree with our readers. This, perhaps, is an example of that. Our many posts on veganism, mindful-meat-eating, slow food are perhaps another example of that—many o…f our readers furiously disagree with us when we post on any one of those subjects.We are here not to have “friends,” as you say, but to provide a vital forum for respectful dialogue on how to better create an enlightened society. In more simple terms, how to live a good life that’s good for others and our planet. I hope you’ll join us: write something!Instead of complaining from the outside, complain from the inside! Insult me all you like, and do so from within elephant. Or write on whatever you’re passionate about.#
Anna Kristina hahaaaa these guys are hilarious!


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive.


65 Responses to “elephant’s new D****bag-free Comments policy.”

  1. Blake says:

    Oh great… now every comment that's made in my articles will be deleted.

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Ruck You.

  3. jolinda Van Haren says:

    People are complaining about rude comments made to you on your website and so now you are changing your policy on reviewing and deeleting posts??? Damn. Damn it to hell.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Not to me, to all of us…take a look at http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal …as I said if it were just rude comments to me, I'm open to that generally. But if it's causing readers who are "polite," who don't like to "damn things to hell," then we've got to reinforce some basic sense of decorum and respect.

    Again, this is not about limiting what people say. It's how we say it. We welcome dialogue and disagreement.

    And we're not deleting posts.

  5. elephantjournal says:


  6. BillCherryJr says:

    Your mother wears army boots

  7. YogiOne says:

    How do you reconcile this with two blogs in a week with headlines saying yoga sucks? To me, that is personal, puerile and offensive even if the articles were meant to be taken humorously. Try setting a good example and maybe your readers will follow suit.

  8. Betsy V. says:

    Indeed blogs/comments/opinions/spirituality is path filled with rocks not firmly imbedded in the ground. In light of this, think ele and Waylon have done an exceptional job of bringing the very core of what the practices of buddhism, yoga and otherwise dharmic paths look like from every angle in our western world. The discourse involving these ideologies is crucial for a deeper awareness and awakening of our own tendencies and stringent judgements. The very fact that some of these articles/blogs elucidate feelings of distrust or anger should send a flag waving into our own ego mind to differentiate between what truly needs to be challenged externally verses internally.

  9. elephantjournal says:

    via http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal

    Waylon Lewis: Can we disagree without being disagreeable? Generally, we're out of practice. On forming an enlightened, enlightening, fun + passion-filled forum: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/08/be-nice-or

    Cathy Lynn Schultz a "negativity diet" is a great idea…debate can be civil, informative, and enlightening, but mean-hearted bashing is just going on an ego trip…

    Bryan Bowen On the record: I very much agree with this practice and find it very disheartening when I read online comments that are insulting, vulgar, and worst of all, lacking in thought. We're all working together to forge some kind of progress, I hope.

    Kara Noel
    Perhaps drawing up some rough guideline for what is "disagreeable" would be useful, especially if the threshold is going to be kept low. People have diff communications styles, and one persons "negativity" is mere pith to another. Ppl's se…nsitivities can range from being terribly offended that they must be exposed to any emotion they deem negative to being so callous that they aren't even aware that other ppl have emotions. On the internetz, who knows. Maybe you need emoticons, or let ppl draw pictures in the comment box.

    Cathy Lynn Schultz
    aggressive insults and aggressive language have no place in an intelligent debate. There are rules for debate. Like, debate the question in question, without attacking the person personally. Like, for example, saying "you are just stupid…" (to be putting it mildly) is not a debate. Just inform, educate, share your opinion, share why you have formed that opinion, and share knowledge you have learned. This is easily done without using attacking and insulting the other person in a personal way?

  10. elephantjournal says:

    First of all, I didn't write those articles. Mark K. did. I'm not funny enough.

    Second of all, they were indeed humorous, tongue in cheek, and pointed toward ways to improve our yoga classes. Criticism mixed with humor has a long, noble tradition, from the jester in the king's court to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

    Third of all, thank you for setting an example with a critical, yet respectful comment.

    Fourth of all, I'd love to hear back from you on the first two points.

  11. elephantjournal says:

    Actually, she wears your mother's army boots.

  12. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks for sharing. Those were some times, I hear!

  13. YogiOne says:

    On the first two points: I do understand that you didn't write those articles. However, it is your website and you clearly set the tone for what gets published here. Thus, I do hold you responsible, especially when you decide to put the brakes on the same kind of disrespectful language that you have been encouraging. As for humor, there is a thin line between humor and anger. Sometimes humor facilitates saying things truthfully that need to be said and sometimes it is used as cover for giving voice to hurtful expressions. Racist jokes are an extreme example whereas the "Yoga Sucks" posts were mild ones. Just because you throw humor in the mix, it doesn't mean that you can say whatever you want and expect others to accept it.

  14. BillCherryJr says:


  15. I think there should be a specific policy too. Leaving it open to daily mood is risky.

  16. elephantjournal says:

    Hunh. Well, I personally found the points Mark was offering to be funny, generally, and true, generally. I thought it was both fun and helpful to yoga teachers and studios. But I'm wrong frequently!

  17. elephantjournal says:

    On your second comment: we have done several, hopefully many posts by studio owners, on how to green your studio, how to start one generally…recent ones are via Shannon Paige Schneider of Om Time. Search for those. And, yes, I think you probably are finding a weakness in elephant's coverage overall, since more of our writer/readers are students than teachers or owners.

    Since we are reader-created, I'd love to ask you to write something about studios that's more positive, sincerely fun…if you'd like.

  18. elephantjournal says:

    We're simply asking folks, including myself, to be agreeable when disagreeing. Personal insults are not welcome.

  19. elephantjournal says:

    You're banned for life, Duff. Or, until I see you at The Cup, next time.

  20. elephantjournal says:


  21. Ryan Oelke says:

    Can I drop fun-spirited f-bombs still? 🙂 "Fuck" is completely integrated into my normal vocabulary.

    Fuckin' love ya, Waylon 🙂

  22. Mila says:

    Fuck, Ryan, I thought it had been replaced by tusk!

    Well, tusk me for not paying attention. 🙂

  23. elephantjournal says:

    Not only will we not delete respectful, thoughtful comments that completely disagree with us, we welcome it. That's what will help us all to learn and elephant to become a real, vibrant, strong community.

  24. elephantjournal says:

    Fuckin' A, Sir Oelke.

  25. soundhunter says:

    This site is growing, and that's awesome for such an open, diverse community. I think establishing this type of boundary is a good idea, other forums/communities I've joined who grow take similar measures, nothing outtahand about it.

  26. Monique says:

    No issues here. If you have to resort to being mean to make a persuasive argument, you suck at making persuasive arguments. EJ is doing you a favor by hiding your derisive stupidity from the world. This is, after all, a site dedicated to living mindfully. Down with trolls!

  27. elephantjournal says:

    Just came across Boing Boing's comment policy, for reference: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/10/01/commenting.h… ~ Waylon

  28. adan says:

    via iphone

    while readily agreeing that most of the harm i hear about is male-originated, i’m wondering if, like in this article, ej’s emphasis on examples like boy punching girl in face, and the cartoon with dickwad, indicate another problem ej should deal with: a presenting reverse sexism

    beyond that, good job by ej presenting such a huge variety of topics, and a reasonable place to discuss them

    i also hope that ej’s new policy extends to no longer posting titles with explicit words like ***k spelled out

    though that type word-spelling-explicitness irks me, but can “usually” accept if not overdone (same with my occassional eggs & pancakes) i do fwd & “share” many articles to friends family & readers, and several have small children who are curious why a general public publication gets to “cuss” 😉

    ej – some rough terrain being cleared & trail blazed for quite a motley group of us, keep up the good work 😉

  29. Sandy says:

    I’m incredibly disappointed in EJ. An intelligent, benign, critical comment I made on a comment Ben R made on the recent article “Why women pick bad men” was removed. Is this really about EJ having the right to delete angry comments or is it about deleting thoughtful, challenging comments that other insecure writers cant seem to handle on the heals of their own brilliant remarks. EJ has been slowly declining in terms of content (shallow, thoughtless one/liners replacing deeper investigative and creative writing), and now with this censorship. It’s really
    too bad. You’re losing a lot of readers and contributors.

  30. Sandy says:

    I will add, that was the first comment I’ve ever made. It was not insulting, mean, or even angry AT ALL! I’m truly baffled that my comment is deleted in the first place, but then seeing this article makes me think EJ is masquerading as an open forum, but really is not. I understand deleting dangerous comments, but I know what I wrote, and I know it was deleted, so. …that’s all.

  31. Sandy says:

    Wow. What a sad day.

  32. Tamara says:

    Nice but you guys need to monitor Tobye your very own as he loves to twist stories into something they are not to create sensationalism….Great example: Yoga Teachers, What Your Student Really Want was twisted into i hate to be a bitch but your yoga class sucks. Seriously, he should not be given the liberty to do intros. It fosters negativity and nasty comments.
    Tamara of Daily Transformations

  33. Tamara says:

    Hi Sandy, I didn't read your comment but i imagine it was angry after Tobye's intro twisiting my story into a woman against man piece. Hopefully you read it. I am very careful to not put down men. Based on his intro i imagine you were angry. I'd be interested in your feedback after reading it, you can email me from my blog. best, tamara

  34. Tamara says:

    I agree, Tobye's intro to my piece Yoga Teachers Here's What Your Students Really Want was switched to I don't mean to be a bitch but your yoga class sucks. With that kind of Elephant Staff Intro it not only twists what the author writes but creates an atmosphere of hostility that doesn't even foster someone reading the article.

  35. Sandy says:

    Woops! I'm sorry, from my iPhone it looked like my comment on yesterday's article had been deleted. But logging in from my computer I see that it is still there. HUGE APOLOGIES!! My bad. I take it back and love EJ.

    ps. you CAN delete my previous comments on this post, for I was ignorant and misinformed.

  36. AlpineLily says:

    EJ has LONG been deleting comments from people who don't blindly agree with everything they say!
    I have had comments removed that were directed at the content of the article and NOT any particular person…..but they were in disagreement of the stance of the author, so that should explain why they disappeared.

  37. AlpineLily says:

    EJ has LONG been deleting comments from people who don't blindly agree with everything they say!
    I have had comments removed that were directed at the content of the article and NOT any particular person…..but they were in disagreement of the stance of the author, so that should explain why they disappeared.

  38. AlpineLily says:

    If your "staff" can use the word BITCH as Tobye has done in intros, then I hope you will allow your commentators to still use that same word without having their comments removed…..after all, if EJ is throwing it around in their articles they can't be that offended by it right?

  39. Yogini5 says:

    I had several of my posts deleted. But that blogger has not been around lately. I think it had been deleted by a certain blogger.

    The rest of you are cool.

  40. Juliet D says:

    It's true a number of people could use a good communications modeling education, but censorship still bothers me.

  41. elephantjournal says:

    Amen. Remember, we never deleted a single comment for a year or two. But we've had authors never post again because of rude comments. We don't need to be rude. We need to be mindful—thoughtful—whether we're saying something nice or critical, we can do so with respect.

    We allow criticism—we need it, just like you do, like I do, like we all do. We do not want to be a vehicle for gossip or insult, however—

  42. Deborah says:

    We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

    The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion. ~Henry Steele Commager

    The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen. ~Tommy Smothers (my favorite)

    Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. ~Potter Stewart

    We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard. ~Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique, 1764

    The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book. ~Walt Whitman
    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire (my favorite)

    I am thankful for all the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech. ~Nancie J. Carmody

    The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

    Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. ~Alfred Whitney Griswold, New York Times, 24 February 1959

    Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. ~Abbott Joseph Liebling, "Do You Belong in Journalism?" New Yorker, 4 May 1960 (my favorite)

    A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom a press will never be anything but bad. ~Albert Camus

    To reject the word is to reject the human search. ~Max Lerner, 1953, on book purging (my favorite)

    Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them. ~Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935 (my very favorite, for this thread) …

  43. elephantjournal says:

    We never deleted your reply…and if we had we wouldn't have the ability to repost it under your name…there is no conspiracy! But AlpineLily sure did get excited by the possibility, seems. Sorry for any confusion! ~ Waylon

  44. elephantjournal says:

    I agree on that reverse sexism…we have an 80% female readership and when we post sexy images they get complimented and "more please" and whistles…if it's a guy. If it's a woman, we're evil. While I know there are significant differences between history of portrayal of sexuality with men vs. women in our culture…the comments on both sides tend to be cheap. The point is: can we take the extra breath and leave fair, intelligent, reasonable comments—whether positive or critical? ~ Waylon

  45. elephantjournal says:

    Here's a quote for you: "normal person + internet + anonymity = a**hole."

    Seriously: Great quotes! This isn't about censoring criticism…it's about name-calling. If anyone wants to take a breath, take a moment, and really do a good job of criticizing someone they've never met or something they're saying, great! Just do it right, fully, not casually. And have the greater good in mind—how can we/it/whatever you're commenting on improve?

    Online bullying, with children, is a serious problem. With adults, it's hardly less deleterious (good scrabble word).

    Respectfully yours,


  46. elephantjournal says:

    I should delete this spam comment….but some of the comments here seem to say we should never delete comments. So I'll leave it in for those commenters to read, and reread, and enjoy. ~ Waylon

  47. elephantjournal says:

    It's sad that it is necessary. People need to internalize the fact that an actual person is on the receiving end of their hateful comments! – Kate
    2 hours ago · UnlikeLike · 4You, Amy Cronise-Mead, Travis Garrett and Mark Holmberg like this.
    Sybil M: It is NOT a service to expose more people to hate rhetoric. Hate posters count on it being tolerated, so that more and more people are infected by their invective. Removing it is a kindness to others.

  48. […] Let me know. I know this is politics, but we can do all this respectfully. If you can’t, read this. Disrespect will be deleted. elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create […]