For the last six years, Yopp’s comment policy has been to avoid comments altogether, the reason being that because the blog covers such controversial topics, a fair amount of moderation would likely need to be done, and we didn’t anticipate having the resources the consistently manage that.
But we’ve decided to try implementing comments for two reasons:
- Increase traffic to the blog– If you leave a comment on a platform like this, you have a motive to return to the platform, to see if anyone responded to your comment.
- To get feedback from readers on what articles they are valuing and enjoying and what if anything they’d like to see done differently in the future.
If the cost of moderation proves to be higher than the benefits listed above, then we may close comments again. But for now, Yopp’s articles allow comments! Please read the commenting rules below before jumping into conversation with others.
At Yopp, we are here to:
- Educate others
- Learn about experiences that differ from our own
- Offer compassion
- Support and validate people from marginalized groups
Please approach the comments accordingly.
Your first comment will need to be approved, with comments after that being automatically allowed. If this is your first comment, or you are using a different account, expect it to take longer to show up.
I am the only person moderating comments. I won’t be able to catch every problem right away. I am relying on commenters to follow these rules and be the best versions of themselves in the comments. Comments that violate any of the following rules may be removed without warning or explanation.
Absolutely No Bigotry
This should go without saying but, comments that engage in or encourage the degradation of PoC, LGBT folks, disabled or chronically ill people, plural folks, low-income folks, or that are based in disrespectful judgement of body type, religion, or gender, are not allowed.
No Oppressive Language
The English language is full of references to the ways in which cis, white, Christian, hetero, abled, rich and skinny people are valued most highly in our culture. Practice awareness of the ways the language you use reflects this status quo, and how you can change the words you use to more accurately represent trans, POC, non-Christian or non-religious, queer, disabled, chronically ill, low-income, plural, and fat people. Please refer to “The Problem with Slurs” for more details.
No Accusations of Faking
We discuss many different forms of physical and mental illness, as well as disability on this blog. The person who is the most qualified to determine whether their illness/disability prevents them from doing a thing is the person who has it. Don’t assume that because you know someone else with the same diagnosis who has different limitations, that you know more about the writers’ disabilities than they do.
Take Article Writers at Their Word
On a related note, all of Yopp’s writers are marginalized and many of them speak about highly sensitive, difficult things they’ve been through. They are the experts on their own lives and experiences. While you may not see the racism or other bigotry in the interaction they describe, the fact that they were there and you were not, means they have a more accurate picture of what happened than you do.
No Gate Keeping
If someone says they are part of a marginalized group, please avoid any iteration of “You aren’t [marginalized group quality or trait] enough to call yourself [marginalized group].” We let people define themselves in this space. Respect how marginalized individuals wish to be referred to.
No Un-Solicited Advice
When discussing physical or mental illness, please do not offer advice on remedies or treatments without explicitly asking if the person wants that advice, first. Saying any iteration of “Have you tried X?” without first checking in, means you are not prioritizing gathering all the relevant information before offering solutions, therefore it is usually not useful advice. It is okay to share your experiences with trying treatments for your own health problems.
Avoid Derailing as a Beginner
If you were in the middle of taking a level 100 Biology class and you ran into some students discussing their level 400 Biology class, you would not interrupt them and demand that they explain a basic concept that you simply haven’t learned yet so that you can talk to them about their class. You would take the necessary prerequisites to gain a comparable amount of background information to be able to meaningfully participate in the conversation.
Yopp is intended to be a place for learning, so you don’t have to already know everything in order to get something out of our articles. But if you haven’t learned a ton about social justice stuff yet, recognize that you are a beginner, that you have lots to learn, and that you’re not likely to have insights that no one has ever thought of before, without first learning the larger body of requisite knowledge. If you’re new to a topic consider googling the bingo card for the topic (Example: Racism Bingo) and reading through some of the arguments that have already been exhausted. Asking a genuine question is okay as long as you….
Approach conversations with a genuine intention to understand one another. Arguments will happen and marginalized people are not given the grace they deserve to express their anger around being harmed. Disagreement is okay, anger is okay. Abuse, hostility, and personal insults are not okay. If a thread is getting really heated, walk away and take a break.
Critique Actions and Behaviors, Not Personhood
When engaging in debate, aim to criticize the specific harmful behaviors a person is engaging in, rather than labeling the person, themselves, as bad. Example: “That’s a very ableist statement” vs “You are very ableist.”
Value the Labor Spent on You
If a marginalized person takes the time to explain a concept to you, they are dedicating time and energy for your benefit, and that should be appreciated. People get paid for this work and if you are receiving it for free, you are receiving a gift. When you ask for this labor to be done, understand that the answer might be no, and if the answer is yes, offer respect, active listening, and gratitude in response.
Impact Is More Important Than Intent
We strive to assume that everyone is doing their absolute best in the current moment, however, this does not exempt you from the consequences of your actions if you unintentionally cause harm. If you are called out, please don’t focus on defending your good intentions when you could be tending to the incidental damage. Check out our article “Hiding Behind “Good Intentions”: Why Good Intent Does Not Erase Oppressive Impact” for more info about why this is a problem and how to handle being informed you’ve messed up when you didn’t mean to.
That Includes You, Allies
If you are not a member of the marginalized group you are defending, be mindful that your vitriol may be taken as an excuse to return that vitriol two-fold against members of that marginalized group. While you may be able to take that damage, they may not be able to.
Power Dynamics Matter
If you are tempted to say something like, “How can you say X about white people? If I said that about black people you’d call me racist…” this is not a useful or accurate thought exercise. Please check out our articles on Power Dynamics Part 1 and Part 2 to learn about how saying the same thing about a privileged group does not have the same impact as it does on the corresponding marginalized group, due to the absence of systemic oppression.
The Devil Does Not Need Your Advocacy, Marginalized People Do
The majority of social justice arguments that start with, “If I may play Devil’s Advocate for a moment…” are usually just arguments in favor of the status quo. If you want to use this as a real discussion device, make sure everyone in the discussion has agreed to it first.
Don’t Expect the Needs of Allies to be Prioritized
Tone policing (“Well, you could’ve said it more nicely!”) or other versions of respectability politics (“How are you ever going to change anyone’s mind if you keep using [Protest tactic]?”) wherein the feelings of the non-marginalized group are being prioritized, do not further the goal of empowering marginalized groups. I do try to offer compassion to the perspective of someone just joining a social justice cause BUT if you need everyone to be nice to you all the time in order to offer your support, your support is likely to be withdrawn the moment you are asked to change your behavior, and, as an ally, you will be asked to change your behavior, repeatedly.
Use Content Notes for Violent or Explicit Content
If your comment includes particularly explicit violent content, sexual assault, discussion of suicide, addiction, or eating disorders, and this is not directly in line with the content of the article itself, please add a CN to the start of your comment mentioning this.
Use “Edit Comment” Feature Responsibly and Ethically
I have made a point to allow comment editing specifically so that if you post something that you learn to be problematic, you have the opportunity to go back and edit your comment to reflect your change of heart. Please note that the comment was edited at a later time for continuity purposes. Comments can only be deleted by me, which I will try to avoid doing unless the comment violates one of the rules above. If one of your comment truly needs to be deleted, you can contact me at email@example.com to request it, but if your comment includes a lot of replies that contain valuable information, I will likely ask you to edit it instead.
These comments were heavily inspired by the comment policies on Ask a Manager, Dumbing of Age, and the AlterNation facebook group. Special thanks to Kat Tanaka Okopnik for her social-justice-specific commenting guidelines. Many of the ideas for these rules came from her so please consider checking out her Patreon.
About the writer: Kella Hanna-Wayne is the creator, editor, and main writer for Yopp. She specializes in educational writing about civil rights, disability, chronic illness, abuse, and Dissociative Identity Disorder. Her work has been published in Ms. Magazine blog, The BeZine, and Splain You a Thing and in 2022, she released a self-published book of poetry, “Pet: the Journey from Abuse to Recovery“. You can find her @KellaHannaWayne on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Medium, and Twitter.