- You're free to say anything you want in the comments to my journal — offensive, ignorant, hostile, provocative, whatever — so long as you're willing to back up what you say and it doesn't infringe the LJ TOS (since, regardless of what you may or may not think of the TOS, you've already agreed to abide by it). However, realise that this freedom also applies to everyone else.
- You do not have to answer every comment directed at you. Which is as well: if you were required to, then no comment chain would ever end except by running up against the maximum permissible number of comments. In fact, unless you think that a chain of "'tis!" and "'tisn't!"s is likely to be tremendously entertaining to many of my readers, it's probably better to take any such interminable discussion to your own journal sooner rather than later. Sometimes it is better to walk away from a fight. However, if you constantly leave inflammatory comments and never bother to explain yourself (see above), that's called trolling, and will probably make me mock you horribly.
- Debates are great! Arguments are super. Watching people having a good think in my comments is fun. However, this is a mixed-ability place; not everyone has English as a first language, nor does everyone have equal felicity of expression. Failure to comprehend is very often the responsibility of the writer, not of the reader. Be slow to attribute to malice what may be explained as ignorance.
- I assume, however, that you have reasonable competence, and are capable of holding up your own end of a discussion if needed. I'm sorry if people say mean things about you. I'm less sorry if you deserve them.
- Don't censor yourself — at least, not on my behalf. Prejudices and opinions that never see the light of day often fester unchallenged into faulty truths. If you've got things to say, you can't spend your entire life pussy-footing around your potential audience. Otherwise, how will you ever know if you're wrong?
- If I don't respond to your insightful and well-thought-out comment, it's nothing personal. I probably just forgot it was there. You can remind me, if you want.
- If I turn comments off on a post — which I do very rarely — that doesn't mean simply that I don't want to discuss the matter further here; it also means that I almost certainly don't want to discuss the matter anywhere, at least at that time. It's up to you, of course, but mentioning it to me in mail or other media will probably not be taken kindly. Please wait until I'm ready to reopen the subject if you possibly can.
- Correct spelling, good grammar and tolerable style are always acceptable. You have access to tools for at least one of these things, and a brain for the rest. Use them as well as you are capable of doing.
Now, I'm going to link to this on my userinfo, for future reference. If anyone has any questions, feel free to post them in comments.