Because of a number of heated exchanges in the comments over the past few weeks here at Retraction Watch — mostly in response to our coverage of the shutdown of the Science Fraud site — we’ve added this to our FAQ:
We are huge fans of Retraction Watch commenters. They broaden our posts, send us tips, and correct us when we get things wrong. Without them, the site would be a shadow of itself. However, we have recently found ourselves — this update is from January 2013 — having to edit ad hominem attacks out of comments, unapprove other comments, and contact some commenters to remind them of what’s appropriate.
It may not be clear to those who feel the need to resort to such personal attacks that they destroy the discourse that we and others have worked so hard to build on Retraction Watch, but it is abundantly clear to us and many others. The same goes for unfounded allegations and unverified facts.
We will not tolerate these sorts of attacks, and will simply edit or delete comments that contain them. Until now, we have made an attempt to contact the commenters who left them, as long as they provided real email addresses, but given the volume, we will no longer be able to do that. If you have a question about why your comment was edited or removed, please use the email addresses provided in our About pages to contact us.
In other words: Shed light, not just heat. Facts, challenges, disagreements, corrections — those are all fine. Attacking the person, instead of the idea or the interpretation, is neither acceptable nor helpful.
Thanks, as always, to everyone who has been contributing to the discussion on Retraction Watch.