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Time Goes By Commenting Policies

Readers arrive here (and elsewhere on the web) with varying levels of computer and internet expertise. Because this blog appeals primarily to elders, many of whom have taught themselves this stuff (and hurray to all of you who have done so), inevitably there are gaps in their knowledge.

(I was lucky enough to spend the last decade of my working life employed at websites where lots of smart 20-somethings taught me amazing computer and internet skills that I sometimes wonder if I could have figured out on my own.)

So today, as I do about once a year, I am going to explain a couple of basics – technical and policies specific to Time Goes By - to catch everyone up to the speed.

There is no shame in not knowing – everybody was once a newbie - but I must tell you that this is equally for my benefit so that I can stop writing the several dozen emails I feel obliged to send each week to individual readers.

Commenting From Email
Certainly everyone here knows that to respond to any email, you click the word “Reply” and a form appears where you can write your message, click “Send” and be done.

However, if you receive Time Goes By via email, this is not true. Think about it: TGB arrives from my email address so if you click Reply, what you write is sent only to me. No one else sees it. And believe me, some of those emails only I see are so good, smart, funny or compelling in other ways, everyone should be able to read them.

It has come to my attention via these private emails that some of you are unaware that there even are comments and that if you read TGB (or any blog, newsletter, etc.) only in your email program without visiting it online, you are missing a large – and often the best - part of the conversation: all the comments from other readers.

So here are instructions on how to read others' comments and how to leave your own comment if you like:

  1. Click on the words “Time Goes By” at the top of the email
  2. The story will open on the TGB blog in your browser
  3. Scroll down to the end of the story where you will see the word “Comments” in the footer, sometimes with a number [e.g. (3)] following it. That is the number of comments already posted.
  4. Click on the word “Comments” to open the comments section
  5. At the bottom of the list of comments already posted is a form where you can write your own comment
  6. Do so, finish filling in the form, click Preview or Post and your comment will be added

If you do not keep a blog, you can leave the URL box empty. If you include ablog URL, your name below your comment will link to your blog.

You must enter a name (it does not need to be your real name). You must also enter a working email address which is never published.

If this is a new process for you, may I suggest that you print out the instructions because after today, I will no longer respond to comments sent only to me via the Reply button. As much as many of them are enjoyable and I wish others could read them, I don't have the time to answer so many messages reiterating these instructions.

I have deliberately made Time Goes By an advertising-free internet zone. At this blog there are never any annoying popups, no screeching audio when the page opens, no video wiggling around in your peripheral vision, nothing advancing across the screen covering the words you are reading, no Google Adsense links interrupting you in the middle of a story.

And so, also, no advertising is allowed in the comments. I know it annoys some of you that I remove references to almost all products, brands and services along with links to their websites.

I do that because I cannot spend my time working out whether such a mention is innocently meant to be helpful or is someone being paid to slip in advertising masquerading as a real comment. Happens everywhere online so I remove them all.

In particular (but not exclusively), I remove any kind of health and/or medical product, advice or service as soon as I see it for other reasons. What works medically for one person does not, necessarily, work for another and should never be used without consulting one's personal physician.

You would think people know that, but half a century of working in radio, television, commercial websites and this blog have shown me thousands of times that there are many idiots wandering around out there who would try eating what's on the bottom of a bird cage if someone even jokes about doing so.

Therefore, this prohibition also applies to all medical/health remedies of any kind. All such references are deleted.

If you've ever been enjoying reading responses to news story, blog post or anything else online and it suddenly goes off the rails from the subject, you know how irritating it is.

Long term or short term, nothing kills participation in a forum or blog faster than off-topic comments and the more there are, the more people leave, never to return.

As with brand names and such, I remove these as soon as I see them. Sometimes there can be disagreements about what is off-topic or not, but it's my blog, my decision and just so you know, I usually err on the side of strict adherence to topic.

That may or may not sit well with you but a lot of my choices have to do with saving or returning time to myself that I've allowed the blog to take away from me.

I hope this clears up a few items. One of the good things about Time Goes By is that there is a larger sense of community among regulars here than at many other blogs. I keenly appreciate this which is what has led me to spend as much as an hour, sometimes two, a day answering reader emails.

But I do need to cut way back on that as I'm sure you understand. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments - I'll get to them as soon as is possible.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: Socks


Bravo. Time goes by too quickly to squander any.

Now is a good time to let you know, Ronni, how wonderful it is to enjoy a website (blog) without a bunch of distracting advertising. A real pleasure it is to me, and to others, I'm sure. Thank you for making it your policy.

You gave me a very good reminder to stick to the topic of the blog when commenting. It only takes one off-topic comment to change the subject completely and the following comments are commenting on the former commentator and not the blog subject.

I plead guilty to doing that occasionally. I will mind my manners better from now on.

As usual, a good column and good review of your blog policies, Ronni. One observation (with a twinkle) about advertising:
Ever since you switched to 'feed blitz' to send your column to email addresses, we DO get ads at the bottom of your words. Today, it's "Zip List Cookie Dough dip", and that ever-present "Publisher's Clearing House". Knowing your ad policy, at first when I saw these, I wondered what Ronni had to say about whatever subject was being purveyed. Now, realizing it's just part of the territory, they have simply become background noise.

I agree - good post and reminder. I truly appreciate your ad-free policy for all the reasons you mentioned!

Yes, Ronnie, it took me awhile to realize I had to go on line and read the comments..
Also, I appreciate the time you take to keep us on subject. I have quit reading other blogs due to some hateful comments about religion, politics, etc.
Some people need to zip their lip.

Ronnie, This is my first comment and I want to let you know how much I appreciate your blog. You certainly do not need to spend two more hours a day answering email when this comment feature works so well, and we can all share.
Please keep it up.

Most organizations post their FAQ once a month. This is yours. :)

Yes, I am aware of the email ads.

After Google canceled their free email delivery service last year, I switched everyone to Feedblitz which is the best and most reliable such service.

For me, having used it since TGB was launched a decade ago, it is free and to support that, the company includes ads.

Because this blog already costs me about $750 a year for the blogging service that gives me full design access, domain and email registrations, some books and many subscriptions that keep me up to date on aging issues, I feel fine about the ads.

Anyone who dislikes them is free to unsubscribe - there is a link for that at the bottom of each email.

There is a link to the TGB FAQ at the upper left of every page. I haven't looked at it recently, but it undoubtedly covers pretty much everything. It is MUCH LONGER than today's post.

Thank you Ronnie. I always enjoy the comments on your posts. However, there is something that has been puzzling me. I thought I had to leave my full name. Today I learned "You must enter a name (it does not need to be your real name)." This is helpful information because in the past I have posted comments using my full name. Then when I "Google" my name, it shows up with a link to the post on which I have commented...only it's not my comment but the one that was posted below mine. So today I will sign my comment...

Since we are not supposed to make a comment that is off-topic, I wish you would have one or two columns a month that are open discussion on aging subjects. You could still moderate them, of course, to make sure nothing objectionable gets said.

If not that, how about a suggestion box for future topics?

I have tried "open thread" columns in the past and no one had anything to say. So I won't be doing it again.

If you want to make suggestions, there has always been a "contact" link in the upper left corner of every page.

Excellent column. It cleared up a lot of things I didn't even know I needed to know! Thanks for your hours of work.

TGB is a crucial part of my everyday life, so whatever it takes to keep you interested in continuing, I'll do. I already knew about the comments feature, but the off-topic one is new to me. I'll take care not to violate that policy; it's a good one. :-)

Atta-girl. That's what they "give" you the "delete" button for.

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