I do not have automatic comment moderation on the Thesis Whisperer – if you post a comment it will immediately appear. The Whisperer has been blessed with an interested, intelligent and helpful audience and I thank you for your comments – they turn this blog into a community.

The free flow of comments means more conversation, but there are drawbacks.

Sometimes my no filter rule means spammers will get through, despite the technology WordPress has in place to prevent this. Each day I go in and delete obvious search engine optimisation (SEO) attempts. Occassionally I delete other comments for various reasons. As the popularity of the site increases this is happening more frequently. This problem has reached the point where I feel I need a moderation policy, so here it is:

Critique is fine, but please don’t be a jerk

You may not agree with all of what is written here. Since I don’t write all the posts, sometimes I don’t totally agree either. I’m always interested in thought provoking conversation, which is why there are many points of view represented in our guest posts. Thesis Whisperer readers do not want to hear bigotry, racism, sexism, plain meanness or other forms of ass-hattery masquerading as critique.

I will delete any comments I think unfairly attack an author or another commenter. Sometimes I will delete a comment because I think it’s unnecessarily aggressive, lowering the tone or linking to content I think is offensive. We occasionally talk about sensitive topics here and I respect the right for you to post anonymously, but Thesis Whisperer readers want to read polite and interesting conversation. If I think you are using anonymity to be an asshat, you will be deleted.

I know some people might see this action as an infringement on free speech or academic freedom. I don’t agree. In my view there’s no need for aggression in critique – read my ever popular post ‘Academic assholes and the circle of niceness’ if you want to know more. If that doesn’t convince you all I can say is, that’s too bad.

My blog. My rules.


Thesis Whisperer readers want to know what is good to buy and use in their work, so occassionally I will review and recommend products. I take my responsibility in this area very seriously — many PhD students are on limited income so where I recommend a buy I want you to feel you get value. Where I do get benefit from my recommendations, such as from my Amazon Affiliates store, I will clearly state this. If you have published a book, or made a product or service you think will be of interest, you can find my email address on the About page.

In the past I have been asked to review and promote online courses for PhD candidates from freelance providers. There seems to be an increasing number of these on the market and they seem to be of highly variable quality. Some are great, others not so much. It’s a sad truth that not all universities provide enough professional development for students, so commercial providers are flourishing in this space. I have no objection to these courses in principle, but due to the time demands in reviewing a course, and determining if the course content and structure is of a high standard, I will no longer be involved in promoting them.

Spammers and SEO attempts will be deleted. I reserve the right to delete other comments if I think they are thinly veiled ads for unethical services, such as essay mills. Please don’t email me with your offers of “carefully crafted, professionally written content to drive up your traffic” because I am not interested in assisting your SEO strategy.

I do not accept posts from ‘professional bloggers’, only from people with an experience of doing a PhD, supervising a PhD or otherwise working in a professional capacity with research students. If you are a person with something to say about research degree study and want it to appear on the Whisperer we are definitely interested: please read our editorial policy and send me an email.

Your comments may be used for research purposes

I am an active scholar of research education. The comments you post are valuable and unique insights into the experience of doing a research degree. I view them in the same way I would letters to a newspaper.

Therefore I reserve the right to use your comments in any papers I publish, but will always respect your anonymity in line with my university’s rules on ethical conduct of research. I will remove references to people or places that might enable you to be identified in any publications I write. If you do not want your comment to be used for this purpose by me, please say so clearly in the text.

You should be aware that other scholars are reading this blog and may use your comments for their research. I cannot control what people harvesting comments for other reasons, may do. Please bear this in mind before you write anything here.


I’d like to thank Charlie Stross for the inspiration for this policy. Please feel free to email me for clarification, or leave a comment below. John Scalzi has a wonderful post on how to be a good commenter if you are interested in the culture of commentary on the web.

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