rules of engagement

Adapted from the “User’s Guide and Code of Practice” I wrote for the Forum for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Ireland in 2008. Updated in 2015.

When you first compose and submit a comment/gloss/reply to a post, please brace yourself for the ignominy of awaiting moderation. This is principally to avoid spam: filters are set high, so that less spam slips through the net, but the sad consequence is an apparent aloof distrust of fellow Medievalists and Renaissanceurs.


The Obrienatrix WILL swear and MAY curse the perpetrator. Being a redhead carries some weight, occasionally, in cursing circles.

The Obrienatrix is not a businesswoman and Meta-meta-medieval is not a business enterprise. Both entities’ activities are of the mind, not the World: the medieval, medievalism, and medievalisings a.k.a. the gentle art of commentary. Contact with the Temporal Sphere is limited to its close reading. No money is involved, none solicited, and there will be no advertising. Indeed, the only financial transactions associated with this site have been the Obrienatrix paying WordPress an annual fee for subscription to their No-Ads Upgrade.

Meta-meta-medieval is NOT a place for any sort of commercial activity. It is not a sorting-house and liaison for people wanting to come to this country, nor is it a travel agency, nor a visa facilitator. Nor is it an appropriate place to introduce people to the joys of assorted stimulants, chemical and sensual, though these may be of academic interest in the form of the Medieval and Renaissance history, archaeology, artistic and literary representation, history of medical usage, etc. for the latter; and political, social, and economic history for the former. Which is why some more cleverly-worded spam may creep in from time to time (e.g. “I want to attend your conference…”), why the spam filters are set high, spam is sorted through regularly and frequently, and a State of Constant Vigilance is maintained.

If you and your comment are bona fide your comment will be “approved” and appear, and future comments will appear straight away. If a regular correspondent or commentator is agreeable to it (she will of course ask nicely first), the Obrienatrix may also copy material over into a lovely fresh post, duly fully credited. If you would rather remain covert, that can also be arranged (ex. citations and reports from our Special Foreign Correspondent Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary). Or points between, as suits everyone best.

This has all been left flexible, of course, for good sound practical reasons.


This is a free forum for open discussion. In a spirit of good humour, politeness, and parity. “Courteous” conduct, if you will. Bear in mind that comments and commentators can be “unapproved” (WordPress’ term, not mine) too. Contrariness to the opinions of the administrators will not, however, be a reason for a comment or commentator being blocked.

The Obrienatrix will not edit comments, although she may comment on your comment: while her wardrobe includes the hats of administrator, writer, editor, and moderator; its unifying style is commentative. Including the commentator-hat proper. Being a simple one-headed soul she usually only wears one hat at a time, and is capable of simply being a commentator just like any other. She might comment on matters grammatical, orthographic, or otherwise linguistic. It is possible that the use of txtspk might be mocked; other Classical, Medieval, and modern languages are of course welcomed with open arms (fairly sure most Roman AB diacritical marks are catered for–including þ and Жas well as Greek). Incisive argument is encouraged, as are witty one-liners.

On the other hand, any material that is insulting, defamatory, or derogatory will be removed. Jezebel and Lifehacker provide some excellent material on the ethics and jurisprudence of commentary and its moderation. (N.B. these are not Medieval, Renaissance, or scholarly sites. And, like all other external links here, these ones open in new windows.)


  1. You are free to express any view, opinion, point of view, or belief; to hold or adopt any position; and to adhere to any school of thought. The few refinements and exceptions to this First Commandment are in the other nine listed below.
  2. Any view (especially if contentious, unusual, or indeed innovative) should be expressed clearly and coherently and supported by argument and/or proof. You should be prepared to uphold and defend your view/point of view.

  3. In the event of a discussion becoming heated: remember that you may agree to disagree. Some disputes cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. Some matters are irresolvable (by this kind of discussion, anyway). Some questions have no answers.

  4. If a view is contrary to fact—observable reality, historical facts (where known), material evidence (including the text at hand)—be prepared for this to be pointed out.
    Unlike the different situation of real life and the law, however, ignorance is a defence and is even expected: this is after all a course [not true of this blog] and one of its purposes is learning [true of everything].

  5. Be polite, civil, and courteous.

  6. While you may ask pointed or loaded questions, it is usually recommended that you avoid provoking or offending for the sake of causing offence and/or hurt. These may be online identities but there are real human beings behind them.

  7. You are commenting on (texts and) comments and arguing with arguments. Not with people. No personal attacks, accusations, insults, defamation, etc. Please note that in rhetoric—a.k.a. the art of argument and persuasion—ad hominem is an informal fallacy—a.k.a. “fail.”

  8. Please refrain from making statements that are against Canadian and (as applicable) international law (incitement to violence, high treason, race hatred, genocide, etc.).

  9. If in doubt, exercise common sense.

  10. O’Brien reserves the right to step in to comment as needed.

The Ten above were added later from a guide to the practice and limits of online commentary that I produced for two courses in 2012 that involved student blog commentary (RMST 221: Literatures and Cultures of the Romance World I: Medieval to Early Modern: “INTRIGUE” and MDVL 302: European Literature of the 14th to 16th centuries: “CRITICISM.”)

Many images are from Wikimedia Commons and are freely usable; some are from search engines and press releases (or equivalent) and are publicly available. If that is not the case, image sources have (as far as humanly possible) been duly attributed and the owners should be contacted for any reuse that involves or implies filthy lucre. Should you happen perchance upon images here that should have been attributed–or more exactly attributed–but haven’t been, or if there are mistakes in the attribution: please do contact the Obrienatrix first before suing her, as this may be due to human error, inattention, and/or carelessness. “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

This site, like many others, may be best viewed in Safari or Firefox and works fine in Ubuntu and Chrome. “Best” = to ensure maximum security and freedom from cookies, tracking, and other evils. This site has been set up not to allows any links to appear coming from other sites (trackbacks and pingbacks), or to show any related links from elsewhere (which, as we all know, are rarely even remotely related, and tend to be comical at best), or to accept any other such externally-inflicted and -controlled forms of advertising by third parties; as they are Repugnant and Diabolical Works and so we formally abhor them. SnapShots have been disabled as they have been known to cause allergic reactions in many people, ranging from mild irritation to apoplectic fits.

Happy meta-meta-medievalising!

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