Comment policy

I've decided that it's time for me to come up with an official commenting policy for PATSP. The timing is mostly because the situation described in rule #3 keeps coming up, and I have been having a terrible time trying to decide what to do about it. But I figure as long as I'm trying to settle that one, I may as well spell out everything.

Disappointingly, it all pretty much boils down to Wheaton's Law, except maybe for #5, but here you go anyway:

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1. Spam comments will never be published, because duh.
• Comments that do not appear to have been composed by a human being will not be published.
• Comments which appear to have been originally written in Chinese and then run through Google Translate on Chinese-to-English will not be published.
• Links within comments should be relevant to the post they're responding to.


2. You do not have to retype the same comment six times. I have to approve comments before they show up on the blog. I get about 70-110 spam comments every day, see #1, and comment moderation is the best way I have to keep them under control. Be patient. Most of the time, I'll approve your comment within 2 hours.

2a. In the event that you do submit six versions of the same comment in an effort to bash it through the moderation queue, I will only publish one. Usually this is the version that makes you look smartest (best-spelled, most details, etc.). If I'm in a bad mood when I read it, though, it might be the one that makes you look stupidest.


3. I occasionally see commenters who are commenting under account names that link to commercial sites. If your commenting identity is "Best Granite Countertops" or "California Patio Furniture" or something along those lines, and clicking on your name will direct me to a site that is trying to sell me granite countertops or patio furniture, your comment may or may not be published, depending on how much I resent you trying to use my site to generate links for your site. Some days this pisses me off enormously, and other days I'm only slightly irritated. Special consideration is given to comments which:
• are more than ten words long ("Beautiful!" is certain to go unpublished; "I love the way that shade of green plays against the red of the flowers" has a shot. Though not much of one.)
• provide additional information about the topic under discussion, particularly if you take the time to include a link or other reference to the source of your information
• indicate some familiarity with PATSP (you don't have to have read every single post I've ever written going back to 2007, but you should know, for example, that I primarily grow indoor plants)


4. I do see and publish comments on very old posts. If you use the comments to ask me a question about a plant of yours, I will usually try to answer it eventually. These sorts of comments will often take me longer to publish than most, because I tend to wait to publish the comment until I also have the time to write a reply, so be patient.
Read the post you're commenting on. Failure to do so is likely to result in me not answering your question at all. If you catch me in a particularly pissy mood, I'll publish your comment and then comment back telling you to RTFA. If you read the article and need clarification on a particular point, or if I didn't address the particular situation you find yourself in, that's fine, but don't leave a comment like "hOw do i know when to watdr plant?" on a plant profile unless I really didn't say anything about watering in the profile. And I always say something about watering in the profile.


5. I do not ask for absolute grammatical purity. I can't manage that myself, so I don't expect it of other people either. Plus it's kind of elitist. But it's still really appreciated if you do a quick proofread for typos, autocorrect errors, etc., before you click the button to publish. This is also just good practice for life in general.
• I understand its usefulness, and I don't mind an occasional LOL or something, but I really hate long stretches of textspeak. Especially if you've got a lot to say, please spell the words out. Few things are as tedious as trying to parse a block of "omg i luv ur plant!! b4 i buy 1 cld u tell me how 2 water n what kind f light n stuff thx."


6. Comments which are dickish in some manner not specified above will not be published either.


7. None of the above are carved in stone. If it amuses me to post your comment, I'll do so even if you violated all six of the rules above. Though it would have to be pretty damned amusing indeed.

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The reader is invited to use the comments section for this page to attempt a comment which violates rules 1-6 simultaneously. I mean, if you're going to try it somewhere, you should do it here.


15 comments:

Paul Niksch said...

I've looked everywhere for Ficus sagittata variegata, (aka F. repens variegata or 'Rooting Fig')and no one has it. Have you seen it or know of someone that does? I get redirected to F. pumila alot, but that's not right, either. It's a great creeper or plant for a hanging basket but I think it's (almost) extinct. Any thoughts?

mr_subjunctive said...

Paul Niksch:

I don't think I've ever even heard of it before today.

Andrea said...

I was wondering if you have any experience growing Tapioca or Cassava (Manihot) I'm enamored of the species with the cool lobed leaflets but am not sure which species that is as the internet seems to disagree with itself.

mr_subjunctive said...

Andrea:

I don't have any experience growing it.

As far as I can tell, tapioca, cassava, and manihot are all names for the same species, Manihot esculenta, though I didn't have time to dig into the subject very deeply. What information were you finding that was contradictory?

swift_ny said...

Hi - I love your blog (and am a grammar elitist myself! I'm a science writer, in fact). I have a ming aralia problem that I hope you can help me with; I've researched and researched and can't find a definitive answer, and don't want to experiment on my tree (it's just under 4' tall).

I've had the ming for 3+ years. The pot it's in is, from what I've subsequently learned, probably too large; however, it was thriving, so I didn't worry about it. It has spells of shattering a few times a year, but after the first one, I wasn't too concerned, as new growth continues.

So. In May, I was away for six weeks, and suspect my husband overwatered the ming (even he thinks he overwatered). I laid off it for a while, misting it on occasion and lightly watering when it felt dry. It's never quite been the same, though, and one trunk (there were about five originally) was clearly dead, so I pruned it off. It was dessicated-feeling, if that helps. Then, a couple months ago, I moved (I know plants don't like that kind of stress), but the apt is perfect for the ming; however, it is dropping leaves at a never-before-seen rate, whole branches are coming off, and other trunks seem to be dying.

Honestly, I can't tell if, at this point, I'm underwatering or overwatering; from what I've read, the symptoms look similar. Or if it got root rot back in April/May. Last night I felt as deep into the pot as I could; the soil was dry, so I gave it a decent watering, hoping it would perk up today - but it looks as pathetic as ever. It IS putting out new growth, but not as much as before, and is looking leggy.

Sorry for the long post; I just wanted to give you the patient's medical history and the context for this illness... Can you help? Any advice would be appreciated. I love this tree, but it's starting to look like a Dr. Seuss tree and I'm worried that I'm losing it altogether. Thank you!

mr_subjunctive said...

swift_ny (1 of 2):

To me it sounds like you have two problems. One is the overpotting. It's likely worse than it used to be, because when the one plant died, it stopped taking up water, so the survivors will be even more prone to getting too wet.

The other problem is that although a lot of plants respond badly to being relocated, ming aralias are particularly bad about it.

For the overpotting problem, you'll probably have to pull it out of the pot and check the roots. It's hard to tell someone how to decide what size pot to use precisely, but you basically want the smallest pot that can accommodate the root ball without crushing or sharply bending any of the roots, plus about two inches of diameter. This is obviously easier to do when you have a lot of different sizes of pots around. Remove any dead stumps or roots, hold the plant in the spot you want it, relative to the pot, and then dump soil in (for a big plant, you might need a second person to do the holding or the dumping). Jiggle the pot around a little so as to settle the soil occasionally, and you can push the soil down on top when you're done.

Since the plant has been in the same pot for three years, it was probably due for a soil change anyway.

As far as the move goes, the plant will get over it, if the move is the only problem. If it was exposed to cold during the move, even for like ten minutes, that might be a bigger deal. (And for a ming aralia, "cold" is anything less than about 60F/16C.) In any case, you can't do anything about any cold damage now, so try to keep it out of drafts but don't worry about what happened to it in the past.

Ordinarily, they don't defoliate as badly when moving from a dark spot to a brighter spot, but if your plant was already stressed from overwatering, it might have even more of a hair trigger for defoliation than they usually do.

Something I've noticed with mine (most recent picture here) is that although I didn't actually move it anywhere, I had to lower the shelf it was on because it was getting tall enough to hit the top of the shelf above it, and after I did that, it dropped some leaves. I suspect this is at least partly because that put it closer to a floor A/C vent, plus reducing the light a little to the lowest leaves. So they can be pretty touchy about these things.

mr_subjunctive said...

swift_ny (2 of 2):

The good news is that if four of the original five individual plants in the pot are still alive and growing, the (collective) plant should be capable of bouncing back from all this (though with the soil replacement, it's possible that things might look worse before they look better). Be aware that it's going to need less water than you're accustomed to giving it, until the foliage comes back, and that being in a new place means that your instincts about when and how much you should water may or may not apply now, so check the soil pretty regularly to see how fast it's drying out, ideally as close to the center of the root ball as you can get.

Once it's resprouted, and the plant has a respectable amount of new foliage on it again, you can think about maybe dealing with the Dr. Seuss look by cutting it back and letting new growing tips sprout lower down on the trunk. If possible, wait until summer to cut it back, because you want to give it a chance to build up some new energy reserves before you ask it to draw on them again, and also because the light's better in the summer, so it'll be more inclined to resprout. The caution about watering less will apply then too.

The whole process of getting it back to being a decent-looking plant might take a good 9-12 months; if you don't want to live with a crappy-looking plant for that long, there's really no shame in starting over with a new plant fresh from the store and Freecycling or Craigslisting this one. Some people like nurturing plants back to health, some people don't like it but can't bring themselves to throw plants away, some people just want something that looks good at all times and aren't interested in the nurturing at all. These are all valid ways of relating to plants.

beth major said...

Well done blog! Interseting info - awesome pics=) Thank so much for helping identify my mystical Queens tears. I searched and searched, and there you had it.

Best regards, Beth

Anonymous said...

you can get commercial anti-itch creams. Some have benedryl and some have cortizone and if the itch is bad, I've used both at once. Taking benedrly by mouth will stop itching, but it makes most people sleepy. I took care of a dog that had allergies that caused itching so have tried a lot of over the counter stuff. You could be allergic to something like a plant or laundry detergent.

Anonymous said...

ps If you're still itching after all the lubricating stuff you've used, this is not dry skin. It's possible that you're brushing against a plant that irritates (kind of like poison ivy but not as bad) or are exposed to something like like euphorbia latex or even a new soap or laundry detergent. It's called contact dermititis. If you think this might be the cause, try to think of what changed around the time the itching started - new plants, different soaps,etc.

mr_subjunctive said...

Anonymous:

I wrote a big huge thing detailing all the theories as to the cause, and all the proposed cures and how none of them work out consistently when I try them, but it basically amounts to: nothing in particular seems to cause it (detergent, soap, hot water, plants, Sheba), and nothing in particular seems to make it better (petroleum jelly, moisturizing lotions, drinking more water, Benadryl, hydrocortisone, painkillers, antihistamines, cold showers). The only pattern is that there is no pattern. Seriously.

mollyindenver said...

I'm Anonymous and decided to pick a name. our plant blogs are great and I've had a lot of the same experiences with plants as you have. I've been growing houseplants for 40 years here because growing outdoors at this altitude is too darn hard. Anyway, let me think more about your itch - where is the blog? I'm new to the site. I'm also a former computer programmer and hate not to solve mysteries!!!

mr_subjunctive said...

mollyindenver:

Sorry. In my hurry, I left out an important detail -- I wrote a big long thing responding to you, but then deleted it and wrote that last message instead because thinking too much about it was frustrating me. "Nothing causes it / nothing fixes it" was kind of the upshot of the big long thing.

I have another appointment next week, for the itching and one other thing, so there's still a possibility that we might figure out a cause or solution, but I'm not optimistic. (Not optimistic about the other thing, either, as far as that goes.)

silviak2013 said...

Hi ,

I came across your blog while looking for some information about a particular variety of aglaonema and noticed your comment policy. I think it pretty cool. I run my own blog and am bombarded with spam and unrelated comments, too. You certainly reduced that problem very elegantly.

cheers

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. S
I love your blog.. I found this blog when I was looking for Draceana Fragrans, (I hope I got the name right!). I am in heaven reading your blog, I can relate, I don't have too many house plants right now, having given away all my old ones (was out of country more than 6 months, and friends taking care of plants fell in love with them, eh, what can you say..), so I have to start again ( right now have maybe 5).. I am in Canada, found your blog two weeks ago, and have been reading post after post, just randomly picking one and reading..I like your writing style (its fun and an absolute treat) and the details you share, am thankful for the information. Please keep this up..Thank you for taking time to share your experience and knowledge.