July 7, 2013

"I had the comments on for a while about a year ago..."

"... and I turned them off because I found myself doing so much writing over on the comments pages and because a few people were being abusive. I wanted to concentrate my writing on the front page," I wrote on April 8, 2005.
These days, I spend a lot of time reading and responding to email, which is really a displaced comments page and an even less "front page" kind of writing for me. I'm impressed by Judge Posner's very pro-comment attitude. So in honor of Judge Posner, I'm turning my comments back on.
Let's see how it goes. I hope some of my regular emailers will switch to comments. I'm going to resist responding too much on the comments pages and maybe save up my response and put it on the front page in an update, which I think will be more efficient (and certainly more public) than responding to email (which I've been doing a lot of). I expect commenters to keep a civil tone, and I think most will, because the email I get is extremely thoughtful, well-written, and not abusive. I'll just delete abusive comments without making a fuss about it. So go ahead and comment.
The second commenter there was someone named David, who said:
I disagree. I have enjoyed the no-comments format. Yours is the only blog I read regularly without comments, and I think it really works for your style.
I wonder how the style has changed over the years with comments. There's the sense that you're throwing it over to the commenters, and people who don't like what's happened might say: Throwing, yeah, throwing red meat.
[DAVID continues:] I generally think comments are good for blogs; they allow conversation and criticism and correction. Frequently, I have found that when bloggers don't have comments, they are trying to hide something.

That is not the case here. When emails are sent, you review them and, if relevant, they are posted with updates. That's very professional, and makes for an enjoyable read.
Some people thanked me, but others took advantage. There were some great commenters over the years, some of whom were driven away by vicious commenters. I emphasized free speech until I was forced to retrench and make good faith the test. But that was a deletion policy. I (and Meade) can't spend all our time monitoring comments and deleting. Some truly ugly people stooped to active harassment. This is my place, after all, and I can't host an endless party where there are guests who continually abuse my hospitality. I had to close the door.

Will I ever open it again? Perhaps this is the first day of the new era on this blog. You won't be able to see the comments that would have been written, but you will see how it changes me. And that is the new experiment.