So, I have decided to change my policy with regard to comments on my blog. Moving forward, I decided to review each comment before allowing it to appear online.
This whole issue of comments is something I have wrestled with for a while. Initially I blocked comments from anonymous posters (a policy followed by Mark Newgent's "Red Maryland" blog). Then I changed it to allow unmoderated comments from everyone (as does Joe Steffen's blog "Darkness Rising"). Ultimately I decided to chart a middle course between these worthy fellow bloggers: Anonymous posts will be allowed, provided that I have a chance to screen them first.
I decided to do this for two basic reasons.
First, unchecked anonymous postings create opportunities for abuse. The textbook example is this blog posting from "Darkness Rising" which appeared last spring. Clearly the subject of this blog posting was so upset by it that a team of illiterates was dispatched to punish Steffen. As you can see, hundreds of nasty and (in some cases) borderline libelous comments were posted, many originating from the same Montgomery County poster using several different names. At one point, the poster in question even asks Steffen if he's "had enough" and if he will finally shut his blog down. Call me old fashioned, but I'd rather critique idiots on my blog, not empower them or give them a free forum to spout their uninformed, venomous, libelous, hate-inspired views.
Second, I believe that criticism is always fair game when it comes to blogging - but harrassment is not.
I'm very aware that many of my views are controversial. Many of my readers took a good whack at me for including FDR in my top ten presidents list. I understand that's fair game. Dissenting comments will always be welcome.
What won't be welcomed, however, are unsigned comments by people who keep repeating the same concocted falsehoods over and over again (e. g. that I am a "trust fund baby" of some kind, that I "helped write" Joe Steffen's blog, or I am currently posting on the Sun forums under any number of different names even after I devoted a blog post addressing that rumor) sheerly for the purpose of harrassment.
These people are the blogger's equivalent of drivers who let themselves be stranded in the middle of an intersection after the light changes, blocking traffic for everyone else.
Repeating something over and over again does not make it true. Unsigned comments from posters who do so without offering any supporting evidence are not contributing to the kind of meaningful debate I want to host on this blog.
So, that's where we stand on comments. I will continue to rule on the side of liberality when reviewing comments. I appreciate my readers and want them to have a chance to weigh in. I don't think this will change things very much from readers' perspective. That said, if you think this new policy sucks, leave a comment telling me why.