As I’ve said before, I appreciate the overwhelming majority of the readers and commenters I have.Frankly, I don't blame him. I even put up an entire post about the deterioration recently, and after he shut down the first thread, it looked like several commenters were daring The Marmot to ban them. Who saw shutting down the whole readership side of the operation coming?
But frankly, people keep pissing on my rug, and I really don’t have the energy or ambition to moderate everything.
I do this blog because a) it’s fun, and b) because it seems people enjoy reading it. I certainly don’t do it to get aggravated.
I’ve had to shut down two comment threads in less than a week, however, and I see the same characters going at it again in another thread. This morning, I get a phone call — at work! — from one of the characters I banned, as well as an email to my boss that accuses me of advocated porn and encouraging hate speech.
This sort of begs the question: What is the proper way to handle blog comments in a way that balances privacy, freedom of speech, and civility?
Is a real-name system the answer? Speaking as someone who has had some serious real-world threats made against him going back to the late 1990s, I can understand the desire and preference some bloggers and commenters have to be cloaked in anonymity. Others who mock such decisions not to use one's real name are often people far removed from a situation in which speaking one's mind can get them in hot water or where an online opponent can do them harm.
Should comments be pre-approved before they're posted? This "solution" requires an even greater time input on the part of the blog owner, and it inevitably creates bias when it comes to accepting or rejecting posts, though some bloggers are better at objectivity than others.
Is there a way that people can be guided toward civil behavior on a strictly voluntary basis? If intervention is hard to stomach, is there a way that the hoi polloi can be nudged toward more responsible netizenry?
And ultimately, is a tamer comments section what the people want? I know it is for me, as I prefer a forum where we discuss the issues and try to find common ground, if not solutions. But I've heard again and again (from some readers and commenters) that the outrageous comments are just as much reason to check out The Hole as the posts.