Several people have now mentioned they don’t like the comments section of my blog very much anymore.
In my response to Arthur deep in the comments, I wrote:
I feel like you want to frame this as you being willing to draw fences and me not being so willing. But we are both drawing fences.
My fence consists of the people who say HATE AND KILL THE INHUMAN DEMONS on the one side, and on the other, the people who donate to charity and respect others and express their opinion – whatever it may be, even if it’s problematic – kindly and compassionately.
Your fence consists of you shouting HATE AND KILL THE INHUMAN DEMONS on one side, and other people who are also shouting HATE AND KILL THE INHUMAN DEMONS on the other side, only it’s different inhuman demons who need to be hated.
Both of us successfully trap the KKK and Hitler on the outside of our fence. But I get to have a lot more allies than you do – allies against the actually bad people – and you have to put up with some pretty creepy friends.
This reminded me that I am philosophically totally justified in having fences, and that so far I have been pretty lax about putting them up and so have ended up with, as I put it, some creepy friends.
Trying to think up a comment policy has been an interesting case study in how it is much interesting to speculate about virtuous institutions for a large society, than it is to actually design such institutions for a blog with a few hundred people and nothing at stake.
So I open the problem up to the floor.
Desired properties a comment policy should have:
1. It should mean that moderately easily scandalized people can still enjoy reading comments on this blog without being exposed to HEY LOOK AT ME I CAN STATE CONTROVERSIAL THINGS! CONTROVERSY CONTROVERSY CONTROVERSY! This should not interfere with ability to present relevant well-supported politely-phrased appropriately-qualified controversial theories when a discussion warrants.
2. It should not require CONSTANT VIGILANCE from me. To be honest, I read the comments threads for each post for about a day or two, then give up and move on to the next thing.
3. It should not require too much subjectivity or “just ban all of the bad people” without including a rigorous definition of “bad people”.
4. Any technological elements should either be easy to implement in WordPress, or, if hard to implement in WordPress, include an offer to do it yourself.
5. End result is polite, productive discussion.
Even if you don’t have a General Theory Of Commenting, I would like to hear vague emotive statements about what different people want. Then I’ll think about all of it and come to some conclusion in a week or two.