After some reflection, I have decided to disable the comments feature here at Mablog. I think there are advantages to this, obviously, or I wouldn’t do it. But at the same time, there are disadvantages. I trust that we have come up with a solution that will ameliorate, at least somewhat, those disadvantages.
This post will be the last regular post with comments enabled—so feel free to have at it. My only admonition is that you try not to illustrate why we are doing this.
In the future, feedback and interaction will be handled this way. We have generated an email address to handle letters to the editor ([email protected]), and you all are cordially invited to submit your thoughts there. A form for submitting these letters will be right below each post, where the comments feature used to be. Once a week (or thereabouts) I will select a number of letters to run, responding to them as needed. We may tinker with various aspects of this as we go, so pardon our dust. It is possible that we might turn the comments back on for the Letters feature, but we shall see.
The advantage is that we will be done with trolls and/or unhelpful commenters. The disadvantage is that we will no longer hear from those commenters—like Jane or Katecho—who have been consistently judicious, helpful, and wise. There are probably around 25 commenters that I will really miss, and since you all are obviously wise enough to know who you are, I would encourage to please take advantage of this letters feature. I don’t want to lose your voice.
You can also use the letters in ways not intended for publication (e.g. “Hey, meathead, you misspelled definately again.”)
We are dealing with thousands of people, and so it is sometimes difficult to tell how an across-the-board action like this is going to go. As things stand now, if a thread starts to take off, one troubled person can just pop in and ask why I love child molesters so much, a guy who has been divorced twice can regale us with his sardonic misogyny, and my adversaries can point to it all as representative of my misbegotten ways.
On the other hand, I also know that if I shut the comments down, the adversarial tune will change—I am not open to correction, I am shuttering dissenting voices, I have declared war on the First Amendment, etc. Ah, well.