Comments Policy:

I'm generally very pleased with our experimental enabling of comments. Nonetheless, I want to stress to people that we reserve the right to remove comments, in our own discretion (and the converse right to be busy enough with other things that we don't bother removing certain comments even if, given enough time, we might have).

Rudeness is obviously one cause for removal; a comment's being off-topic is another. But we may also remove comments in some other situations, for instance, when someone frequently posts things that are chiefly rants, fairly wild exaggeration, or invective (even without the use of major vulgarities).

Our goal is to provide an interesting and pleasant environment that can help inform readers. To do that, we'll occasionally have to exercise our editorial discretion. Naturally, there's always a risk that this discretion will be used erroneously, no matter how well-intentioned the editor. But I think that discussion groups (especially on the Internet, but also off it) generally need an editor who'll occasionally make such judgments.

And, remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.

Jonathan M (mail) (www):
I think this is a wise approach that I fully support.
6.27.2005 3:07am
6.27.2005 9:30am
I suppose one can always just read the posts without reading the comments, but I think that comments do more harm than good to good blogs. If someone has something serious, important and nonobvious to say, it's not too difficult to fire off an e-mail with one's name attached, and if it's relevant, the poster can tack on an update.

It's much easier to make up an alias (as I'm doing right now) and fire off a rant with zero accountability and freeride off of the readership of this blog.

I like what I think is Prof. Kerr's approach of not allowing comments except when they would be especially appropriate to the post.

This blog has set a good "tone" with the tenor of its posts and the gentle requests that any comments posted be respectful/nonobvious, but I think that, on any blog, it's only a matter of time before the comments degenerate into what has shown up on more recent threads.
6.27.2005 9:59am
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
I encourage you to edit (that is, delete-- not revise) vigorously. Usually comments on popular blogs are a waste because such a large percentage are of low quality compared with the blog entries themselves. Tell commenters that half of them won't make it, and readers will be much more likely to read the remaining half. That will encourage the high-quality commenters, and discourage the low-quality commenters, a good thing.
6.27.2005 11:40am
roysol (mail):
So far, so good, notwihstanding the occasional contrarian. While this site's bloggers have an excellent record of responding to e-mailed query's, in my experience this is often a private exchange that would be better served to be in the open. I completely support having a moderated forum. Fortunately the vast majority of posters seem to be abiding by the spirit you have requested.
6.27.2005 11:42am
Teresa (mail) (www):
Having blogged for a year and a half - I have always believed that the comment policy should be one that the blogger is comfortable using. I don't get too many comments - but I have deleted an occasional one or two that I found offensive. I always leave a message telling them to get their own blog if they want to write tripe. I've even closed comments on some threads where a "troll" wouldn't give up commenting. I just get tired of dealing with some of them.

It never ceases to amaze me how some people act as if commenting on a blog is one of their "constitutional rights". The general theme being - if you delete me, you are suppressing my right to free speech. That is actually pretty funny when you think about it! The effort to induce a guilt trip in order for their comment to continue to be displayed is certainly amusing.

I think comments can add great things to the original post when the commenter stays on topic. Sometimes they take off at a tangent other times you get great conversation. That's the way things work in life. BTW - Disagreeing with a post is not the same as being offensive.
6.27.2005 1:42pm
SupremacyClaus (mail):
Contrarian: Correct.

Teresa: Gidget.

Prof. Volokh: Short of that blog agreement hold harmless clause you signed, situation altering utterances, and illegal speech, comments should not be edited. What you call, "chiefly rants, fairly wild exaggeration, or invective (even without the use of major vulgarities)." make this Internet the funniest, most entertaining place on earth. The art of letter writing has been revived in hilarious, quill dipping, historical irony. These missives from ordinary people are smarter, more graceful in turn of phrase and more surprising and compelling than those of Kipling writing from India. What lawyers may consider pleasant reverie is someone else's living nightmare.

There is no comedy on TV that is funnier. Your self-serious bloggers and commentators are funnier than Mel Brooks. This is why the audience is being sucked out of movies and TV, coming here. If the roughian public is not welcome, slap a password on the site, allow only civilized lawyers with verifiable Bar numbers. It will be fascinating.

What you deem civility is courtroom decorum, highly offensive to some, being from the Church. Lawyer style civility is Church style deviousness and hypocrisy, offending the First Amendment Establishment Clause (in court, not here, where you are free to be as phony as you desire). It is the civility of the weasel, quietly eating snake, business.

I am sincerely interested in whether you read the Hold Harmless Clause of this blog, before signing, your legal opinion of its status, and its effect on your exercising your First Amendment rights. Although, I chose to not blog to avoid it, I could not choose to not browse to avoid it. This is a subject worthy of at least passing mention, given your area of interest. With 10 million having signed the same agreement, shouldn't lawyers comment on it? My legal researchers, Mr. Google and Mr. Dogpile could not locate any such discussion. If the analysis takes a certain turn, I would like to discuss something in private.

That last sentence is not a situation altering utterance, mere riposte and repartee, by a fictional character.
6.27.2005 9:50pm
Teresa (mail) (www):
Ah name calling... the oldest trick in the book. Call people names, try to make them angry and watch the fireworks. Well, golly gee wiz... I think I'll take a pass and go find Moon Doggie cause I think it's time to go surfing...

(said in best Gidget voice while twirling my hair around my finger)
6.28.2005 12:54am