Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Toughen up, Buttercup! 

Eloise thinks I should discuss the post by Daniel Drezner on comment civility. I agree with him. Longtime readers of the Scholars (we call them "the Gang of Four") are aware of the debate on civility on the email discussion list at St. Cloud State (Jack wrote about this more generally, too), which I found very weird because the list had become more civil in recent years. (Consider the use of the list in this incident where a graduate student used a faculty email list to accuse his department of "attempted murder", for example.) So when Drezner says "compared to academia, comments are a tea party", he's quite right. Most comments that are flames are not well written. If you write well, you will benefit from the comparison. And if you can't toughen yourself to criticism after graduate school and the tenure process, I frankly have no idea why you're blogging.

I have had one incident where I decided to ban a commenter, and within a week I regretted it, felt I had displayed weakness (though my motive was to cease letting him promote his blog which had grown quite tendentious) and a few weeks later I removed the ban. I still consider the comment area to be my personal space and I will police it as I see fit because I consider myself responsible for what's there (which led Lt. Smash to turn off his for awhile). Since the volume of comments here has been rather low, the policing costs are acceptable. If I had a place like Instapundit, however, I probably wouldn't have comments.