A bit over two months ago, with considerable regret, we announced that we were shutting down comments on most posts because it had become too costly from an administrative standpoint. Lambert and I were spending so much time on the moderation queue that it was coming at the expense of researching and writing new posts. One of the things that was particularly distressing was that we had had an influx of new readers, which would normally be a plus, but many of them were insistent that as a presumed left-leaning site, that we were obligated to promote, or at least not attack, institutions, individuals, and policies that they deemed to be aligned with their vision of correct thought and action. In other words, they wanted us to wear their team jersey and were determined to reeducate us and the readership.
Whether it is because these proselytizers have realized we are incorrigible and have moved on to more vulnerable targets, or that our curtailing comments helped the commentariat understand how much thoughtless, intellectually lazy and hostile comments took out of us in terms of time and energy, we’ve seen a huge drop in the sort of comments that had been plaguing us. And all the writers, including guest authors, like reader interaction, even when the comments are critical. The feedback helps, indeed forces all of us to stay on our marks, as well as providing additional insight and information for the benefit of all.
We are thus provisionally restoring comment privileges on all posts. We have also updated our comments policy (see our Policies tab in the header bar). I urge you all to read it. Please bear in mind that this new statement does not represent a change in our comments policies but is a more explicit description of what our policies have always been.
We’d really like to go back to status quo ante and hope that the difficulties we were having were just a rough patch, as opposed to a sign of the general decline in discourse on the Web. We hope our comments section will again be an outlier, in the best sense, by serving as a venue for articulate and informed debate.