Without a doubt, HA has the most active and passionate comment threads of any political blog in the Northwest. While (un)Sound Politics still draws considerably higher traffic, my couple of posts a day regularly manage to generate a comparable number of total comments — an even more remarkable feat considering that that (u)SP has fourteen contributors, and comments are distributed across as many as a dozen posts daily. HA often receives over 200 comments a day, and it is not uncommon for a single thread to cross over into triple digits.
Much of the time I am superfluous to the raging debate, with comment threads veering off in unimagined directions, sometimes without any input from me whatsoever. While I am proud to have created a forum that has become an important part of your daily routine, I recognize that it is my readers to whom I owe my success.
I firmly believe that part of HA’s amazing growth is due to my oft debated policy of never banning what the other guys call “trolls.” I’m not talking about those passionate people on the other side, willing to debate the issues with respect for an open dialogue, if not with an open mind. I’m talking about the assholes (and you know who you are,) who when they see that they cannot win a debate, content themselves to disrupt it. Or the solipsists who ignore basic blog etiquette to promote their own agenda or websites.
For the most part, the HA threads have been self-moderating; while they sometimes get out of hand, and hopelessly off-topic (like today), you all have usually done a commendable job of policing each other. I do not want to be a schoolmarm or an editor. Banning people is philosophically problematic, and technically impractical as long as I allow anonymous posting. And if you can describe me as being a libertarian on any issue, it is on free speech.
none few of us want the comment threads to devolve into pointless name-calling…though I have absolutely no problem with the pointed kind. This is not about sanitizing HA… this is about fostering debate — even angry debate — without getting sidetracked by personal attacks and retribution.
So I want to leave this as an open thread where we can all talk about how we can make HA a better place for public debate… what type of etiquette we need to enforce, and how best to enforce it.
Your comments, as always, are appreciated. (Except for you Cynical… yours are merely tolerated.)