When I first started this weblog, I had the naive belief that allowing comments to posts would engender discussion about space policy topics and events. In many instances it has, but, unfortunately, the comments in a couple of recent posts have spiraled out of control, featuring some rather unprofessional remarks. This includes allegations of libel, some of which have been directed towards me simply for hosting the discussion. In both cases I’ve closed those posts to further comments, but perhaps later than I should have; for that, I apologize to any offended parties.
I have, in general, kept the discussions in the comments unmoderated, restricting my role to either closing the discussions that have gotten out of hand or deleting spam posts. This no longer seems like a tenable policy, primarily because of the actions of a handful of people. For the time being, I’m taking one step by eliminating the ability to post purely anonymous (without name and email) comments, since these comments have fueled much of the hostile debate. (I do recognize that it’s easy to circumvent this by posting with a fake name and email; I’d hope people here would not be juvenile enough not to do that, but I’ve overestimated people before…)
I’m also considering other changes, up to and including banning all comments and even closing down this blog. Those are undesirable alternatives, but they may turn out to be the only alternatives. I welcome any suggestions you’d like to make, either as a comment to this post or in an email. (All emails will be treated in confidence.) Keep in mind that some alternatives, like a Slashdot-style moderation system, are beyond the capabilities of the Movable Type software that runs this weblog, and switching to another system might be too much of an expense (in time and money) to be worthwhile.