As you know, I've always tried to keep the comments section of this blog as a completely open forum. Partly that's because I've been on the receiving end of draconian and/or Kafkaesque moderation policies at websites such as Political Betting, and so I know all too well what it feels like. (I've never even bothered attempting to post on sites like the Adam Tomkins blog, because everyone knows Tomkins deletes all dissenting views, regardless of how politely expressed they are.)
But there's no getting away from it - a small minority of people abuse their posting rights on open forums. I've always felt that putting up with that was a price worth paying, but since this blog became more popular last year, I sometimes feel like I'm spending half my life responding to trolls (or vexatious commenters, if you think 'troll' is an overused word). For example, on the last thread, a semi-regular commenter once again 'rebutted' all sorts of things which he claimed I had said, but which I hadn't said. A few days ago, during the discussion on feminism, an irate anonymous commenter told me to stop insulting people I disagreed with - even though I had insulted absolutely no-one on that thread. When I asked her to acknowledge that fact, she simply modified her claim to : "I often find your tone offensive".
It's easy to say "just don't respond to that kind of nonsense", but I find it impossible not to respond when people are deliberately trying to damage my reputation. It's getting to the point where it's completely doing my head in. The lowest point came a few months ago, when I went to a theatre show for my birthday, and made the mistake of turning on my mobile phone during the interval - you can probably imagine what delights were waiting in store for me, and it's a bit difficult to switch off and enjoy a night out after that.
I'm getting sorely tempted to "do a Smithson", and just start deleting any comments that have a go at me personally. I'm not going to do that, because any moderation policy should work in the interests of everyone who uses a site, not just the owner. However, I'm beginning to wonder if I should tighten the rules up a bit.
Feel free to make any suggestions. Bear in mind that on the Blogger platform, it's not possible to ban specific individuals from posting.