The open, unmoderated comments section of this blog has been provided as a service to readers.
While I slept, it devolved into a series of ad hominems and tit-for-tats among some contributors. There were warning signs of an escalation yesterday, but I hoped that things would settle down. They did not.
I have neither the time, nor the energy nor the inclination to be a comment cop. I'd rather be working on posts than monitoring comments, and researching the provenance of links, and answering private emails complaining about who said what to whom and to please ban this, that, or the other contributor.
Regular readers know I am fairly lenient about comments veering off topic after a post has been up for awhile. Although, as you know, one of my biggest pet peeves is working for hours on a piece only to have the first comment turn out to be completely irrelevant or an advertisement for another site. This hasn't been too much of a problem lately after I bitched about it a couple of times. And as I said, I'm not hawkish at all about staying strictly "on-topic," mostly because I rarely stay on topic in my own posts!
But I draw the line at personal attacks and flame-throwing.
Compared to the hundreds and thousands (when one of my pieces is linked from or cross-posted to a larger site) of daily visitors to this blog, the commenting community has remained quite small. And that's fine: the quality of the writing has been excellent. And while the tone is often feisty and biting and sarcastic (in keeping with the title of this blog), personal attacks have been practically nil - until yesterday and overnight.
Since nastiness in the comments takes away from the quality and may even drive readers away, I have decided to impose a cooling-off period, and will disable the commenting function for at least the next few days.
I apologize to the majority of commenters, who are respectful.