I read, with some bemusement, Col Sullivan’s post on civility among commentators. I haven’t known him long, but I wouldn’t say CAAFlog is the excitable type. I didn’t pay it much attention until tonight when my curiosity got the better of me and I discovered that, apparently, all hell broke loose.
Some months ago, during the transition to the new site and software, I was part of discussions about comments. One considered forcing commentators to register. Another considered banning comments altogether. At one point during a discussion about anonymous comments was this bit about the new software’s penchant for disclosing commentators’ client information:
You know that part of the inquiry into the PTA where the military judge says, “I don’t know, and I don’t want to know”…
Well, internet anonymity is long dead. It’s not hard to pinpoint someone’s physical location from an IP address and some open-source tools; from there it’s a short hop to street-view photographs that sometimes include faces. As much as that’s an implicit threat, it’s also an acknowledgment of the ease with which we can stifle discussion.
I’ve seen plenty of folks enjoy censoring others, usually for illegitimate (and pathetic) reasons. CAAFlog and NoMan’s concerns are different. There’re also nothing new. I know I’m not the only one who thinks about getting called into the CO’s office every time I see my name under “contributors.” I also know I’m not the only person who values the comments on this blog. But there are plenty of reputable legal blogs that don’t allow comments, generally because they think they’re more trouble than they’re worth. It’d be nice if that didn’t become the case here.