We've been having a bit of a behind the scenes discussion about comments, particularly but not exclusively in light of recent difficulties on abortion-related threads. Moderation here has evolved quite a bit since the comment policy was written, and although we have kept within the spirit of it it seemed timely to consider some new ways to handle comments given the larger numbers and the sensitivity of some of the topics under discussion recently.
Specific page for debating the morality of abortion
This is not up yet, but will be sometime soon. Some commenters want to turn every post about abortion into a discussion about morality, when that isn't necessarily the point of the post itself. So there will be a specific page on the site with links to some of our posts addressing the moral dimension of abortion and allowing comments there on that topic. It's not that we don't want to discuss morality, or that we think there's no moral case for abortion, as we do (and there'll be a statement to that effect on the new page), just that we are getting a bit fed up with having to have the same argument over and over again, sometimes in multiple threads simultaneously, and we think many readers are too. New posts on abortion and morality may be written, and it'll be up to individual authors whether they want comments on those posts on the morality issue, or whether they want comments made at the new page.
Comment direction at the end of posts
Authors will also now be adding comment directions at the end of their posts, when they want to. This might be something like "Feminist-friendly comments only" or "Please stick to issue X with your comments." Comments which don't abide by the comment direction of the author may be deleted, at their discretion. I did this on Friday with the post sharing my presentation on why abortion needs to be legal, to give you an example.
Anonymous comments will need a handle
Comments should be accompanied by a name, or a consistent internet handle. In general, people using the 'anonymous' comment function should sign their comments with a consistent handle (e.g. put an initial/name at beginning or end). There are times when people wish to share experiences anonymously, and we will respect that anonymity. However, anonymous comments which are not anonymous for reasons of personal privacy may be deleted. This is at least partly because it gets difficult on threads with multiple anons to respond to the right person.
As I work through updating the blog over the next week or so some other changes, to help with this and for other reasons, will become apparent too, and at the end of the reconstruction the comment policy will be updated in full. For now I'll just be adding a link to this post on that page.
Hopefully this will decrease moderation for us and increase the value of the discussions in comments for all!