Recently Emanuel Shahaf wrote his little piece decrying the comments that many leave on his pieces. While vitriol can easily be found in the comments of popular blog posts, I cannot find the words to describe how wrong I think he is. I will try my best, though.
I agree that people ought to act respectably in the comments section of any article. Cursing, personal attacks, and long-winded pieces that are completely off topic have no place in the comments section. Naturally, then, they find themselves there. Thus, the authors of these blogposts are rightfully horrified.
However, the comments section, as disgusting as some of the comments may be, should remain as is: unadulterated hogwash where the commentors are free to speak their mind. The reason for this is simple. Comments bring out the best and worst of the article in question. In political pieces as Shahaf likes to write, the comments make note of his political agenda and explain how his view is not the only one out there. Admittedly he doesn’t hide this fact, but not everybody is interested in reading the bio of every author who writes an opinion piece.
Also, the comments can bring out the nuances of an article that the authors’ were unable to express. I know, personally, I have been very thankful for those people who have elucidated and added to articles. The Times of Israel bloggers, as broad a spectrum as they may be, are unable to deal with every article. Thus, many an article would remain unanswered were it not for the comments section.
As for a semi-moderation; where only those that are completely off topic or contain pure racism are blocked; these too should not be moderated. For if we do moderate these comments, it is inevitable that some comments will slip through and we on the Time of Israel will be responsible. I’d rather abstain from responsibility at all than be at fault for promoting various forms of hatred.
So, in defense of the commentors, I say if the bloggers don’t like it, don’t read it; But leave the comments section as it is.
(It has come to my attention that certain bloggers get hate mail. This is obviously outside the scope of my article. Hate mail has no defense whatsoever)