We've just upgraded my blog to Movable Type 4.2. This has a lot of nifty features, including registered comments, which I've enabled.
I thought long and hard about this, as I'm sure this will cost me some commenters. But it's simply gotten out of hand. Every time I've gotten a link from certain liberal blogs, I've gotten a flood of commenters who believe it is the height of wit to call me (or other commenters) names, or speculate on the wilder details of my sex life. Over time, those commenters have accumulated, and they're now chasing away people who want to have a conversation beyond "Here's what I hate about [liberals/conservatives]!" or spewing insults at a third grade reading level.
The rules for banning commenters remain in force. Sock puppeting other commenters will no longer be possible, but constantly derailing threads in a hostile way, using excessive profanity, attacking other commenters rather than their ideas, and a pig-headed refusal to concede even small points which ends up derailing threads into pointless backs-and-forths are all on the potential hit-list. I'll ask my large population of cherished commenters to avoid responding to the small number of offenders. I'll take care of them. I always warn before I ban--but a number of the commenters have been warned, so please be advised that it is now easier than ever before to flick off your access if I think you are being disruptive.
No doubt a number of you are sure that this is all about deflecting criticism of myself--and you are free to express that view in the comments to this post, if you can do it without getting excessively personal. All I can say is, I've run open comments for eight years--and I don't feel that I am legally or morally obligated to spend precious minutes of my lives deleting graphic references to my gender, person, or private life.