(See update below.) If you're at all interested in the pluses and minuses of the kinds of discussion the internet makes possible, please read Alexis Madrigal's account, this evening, of the handling of comments on Jaron Lanier's Atlantic essay about Wikileaks. While you're at it, check out Lanier's piece too.
This seems an occasion to re-state something I've said periodically (but not for a while), and also to say something new.
The familiar theme: why I don't have comments on this site. Here's the train of logic.
1) Unless a comment stream is actively moderated, it inevitably is ruined by bullies, hotheads, and trolls. If you feel otherwise, fine. This is what I think.
Corollary: The comment-communities that flourish, notably the Golden Horde of TN Coates, require real-time, frequent intervention by a moderator not afraid to put his stamp on the discussion.
2) I am unwilling, or afraid, to commit the ongoing attention necessary to be a real-time moderator of comments on this site. I am often away from the web world for a couple of days running, for instance the past 36 hours. That is a long enough time for things to go wrong and people's feelings to get bruised. Also, although I tremendously value the connections I've made and stimulation I've received via Atlantic.com, I think of magazine and book writing as my "real" work and need to give them attention-precedence.