The number of comments this blog receives has gone up exponentially as the number of readers increases. I sometimes get 300-400 comments a day, sometimes many more. It is increasingly difficult to moderate all those comments properly. If I am out for a few hours a block of 40 or 50 build up, which I then sometimes have to approve en bloc without having the time to read them all. You can imagine the inherent dangers there.
It's also a bar to realtime, live discussion when comments remain unapproved for any length of time. But I simply cannot harness myself to my laptop or Blackberry 24-7.
In addition, the number of anonymous comments on some threads make it impossible to follow who is saying what. Indeed, sometimes, I wonder if some of the anonymous commenters aren't in fact the same people, pretending to be different people. That was quite apparent on some recent George Osborne related threads.
So, what to do?
Blogger has now also made registration easier, in that now, if you have a Wordpress, LiveJournal, AIM or Typepad account you can log in under an Open ID system. It's a way to authenticate user comments without requiring readers to have a Google Account. For example, let's say your name is Brady and you have a LiveJournal profile, but no Google Account. With OpenID, you can now comment on here using your OpenID credentials and identify yourself as the owner of
http://brady.livejournal.com, instead of commenting anonymously.
The whole point of this is not to prevent people commenting anonymously. I know there are quite a few politicians and civil servants who comment anonymously for wholly understandable reasons. I do not want to discourage such comments at all, and this system won't do that. All it requires is that you take one minute to set up a Google account with a username and password. The username can be anything you like. However, try to make it something unique to you, rather than just call yourself Robert or Jane. You shouldn't have to type in your username and password each time you want to comment if you have cookies enabled. Blogger will remember the information.
I want the comment threads on this blog to be more welcoming and less intimidating. Strong views and strong language are fine, but insults and intimidation are not.
Initially, I will allow all comments through unmoderated, as that is the best way to enable real, live discussion. Hopefully, this new system will filter out the nutcases and trolls who have infested comment threads here in recent months.
If anyone has trouble understanding the new system or registering a Google account, email me by clicking the CONTACT button at the top of the page.
Let's see if this works. If it doesn't, we'll revert to plan B (not that I have one :). I won't put a time limit on this experiment, but I need to give it longer than I did last time.