After many years of allowing each and every comment to remain on my personal blog, I have decided to change that beloved policy.
It pains me to do this, most especially because I've had my own comments tampered with on certain high profile free culture sites, like those edited by Cory Doctorow and Michael Geist, and I've been very critical of this activity when it's happened. I believe it's a common, ugly feature of free culture debate that reasonable commenters are immediately attacked, insulted and hounded in order to shut down good-faith discussion. When that doesn't work, the perceived enemies of free culture are simply silenced by having their comments removed, or worse, by having repeated nonsensical comments made in their name by folks who are not them.
All that history notwithstanding, I've decided that several of my regular critics are well past their best-before dates in terms of good faith behaviour here in my personal little apartment on the Internet. Let me be as clear as I can about this - the fellows calling themselves Darryl, Gruesome, Crockett and Pieter have painted for me as detailed a picture as they ever will of their views on copyright, as well as their opinions of me personally, my blog, my thoughts on free culture, my debating style and my psychological health. I believe I simply don't need to hear anything else from any of them in order to expand my understanding of the issues with which I regularly engage here.
As guests in my apartment, they are no longer welcome. I have been as clear as I can be about asking them to change their behaviour. Where they have not, I simply no longer allow their comments. This morning, I have had to remove a number of comments as two of these fellows persist in trying to use my intellectual space for their silly games. This has prompted me to turn on comment moderation.
I want to stress that I'm not trying to stop these people from speaking their minds on copyright, and my commitment to broad freedom of expression remains. I'm saying I've heard enough of these particular loud and obnoxious voices in my own space, and I'm demanding they take those voices elsewhere. Last week, I attended a conference on copyright reform that featured refreshingly respectful and reasoned discussion, using real facts and real-world scenarios. As a result, I simply no longer have the patience for the blather, intentional misinterpretation and just plain ignorance that so much free culture activism features.
I can tell from my web-stats and from private feedback that the copyright thoughts I post on this personal blog are widely read by people who are central to the positive evolution of copyright in the digital age. Professional artists, academics, theorists, policy-makers, etc. are regular visitors here. I also know that all these folks do their truly impactful discussion at levels higher than a blog comments section, and so that is where I will focus all of my copyright energies now.
Genuine, respectful, insightful comments and questions from real people continue to be welcome.