A Whopping 100,000+ Comments
The discussion on Public Law 111-92, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009, has now reached over 100,000 comments.
I can’t recall seeing many comment boards get 1,000 comments, much less 10,000. But 100,000?! Sure enough, though, there it is.
Is it the most focused or highest quality debate the world has ever seen? Don’t think so. But I have heard from visitors that our comment board is more informative and less biased than others. Anyone can say anything they want. We only step in when foul language and simple vulgarity make it into posts.
Even then many think we don’t do enough. But we don’t regard it as our job to protect you from the ugliness of some of your fellow citizens. They’re out there, thinking what they think and acting the way they act.
We have done a number of things to foster a minimal level of quality in your experience of the discussion. A year ago, we switched from a wide-open comment policy to a new log-in optional policy. The names of logged-in commenters appear in light blue, which signals that they are willing to build a reputation under a stable identity.
We regularly advise visitors never to respond to “trolls“—this only encourages them.
We put in an “automated schoolmarm” to suggest that people avoid foul words. Many ignore it, of course, but it convinces some people to control their language, which makes them more persuasive to others.
We also created a system that allows logged-in users to control the comments they see on the site. They can block any commenter they want, and all comments from a particular IP address will be hidden when they visit the site. Logged-in users can also mask any word they want by going to their profile, selecting the “comment controls” tab, and adding terms to the “word masking” box.
Getting a good experience from the comment boards is really up to you. If you find people who have information, or with whom you can share information you have, you’ll have a good time. Ignore the people that aren’t worth your time.
One hundred thousand comments is a lot, and we’re always delighted when we hear that people are getting value from the discussion. We’re glad to be host to all that discussion of American public policy.