For John, BLUF: Different Bloggers have different approaches to "comments".
There has been some discussion of blog comments, here and on City Life. This is not a binary issue. There are several approaches to comments available to the Blog Master:
NO COMMENTS: This is the easy way to deal with comments. Law Professor and Blogger Glenn Reynolds (InstaPundit) used to allow comments, but as he shifted to shorter and more frequent posts he dropped comments. That said, you can EMail him and he might well post an interesting response on his blog.
COMMENTS UPON APPROVAL: You write the comment and then wait for someone to review it before it is posted and others get to see it. This is used by Left in Lowell, the Dick Howe crew, Gerry Nutter and the City Manager's Blog. Usually it says "Your comment is awaiting moderation." Don't be fooled. It is publish or perish. The Blog Master can't edit your comment. He or she can either kill it or let it through.
USE OF THE CAPTCHA: This is the "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart". The Commenter faces the need to read and interpret a group of numbers and a group of letters and replicate them in order to be allowed to post. They are very annoying. Google introduced this to Blogger a while back. I got complaints and I complained. It is designed to keep out computer generated spam. It also keeps out humans. In Lowell bloggers Greg Page, Kad Barma and Renee Astee use this system. When Law Professor and Blogger Ann Althouse dropped it from her comments section I figured there was a way and also dropped it from my blog.
OPEN COMMENTS: The Mayor's Blog and my own allow free and open comments, without any controls. For me it means that I get ten or twenty SPAM comments a day, most of which are intercepted by Blogger and sent to my EMail for review. There are some leakers that actually go up, but, again, the EMail alerts me and I take them down. Open comments is the easiest for me and the commenter and allows for a more free flowing discussion, which, to me, is part of what blogging is about.
RED LINES: All of us have criteria for keeping or deleting comments. Some make it explicit. I don't for reasons of aesthetics. I don't wish to clutter up the blog page. In keeping with my belief in free speech and in the idea that information wants to be free, I am pretty open to any comments except SPAM. Are there lines I have? Yes, I would delete a comment where the F-word was used without some justifying context. The N-word would be an invitation for deletion. Hyperbole in general would be respected, although the famous Larry Flynt/Rev Jerry Falwell parody advertisement, where Mr Flynt wrote about the Reverend Falwell having sex with his Mother in the outhouse, while approved by SCOTUS, could well find itself deleted here. While Kad Barma has the 15 year old daughter rule, I have the "what would my Father think of me showing it to his wife?" rule.
I don't have many commenters and most of them I know—Neal, Jack, Renee, Greg, Kad, Chris (Mr Lynne), Joe and Lance. I am happy to give them a sandbox. I have been known to put up a calming comment or to send the commenter an EMail suggesting he or she is pushing a limit.
I will say that I love good argument and alternative ideas, but I don't like people trying to push me around, or to engage in bullying on the blog. But, what I see as bullying may not be what you see as bullying.
Regards — Cliff