Open comment forums—freedom at its worst

An interesting discussion at The Thinking Housewife about blogs that have open comments as compared with blogs, such as TTH itself, where the comments are edited.

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Brett S. writes:

A comment on open comment forums:

I started out back in the BBS days (early 1980s) wanting to provide free speech forums. I thought that it would allow open debate, in which the best ideas would win. This fit with the standard idea of the left, which is that institutions oppress us and freedoms liberate us. Instead, I found the opposite: freedoms oppress us, because few have the mind or discipline to use them, and institutions while a mixed bag often force us to focus on a single task.

Free speech is like egalitarianism or sexual liberation: it bestows the reward universally without any qualifications, and so people feel entitled and thus abuse it. Those who have something important to say don’t want “free speech,” they want intelligent readers and commentators. In that type of community, any truth if well expressed is welcome. In a “free speech” community, most of what happens is a lowering of standards and so the lowest behaviors of the human emerge.

At this point, I refuse to run any forums that indulge in the illusion of free speech. My yardstick is this: whether I agree with it or not, useful commentary is kept and non-useful commentary is discarded. Useful commentary adds to the debate, is well-structured, at least semi-literate, and relevant. Non-useful commentary is tangential without leading to interesting places, repetitive, dogmatic or mindlessly hostile.

The result is, by the standards of the internet, a failure. Fewer people comment because the sites are less of a springboard for their egos. However, the quality of the commentary is better to the point where an outsider can read it and feel informed not assaulted.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 29, 2012 11:30 PM | Send

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