I’m not going to get into the ongoing civility wars. They were prompted by the announcement that the Nature Network has passed the landmark of 50,000 comments — congratulations, and that’s very good — and various comments within that thread, combined with Greg Laden’s helpful addition of more incindiary agents, has blown up nicely into an interesting and sometimes acrimonious discussion.
I’ll just point out, though, that it’s silly to use comment numbers as an indicator of success of social networking. The endless thread alone, which is almost entirely free-form chit-chat and unabashed social glue for the community here, has somewhere north of 20,000 comments; maybe Sven can extrapolate to when that one thread will exceed Nature Network’s accomplishment. I can also tell you that Pharyngula currently has a grand total of 897,837 comments. I haven’t been paying attention to that parameter, but we should hit a million comments at this one blog sometime this year.
I don’t give a damn about civility. I let people say whatever; my primary criterion for cutting people off is whether they’re boring/obsessive/persistently stupid. If you want to fire up lots of lively discussion and encourage expression of multiple viewpoints, the rule should be hands off — not fussing over ‘tone’ (a word becoming about as distasteful as ‘framing’), not worrying about whether manners should dictate what is allowed to be posted. It does make for a rather Darwinian commenting environment, and some people are harshly self-culled…but the failures here are largely the fragile flowers who need their self-esteem propped up before they can express their opinions, and I don’t miss them at all. All you regulars can take pride in the fact that you are the strong survivors, possessing robust egos and good solid voices, who can handle the challenge of an ungentle tone.
Which ain’t much of an accomplishment, so don’t get too cocky.
There is lots of good stuff at Nature Network, but it’s a little weird to regard comment numbers as one of them. Or to try to correlate a good commenting environment with civility, whatever the hell that means to someone.