Orin, and Our Commenters, Have Brought Me Around:

I used to be pretty firmly against having comments, but Orin's experiment with allowing them led me to dip my toe in the water, and now I've tumbled down the slippery slope.

I expected most comments to be thoughtful, on-topic, and interesting, and they have been. But I've been struck by just how many good comments there have been, and how few bad ones I've seen.

I know, I know, famous last words, and maybe I've just jinxed it. Still, I've been very pleased by the results, and my sense is that many readers enjoy being able to comment (and even to read others' comments), so that's a plus. I expect to enable comments on most of my posts in the future.

Doc Rampage (mail) (www):
It says a lot for your blog that you have such high-quality comments. The only other blog I've seen that has such a high level of commenters is the Belmont Club. Hopefully you won't end up with the kind of trolls that have cursed his comment lists...
6.15.2005 10:08pm
Robert Bell (mail):
I think you have set the tone of your blog, and have attracted like-minded people. I always appreciate your thoughtful, reasonable posts and lack of vitriol. You are to be congratulated.
P.S. Congratulations on your 30th anniversary!
6.15.2005 10:26pm
Tony (mail):
I'm glad to hear this. Quite often, I'm as interested in the comments as the original post. And is there really such a downside to bad comments? You can ignore them, delete them, or... well, work yourself into a tizzy over them, but there really isn't much point in that!
6.15.2005 11:04pm
teh (mail):
It's good to see that my strategy of laying low before I started to troll worked...
6.15.2005 11:34pm!
6.16.2005 1:38am
Dustin (mail):
Mr. Volokh, It would evidently be a good idea to require registration for comments.

Somebody always has to break the silence and show just how creative and funny they are by adding a distracting comment.

By they way, I love the blog and congratulations on the anniversary. You've really influenced the way I think about the law.
6.16.2005 1:50am
Kalroy (www):
Don't get too used to it. First time you get big linked by a big left/right wing site you'll see an increase in silliness.

Just ignore the trolls and keep the faith brah.

6.16.2005 2:51am
Jim (mail):
This is the only blog I have registered on. It is well worth the minor nuisance - which other blogs aren't.

I do have a question though. It was brought up on another blog that if a commenter posted a comment that was libelous the blog sponsor would be liable for that libel. Is this true? Could You be sued for what someone else posted on your site?
6.16.2005 3:55am
Rebecca Oris Davidson (mail) (www):
I too have been very impressed with the high caliber of the comments on this site. Requiring registration for comments is probably unnecessary, since you can delete disrespectful and off-topic comments. If you don't already have one, it might be worth exploring a mechanism for blocking IP addresses so you have that in store in case you need it.

And Jim, while I'm not an expert on libel law, it is my understanding that for a publisher to be held liable for libel, there must be some measure of control over the publication. In a situation like this, where there is no filtration or editing prior to publication, it would be absurd to suggest that the Volokh Conspiracy is responsible for everything that is posted in the comments. It would be like holding a live radio show liable if one of the callers said something libellous/slanderous before he could be cut off.
6.16.2005 9:50am
Prof. Volokh,

I think when the experiment started, you (or Orin) posted some type of rules-of-the-road with respect to the comments. Do I remember correctly (or was it just polite/on-topic/etc.)? I would suggest adding a link in the sidebar, underneath "Email Policy" and "Linking Policy" to your Comments Policy.
6.16.2005 10:44am
Threads usually start out good, but asymptotically degrade (almost surely) unless there's some judicious editing: banning obstreperous posters (as recognized by their IP address), removing off-point yet inflamatory posts.

Spare the rod, spoil the comments.
6.16.2005 11:34am
Ooog (mail):
Ooog add thoughtful comment!
6.16.2005 2:05pm
Bleepless (mail):
The typical blog comment, in one lesson:
1. Shriek of rage.
2. Hiss of wonderment at such stupidity and/or evil.
3. Pompous correction of error by blog or previous
4. Growl of warning that it had better not happen again.
6.16.2005 2:48pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
I'd add that a typical complaint by commenters on left-wing blogs is that right-wing blogs (I know, I know, but that's how many people around, say, Kevin Drum's "Political Animal" do view VC) mostly don't have comments. There are dark hints that this is so that the forces of righteousness can't Speak Truth to Power, &c.

Which is a roundabout way of warning you that you might be in for a dose of reduced civility once people who aren't regular readers discover that you have open comments. I hope not, but it's happened before.
6.16.2005 3:52pm
John R. Mayne (mail):
I think the Conspiracy draws a particularly good group of readers and commentators. Obviously, you're going to get some weak and problematic comments this way, but I think the comments will remain mostly sound even as the number of comments increases.
6.16.2005 6:49pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Since I am not a lawyer, yet I am also passionate about consitutional law, I love being able to comment here.

This comment is really off-topic, but I WILL relate it back to your post at the end.

The medical marijuana decision was a big disappointment, but it brought home to me the value of precedent. Congress has been using the Commerce Clause for too much since FDR packed the Court. That really makes me angry, but when I think of all the people who would be angry when their favorite Federal ox was gored by overturning Wickham I really have to think hard. I begin to see the need for a popular way to override Supreme Court precedent without an amendment. That way the people will not feel gypped because the implicit contract in a Supreme Court decision was not precipitously yanked out from under them.

One way would be through a Constitutional Amendment allowing Congress to override a Supreme Court decision, or maybe to send it back to the Court. It could even require a larger super majority depending on the how big the Supreme Court majority was. Another way would be for the Court to change it's procedures. There is no reason the Court could not ask Congress for a public debate and a vote when it thought a decision should be overridden. Or the Court could allow Congress to appeal decisions via a vote.

Which is long way of saying: Can you please get Randy Barnett to open up his comments, too?

6.16.2005 8:56pm
SupremacyClaus (mail):
Jim: On the way to being expelled from one, it was suggested I start my own blog, perhaps so abuse could be returned in kind. I looked at several providers. Every single one has a Hold Harmless clause.

The blogger pledges all assets to re-imburse the provider for any litigation arising out of use, down to the last button on the last shirt. I have no idea if by posting here, I have as well.

I passed on the blogs. I don't have anything to say, to justify betting all assets.

Next, I read my browser agreement, Hold Harmless is there. How can I avoid having a browser?

I read my EZPass agreement, a northeast region transmitter for drive through toll charges. If my transmitter sets off construction explosives prematurely, taking down a building, I promised to re-imburse EZPass for its defective transmitter.

Adhesion is procedurally unconscionable, a start. This clause is against policy in construction. It is supported by the UCC between sophisticated parties. The First Amendment is in there. Further discussion should be private, and is not appropriate here.

What puzzles is how so many law professor bloggers have signed this clause. If they read it, do they have assets? I propose petitioning all law schools for a raise for law profs. They could be judgment proof, which is not right.
6.17.2005 12:14am
SupremacyClaus (mail):
Prof. Volokh: I am puzzled by your not opening comments in every posting, as most bloggers do. You may also have a policy of liberal censorship limited to obscenity, libel, and "situation altering utterances." Dissent has been threatened in private. You lawyers call it being "off topic," when the comment is really penetrating the topic to its core.

Making this blog livelier would increase its readership, and ad revenues.

The bigger advantage is the received "wisdom of crowds."
6.20.2005 8:21am