Some of you may have noticed that this blog, unlike many others, does not require a word verification or a blogger name/password in order to comment. That's mostly because I blog about things most people aren't interested in discussing--personal news, occasional theology and posthumanism just doesn't get much traffic. That's fine, because that's how I like it.
But other blogs and groups are organized around the purpose of generating discussion and/or debate. GKB's was a veritable hotbed of controversy back in the day before he got kindler and gentler. It can be an enjoyable or exasperating distraction, and it can sometimes lead to a helpful clarification or expansion of a topic, a sort of virtual seminar, if it goes well. But it doesn't always go well and probably mostly doesn't; many people have noted that the anonymity and disembodiedness of virtual encounter in the blogosphere tends to encourage loosened standards with regard to the epistemic virtues of intellectual rigor, honesty, humility, and courtesy.
Which brings me to my question. How do you determine when enough is enough? What standards are fair when deciding to block comments or bar participation? And how do you balance this with maintaining a spirit of openness to dissent--an absolutely necessary component to any collaborative human effort at seeking truth together? When does moderation become censorship? When does dissent become blasphemy? When does consensus become tyranny?
And what might our alien friends think of all this misbehavior?