I have to fess up to having received 73 emails asking me – politely in all but 5 cases – to reinstate the Slog’s commenting facility. I’m not going to accede to the request, but I have no desire to alienate the 9 out of 10 Sloggers who used rather than abused it…even though I would remind everyone that a staggering 99.98% of readers never thread at all.
Of late, I have been putting my thinking cap on in relation to this issue – and the increasingly urgent ones of both expanding The Slog’s reach, and finding ways to cover the costs of running it. When I say “The Slog” I don’t mean ‘a blog’: blogging’s halcyon days are long gone, and anyone genuinely concerned to keep our Masters on their toes must think of new media to use. I mean a brand that promotes the idea of less corporatist ego and more communitarian creativity in life….more mutualism in business and better balance between home and office….more harmless humour and fewer pc pinched goblins in life.
The trouble with far too many comment threads today (and this reflects the increasingly infantile ideological rigidity in every so-called debate) is that they’re uncivilised – that is to say, bitter shouting matches where the objective of those who confuse license with liberty is to insult and humiliate the other side. This has nothing to do with ‘democracy’, and is – for me at least – far too redolent of Stormtroopers screaming insults at Jewish shopkeepers.
So this is my solution. It won’t please the nutters who want a large microphone and the Nuremburg Parteitag Stadium to yell into. But it will be civilised, and it will be unique as an online innovation.
What I am going to instate is a dedicated Letters to the Editor page – the letters in which will of course be emails. As in more civilised times, the letters will be selected by me the editor, because as you all know I am a Trot Nazi fantasist dedicated to crushing all other opinions but mine own. Except that they will be selected on the three criteria of thinking quality, genuine idea content, and (where appropriate) wit.
This page and this page alone will allow for a forum wherein people can share views about the incoming mail, tell me to buy a Mac, and give other more useful forms of advice. But each forum comment MUST clearly state to which incoming email it refers. ANYTHING off-topic will be vapourised: this is not a news site, so leave your breaking news, wind, glass, rules etc elsewhere please.
The other well-established Slog commenting rule will be applied – no obscene swearing or personal insults allowed at all in any shape or form – but with one additional rigour: there will be no second chances. If you behave like a foot-stamping brat, you will be treated like one and sent packing without so much as a hanky on the end of a stick.
I apologise for the seemingly censorious tone of this post, but that tone applies – mathematically – to 1 Slogger in 3,000…and so I beg the rest of you not to take it personally. Such is the power of needy minorities and pro-am trolls in what is supposed to be a majority culture, one needs to make things abundantly clear…..for those moments when the Huffington Post Progressive Church of Obama sees fit to uphold a complaint against a site owner from prolific threader Algernon Bunhead of No 7 The Pigeonnier, Steelworks Crescent, Grimley-on-Foam.
My cunning plan in the medium term is to mutualise The Slog on a membership basis, and when Paypal finally deigns to reply to me that day will be at hand. The model I’m looking for is 37-23-34 and passionate about world peace, the Leopard, Global Warming and becoming my housekeeper – but otherwise:
- A membership fee in the region of £5 or €6 or $7US per annum – for which you become a member with the same rights as apply in any properly constituted Mutual Society
- A forum commenting fee of 5p, 6euro cents or 7US cents a pop.
So there you have it. You can take it from here, leave it over there, put it on the back burner, keep it in mind, stay tuned, or do nothing. Hint: doing nothing is the cheapest option.