Comment is no longer free. @bencobley @maajidnawaz @guardianopinion

Just a brief holding post for later elaboration. It’s been bouncing around recently that The Grauniad is planning to shut off its commenting capability on articles posted on controversial topics. Especially ironic given their “Comment is Free” heritage and tag-line.

I actually agree with their move.

It’s long been an issue since the days of “flame-wars” on bulletin boards and discussion forums, that complex and emotive topics need active (*) mediation, even to the point of campaigns banning public commenting on some otherwise public channels. The Grauniad is simply catching up. Open comments always turn into polarised shouting matches, with a little trolling, ego-stroking and virtue-signalling thrown in.

Also doubly ironic to tie this move into the current “safe spaces” meta-debates. It’s more complicated that 140 chars will allow. (*) It’s no coincidence that old media “readers letters” come pre-vetted by an editor for their constructive value. It’s no coincidence that civilised debating platforms come with skilled facilitators. Freedom of expression comes with rules.

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