A recent editorial post (A bit of light housekeeping) outlined our dilemma with comments: we’d like to give readers the opportunity to comment, but would rather avoid the annoying background noise generated by Mormon holy underwear fans everywhere. For more on this, see Ground rules for the Eloquent Atheist, which discusses the reason commenting was turned off in the first place. It is simply a huge time-waster to moderate comments that come down to “Because it’s in the bible!”
As is often the case, one group can ruin all of the fun for another. I would actually like to be able to comment on some of the posts on this site; so might you. Many are so intelligently drawn that they cry out for discussion. Recently, I started looking for a solution to this quandary, and believe that I have found one. I had this solution in mind when I wrote the last editorial post, and responses via the contact form verified my initial thought.
We already have a longish list of users, primarily consisting of writers who have been published on our site. I see no reason why we should not allow other readers to become members of our site, if they wish, and then allow all site members to comment on Eloquent Atheist articles. Although it will require a bit of administration on our part, we may be able to have our cake and eat it too.
There is only one drawback to this approach. We send an email to Eloquent Atheist members whenever a new article is posted. Some people object to receiving such emails and request that they be taken off this list, which is certainly their choice. As it transpires, there is a way to allow a members to comment and still not get the new article emails. They may opt out of the email part of the equation by themselves, or they may contact us to be removed from the list. Then they will not get the emails but will still be allowed to comment.
Yes, we will probably have people sign up who only wish to do so in order that they may argue the merits of holy underwear, but once they have done so we can unceremoniously boot them out of the site and ensure that they may never access it again. Even better, if there are believers who are able to comment intelligently on our articles, without discussing the aforementioned holy underwear and without invoking “Because god says so!” at every turn in the conversation, they will be welcome to comment.
We will be making this change on the site within a few days. Look for a new item at the right side of the menu. No pressure, you don’t have to comment, but it will be more pleasant to know that you can if you want.