A Very Cautious Experiment With Comments

By Benjamin Wittes
Sunday, September 16, 2012, 10:26 AM

My post about the possible use of Facebook's Comment utility on Lawfare has generated no particular groundswell of either enthusiasm or opposition. But the Lawfare Ruling Triumverate has decide that it sufficiently changes the technological landscape that it is worth a very cautious experiment in commenting. Here are the terms of this experiment:

For now, a Facebook comments box will appear at the bottom of every post. They will not appear on the home page, only at the bottom of the post itself. Readers who wish to leave comments can do so and will, by default, be able to see comments left by their Facebook friends only. We, however, can see all comments left, and those we find particularly interesting, we reserve the right to make publicly accessible to readers---so readers should not assume that their Facebook comments will remain private to their Facebook friends. We also reserve the right to engage---or not to engage---with commenters. And we reserve the right to block from commenting users we feel---in our sole and unappealable discretion---are posting content that we don't want on our site. This sort of thing may happen with a shocking lack of due process, which we call editorial judgment. No apologies for that. Also, some Lawfare writers do not use Facebook and therefore will not be playing any role in moderating their comments; others do use Facebook but have a limited appetite for moderating comments. If the volume of comments is large, in other words, we may end up largely ignoring what we will consider to be a dialog among groups of Facebook friends who use the Lawfare site.

Finally, this is an experiment---one about which we have mixed feelings and which we reserve the right to cancel without notice at any time.