Steven was previously mulling about a change in his comments policy, and today just pulled a post because it (apparently) triggered some rather heated debate. I’ve noticed that Steven in particular tends to attract a lot of this sort of comment abuse – perhaps a better term for it is “signal saturation” because unlike spam or trolls, this isn’t a noise problem, it’s too much signal.
One thing I’ve noticed is that these incidents always tend to occur in the context of an engineering discussion. Whether it’s the scalability of solar energy or the relative merits of liquid vs solid fuel for rockets, it always boils down to numbers. In contrast to engineers, we scientists tend to have less of an attention span, ending up on wild tangents rather than being able to focus on one topic long enough to disagree on fine details such as these. I wonder if these predilections are hard-wired into our career profiles.
At any rate, it’s because I don’t have people crawling over every word I post with rebuttals and counter-factuals that keeps my blogging fun. If I were in Steven’s shoes, I’d probably close comments entirely. As it is, I am thankful that my comment threads are pretty tame and invariably filled with interesting things and perspectives rather than nitpicking galore.