I have for some time wondered whether it is worth accepting comments on this site. The number of commentators is small in proportion to traffic, their themes remarkably (and boringly) repetitive in most cases. Only a very few add anything to debate. They do, however, absorb my energy, which I have long thought better used elsewhere.
I had opportunity to discuss this with others after my recent article in the Guardian, since the Guardian does allow comment to be made on its web pages but does not encourage response from the author.
Almost without exception I was told by those who looked at the article that they ignored the comments because they were either abusive, ill informed or just plain nit-picking. It has to be said, many questions were also asked about why so many comments come from the usually unacceptable end of the right wing political spectrum.
This opinion reflected my own view, that far from adding to the quality of a blog, comments often distract from it. I think that often the case here. With my current pretty relaxed policy of allowing most comments onto the site at least 90% of those posted seem to come from either from moaning residents of the Crown Dependencies or those from the right-wing fringes. I admit I have little time or respect for either, about which they then complain, often. That almost none are willing to put their name to their opinion only adds to my sense of disquiet about their motive and conduct on a site that it is in no small part devoted to the merits of transparency.
For that reason I have decided to experiment for a couple of weeks, at least. During that period blog comments are going to be heavily edited, and I will not be responding to those that make them. The only comments that will be allowed will be well written, well reasoned, supported by evidence (in links if appropriate), add to debate, are respectful and are named with me having opportunity to reasonably assess the likelihood that the name is valid.
It goes without saying that the following are unlikely to get onto the site:
1) Those submitted by people who do not provide their full name;
2) Those who simply complain that I do not like tax havens;
3) Those sent by those of right-wing persuasion who wish to proffer the unsupported view that government and tax are per se a bad thing and only market solutions are valid.
This, I stress is not intended to restrict disagreement or factual correction. That is welcome. But it has to be presented as reasoned argument or with supporting evidence.
It is my hope that this will improve the quality of the site, and reduce the time I waste dealing with comments I think of limited value, for which the delete button will now be used more often.