I've been amazed, especially since due to the bed rest and moving I've been blogging less often than normal, to be getting so many more comments.
However, many have been very negative, especially Anonymous posters. (There have also been many positive Anonymous posters as well.) After recently reading a comment which attacked my reproductive choices I have decided to personally approve comments before allowing them to be published. A lot of blogs have that policy from the onset, but I have only just decided to initiate it. I will still read every comment and I don't want to discourage anyone from participating in the site, but I also have always disliked snarky internet environments. That is, I have participated in them, but I choose to stay out of the snark. I actually spend a lot of time on forums and have since middle school actually, and I know perfectly well this is the internet and there's a lot of people who will use the internet as an excuse for negative behavior. However that's why any enjoyable forum needs to hire a moderator and so in the interest of bettering this blog I am choosing to moderate comments henceforth.
I will continue to keep Anonymous as a choice because I think it's nice to have, assuming it's not abused. I admit though I am contemplating disabling it because I have seen, in my years of blogging, other bloggers whose comment sections were turning into something they didn't enjoy getting a much more civil environment when they took away Anonymous as a choice. Still, sometimes it's a pain to sign into a service. I also have on other blogs in the past been glad for anonymous when I was wanting to open up about painful things in my past I wouldn't necessarily want traced back to me, but still thought would be a positive contribution to the conversation on their blog, and so for now I will not take that away.
The main motivation behind this change is I realized I was letting comments change my blog. I'd get online with a great post in mind to write and then read a comment (and generally cry) and not write that post because I couldn't think about anything beyond that comment. That's happened a lot, increasingly so in the past months as comments have increased. It caused one of three things to happen: either I just wouldn't post that day, I'd post something in reaction to the comment because I couldn't think to write something else, or I'd publish something only so/so, without a lot of heart in it, so that I would be leaving my armor up to defend me against the next attack. It also sometimes caused a fourth: I'd abandon a post I was excited about due to not feeling emotionally up to the flack I felt I would receive from readers. I dislike all four of those options and would like to stop them now.
Hopefully all of you read this blog because you enjoy it and therefore would rather have me have an environment where I can write to the best of my ability. If you're reading this blog for another reason, then you're not the target audience anyway.
I'm not trying to say "don't you dare comment if you don't agree with me", I'm okay with people disagreeing and if done well, I actually can enjoy a good debate, but only if it's respectful and civil. I do retain the right to define civil based on my own perception though... and this is the internet. Which means that I may read it in a way you didn't intend it, so if that's the case, I'm sorry. It does happen, it can be hard to convey tone in writing, but if I take it that way others may as well so even if it's not your intention I still reserve that right.
Also, keep in mind that if your comment isn't immediately approved it doesn't mean I am not publishing it, I may just have not gotten onto blogger yet. If there's not been a new blog post published, do not think anything of me not having approved comments yet. And even if if there is a new post, sometimes I write them ahead of time and schedule them, so I still may not have gotten on the blog yet that day. I probably will still approve most comments as to date I've probably only ever deleted three comments. I'm not a micro-manager.
And as a last positive thing, do you guys think I should get a better commenting system? I'm using the built in commenter that comes with blogger. I've considered getting a commenting system like Disqus or Livefyre but haven't ever taken the leap. I would only get free versions anyway, so it'd be nothing fancy, but the big limitation that drives me crazy about blogger is I can't actually hit reply on any of your comments and reply directly. And generally on those systems if I did that it'd email you letting you know you have a reply, which I don't think blogger does, so we'd be able to get real conversations going easier if it's warranted. That might actually make commenting a better experience. I really don't want to discourage comments, but just cultivate an encouraging environment, instead of a discouraging one.