The future of Crooked Timber and its comments

by Chris Bertram on March 25, 2022

A couple of days ago we had an online get-together of many of the Crooked Timber writers. Although we’ve been around for nearly nineteen years, this is the first time this has happened, and it probably never would have but for the pandemic and the possibilities that Zoom has opened up. Some of us were approaching our bedtime and others had to make a really early start as participants came from Brisbane, Singapore, Exeter in England, the south of France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and various parts of the US. We should do it again soon.

One thing we discussed was how to improve the volume and variety of our contributions. Things have changed a lot since 2003, not least the variety of channels of communication, including social media. Many of the people who read Crooked Timber tell us what they like and don’t like using Twitter, Facebook, email and the like. On-site comments, on the other hand, are not what they were. Though we retain a small cadre of dedicated commenters, the quality of discussion is not always that great and there are too many drive-by and borderline insulting interventions from anonymous accounts. Figuring out how and whether to respond to a misdirected comment can be a significant overhead for writers who can’t know whether the original engagement was in good faith. So we’ve decided to change our default to having comments turned off, with writers having the option to turn them on if they like. Open threads and “Twigs and Branches” will have comments enabled, but we will not tolerate people using open comments on one focused post to comment on a post where the writer decided not to open them. Long-term readers, feel free to show your appreciation (or not) via those other routes. Comments on this post are open [now timed out].