New Comment Voting Feature at Opinio Juris
Readers will note that today Opinio Juris has incorporated a new comment feature that allows our readers to help regulate the quality of comments. The comment rating feature allows readers to vote “Yea” or “Nay” to any comment that is posted. After a certain number of negative votes are cast to a comment (we are still testing the precise number), the comment will be hidden from view. The comment will not be deleted, only hidden. Anyone who wishes to read the comment can still do so, but it will require an affirmative step of clicking on the comment to maximize the text. This is a middle path between our previous approach of completely unfiltered comments, and the other extreme of censoring inappropriate material.
We should emphasize that a negative comment does not mean that you disagree with the post, but rather that you think the comment violates standards of good conduct. In other words, negative votes are appropriate if the comment is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, libelous, threatening, pornographic, harassing, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive, or otherwise disruptive to civil debate on the blog.
We are a diverse group at Opinio Juris, and we have always welcomed opposing viewpoints. What we do not welcome is uncivil discourse. We hope that this middle path will serve to maintain the remarkably vibrant, healthy and civil discourse that is such a wonderful feature of Opinio Juris discussions. The success of this approach depends on our readers helping us maintain high quality discussion by voting down inappropriate comments.
I should emphasize that we are simply testing this feature. If we find in due course that it does not strike the appropriate balance, we will modify or eliminate the comment voting feature. Please let us know your thoughts either by commenting below or emailing us.
UPDATE: The fourth comment in the comment thread provides an example of what occurs when a sufficient number of readers vote down a comment.
UPDATE: Several comments have asked about the purpose of a Yea vote. The intention of the Yea vote is to allow readers to challenge Nay voters. A comment will only be hidden if there is a sufficient number of Nay votes and if there is a disproportionate number of Nay votes to Yea votes.