I’ve been getting quite a lot of negative feedback from readers about the comments boxes on this site and I think we need to deal with the problems they have raised.

I think there have been some excellent debates here at times and some high standard contributions. Generally I think that thecomments box helps to create some interesting discussion and some sort of sense of a community of readers.

But as the number of readers and commenters has risen over the past months some problems have arisen. A few months ago 20 comments on a post was the highest we had managed – that was managable and fine. Now we have had several posts which have brought over 100 responses – that is tougher to deal with.

I simply don’t have the time to monitor all the comments, to delete offensive posts and warn or ban the offenders to stop this site heading in an unpleasant direction. I’d rather spend my webtime reading other blogs and writing for this one than policing comments boxes. After all this isn’t a message board but a weblog.

The major problem is primarily with people adding comments to old posts from days or weeks ago. I don’t spot these but they remain on the site and there have been a few recently that have been close to the mark in terms of decency. When these comments stay on the site they also appear on google and they don’t reflect well on the site or the readers. I should point out that it is not longstanding or regular commenters who have been the problem.

So from today not all posts will have commenting available. Some will and it is a choice I will leave to the individual writers on the site.

I am not convinced we need to have a generalised discussion of the Israel-Palestine situation after every post on this matter and the same could be said for other debates that have already been well-covered on this blog.

However, I want to offer an extra way for you to participate in the debate we are trying to encourage here.

We don’t have a mission statement or any formal aims and objectives for this blog but as the founder of this site I will say this: Harry’s Place exists primarily to foster discussion among people on the democratic left and particular among the varying ‘dissident’ trends within the left.

Readers who want to help contribute to that discussion are invited to contribute their thoughts via articles, short or long, sent by email which may be published on the site in a new feature Reader’s View.

Of course I don’t guarantee to publish every email but if you really have a point you want to get across to people and you go to the trouble of spending time writing something I will of course respect that. Probably the best idea is to contact me in advance by email with a proposal before you spend time writing.

I always said that I would continue doing this blog for as long as it is enjoyable and worthwhile and on the whole it still is.

Hopefully these slight changes will help maintain that situation. And thanks for your continued support of the site.