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Commenter Registration Reopened

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I have reopened the facility for commenters to register with the blog and establish a username and password.  The usual email confirmation process applies.

I encourage frequent commenters to use this method of signing in rather than Yahoo so that comments will be identified with a recognizable handle instead of the string of garbage that Yahoo incomprehensibly assigns.

To register, go to the comments on any post, press "Sign in," then "Sign up" and the bottom of the sign-in page.

Hopefully the gremlins that have caused software glitches in the commenting system will remain dormant until we replace the blog software altogether.

Comment Glitch

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We have discovered that a glitch in the blog software has resulted in post authors not being informed of new comments to their posts.  For that reason, some valid comments by commenters who have not been designated "trusted" and thus requiring approval for publication have not been published. 

I just published a bunch of them.  We will work on either fixing the problem or finding a workaround.
David Lat of Above the Law explains in the WaPo why his blog has dropped comments.  The subhead is "I used to rely on Above the Law commenters for tips. Now they just spew bile."

Over the years, however, our comments changed. They had always been edgy, but the ratio of offensive to substantive shifted in favor of the offensive. Inside information about law firms and schools gave way to inside jokes among the "commentariat," relevant knowledge got supplanted by non sequiturs, and basic civility (with a touch of political incorrectness) succumbed to abuse and insult.
Lat notes that comments became increasingly racist and sexist insults.  Equally offensive, I should note here, is the comment that accuses someone else of racism, etc., with no rational basis for doing so.  ("You support Policy X, and Policy X has a disparate impact.  Therefore you are a racist," and drivel such as that.)  He also notes that the administrative burden of actively policing the comments is just not worth it.  Comment degeneration not only diminishes the blog and the post to which the comment is made, but gutter comments drive away commenters who actually do want to discuss ideas in a civil manner, creating a downward spiral.

We have no plans to drop comments here at C&C.  Our commenters on the whole remain multiple levels above the degeneracy seen elsewhere.  The comments section adds valuable perspective and spices up the blog.

So let's keep it clean, folks, and keep the focus on facts and ideas, not name-calling.  Our policies on comments are noted in this post as updated in this post.

C&C Reloaded

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The blog is back up following an outage caused by technical difficulties at our host.  Comments submitted Friday afternoon or evening may have been lost.  Our apologies for any inconvenience.

A Note on Stale Comment Threads

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I am getting an increasing number of comments, nearly all of them critical, posted to old comment threads where there has not been any activity for a while.  For critical comments on active threads, I usually don't need to respond because the regular commenters here will point out where the criticism goes awry (if it does, and it usually does).  For an old thread, though, the regulars will not see it, but it is there on our blog and needs to be addressed, taking up time.

If the blog software had the capability, I would close threads to comments automatically after a week of inactivity. Since it does not, I will generally close a stale thread to further comments after answering (or sometimes not publishing) such a comment.

A New, Top-Notch Legal Blog

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We all know that Crime and Consequences is the No. 1 source for a conservative perspective on criminal law issues.  Kent by himself stands head and shoulders above the analytical ability of the huge majority of lawyers (and judges, for that matter).  It is no exaggeration to say that I have never met a more insightful or fair-minded advocate.

Today, I want to introduce a new entrant in the blogging world, the FedSoc Blog. Like the Volokh Conspiracy, it touches on all aspects of the law, including, from time-to-time, criminal law questions.

The quality of the bloggers boggles the mind; some of the best legal thinkers in America are among them.  They include, for example, Prof. Richard Epstein of New York University (and the Hoover Institution); Prof. Akhil Amar of Yale; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; and (to have viewpoint diversity) Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California Irvine School of Law.

To keep things from getting too stratospheric, however, I also occasionally put up a post. I have just recently, repeating my discussion on C&C of what I view as the most important reasons to oppose the current versions of sentencing reform.

A Comment on Comments

I tend to be responsive to comments  --  more responsive than any other blogger I'm aware of writing on criminal law issues.  I do this principally to stimulate debate on questions I view as important.  

Of late, however, I find that my degree of responsiveness has developed some problems. It seems sometimes to have spawned baiting, filibustering and diversion, to the detriment of authentic debate.  It has also produced long threads of declining interest and attenuated relevance to the main entry. This is going to be curbed.
 
CJLF owns this blog and has its own comment policy.  In addition, in the future, I will be inclined to ignore comments not in keeping with a dozen common sense guideposts. 

Registering to Comment

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We received an email inquiry from someone wanting to register to comment but unable to do so.  Since others may have the same question, I decided to make the answer a post.

When the blog started, would-be commenters could register on the blog and get a user ID and a password.  Upon one of the periodic updates of the blog software, I was horrified to discover that some genius at Movable Type (the software maker) had decided that self-registerers would be designated "authors" rather than "commenters" by default, meaning they could write posts as well as comment on them.  As that was unacceptable, I had to shut the feature off.  Legacy commenters can still use their IDs, but nobody can register on their own.

To compensate, I opened commenting to people who sign in through other services, including OpenID, Google, and Yahoo.  At the "sign in" page, there is a drop-down menu to choose one of these other sign-in methods.

Some of these other sign-in methods have an annoying "feature" (or bug, IMHO) of using a long string of random characters for a user name.  For those signing in this way, we request that you adopt a "handle" and "sign" your comments in the text so everyone can see which comments come from the same person.

At some point in the not too distant future, hopefully, I will be able to restore the original registration system, and then I will phase out use of the alternative services.  But I am employed mainly as a lawyer here.  Being the IT Guy is "additional duty" that I do when I get around to it.  So I don't know when that will be.  In the meantime, we appreciate your patience.

Off for a Few Days

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I will be posting few if any entries or responses for the next three days or so, as my wife and I pack up our winter home, take a long flight to the mainland, and prepare to re-open our home in the DC suburbs.  With Kent in charge, as ever, I think the blog will do just fine.

Newspaper Paywalls

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On this blog, we link a lot to newspaper stories.  Alas, the golden age of free access to newspapers via the internet is drawing to a close.  One by one, the newspapers are putting their content behind paywalls.

Banned in Lexington

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It seems that the Commonwealth's Attorney in Fayette County, Kentucky, Ray Larson, has taken some heat for posting some of our stuff and has taken the repost down.
Some readers have told me by email that they tried to register at ABA Journal to vote for their favorite blog (which I hope and presume was this one) but were told that their registration was suspected spam and was discarded.  After several email exchanges with the editors, that problem appears to be fixed.

So here is the link again.  Of course I wouldn't be so crass as to ask you to ... sure I would!  Vote for C&C!

ABA Journal Blawg 100

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The ABA Journal has its annual list of the 100 best law blogs.  You can register and vote for your favorites.

Maintenance

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The blog may be unavailable or unresponsive at times late at night and early in the morning this week, as our host does system maintenance.  Outages are not expected to last more than 45 minutes.  Potentially affected hours are midnight - 5 a.m. EST (9 p.m. - 2 a.m. PST).

Joshua Crawford blogging at C&C

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We welcome to the blog Joshua Crawford, third-year law student at Suffolk University, who is interning at CJLF this summer. His first post is here.

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