My problem with the comment section is this: I think of the Fix as a community or a small city. In any community, there are a variety of views on just about everything. The ability to voice those differing perspectives in a (mostly) civil manner is what makes a community — whether it’s online or offline — great.
What the current configuration of comments sections does is allow the loudest person — whether or not they are representative of the broader community — to self-appoint himself (or herself) as mayor of the city. It’s like if the most obnoxious guy on your block all of a sudden asserted his right to make all decisions related to the neighborhood for you. Not so good, right?
The problem with this model is that while self-policing — think of it as a sort of neighborhood watch for the online community — can work, it becomes harder and harder to do the larger the community grows. In the early days of the Fix, a group of regular commenters — some who liked my work, some who didn’t — banded together to keep the guy typing IN ALL CAPS ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ACTUAL POST from overrunning the site. It worked — for a while. But, as we added more writers and the traffic numbers grew, the ability of a small-ish number of commenters to police an increasingly large number of “loudest guys on the block” was reduced significantly. (To understand why self-policing fails: Try arguing with a five year old. You will NEVER win. Trust me. I do it all the time.)