Field Gulls needs a major comment overhaul. Some are not going to like this. The standards will be subjective, and that never makes people happy. I've worried too long about making Field Gulls a symposium and ignored that it's a publication. As I often repeat, comments contribute to the story and good community members make a good blog. I have decided to edit comments as I edit content, because comments are content and good content makes a good site. Unfortunately, I can not nor have the time to individually edit every comment, nor would I want, nor would you want me to.
Concrete rules of posting are still in play, but comments that are poorly written, overlong, meandering or factually incorrect will be hidden. People that continue to post comments of this type despite warning will eventually be banned from commenting. I've only ever banned someone from Field Gulls proper once, and that was an IP ban.
Comment threads are a conversation. It's almost a party atmosphere with strangers grouped together at different times in different combinations. Short comments are best and longer comments are best fleshed out in a FanPost. FanPosts are that author's chance to host, and because of that, it's their chance to write a long, detailed and researched opinion. Long comments read like a lecture, like this FanPost might, and tend to monopolize the conversation. Long comments rife with half-formed opinions and factual inaccuracies damage the entire blog.
Comment threads should be accessible to people that do not have the time to read a full post or that read posts in pieces, of which I think there's plenty. Comment threads are a unique format, and an awesome one, but over the years I've learned they are capable of great insight and humor and capable of stultifying ignorance and offensive stupidity. Just like all of us, I guess.
The basic standard is simple, the shorter and less frequent the comments, the lower the standard. The more someone comments and the lengthier the comments, the higher the standard.