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Archive for February 17th, 2014

Public Conversation

That which chiefly causes the failure of a dinner-party, is the running short—not of meat, nor yet of drink, but of conversation.  –  Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded

mountain of paperAs I’ve explained on a number of occasions, I’ve been slowly decreasing my workload over time so as to make room for other projects like Ladies of the Night, my Cato Unbound essays  from December and my Reason article of January 26th (not to mention public appearances and private life).  One of the sacrifices I’ve had to make is the time devoted to correspondence; as I explained in “Inspiration”:

…I still read every single comment y’all post and every single email y’all send, but all too often I find myself so busy that I put off replying until later, and then I can never catch up.  And when those comments contain praise and/or good wishes, I feel rather ungrateful and rude for not replying…like a lazy bride who can’t be bothered to do her thank-you notes.  So though I’m still going to spend as much time giving personal responses as I possibly can…please don’t take it personally if I don’t reply directly to your comment, or if I take a few days to respond to your email; it just means that I’m tied up with work or circumstances.  I sincerely appreciate every single reader who takes the time to send me kind words or encouragement, even when I don’t reply…

The latest modifications (made as we entered this new year) should allow me to answer emails a little more quickly, within a week rather than taking several weeks as it did for most of last year.  When I can answer an email with a quick sentence or two you may get a reply very quickly, but when a long letter is needed it may take until the following Sunday (or in some cases, longer).

For a while now, though, I’ve noticed something: some readers will write me emails commenting on specific columns instead of just directly commenting on the columns themselves; I’d like to ask those of you who do that to try to start commenting on the blog instead.  One of the reasons is, as I explained above, the time delay in answering emails; even if you’re a new contributor, once your comment gets through moderation you’ll at least know that I read it even if I don’t reply right away (or at all).  Another reason is that if you have a question about something in that post, one of the other readers may be able to answer it for you long before I have the opportunity.  If you have a disagreement or gripe about something I wrote, putting it in public will allow others to agree or disagree with you, setting up a lively discussion which, I feel, adds to the blog.  I understand that some people are more in the habit of emailing than commenting, while others dread the awfulness that characterizes the comment sections of most websites.Never Read the Comments  But I truly feel as though I have the best commentariat on the web today, and that’s not just blowing sunshine up anybody’s arse; I have an unusually-high fraction of intelligent, thoughtful, knowledgeable and even erudite commenters, and though the discussions may get warm they rarely stray outside the bounds of civil discourse.  If you’ve never commented before, please don’t be afraid to; getting started is easy, and though your first comment is automatically held for moderation by WordPress until I see and approve it (usually within a few hours), your subsequent ones will post as soon as you make them (barring some kind of technical glitch).  Though I do have a few house rules, they’re mostly common sense; if you’re the combative or trollish sort you may wish to consult “How Not To Get Your Comments Posted” before wasting your time, but if you’re like 99.9% of the folks who come here you don’t really need to (though it may amuse you to do so).

Of course, if you have a private question, want to send me a link, etc, your emails are still completely welcome; that’s why I have the links in the right-hand column, after all.  But if what you have to say might be of interest to other readers as well, please consider a comment; for the reasons I’ve explained here, that will probably work out better for everyone.

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