Orin Kerr over at the Volokh Consipiracy has some thoughts on how a blog can develop a good comment culture. He says that moderation is key:
If a blogger doesn’t moderate comment threads at all on a widely read blog, people who want to be shocking, mean, or just irrelevant realize they can do their thing and reach a decent-sized audience. They eventually push out the more thoughtful people: You end up with a mess, or, as Brian Leiter would put it, a “cess pool.” In contrast, if bloggers moderate their threads reasonably well, deleting irrelevant or abusive comments — and in some cases, participating in the comment threads themselves to carry on the debate — then you end up with a shift in culture over time.
Internet Scofflaw gets an average of one comment a week, so developing a “culture” of comments, good or bad, isn’t really an issue. Most of its comments correlate with the occasional Instalanche. But I want reading (and more importantly, writing) this blog to be a positive experience, so my comment policy is to delete comments that are uncivil. Repeat offenders will be banned.