When comments are not fit to print
I regret that we don't have the staff to monitor each and every comment before they are posted; instead, we have for a long while relied on a system that relies on readers to click on the "report abuse" option. We discovered a flaw in our system one Monday when we realized painfully mean comments posted over a weekend had been reported as abuse but gone unnoticed because the recipient of the report was not available over the weekend. We attempted to remedy that by having more staffers listed as editors to whom the abuse reports would be directed. Regrettably, the only way we can control the awful, irresponsible comments that some stories seem to attract is to entirely block comments on those stories. Readers still have the option of submitting letters to the editor.
Not every reported abuse results in the removal of comments. This week someone reported abuse, and when I looked into the criticism, I found it to be critical of a public figure but acceptable -- it was sharp but thoughtful, and not really a personal attack.