Today's prompt from BlogHer is "Who owns the comment section: the blog writer or the blog readers?"
That's a rather interesting question when you stop and think about it.
On one hand, a comment section is meant to open communication up between individuals, while on the other, the author composed the post and is responsible for monitoring the flow of conversation.
On the THIRD hand...
Well, there is no third hand. I just like adding extra appendages to my hypothetical people. It's fun! You should try it sometime.
I look at it as "belonging" to readers and the author. Both parties contribute to the conversation, so it follows that the comment section should be used for conversation.
However, I do feel this also depends on the type of posting it is and individual comment policies. Regardless of what readers may think of it, the author is the one who makes policy on comments.
There's also the question of the services used. Some blogging sites have their own set of rules for bloggers and readers, after all. So, does that section belong to the author, the commenter or the blogging site itself?
Hey, look! I found the third hand.
That's part of why I get annoyed when people cry, "You're denying my right to free speech!" when an author deletes, denies or reports their abusive comments.
No. That's shared space, and if you violate boundaries set, or instigate fighting, you're in the wrong. If you violate terms of service of the blogging site in which you take part, you're also in the wrong. There's nothing stopping you from going elsewhere and going off on a rant about whatever it is.
The thing about free speech is, yes, you're allowed to say almost whatever you want, but you also need to deal with the resulting fallout. Of course, if you're afraid to own your words, then you can only spout maliciousness by finding a way to be completely anonymous.
However, if the author deletes or denies a reasonable comment out of personal spite against the reader, then I'd think they're in the wrong. In this case, though, that's in the author's power, as the content creator.
So, the simple answer is...
It depends on the situation?
Yeah, let's go with that infuriating non-answer. I guess this simple question doesn't really have a simple answer.
Then again, if The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is correct, the answer could very well be 42. Could the question of life, the universe and everything really be "Who owns the comment section?"