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To allow comments or not to allow comments? That is the question we have been grappling with on and off since launching the blog in 2005, and we now feel the time has come to give it a try.

Regular readers will know that we have always published responses to our blog posts, as well as features and reviews, at the end of the month. But our comments page is modeled more along the lines of a ‘letters to the editor’ page in a magazine than a forum for interactive debate.

This has a few benefits: although we receive lots of lovely and constructive emails about the blog, we also receive many that some visitors may not want to read. Separating off the articles from the comments helps us ensure that readers and bloggers do not have to deal with a string of sexist or otherwise offensive comments at the end of every post, while still being able to give feedback. As well as this, we have been concerned that properly moderating a comments section would be too time consuming.

However, there is a flip side. We do want to provide room for feminist debate and discussion. We understand that it is now unusual for a blog not to allow any direct commenting, and we have heard from readers that at least some of you would like a chance to create a community on the blog. We want the blog to be the best it can be, and we hope that comments will help.

But because of the concerns listed above, we have drawn up a comment policy which firmly sets out the ground rules. It’s not perfect, but we hope that it will help us keep a good atmosphere. In addition, we may sometimes close specific posts to comments – if the topic is particularly sensitive, for example. If you have any comments about the policy, please do let us know!

Just to stress – this is an experiment for us, and if it doesn’t work out we will be going back to the old system. Also, we will continue to run a separate comment page for your responses to features and reviews.

In order to keep this blog as a feminist and friendly space, comments will be subject to some rules. We do not seek to censor debate: the beauty of the internet is that anyone can set up their own blog or website to express their views.

1. This blog is a safe and friendly space for feminists and feminist allies. Debate and critique are welcome where it is constructive and deepens analysis or understanding. Anti-feminist comments will not be approved. We get to decide what’s anti-feminist.

2. All comments must be approved by one of the bloggers. For this reason, there may be a delay before your comment appears.

3. No sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, classist, ablist comments, comments which make personal attacks on any blogger or commenter, or comments that are otherwise deemed offensive by us will be posted.

4. Trolls will be banned from commenting. We get to decide who is a troll.

5. No anonymous comments – please feel free to use your real name or make one up, though.

6. Be nice.

We have also introduced a feature making it easier to look at posts by specific bloggers. You can now click on a blogger’s name (at the end of their post) for a list of all their contributions – or just click on their name in the list on the left hand side.