Every now and then, I find something truly bizarre written about me in some corner of the online universe. I am almost always able to keep myself from responding…and when I’m tempted to engage, I usually scribble something down and then file it away in my “better left unsaid” folder.
One thing I do take incredibly seriously and feel the need to clarify is my position on open discourse and vigorous commentary. I’m all in favor of it. I think I have about as liberal a commenting policy as is possible to have: People can say whatever they want about me and can make claims that have no bearing in fact. (Check out any the comments here or here or here for examples.) The one thing I try not to allow is gratuitous attacks on other people. (Perhaps ironically, I have only ever removed comments that attacked my critics.)
That’s why it’s so odd that an anti-vaccine blog recently claimed that when confronted with comments I didn’t like on this post, I “clos[ed] the blog and removed the link from my homepage.” There are a couple of reasons that makes absolutely no sense:
1. There is no “homepage” on my PLoS Blog. When you arrive here, you’re greeted with a bunch of entries, listed in reverse chronological order. At the end of the page is a link that says “Older posts.”
2. The post in which the offending comment is supposed to have appeared details how Fox News was the first (and virtually only) news outlet that bit at the latest anti-vaccine manufactroversy — and it is still on the first page of the blog.
3. Neither my PLoS blog nor the iteration of this blog that ran on my own website has ever been “closed.” I turned off comments on one post after they reached triple digits and consisted entirely of people (virtually) shouting at each. At PLoS, I’ve instituted an across-the-board policy of automatically closing comments on posts more than 14 days old; in my experience, any valuable points that are going to be made have been made by that point.
I know the reality of the situation won’t intrude on the perception of those folks convinced I’m a drug-addled pharma-shill in league with government oligarchs and deviant doctors…but I did want to clarify those points for the rest of you.