Ron Silliman is no longer allowing comments on his blog. Before I go on, I must say that I think Silliman's blog is a superb resource; a fantastic list of links almost daily, and Ron's own posts always have something interesting and insightful to say. I like his poetry too.
As for the banning of comments, of course, Silliman has has every right to do what he's done; however, it does change the nature of his widely influential site from a democratic forum to a cultural authority and arbiter of taste. In fact, I've always understood Silliman (the public figure that is - nothing personal) to be an old-fashioned American patrician figure, despite his counter-culture credentials. I guess it's the old story of poacher-turned-gamekeeper. My view of Silliman changed after his response to the brilliant spoof anthology containing the names of 4,000 avant-garde poets over machine-generated poems. Silliman publicly threatened the college-students who produced this with financially ruinous legal action, to protect his 'brand': 'Ron silliman the author'; the very notion that LANGUAGE poetry has sought to undermine. They shalt not take his name in vain!
The removal of comments from Silliman's site is in response to offensive comments about the work of some younger poets he's promoting. Destructive commentators are a problem on public forums, I agree; but it is possible to edit the worst ones out, which Silliman has told us he's done in the past. Personally, I'd prefer to risk offense than shut down critical comment altogether.
Joseph Massey, one of the poets who's flaming by commenters led to the decision, seems to have reacted very sensibly to situation, witness his comment on poet Jessica Smith's blog:
"While the comments — most of them — are irritating, they wouldn’t — couldn’t! — stop me from writing. The work is the work and has nothing at all to do with its reception. The noise is disruptive but pretty transparent — and I’m already over it."