Running MotoMatters.com is the second most rewarding thing I do as a person, second only to my marriage with my wife. It is a source of intense pleasure, pride and satisfaction, of the response and appreciation we receive, as well as the support from both inside and outside the racing community.
The thing that I am most proud of, however, has very little to do with me. Though I do my best to provide intelligent, thoughtful articles, I am all too often put to shame by the quality of the comments. So many people who contribute comments to the stories do so with such wit, intelligence and clarity of thought that it is truly humbling to read the comments and see the gaps in my own thinking and reporting. The comments are a constant reminder that I will have to up my game if I am to be anywhere near the 50th percentile in terms of knowledge and intelligence. They are also a rich source of inspiration, and I steal freely from the ideas discussed when researching stories.
I am not alone in my assessment. I have had several of the biggest names in the paddock compliment me on the intelligence of the comments, and the extraordinarily high level of the debate on the site. Compliments have come from riders, journalists, team managers, race officials, people are impressed most of all not by what I write, but what you write.
Sometimes, though, it gets a little tough. Since Valentino Rossi collided with Casey Stoner, the site has been flooded with comments on the subject. Given the characters involved - as I wrote yesterday, two of the riders who most polarize opinion in MotoGP - it is hardly surprising that tempers are running high and the tone of the comments is becoming more heated than usual.
In a (probably vain) attempt to stem the flood of comments and keep the debate in check, I have been forced to remove a whole slew of comments. Normally, I need remove only perhaps one or two in a hundred comments, but that number has increased tenfold. In part, that is because I am being very conservative in what I allow, preferring to err on the side of caution - in this case, deleting comments that either may be inflammatory, or invoke inflammatory responses - rather than let the debate run its course, with the potential of ending in the sewers.
So if you log on in the coming days and see that a comment you have added has been deleted, then you have my apologies in advance. Your comment may have been deleted for its content, but it may also have been deleted because it was a response to another comment which was also deleted, or deleted because I feared the responses it may have provoked would have lowered the tone. As a rule, I do not like deleting comments, or any other form of censorship for that matter, but I fear that if I do not keep a tight hand on the reins, things will run rather too quickly out of control. I console myself that since I am only keeping my own corner of the internet in order, this can hardly be construed as censorship; after all, there are hundreds, if not thousands of blogs, websites, forums, chatrooms and message boards where you are free to express your opinion, unhindered by my sensibilities.
I hope you will all bear with me as I weather the storm, and I hope you can all understand why I have chosen to follow this course of action. I remain both proud and humbled by the quality of the contributions here, and I hope that these contributions will continue once the storm has blown over. With four weeks until Estoril, and two weeks until Assen World Superbikes, it could be a little while yet.
If you are unhappy, please feel free to vent your spleen below. This story is the only place I will not censor - with the obvious exception of black-hat SEO spam, which gets deleted very quickly - but I have to try to keep the rest of the site relatively clean.