I am grateful for the fact that the vast majority of comments posted on this blog have been civilised and polite. There have been a handful of posts which were rather nasty, some of which I had to block, and of course I had to introduce the rule against critical comments on obituary posts, but most posts here have been constructive.
Witness the fact that I have been given no cause to regret turning comment moderation off (something I was quite nervous about, but which so far has gone very well.)
But I'm horrified at the level of bile when I read the comments on some other sites.
Some blogs and discussion sites seem to largely avoid it - there's an element of excessive party partisanship in a vocal minority of those who post comments on "Political Betting" for instance but most of the people who post there are intelligent, polite and constructive. The same goes for the Vote UK Forum which is an oasis of civilised discussion even though the vast majority of people on the forum are activists of political parties with very different views.
Unfortunately this does not apply to some other blogs, or the websites of most of the national newspapers - from "Comment is free" at the Guardian to the Spectator, for instance.
I can't usually manage to read more than a dozen or so comments on most of these sites before being horrified at the level of abuse which the posters hurl at one another and anyone else they don't like. As Dan Hannan MEP pointed out last year, if these people spoke about an ethnic group the way they write about members of the political parties they don't support they'd be in serious danger of prosecution.
And these are the posts which are left up - I shudder to think what the posts removed by moderators on some of these sites must be like.
Things which very few people would ever say on the doorstep or on the phone are, of course, much easier to type into a keyboard, especially when you are doing so anonymously.
It probably isn't a coincidence that the blogs and websites marked by a friendlier tone tend also to have a high proportion of people who post under their real name, or part of it, or a long-term pen-name which is used to identify an online persona rather than as a shield to hide behind.
Some of the lack of civility which has been noted on blogs and websites also applies in daily life, but I do think it's worse on the internet.
But in the long run that sort of thing tends to destroy sites and systems which tolerate it because the people who post offensive things drive others away.