For the last 15 years or so, I have tended to not delete comments that are overly nasty or abusive, but hand out strikes and eventually suspensions to commenters.
This has had the benefit of publicly showing that I don’t censor comments based on political opinion, but for breaches of my commenting policy. It also has allowed people to see what is and is not acceptable, and for most (not all) infringers it has allowed them to learn and stay within boundaries.
I am not stopping this approach, but I am supplementing it.
The challenge I have is that it takes quite a bit of time to review a comment, edit it accordingly, note a strike on the strikes page, edit a user profile to suspend them, and also note in my calendar when their suspension ends.
Especially since becoming a parent, my time is at a premium. I struggle with finding the time to respond to some complaints in a timely manner.
So in future I am going to more frequently simply delete comments that I deem are too abusive or trolling etc. They will simply disappear. If this happens to one of your comments, then you should change your commenting style in future.
If I see someone being persistently abusive or trolling, I may still take the time to do a formal strike and suspension.
I think enough people have seen my style the last 15 years they they know (unlike some blogs) I won’t just delete comments because I disagree with them politically. The whole point of comments (for me) is to have debate and disagreement.
General Debate will continue to be more lightly moderated than other threads, but basic standards still apply. And also a reminder that I don’t proactively read most comments. If you think a comment is beyond the pale, e-mail a link to the comment to firstname.lastname@example.org along with a brief statement of why you think the comment is unacceptable. As a general rule only e-mail about fresh comments, not ones that are days old (unless you are personally affected by it).