Letter to the Editor – An Alternative to Comments

If we want to respond to a post on the web, how do we normally do so? Scroll down to the comments and have at it. Every other article has a deluge of remarks and rebukes.

Comments inhabit an odd space on the web. Both constructive and equally destructive. Both a mirror on human nature and a product of our own design. Because of this we don't know what to do about them.

But how did we get to this point? What are the predecessors to comments? What could we learn from them?

One form that particularly intrigues me is letters to the editor. Per Wikipedia, a letter to the editor is the following:

a letter sent to a publication about issues of concern from its readers. Usually, letters are intended for publication. In many publications, letters to the editor may be sent either through conventional mail or electronic mail.

An LTE is a composition that is vetted before it is published. It also ensures that the letters published are thoughtful compositions that make a point worthy of others to take note of.

Another aspect that some academic publications include in their LTE's is having the author respond to the letter. This creates a space where a worthwhile conversation can take place. One where an error is noted and corrected, where another side of an issue is highlighted.

And worthwhile conversation is the goal no? But all of this is mere speculation. A hypothesis means nothing without an experiment.

So please, if you have any thoughts concerning these posts, open your email and send over a letter to the editor at the following address.