Matthew Cain did an interesting post about the responsibility of bloggers recently. He makes some good points and it is worth a read.
My understanding is that bloggers are responsible for what they post on their own blog and are subject to libel laws as anyone publishing articles in the press or other media would be. This seems perfectly fair to me and I am pretty careful about what I say about people, generally using my common sense. I wonder though if a different approach needs to be taken regarding the comments people post in the threads below blogs. I currently do not moderate these (although I could go through and delete any afterwards if necessary I have not yet felt the need to do this). That's not to say I won't at some point and in fact on another blog that I help run I had to do this a few months ago when things got a bit heated during a thread about a contentious issue. I did actually delete a blog post that was advocating violence against someone - it seemed obvious to me that it was going beyond the pail.
However, I am not legally trained and cannot afford to pay for someone who is to go through the comments on my blog and discern if they are libellous or not. I know a bit about this area, just from what I have picked up over the years but I am by no means an expert. I hope I would be able to spot and deal with things that fall into that category but I am far for sure I would, especially around the margins. It's also possible that I could miss posts, especially if I am away for a while as I have been a couple of times this month.
Maybe I need to go and do some more in-depth reading about libel law but is it reasonable to expect every blogger to do this and to be as au fait with this area as a newspaper with all the resources at their disposal?