I want to again tell the mods how great it is to have this kind of "(almost) anything goes" forum. It was especially helpful when IT broke in November, and with the JS trial starting, will undoubtedly be needed again in the future.
Some threads get testy very quickly, and it appears the mods have few options on how to control the anger. One option is to ban an out-of-control poster; that quickly leads to someone feeling persecuted for his/her position(s). The second option is to shut down an entire thread. This often kills some interesting subthreads while punishing all for the sins of a small handful. The third approach is to ignore things, which can lead to thermonuclear server meltdowns.
I know you folks (mods) can have your hands full, but that you do closely monitor certain topics. May I suggest some intermediate options to the ones outlined above? For example, how about using a yellow card/red card/suspension kind of approach? If I am getting out of control on a topic, show me a yellow card along with a note of caution. If I persist, red card me -- I have to stop posting in that method and/or on that thread, or risk a suspension or banning. If I ignore the yellow and red cards, or if the red card situation is egregious, suspend (ban) me for a specific number of days/weeks/centuries.
With a graduated scale of alerts and punishment, it may cool off some of the tempers without jeopardizing the entire thread being discussed.
Thanks for considering; good luck with your decision!