Monday, July 30, 2007

comments redux: the sword of Damocles

Charles sends me a link to an essay by "your host, Joel Spolsky, a software developer in New York City," on why blog comments are detrimental. The essay is a good expression of my own introversion.

I admit I'm still not a big fan of comments. I currently allow them, though I can't for the life of me figure out why. Spolsky makes some good points:

When a blog allows comments right below the writer's post, what you get is a bunch of interesting ideas, carefully constructed, followed by a long spew of noise, filth, and anonymous rubbish that nobody ... nobody ... would say out loud if they had to take ownership of their words. Look at this innocent post on a real estate blog. By comment #6 you're already seeing complete noise. By #13 you have someone cursing and saying "go kill yourself." On a real estate blog. #18 and #23 have launched into a middle eastern nuclear [conflagration] which continues for 100 posts. They're proving John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory every day. Pathetic. On a real estate blog. Lockhart Steele, is this what you want Curbed to look like? Really? It's not fun, freewheeling freedom of expression, yay first amendment! It's mostly anonymous hate speech.

I'm happy to report that my comment threads, heavily patrolled by me, Your Humble Dictator, are not scattered with anonymous hate speech. In general this is because people seem to have taken to heart my demand for civility (which I reserve the right not to reciprocate, by the way: I never said I'd play fair on my blog), but it's also because commenting on my blog is inconvenient. And that's how I like it.

None of which is to say that I've grown to like the comments feature. It's enabled, but it's probationary, always probationary. As I've written before, I might yank comments at any moment. If I do, it's not as though people will suddenly be unable to contact me: my email address is clearly written on my sidebar, along with guidelines for how to get through the spam filter. Losing comments wouldn't be tragic, and readers should be emotionally prepared for such a loss-- I will tolerate no screeching if I choose to amputate!

So far, comments have been decent, and I'm cool with allowing them. But Spolsky's points are well taken, and if I dwell on his points long enough, I might just decide to yank the comments feature, anyway. Elvis shot a TV. That was a big deal. Yanking comments is not. So be prepared. It could happen anytime.


1 comment:

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

What a stupid frigging blog entry!