Wednesday 18 September 2013

Why doesn't this blog allow comments?

Should your blog have comments? That's one of the perennial questions that every blogger faces. Are comments a way to bring in vital feedback from the-people-formerly-known-as-the-audience or are they merely a mechanism for enabling strangers to spew hatred and bile on a page with your name attached?

Not now

Historically my position has been "comments are bad, run away." My reasons included:
  • I really don't want to deal with spam. The only thing worse than having spam on your blog is using moderation systems that mean I have to read every spammy comment in order for you to get a better experience. I like you but I don't like you that much.
  • BuzzGoogle+ is a better conversational network than my blog. Every post on my blog ends up on my blog's Google+ Page as well.
  • BuzzGoogle+ also has the advantage that there can be multiple conversations by completely disjoint communities about the same blog post.
  • BuzzGoogle+ emphasises Real Names and Serial Identity. This means I can look at people's activity stream to see what they've been posting about, commenting upon and sharing. Of course, just because you're using your real name doesn't mean that you won't say or do things that I find objectionable but which your community finds laudable.
  • I agree strongly with Derek Powazek that your right to free speech stops where my territory starts.
  • I think it's a terrible idea to put everybody who has an opinion on a topic into the same room. That invariably leads to name-calling because they have so little common ground or shared vocabulary. For every person who understands the topic and wants to discuss nuances there'll be 10 people who would like a clearer explanation of the fundamentals. 
All of the above are good and sound reasons for disabling comments. So why have I just enabled comments on this blog?

The main reason is that I have new technology and I want to see if, just this once, technology can solve a social problem. The secondary reason is that I'm interested in aggregating the conversations around my blog posts. My hope is that this aggregation will help me discover people who are saying interesting and insightful things about what I've written.

I could be wrong but I live in hope.


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