Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Comments

Update May 10, 2010

I've turned comments back on for both blogs. Anyone can comment for the first two weeks, and then moderation kicks in. I reserve the right to delete comments I don't think are constructive (where "constructive" is read to mean comments that contribute to the discussion rather than trolling, deliberate nastiness, etc.).

Original Post

Those who pay attention to such things will have noticed that I have done all that I can to remove comments from the blog. Not deleting comments that already exist (although they have been hidden), but preventing the existence of new ones.

This is not just a random decision on my part, though. There's basically three options for comments:
  1. Open
  2. Moderated (at various levels)
  3. None
I don't like open. That tends to degenerate into something like the infamous YouTube comments sections. There are places with good communities that police themselves, but this requires a certain critical mass that, if I'm honest, this blog will never achieve. It is possible to police an open comments section oneself, but this usually turns into a very rigid form of censorship, wherein all views that are not one's own are immediately deleted without warning or apology. For examples, see "Tories, Blogging".

That's why I don't like moderated comments, of any sort -- whether it's comment approval, requiring registration, policing an open comments section, or what have you. It's too easy to disappear comments that one doesn't favour down the memory hole. Sometimes this may be justified, and sometimes it may not be. But there's a real temptation to let the personal trump the important and dispose of insightful remarks that, in the heat of the moment, one simply doesn't find worthy of approval. I know I've done it, and I'm confident that others with moderated comments sections would, if they were honest, admit it as well.

So, given that the choices are swill, ego-gratification, or nothing, I choose "nothing". It's not ideal, I grant, but it's better than the other options that I see. I can, of course, still be reached for reply on anything blogged herein -- Twitter is probably the best option, as 140 characters of even the swilliest swill is rarely sufficient to annoy me (and TweetDeck has a "clear tweets" function that I enjoy).

(If enough suggest it (and I have no idea what would constitute "enough", so don't ask) I may set up an email address in lieu of a commenting form. That might turn into another form of comment moderation, though, hence why I'm not interested in doing it at the moment.)