A painting of me


   20 July 2007, late morning

John Gruber links to a post by Joel Spolsky on weblog comments, presumably because Spolsky’s take on the subject matches his own. The choice quote from the article according to Gruber is the following:

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.

Now that’s a little fatalistic: if Spolsky ends up with a bunch of “noise, filth, and anonymous rubbish” whose fault is that? If you are too lazy to maintain your site, then yeah, I can see why turning comments off would be a great idea. But it’s a bit of a disrespect to assume your readership is too ignorant to post a thoughtful remark in your space.

My site is low traffic enough that it’s easy enough for me to trim comments I think are a waste of space. A busier site like Daring Fireball or Joel on Software would probably get a sea of comments, but even then there are all sorts of schemes one could put in place to make managing this sea easier — moderation and throttling are the first two ideas that come to my mind. John Gruber actually has a very simply means to allow a limited subset of his readership to comment on his site: he could make commenting an option only for paying members of his site. Turning off comments completely is of course easier, but to pretend that doing so improves the experience for yourself and your readers is disingenuous.

Until it is truly easy for true back-and-forth conversations to take place via disparate weblogs comments are the best way to go.

Of course, I don’t read Daring Fireball to hear what some schmuck on the Internet thinks of the latest thing to come out of Gruber’s head.



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