Tonight I had a long and thought provoking conversation with my friend michael, about the nature of this site and the way I choose to handle comments — essentially by not allowing them at all. Mike asked me why I don’t allow comments on this blog, to which I gave my response.
It would seem that the case for comments goes something like this:
- You should welcome debate, discussion and a forum for connecting with a community and getting exposed to different points of view
- By shutting down comments, you’re removing a way for people to disagree with you on your space – essentially cocooning yourself from dissenting opinions, or avoiding criticism of your thoughts
- People want a way to respond to something they just read, then and there. Setting up a separate blog is too much effort, and is too far removed from the original article
I’ve written about blog comments on here before, so this may be old news to you, essentially my position is this;
- This site doesn’t really spark that kind of conversation. It gets absolutely minimal comments. In the 3 years since opening doors, I’ve received only 40 comments, some of which have added a lot of value and I’ve found highly rewarding. Some portion have been track-backs, which are nice reminders that people are paying some attention or are inclined to borrow my words temporarily. The rest, sadly, are all spam. Given the low volume of value adding comments, and the high (proportion-wise) volume of spam comments, I decided to shut them off.
- I hold the view that blogs are not a prescribed medium, and that not all blogs *need* to have comments. I’m simply not prepared to accept the view that there is only one way to blog. Why should all blogs have comments? Why should all blogs be open platforms for discussion and debate? Why should anyone visiting here expect to be given the right of reply, simply because many thousands of blogs offer this ability?
- If you really want to leave your thoughts, a carefully crafted response, take part in the dialogue or engage with some really interesting content, are you sure that doing so on someone’s hosted blog is the best place to do so? If your thoughts are valuable to you, to the author, to the community – do you really want to just leave them on my website? Who knows when I’ll decide to shut down wordpress and start using something else (calepin, tumblr, static HTML or some other future amazing web software), and the value of that conversation will die with it. Give your thoughts the time and space they deserve – create your own blog and get in touch with me about it.
- Today we have more ways to get in touch and connect than ever before. Tonight I was reached by SMS & a phone call, and if those didn’t work an email would have done the job. I’m on Twitter, my email address is on my about page, I’m fairly active on flickr, vimeo, Facebook and who knows where else. Heck, if you still can’t find me, just fire up google. If you want to make contact, here is not the right place to do so.
- Finally, this place takes time, effort and imagination to create. It’s incredibly rewarding and I’m having a blast since deciding to give this thing a real honest go. It’s my own small digital garden, and I don’t feel so inclined to invite everybody in. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but this space is mine, I’ll do with it what I like. If you want a blog with comments that you can enjoy and nurture, be my guest. Just don’t expect that here.
One thing I might add, is that in some ways the comment box is too tempting, it’s too easy, it’s too free of responsibility and it shows. Just look at any of the popular magazines, blogs or newspaper sites – I can’t imagine how much trolling and spam they must have to wade through. What’s on the site is the end result of smart filters and moderators – imagine what kind of bile would emerge otherwise. Do you really want that kind of behaviour on your own website? Why?
I can see how this might seem confrontational, aggressive or rude. This isn’t my intention, rather I’m openly articulating my chosen curatorial stance for this space. I implore you to take up your own stance, on your own space and on your own time – by all means, feel free to create a post tearing this one to shreds. I welcome this, I really do.
@mention me. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me why this is the best place for you to contribute and add value to the community. I can’t wait to hear your side of the story. Just not on this page, if it’s all the same to you.