Blog Commenter Credibility
Ryan Grim contends that, “Blogs can often be judged by the quality of their commenters, the little people who make the blogosphere work by scouring documents, pushing a position or incoherently tearing someone apart in all caps and awful spelling and grammar.”
While it’s true that there are popular blogs that I won’t read because the comments are a cesspool, is it really fair to judge blogs based on their comment sections? And is it really true that some substantial number of people read blogs based on the quality of their commenters?
There are some top notch blogs out there (Kevin Drum‘s comes to mind) which have obnoxious commenters despite the post author(s) being quite civil. Some bloggers have simply decided to make their comments sections be free-for-alls for whatever reason, whether philosophical (free speech!), logistical (policing comments can be quite time consuming), or monetary (flame wars mean return visits).
Many top blogs have eliminated commenting altogether and others allow comments only from registered users. I’ve chosen a middle path, banning a handful of the craziest commenters and the most vicious personal attacks but otherwise letting things ride. As a result, I think, OTB has one of the more reasonable comments sections among high traffic, non-specialty blogs.
But there’s always the possibility of addition by subtraction: Should I spend more time policing comments? Move to a registration-only system?