Comments on Blogs, Redux

Michelle Malkin, belatedly responding to Kevin Drum (see my response here) explains why she doesn’t enable comments on most of her posts. After providing some excerpts from Duncan “Atrios” Black’s comment section, she observes,

Dr. Black may believe his bottom-feeding commenters enhance his blog, but I think most fair-minded bloggers on either side of the aisle–particularly ones with such presitigious academic pedigrees as Dr. Black’s–would balk at encouraging such obscene vitriol on their sites.

Kevin Drum can pat himself and his fellow liberal bloggers on the back for their comments sections. But if the above is what passes for enhanced and enlightened dialogue, I’m proud to be guilty of what Drum derides as “tight message control.”

I call it garbage control. It’s a good thing.

Thankfully, my trolls are mostly just annoying and unable to spell.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. BigFire says:

    James, you are not a minority woman whose thought left the sacred plantation. She IS, and must be burn as a heretic.

  2. James Joyner says:

    True ’nuff. Still, the comments sections on Dkos and Eschaton, and to a lesser extent Political Animal, get pretty bad. That’s true of some righty sites, too (LGF most notably). It’s mostly a function of sheer size, although the Left’s clearly more angry at the moment.

  3. Kevin Drum says:

    Touchy, isn’t she?

    As for the left being angrier, it’s hard to say unless the top conservative blogs open up comments, isn’t it?

  4. Ripper says:

    Touchy? We have good reasons to hate you Kev, but rarely express it in as ugly a way as Lenin, Stalin or Kos.

  5. Hal says:

    It’s pretty funny that Malkin uses comments on someone else’s blogs to buttress her decision not to have comments. And might I add that there are trivial ways to control commenter quality. Just putting up the barrier of registration cuts away 99% of the chaff.

    The whole post is much like Malkin’s other arguments: irrelevant and immaterial to the actual point in contention and simply there as a platform bash the left.

  6. She does have trackbacks, which allows you to “comment” on your own site and link back. I did this once and got left-wing hate comments on my trackback article pretty quickly.

  7. Maybe I can’t spell, but my kids sure can.

  8. Hal says:

    Mitch, can you point me to the comment thread URL?


  9. David Harris says:

    Jame,s you taik that bak!

  10. Rob says:

    I’m not a top conservative blog, but my comments are open and you should see all the liberal rage on display.

  11. Hal says:

    Rob, I liked your own comment

    “Of course, I’m betting none of you were over in Iraq acting as human shields… Is there anything more pathetic than anti-war liberals who lack the courage of their convictions?”


  12. jpe says:

    Malkin is a lightning rod. If I were as “controversial” (read: retarded) as her, I wouldn’t enable comments, either.

  13. jpe says:

    Oh yeah, and if she enabled comments, she’d have to rethink the strategy of claiming “the left does X!” based on random comments.

  14. Mark J says:

    Malkin opens up commenting once in a while. It very quickly descends into ugliness, so it really requires monitoring, and someone to pull the plug when it starts to get out of hand. Comment registration has been considered (I’m her technical consultant), but that would require an upgrade to MovableType 3.x or WordPress 1.5.

  15. Sherri says:

    I don’t consider a site without commenting enabled to be a blog. To me, it’s just a website that uses blogging software. I don’t comment that often, but when I want to, it’s very irritating not to be able to. One sided conversations are as fun as high school lectures that don’t allow hand-raising.

    I don’t sub to her blog. If she lectures about something that makes the rounds, I’ll hear about it from real blogs.

  16. Jack Tanner says:

    Wouldn’t this obviously be a matter of free choice? It certainly makes different sites different which is a good thing. I remeember when MM had comments enabled and many of them were at this level:

    ‘If I were as “controversial” (read: retarded) ‘

    And obviously what she points out is much worse. Enabling comments for that is just a waste of bandwidth.

  17. Ralph says:

    Well, I enjoy checking into Michelle Malkins’s blog daily — as I do Instapundit and OTB here — if for no other reason than they tend to cover topics I am interested in. I can read the local commentary, access the links and read the sources, take what I like, and leave the rest. Cool.

    As for MM’s site being “simply there as a platform bash the left” — there is so much to bash; especially when the barn in question persists in presenting its broad side.

  18. Rusty says:

    My comments are more along the lines of “hey American pig, we will find you and cut your head off you Jew dog–Allah be willing”

  19. Jim Henley says:

    Hey, what’s wrong with my spelling?

  20. Kent says:

    Some time ago, I stopped reading letters to the editor in the papers I subscribe to. Too often, the letters to the editor section is nothing more than a freak show.

    It is unsurprising that the larger blogs have an even more serious problem, particularly since they are in a position to do even less than most papers.

    My own blog keeps comments open, but it’s a little neighborhood blog that rarely attracts nutcases. I will know I have made it big when I have to turn off commenting.

  21. McGehee says:

    I can’t foresee the day when I have to turn off commenting.

    I also can’t foresee the day when I’ll have to mow my lawn again, so the above may not be altogether reliable.