Comments on Blogs
Michele has announced the end of comments at Command Post, at least for now:
Alan and I have made the decision to turn off commenting at Command Post until we can install Type Key. I have a feeling that even Type Key will not dispell the acrimonious air that pervades the comments over there at times. There are certain commenters (some left, some right and some moderate) who have set the tone and ruined what used to be a pretty good open forum on the day’s news. Warnings, deleted comments, a new comment policy and bannings did nothing to stop the hate and ugliness that pervaded the comment section at TCP. I know the comments are what a lot of people came to TCP for. Not many news sites have such a place for open exchange of ideas and civil discourse. Of course, the discourse became rather uncivil and we will sacrifice our hit counter (which directly affects our adversting and credibility, especially in terms of getting press credentials) in order to clean out the house.
Like Alan says, it’s just getting to be a pain in the ass to read the comments in order to police them, rather than reading them to enjoy them. It’s time consuming, especially when most posts garner over 100 comments.
It’s eventually going to happen here as well; I’ll either start with comment registration or Type Key or move to no comments and a bulletin board type place instead, where I will take no responsibility for the comments within. As it is, ASV is my home and if you do not wipe your feet before you come in here (that goes for righties as well as lefties, no free passes), I’m going to end up shutting the door to everyone.
As I note in Michele’s comments, CP is a news wire, not an opinion blog. There’s not much value to comments, really, especially when there are so many contributors who can post alternate stories or corrections.
An opinion blog, like ASV or OTB, is somewhat different. Certainly, there’s value in interaction with readers. Unfortunately, there seems to be a strange variation on the Gas Law with regard to blog comments: As blog readership expands, the quality of comments declines geometrically. When OTB had 500 readers a day, the vast majority of the comments–whether from people who agreed or disagreed with me–were quite good. With readership in the 5000-10,000 range, most comments are crap. Reading–let alone policing–the comments gets to be more trouble than it’s worth.
I’m in the process of converting to WordPress (Movable Type is a huge resource hog and, with over 5000 posts, the need to constantly rebuild is getting unmanageable). I’m considering some sort of comment moderation or other policy to give me more control over the commenting. I’m not quite ready to turn them off altogether, although the thought has occured to me, given the ability of people to write responses on their own blogs and send trackbacks if they wish to continue the discussion.