A few respected bloggers have come out against including comments on blogs. Partly due to their popularity, they have suffered from
a long spew of noise, filth, and anonymous rubbish. So far I’ve been pretty happy with the quality of comments here, but I’d like to maintain that.
Dave Winner, Joel Spolsky and Jeremy Keith are certainly not happy with allowing comments, and Digg seems to be a good example of how ‘comments go bad’. Luckily I haven’t had much of a problem with this, partly because this site is not remotely as popular as ones like Joel’s, and partly also because my writing style doesn’t seem to encourage comments. I’m not sure why, but I’m not too bothered by it either.
The principle issues I took from the above articles were that comments are often:
- Off-topic. (This wasn’t said explicitly, but covers many of the evils.)
- Rude or unthinking.
But there are some sites that comments work well on. In general, the comments on Roger Johansson and Eric Meyer’s sites often add to the posts, sometimes even causing updates to the posts or subsequent ones based on good quality comments.
The common solution from those against comments on blogs seems to be that people should post their opinions on their own sites. I’m not convinced by this, partly because there are quite a few occasions when I want to contribute a snippet, link or fact to an article as a comment, without the overhead of creating a whole post dedicated to that.
The second aspect is creating interlinked conversations, so if I did create a post in reply to something, how would the original author or their readers know? Trackbacks accomplish this, but why allow trackbacks and not comments? My last post also added a great deal in the comments, in an easier to follow fashion than pinging back and forth between different blogs.
The best thing about the web is links, and the best thing about blogs is that they allow conversations. However, you need to be able to follow them easily, and I don’t just want to rely on Technorati.
I want to allow conversations, allow good quality comments, and prevent or remove the dross. As a personal publisher, I can accomplish this a lot more easily than commercial or public organisations can. (Visualise a little pinky being raise to the mouth and an evil laugh.) However, just to be clear: Critical comments are fine as long as they are thought out and have some substance.
My Comments policy - Draft 0.1
This site is my own, it is not a democracy. If you want freedom of expression get your own site. Having said that, comments are welcome provided that they are:
- On topic, i.e. you have read the post and are commenting on the same topic.
- Adding something to the post, i.e. “you suck” and “you rock” are equally useless.
- Polite, or at least professional.
- Not overly promotional or outright spam.
Any comment that does not fulfil these criteria will be removed at my discretion.
If a comment is largely good with a mistake or two, I may correct it.
If you provide a valid email address, I will try to inform you of a removal or correction.
Does this make sense? Is it worth it? Have I missed anything?
Depending on the comments, I might make a permanent page out of this and add it as a link to the form.