Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Not disabling comments

The latest ‘in-thing’ for Bloggers seems to be disabling comments on their blogs. Joe Spolsky, of Joel on Software, first aired the idea and various other bloggers have jumped on the bandwagon. The argument is that having comments open allows people to make silly anonymous comments, whereas really they should be held accountable by posting on their own blogs.

I’m not about to go down this route. I don’t get many comments nowadays, mainly because I don’t blog much – I managed a mere 11 posts last month down from a high of 93 for the same peiod 4 years ago. But many of those that I do get are by people who do not have blogs of their own, and probably wouldn’t go through the trouble of creating one just to post the occasional comment. I know that I for one would not want to make a new blog entry everytime I wanted to post a reply to someone else’s entry, and I imagine it would become tedious for any regular readers who would just get a series of replies to other people’s posts. Though I may not have much new content on here, I’m proud to say that much of it is relatively original, and not lots of ‘me too’ entries.

There’s also the issue of tracking the conversation, and I don’t believe the tools we have for this are anywhere near perfect. I disabled trackback on here because 99.8% of all trackbacks received were spam, and most of the rest were people mentioning my entries without really adding to the conversation (such as link blogs) so I really didn’t see the value in keeping it. Apparently Pingback is more resiliant to spam but Movable Type doesn’t support it so I can’t enable it on here, and I’m not about to switch to WordPress over what I would call a trivial feature. Technorati and the like are all well and good but integrating it with this site, to allow people to track the conversation, is easier said than done. I’ve tried it before and given up.

If anything, making commenters accountable to what they say is precisely why we need OpenID. OpenID makes it hard (though not impossible) to be anonymous when posting comments, and it raises the bar so that not anyone off the street can comment. As time goes on more people will have access to OpenID and so this could be one good way of allowing comments while keeping out those anonymous cowards who only wish to flame and bait.

Ironically, this is a reply to Dave Metzener, who has just disabled comments on his blog. As it happens, I would have probably posted a briefer and more specific version of this over there, but he’s disabled comments so I couldn’t. He’ll have to do with a trackback.
Please feel free to comment on this entry, either here or on your own blog – I really don’t mind.

Update: Dave responded to this post. Ultimately I suppose the decision to close comments on your blog should be up to you as each blog is different.

7 Comments

  1. Dealing with inane anonymous comments that are nothing more than flame-bait is as simple as pressing the delete key. I love feedback from my readers and won’t be turning off comments any time soon.

  2. It’s rather a sad thing to take down comments. Besides, why should it only be bloggers who can comment on blogs?

  3. Tumblr has never had a commenting system, and for blogs suited to Tumblr I can see why – if something is worth commenting on then it is also worth posting to your own blog. If I see something worthy of a long response, then I’ll post it on my own blog – which makes it more visible than a comment.
    I rarely bother to post shorter comments these days, and rarely see comments on my blog. These days social networks are replacing blogs as a means of creating community, if people want to talk to me they’ll either do it in person or post a message on one of the social networks I use.
    Whilst I’m not going to disable comments just yet, I no longer look at commenting abilities that closely when evaluating new cms software.

  4. As a conversation medium blogs are far from perfect. A big improvement is to use an email notification plug-in so that I can see the conversation unfold.
    Without notification of follow ups, a blog isn’t a conversation.

  5. What is the purpose of blogs if it isn’t an exchange of ideas and comments?

  6. I can see why people could want to disable comments. There is rather more involved than just pressing the “delete” key – it’s a matter of what kind of unwanted comment it is, and how thick-skinned you are. Some people shrug off insults, others take them to heart. And it would be a sad thing if only the former kind of person would be able to keep a weblog. Oh, and if you get dozens or hundreds of spam comments every day, deleting them becomes a chore.
    It’s also worth remembering that as recently as 2004, quite a lot of blogs didn’t have a comments feature yet. It’s not built into the phenomenon (in fact, blogs with and without comments may even be two different things).

  7. I don’t get nearly enough comments to worry about this! And honestly, I don’t have a problem with flame-baiting comments as long as they’re written intelligently. It’s the stupid “OMG U SUCKKKKK” that I delete on sight, and spam. Other than that I’m open for commenting.
    PS: I was able to log in using TypeKey but I couldn’t post a comment because the captcha question didn’t show up, and yet I was rejected for not typing the answer!