I don’t like comments sections on blogs and websites very much. There is something about them that just bugs me. I am writing about this because I opened up my blog to comments a week or so ago. While I appreciate people leaving their thoughts, overall I just feel like the comments section adds little real value to myself or readers.
As a reader:
When I read blogs and articles, I really am concerned about one thing. I want to know what the author has to say. That is why I am reading that author’s piece. Makes sense. Once I am done, I have my opinions and thoughts on the piece. I usually learn something. Depends on who is writing. Sometimes I learn new facts or concepts. Sometimes I learn a new angle on an old thing. Sometimes I just learn about how people of a certain school of thought think. That’s good enough for me.
As you scroll down to the end of an article you see the comments. Usually what you find I think demonstrates a whole lot about people. People often use the comments section simply to vent anger. They are rude, smug and uncivil. They call people names. They label people. They marginalize people. They use ad hominim attacks.
The comments sections of many websites are just not productive. It’s an arena for pointless contention. Generally speaking, it’s a waste of my time. This is especially true for websites pertaining to politics, news and the economy.
There is one good thing about comments sections in these blogs. When the media pushes a smear piece out or publishes misleading articles, the comments section is a place people can respond to the author and the publication. A classic case is the media’s cheap tactics and horrendously biased coverage of Ron Paul. I don’t care what your politics are, if you think Ron Paul is getting fair coverage, you shouldn’t be allowed to operate heavy machinery.
For some blogs, the comments sections are great. These are usually niche blogs. I imagine cooking blogs have a very productive and helpful dialogue in their comments sections.
But even in these niche blogs you get trolls who turn a blog post about ethnic food into a political debate about how certain people are taking people’s jobs or someone wants to start a comments section holy war. No thanks.
True, I sometimes leave comments on people’s posts and articles. I guess I do this for the same reasons I write (which I will get to in a minute). There are also certain niche blogs where the comments sections have a nice community of people interacting well (not many). I like being involved when it’s like that.
As a writer:
I started writing because I thought I needed to try to share thoughts with people about so many things in our world that are dominated by the herd mentality. The way people think about politics, the economy, science, pop culture and so many things is sad to me. So I decided to use a blog as a creative outlet. Maybe nobody would read it. Maybe people would. Either way I was contributing my ideas. My ideas were the readers to take or leave.
Frankly, I take time out of my life to write my blog posts. It’s a cost of time and energy. It’s nothing for a person to skim my headline and drop a rude comment or attack me because they are bored or think they are a comedian. Now, if they say something way off base or disparaging about me or what I was saying, I need to clarify. Then there are people who drop by to leave a comment just to link to their own site for SEO purposes. That’s fine. Just take a minute to write something productive, thoughtful or that contributes to the conversation in some way. And then there are people who are just jackasses and leave comments that have to be deleted because they are just absurdly inappropriate. Keeping a blog comments section takes time and work.
My time is valuable. I am not spending it cleaning up internet comment graffiti. I am not debating endlessly with an angry commenter who just doesn’t want to see that what they are furious about is not the point I was making. In the time it takes to do all of these things, I could have a productive conversation with people about a wide variety of topics on Twitter or I could have written another blog post. Or I could have had a cup of coffee or played with my daughter.
So, I gave comments a try. Now I will close them up, never to return.
However, I will leave options open where you can comment about any article you like.
Or you can send your questions, comments, rants, tirades, insults or whatever else is on your mind to me through the contact page on the website.
With these methods there is some built in moderation.
Twitter – (a) Twitter has 140 characters (b) I can block contentious jerks and jackasses
Contact Form - If a person has a comment that is lengthy or feels is important, they will have to use a comments section. This takes time and isn’t made for an audience. I think most jerky commenters enjoy playing to an audience and like that they can vent on authors with little to no effort. Taking away the audience and requiring a bit of effort will mean any comments I get will be more sincere, thought out and civil.