Sunday, June 15, 2008

My policy on comments

In the past I've received complaints about the fact that I moderate the comments on my blog. I've been accused of stifling free speech and only allowing through worthless, censored pap. I've even had nasty comments that challenged me to post them and accused me of having no huevos if I didn't.

I actually did begin to wonder if maybe there was something wrong with moderating my comments, but to my rescue came Jeff Atwood. Jeff firmly believes that a blog without comments is not a blog. I subscribe to his blog and I recently came across a post called, "Finally, a Definition of Programming I Can Actually Understand" which begins with a discussion of the merits of allowing comments on your blog.

He doesn't moderate but he does "... scrutinize every comment, and I remove a tiny percentage of them: they might be outright spam, patently off-topic, or just plain mean. I like to refer to this as weeding my web garden. " So whilst allowing comments, he moderates the real bad stuff after the fact.

In his article he refers to Joel Spolsky (another guy whose blog I follow) who takes quite a different view, namely that comments are a waste of time and a distraction from the ideas that a blog post is trying to communicate. He quotes Dave Winer, who says that blogs should be the unedited voice of a person and that if you want to comment then get your own blog.

So, here I am being presented with two very convincing arguments: 1) allow comments, with minimal moderation and 2) to hell with comments. What should I do?

Decisions, decisions.

Well, as usual, I think the best route through this minefield is the middle road. Extremes tend to be ... well, extreme. So, my policy is to hit the middle road between the two and say: This blog is (as Dave Winer puts it) my voice and I will allow comments which I feel contribute to what I'm trying to say.

Questions are a different kettle of fish and I already have a policy on those (Questions about Scientology).

So that's my two cents on the subject. What do ya'll think about comments, the two extremes of handling them and my solution?


Burnin' said...

A couple of ideas from the Code of Honor by L. Ron Hubbard that might be helpful:

Never need praise, approval or sympathy.

Never compromise with your own reality.

Do not give or receive communication unless you yourself desire it.

Be your own adviser, keep your own counsel and select your own decisions.

Be true to your own goals.

Grahame said...

Thanks burnin'.

That helps.

TeacherMan said...

I would like to contribute with a small reminder of the Code Of Honour where it states: "Do not give or receive communication unless you want to", not exact word per word but, that's the idea.
I do not want communication that pollutes my personal space, in the end, a blog is someone's space, and as we do unto others, we want respect for ourselves. I believe most of us enjoy clean lines.

Oreo22312 said...

It's funny that I'm commenting on this at all because my thoughts lean toward "the hell with comments".

Honestly, I'm drawn toward blogs for the data from the blogger. I often find comments to be meaningless, a total distraction and tend to wander all over the place.

I never considered that blogs "owe" a reader the right to comment. Why? They should write their own blog. If you have a blog on "photography tips", then it fits. Other professionals have other tips, let them contribute. But it depends on what you are writing about. I am often frustrated with web searches that land me in some blog with idle chatter that wanders into the Netherlands, and garbage that is directed to attack people or disparage anything good. Why pass that on? What "right"? It's your blog, it's your create. Do what YOU want with it. It's YOUR voice.

It's fine for people to share their thoughts with the world in their own environment, but blogging doesn't come with that obligation.

Grahame said...

Thanks for your comment Oreo.

I'm in total agreement with you. That's why I moderate my blog. I want it to stay on track and be informative.