It has been a while now (7 months) since I switched off comments on the blog. I’m left with mixed feelings about this, though I should be honest: I’m happier with them off. I don’t miss moderating them, cleaning up spam and worrying over whether moderation is a form of editorial. Yes – there were some great comments, but they were dwarfed in volume by ones that I wasn’t thrilled to pay to host, for public consumption on the internet. This might be a weird way of thinking about it, but that’s where my head is now.
From that perspective I am unlikely to switch them back on. I’ve been watching how other sites deal with comments, and while I never had the quantity of big sites the problems with comments are universal. There are some elegant solutions out there but nothing that really works for me. I will keep looking. I’m sort of heartened by the number of blogs that I read (in various other industries) that don’t have comments. I suspect they still have the same struggles though.
My hopes for how discussion might go haven’t really been realised. I hoped people might use the endless possible tools to post responses that they could own. It was heartening to see Peter Giuliano respond to Chris Schooley’s post on his own blog – it was absolutely the right place for that response to live and be archived. However, this is a rarity. I feel like a hypocrite when I post something and mention discussion without really offering a place for discussion. Forums are relative ghost towns compared to previous levels. Blogs are, by and large, very quiet. Twitter is a blurry stream of quips, thoughtful responses, nonsense and confusion. I don’t really think I have an answer. I feel like we need discussion, room for questions and clarifications. I’d be happiest to do this in person, face to face over a glass of something rather tasty, but this isn’t viable either.
Of course, without comments I am asking a question without giving space to answer. I’m interested in people’s ideas for a place or mechanism for discussion. We’re just missing a place for them to share these ideas so we can discuss them….