Should You Have Comments On Your Site?

I’ve been fired due to not writing enough keywords in my columns. I’ve got three columns left on my contract, this being one of them.

Let’s leave the shenanigans for a while and talk shop. Or comments, let’s talk comments.

Do you like comments? On your site, your blog, your every bloody thing you publish online?

I don’t. People keep being bad to me, and I end up crying in a corner. I’m a very sensitive person, you know, and people need to be nicer.

But then again I do like comments, because sometimes there are meaningful discussions about important things, like cats and cheeseburgers and single malt whisky. I like meaningful discussions. Incidentally, I also like single malt whisky, I’m into Ardbeg at the moment, so let’s take a photo break, shall we?

That was nice. Not as nice as actually drinking the stuff, but you get the picture. Yes, this is quite obviously still a column

Back to comments, and whether their existence is even something remotely good. You know, you have the perfect chance to prove either way in the comments below. Either you behave like an asshole, or you offer your opinion in a more constructive fashion.

Or you say nothing at all, that works too. It won’t prove any points, but at least I won’t get those pesky notification emails about comments being posted. It’s a win-win situation, really.

Why am I talking about this now, without listing a bunch of pros and cons about having comments on your site? Well, first of all, because I’ve been mulling over comments and their place in today’s social web, but also because of this excellent quote from Matt Mullenweg:

If your blog is your online home, then having comments there is much like inviting guests. And not just your friends, they are welcome to come and stay of course, but also the creepy guy across the street, the nasty teenager lacking social skills, the closet nazi, and Mitt Romney.

All these people, and more, can walk into your home and piss on your carpet.

Which is to say that they can write comments about anything, be as rude or as nice or as weird as they like. You can throw them out, but they can come back. You can get a bouncer (aka spam killing thingy) but that will just stop the robotic carpet pissers.

Comments are a nuisance. Comments are inviting conversation. Comments are potentially libelous. Comments are helpful. Comments are an opportunity waiting to happen.

Comments are obviously complicated.

What say ye? Use the comment form below, and by all means, piss on the carpet if you like. It’s not like it is my house anyway.

Photo by Jonathan Nightingale (CC)

Comments (3)

  1. Really liked a post by Dave Winer in which he talked about a commenting system, developed I believe at the Harvard Law School a decade ago, where comments to a post were collected but all would be posted at the same time (specific publishing date was known). Then comments to comments we collected and posted using the same format, sorted to essentially form threads of discussion

    Eliminates hit and run commenting, like this one. Instead, thoughtful discussions ensued because participants had a large window of time to develop their arguments. As Dave said, very lawyer-like.

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