In 42: Adrian Warnock stops comments I have been thinking about a specific blog site and it's commenting policy. However, it raises wider questions about the usefulness of comments on blogs.
My current view is that comments are of rather limited benefit. For them to work at all some features are close to essential:
- A captcha to stop spam
- A comment feed so that it is possible to track new comments without remembering which posts you have commented on. Subscribe to mine at http://feeds.feedburner.com/warnock/42/Comments. Personally I prefer a per blog comment feed rather than a per post feed.
- Emailed notification of new comments to the blog author.
- Ability to close comments on old posts, some just attract spam and don't help with community.
Some features I don't like:
- Moderation. Sometimes it feels necessary but it is always at a high cost.
- Required logins. I hate having to create and manage accounts with lots of different companies, I don't think the benefits are very significant but maybe if you have really contentious opinions and a popular blog like Adrian it might be needed. On the other hand for a number of topics some degree of anonymity can be desirable although not something I have used much myself.
Actually I generally prefer posts on other blogs linking to the original post, they can be easily found and monitored using Technorati and Google. They are also far more clearly identified with the writer. Plus they are much better for page ranking :-) Having said that, comments do have more of a community feel (especially for non internet freaks) and they are a gentle introduction for people new to blogging so they certainly have a place.
Managing comments is often a problem, there are people whose lives do not seem complete without using hateful language who seem to be attracted to aggression on blogs. Rarely do they have anything helpful to say. Within the Christian community it does seem to me that the vast majority of these have a variety of extreme conservative views. In my opinion they do a lot to discredit the views they hold. On the other hand it can be hard to find ways to disagree with positions you find repellent while being graceful and loving, sadly comments are too easy and quick to help us think through what we are writing and so magnify this tendency in us.
With all these complications I am not surprised that bloggers are so varied in their use of and opinion of comments.