Why no comments?

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Some people enable comments on their blogs; others don't. Little Green Footballs allows comments -- and the proprietor spends a lot of time dealing with malicious posters. InstaPundit doesn't, nor does the group blog known as the Volokh Conspiracy. Recently Eugene Volokh explained why he's made that choice, giving three reasons, all of which make sense to me.

The first is aesthetic -- the blog is a coherent product produced by himself and the team he has assembled.

It would annoy me a lot if this coherent product also included some postings that I very much dislike, from people whom I never explicitly invited. Even if people didn't think less of me for those postings, it would still bother me. Maybe this isn't entirely rational; many esthetic preferences aren't rational. But it is pretty strongly felt, as are many writers' and editors' views about "their babies."

The second reason has to do with reputation:

Rightly or wrongly, consciously or not, some people's perception of the blog and its bloggers will be molded by what the commenters post as well as by what the bloggers post. Some people will infer (not implausibly) that because (A) some dreck is posted, (B) I have the power to delete it, and (C) I don't delete it, therefore (D) I must agree with it or at least not entirely disagree with it.

The third reason he gives is really a result of the first two -- no time to be the enforcer, to monitor comments and protect the quality and reputation of the blog.

I'm swamped as it is, and I don't have the time to deal with all this. "What time?," people ask. "Just enable them and leave them be." Yeah, right. Someone is going to start spamming the comments.... Someone else is going to start a flamewar. Some jerk is going to decide that he violently disagrees with me -- or, worse yet, that he agrees with me -- and chooses to express himself in terms that are hard to just ignore. As I mentioned in the second point, the reputation of the blog will indeed be on the line.

I'll add one more reason why I don't enable comments -- there are already some great message boards which deal with Tulsa issues, and the software makes it easier to read, post, and navigate. TulsaNow's forums and a new site, Living On Tulsa Time, both use the Snitz message board software.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 14, 2003 12:29 AM.

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