I‘ve just turned off all comments on this site. I’ve been loosely following the comment wars of 2010 (see here, here, here, and here) and while to a certain degree it’s all a very yawnable pissing match between Gruber* and the people who give a shit about whether or not they can comment on his blog, it does bring up some interesting points about comments.
As someone who has been the editorial lead for The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Netscape, Mahalo, and Obsessable, I’m pretty certain that 90% of comments are entirely and totally useless. 10% are pure gold (Weblogs, Inc often hired people who wrote the gold comments as bloggers), but only if you have a participant audience and an actual culture surrounding your site. Also, you can’t really define that culture without destroying whatever culture organically grows on the site.
On this site, there is no real strong culture of commenters. Most people who want to converse with me do so via Twitter. The vast majority of comments I get here day to day are from people ranting about similar things to what I’ve ranted about in the past. For example, my most commented on post which receives comments nearly daily is this one, titled UPS Sucks from 2006. It has 148 comments which are mostly of the caliber of “F*CK UPS” which I have now turned off. Why? Because I’m tired of moderating them. They are trollish ranting comments. They have absolutely nothing to do with me, my site, or what Sample The Web is about. They are people who haven’t yet made their own space online for talking about what bugs them, coming into my front yard, standing up on a little soapbox and shouting, hoping someone will hear them.
Get your own yard.
Anyone who wants to talk to me can do so via Twitter. #kthnxbai
*note: I agree that Gruber is way too biased and full of himself to tolerate at times. Although he’s right quite a lot, he’s also wrong quite a lot and you never hear that side of it from his blog. Why? It’s not because of comments or no comments. It’s because he’s an arrogant dick. Move along. Many people who have the guts to write their own words on their own sites are opinionated, arrogant assholes (I totally acknowledge that I am one of them). Deal with it.