Comments Commentary

Commenting is apparently all the rage again. Well, whether or not turning off comments is an anti-democratic statement, or just a push to comment on one’s own blog… that’s the discussion really. Here’s a good summary of how some folks handle comments, go there review the ideas and come back. OK, so I felt compelled to write a longer piece, but that’s because I’m moved to. I suspect that most people who do not own a blog, or their own space, would not. They might however, consider leaving a comment. There two basic arguments for leaving comments on:

1. It’s the whole idea behind what makes the Internet great. Communication. Two-way communication, in fact, not just a faucet of information that spits out words when you turn it on.  Isn’t the whole point of a blog to engage in an exchange of ideas? I typically don’t respond to people who have comments turned off. I don’t read D’arcy Norman’s blog because it’s a dead end. While he may be pushing out great ideas, and I’m sure he is, because he’s written consistently good stuff. I don’t bother with it. There is a clear statement (which is not intended, I’m sure) that my opinion doesn’t matter. You see I like commenting on other’s article in a way that’s immediately reflected on that article/post. Most people won’t bother clicking through trackbacks, nor searching for responses. They aren’t that invested in it. Moreover, if you don’t want to be bothered to curate your own blog posts why should I?

2.  You create a walled garden of readers and feedback by turning comments off. Someone who stumbles on your site, who doesn’t have their own Internet presence, might comment if you gave them a chance. In fact, it might be their only way to comment (besides e-mail, which seems more and more to be an imposition rather than a service). So why take it away from them? It’s not taking away their voice, but it is taking away the opportunity. So why do it? I get that it feels more “yours”, which is an argument that D’arcy Norman makes – however, the Internet is not your, mine or anyone’s. It’s ours. So if you want part of it for you, keep it to yourself. But don’t expect someone else to write about it.  I have an Internet presence, but I doubt I would’ve started had I been unable to see the exchange that goes on between Downes and the people he interacts with. It wasn’t his writing that spurned me to action but the discussion around it.

4 Replies to “Comments Commentary”

  1. No – your opinion does absolutely matter. What you’re talking about is commenting as an act of public acknowledgement, which is completely separate from opinion or discourse.

    As for the walled garden preventing comments for those without websites, every page on my site has a “Contact” form that sends comments to me directly. And, in 2012, it is trivially simple for anyone and everyone to have their own place to publish online. Saying that someone is prevented from participating online because _I_ don’t provide them with the tools is misleading.

    I’m not saying I disagree with using comments in general – I’m writing a comment here, for example…

  2. it just hit me – you tune people out because they don’t provide a means for you to write directly on their stuff? that seems a bit rash.

  3. Rash, probably, but in context, I could send you an e-mail, but I’ve always preferred to keep track of what I’m thinking about an issue in context. Comments keep my ideas in context. It also helps confirm or dispell my notions about life when people engage in an open discussion through comments.

  4. Sure, but by publishing an idea publically, then only discussing it further out of context elsewhere, or privately through email, seems incongruous. And that’s the reason I tend to not spend times on those sites. It seems like the idea is not open for discussion. You’re right that you don’t have to provide any platform, but again, taking away a platform that has become an expected feature of blogs is also a statement that has implications (which I tried to outline in my post).

    No, it’s quite clear that your history is full of contributions to the public, and you are willing to share your ideas. Whatever works for you is whatever you should do. It’s interesting to think about.

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