“Comments are disabled on your blog! How can you even call it a blog anymore?”
That’s right, I have switched off the dreaded combox on all my posts. Boom. This probably seems a drastic and unnatural action, but I have my reasons, they are intractable, and they are these:
One factor is something I first heard voiced by Merlin Mann, some time ago. As I recall, he said he doesn’t allow comments on his website, in part because he works hard to make something, and every aspect of his site is part of that something he has made, therefore he wants the page from top to bottom to be his content. I remember thinking that was a bit megalomaniacal at the time, but I am coming round to it now, especially as I grown disillusioned with comments altogether. I, too, want to be busy making things with words to put into the world, and I really want to get back to doing that with some passion and regularity. The presence — or even the possibility of the presence — of comments by visitors known and unknown is a mental aggravation I think I quickly learn to do without.
Far and away the greatest reason I despise comments on posts is that, in my experience, they bring out always the worst and never the best in the people making them. I won’t preach to the choir about this; anyone who has ever read the comments on, well, anything on the internet knows exactly what I am talking about. People are awful to each other, people do a lot of shouting and hardly ever any listening (or the typed equivalents thereof), and the end result is a lot of “views express, and not one jot of betterment to any of the individuals involved, and least of all to anything that might be construed as the “online community” in question. Comments are the red AND black mold of the online world, and once they get started, there is no getting rid of the infection of awful. So I spraying the place with vinegar, so to speak, and not letting any more spores in the door.
This does not — I repeat, does not — mean that I don’t care what others may think, or that I am trying to insulate myself from feedback, criticism, and arguments. Not. At. All. anything. I love responses to my writings, whether I am opining, sharing a scrap of personal memoir, or rhapsodizing about something I like. It helps me know that people care that I wrote something, sure, and much more importantly, it helps show me that mine is not the only way to think about a thing. What I want, really want, is substantive responses and dialogue, but I am not at all convinced that a combox is ever, ever, ever going to produce even the faintest glimmer of such gold. Instead, if you want to pat my back or comment inappropriately on my hips, you can send me a message. Ad if you would like to dispute some claim I am making, or take me to task for a viewpoint I am stating, or set me straight on some erroneous conclusion, I want you to do this: get your own damn blog, take the time to think through and craft a cogent, reasoned post of your own in your own space, and when you are satisfied with it, put it up for the world to see, and then — here’s the best part — send me a link, by message or even via Twitter, to let me know there is a conversation underway, and it is my turn again. That is the only way I want to argue on the internet from here on out, and I would be thrilled and honored if any of you would like to make this important shift along with me. I could be wrong, but I imagine it being a much more dignified process, where heads will be cooler, and we might even take time to consider what the other person is thinking.
So to sum up: no more combox here, but hopefully lots more conversation. I can’t wait to read what you think of this idea. Let me know; I’ll be right over.