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March 6, 2005

On Comments

I feel ambivalent about comments. Should I allow them? Encourage them? I might have turned to my stated influences for guidance, but of course, consequently.org has comments, and languagelog does not. So they are no help.

Movable Type, the publishing platform behind this weblog, allows for three approaches to comments. One can allow the hoi polloi to trample all over one's carefully crafted weblog, misunderstanding one's posts, adding their comments about their dogs and getting into private and badly edited conversations. This is, of course, the path of the generous spirit (let them have their misunderstandings, and their dogs and their conversations - this weblog is big enough for it all.) But the generous spirit and the egomaniac seem to be going the same way (leave comments for me! leave comments for me!!!) And turning on comments would involve reliquishing control of the content of my weblog, which I am loathe to do, especially when it is still so small.

The option at the other extreme is to leave the comments off. But one of the attractions of a weblog it that it is a good way to get decent comments on ideas. What if Greg Restall already knows the answer to the problem I have been puzzling over in an entry? Do I not want to make it as easy as possible for him to put me straight? I might go years not knowing the answer to a question I care about, just because I was too much of a control freak to turn on the comments.

Moveable Type also offers a third way: comments are submitted as usual but have to be approved by me before going up on the site. This might look like a good compromise, but of course, compromise two bad options and you get an unmitigatedly bad option. Think about it, in practice, which comments could I quietly kill? The spam, the threats, the abuse. (Hey, it could get lively over here!) But suppose someone submits a comment that is on topic, but which I think is stupid, or confused, or just too long. Could I, in all conscience, kill it? No. Definitely not. If I am going to have the appearence of welcoming discussion then I have to take it all. So the third way only offers an illusion of compromise.

Here is a tentative plan. For posts like the present one, I will leave the comments off. If you want to tell me something, feel free to email me. For posts where I think discussion could be interesting and useful, I will..., well, ..., I will think about it some more.

Posted by logican at March 6, 2005 12:39 PM

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At logicandlanguage.net the author talks a little bit about comments on weblogs. On why one might allow them, or do without them. As you can see, I leave comments open here. (Behind the scenes there is a hardworking comment spam... [Read More]

Tracked on March 6, 2005 11:28 PM