29 Jun 2009 8:32 am   //   Filed under: Media, Technology

What happened to the blog comments?

I made some small design tweaks to the History Eraser Button blog over the weekend. One change was to eliminate comments. You can still read comments on old posts, but no new comments are allowed. Why? Three reasons:

  • First and most importantly, I hardly get any comments, so when I was looking for a way to simplify the design, comments seemed like a sensible feature to kill.
  • Second, comments were a redundant communications channel. Most of you reading this know me personally, and have lots of ways to get in touch, including e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. Facebook, which discourages anonymity, is gradually taking over the role blog comments used to fulfill. (I tried several ways to integrate Facebook comments into the blog, but nothing was satisfactory. The technology just isn’t there yet.)
  • And finally, I’ve turned sour to the idea of online comments. This didn’t happen overnight. I am inclined to support comments as part of the give-and-take, interactive spirit of the Web. And I should stress that I’ve never had a problem with any comment posted on this blog. But I feel writers ought to seize a maximum amount of control over the reader experience. Why should a writer let anonymous strangers add unedited footnotes to his or her work? On many big sites, comments are a cesspool of noise and hatred. The result is an off-putting experience for the 99 percent of readers who never leave a comment. So I’m setting a small example here by going comment-free. I think this will be a trend in the coming years. (Ever leave a comment on a Kindle article? You can’t.) This blog is still a two-way street; I’m easy to reach. But I will control which words appear on the site, because that’s my job.

Am I making a bad choice? Do I totally not get teh interwebs? Do I hate America? Should I just hang it up, hack? I welcome your feedback in the form of an e-mail.