Comments may soon be closed

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Where has the online discussion gone? When I started this blog two and a half years ago there were frequent (and importantly: informative) discussions below the line.

For some reason this seems to have stopped. Perhaps it is because I used to be more active on Twitter and so people from there would keep the discussion going here.

But perhaps not. It seems more likely that people are just discussing things on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. Blog comments are in evident decline.

It’s not because of less traffic. So far this year I’ve already got more hits than I got in the entire year in 2013 or 2014. More people are reading, but fewer are commenting. And the quality of the comments is often not overly good. Blame Reddit for increasing traffic and lowering the quality of comments.

So I am considering closing the comments on the blog.

I run this blog in my spare time, so having comments up is a trade off. Maybe I, and other readers, can learn something from a comment. And good discussions are possible. But I also have to take time to police the comments, and read them one by one to make sure nothing libellous appears on the site. It becomes tiring to have to filter out people who can’t read an article and attack you for views you don’t hold.

At the minute it looks as if the time spent monitoring them is not worth it.

Unless someone can persuade me otherwise the comments will likely be down tomorrow…..


7 thoughts on “Comments may soon be closed

    johnrussell40 said:
    August 4, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Think about how you respond to comments and commenters, Robert. I suggest you read ‘…and Then There’s Physics’ blog to see how its owner interacts with his many visitors:

    Blogs don’t just become frequented because they have content that people want to read, you have to work at making the interaction or readers enjoyable. There’s only so many readers who want to interact and there are a lot of blogs!

    Liked by 1 person

      Robert Wilson said:
      August 4, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      I take the subtle criticism.

      How many readers actually read being the end of an article? I think there is research showing it’s actually on a small number. And commenters are very unreflective anyway.

      Vox, for example, currently runs with no comments. This feels more like a liberation and a sign of better things to come.

      Liked by 1 person

        johnrussell40 said:
        August 4, 2015 at 1:44 pm

        I guess it all depends on what you want out of your blog, so it’s completely up to you, Robert. I’m guessing the stats tell you how many visitors you’ve had, who presumably have read what you want to say. And then citations will indicate the content quality/value. I guess all I was saying is that the lack of comments is down not so much because of what you say, more the way you say it.

        ATTP asks a lot of questions and invites other’s thoughts. Comments from his readership can even dictate further posts. He clearly likes the interaction and the responses hone his ideas further. If you’re not interested in comments you wouldn’t have written the post and you would just terminate them. So does the fact you write this post mean you feel that the feedback from comments can help with your ideas?


    peter2108 said:
    August 4, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    You are a bit grumpy, Robert


    Valois du Bins said:
    August 4, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    I think you would be better off closing comments.

    People obviously like your articles. (I find them educational and inspiring in the way you explore the concrete details of this or that idea, meme or policy). However, I think the way you react to comments you think are poor quality or not directly helpful to you means that you’re paradoxically increasingly the ratio of rubbish comments to good ones: people who invest time and care into what they want to say are, other things being equal, less likely to do it in an environment where they feel the chance of being shot down is high, particularly when they’d be being shot down by someone they probably admire a lot.

    So unless you want to invest time in nurturing a better comments culture (and it sounds like you’re not keen on prioritising that) it might be better to close comments altogether with a notice explaining you’re too busy to moderate. It would of course mean a certain loss of engagement, but I would have no idea how much, or how much that would matter to you anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

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