August 22, 2008

Comments

I'd like to apologize to everyone for being prickly the last couple of days. I'm not really feeling very well, and I'm also feeling a bit pestered.

When I first started blogging in the spring of 2001, I had a bulletin board system installed on my server to act as a place where people could comment on my posts. It was interesting, but eventually I decided it was a mistake. The problem was that it ceased to be a place I myself enjoyed visiting. I was the host of the party, but I wasn't having any fun. Instead of a pleasant dinner party with sparkling conversation it had turned into a drunken brawl. I had to go in every once in a while and break up fights, and sweep up the litter, but the rest of the time I stayed outside.

So eventually I shut it down. And for five years I blogged without any kind of commenting system.

When I switched over to using Pixy's server, about fifteen months ago, I decided to see whether I could allow comments again, as an experiment. I think it's mostly been a success, but there have been posts where I knew I wouldn't want to allow comments, and I've had to do a fair amount of policing. I've been following the "broken window" approach: the best way to solve a big problem is to fix it before it becomes big. So I've been closing threads which involved too much topic drift, and have deleted comments occasionally, in hopes that what made it through would establish a pattern.

But I think I'm going to have to be more explicit about what I do like and don't like in the way of comments. I'll mull it over and see if I can't write a clear explanation of what I like and why. I don't know how long it will take, though, so no promises.

What I don't want to do is scare everyone away. I've done a lot of policing but I've only used the death penalty once, because that guy's comments invariably set my teeth on edge and I always hated seeing his name in the comment list. (No, I'm not going to name him.) Even so, and even though I ended up deleting more of his comments than everyone else combined, he never seemed to figure out what it was that I didn't like. Finally I decided I'd had enough, and used the ban hammer on him.

There isn't anyone else right now who inspires that kind of reaction in me. But recently it's been the case that policing the comments here has been more pain than pleasure.

While I'm not ready to be explicit, a few guidelines:

* Comments are to respond to what I've posted, not to change the subject to something else you feel like writing about.
* Comments are to say what you think, not to tell me what someone else thinks.
* Don't offer advice, even covertly, unless I ask for them. "...you might want to consider..." is my most hated phrase in the English language.
* Don't hassle me or other commenters. Everyone is friends here, and nothing we're talking is important.
* This is my blog. Don't make it into a place that I hate to visit.

I'll get back to you on this. In the mean time, I apologize again for being prickly.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Site Stuff at 08:23 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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