Weblog Comments

, Jul 20, 2007

Joel Spolsky:

[Weblog comments] are a part of the problem, not the solution. You don’t have a right to post your thoughts at the bottom of someone else’s thoughts. That’s not freedom of expression, that’s an infringement on their freedom of expression. Get your own space, write compelling things, and if your ideas are smart, they’ll be linked to, and Google will notice, and you’ll move up in PageRank, and you’ll have influence and your ideas will have power.

This is very convincing in principle. I have to say, though, that the (relatively few) comments I get here on this blog are truly worth reading — check out the comment feed.

On July 21, 2007 2:15 AM, Dan Diephouse said:

I do like principles, but the developer promoting the practicality in me wins out in this case. My gut feeling is forcing people to post on their blog goes against how people “work”. The perceived mental barrier for posting a blog entry is too high. Also, many people don’t have blogs and the comments might not be relevant to the topic of their blog.

On August 5, 2007 3:59 PM, Mark Masterson said:

As has become more and more the case, I don’t agree with Joel at all. I agree with Dan — it’s about barrier to entry. There is a spectrum here, ranging from something like Twitter on the one hand, to publication quality on the other. All of these “levels” of communication have and add value, and make up what has been called the “conversation”. I think Joel’s just flat out wrong.

See also:

I also think this ties in with something James Governor said recently about Romanticists vs. Classicists:

Frankly, it smells to me like a command-and-control vs. open, egalitarian participation thing. Who cares about the “Fuckwad”s? In what way do stupid comments detract from the value of the original piece or reflect in any way on the author? This kind of wrong-headed thinking is why I stopped reading Joel. Open comments allow that one, occasional, brilliant comment to come along, and make the rest worthwhile. Who reads all the dross anyway? That’s what a scrollbar is for.

Full disclosure: I am exposed on this issue, cause JRoller has some mechanism that I’ve never bothered to figure out that closes comments on my posts after a while. Sigh. If Joel reads this, he might be tempted to play that up and accuse me of hypocrisy — which would be missing the point.