Friday, January 17, 2003

Comment Comments-We're having a little bit of a interblog comment war. Josh Sargent started the festivities here-
It's turning into a pet peeve of mine to find a blog without comments. Once I see there's no comment application, i usually don't even read it. I believe the interaction of comments from readers take blogging to another level. What are reasons people wouldn't want comments on their blog? If you don't know how to get them, go here. If you need help with them, let me know.
Setting up a comment section isn't hard. The hardest part of getting my YACCS comments up and running was getting an application accepted-they did only a set amount every six hours and I sat by the computer at noon on a Saturday to make sure I was in at 12:00:01. Once it was OK'ed, it was a fairly simple cut-and-paste operation to get it inserted into the template. However, dealing with the comments that get there can be a problem. Colby Cosh sniped back with "I trust that the people who feel this way have designated walls for visitor graffiti in their homes." That would be true if people were allowed to edit the blog proper, but comments only show up when you click on the comment button (or in some applications, when you get their via link to a given entry). I think the better metaphor is a comment box at a retail establishment, except that it works more like a white board where people can put up their comments for everyone to see. Glenn Reynolds added that "past a certain level of traffic, comments turn into a chatboard. Or even a trollboard. And I don't have the time to police them." For sites that have relatively low volume and homogeneous (no, I'm not talking about Sullivan's IQ) readers, the chances of having the comment section turn into a troll haven is very limited. On my comments, the signal-to-noise ratio is fairly high, but if my referrer logs are any indication, the traffic is coming from either secular conservatives or evangelical conservative websites. I've yet to remove a comment, even though not every comment thrills me. It improves feedback. I used to get more e-mail from readers before getting my comment sections; I get better feedback with comments, for you don't have to boot up your e-mail software and find an address to send a message. However, as you increase the traffic flow, you increase the chance of a flame war. Also, if the writer is provocative, it might also lead to more trolling, as someone will be more likely to post a comment when it is evocatively written, eliciting either a "right on!" or a "you're full of it" from the reader. Here, my traffic flow is modest (about 150 uniques on weekdays), the readers homogeneous and the writing usually understated. Cosh's more heterogeneous readership and edgy style would tend to lead to a lot of flamage if he instituted a comment section. A quick look at the Daily Kos site gives an example; his blunt and provocative postings can ring up a hundred comments on a hot topic. If done right, comment sections can be a net plus for a site. However, it doesn't need to be a requirement. Instapundit's still a daily (at least) visit even without comments.

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