June 13, 2024


I’m thinking about turning on the Comments feature, so that readers can react to my postings right here on the site. So far I haven’t allowed comments, because I prefer to get reader input by email; and I’m happy (at least in theory) to write followup posts that incorporate and react to reader comments. Lately, though, I have come to appreciate the comments feature on other blogs, so I’m thinking about using it myself.

Please give me your input on this issue. I have turned on Comments for this posting so you can do so.


  1. Boris rules !

  2. Mishka rules !

  3. YES! I’m so glad to see Comments on your site finally! I think bloggers who don’t allow comments to their posts discourage discussion. And even though people may email you individual messages, only you get to read those. Comments can add a lot to a blog (no matter how great the blog may be on its own already:), I’m glad to see you using them now!

  4. Per Eric’s suggestion, I do reserve the right to remove comments that I consider abusive or off-topic.

  5. If you do have comments, consider moderating them. If you are willing to delete irrelevant or uninteresting ones, so that the remaining ones are worth reading, then comments would be a plus. Maybe I have a lower threshold for drivel than some blog readers, but I lose patience with such discussions very fast when the signal/noise ratio starts to drop.

  6. I agree with Mike that an e-mail subscription option for comment threads is a great thing. I have an MT blog, too, and haven’t figured out how to implement that (I’m not a techie, so if it’s not super-simple, I usually don’t have the time to do it).

    When I leave comments at most other people’s blogs, I have no idea if anyone has responded unless I remember to go back and check. So the host of the blog or another commenter may have, say, asked a question of me, and I might not know. And because blog-surfing often leads from one blog to an unfamiliar one to another unfamiliar one and so on, it’s easy to forget to go back and check.

    Nurse Ratched has this feature, and I appreciate it at her blog.

  7. P.S. If you want to encourage comments and conversations you should allow people to be notified when a thread that they are interested in is modified.

  8. I like the concept of comments but not their implementation. Even if your Blog software does not permit more general formatting, I’d vote to allow comments with a capability for you to put a link and followup to your summary and links the interesting ones.

    Note: If you decide to stick with E-mail, then it might be nice to put in a MailTo: link a the end of each article with the subject filled in so that if I wanted to comment on a specific posting, I’d just click on that.

    The commenting system I’d prefer is a strongly hierarchal system so that when a user commented they would have to put in a summary/subject, and that reader could see only the summary/subjects. In addition, if the user wanted to comment about an existing comment, they could replay to that, again with a new summary/subject, etc. thus I could open a comment reading window and see the “top” level of comments, the set of comments… etc. rather than seeing them as a linear list. I have also been thinking about suggesting a distributed monitoring system so that each poster can monitor, if they want, the replies to their comments.

    As far as composing a comment, I’d like a “Speller”, a wide window, support of limited html, and perhaps even support of polls.

  9. I think comments are a plus as long as the average intelligence of the comment-posters is high. They work until the trolls come.

    That is, as long as the audience is interested in discussing the *topic*, it works. When the audience becomes a *target*, it stops working.

    But it takes a while to reach that point.

    I started my blog with comments turned off, and kept it that way for a while. Then I turned them on after realizing almost nobody was reading anyway, so it wouldn’t be a problem 🙂

    The handful of things I’ve posted which have attracted many readers, have in fact shown glimmerings of the problem, but not enough to matter.

    I won’t attempt to predict what’ll happen here.

  10. Okay, you all convinced me. I’m going to enable comments on new postings, on an experimental basis.

    I’ve also made the formatting/presentation changes you all suggested.

  11. (you can resize any windows you darn well please in Opera.. 🙂

    I’d love for you to enable comments. There have been several times where I’ve wanted to leave a little feedback or additional info that I thought you and others would be interested in reading. On the other hand, 95% of the time, I won’t send an email because I don’t want to add to the flood and/or because my comment doesn’t rise to the “hey, look at me!” of an email.

    Shrug. Either way, I’ll keep reading. Yours is a good site.

  12. Just to affirm that spawning a 2nd window is a pain. If I want to do that, I hold shift while selecting the link. A lot of users disable popups due to advertisements. Dan Gillmor’s blog takes comments in a nice to use manner….

  13. Please make the comment window resizable (or don’t make it open in a new window). To make it resizable, change “width=480,height=480,scrollbars=yes,status=yes”
    to “width=480,height=480,scrollbars=yes,status=yes,resizable=yes”.

    Mozilla has a hidden pref to make all windows resizable, but most users don’t know about it. See http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=101509#c23 .

  14. I would encourage you to enable comments. While other bloggers may use trackback to comment on your posts, I find commenting a more handy way to make a quick remark on a site, depending on the level of thinking I want to do on the topic.

    In addition, I think it’s fine for you to digest the comments and provide your reactions in subsequent posts, resisting the urge for a comment-on-comment scenario.

    Lastly (and I’m sure you already know this), you certainly can enable to receive the comments via email as they are posted in MT. These last two thoughts would let you operate in much the same way that you are now.

    Thanks for your blog. I find it quite interesting.

  15. Hi, Ed:

    You raise a question that I am also grappling with as I prepare to move over to a more capable weblog tool.

    A few thoughts:

    1) The spawning of a limited window, like the one I’m using here, is a royal PITA. I previewed and then clicked on a test link, asking it to open in a new tab before I realized that I wouldn’t get to see the tab! So, I had to come back and start all over (adding this thought, of course!)

    2) Does enabling comments mean that the author is obliged to respond? Or is it rude to ignore them? With a limited amount of time to devote to weblogging, do the benefits of comments offset the time consumed in responding to them?

    3) Similarly, the offline email communication channel has been a profitable one for me. With comments enabled, the opportunity for an “off the record” dialog is still possible, but the time budget constraints still obtain.

    I don’t have answers, but these are issues that leave me tending toward the “no comment” position, but I’m still pondering the options…


  16. Strange question –

    There is free disposal to information, so those that don’t find value in comments can ignore them entirely. The only impact of comments is that there will likely be an expectation that YOU read them and offer periodic responses. Thus, the real question is do you want comments?

  17. Comments can get ugly on controversial issues, but I find a lot of good background info and additional links in reading comments — sometimes even present a few myself. Overall I think they’re a big plus.

  18. As a rhetorical question, how likely is it that someone would who goes to the trouble to post a comment would argue against allowing comments?

    If you get too much childish drivel (eg, slashdot), you can always turn it back off again.

  19. Cypherpunk says

    I would love it if you would do this. I disagree with almost everything you post! So only enable comments if you are willing to be subject to public criticism of your ideas. Others aren’t so willing – I got kicked off of boingboing.net several months ago. Apparently they were happier with groupthink.

    IMO the conventional wisdom on the net needs to be challenged vigorously. Only then can we get at the truth. 90% of the time you fall right in line with what everyone else is saying. Only occasionaly do you take an iconoclastic position. My comments will do what they can to correct that imbalance.

  20. I enjoy reading your blog, it is very infomative and thought provoking. I can imagine that if you enabled comments, you would get a lot of positive feedback that would add great value to the information your posts already contain.

  21. I hope you will enable comments. I’ve blogged some of my thoughts ( http://www.unicom.com/chrome/a/000278.html ) on the general issue.

    More specifically, I was working with the people on the ground fighting the Texas SDMCA. More than once, somebody remarked it was too bad your blog didn’t allow comments, because they could have posted an update or further details. The fact they didn’t email it to you for posting is an existence proof that the “mail me stuff” policy doesn’t work.

    If you do allow comments, may I recommend you consider enabling HTML, and, in either case, indicating on your comment form which sorts of input (plain text or allowed tags) can be used?

  22. I imagine that this blog could follow the path that Lessig’s blog has taken if comments were enabled. I know that the comments there lend a lot to the issues being discussed there, and I only imagine that it would do the same here.

    Anyways, that’s my $0.02.