It’s rather surreal to me that I’ve been blogging since 2005. While I’m not a “daily” blogger per se anymore, I continue to craft on the blogging platform and still regard it as the cornerstone of all things Social Media.
One of the aspects that make the platform is the comments section below every post. This generally open offer for engagement between blogger and reader is something that I think is vital to the very nature of blogging. If it weren’t for the comments section, the possibility for the level of engagement would be far below any other online platform. Comments, and the ability to do so, is what makes the experience uniquely “new” media oriented with a two way engagement as opposed to the single one way pontification stream of the “old” media. I have always been pro-comments because otherwise, well, you might as well just go back to the days of GeoCities with your animated GIFs, horrendous backgrounds, and pontification.
Yesterday PopularScience.com shut off comments on their articles. Part of their reasoning is as follows:
Comments can be bad for science. That’s why, here at PopularScience.com, we’re shutting them off.
It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter.
Also yesterday Gizmodo reported that the end is nigh for the bottomless pit of homophobic, racist, and ignorance that resides in YouTube comments. Here’s how they’re going to do it:
The new system will use algorithms to determine the people you most likely want to see up top. That includes comments from your friends, from the video creator, and from “popular personalities” (i.e. celebs of one type or another).
So… basically Popular Science got owned by YouTube using comment algorithms to promote intelligent conversation. Does anyone see the irony of that?
I understand that comment moderation is not the easiest thing in the world. It could easily become someone’s full time job for a large enough site. I think that comments, and the ability to leave them, is something we owe to readers who consume our content. Whether they choose to take advantage of the opportunity or not is ultimately up to them.