Diego Lafuente’s personal blog

October 15, 2012

My blog no longer has comments


This blog no longer has comments. After 11 and a half years of writing and reading blogs, I consider that the topic of comments is no longer necessary, at least on my blog.

It's not the end of the world. You can still keep in touch with me without any problems. It's just that things have changed, meaning that the discussion no longer takes place on-site, but rather on other more open platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and other chat rooms where people self-manage, and where there is no other moderation than that of oneself."

It's no longer necessary to leave comments on the blog. You can simply write to me on Twitter or by email, or publish a reply on your own blog, which is even more practical for debating than on one's own blog.

I've been maintaining a blog for 11 years, not one, not two... eleven and a half years. I have about ±50,000 comments in the blog's database. I consider myself able to judge, not from outside, but from within and having witnessed at least 98% of the published comments: the comments that are published are mostly insubstantial.

"All big bloggers have their comments closed because they are too uptight and conceited to care about what their readers have to say. They are a bunch of arrogant bastards. They can't stand it when people don't agree with them..." - An internet idiot.

It doesn't matter if the blog post is rich in debate or information, or if it's a short, regular, scheduled content entry. The fact is that the vast majority of comments are unsubstantial: they don't contribute anything, in other words, they don't add anything useful to the discussion. When I say that they don't contribute anything, I simply mean that they don't add value to the discussion per se, but rather they are filler voices. They may or may not agree with the blogger and therefore don't have to be better or worse in terms of content.

An unsubstantial comment can be as simple as 'Thank you, you're a genius' or as nasty as 'What a shitty piece of writing, you're a son of a bitch, just so you know'. It's not necessary for comments to turn into a thesis for a doctoral degree, but rather that responses usually lack a critical basis and are therefore just a problem that lies on the side of the blogger who maintains the blog.

In a way, I understand this lack of substance: it's a problem with the medium itself. This medium is not well designed for discussion, for that there are other platforms that are much better than a blog: discussion forums, Facebook, Twitter, and a lot of places where one can have any kind of debate they want.

I considered this idea for a while and, after seeing many popular blogs, I came to the conclusion that many of the comments on the posts only call for unsubstantial contributions. Even interesting posts attract this kind of commenter and all they do is:

  1. Working on your server with database requests and scripts.
  2. Having captcha systems and anti-spam filters activated.
  3. Devoting attention and time to moderation.
  4. Being a constant target of spammers with scripts.

Why social networks are better for discussion

One reason why using Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms is better is that it removes the burden of moderation from us (the blog authors). The problem simply disappears and, believe me, it was a complicated issue because one has to be both judge and executioner in many cases, which generates an insurmountable amount of annoyance.

"Comments are not the only, nor necessarily the best, form of interaction between authors and readers of weblogs and were not part of the medium's structural beginnings." - José Luis Orihuela

To understand this, just think that many people visit blogs to promote themselves, the great practice of congratulating you and leaving their URL. I understand, and I consider it fair that if someone enlightens me, they have the right to be 'recognized', and the URL is part of that ethical payment that many will see as fair. I know it will always be this way, but in many cases, it simply became a double-edged sword that really called people to spam. Six years ago, I referred to this issue:

"I removed the web addresses in the comments and emails to see if the user commenters were really providing feedback altruistically. Of course, in a week of testing, it didn't yield good results. People hardly ever commented, at least the locals never left comments. Removing the links, there was no longer any interest at stake."

And I wasn't surprised because you can see this practice right now on any blog where the motto is 'we're popular.'

Another notable advantage is that discussions take place in places where each person is the owner and master of what they say. In other words, I (in a hypothetical case) don't end the discussion, you do when you want to. The advantage of having discussions outside the blog is that no blog author can exercise despotism. Once a topic is public, it is discussed in open networks, without any limit on discussion. I see this as a great advantage.

You can do it on your Twitter timeline, Facebook... on Reddit, on Menéame where you can publish what you want and link to the author or blog of the article in which you are interested in sharing your opinion. People will read the author and also follow you in the discussion thread. The same goes for Facebook, a discussion forum (private or open), or your own blog as a direct reply. The discussion or debate that you want to generate can grow better in a decentralized environment than in a centralized one.

With this, I am trying to emphasize my idea that blogs, in particular, no longer need comments because people discuss topics in their own chat circles.

If you have a blog and the amount of useful comments is 1 out of 10, I think it's better to remove the comments system.