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March 01, 2006

Comment is king

Shane Williamson's comment on umm, our comments, reminds us that the egos of bloggers (yes, unfortunately, we have one of those too) can blind them to the fact that it's the comments that give life to a blog, and it's an essential part of the blogging art to learn how to be a great conversation host. Feed them well, keep their glasses filled, usher them gently to the door if they can't behave themselves (by that we don't mean censorship), and they'll provide the elements for a great dinner party.

How often do you find a site where the blogger is engaging enough, but the comment threads are little more than monosyllabic grunts, interspersed with predictable prejudices and insults? It takes effort, and it can get you down, at times, leading to the Russell Beattie comment tragedy:

I’ve gotten into some really bad habits as well. I’ve found myself posting, and then obsessively checking my comments over the next day or so, moderating them, responding, etc. Since I always learn something from at least one of my commenters, this was something that I was willing to do. But over the past year the percentage of worthwhile comments has started to drop, while other priorities in my life demanded more of my attention - yet I was still obsessively checking comments instead of doing other things (like answering email). Since I’m not one to break bad habits by simply saying to myself “don’t do that any more,” the only real solution is to cut out the comments all together.

A great blogger, Russell, but with the greatest respect, Bleeding Edge can't agree that it's the "only real solution", let alone being an acceptable one. He's a must for any blogroll, in my view, but his blog would be better with comments enabled.

Bleeding Edge has been blessed by the fact that it has become a corroboree of diverse minds, most of whom have something interesting to say on practically any topic. We suffer from a few twits, but they tend to be disciplined by the commenting community, as much as by us.

Posted by cw at March 1, 2006 12:25 PM


More then usual, I was tempted to reply with a comment consisting solely of the phrase "I LIKE HAM", but it was a fleeting temptation. I don't want to be one of those people that wreck the internet for the literate. (If the word goatse means anything to you...)

Clearly the comments will appear in proportion to the controversiality of the topic, so there's a slight impetus towards sensationalism there. Meta-posts - posts about the blog, or about blogging - are probably at the other end of the scale, in my view. All bloggers do it (which helps along the sterotype of the self-obsessed blogger - 'Had a sandwich for lunch. It was ok. God, I'm depressed.'). But it's not likely to spur heated debate.

Posted by: Colin J at March 1, 2006 05:31 PM

I posted a comment on one of the other posts on this blog but it was never published. Does that mean you are censoring comments or something funny happened so that my comment was never published.

Posted by: Thanh at March 2, 2006 07:33 PM

In two years of blogging, Thanh, I think I've knocked back three comments, because I didn't want to be sued for defamation. If you didn't defame somebody, it must have been a glitch.

Posted by: cw at March 2, 2006 10:49 PM

It was actually quite a funny self depricating piece so I don't think I defamed anyone, must have been one of those computer gremlins that stole my post. Love your work by the way Charles and never miss your column in the newspaper, thats part of what I wrote in the other comment.

CW: If you said something NICE about me, Thanh, I'd probably have run it TWICE! :-)

Posted by: Thanh at March 4, 2006 11:31 AM