The having of comments

It’s a tricky issue, having comments on your site; it seems straightforward but it’s actually not. For a start, you’re responsible for the comments on your site. If someone defames someone in the comments on your site, and you leave it there, you could get sued for that defamation as much as a paper publishing a defamatory article. That’s the most serious aspect, for me.

After that, there’s the work of it. Managing the comments, the spam (not as much of an issue these days) and responding to the commenters. That last one can be rewarding, although it helps to have a thick skin; things can get nasty, and very personal. Then there’s the abuse from friends, too. I’ve always thought that this kind of thing from friends is more destructive than they realise; if your friend unveiled a new painting in a gallery, would you go to the opening and heckle them and throw things? I doubt it.

So, I’ve been considering doing away with comments altogether, which has been something that several sites have been publicly discussing; there are those who never had comments on their sites, those who have recently removed the feature, and those who feel it’s an essential part of blogging or web publishing. Here’s the article which is at the root of the discussion which I’ve been loosely following: Comments Off – Matt Gemmell who follow me on Twitter may be familiar with my approximately twice-yearly musings on whether it’s necessary, wise or desirable to allow comments on blogs.

It’s an interesting discourse that I’ve been trying to keep up with. Here’s a good digest: Comments Commentary – Matt Gemmell recent follow-up to my article of a month ago about switching comments off has generated quite a bit of interesting discussion, via email, Twitter, and (particularly) posts on other people’s blogs.

I guess I’ll keep comments on for a little while, until I have a good reason to disable them for good.