Well, friends, today I’m turning off comments on my blog. Here’s why.
At first I allowed all comments to go forward. I found that I received ads, spam and comments by bots and web crawlers. Occasionally there would be comments that were overtly racist or sexist. Some were personal attacks on others commenters.
So, then I set the comments so that I had to read and approve each comment. The sheer volume of comments I receive has made this very difficult. Sometimes comments wouldn’t get posted because I simply hadn’t found time to approve them. And of course, those who make the most obnoxious commenters (I can’t paste some of the horrific things that people say here) are the most incensed that their comments got deleted.
But even more than the reality of these administrative responsibilities, I have been amazed at how, as the adage goes, one apple can spoil the whole basket. As the articles below spell out, insulting or degrading comment by those who don’t know how to hold public discourse, skew the conversation. People often argue with points that weren’t even made in the original post, which then confuses readers, obfuscating their impression of the OP. The shrill screed has at times been amazing.
Clearly there are some who spend their days commenting on blog posts. Trolls abound: those who comment on everything you write, trashing everything. One study called it “the nasty effect.” Too true. Rude, ad hominem comments that begin with things like, “You’re an absolute idiot for thinking…” poison the well.
So, how to have public discourse? Well, face-t0-face is the best. You get vocal inflection, body language, facial expression and all kinds of things that make the conversation more… human. However, you can email me at any time. My Facebook page still has comments. Twitter is alive and well. And those who want to shout out to the world can start their own blogs. Have at it.
In the mean time, I will continue to post joyfully about the love of Christ, and the new humanity to which it calls us. I hope you will too.
Additional articles on the topic:
On “The Nasty Effect,” about the growth of uncivil discourse in American rhetoric, especially in digital communications: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcc4.12009/full
Why Popular Science shut off comments: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/why-were-shutting-our-comments
A New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/opinion/sunday/this-story-stinks.html?_r=1