Who's afraid of reader comments?
Here's something I never did get. Many bloggers seem to have a problem with the idea of allowing people to comment on their post. For instance, Keith Burgess-Jackson has decided to pull the commenting feature (as well as trackback) from The Conservative Philosopher blog:
Our grand experiment with comments and trackbacks is over. They're gone. The overall quality of comments was poor, and many of them were abusive to boot. Why in the world would I pay good money to make myself into a target? If this decision angers or upsets you, fine. Go elsewhere. The blogosphere, like the American West before 1890, is a wide-open place.
But Keith is hardly the only one who has this negative view of comments on blogs. Most famously, Billmon pulled the plug on his comments section in a sad post last summer:
over the past few months I've noticed a definite deterioration in the quality of the conversation here at the bar. Trolls I can usually give the bum's rush pretty quickly - at least most of the time. But I'm seeing more and more stuff on the threads that strikes me as marginal at best - people who seem to get their main kick out of insulting or picking fights with the other patrons; people who don't have anything particularly intelligent to say, and aren't very articulate about saying it; people who don't seem to have anything better to do with their time than to cut and paste long passages from mainstream media stories, or the unabridged lyrics of old rock 'n roll songs; people who appear to be mentally unbalanced, and not always in a good way.
What I didn't understand at the time, and what I still don't understand, is why these bloggers care one way or another what goes on in the comments section. I mean, I definitely read comments on my posts when I get them, but if I for some reason didn't like the topics of conversation or whatever, I just wouldn't read them.
But other bloggers seem to feel some sort of responsibility for what goes on in the comments section. They feel the need to monitor them constantly. I don't see why. When you enable the comments on a blog, you basically create a de facto internet forum. What is said on the forum is not reflective of the person who "created" it.
Obviously, it's up to each individual blogger to decide whether to enable the comments feature or not. I just don't get why so many seem to be so tortured over it. But maybe I am just missing something.
UPDATE: Keith's decision to pull comments off the Conservative Philosopher blog has caused at least one of the contributers to disassociate himself from the site (though 'caused' should be understood here in a "straw that broke the camel's back" kind of way, apparently).