Last week, Dave Lucas wrote a blog post entitled Blog Comments: 7 Scenarios. It explored different reasons people leave comments and whether or not you can really tell anything about a blog by its comments. Dave dropped me an email asking for my thoughts on his blog post, and I was going to add it in a comment when I had time.
However, I've been pretty busy over the past week, and really haven't been interacting much online. I think Dave's description of common motivations for adding comments are pretty accurate, even if they are a tad cynical. While I don't participate in comments on my blog as much as I would like, I appreciate comments as a chance to hear different people's viewpoints and discuss them; pretty close to the 'comments as forum' that Dave describes.
Yet his final thought, "Comments do not make or break any blog or website" is pretty much on the mark.
I thought about this again today as the I read a post in the New Haven Independent, Time Out!, about how they are taking a sabbatical from publishing comments. It seems as if some of the trolls that have been posting obnoxious comments on other news sites have found their way to the New Haven Independent.
While there wasn't a place to comment about it on the New Haven Independent, the link to the post on the Independent's Facebook page drew quite a few comments, including close to a dozen from one person, illustrating why comments needed to be closed. He claimed that is rationale was to show that the comments would occur elsewhere, no matter what, which is true.
However, Facebook does give individuals the ability to block offensive users, so I blocked the person.
Yes, comments will take place other places. But it may be best to let them occur elsewhere on sites that have better tools for blocking spam and obnoxious users, and on sites where full time community managers can keep things on track, allowing reporters, or bloggers to do what they do best.