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Russell Beattie drops comments

Automatically inserted editorial note: this post was written 11 years ago, it may no longer represent my own views. Or just be a crazy post from my youth!

Russel has decided to remove all comments from his blog and no longer offer commenting on future posts.

Which is really sad.

As a cluetrain fan, I’d have to say that a blog isn’t a blog unless it has comments. Where’s the discussion in that? etc,

Dave Winer famously left this comment on my blog on why he doesn’t have comments:

“… PS: You can, sometimes, leave comments on my blog. But I had the first comments on a blog, and it was great for a while, but then it turned into a constant cesspool of whining wiener boys. They drowned out the interesting stuff. I decided they could start their own blogs, and they did, and now we have a blogosphere.”

Vizzavi: ‘And that’s how I invented the blogosphere’, etc.

Back on the comments thing, I guess it all comes down to why we choose to run blogs, and participate in the blogosphere.

For me, blogs are conversations. Yes, you can use blog software to run brochureware sites very successfully, but the true purpose (IMHO) is to support the fabric of conversation.

Sure, you can ‘comment’ on a blog post by writing your own blog post – but not everyone has a blog. And those who do often have ‘themed’ blogs where a certain level of on-topicness needs to be maintained.

I’m toying with the idea of stopping all the personal and non-tech posts from this blog — but if my favourite MC’s and UK Garage promo’ers dropped their comments, where would I post my views? On my tech blog? Create another blog just for commenting on other blogs?

Rus – please turn your comments back on!

Published in Thoughts and Rants

25 Comments

  1. what really gets to me Ben is the fact those turning off their comments have huge followings.

    For e.g. Russell would have circa 40-50 comments a post….

    People were able to interact with Russell in ways never possible before. They could have conversations with him. He was after all a Yahoo! employee. A few years ago speaking or having a conversation with such employee’s was a difficult task unless you knew someone who knew someone.

    Then came along blogging, and more importantly, comments… Conver-fucking-sations…. AT last.

    So…… what about those that are no longer able to have this conversation? Do they feel excluded? Do they think that Russell didn’t give a shit about what they said? Its all bad PR….. Russell not only has his brand reputation to keep, but also that of his employer, Yahoo!

    For people like Russell and Dave this is a big mistake. Blocking those that want to feel wanted, want to be a part of the conversation is wrong.

    I for one don’t receive that many comments, hardly any at all actually. I cannot write that well. I can admit that openly. But when I do get around to writing some semi-decent stuff I hope that…..no I want to people to interact with me, I want them to be part of the conversation.

    We are a community. IMHO this is Web 2.0. Embrace the community. Create conversations. Don’t go blocking those that care out.

    [wow – sorry about the rant, but someone had to say it!]

  2. Photar Photar

    Whats annoying to me so when people blog about how they want conversations in their blogs and then themselves don’t participate.

  3. Ben Ben

    Whats annoying to me so when people blog about how they want conversations in their blogs and then themselves don’t participate.

    Yeah, as you keep saying [1][2].

    I’m sorry to disappoint you with the volume of my response on my blog. Perhaps you could help me by indicating what kind of response rate you are expecting?

    Finally, I don’t mind being ‘picked up’ by someone who has a valid point or talks from some level of authority. But from what I can see, you haven’t responded to any of the comments on your blog.

  4. Having one’s own blog means being able to determine one’s own policies. Having said that, please note Russell’s parting comment. If you want to communicate with me – link to me. Even with comments, Russell followed a policy of using “rel=nofollow” for those who contributed.

    Regardless of judgement, it is likely that the removal of comments will increase links to his blog which is the real goal here. Not providing links to others has been SOP for Russell for a long time. He prefers the black hole blog model. All gets sucked in with little being returned. I’m not sure how people feel about those type of policies, but only some bloggers with significant traffic employ them. Dave Winer as you mentioned is one example. Russell Beattie is another now.

    I prefer the more open approach and rewarding commenters for their contributions with a little google juice. There’s certainly no scarity in good will. The creation of scarity of good will in social media is a bit confounding, don’t you think?

  5. mobilejones said: “Having one’s own blog means being able to determine one’s own policies. Having said that, please note Russell’s parting comment. If you want to communicate with me – link to me. Even with comments, Russell followed a policy of using “rel=nofollow” for those who contributed.”

    Russell also said in the same post, “if you want to contact me, my email address is buried in the about page”

    So basically what he his saying is I’ll take email, but not give anything back.

    Communities and Social Networks such as blogging et al are about giving before you take. Not the other way around….

  6. I’m not sure if I agree with the definiton, “Blogs are about conversations, period”. I think most people are blogging because they want to see their ideas spread.

    If we just wanted conversations, we could just go down the pub.

  7. Ben Ben

    If we just wanted conversations, we could just go down the pub.

    Yeah, but we don’t all live near the same pub… etc.

    I certainly don’t blog ‘for broadcast’, I blog for conversation.

    Also, I thought you were Mr Converastion around markets, these days?

    I’d have thought you’d be saying you blog around your marketing ventures to facilitate conversations arround the product — or is it just to see the ‘idea'(/’product awareness’) spead after all?

  8. I am disappointed every time I see someone turn off comments. The conversation is sometimes as valuable as the original idea.

    People don’t (usually) turn off comments because they don’t want to have a conversation. It’s because it takes a lot a work to moderate. It becomes a full time job if your ideas generate a healthy debate which is something most people can’t justify.

    Some of the more popular blogs: Kottke.org, 37signals and now Russ have all either turned off comments completely or scaled way back. Are there any large blogs out there that have managed to host an active discussion without full time editors or community policing (e.g. Digg, Slashdot)?

    Seems like a huge opportunity for someone to invent a method for efficiently handling large amounts of comments…

  9. Ben Ben

    re there any large blogs out there that have managed to host an active discussion without full time editors or community policing (e.g. Digg, Slashdot)?

    Scoble? TechCrunch?

  10. I’ve done the coding required to display past comments in the WP single.php file that Mr. Beattie indicated he was too “lazy” to do. It took me 60 seconds of my time. For those who might wish to show past comments on a WP powered blog but stop taking new ones, you can find this code with instructions here: http://www.makeyougohmm.com/20060206/2921/

  11. I agree. Without comments or trackbacks (and preferably both), a blog is not a blog. It is just a webpage where someone pontificates, and few listen to what he says.

  12. Conversations are markets 😉

  13. Don Singleton: And a blog is just a webpage where someone pontificates and a few get to throw peanuts at him from the audience.

    I still hate the fact that you newbies co-opted the term “blog” … to those people old enough to have used real old-school “social networking software” called Diversi-dial, “blog” had a very specific meaning.

    Kids today …

    (I wonder how many people DO know what “blog” used to mean …)

  14. Scoble? TechCrunch?

    True, but those guys could be considered near-full-time bloggers. It would be interesting to know how much of their day is spent cultivating comments.

    Are there solutions out there for the average blogger who has a good online following but can’t dedicate significant time every day on comment moderation?

    Granted, it is probably not much of a problem for those of us who have a handful of comments every day. It just seems that a trend is forming where well-known bloggers become a sort of victim of their own success and end up shutting down or limiting comments.

  15. I couldn’t agree more, Ben. I think blogging is about conversation, and without comments it’s more like preaching. I know Russell and others no doubt believe that what they have to say is so important people will read it even without the ability to comment, but I’m not sure they’re right. I know that in some cases I get more out of the comments on a blog than I did out of the original post — or at least as much anyway. Removing comments isn’t old school, it’s dumb school.

  16. open comments means that you’re making yourself a steward of other people’s content. He just broke all types of silent agreements with his readers

  17. Although, I can understand that some blogs may get too many comments, and that person may feel overwhelmed; I think it was completely wrong for RB to delete all of the past comments. I have to say that comments, positive or negative, make for a more interesting read. It exposes new layers of thinking. RB should bring back commenting.

  18. Ben,
    Russell Beattie and Dave Winer are celebrities, maybe they don’t need bodyguards, but their blogs do need protection!

    To effectively manage comments to their posts, they cannot rely on antispam tools, they need a reputation system to assess how cool is this bold reader that dare sending a comment to their venerable blogs.

    This is basically what we are trying to obtain with our proposal of a reputation system for blog comments. There are lengthy posts about it on the Clipperz blog, http:///www.clipperz.net.

    See the latest revision.

    To test this proposal we are planning to:
    – design an API for the reputation managers;
    – implement a functional and free reputation manager service at clipperz.com (the site will go live shortly)
    – (trying to) implement reputation modules for a couple of leading blogging platforms (with a lot of help from their communities)

    Anyone interested?

  19. Did Russell say that he thinks comments are a bad idea? I thought he said he *likes* comments in principle, because he learns from them.

    The way I read what he wrote, it seems that he simply finds it too difficult to cope with an average of 20 comments a day on his blog. Specifically, he said he had become obsessed with reading and thinking about these comments; and that this took a significant percentage of his brain power.

    Surely, this is a personal thing. Some people can easily cope with reading 20 comments a day. Some can’t. Russell appears to fit in the second category.

  20. Photar Photar

    I think this thread shows a decent level of participation. I wouldn’t expect anyone to reply to everything. But at the same time when people ask direct questions and get ignored its annoying.

    As for my blog. I’ll be the first to admit that my blog is complete garbage. Mostly because I’m coding it myself and also in large part because I have as of now not written anything interesting.

    As for not replying to my comments I think you’re confused. All of the blog entries are mine and all of the comments are also mine.

  21. Yeah but come on – there were weblogs way before there were comments on weblogs. It was a couple of years before comments were stable and functional on a lot of people’s sites. People still had conversations, they just had them between weblogs, using their referral logs and directing people to the conversations that people were having.

    When you get enough traffic, I’m pretty sure comments can become unsustainable, difficult to manage and leave you under continual spam attack and dealing with unmanageable troll activity. I’m not at that point, personally, but I’ve been near it a few times. Boing Boing passed it years ago. People don’t have a responsibility to maintain their personal sites, and you have to accept that people will cut back their engagement depending on their workload.

  22. Ben Ben

    Hey Tom,

    Maybe one day we’ll find something to agree on.

    The sky’s blue…

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