Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Blog Comments: a bad idea?

how serious are these potential dangers of blog comments? Posted by Hello

Hugh Hewitt says this about a Personal Democracy Forum controversy about blog comments:


[QUOTE by Hugh Hewitt]

We did have an exchange on comments/no comments,

and I got to air my view that

comments sections are
defamation/copyright time bombs
waiting to go off,

and that hostiles will figure out
soon enough how to post
material on blogs

they don’t like
with the hope of
crippling lawsuits.

I also got to argue that comments section
hold down the growth of new blogs
by giving easy access to text to folks
who should be out earning their audience
and thus planting new trees in the
opinion journalism forest
rather than just new branches
to already tall trees.

[END QUOTE by Hugh Hewitt]

To summarize,

Hugh Hewitt is

saying that

comments on blogs

are a bad idea,

due to:

(1.) Comment sections are
time bombs ready to go off...

...because hostile commentors
will soon sabatoge blogs
with comment content that
will cause lawsuits
against bloggers.


(2.) Users who post comments
at other people's blogs
should stop commenting,
and start their own blogs.

Friends, I am indebted to Hugh Hewitt for pointing out two potential downsides of blog commenting.

However, I don't know how to look at these potential problems.

Maybe Hugh is being prophetic.

Maybe these two potential problems will become pervasive and serious.

We haven't seen anything yet, when it comes to blogs and their interaction with the public, journalism, activism, government, and personal/social transformation.

How can you as a blogger be sued
for the content of a comment
someone else posted
on your blog?

Why would you not simply
delete a malicious comment
that did not contribute
to the topic discussion?


Why is posting comments
to other people's blogs
considered inferior

to posting text
to your own blog?

Why is a blogger
to a commentor?

I don't see it this way at all.

I see comment posters
as users who are helping
us bloggers by adding
valuable user-generated
content to our blogs.

I don't think
comment posters
should stop commenting
and start their own blogs...

...but Hugh Hewitt
has raised some interesting
points here.

Now...what do YOU think?

vaspersthegrate [at] yahoo [dot] com Posted by Hello



[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate aka Leopold the Told


Andy said...

Not everyone should be a blogger - being a commenter is perfectly legitimate.

By that argument, people who write letters to newspapers should stop wasting time and start their own newspaper - if they have an opinion.

Not likely - the comments are an integral response to blog posts. Yes it's possible to reflect on others posts from your own blog (that's why we have Trackbacks) but it's not the only legitimate way. Not everyone is born to be a publisher, but everyone has opinions.

Malicious comments? We've been fighting those off for years in every type of media. I don't see this as a prime reason to turn off comments. A blog without comments becomes a window to its author, rather than an opportunity for interaction.

steven edward streight said...

Very well stated, Andy.

I agree completely.

In the Blog Wars of 2005, the first battle seemed, from my line of combat, to be Authentic vs Inauthentic (character blogs in some cases, link farms, ghost blogging, etc.).

The second major battle seems to be Comments vs Links.

I sympathize with bloggers who get hundreds of comments, most of them of little or no value, malicious and abusive comments, or various types of comment spam.

Yet there is trackback spam, RSS feed spam, email this post to a friend spam, guestbook spam, etc.

Any interactive function can be attacked, but, as you say, interactivity is crucial.

Without some way to comment, the blog becomes a one-way sermonizing or self-confessional, exhibitionistic broadcast medium, all of which are losing ground in credibility and value.

I go so far as to proclaim commenting as more vital than linking or self-expression.

It is blog interaction that builds online community and provokes democratic activism.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see comments w/ similar thoughts as mine. While I think Hugh has done an awesome job in documenting the trend toward disaggregated information disbursal, he misses the forest for the trees here. Yes, there are legal and technical issues to solve with blogs that allow comments. But, the ones that do, do a great service in that they bring back public discourse, something that virtually died thirty or more years ago, as centralized media began a top-down approach to idea development. I haven't participated in many blog-comment sites, but those that I have found, generally have some awesome give and take going on in the realm of ideas. I'd rather see solutions to many of the problem-issues you've already discussed pursued, than tossing the idea of blog-comment sites altogether.

steven edward streight said...

People may consider me to be a wild-eyed visionary, but I see blogs, bloggers, and the blogosphere under attack.

The Powers That Pretend To Be have noticed the power bloggers have to quickly topple the giants.

So there is a concerted movement to defile, disrupt, disengage, and discredit blog activity.

One of the chief strengths of the blog is the ability for users to interact via comments, either a comment form, or emailing comments to be posted by the blogger.

While I had to temporarily turn off my comment forms at my other blogs, due to a comment spam storm that was time-consuming to delete, I do encourage readers to email me their comments.

Interaction is the key to blogs.

Sure, some blogs can be one-way sermons or link logs.

There is validity to non-interactive blogs, for certain persons and situations.

But the blog that enables comments is the true, full-fledged blog.

When I read something at a blog, feel enthusiastic about the idea they present, then go to post a comment, and notice there is no comment function...

...it's disappointing, sometimes even frustrating.

I'd hate to see the blogosphere ruined by those who want to totally get rid of commenting.

Then blogs would degenerate into simplistic, boring, broadcast, mass marketing driven, mini-websites.

Kathy Carroll said...

I hadn't thought much about the legal exposure in blogging, except to mind my manners while discussing others.

Comments liability simply hadn't occurred to me. But Hugh Hewitt is a lawyer, and naturally he thinks like one. It's worth considering his caution.

When I first started OneClearCall, I got some nutty comments from an anti-Israel reader in the UK. Being new to the game, I actually tried to reason with him, via comments. (I know, that was silly.)

When it got too crazy, I responded with "Matt 7:6" and then simply ignored him. After another rant or two, he got tired and went away. I left his stuff up there, but the delete key was always an option.

Today, I highly value the comments I get. Some regulars have become cyber-friends. All bloggers constantly comb their comments sections. If I ever see anything remotely tacky, I'll hose it immediately. Hopefully, such vigilance will protect a little blog like mine.

steven edward streight said...


I haven't had to delete comments, other than malicious comment spam.

I have a private policy that I will delete abusive, hate-speech, criminal, insane, vulgar, pornographic comments from my blogs.

It's okay if comments are a little silly, or slightly off topic, or harshly critical of my ideas.

In fact, I hope for extremely critical comments and often learn something from them. Then again, I'm well known as a stubborn and aggressive debater.

Anti-semitic, anti-muslim, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-female, anti-elderly, etc. I will not tolerate.

I value commenting, but comments are guests. They are not guaranteed a home in any blog they wish to inhabit.

I especially am adamant about deleting comment spam immediately.