Comments! Who needs 'em?

I do, for one.

There's no greater validation, when one casts a frail little paper-boat of a blogpost onto the maelstrom of teh interwebs, than to have some stranger, or even friend, respond. 1 Go to any reasonably popular website, however, and it rapidly becomes obvious that 90% of comments are crap. What to do?

Theodore Dalrymple's latest rant "Thank you for not expressing yourself" (archived copy) explores the strangely angry, ignorant and just plain weird world of internet comments. He offers all sorts of reasons for the vehemence and irrelevance of most internet comments, most of which seem to come down to the ease of not having to find a pen, piece of paper, envelope and stamp. And in a fine irony, the comments to that piece point out (angrily, with vehemence) that he'd made a couple of simple errors in his reporting.

Who gives a flying fuck?

The fact remains that far too many commenters and emailers have it far too easy. Each website author or publisher has to find their own solution, but some form of selection and rejection seems inevitable. And no, this is not censorship. As Dalrymple says:

Censorship is not failing to publish something, it is forbidding something to be published, which is not at all the same thing, though the difference is sometimes ill-appreciated.

Say what you like on your own website, just don't expect me to let you say it on mine.

Somewhere this week, I read a snippet to the effect that newspapers already operate a freemium model -- if you buy the physical edition you don't need to read the comments. 2 And of course, no one is forcing me to read the comments at those popular sites. But buried among the crap there may well be something of interest. Perhaps someone else will point to it.

Comments welcome, natch.

  1. As long as it isn't spam, of course.  

  2. I'd like to give credit, but I didn't think I'd need to at the time I read it, and Google has let me down, for once.  

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