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Perishable Press

Sort of Turning Off Comments

[ Comment Trolls In Action ] Over the course of the past year or so, the quality of comments on posts here at Perishable Press has really deteriorated, to the point that I actually considered doing something that I told myself I would never do: disable comments completely.

Up front

This article is more of a rant than anything else. I am changing my WP “Discussion” settings a bit, but really I just needed to get this off my chest. Without a doubt and beyond question, this site gets some incredible input from the web-dev/WP community. And I love all my readers and everyone who contributes with ideas, feedback, code snippets, and so forth. Even consturctive criticism. I’ve had my share of super critical if not downright harsh or even mean comments left on posts here at Perishable Press and elsewhere.

If you’re leaving constructive feedback, bug reports and stuff that’s excellent, encouraged, and appreciated.

What this particular post/rant is about, is how utterly incompetent and/or lazy people can be. Just been getting a LOT of nasty “drive-by” style comments that have “inspired” me to take action and turn the knobs a bit..

We’ve made the Web too easy

Back when I was just starting out with this site, comments were a big part of what kept me going. There was nothing better than hard work writing a post finally paying off with real, constructive feedback. But for awhile now, comments have just been.. uninspired, to say the least. Not that I don’t appreciate the few gems that have cropped up, but overall I’m just tired of reading comments that:

  • Have nothing/little to do with the post
  • Are written by third graders (or apparently so)
  • Fail to communicate anything useful or interesting
  • Are like, “nice post, but you can do the same thing with X..”
  • Are like, “great post, but can you also do this and that for me?”
  • Are written by people who neither read nor understand the article

And the list goes on and on. I spend a LOT of time trying to post quality content, and there’s nothing worse than seeing that people couldn’t care less. Like everything else, it’s probably my fault for writing lame content that sucks. I mean, we all know there’s no shortage of it on the Web these days. But the point is that I still like to write, post content, and share with people in the community who appreciate the information. I want to get back into blogging and posting, but I don’t need the stress of dealing with a bunch on nonsense every time I hit the “Publish” button.

Limited time offer

After really thinking about it for the past few months, I’ve decided to sort of compromise. Instead of completely disabling comments on new posts, I’m going to try leaving them open only for a day or two. This way, people who are subscribed, read the article and decide to share feedback are welcome to do so. Hopefully this will prevent the drive-by idiots who don’t read/understand the article from taking cheap shots and acting stupid.

So from now on, I’ll leave comments open on articles for a day or two after posting, and maybe longer for any useful/interesting threads. Is this a terrible idea? Maybe. Will it help? Yes, it will provide a more enjoyable blogging experience for me, and thus more content for people who enjoy and actually read my stuff.

Always glad to help

That said, if comments are closed on this (or any other) post, and you have something of value to contribute to the topic at hand, shoot me an email and I’ll include the information either in the comments or in the post somewhere.

As always, thank you for reading :)

Jeff Starr
About the Author Jeff Starr = Creative thinker. Passionate about free and open Web.
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40 responses
  1. What about people who read a lot, subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds and don’t always get around to reading things for a day or so? What about people who are Googling for some obscure problem solution a year from now? What if someone actually finds a bug or has update or fix to something you’ve written about?

    I don’t get that many comments on my blog that aren’t spam, so I tend to not worry about this. Spammers are a much bigger problem than people who read silly comments, heck my webhost seems to have done something strange to bust some PHP that has worked for years… I just don’t see dumb comments as that big of a problem. I use Disqus maybe that cuts down on them some…

  2. Hey Sensei!

    The solution is in your hands.

    ‘You must be registered and logged in to post a comment.’

    You see that everywhere. Sort the wheat from the chaff at the point of sale.

    You’re way too interesting, you can’t just shut folks off after a day or two.

    I hate to see a grown Interwebs Supremo on a down, this is wrong.

    Btw, I’m on the verge of posting something very pertinent.

    l8r

    Zip

  3. Thomas Scholz July 21, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

    @jeffM Asking for registration is just a very dumb way to turn comments off.

  4. Jeff Starr

    Thanks to everyone for helping me to think through this decision. Sometimes sitting here behind the screen, with the music playing, and a tasty beverage at my side, it’s easy to forget about how my decisions may affect others. Reading this thread reminds me that I wouldn’t be doing much online if it weren’t for people who read and respond to my content.

    There are a lot of great ideas and suggestions here, and I think for now I’ll try leaving comments open for a week before closing them. Eventually, as I get more time for properly moderating and responding to comments, I’ll open them back up indefinitely, as is the case for many of my older posts.

    • Way to go. Slurp…

      Cheers, Thomas, good health.

    • Thing to remember is that so often the responses to your posts can add value that was beyond your gift when you published.

      Just the way it happens.

  5. Thomas Scholz July 21, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

    Sorry, if I sounded too harsh. English is not my native language and I often miss the appropriate expression.

    Long story: The people who want and can add some new points are often very busy. And they have already way too many accounts (OpenID may be a solution …).
    I remember some very productive discussions here. If I had to run a registration process before I’d have probably never written anything.

  6. I limit comments to 2 weeks with works fine on my wine travel blog. However, I’m considering a pay wall for my site as a way of building community and engagement. Maybe $1 – $2 a month auto recurring charge would limit page views but could increase the quality of the users. That could have more value for both you and site advertisers.

    I only have time to check my blog feeds about once a month so two days doesn’t work for me.

    I’ve understood all of your posts and don’t recall a need to post a comment :-). Great work, thanks! I’m willing to pay…

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