I love Matt Haughey’s thoughtful post on the differences between comments on blogs in 2008 and those back in the day (five years ago).
But I think the root of the problem (described in various media outlets over the past year or so) of snarky, or mean-spirited, or generally unhelpful comments becoming the norm has to do with the distance we’ve achieved from those original link-and-essay heavy blogs.
Ironically, the comment thread on this post is an outstanding discussion of the issues involved.
There is no one answer to handling comments on the Web. I run a perfectly respectable site in my community that is full of thoughtful and informative posts by real people using their real names. My competitor down the road operates his community section more like an ongoing, anonymous brawl with interesting conversations going on in the corners. I think it works for him and his posters.
I never had a problem with Jupiter’s no-comments policy, even though I love getting comments and mixing it up with my readers. I think it’s a reasonable choice for the way the company does business. Some of my favorite bloggers don’t take comments and it has never bothered me.
The real challenge is finding a voice for your blog and your community and coming up with a style, focus, posting policy, comment policy, and moderation style that suits you. Then choosing a design that reflects your voice.
Some folks have expressed regret that blogging has become more professional and less personal. That depends on where you look.
We’re still living in an age of innovation for social media. Experimentation shouldn’t be encouraged. It should be required.