Readers who spend the most active time on the page never leave comments. So if the comment section is not for avid readers, who is it for?
All things considered, this isn’t a community website. It’s my own personal blog where I share things I’ve learned and find interesting. It’s a way for me to express myself and share the things that interest me. There is no “target audience” or anything like that. When I look at the analytics for this blog, it seems like many do find what I have to share interesting and return every week. Plus the daily rush of people landing here from web searches, of course.
The current form of comments allow readers to react to something I’ve written after the fact. It’s not very inclusive nor does it encourage discussion. There are more than a hundred more comments per article on various social networks than there have ever been in the comment section. The best comments over the last year have been sent to me personally over email rather than being posted to the comment section.
So why am I turning off comments?
The average comment has terrible grammar, don’t discuss the subject matter of the article, and people don’t use their real names or email addresses. Many submitted comments to machine-translated versions of my articles, and I don’t even recognize the language they used to comment.
More than half the comments submitted are personal support requests for unrelated products. I don’t have an Ask-Me-Anything section. Although I enjoy sharing what I know and learn about various technologies, I’m not your email provider and can’t help you configure your email client.
There have been a few gems among the comments, but these are few and far between. These are the comments that have been published on the blog, as I’ve been manually reviewing each and every comment.
Only 1 in 24 comments were approved. Only 1 in 16 approved comments had request to be notified of replies. Only 1 in 17 commenters ever return to the same page [using the same device/cookiejar] to see if there have been any replies. More interestingly, the average time spent on the page is significantly lower for those who comment than the average reader.
The most frequent commenters have been marketers trying to twist the subject of the comment field to promote their own product. These weren’t automated spam comments, but more misguided attempts at “building links” while adding next to nothing to the conversation. Although I’ve seen some truly remarkable topic-leaps and segways, I never approved any of these comments.
Ultimately, moderating the comment section has been more work than it has been worth. I also want the freedom to update old content without making every existing comment sound uninformed or out of date. That is just doing a disfavor to everyone who’d left comments on anything I publish.
I’m working on a replacement for the comment section in the form of a correction-submission form. I do go back and update old articles as software and products change, and I’d really value help from readers to flag when information becomes stall or incorrect.
I’m not going to turn my blog into some sort of wiki, though I’ll certainly keep a changelog and attribute anyone who contribute through the corrections form.
I have no time schedule for when this will be in place, but I’m hoping to have it available before the .
Update 2017 May: It actually took less than a month to get the corrections system in place! You’ll now find it at the bottom of every article.
All existing comments — including associated email addresses, names, and other metadata — have been deleted. Deleting this data significantly simplifies this website’s compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) which goes in effect in .
There have been some gems among the comments, and these have been incorporated into the main articles where they were submitted. Thank you to everyone who’ve commented over the last year! I hope you’ll all continue to read what I have to share every week.