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March 08, 2006
Advice on Handling Comments?
Steve and I could use some advice on what to do about comments. Or more specifically, comments on a particular post. Last September, Steve wrote about a feature on Friendster that lets members see how many people have been trolling their site.
It clearly freaked out people, who have left around 125 comments so far. They find the post, probably through a search engine, and leave comments like this:
"how do i us this to find out who is viewing my page??"
And that's mostly all they say. Still, very occasionally, someone jumps in and tries to either calm everyone down or give some advice. So, what do you advise? Shut the comments down or keep them open in hopes that someone savvier than us will be able to provide help?
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I'd keep the comments open, and encourage regular commenters to help facilitate discussion when things get heavy. It would be a shame for a blog about blogging to shut down its comments. Have many other comment threads run as long as the Friendster one? It sounds like it's more of the exception rather than the rule. -andy
Posted by: andy carvin at March 8, 2006 05:00 PM
This is really the only one where the comments have run this long. I guess I was thinking that it might just put these people out of their misery, and I know that some blogs close comments on posts after a certain point. But your point about figuring out a way to encourage the people who might have some insight to chime in would be a good idea.
Posted by: Heather Green at March 8, 2006 05:03 PM
I wouldn't shut down comments. If you're worried about people looking for answers and not getting them, could you set up a FAQ as an update to the post? Even if you leave it as is, people can answer their own questions by looking through the comments that have been posted, making your comments section a useful resource rather than a source of frustration.
Posted by: Steve at March 8, 2006 06:16 PM
I also would avoid shutting down comments. What I would suggest is to post an update linking with a copy Taek's comment.(http://taek.blogs.friendster.com/taeks_stream_of_conscious/2005/09/whos_viewed_me.html )
That may answer questions before they scroll to begin commenting.
Posted by: Mike Sansone at March 8, 2006 07:16 PM
shutting it down seems a little unhip to the blogosphere lifestyle lady. if its just a few annoying comments you've got to let it run its course. something might happen in all that messy chatter. on the other hand, you may not be doing these people a service by keeping it open. there's got to be a more effective place to discuss friendster. you could refer them somewhere else.
Posted by: schadenfreudisch at March 8, 2006 09:24 PM
I don't think there's even a question, Heather -- when in doubt, keep comments open. If people are posting them, then it is serving some purpose already, whatever that might be, and maybe someone will provide an answer or decide to create one. Comment sections often take on a life of their own, which is part of what makes them so interesting.
Posted by: Mathew Ingram at March 8, 2006 09:27 PM
One of the purposes of posts/comments is to start a conversation. As long as the content does not break your guiding principles. Let it go on. Let the population work to answer them. Even in this case Friendster.
Posted by: Stephen at March 8, 2006 09:39 PM
I think it's kind of fun to have this annex of Blogspotting where this community is grappling with its own issue. It doesn't really take any time for us to click OK on two or three comments a day.
I guess the only downside, and I don't think it's a significant one, is that if people click on the "recent comments" list they find themselves in what would be an excruciately boring "discussion," if you want to call it that, at least for the uninitiated.
Early on, we had so many comments that were near identical that I worried that we might be facilitating some sort of code communications for a shadowy network. But except for that remote concern, I have no problems with them.
Posted by: steve baker at March 9, 2006 07:04 AM
Heather and Steve
Congratulations, you are getting close to a prediction I made Saturday, June 11, 2005 07:00 am CDT in an e-mail to Steve, and I quote:
>>Stephen, it is inevitable, you will eventually get to forums, I am only trying to keep you ahead of the curve. Being late could be detrimental to one's career. Mark my words carefully - Measured, managed off-line forums are the way to go.
Comments on blogs are a simple attempt to bridge the gap between blogs and discussion forums. The more comments you get the closer you are to being a forum. Why not just wake up to the realities and start supporting the use of discussion forums?? You have my demo disc -- check it out.
Posted by: Doug Skoglund at March 9, 2006 07:56 AM
I'd close the comments and redirect to a new post to address the issues - what I see in your comment stream are mostly the same question. A new post would address the majority of these concerns (tactical) and spark new discussion that builds on the original topic. There's no "official rule" that you must leave comments open - remember that some of the most heavily visited blogs don't even have comments turned on.
Posted by: Peter Kim at March 9, 2006 08:31 AM
and yet it isn't really much of a conversation going on over there. just the same plea over and over again. and over and over yet again. it's like lord of the flies. they need a brilliant leader to step up. someone with the ability and training to research, ask the questions that need asking, and write about them clearly. who will it be?
Posted by: schadenfreudisch at March 9, 2006 11:33 AM
Google "take these puppies" and you'll see by clicking through to the comment section of that post that I have the same problem.
I just ignore it. People googling for Friendster issues aren't really your regular readers and you shouldn't worry too much about them. They'll figure it out.
Posted by: Charlie O'Donnell at March 9, 2006 02:38 PM
I'll disagree with Doug's comments that eventually we'll head (back) to forums.
Blogging extends the conversation outward, forums bring the conversation inward.
Some of the best comments in the blogosphere are not made under the original post, but on different blog. Can't do that with a message board.
Posted by: Mike Sansone at March 9, 2006 02:45 PM
I'm with Doug S.
Spam is, for me, a sufficient problem right now that I shut down comments on an entry after only a few days. No one's paying me to deal with the headache and I'm not directly earning any money from my site.
And wrt to forums, I think he's dead on. For the past couple of years, forums have been quietly going from open registration to private, trusted spaces. As my own blog is now accumulating a fair amount of traffic and comments for me to have to deal with, I'll also be moving to a blog-forum system where regular, trusted visitors can carry on more in-depth conversations.
Posted by: csven at March 9, 2006 03:07 PM
And wrt to forums, I think he's dead on. For the past couple of years, forums have been quietly going from open registration to private, trusted spaces. As my own blog is now
Posted by: ? ??? at March 10, 2006 03:45 AM
Regarding comments-- I agree with a lot what was said above. When I get comments (few at the moment) I will sometimes alter them for spelling and understanding-- and I will almost always post another one thanking them for their comment. But the comments are what makes a blog live. You shouldn't stop it-- you can't get mad at someone for asking a stupid question, only if they don't follow the comment "rules."
Posted by: John Trosko at March 10, 2006 04:48 AM