August 27, 2003

My Comments on “Comments”.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:09 pm

Beware: Not counting the title and this sentence, the word “comment” (or variations of the word) appears 33 times in this post. No comment.

On several occasions, readers have commented (either in other blogs or in e-mails) on the lack of a comment feature on this site. Indeed, the absence of such a feature here was recently a source of frustration to Buffy at Arrrgh! (a blog most fittingly named, given these circumstances), who wanted very much to comment on a recent post. For Tiger, a comments section is an absolute must for success in the blogosphere, although he most kindly identified this site as representing one of the exceptions to the rule.

When I began all this, I never gave much, if any, thought to comments for several reasons, one of which being that a comment feature was not and is not an option on BlogSpot. In addition, my plan was simply to write stuff and sail it into cyberspace, not thinking that anyone, with possible exception of TJ and Cousin Jack, would take the time to read it, let alone take the additional time to write a comment. However, I have now been at this for approximately the gestation period of a human, and I have happily learned that some people really do read this stuff – probably a sufficient number to fill up three or four buses, should we ever get together for a road trip. (Compare that to Instapundit, whose daily readers could fill all the seats Yankee Stadium and still leave about 20,000 people waiting outside on line).

I also have learned that I enjoy leaving comments on other people’s blogs as well as reading the comments left by other readers. With all that said, here are, for me, the pros and cons of adding comments to this site.

Reasons why I should add comments:
1. Now that I know that people do read this stuff, it would be interesting to learn a bit more about them and to hear what they have to say. I get a handful of e-mails per week, and I am always happy to receive them and get a feel for who is out there. The good news is that the people who take the time to write to me (about an even split between bloggers and non-bloggers) have been, without exception, very nice. I think a comment section would allow me to “meet” even more readers.

2. I think that a comment feature might also attract a bit more traffic. If nothing else, it might cause people who left comments to return to see if any other comments were made, and, if so, whether they acknowledged their original comment. Let’s face it. We all like to be noticed, and I believe that most folks who say that they don’t care about traffic are, to be kind, being less than completely candid. If they didn’t care whether anyone read their stuff, they could simply type daily entries and file them away.

3. Comments could also provide a source of ideas for future posts.

4. Comments are generally fun to read, because they are almost always short, to the point, and are often written on the fly. As such, they are a bit more spontaneous than carefully crafted posts.

5. Finally, as noted above, several good people have expressed an interest in my adding the feature. Good “customer relations” would, therefore, seem to militate in favor of adding comments.

Reasons why I should not add comments:
1. Because they are not available on BlogSpot, it means finding a third-party source for a comment feature.

2. A comment feature will mean another opportunity for me to confirm my techno-stupidity and get completely flummoxed trying to figure out how to get it running. Hell, my logo would still be sitting on my C Drive (I know some of the lingo), if Kathy from On the Third Hand hadn’t kindly volunteered to show me how to get it onto the blog.

3. A comment feature is just another thing that can crater and, as such, is another potential source of major annoyance.

4. A comment feature might well screw up the rest of the page. I know that some comment features dramatically increase the time it takes for a page to load – another source of annoyance, not just for me, but also for the readers.

5. I don’t tolerate fools very well. I think I would have a difficult time not responding to a commenter who made a stupid statement. And one thing I do NOT want is to have a comment section become a forum for a verbal brawl, with me being one of the participants. I do this for fun and for a release from the real-life brawls.

6. Finally, there are the trolls. I would like to think that I would not attract any, but that would be like sitting outside on a hot summer night in Jersey and thinking that the mosquitoes will bite everyone else but me. I notice that the more seasoned bloggers seem to be good at ignoring trolls, or even publicly savoring their stupidity. However, I think they would bother me.

So, What’s the deal, Jimbo?
On balance, after considering both sides of the issue, I think I will look into adding a comment feature. I see that some folks such as Desiree use Haloscan, and the comments seem to work well and do not noticeably slow down the page loading. I think I will check that out first. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know (Sorry. E-mail is the only way other than smoke signals.).

As for the fools and the trolls, I will just have to see how I well I deal with it. I believe that all comment features have a “delete” function. And, if it doesn’t work out, I can always scrap the comment feature, knowing that I tried it and didn’t like it.

I’ll keep you posted.

Note: There is no need to tell me to move from BlogSpot to software that contains a built-in comments feature. I know that, and I have been working myself up to critical mass to move over to Movable Type. However, it just seems like such a time-intensive and frustrating process, when pretty much all my time is spoken for, and frustration is something I need about as much as I need an ingrown asshole.

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