Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

No Comment?

There have been some interesting developments recently involving comments on blogs. 37signals, whose Signal vs Noise blog is one of the top, high-profile blogs around, has decided to end comments on their site. To show just how popular the site is, that post alone has received over 160 comments.

For the past few months we’ve been pretty disappointed by the noise...An occasional cynical comment is good (and welcome!), but when 75% turn negative then it’s just no longer fun. We think that’s a shame and, frankly, we’re tired of the negative energy filling up the threads.

Ray Ozzie, now one of Microsoft's top executives, has recently returned to the blogosphere. In his initial post, he described his decision to not allow comments on his blog.

I'll be tracking the conversation by watching inbound links, rather than by enabling comments on the site. The "link mesh of conversation" is a key distinguishing characteristic of this medium, and is one that I really like.

There are both negative and positive forces that are making this more common. On the negative side is the rise of comment spam and the growing number of people who only want to find new ways to express their anger. On the positive side is better and better blogging tools that make it easy to track conversations, including trackbacks and services like Technorati, Feedster, and PubSub.

I honestly believe that comments will become far less common in the near future. Everytime a new way of communicating starts (mail, telephone, radio, tv, and email), a happy state of purity exists. Soon, however, that's replaced by junk mail, spam filters, pop-up blockers, caller ID, flashing banner ads, and 3-foot advertisements tied to your front door. At least in the case of blogs, everyone is free to have their own say, but it doesn't have to be on someone else's site.

For another perspective, read Shel Israel's recent post about what he sees as a drop in the number of hostile comments he sees.

And feel free to share your own perspective, right here! I don't see myself ending comments anytime soon.