Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Comments are so last decade....

Silliman has turned his comment stream off and I'm with a lot of people who think it's a good idea. There are quite a few last comments that illustrate my feelings exactly.
I, for one, applaud this move of YOURS. 'Twill be more like the "old days"  a "dialogue" between the writer and the reader  ... a revival of letter/e-mail, one-to-one writing/thinking  and maybe will lead to some productioning (?)
A little space between digestion and response. I said earlier that I thought the right response to a great poem is probably another great poem--I think the same might be true for a post. More thought rather than expressing one's anger, or frustration, or the "good post" thing which as we all know, isn't useful. I offer my critique of the comment stream with my own engagement included. The less I say publicly the happier I am these days. But I think that rather than embrace silence, it's about choosing the appropriate venue for one's response to a given situation. This has long been a concern for me. I don't regret my years of blogging at all, they helped develop a thick skin to better deflect the invectives while allowing me to craft a public persona. Very important. But in general, I can't say that engaging in comments has done much for me. I have done it, again a fact I've stated often, mostly because I am so weary of the bulk of these comment discussions being so very male, but no more for me. They take so much time and energy, and emotional energy too, taking in the constant high-emotion content: everyone is sensitive, everyone reacting as if this post, this one post, is indicative of a crisis of some magnitude...it's too much.

There is only one comment stream included in Unleashed. It ends the book. That was certainly one of the most productive and invigorating discussions this blog has seen in its long run. As of the fall, there will be no comments here either.

10 comments:

Helen Hajnoczky said...

being a relative newcomer to blogging, i like comment streams only because they show that someone read my post. while i'm pretty sure people read the ones i post here, i often feel like i'm just sending stuff out into the void on my own blog, unless i get a comment.

Pearl said...

comments have pros and cons. it is like applause during a reading. it can put you off if you expect some and don't get it, or get some when you didn't expect. you can cater to the popular and it makes expressing that much more complex.

flame-wars have never happened on any of my blogs and I'm at 7 or 8 years now. my issue tends to have been weeding non-interactions that make me feel unheard such as some commenters who leave comment as spam. and the comment spam that filters can't catch. that's tiring.

I tend to like comments to acknowledge I spoke rather than the soapbox in front of a totally mute audience.

that silent non-reply is the same as putting ideas to paper. expect nothing, get nothing. it doesn't pretend to dialogue. people are absurdly reluctant to go on digital record as having said anything so a means to back channel gets some dialogue going.

still if you turn off comment this fall, it tends to help if there's an email placed somewhere easy to find.

emma said...

I hate comments and have made every attempt to get them out of my life. 98% of the time they just make you angry, 1% of the time they make you think and the other 1% they're spam or boring. Commenting allows people who have always thought it would be awesome to say the first thing that comes into their heads without filtering or thinking in any way first to do so - to be rewarded for it with attention, even. I think taking the comments away means people are forced to think a little more about what you've posted - instead of just typing out a gut reaction they have to sit there and digest for a minute first, process, decide. Like functioning, civilized, adult human beings.

(Feels silly to be commenting this, maybe I'm proving my own point...)

Steven Fama said...


I learn things from comment boxes. Not quite all the time, but often enough.

Pearl's comment here, above, struck me as interesting. So I clicked through to her profile. Thence to her web-page. Thence to her CV/bio, which includes lots of links, including those related to her recent publications. And so from there to the AngelHouse Press page.

From where I just bought Pearl Pirie's "over my dead corpus" because it looks (the description of it reads so) interesting, intriguing.

Which would have never happened but for the comments box here.

But okay, fine, it's all so last decade.

Lemon Hound said...

Point taken, Mark.

Jake Mooney said...

I don't know, Hound. Aren't we blaming the medium over the messenger, here? Whereas both give us the same amount of unusable posturing (I feel, and I'd like to point to the back half of any CanLit journal for evidence) I'd prefer the immediacy of the blogs over the staged feeling of the journals and letters. A blog comment stream can be a conversation. A letter-writing exchange, even an electric one, feels more like a series of monologues.

Lemon Hound said...

Perhaps, Jake, but I don't see it that way. I take Helen's point that one wants evidence of an audience, yes, and now and then one does want the verve of a good discussion.

Immediacy or staged doesn't really describe it for me. And ultimately the form works for those who can compose most quickly, and most rhetorically sound...but that doesn't mean it's necessarily of interest, or that it, the well-wrought comment, is worthy of or needs as lengthy a response.

In any case, it's the time taken that is problematic. And the intensity of it. An editorial board would look and discuss. In all of our bid for autonomous and instant responses we are losing site of the structures of the editorial process.

Or perhaps I would rather be writing than commenting?

David Kosub said...

Yeah, I grow weary of the lack of reflection that precedes some comments, too. But maybe the trick as host is to manage the conversation a little bit better, i.e. draw people back to the main points of the post, ask more questions of the commenters, challenge them to dig deeper, etc. Yes, it takes more time, but I think eventually people might start to pick up on this. Anyway, it's a tack I've been thinking about adopting. Too often we find ourselves simply reacting, as well.

Lemon Hound said...

David,
You're absolutely right. I think writing a blog and managing a discussion are two entirely different things.

Perhaps I am simply weary of the form of the comment/discussion.

Gillian Wallace said...

I'm a relative newcomer to blogging (two months) so comments still feel like looking for applause, as Pearl said.

I wonder if we need the acknowledgement of knowing we've been heard or if putting the work out there is enough, the silent voices of stats our clapping hands?

And what of our readers? When we read publically, do they ever stay silent? Do they ever want to stay silent?

I'm not a fan of comments (I suspect introverts rarely are), but I too do like the easy opportunity to say thanks or what if or but maybe...