Tom Sherman recently wrote a great post on blog comments and the various problems they encourage, expose and amplify.
One of the biggest potential problems with the weblog format is also a hallmark and defining aspect of the blog: comments.
Most blogs allow comments. Most blogs encourage comments. But comments are limiting, (usually) non-hierarchical, and almost always disorganized. A blog is not a message board. A blog is not a forum.
Since the weblog phenomenon now appeals to an audience far broader than techies and niche readers, the pitfalls of blog commenting are exposed to every lackey Google searcher. This broader audience often has no real concept of what a weblog is and lacks the etiquette and/or technical skills to compensate for the poor technical architecture of blog commenting systems.
Tom cites Amy Gahran’s write up on the subject, which is equally telling. If this topic is one you find interetsing, her post is a must read.
There is a reason A-listers like Seth Godin and Heather Armstrong do not have comments on their site. If they did, their inboxes would overflow. And they’d spend half their time striking innapropriate or rude comments (something I’ve had to contend with, of late).
This issue is a real struggle. I put a lot of faith in our comments. Since, I do not like to approach each post with a heavy hand, I trust that my thoughts on an issue and yours will come out in the comments. Sometimes this works perfectly. Just as often, it does not. It’s no one’s fault. As Tom says in his post, we’re dealing with an imperfect system.