Developing a Comment Culture:
In the last few days, Balkinization and Above the Law have introduced new comment policies. Balkinization is mostly turning comments off, in light of the fact that its comment threads were pretty much unreadable: Above the Law is hiding them a bit and taking a somewhat more aggressive approach to moderation. Over at CoOp, Dan Solove comments:
It seems to me that different blog commenting cultures arise on different blogs. I bet that the readership for Balkinization and Concurring Opinions overlaps quite a bit, yet I have noticed that the comments at Balkinization are much as Jack describes them [that is, nasty and nonsubstantive]. Why have commenting cultures developed so differently at different blogs? I don't really know the answer, and it would be interesting to figure out why commenting cultures develop in the ways that they do.
  I suspect the explanation rests largely on the different moderation practices at different blogs. If a blogger doesn't moderate comment threads at all on a widely read blog, people who want to be shocking, mean, or just irrelevant realize they can do their thing and reach a decent-sized audience. They eventually push out the more thoughtful people: You end up with a mess, or, as Brian Leiter would put it, a "cess pool." In contrast, if bloggers moderate their threads reasonably well, deleting irrelevant or abusive comments — and in some cases, participating in the comment threads themselves to carry on the debate — then you end up with a shift in culture over time. Readers begin to expect that the comment threads will be reasonably good, or at least entertaining, and more thoughtful people consider commenting themselves.

  Over time, comment moderation practices end up having a profound impact on who comments, and different approaches either attract thoughtful commenters or keep them away. I think this explains the largely unreadable comment threads at Balkinization, for example; My sense is that Balkinization threads were lightly edited if not unedited altogether, with the bloggers themselves generally not participating in comment threads.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Comments Off:
  2. Developing a Comment Culture:
  3. Commenting About Commenting: