A Comment About Comments

keyboard with comment button

Right now, comment settings — and I have to say, “right now” because the settings may change at some future date — are such that a person must have a previously approved comment to escape the moderation queue.

That means anyone who has commented before can comment without waiting for moderator approval, but any new commenter will need to be approved. That system will catch spam.

Everyone despises spammers, right? (I bet even spammers hate other spammers.) We create this wonderful system of open communication, and then, damn it, there is the guy who cheats the game. In the long run, I serve your interests by gatekeeping. Do you want to see the piles of doo-doo, knocked over garbage cans, and disease these disgusting beasts transmit to a yard whenever they get through the fence? (Of course not.)

Doing it this way is more work for me than some auto-magick spam-catching machinery. It means I have to check for new comments frequently so that people who have kindly and thoughtfully said something get their words seen and acknowledged in a timely manner. It means commitment at my end.

But, you know? That’s fine. This too serves your interests. And mine. It allows me to manually block jackwagons who might use this forum to disrupt or self-promote. (Self-promote without any meaningful contribution, right? Go ahead and blast your trumpet if you have great stuff to share. But Mr. “Great post! Check out my blog!” guy can go hump swine.)

There are some writers who simply disable comments.

This is a topic of some debate. A case can be made for turning comments off. Some writers have found that comments are simply no benefit to them or their readers; quite the contrary, policing comments cuts into limited creation time, so readers benefit from quality posts without being distracted by comments that they too never read. But the authors who do that tend to be big names with large audiences, and I’m certainly not in that milieu. Some people, too, simply prefer to work in isolation. I have certainly spent years of my life that way. It is understandable. I’d never begrudge anyone their peace and quiet.

But, you know? Now? If I were some famous writer? I’d be able to afford a secretary, and I’d make a point of ensuring that he or she treated my readers well. It truly seems to me that the whole point of the weblog form is that one can engage in back and forth communication in something very near real time. It is not a magazine. It is not a newspaper. It is not a TV show. It is not a static broadcast medium.

A blog is an interactive form.

Blogging is more like an agora, a forum, or a live show. People can talk — or shout — back and forth. As the one at the rostrum or stage if you will, it’s my job to handle the crowd with grace. Again, commitment. It’s a commitment. I have to accept the liabilities of the work and do the job.

Thus, if you comment and don’t immediately see it posted, well, that means I have not seen it yet. I do, however, get email notifications that tell me when a comment is in the moderation bull pen. But I’m not one to carry my phone with me everywhere; I work outside a lot; I often mute all social media and my phone. I check in and check out. Always have. That’s how I concentrate and get stuff done. I have learned to set up barriers around my productive enterprises to achieve personal states of hyper-focus. I have also learned to tell people that is what I do so they can predict me better and we can maintain trust. That is why now I am now telling you.

One of the oldest rules in the universe is, “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

That is a good rule.

I think I can stay very near the ideal of the “24 Hour Rule”: Handle all incoming communication one way or another within twenty-four hours of receipt.

“Receipt,” understand, is when I see it, not necessarily when you send it. Certainly, if I can predict I’ll be offline for longer than twenty-four hours, I’ll post that. I value your thoughts. I’m committed to maintaining an environment where your voice can be heard. Those are promises I can keep.

All right. That was more than “a” comment. You might have had bad — or good! — experiences yourself with blog comments. Feel free to share your wisdom.