Comments III

Ever since the reprogramming to send comments by email to the authors, we’ve received almost nothing but healthy debate, good posts that ought to be shared. Meanwhile — and because of that, as well as multiple requests from you — a lively internal debate has gone on behind the scenes with regards to how to proceed.

Jeff Ballabon emphasizes that this is a blog, not a chatroom. With few exceptions, the most popular blogs (not just The Corner and Powerline) do not support user comments. Instead, he argues, bloggers should receive comments and decide whether and when to post the ones which they find interesting, as part of the ongoing “dia-blog.” [Ouch. That pun is his.]

Others, such as R’ Yitzchak Adlerstein and Jonathan Rosenblum, argue that the opportunity to comment makes for a more lively and enjoyable experience, shows we are unafraid to face the issues (you know you’ve heard that allegation before), and lets other voices be heard.

We’re going to attempt to have it both ways, which is a frequent guarantor of failure. 🙂 But it should be fun trying, and as I mentioned before, the re-programming only takes a few minutes.

With some cautions, we’re going to try moderating the comments, after all — but with some changes to preserve the experience for those who just want to give the site “a quick reading.” First of all, we’re going to develop moderation guidelines — there’s no guarantee that a submission will be posted. Think along the lines of “Letters to the Editor” at Internet speed — yes, there’s a discussion, but we don’t plan to take all comments.

A further change — I’ll also ask the authors to avoid commenting in each other’s comment sections, but to instead post their responses and follow-ups as new blog entries. They may even do their own follow-ups, on their own entries, the same way — as Jeff would have it, incorporating selected comments in their next post. This will, we hope, keep the site updating frequently, and minimize the “distraction” of answering everything in the comments section. Those who enjoy comments will read them — but those who don’t should not feel like they are “missing” something from a favorite contributor to the blog.

This is, once again, a trial. Kol Haschalos Kashos, all beginnings are difficult. Fortunately, with a web site, it is easy to make these changes, in order to provide the best possible experience for all of us.

Please, keep the comments coming — we do enjoy hearing from you, as we contemplate how best to provide this new journal.

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2 Responses

  1. Simple objective guidelines would be most welcome (you could put them in the section that begins, “Comments are sent…”), along the lines that reasoned argument will be posted, loshon harah / ad hominem stuff won’t get posted, etc. That way the moderation will feel less arbitrary.

  2. Greg says:

    Authors commenting in the comments of posts is often a good thing. Think of it like this: each post has its own, globally unique URL. That becomes the permanent link to that conversation. It’s a more coherent collection of the thoughts and ideas surrounding a discussion if everything gels around a single page. If an author wants to post their own thoghts in a seperate post, you might want to look into using Trackback to connect the thouhgts into the comments stream of the original post.

    I’m fascinated with the whole internal struggle you are going through with comments/no comments. I’ve composed two seperate draft entries either criticising or complementing your decisions, put before I can post it, your policy changes! (to sum up – I’m pro-comments, pro-censorship of blatant inappropriate lashon hara as deemed such by the author, and feel you needn’t debate each argument ad naseum ad infinitum; it’s OK not to get the last word in).

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