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The Trouble with Comments

I haven’t had comments on this site for quite a few years — I can’t remember when I made the switch, probably around the early 2010s, but it was a reaction to the constant battle against spam, as well as noticing that comments on the site were getting lower, and I figured that feedback could be better given on Twitter or Facebook, or via email.

When I brought back the old archives to the site this past weekend, along with them came all the comments, and I thought not only would it be fun to keep all those comments there, I also decided to just leave comments open on all posts, and see what would happen.

Spam. Lots of it.

It didn’t take long before my email inbox got filled with notifications of the comment spam that was overloading the site.

Result? Bye bye comments.

I think that in the past 5-6 years, the trend for sites to remove comments on posts/articles has continued. I made the right choice then, and there’s no reason to go back on it, even if I did find a better spam fighter.

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Commenting, The Next Step

A while back I announced that I would be removing the commenting system on this site, instead inviting readers to contribute comments either through Twitter or Facebook. The result? I can’t say that the number of “replies” I get on Twitter has noticeably increased much, but since it’s not like this site was getting a huge amount of comments anyway, the biggest thing to come out of this is that at least I don’t have to deal with any spam or “requests for moderation.” In fact, since I don’t feel that SNOW Magazine gets a huge number of comments either, I think I’m going to switch and do the same thing there from September.

Let me also thank everyone who entered the Graniph contest this past month. I’m currently compiling all the entries/artist suggestions we received (from comments, yes, but also through email and Twitter), and winners will be contacted soon. Please note that a new contest will start in September.

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Take It Elsewhere

I’ve finally done something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now: Remove the comments section on posts. Now let me start by saying I’ve got absolutely nothing against feedback, and quite the opposite, I’ve always enjoyed receiving it — there have been 14,500 comments posted to this site since its launch back in 2002 (and far too much spam to mention) — and that goes for feedback that comes through Twitter as well. It just somehow feels like a vestige of another era, and to be honest, the number of comments that are posted here has definitely gone down over the past year or so, especially following the launch of SNOW Magazine.

The thing that inspired me to make the change was seeing how Information Architects deals with comments on its site. It doesn’t. iA only adds a link to its Twitter account, and for those who followed the passionate discussion that followed Oliver’s first impressions of WIRED Magazine on the iPad, you’re well aware that it certainly didn’t hurt any, and in fact it was quite interesting to see where those discussions ended up taking place (on Twitter and on Flickr, as well as on other blogs).

So I’ve pretty much done the same, and now at the bottom of every post you’ll simply find an invitation to offer feedback through Twitter or Facebook. I’m really interested to see how it’ll all work, and welcome you to get in touch that way — and active as I am on Twitter, you’re bound to hear from me faster than you would here on the site. Of course, another bonus to this is that I won’t have to deal with comment spam anymore — YES!

I’m still unsure if it’s something I want to do for SNOW Magazine, but I am considering it. Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this, let’s just take it elsewhere.