For as long as the web existed, I had been a frequent commenter on many sites. Yet, I was upset that when I post a comment, someone else controls it. I might be moderated out of existence. They can delete or edit your post. They can ban me. The entire site might even shut down. Then that content which was valuable enough for me to spend time typing is lost for eternity.
To solve this problem, I decided that I would stop commenting on other sites. I can just write whatever I have to say on this blog, where I am in control, and then I can just link to the relevant article to provide context. I would have used my existing blog at apreche.net, but I was a frequent commenter. I was worried that a flood of comments would drown out my original content.
Posting comments to other sites exclusively on my own blog had other benefits. I don’t have to worry about being blocked or banned. I don’t need as many logins and accounts on sites just to post comments there. There’s even a miniscule chance I could generate my own audience with a centralized collection of comments.
This plan worked for awhile. I posted quite a few comments here. And because it was on my own blog, I put more effort into them. Instead of comments, I was writing blog responses. That’s good for traffic at least. On sites like reddit or hackernews you often see stories voted up which are responses to other recently upvoted stories. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but it could happen.
Then something unexpected happened. It was so gradual I didn’t even realize it until recently. As the title of this post suggests, I stopped commenting almost entirely. I can think of some possible reasons, but honestly, I’m not completely sure why this has happened.
Is it because I have so much upstream bandwidth for expressive output that I don’t need to comment? Between Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, forums, a podcast, and more, there are so many ways to broadcast content on the web that one person can not fill all the pipes.
Is it because I have been making the same comments repeatedly for years, and got tired of it? If so, why now? Posting the same arguments repeatedly for 10+ years didn’t get old. Did something happen recently that caused me to tire of something I had done enthusiastically for so many years?
Is it because posting comments on a blog like this is much more work than posting normally? I’m not going to put in such extra effort for a throwaway comment. Is it just that there is so rarely something actually worth commenting on?
As I said, I don’t know. I’ve just reached a point in my life where I rarely comment on stores on the web. Maybe because I’m now consciously thinking about my lack of commenting, I will start commenting again.
I do think, though, that this lack of commenting is probably a good thing. How much time was I spending typing comments. How much time did I spend typing this very post? Is there a more valuable use of my time than commenting? There probably is. Because of that, I can say that this separate commenting blog is a success despite the lack of content. The only way it could have failed is if I had continued to post comments scattered across the web.
Thus, I suggest to everyone to do the same. Go right now and setup a separate blog of some kind, even a tumblr. Then whenever you are about to post a comment anywhere, post it in the blog instead. If you stick to this plan, it can only mean good things.
Matt Gemmell recently disabled comments on his blog for a similar reasons to yours and collected comments on commenting from various blogs. Having comments on a blog means more work and “good” comments are few and far between. Having people blog on their own gives, in general, more though out comments and improves the overall discussion. I think that this trend shows the way the web is going to develop in the following years.
You wrote a comment. So meta.