June 25, 2012 at 11:18 PM by Dr. Drang
Warning! This is one of those blogging-about-blogging posts. If navel-gazing1 like this annoys you, move on.
Blog comments are a contentious issue. Most political blogs have them because they create a sense of community among like-minded folks (and drive page views and advertising revenue). Most big-time independent bloggers in the computer/tech field despise them. If you have something to say about my post, say it on your own blog is the prevailing attitude. Although I allow comments here because they tend to be few and thoughtful, I’ve always understood the no-comments point of view, especially for really popular blogs. More readers means more stupid readers, and more stupid readers means more stupid comments sullying your site.
In the past week or so, the arguments for and against blog comments have been illustrated by two posts here at ANIAT. The good side of comments was demonstrated in “The first nail in the coffin of Python appscript” and the bad side got a workout in “2:40.”
Let’s start with the bad. Shortly after I put it up, “2:40” got linked on Twitter by Daniel Jalkut and on his blog by Marco Arment. They both said nice things about the post, which was satisfying, and I went to bed. The next morning I woke up and saw a hell of a lot more comments than normal. It had been linked on Hacker News and was getting—for me, at least—huge traffic.
And clueless comments, both here and on Hacker News itself. There were comments about how I should be using loose leaf tea, how microwave ovens work, how I should get an electric kettle, how electric kettles work, how green and white teas need different brewing temperatures than black teas, how I was a philistine for adding sugar but no milk, how I might be superheating the water, how Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Adams said tea should be made,2 how mine was a first-world problem, and so on.
Several commenters mistook my use of the microwave as the way all Americans heat water and clucked their tongues in disapproval. I’m happy to report to any of those who’ve returned to the site that I’m quite atypical in this regard. The standard American way to heat water is to take a pot of water out to our pickup truck, open the hood (what the Brits call a “spanner”), and lock the pot onto the engine block using a set of latches readily available at any Wal-Mart. Then we drive around at high speed, reciting the Gospels and firing our shotguns out the window. After reading the Gospel of John for three minutes and sixteen seconds, the water is ready. I hope this puts to rest any confusion.
But on the good side, there were the excellent and well-informed comments on my appscript post from the likes of Clark Goble, Hamish Sanderson (appscript’s programmer and coauthor of my current go-to book on AppleScript), Ken Case (OmniGroup), and Matt Neuburg (author of my previous go-to book on AppleScript). There’s much about the structure of AppleScript and appscript and the future—or lack thereof—of AppleScript and the Apple Events model it’s based on. The 7,000 words of commentary dwarf my original post in both quantity and quality.
I should stop posting late at night. Forgot to add that while a discussion like the one following my appscript post could be carried out across several posts on two or three blogs, it wouldn’t be nearly as easy to read that way. It’s the all-in-oneness of response and counter-response that makes comments worthwhile.
So, what to do? I’m going to stick with allowing comments and deal with the occasional out-of-control comment section by shutting them down on a per-app, as needed basis.
Turns out, you get the best view of your navel by sticking your head up your ass. ↩︎
Betraying their appalling lack of scholarship, the commenters never linked to George Orwell’s much earlier essay on tea preparation. There is apparently something about being an English man of letters that makes one stick one’s nose into other people’s tea. ↩︎