Why I got rid of comments on my site*
This has been brewing in my brain for a while, and now I have taken the plunge. No more posting comments on movie reviews at EricDSnider.com! I have decreed it, with a decree! Here are the reasons why.
1) Hardly anyone comments anyway…
2) … but enough people do that it requires moderation. I have to pay attention to it. My brother Jeff keeps an eye on it, too. We have to watch out for profanity. There’s this one guy named Russ who posts all the time who hasn’t caught on yet that swearing isn’t allowed, whose posts I always have to bleep (or delete). Beyond that, there’s making sure the spam filter catches what it’s supposed to and doesn’t catch what it’s not supposed to. We gotta watch for obscenity, libel, personal attacks, etc., etc. None of this is difficult, but it’s one more thing to deal with, and the time — a few seconds here, a few seconds there — adds up to a lot of wasted energy.
3) And it isn’t worth it. There’s very little benefit to having comments enabled. Theoretically, allowing comments increases pageviews and reader engagement: people post a comment, then come back later to see if others have responded to them. In reality, this doesn’t happen here. A few articles have inspired actual conversations, but these are so rare that I can almost name them all off the top of my head. On the vast majority of articles I publish, people don’t read or respond to other comments. They read what I wrote (or don’t), then say what they think (or type some words, anyway), and that’s it.
4) There are, on the other hand, drawbacks. Comments clutter up a page. They make it take longer to load. Also:
5) The vast majority of comments are pointless. Now, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings here. I’ve been lucky in that my site has not generally attracted the “OMG LOL” crowd or the trolls who make most websites’ comments sections a cesspool.
But most comments simply don’t say anything — which is probably why people tend to post them rather than read them. On movie reviews, the comments are usually on the order of “This is also a movie that I saw!” On “Snide Remarks” columns, they tend toward “I read this and am now commenting on it.”
I am truly grateful to have readers. Honestly. But you don’t have to leave a note letting me know that you read it. If you enjoy what I’ve written, please continue to visit the site, and to share my articles on Twitter and Facebook. If you have specific comments about something you liked or didn’t like, you can always email me. I know I have a history of making fun of emails, but only dumb ones. I promise I will be as thoughtful and polite to you as you are to me.
If I write something that you feel warrants public comment, by all means, do it! That’s what Facebook and Tumblr are for.
6) I hate anonymity. If it were up to me, the only way anyone would be able to comment anywhere on the Internet would be with their full, real name. Online nicknames are silly. When they’re used so the person can remain anonymous and thus unaccountable, they’re insidious. You want to say something out loud, in public? Then put your name on it. Own up to it. Otherwise, be quiet. There are situations where anonymity is justifiable, but they’re rare, and they almost never have anything to do with movie reviews.
We’re going to keep comments open on “Snide Remarks” for the time being, mostly because my mom likes it, and because there seems to be a small community of regular commenters who appreciate it. They don’t cause much trouble, so I’m OK with keeping that for now.
Please understand that I’m NOT saying I don’t want feedback! I welcome emails, tweets, and telegrams if there’s something you want to say. Corrections are welcome, too; I strive to run a clean operation here. There just isn’t much reason for that feedback to be public, that’s all, and the hassle of it outweighs the benefit.
Thank you, I love you, I will kiss you all on the face, etc.