Let’s talk about comments for a moment.

I hate them.

No, I really do. Trying to find a YouTube video of any content that has comments that aren’t some of the worst things that a human has expressed to someone else is a challenge. Find a popular video that features a minority, and there is the racism. A political video? More hate.

When I switched from WordPress, one of the primary conditions for whatever I chose to replace it with was that it either has comments that can be disabled or no comments at all. I started with Ghost, which (at the time and may still be true) didn’t have comments built in. Now I’m using Jekyll which meets that requirement.

Comments on sites add nothing. The exception being sites that are comments. See reddit or Quora or StackExchange.

As a proponent of the democratic and anarchistic culture of the Internet, I have some very mixed feelings saying these things.

Sites that have conversation sections are frequently an afterthought and have no governance, democratic or otherwise, over what is said and who can say what. reddit has its karma system for self-policing of people who’s only contribution to the conversation is to degrade others and their opinions.

I came across Civil Comments, which is a startup that is working towards a comments system that addresses these very issues. They have a nice video that explains their system. Mark Frauenfelder of boingboing asks:

I’m not sure how Civil Comments will deal with the issue of users “punishing” someone who has a minority opinion, even if it is polite and well-expressed. How does Civil Comments keep this from become a “you suck because I don’t agree with you” button?

And that’s a great question, but I think that the Civil Comments system leaves space for human moderation to offset any of that sort of behavior. Personally, if I had a site that wanted comments, I’d rather deal with groups of people using the system to shutdown a reasoned voice of minority than dealing with people who had nothing of value to say at all.

Best of luck to Civil Comments.

Likely won’t be adding a public commenting system to this site ever. My private commenting system can be found here