Comments And What To Do With Them

Go read Kevin Drum on the decision to keep or discard comments. His conclusion (for Washington Monthly):

Long story short, I don’t have any plans to either get rid of comments or to moderate them, at least for now. But as more and more blogs cross the 10-20,000 reader mark, which is where comment sections seem to break down, I wonder if comments will increasingly become a thing of the past in the upper reaches of the blogosphere. Ask me again a year from now, OK?

As one of those “more and more” blogs, I’ve dedicated myself to keeping comments open and resisting registration. How long will that be my policy? Until it’s too big of a pain in the ass to do otherwise…

I already spend a good amount of time keeping the MT Blacklist current, and frankly it’s a pretty good tool for managing comments. Like Kevin I’m not really interested in moderating comments. Other sites (Whiskey Bar) are shutting down comments, are moving toward registration (The Command Post), or are pondering their alternatives (ASV).

So what’s the answer? For me it’s closing old comment threads and inline trackbacks.

I encourage the use of trackbacks by displaying them inline with the text of a post. Tired of trying to get a link at one of the “big” sites? Inline trackbacks allow you to link yourself to Wizbang stories. I even wrote a Stand Alone Trackback Tool for those of you without automatic trackback generating abilities. I am happy to report that quite a few folks take advantage of this opportunity, and I hope that they are generating as many little Wizbanglanches as they want – it’s all good.

Old posts are the main recipients of comment spam, so I will be closing comments on most posts older than two weeks old.

Update: Laurence Simon notes the selective use of comments by Michelle Malkin, an idea I meant to mention above. Combining trackbacks, closed comment threads on older posts, and selective use of comments may be the last best hope for those who wish to avoid registration systems.

Daniel Drezner wonders whether civility is an endangered species. Michele Catalano wonders if the level of discourse has dropped below the point of no return.

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