The Death of Blog Comments?

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7 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    I think Co-Op and Balkinization are quite different in their readership, or at least their commenting readership. Balkinization tends to focus on meat-and-potatoes federalism, separation of powers and war on terror issues and that seemingly attracts a crowd of ideologue commenters, including a number of non-lawyers who seem to be less interested in the legal issues as they are in the political issues. Co-op is much more esoteric and “lawyerly.” Folks looking for red meat aren’t likely to find it here. By no means is that an invitation for you to be more provocative… I think you suit your readership just fine.

  2. Jack Oliphant says:

    The quality of the comments is inversely proportional to the partisanship of the post.

  3. Brett Bellmore says:

    Balkinization is dominated by exchanges where somebody on one side makes a civil, substantive remark, and is then subjected to dozens of name calling attacks by the same usual crew of posters who do nothing else. Heck, some of them have even chosen their online names to reflect that! Why, if you were going to have any moderation at all, would you tolerate that?

    I think Balkinization might be over the tipping point, where one partisan viewpoint dominates to the extent that they give up on engaging the other side, and switch instead to driving it off. When the other side refuses to be driven off, it gets vicious.

  4. It’s all about social norms, typically as influenced strongly by early patterns. If people come to a site and see respectful extended arguments, they learn that norm of commenting. If they see illiterate YouTube-ish babble, they add their own bleats. And if they see nasty personal attacks, they say nasty things. Most highly successful online communities with positive norms had someone who took a very active early role in setting a good tone. (Metafilter and Flickr are well-known examples.) Once a norm is in place, it tends to stay in place, because visitors self-select into participating in communities with norms they like, and because regular visitors enforce compliance with the norms.

    The details and the nuances of online community moderation are much more complex, of course, but there’s a lot of support for this basic tipping-point story.

  5. Aaron Titus says:

    There are one or two “trolls” at Concurring Opinions. However, in general I find the quality of discussion quite refreshing. It is one of the major reasons I am a regular reader.

    Blog comments are a first step in Web 2.0 self moderation. Perhaps the next step would be a Wiki approach: Let fellow readers flag, rate, demote, or delete useless or vitriolic comments.

  6. Brett Bellmore says:

    That’s a ghastly suggestion, which would swiftly result in a mind numbing enforcement of somebody’s orthodoxy. Anybody’s guess whose orthodoxy, but enforcement of anybody’s would be mind numbing.