The vote and the e-mails have overwhelmingly been against adding comments (check out the final tally here). Here's the majority consensus:
Please do not add a comment section. I already spend way too much time reading your blog. Some of my favorite posts begin with "a reader writes." Most comment sections are clogged with drivel, invective, or redundancy. I cherish your editorial control over what we get to read from other readers. The problem with the blogosphere is precisely this lack of editorial overview, whether in regard to fact checking, or relevancy.
Editorial control? On the internet? Actually, that has become an attraction almost, hasn't it? In an auto-pilot, populist web, old-fashioned editors are almost chic at this point. I don't want to be like the Washington State Republicans, but there doesn't seem much point in keeping the polls open any longer. We've had 12,000 votes so far, and the proportion - 60 - 40 against - has barely budged in 24 hours. You decided: to silence yourselves. More feedback after the jump.
Another against comments:
When I first started reading your blog, I was curious as to why there were no comments. As I kept reading, I noticed that I was calmer than when reading blogs with comments. Here is my theory for why that is:
Upon reading a comment that I disagree with, my first thought is often something like "Who ever wrote that is a freakin' idiot." However, you are a known non-idiot and things you write that I disagree with are given time for reflection.
So, no comments.
A known non-idiot? There are a few bloggers out there who would take issue with that. A reader in favor of comments argues:
It has always bothered me that you didn't have comments on your blog and one of the reasons I can't understand about the issue is this: if you enable comments people who don't want to read them don't have to and those that do want them will be able to read/participate ( in other words everyone will be happy). If you don't enable them, the people who don't want to read them will be happy, but the people who want them won't. Enabling comments is a rare way in which you can make everyone happy without making anyone unhappy. Despite being a fan of you and the daily dish, there are issues I disagree with or points in articles that I disagree with and it would be great for us, your readers, to interact with each other in a comments section. The comments will certainly take on a life of their own and I would argue that a goodly portion of it wouldn't necessarily interest you, but every day there would be a gem of a point in the comments section that would shine a new facet on some topic or another (for you...and for us) and without that gem, you might miss an important pov on something.
A reader's counterargument to this argument:
Readers of your blog could opt to not read the comments section, but in truth we would rarely opt not to read them -- on your blog or any other blog. Blog comments have the power to hammerlock one's attention. I think, humans being highway rubberneckers, we'd be impotent to resist looking over the rantings and counter-rantings that would make their way into your Comments Section. Not only would comments be an incredible drain on one's time (especially if we check your blog several times a day from work), but it also exposes readers to the nasty underbelly of blogging. I like your blog because it is a civil outpost
on the internet -- not one stained by cursing, profane speech, or perhaps more importantly one person posting and posting and posting.
Another reader in favor:
Can you not just have people register and ban their account or IP from commenting if they break certain clear ground rules (anti-HIV, excessively and unnecessarily personal, etc.) I think readers would get behind this, and it would be relatively easy to enforce. I think people should be able to make personal comments if it entails calling you an "idiot" or "emotional" or whatever, but there is obviously some content which has no place on a civil website (e.g. HIV/faggot/barebacking comments which I've read elsewhere). So I'm for comments, with conditions. And if they prove impossible even with conditions, then you can always take them down. I think comments would only encourage debate and input; I know I myself often do not email because I don't want to take the time if I feel you are unlikely to read it (I have no way of knowing) and are even more unlikely to post it. We're busy people, your readers, and we don't like to blow half an hour on an email that for all we know disappears into cyberspace.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.