I now support comments

Posted to: DEV; Hacker News; Twitter

If you’ve read my blog, you’ll have noticed that I never had a comments section before. This was a deliberate decision, although I maybe didn’t think about it quite as deeply as I have some other choices. Instead of comments, I pointed people at Twitter or Hacker News to continue the conversation. As far as I’m aware, not a single person ever took this advice.

I’ve always been quite scared of public opinion, and I think it has led me to be quite scared of putting my writing out there. It’s why, until recently, this blog only averaged a few posts a year. I’ve always wanted to write more, but I’m basically too scared to. I procrastinate it terribly.

This is probably why I was quite convinced by some articles I read a number of years ago about comments sections being toxic. I’m not sure exactly which article it was that stuck with me, but it may well have been this one from NPR in 2016, which I think was part of a trend at the time. It puts forward the following arguments for disabling comments:

You’ll notice none of these arguments are actually very strong. They explain why comments aren’t the be all and end all, but not actually why they should be removed - after all, why not support every communication channel you can? What the article doesn’t mention as a reason are personal attacks or vitriol that can appear on comments, but it was quite obviously there between the lines. And I’m pretty sure I read other similar articles mentioning it explicitly.

But a number of things lately have led me to reconsider this position:

And in the psychological battle against writer’s block, I think getting real human feedback on my writing might be quite motivating. I took the decision recently to deliberately tone down my use of analytics, because I felt that was a pretty unhealthy addiction for my ego that was counterproductive to my motivation to write. I still think that’s true. But I think that’s because it’s fake, it’s not human interaction but an excuse to replace human interaction with gamified metrics. I think actual discussions with real humans through comments on my blog could instead be quite wholesome.

I just went to look for articles about whether blogs should have comments sections, and it seems like the world has also changed its mind in much the same way as I have:

So I’m now enabling comments on my blog with Utterances. If you’re reading this, please say hi and let me know what you think of this post, Utterances, my blog or life in general. Or just how your day is going.

But who knows. Maybe no-one will comment. I guess time will tell.

By @nottrobin