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Thursday, June 24, 2004

BLOG: Comments and Trackbacks Good For Blogs 

Mark Bernstein posted a topic about why comments and trackbacks are bad because they lead to and encourage flaming. I have to disagree with Mark on this. I think comments and trackbacks are good for blogs. Being able to share ideas with your readers is very important. Comments allows that for quick statements or just to let someone know you're listening (or reading in this case). Trackbacks allow you link your blog post to another one - whether it be to respond or add to the discussion by your own entry. This greatly increases the discoverability of related information because you can follow a topic from blog to blog all the way to conclusion (hopefully).

Mark believes that the recent backlash against weblogs.com being shut down was fueled by comments and trackbacks. However, as Dave Winer pointed out, most of the flames last week were people spouting off on their own blogs and had nothing to do with comments and may have been only mildly influenced by trackbacks.

I think it would be an over-reaction to decide to remove comments or trackbacks from your blog because of an incident like this. They provide much greater value for community and discoverability than the effect they may have on flaming via blogs (because someone could flame all they want on their own blog anyway).

My wish is to see more active use of trackbacks than we have today.

I'm only commenting anonymously because I don't want to create a Blogger account... Mark Bernstein wants to see a more civilized blogosphere and I'm all for that. Comments don't flame people... people flame people. The most disruptive and contentious bloggers often don't have comment capabilities on their blogs... and probably with good reason. It's hard to handle feedback when you irritate a lot of readers. Feedback by definition can overdrive any circuit and the only solution is to limit the inputs quickly... maybe that's where Mark is headed. Implement some sort of mechanism to prevent circuit damaging heat. In traditional societies troublemakers are shunned or at least reprimanded for abusing the public forum... I'd like to see more accountability for the misuse of comments and trackbacks and more tolerance of divergent opinions. If Mark steps back farther from the situation and looks into the history of the combatants he'll disocver that the technology is not flawed but the people are exceptionally human... with long memories and short fuses. - McD
I will agree with that. The behavior must be addressed, not the commenting functionality. As you said some of the biggest culprits are those with blogs but no form of feedback at all, but just like to spout off on things they don't like. I little civility is what's needed here.
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