Mailvox: up your game, people

JF writes about the declining quality of the comments here:

Over the years that I have been reading your blog, I haven’t always agreed with everything you say, but I always find that it challenges my thinking about the world. I traditionally have enjoyed the comment section, also. However; over the last year, after reading the post I find myself doing a quick skim through the comments to see who is actually posting to see if it is worth following the discussion.

A number of the commenters who brought thoughtful, funny, and intelligent views seem to have moved on or only comment sporadically now. This has left the comments section to become filled with more midwit posturing and monomania that derails conversation (such as “muh purity”). I don’t know what the solution is, or if it even needs one.

If I am out of line, just let me know. Either way, I’ll continue to read.

He’s not out of line, he’s absolutely right. Now, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a natural consequence of the blog readership having grown from 3,000 pageviews a day to 105,582 pageviews a day. The early readers tended to be highly intelligent outliers, almost all of whom were WorldNetDaily readers and familiar with a wide range of political subjects and authors. They were not monomaniacs and they had the ability to intelligently discuss a wide range of subjects as well as an interest in doing so.

Now we’ve got everything from Disney shills to commenters who see a nefarious Jewish hand at work in the fact that they ran out of skim milk this morning. I don’t follow every discussion in the comments myself.

Now, this doesn’t really matter all that much because the blog does not exist for the sake of the comments. The comments are mostly there as a requested courtesy for the readers and the posts of most interest to me seldom receive anywhere near the most comments. That’s fine, because things are what they are, not what we might wish them to be. But if you’re a commenter, perhaps it might matter to you that people notice the fact that you don’t have much to say and you say the same thing over and over again.

(Which, of course, you could say is true of some of my posts on certain subjects, but then, history keeps happening and you can’t say I don’t manage to throw the occasional curveball on even the oldest chestnuts.)

The moderators do a pretty good job of blocking the trolls and neutralizing the shills, but they can’t make people smarter, give them a broader perspective, or make them better-read or more interesting. That’s something every commenter will have to do for himself. So, perhaps you might want to think about this and put a little more thought into your next comment. Or perhaps you’ll just blurt out the same damn thing you’ve already posted here to no noticeable effect on 27 previous occasions.

It’s up to you. Just don’t think the readers don’t notice… and remember that there are more than a thousand of them for every one of you. Also, drop the posturing. If you feel the need to strike poses and posture, just get your own blog. Or a mirror. If you find that you’re about to make your third heated comment in another tedious pose-off with another commenter that everyone else is ignoring, just walk away from the keyboard. Believe me, no one – NO ONE AT ALL – is interested in those ridiculous arguments that never resolve anything.

We could, of course, turn on the feature that limits comments to members of the blog, which would permit the moderates and me to eliminate the shills, the trolls, and the tedious. In the past, I’ve resisted doing so in the interest of maximizing the range of the discourse, but if we’ve now reached the point of the tragedy of the commons, perhaps it is time to consider doing so. Then again, informing Google whose comments I permit here might be unwise, in light of recent revelations about the converged tech giant. Feel free to share your opinion.