Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

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One of the things I wrestled with when I was thinking about doing a blog was how to deal with comments. In the best of all worlds I would have a comments section and engage with readers, learning from them, expanding my circle of reciprocal influence, and connecting with other humans in a meaningful way. Alas, this is not the best of all worlds. I am going to ask a question here, and I am not being rhetorical. What happened? Seriously, what the fuck happened?

I first got involved with the web somewhere around 1996 – at that time, if you had any interest in technology the whole concept was mind-blowing and full of possibilities. Of course, there wasn’t much in the way of content yet, and you connected with a modem over your telephone line that was so slow a page of text might take a minute, but still – the idea was so futuristic. It would be the ultimate democratization of information! You would be able to connect with people all over the world! If you were an artist, you could reach the world and sell your art without a middleman!

Fast forward 20 or so years later and some things kind of worked out the way early adopters thought, others not so much. But one thing I never saw coming was the sheer tsunami of hate and vitriol that the internet seemed to unleash. Holy shit – if Einstein had a blog with comments, there would be no shortage of people informing him in no uncertain terms how “stupid” and “ignorant” he was, and how he should “go back to Germany” and.. well, you get the idea. And these wouldn’t be short posts either – no, they would be long and written with an absolute certainty in their logic. And then other readers would try to engage these haters with thoughtfully written responses, which would start a “flame war.” And on and on… Oh, and don’t forget the ‘bots – floods of ads for every fucking thing you never wanted. There’ll be no shortage of those in your comments section.

So where does that leave us? Well, unless you have the time to moderate and clean up your comments section several time a day, it leaves you without a comments section, that’s where.