Monday, November 22, 2004

Bye-Bye Comments

A funny thing happened this weekend. A blogger mentioned one of my posts, copied it and then set up a discussion about it. I figured that author would appreciate me commenting on my post on his site. I wrote a comment on the post Sunday morning and it was instantly erased by the author. I've reproduced the comment below. It was in no way offensive and I'm not at all sure why it was erased.

This blogger has a history of erasing comments, so I should not have been surprised. I find it fascinating as I continue to study "How To Build A Blog" that certain bloggers actually feel the need to control the conversation on their site to such an extent. (I especially like this new term "de-publishing" and the conversation that it brought to the blogosphere.)

I had been writing lately about which Alpha Bloggers have comments and which ones choose NOT to deal with comments. There are good arguments on all sides, and for a long time I did not have comments here and now I do.

After the Dean blog and other political blogs bravely hosted a veritable flood of comments, I rethought how I felt about comments. They took a leadership role in saying community matters. The community argument won me over -- that despite the risk of people writing stupid, nasty, rude things -- I do believe that hosting the conversations of your readers and thereby creating a community does matter very much. You have to be open to people saying ... whatever. I think you must resist controlling other's opinions. The idea that you prune and weed your garden of comments to make only nice things bloom on your site is interesting to me.

The comment I wrote went something like this (I can't recall it verbatim):

Dave et al: Thanks for all your captions. This pic was originally on Chris Locke, aka Rageboy's blog. I couldn't come up with much of a caption. I posted it because it reminded me of something I'd been reading -- Frans de Waal's great book called Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes. It ends up that male chimpanzees have predictable stages of anger that lead to a blow up, whereas female chimpanzees often get very angry very quickly without much warning, much to the dismay of their male chimpanzee mates. Also Professor de Waal suggests that male chimps are quick to allow even their enemies a way back to reconciliation, where female chimps more likely hold a grudge and are reluctant to offer the olive branch of truce. Needless to say, I'm talking about CHIMPS here and won't jump to the conclusion that HUMAN males and females also behave in this way.