I see that over on his site, John August has turned off comments on new posts and has hidden comments on all old posts. He says he wants to experiment and see if it makes a difference in how the site feels to readers and him. Already, I feel a difference. I think one of the great things about the net is the interactions we can have and the discussions that can take place when reasonable people share their insight, knowledge and advice.
Note that I said "reasonable people." I consider myself pretty lucky that the people who comment here are, by and large, a fairly civil group of people who know how to express themselves maturely. I've run this blog for nearly three years and only once have I deleted someone's comment. (And in that case, it was not because of trolling so much as it contained information of a privileged nature that I didn't feel was necessary to post.) I've not had to censor anyone and on the rare instances that a dickhead or two shows up, they're usually swatted down swiftly.
I understand some other bloggers aren't as fortunate. I've seen plenty of comments elsewhere that are petty, mean, trolling and go out of their way to be belligerent. It's nice we don't deal with that here much, and to be honest, it seems rare that August's site gets plagued by those morons either. I like the conversations that result over on John's site. To me, it's an asset that there isn't just one point of view and we can see why some people agree or disagree with John.
It's fun for me to watch you guys comment on my posts and either agree with me or challenge the views. It's even more fun to watch you talk amongst yourselves, spurred on by something I said. Even when I don't contribute in the comments, it's really satisfying to see some of you discussing and forming your own opinions in reaction to something I've posted. This is particularly true when I put something up with the intent of getting a reaction and also getting you to look below the surface and perhaps understanding your own reactions to a particular stimulus.
Basically, blogging is a two-way street. Or at least that's the way I see it. Does a blogger even exist if there's no tangible audience reacting to them? Do they continue to thrive, or do they die like an applause-deprived Tinkerbell? For now, I think it's our loss that we can't contribute to John's blog and interact with other readers there - but not as much as it's John's loss