Drowning in voices

13 January 2004

1 comment

A Blue Perspective: Drowning in voices

Yesterday I had a bit of free time and went a bit comment crazy on other people's sites. But not as crazy as I could have.

Sometimes when I'm reading an article and feel moved to respond I'll scroll down to the comments area to have a look at what other people have ruminated over, only to discover that *horror* there's 75 comments. It's usually at this stage that I proceed to the next site on my favourites list, unless the topic is one that I'm really, really, really interested in i.e. me.

Comments are a great idea and to me they represent the next evolution in journalism/correspondence – not only do they allow an author to express their views, but those views can also be discussed, adding innumerably to the ideas contained in the original piece. However, when you visit a popular site sometimes a discussion is no longer a discussion, but peak hour on the subway; a disorganised mass of thoughts and arguments. Sure, there may be some valid and extremely strong points raised in the discussion, but the sheer volume of them swamps my brain and makes my eyes glaze over. (Ever try reading a Slashdot discussion?)

It's no reflection on the sites themselves – they should be lauded for the attention they receive and the superb content which draws that attention – they are merely victims of their own success. For instance, Dave Shea's post on a page-based CMS garnered 61 comments in less than three days. Damned if I'm going to read 5,000 words of comments.

On more technical articles such as that posted by Dave S, I generally try not to comment unless I have something I feel is important to add to the discussion, and which has not been touched on previously. I try to avoid the "me too" post which adds nothing to the discussion except the commentator's name, and the "bitch" post whinging about pedantic errors in other people's posts.

Of course, I might just have the attention span of a dragonfly and you all might enjoy scrolling 523 lines.


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  1. 1/1

    KillAllDash9 commented on 11 February 2004 @ 03:46

    I would have to agree with your viewpoint--call it 'birds of a feather', but I usually only read the first 5 or 6 comments on a post myself. It's a shame when good comments never see the light of day, because they get buried under the previous 30 or 40 'me-too' posts.

    Popular weblogs would do better to impliment a system that allowed the cream to rise to the top. This certainly isn't a novel idea; it's just not commonly implimented in most off-the-shelf weblog software.

    First of all, I'd like to see more people use threaded comments, so I can easily tell if this is a comment about the original post or just a comment about someone else's comment. Secondly, There should be a moderation system that not only allows the site owner to filter out the garbage completely, but also allows him to give the more relevant/useful comments higher priority so they appear right under the post.

    Slashdot already does this to some effect, but they get so many comments that it's still hard to make it through all of them. I think the usefullness of this idea would be improved exponentially on the average 'popular' blog post with 60 or so comments per post. If it were implimented this way, those of us who only read 5-10 comments could at least be reading the most useful ones.

    Ahh, one more item added to the to-do list for my own weblog. ;-)

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