Are Comments Worthless?

Some journalists apparently think that online comments to their pieces are mostly BS and flamers. And of course, they are right. When I see a thread of over 100 comments to a NYT article, there is no way I will start reading through them. I know that it would be a huge waste of time.

So why not get rid of comments?  Some are doing so and I think no one really misses them. But … is this the end of the story? I don’t think so. The problem here is not the fact of comments. I want to get more points of view. I want to get into meaningful exchanges of ideas. I want to connect with really smart people who are interested in my ideas. And potentially, comment sections to public forums could offer these things — even if they do not do so now.

So turning away altogether from comments is like throwing the delicate little baby with the gross bath water. The weird thing is that it would be easy to do better. All I need is for comments to be organized or at least curated so that I can ignore the BS. Matt Ingram makes this argument for Giga.

Why fight about this? Because at the end of the day, 1,000 comments that add value to a post could be far more valuable than the post itself. Posts should just be starting points for accelerating learning. These days, they are end points instead. Why? Because we are locked into the silly idea that writers should get paid by how much they publish rather than how much they stimulate.


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