online comment sections a joke?

How do you feel about online comment sections?

Doug Gross on CNN approached this topic today, asking if online comments had become a joke?

Rarely do I read online comments. I take each article as a complete, before the comments. Why? Because the people who comment tend to be off topic, negative and fired up about something they want to soapbox about. Let them get their own blog.

Truly valid questions to the writer are now generally not read, acknowledged or responded to on any large forum. A loss. There are worthy topics that many would love to expand upon, but we do not enjoy that dialog in comments.

The article quotes  "But it's not as if it's entirely the writer setting the tone for the comments. Sometimes, it's the comments setting thetone for the writer."

Do you think this statement is true? Have you experienced this in your own writing? How did you adapt?

I remember back in the early 2000s when I started blogging it was a different story. There were long threads of discussion, and gawd forbid you be a "thread kill." Many of these early bloggers are now real friends that we have met across the country and share holiday letters and life events. It was simply different then.

I can tell you about when it changed, 2007-2008. We all stopped blogging. Because the interaction was no longer there. Like many I had moved my blog to privacy settings, continuing with a select few. This move was prompted by a rise of negative anonymous comments. Anonymous. Like the online bully that we hear about, just older and with no excuse. Many blogs have enabled moderation.

I have been following Twitter these days, and what I observe is that anyone can throw there thoughts and ideas out there, and they do not expect a response. They want followers, but not real interactions. Now, I love this service for getting my daily headlines from around the globe and keeping up on breaking issues. But there is no dialog. This forum has a distinct purpose, promotion and dissemination.

Facebook can work well for communication, if your "friends" are truly that small group of people you communicate with and share your life. It can be a tool for communication. But I have seen profiles with 1,000s of "friends." And these interactions become similar to Twitter, and are often interfaced with Twitter to disseminate opinions. And that in itself is every school administrator's nightmare. One administrator told me they figure that 80% of all fights and negative issues at school begin on Facebook [or Twitter].

And so back to blogging. I have a blog where I write about sustainability and permaculture (gardening and renovation). I can see the number of "hits" and the engagement level (time on site and pages read) and yet, few comments. Sometimes I will be "tweeted," thank you. But I am waiting... the blogging world may have irreversibly changed. Perhaps we are all headed back to those face-to-face-over-coffee conversation, as the pendulum swings.

Perhaps we are all headed back to those face-to-face-over-coffee conversation, as the pendulum swings. 


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