It’s rare when the sprawling blob of humanity that we call the internet agrees on anything. But we seem to be slowly reaching consensus on one thing: comments are awful.
Every week you see more articles about why comment sections on blogs and news sites are not only not helpful, but actually harmful. Far from engaging more people, they actually drive regular humans away.
Recognition of the problem is becoming widespread, and much soul-searching has ensued. Just do a Google search for “why we are removing comments”. Here are just a few of the results:
Frequently, the only argument for retaining comments is that we should try to foster discussion and conversation. But generally that’s not what happens in a comments section. It’s mostly full of hate speech and robo-posts trying to sell Viagra (sorry to all you well-meaning site admins, but CAPTCHAs just don’t work any more).
What can we do to actually foster conversation? Many folks argue that responses to posts should move to Twitter, or even that the responder should have their own blog. I think that’s a fine idea in theory, but it drastically increases friction and hinders discovery of the conversation.
That’s why I’m going to experiment with something new: using Twitter as curated comments within the blog article itself. Here’s the idea: at the bottom of every article, you’ll see one of those (now ubiquitous) embedded tweets. A tweet that represents the article that you are currently reading. It has buttons on it allowing you to retweet it or reply to it, right from the article page itself.
What’s more, any replies to that tweet that I think might be particularly interesting or informative to the wider audience will also get embedded in the page. The idea is that we’ll get the benefits of a well-moderated comments section, but we’ll leverage Twitter’s core strength: connecting you to the people you are interested in hearing from.
Let me know what you think! (by replying to this tweet)