Runaway comments

The Oatmeal’s latest, some thoughts and musings on making things for the web, is an entertaining ramble through the preoccupations of a full-time web content creator. It’s well worth a look and I bet any social interpretation folks will get a kick out of the bit above.

Most of all though, I thought it was interesting how down Matthew is on comments. There’s a cursory nod to the potential upsides (“they can create a dialogue within your work”) but otherwise their harmful potential seems to outweigh everything else.

I’ve worked with an organisation that sometimes presents performances tackling quite controversial themes. They have quite a high profile and have good reason to believe that they would attract a lot of comments if they were enabled on their website. They’ve taken the decision not to do this. Not right now, at least.

It’s not that they’re totally closed off or anything. As an organisation they use social networks quite a lot and have been better than many at using digital media to widen their audience and encourage creative participation.

They’d like all the benefits that come with having a community of commenters on their site, they’re just aware that the requirements of proper moderation and community management would be beyond their current resources. They feel that they would have a responsibility – to their website visitors, commenters, artists, staff and others – either to do things properly or not at all. Which I think is a perfectly fine and responsible view to take.

In the meantime, as The Oatmeal points out, discussion can happen on other forums – there’s no short of community on the internet.