Sunday, August 15, 2010

Comments are the lifeblood of blogging as a community

Daniel Nester's Round Up at We Who Are About to Die alerted me to two articles, both of which basically express opinions about why Silliman's Blog recently decided to disable comments.

It became in many ways a discussion on the importance of comments in blogs. Or else, the lack thereof.  Samizdat Blog explains that in an age which is inundated with poets, poetry, and critique of poetry, many have decided to garner attention by any means necessary.  Which means, a lot of the time, logging into your favorite blog platform, finding the comment section of your favorite blog, and being a jerk.

I suppose, in the end, what we have is a failure to adjust our expectations to the new conditions under which we write poetry, and write about poetry. When the dissemination of poems and commentary was limited by the technology of print, relatively few people were able to disseminate their work, and they could imagine that the audience for what they had to say was larger than the number of other publishing writers. Now everyone with a laptop can get their work out there, but getting it noticed amid the crowd is an issue.
Lemon Hound explains that perhaps the medium demands a different sort of call and response:

A little space between digestion and response. I said earlier that I thought the right response to a great poem is probably another great poem--I think the same might be true for a post.

I tend to agree with both these statements.  There are a lot of people out there just trying to get a word in edge-wise, to the detriment of the community (depending, of course, on the person and their intent).  And yes, the best response to a good blog post is another post, just as a the best response to an outstanding poem is another poem.

But these aren't the only responses, or nobody would read poems but other poets.

Every blog, of course, is free to do what they feel necessary to function as whatever it is they function as.  But I think that at its core, no blog can ever enter the world, truly as part of the community, without comments.  Granted, this is not the goal of every site or person.  And a blog may be big enough or important enough to directly affect the community anyway.  But only in the oblique way that forces take on groups of people, instead of the organic way that communities actually thrive.

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