Where Have All The Comments Gone?

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Years ago, the online design community was a thriving conversationalist — of sorts — through the comment sections across the community. It was through leaving meaningful comments that the thought-provoking ideas presented and discussed in a post were examined by others whose perspective and experiences may have provided them with a slightly different take.

The continued dissection and discussion of the topic expanded the dialog far beyond the initial post, challenging and redirecting ideas and allowing dialog to evolve; it showed a certain level of critical thinking from within the community. We still have sites1 that2 are3 design4 conversationalists5, but unfortunately they are rather exceptions. And it seems that the problem occurs not only in the design community, but in other areas6 as well.

Since those good old days, things have taken an unexpected turn. Comments are becoming less and less expansions on the ideas presented, and more and more just simple offerings of praise or agreement. Even in articles where solutions are being sought for problem areas within the field, numerous comments show acceptance of this need for action but offer no solution or approach; often, the comments also show that the ideas were not given much consideration by the reader.

This is certainly not indicative of every comment on every post out there across the blogosphere, or a generalization about the community — just an observation of an increasing trend. Once, posts would inspire active discussion and participation with such a wide range of opinions that the post would take on a whole new life. That phenomenon has faded.

What Is This Saying?

The rise of the less-than-conversational commenting can make it look like we are losing our capacity for critical thinking — at least, with regards to the topics being presented for discussion. It can sometimes feel like there are those who rush to throw their support behind the author of the post without considering what is being proposed. Even if you agree with what was said and wish to show your support, there are still ways to comment that indicate a more thoughtful approach.

Sometimes comments can also leave the impression that the commentator just skimmed through the headers and did not read the article in full. The sentiments left behind in such comments, though they may be honest, can impart a hollow feeling rather than the intended encouragement.

So, What Happened?

There is one important aspect of online content that we often tend to forget. With most posts (beyond those intended to offer inspiration and little else), the ideas presented are there to be examined and dissected; they are not the “final word” on the subject, but a perspective presented for consideration. They don’t have to be correct and they don’t have to be accepted “as is”. The current commenting attitude can effectively undercut any potential ongoing discussion that the author of the post set out to have. When, and why, did the dialog die? Perhaps if we can root out the cause, we can better address the problem.

1. It’s a Matter of Time

One obvious consideration is time. Our multiple daily online “obligations” can cause our time to be finely divided; we may opt to leave behind a quick sentiment because our RSS feeds are calling with dozens of other articles that we want to give our attention to; because we have e-mails to attend to; or because any number of time-consuming reasons keep us “running” the whole time we are online.

2. The Social Media Connection

Perhaps the rise of social media shares some blame for the devolving of critical commenting. People started using social media networks more frequently and offering follow-up thoughts mainly when they shared a post, usually limiting their comments to little or nothing; it became easier to simply share a post, rather than to actively formulate a meaningful follow-up comment to leave on the post itself. And as the path of least resistance is often the one traveled most, here we are.

3. Just a Visual Contribution

We also have to consider that for some of the blogosphere populous, commenting is more about visibility than actually contributing to the discussion. At times, the only purpose is to be “seen” on the website or to have their information linked to the website via the comment section — especially if they can be the absolute first to leave a comment. It does not really matter what the post is about; in fact, they may not have even read it. What’s often overseen in these cases is that links next to a meaningful comment are an indicator of author’s competence and as such much more useful and therefore much more valuable than simple link dropping.

As Content Creators, What Can We Do?

What can content creators do to generate more discussion and critical thinking among readers? Many of us are unwilling to adopt a focus on putting out content that does not promote critical thinking; we wish to keep challenging our readers and colleagues. We like to read content which gets us thinking and questioning, so in turn, we like to create the same type of content.

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Photo credit: Ian Muttoo8

1. Maximize Engagement

Find creative ways to ensure that the content we are putting out is as engaging or interactive as possible. If you can involve your readers in the post, you are more apt to get them thinking about the ideas being presented. Ask them questions throughout the article to get them into an inquisitive state of mind, so that they may end up reading with a much more critical eye and have more comments to make.

2. Respond in a Timely Manner

Watch the comments that are coming in and reply to them within a day or so. This is not to say that we have to be available at a moment’s notice to respond to each comment; but if readers take the time to consider your ideas and to leave their thoughts, we need to take the time to reply. Most will check back in a day or two to see if you have responded, hoping to keep the discussion going; if we have not gotten back to them by then, they might write off the idea of continuing the dialog and move on.

3. Foster a Conversational Environment

Create an atmosphere that is conducive to dialog. If we are already asking questions to get responses and are responding back, we need to nurture the conversation by being approachable. If your ideas are challenged, you have done well; don’t let that make you feel defensive about your original points as that tone will come across in your replies and might degrade the discussion into a debate, with both sides becoming more entrenched.

4. Adapt the Discussion

If our audience is turning to social media networks with their thoughts and follow-ups, we might have to adjust our approach and adopt an “If you can’t beat them, join them” mentality by moving the conversation there — even if it leads away from the original post. We can then try to later steer the conversation back to the comment section attached to the original article or post.

As Commentators, What Can We Do?

We cannot forget that we end up as both creator, and commentator, in our daily online lives — or at least, we should. Admittedly, having fallen victim to the social media networks, I now tend to comment less on blog posts than I did before. We have to fall back on that golden rule: treat others as we wish to be treated, and seek out other articles to read through and critically consider. When we don this hat, we need to take the responsibility seriously and give as good as we expect to get.

1. Offer Personal Highlights

Even when we are in complete agreement with a post and have nothing to expand on, we can still leave meaningful comments: we can always take the time to let the rest of those participating in the comment thread know what areas resonated with us. By highlighting what connected with us, you allow the author to get some insight into what is landing with the audience, and by default, what is not.

2. Be Constructive

Remain as constructive as possible so the conversation doesn’t get derailed. There is no use in belittling or insulting the points presented even if you disagree with them, especially if you are interested in actual dialog or in getting the author to rethink a position. This does assume that our intention, as readers, is to expand on the ideas presented; if we feel we cannot reasonably or respectfully contribute to the dialog, we should just move along without leaving any comment.

3. Read Fully Before Drawing Conclusions

If we are going to leave a comment, especially one that raises a point of contention, we need to fully read the post. If we are pressed for time and have a “Shoot first, ask questions later” attitude, we may skim through the post, get something out of context, and immediately jump down to the comment section to dispute it — forgetting that the rest of the article could contextualize the point, or even cover what we are about to comment on.

4. Ask Questions

Ask relevant questions about the points that were raised to instigate further discussion. When creating content ourselves, we often lean on queries to spark dialog and to get comments flowing; why not employ the same tactic when we are on the other side of the discussion? Even if all of the ideas in the post were expressed plainly enough, one can always ask follow-up questions. Again we want to keep the tone of our comments in mind, so that our inquiries stand a better chance of being well received and of getting answered.

Contributing our own experiences can further the discussion and bring others into that portion of the continuing conversation, but only relevant contributions need apply: it is one thing to offer a story to really accentuate a point made in the article, but quite another to share a story that has nothing to do with the post.

In Conclusion

Many factors could have brought about this uncritical commenting trend, and there are many ways that we can combat diminishing dialog to spark critical thinking in our readers and encourage them to “see” what they read with inquisitive eyes. Most bloggers have no problem receiving praise for their posts, but when the readers are additionally provoked to think more about the topic and to leave a comment that carries on the discussion, the post evolves — a win for both the blogger and the readers.

…So, What Do You Think?

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://drawar.com/
  2. 2 http://www.getfinch.com/blog/
  3. 3 http://www.andyrutledge.com/
  4. 4 http://www.usabilitypost.com/
  5. 5 http://designinformer.com/
  6. 6 http://gizmodo.com/5687692/you-write-bias-journalism-and-i-read-derp
  7. 7 http://www.flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/2631466945/
  8. 8 http://www.flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/2631466945/

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Rob Bowen is a staff writer for Web Hosting Geeks and Top Web Hosting, a longtime freelance designer, and burgeoning videographer and filmmaker whose creative voice and works can be heard and found around the web.

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  1. 1

    I blog about web development. My articles are tutorial based on facts. I had a commenting system to help gain input from the reader to improve the quality of my articles. Readers didn’t seem to understand and only offered praise (which I guess is good).

    Regardless I removed the comment system and gave an email address so they could contact me if they had any issues or actually wanted to discuss something.

    Personally I very rarely use a comment system built into a site and use a less censored method such as stubleupon, digg or google reader. Those companies really should give webmasters a better way to integrate their comments into their site.

    2
  2. 102

    I think it comes down to the content a lot of the time. The wider your audience and the more generalized the topic, the poorer the quality of the comments. Talk specifically and indepth to a smaller more focused audience and the comments will be of a better quality. I’ll just add that writing this comment from my HTC desire was painful, I wonder how many people read articles from their mobile because that could bed a factor.

    1
  3. 203

    IF ONLY COMMENTS HAD HEADLINES TOO.

    The main reason I don’t contribute to discussions online much is that – as in this instance – there are often 100+ lengthy comments before I arrive. And on the one hand the quality of those contributions is too patchy to hold my attention for what is basically the length of a novella. But on the other hand, I think it’s rude and unhelpful to offer a contribution without reading all of those comments first.

    Here’s one possible solution.

    How do people decide which articles and posts and books to read? They get the thrust of it from the title or headline. If it interests them they delve in, if not, they move on to the next one. It just takes a second.

    So how about everyone who leaves a comment has to write a headline for their comment? And these headlines are stacked at the foot of the original article. That way, subsequent readers can choose to expand and read all of those comments that look like they have a valid contribution to make, and skip or skim the ones that veer off topic or are simple “great article!” slaps on the back.

    As well as making discussions much easier to catch up with and join into, there’s a very happy side-effect: contributors will be gently forced to HAVE a point. Nothing focuses a train of thought as efficiently as being asked to sum up your point in one short sentence. It’s difficult: but if you can’t do it that probably means you’re rambling, not that you’re brilliant.

    I’m sorry if someone has made this point already! I read about 80 comments, and then rudely started skimming. Perhaps this idea could help stop that kind of behaviour and lead to better discussions.

    1
  4. 304

    Depends on the site you read, surely? To use a video game site analogy:
    gamasutra has mostly professional comments and commentors.
    rockpapershotgun has mostly intelligent and constructive commentors
    joystiq is mostly full of garbage.

    But it also tends to be a factor of size: often small sites have a tight community of core followers, who get to know each other through comments and so can have deeper discussions. But as the sites grow, the audience widens and you get more rubbish comments. And the good comments get drowned out in the noise – so those core commentors move on.

    Plus, SNARK is cool on the web – and it’s irresistible to post something snarky and cutting that you just thought of.

    0
  5. 405

    It’s crazy, instead of doing a search where you can learn a lot more than you want (assuming a respectable cultural background), it “pretends” to have immediate response, at a glance, what are looking for. The traditional culture of perpetual newbie who wants to appear then a great designer.

    0
  6. 506

    Hi All,

    I do not usually comment on posts and a few of the points made in this article are quite relevant. However, I’d like to contribute in this case… I believe the system, the core user interface of the ‘comment section’ on blogs and social sites needs to be dramatically improved. It has not changed to cater to a changing market… Perhaps we need to start looking at making commenting a path of ‘less’ resistance, looking at ways of inspiring people to comment more often simply by making it easier to access the comment box and not having to scroll to the bottom of the page to find it… perhaps comments need to be ranked and people allowed to categorise and search comments by type, date size or relevance…

    This are just ‘off the cuff’ ideas, however, i think there is a core change that needs to happen to re-inspire the tired comment posters of times past. Perhaps its incentives for stronger, more argument driven comments that should be rewarded in some way… I mean the fact is… I have not read through everyone elses comments and this may have already come up… but the system is not in place for me to check and see without reading a whole lot of mumbo jumbo that I don’t care to read…

    Anyways, just a thought from a creative that wants to make sure these thoughts get aired on Smashing Magazine first in the hope they or one of the awesome users here has a breakthrough pattern of thinking that can change the way we view, post, read and explore the vast array of comments posted before us…

    0
  7. 607

    These are both probably time element related, but I’ve noticed that my comments drop off each November. I’m thinking NaBloPoMo is a real factor.

    Also, I have lots of links in most posts, which give further information to ponder. It’s the very rare person who actually clicks on the links, reads, then comes back to comment with that additional bit of knowledge.

    0
  8. 708

    Alison Rowan - Avian Function

    November 21, 2010 11:22 am

    I feel like a lot of the problem is routed in the progression of the blogging world. When it first started out, it was all about sharing ideas, and when someone came across these ideas, comments were just that–their comments on the post. Their thoughts. Their contribution. As blogging as become more and more widely accepted, we have begun looking at its influence in all areas of business, communication, and the web as a whole. Naturally, this led to us realizing that commenting was a great way to get yourself noticed. All of a sudden, this realization removes all the purity of commenting. It’s not longer about sharing your ideas. It’s about just getting yourself out there. Suddenly, there’s an ulterior motive. We feel motivated to post in more places, more often, and more for the sake of posting and getting our names out there than anything else. And tada! Comments go downhill. It becomes quantity over quality. If there’s really a concrete solution, I don’t know what it is. I definitely think that bloggers posing questions of discussion helps–questions that invite readers to take different sides. But on those merely suggesting new ideas and concepts as so many do? I’m not sure how we break away from the, “Great idea!” comments.

    0
  9. 809

    You should look to something like slashdot, where there’s a type of crowd sourced moderation system… keeps the useless and/or not funny comments out of the way and allows users to scan things that other people thought were useful — and potentially contribute to that moderation process themselves.

    As a developer things like this become more of a conversation of what features can be written to encourage it, and not so much an opportunity to gripe about it not being the way I want.. or in this case writing an article that gripes about it.

    I appreciate that you offer some ideas and prompt for thoughts, but every article shouldn’t be a “conversation” (I think that would get old fast). I think better conversations are only half the issue, and that it’s also about encouraging discussion, which is different.

    I think to generate good comments you first need to have good comments — comments that encourage discussion, right? Why show the ones that suck or that aren’t useful? They’re just detracting from the conversation and perhaps contribute to the mire that I have to get through before I find a diamond in the rough that I’m willing to respond to.

    Look to others who’ve had the same issues, and see what solutions have worked.. and while you’re at it, see how you can improve upon their ideas.

    My point is that you probably won’t change the world (or even the comments people leave) if you ask people to change — you don’t have the power to change people, but you do potentially have the power to encourage good commenting by providing a more concise method for finding comments worth responding to.

    You might also consider how the editorial holds responsibility over this. Consider for a moment the comments that we see on something like myspace videos. It might not be about readers not fulfilling their part of the conversation, and more about the type of readers you’re attracting with your conversation.

    -1
  10. 910

    This is the result of massive information overload. There is so much online information, communication and data, that we (internet users) are loosing the ability to concentrate. Thus, no-one actually reads. The solution by most bloggers was to adapt a style of writing that does not require reading, just skimping the headlines (“50 brilliant designs …”). If users can’t read they definitely can’t write, no real surprise there.

    I am afraid that your ideas about revitalizing comments by engaging in constructive conversation are not going to work. The runaway train is moving too fast, and there is no way to turn it back.

    There is one thing you can do however. Switch the comments off, and encourage people to get up from their computers, go to pub, order a beer and have the conversation there. Now, that’s what I call an idea on revitalizing comments. Too radical? Why? We are humans after all, no? And by the way … I don’t expect anyone to read what I just wrote. There is too much other stuff for surfers to click on out there. If I wrote “great post AAA+++” it would be the same in the end.

    -2
  11. 1011

    Blog discussion died the moment WordPress neglected to include response email notifications. That and blog owners continuing to locate comment forms below comments – they should be above, and more easily accessible!

    0
  12. 1112

    After bean counters started making creative decision on the work place. I stopped caring! I just get the work done, and leave by 5pm.

    It sucks! I am not going to work for a design agency though. They don’t pay…

    So it is like what ever…

    -1
  13. 1213

    To be quite frank, i don’t really care much for comments and just enjoy the articles for what they are… simple as that.

    0
  14. 1314

    Christopher Neetz

    November 21, 2010 3:16 pm

    Most people don’t style their comments in a meaningful way. Who want’s to scroll all the way down the page to hear some garbage that has little relevance to the topic. Bring your comments to the side of the article and “bump” important comments to the top.

    1
  15. 1415

    I really like this article. Having worked for a few high profile, online magazines I know that getting readers engaged and building meaningful commenting societies/communities is a real challenge. I also think that the advent and rise of social media has in part eroded the strength of those societies and stunted their growth. We are becoming accustomed to comments and blurbs that live within the span of 165 characters or less. We have adopted this process and are learning how to truncate our viewpoints to “fit” within the span of a tweet or small update. This process seems to be in stark contrast to the process of building meaningful dialogue through commenting.

    0
  16. 1516
  17. 1617

    Part of the problem is that more and more “average” people are using the internet regularly. This has been proven time and time again to result in YouTube-like comments. Lack of contribution to the discussion, absolutely revolting spelling and grammar, and often hate speech.

    0
  18. 1718

    Mark Aaron Murnahan

    November 21, 2010 7:36 pm

    Interestingly, this arrived in my hands after a friend sent it on Twitter with the message as follows:

    “Where Have All The Comments Gone? (link) This poses some of the same questions that murnahan has been asking”

    Well, I am that Murnahan fella, and although I would love to offer my answers, it seems that I still have more questions than answers on this topic.

    I think it really does have some interesting implications, but I cannot just say that it is a lack of attention. On my blog where I have addressed this matter, I still see good traffic with over 4 minutes per visit and under 30 percent bounce rate. I consider that a pretty engaged readership … at least they stick around.

    Although they stick around, I went from seeing articles with over 150 comments to wondering why there were just a few pithy “Thanks’ nice post” type of comments.

    I thought maybe it was my style that was causing the decline, but no, I got even better at doing all the things to encourage conversation.

    I even pondered the notion of killing comments the way Seth Godin did. If you never read why he nixed comments on Seth’s Blog, it is interesting.

    I still love comments, and I think they provide much of the flavor to many blogs, but in lieu of that extra flavor, I will just keep on producing my awesome works, (even if I am the only one who thinks they are awesome) and do it because I love it.

    A question that really seems kind of nutty to me is why people hesitate more to comment on an older article that is still relevant and interesting than a new one that is boring.

    0
  19. 1819

    For me what this all comes down to is info-overload and an inability to organize that info in meaningful ways. This statement applies to the article itself and the comments.
    We are busy but want to be engaged, that’s why we bother to read in the first place right?

    As for the article, authors need to practice good visual hierarchy techniques to allow readers to scan. I’m talking about using pull quotes, bulleted lists, hi-lighted key phrases, etc. Give us the quick low-down and leave it to us to decide if we want to read the whole article for a deeper understanding.

    In respect to commenting, this simple list form is so… ancient when you think about it! If it is to be meaningful for anyone other than the author the content deserves some attention. A weighted keyword list comes to mind. I also think of Yelp’s compliments icons… it brings a little more organization into what could have been just a LONG list of compliments.

    Great article. Thank you for inspiring me to comment. :)

    0
  20. 2021

    1. well in this era of short messaging ( sms, twitter, facebook…) and short time that we all have, short comments are quite normal . We want to leave our mark of appreciation or dissagreement with the article in two or three words…
    It’s easier to press “I like” then say something constructive (and we are all becoming more stupid).

    2. Example: I don’t have enough time to read all these comments after I read your long articles ( btw. i love them…see…”btw” instead of “by the way” …we shorten everyhing!) even they seem to be constructive.

    3. we are more amused and like to read (and that is so sad!) the offensive and rude comments and to see how people are calling names on each other, then to read something helpful…

    4. there are so many people that are not speaking english ( like me ) and rather say something like: Great article! or Cool, etc, because cannot type correct words…

    or am i wrong?

    0
  21. 2122

    this is the same thing i was asking one of my blogger friend, as same thing happened to my blog too (comments are gone) , now i got the answer.

    0
  22. 2223

    This is a very interesting article indeed. In fact, I didn’t even stop to consider that social networking could actually be stopping my own audience from commenting on blog posts.

    But now it is clear to me that perhaps I am killing my own blog by tweeting about new posts; the comments I do get tend to come in the form of tweets or “likes” and little else.

    Time to reconsider my approach to publicising my blog, methinks.

    0
  23. 2324

    Opinion profiling? The purpose of the possibility to leave comments depends on who is looking at it.
    – The Author will be flattered with so many comments.
    – Financial responsible will see the possibilities grow with the number of comments.
    – The Content responsible will be happy to see that a great number of comments has been leading the commentators to hidden or open “targets”
    – etc…

    In following questions “it” means “the blog with leave comment possibilty YES”

    Does it want/need a discussion?
    Does it want/need to find help, solutions?
    Does it want/need publicity?
    Does it want/need serve other (open or hidden) purposes?
    Does it want/need a certain type of commentators?

    So, you could say that answers to these questions will define more or less whether you wants to leave this possibility, how “difficult” or “easy” you will make it to leave comments, and how “controlled” read “censured” you will make the follow-up process, etc …

    I read some comments stated that quality goes over quantity, but what If your article needs to have as much as comments or reactions as possible because the accompagnied add is paying the author on a pay per click system?

    The article is well written, but highlights only a certain profile of readers.

    Sometimes the number of “I like this” gives more “value” to an article then three pages of written comment.

    Is commenting not leading to (more) questions and do I need that?

    0
  24. 2425

    My two cents worth.

    I often run through the comments to gauge people’s reactions to posted items. I also use the like and dislike buttons upplied in comments. They are invaluable.

    I feel that part of the problem, as mentioned above by redwall_hp, is that more and more people use the internet who only have a vague understanding of how the it works. For most of us you understand that if you use an openID or Gravatar that you can build a reputation / persona online.

    For a large chunk of users its about coming out of their shell in an “anonymous” world where they can potentially say or do anything without recourse. Now we all know this isn’t the truth, but they don’t. Social retards use the internet… and there they can wallow in it. The internet transforms a social retard into a troll.

    On another note, I found this really interesting project a while back: http://stupidfilter.org/ I wish that more sites would implement this.

    0
  25. 2526

    Great post

    0
  26. 2627

    One more additional reason (seriously, I didn’t read through the comment section as it started with a lot of meta-comment crap) is the fact that the internet is ever-growing.

    I used to visit a couple of sites to get all the info I needed. These sites felt like home and commenting there was somewhat of a no-brainer. But commenting on sites you don’t often visit feels a lot more pointless. I’ll probably forget about this article and the comment I made here, so why even bother to post a comment when it proves of little value to myself? I won’t engage in a discussion here, I simply don’t visit this site enough to care for that.

    These days there are countless sources to get info on webdesign. I don’t stick to one single site (as there isn’t one single site that gives me everything I need) and so I don’t really familiar enough with most of the sites I visit to go through the trouble of commenting.

    It’s might not be “the” reason for all the lack of actual social interaction (web 2.0 – the social web my ***) but at least I’m quite sure it’s a part of it.

    0
  27. 2728

    As someone who maintains a photography blog, I STRIVE for comments. I want people to offer up suggestions or constructive criticisms so that I can take a better picture next time. I have given away prizes for number of comments that people provide as long as they are not just “Way to go!” type comments. Even with all that, I feel like its pulling teeth to get people to offer reasonable insight into what they see. I agree with the article, I think there is a certain amount of time constraints that people have, and I also think in general, there is so MUCH information, people tend to scan over it rather that take the time to look at something in depth.

    0
  28. 2829

    Douglas Bonneville

    November 22, 2010 12:58 pm

    How about a minimum word count with a warning message “Sorry, your comment doesn’t contain enough words to be a meaningful contribution. What else can you add to the conversation?”. How about a 100 word minimum? That would be a cool experimental post, if SM could get the code to try it on a per-post basis. I’d be willing to put that on my own blog. Maybe a plugin already exists that does this? It’s the opposite of 140-character-twitter land. It would enforce “If you don’t have something substantive to say, then don’t say it at all”. There would be no incentive for spammers to come up with those stupid generic sentences that seem to say something at first glance but really say nothing.

    0
  29. 2930

    You can go wide or you can go deep.

    Smashing goes wide. Flip through the headlines and you will see why. Even so, I am surprised how many comments on Smashing are simply, “Great post.” Why do these people bother? Does Smashing use bots to give the illusion of activity? Probably not, but it wouldn’t look any different if they did.

    If you want collaboration or profundity in your comments, you need to cultivate a different audience. That audience will most likely be a lot smaller.

    For smashing, don’t look at the commenters, but rather the authors. They are the ones contributing to the discussion.

    0
  30. 3031

    In a world full of distractions few people now have time to leave comments and in my opinion this is because it takes time to read an article then browse other people’s comments before posting your own, and then you get the ‘Captcha’ or ‘you didn’t log in’..yawn.
    Others commented mainly to get a link back to their site, though most were useless comments some had some weight and were useful in the conversation, add a ‘nofollow’ or no way to link to your site and what exactly is the poster getting out of it?
    I feel these, and other reasons already covered, are the reasons so few of us post comments any longer.

    0
  31. 3132

    I think that many today comment just for SEO reasons, or linkbacks to their own blog or website. Google link lovin’. I find myself even doing it, but meaningful comments are much more effective even for that. Having a blog of my own, you can always tell which ones are commenting for the sake of posting their link, and which actually want to engage in meaningful conversation. Time is valuable, and in even a higher shortage as technology rapidly progresses, it seems. Information overload. Many forums have died since social networking has taken over. That’s another one of my theories, on why blog comments have cooled down. With sites like facebook, people now have their own closed community of tight knit friends and colleagues and they can share advice and info amongst themselves, more privately.

    0
  32. 3233

    Comments started to disappear because all sites stoped being instructive and became just a bunch of lists of what other people do.

    Hate to say it but take Webdesigndev for example. It started as a great tutorial and reviewing site of things every web designer or developer should know, but instead of continuing that trend they switched to posting “top 10 this” and “top 10 that”. Even Smashing Magazine did it at some point.

    With that idea in mind that “More the merrier”, users got bored of superficial insides rather than deep undercover of things that matter most. Practical use of the things they showed.

    So as you may wonder now and maybe weep about it, it is all your fault. By stop taking the time to review, test, model or create something new with the info at hand, it just became a ranking of what site offered more and more and really fast. There were really little or no time to explore this new capabilities because the next ten minutes another top 10 came up and finally we (the readers and commenters (dunno if that word exists)) stop caring and started bookmarking for later reading.

    Hopefully you now are aware of this situation and I expect you do something about it. Stop the rankings. Let’s get back to creating and experimenting. And i can assure that users will be back to comment and express their own achievements with everyone, instead of posting for ourselves in tumblr or some random blogging service. (like it was in the 90’s)

    Yours truly, a long lasting fan of SM.

    Scyfox.

    cheers from Chile.

    0
  33. 3334

    In my oppinion improving comments can only happen with very strict moderation. Limit number of comments per user per day or article, limit characters per comment. Moderate every comment, do not let pointless comments to exist below the articles at all.

    But the most important thing is readers to be engaged to participate in а discussion. If the article isn’t about discussing some problem, then it will be better comments to be turned off for it.

    2
  34. 3536

    Facebook did a good thing adding a “I like this”-facility. Like- and dislike-buttons give the people whose behaviour you complain about the opportunity to do want they seem to want in their short comments. Maybe that’s a solution that can be expanded: make a shortlist of most-common comments and a votingsystem. Bundle the meaningless comments in a avoidable sidebox :-)

    0
  35. 3637

    Am I the only one who just looks at long comment trails and thinks, I surely don’t have time to read all of this and then moves on to something else?

    I can admit some lack of discipline. On the other hand, I don’t “owe” anything to the writer per say.

    0
  36. 3738

    A very well written post! I also found this behavior on my deviantArt profile. People tend to congratulate me on good photos or desing, but only in the ugliest things will I receive a comment that generates discussion.

    I find myself at times scaning trough the articles in such a hurry, that even when I find a sollution I quickly get back to work…

    0
  37. 3839

    However valuable this article is, to me its extremely worrisome because something I saw as a country/culture/specific phenomena seems like a global one.

    I have been blogging and actively participating in running film blogs for a few years now and have been increasingly concerned about the same issues highlighted here. The patterns of viewers and commentators largely depend on popularity/controversiality of topics and it is a most disturbing trend.

    Is it because we are now only in an information age where don’t need to process it anymore to bring about a better understand of life and the world that surrounds us? Critical thinking and healthy discussion in objectivity are failing us rapidly. Is it because easily available information feeds our ‘needs’ quickly and that is the primary reason we come to blogs and the internet to begin with? Is it because dialog IS passe and we feel that intellectual/original/critical debate is really not a thing that can gave us anything anymore? I ask this because, I know I for one, am always hungry for a stimulating, informing debate and the increasing lack of it everywhere, online and offline is disturbing. This silence, is it a lack of need (which means its a good thing) or just apathy?

    1
  38. 3940

    I agree that not having enough time can be a contributing factor, and that some may just want to quickly show appreciation for the article before they have to run off to their next task. It could also be a situation of information overload. There’s so much out there, so many opinions and design is quite subjective that I think some may be starting to tune out. Or perhaps a combination of both elements.

    I teach and get feedback all the time from students and what I’ve learned is you can’t control what people say or how they say it. Instead I try and look for consistency to pin point the real issues and the valid comments.

    0
  39. 4041

    Sergio Ordonez - SOSFactory

    December 1, 2010 12:51 pm

    I think the problem is not the user.

    Every blog creates its audience, if your blog get only 2-words comments maybe is time to rethink about your priorities.

    A really good example is Foroalfa.org (just Spanish content), each entry always have hundred of really good comments.

    0
  40. 4142

    It’s okay, Jim, I got your joke :)

    1
  41. 4243

    I’m going to be a bit cynical here:

    1) There are lots of really ignorant people in the world. It’s only a matter of time until they leave YouTube and find a website like this and start dropping stupid comments.

    2) When I was young, the field of visual design on a personal computer was in its infancy–even though it has been around for my entire adult life now, there are thousands of young people every day discovering it…many of their comments sound just like that of most adolescents when they become the first of their friends to discover The Beatles, or note how this new band Green Day is really punk!

    0
  42. 4344

    I hate useless comments on sites (youtube etc) like a «agree», «+1», «ROFLMAO». If I had video with many such comments, I’d remove them all (I’m not popular on youtube though).

    0
  43. 4546

    Planes are very fun games that can play mostly online, that does not need to download large files, but plain and simple click on a link and start playing games with airplanes.

    -3
  44. 4647

    Google+ Local, Google+ Local Ranking, maps marketing, Google Plus Local
    It is finally time to get all the collected information on the Google+ Local page. We have done the precursor work that 90% of the competition is not going t…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBB2cV2iSXU
    Local business listings, Google+ Local Training, on page optimiz…, Google+ Local Tips

    -1
  45. 4748

    Love Claw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2TR1Fb-Q9k
    Love Claw http://zcroz.com/loveclaw is Social emotion technology that is out-performing Facebook by driving over 3.5x the n…

    0
  46. 4849

    I’ve been considering removing comments all together on my site. I’ve found that many comments are written by those who do not read an entire post, and their comments are impulsively contrarian.

    0

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