As you probably noticed, I’m playing about with the comments on my blog: disabling them for most new articles, unless I really, really want to hear what other people have to say. This sounds like a total dick move. “You’re suppressing debate!” Probably. I don’t really see it that way. The thing that kind of swung the no-comments move for me was something Merlin Mann said during his presentation with John Gruber at SXSW, when he recalled what John Gruber’s response when he asked him why he doesn’t enable comments on daringfireball.net:
… you were like ‘I wanna own every single pixel on my site, from the top left to the lower right. And if I have somebody come in — even if it’s somebody incredibly smart; even if it’s whoever; even if it’s SeoulBrother comes in and has something to say, like somebody really smart and really funny, like, it’s not my site any more.’.
Then Derek Powazek gave his own particular reasons for not enabling comments on his blog
I turned off comments in the last redesign of powazek.com because I needed a place online that was just for me. With comments on, when I sat down to write, I’d preemptively hear the comments I’d inevitably get. It made writing a chore, and eventually I stopped writing altogether. Turning comments off was like taking a weight off my shoulders. It freed me to write again.
This is what sold me. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my blog output has gone up since disabling comments, exactly because I don’t feel like I have to think about every word I write. I can write bullshit like that thing about Before Sunset – stuff that I would have previously held back because I’d have visions of a random drive-by commenter calling me out on it, making me feel bad.
Update: I was having second thoughts about the no-comments thing. Over the past few days, people have been very pointedly asking me why I’ve disabled comments – who the fuck did I think I was, comparing myself to John Gruber? – so I was thinking maybe I should just turn them back on. That is, until I enabled the Daring Fireball with Comments extension for Safari yesterday. This is from a random article (click for the larger version):
See? It completely changes the mood of the site. This is exactly what I don’t want, so I think my comments will be staying off for the time being.