No comment

At the end of December I turned off comments for the QuirksBlog. As far as I’m concerned they’ll stay turned off forever, except when I actually want to ask a question.

I didn’t take this decision, the decision took itself while I looked on musingly. The time has come, and I give up a little bit of good stuff in order to get rid of a serious annoyance as well as comment spam.


I am a broadcaster by nature. I like being read and discussed widely. Which blogger doesn’t? That’s part of the reason I blog.

But apparently conversations are beyond me. This probably has murky psychological reasons I don’t really want to know about, but it’s a fact of my life that I have to deal with.

Time and again I tried to get into the spirit of this Internet thingy and engage in meaningful conversation, as pukeworthy social media consultants call it. Time and again I found that I just can’t do it. It goes against my grain or something.

I reply to about 10% of the incoming QuirksMode feedback. I rarely reply to comments on my own blog. I just don’t have the head for it. I lose track, find a blog post that I want to read, work a bit on client stuff, and after I’ve done all that I’ve forgotten about the conversation I’m supposed to be having. Or I haven’t forgotten but don’t feel like it right now. Or whatever. And the next day I look forward even less to continuing the conversation. And so it dies.

But that's not the whole story.

Bad quality

Although I consume a wagonload of blogs every week I don’t bother to read the comment threads. Ever. The opinions and musings of the average blog commenter are just not very interesting. If they were, they’d have a blog of their own. This article brilliantly describes what passes for the mind of the average blog commenter.

Most people that try to strike up a “conversation” in my comments don’t know what I’m talking about, especially when it comes the densely technical mobile browser posts about viewports and touch events and stuff; or mobile market analysis.

Look at the thread on Nokia’s problem: most commenters pull a random fact out of their high hat and pretend it’s an argument. #8 doesn’t even know about operator subsidies. I mean, if you don’t know about that, your opinion on the mobile market is not particularly worth having. In fact, the conversation would greatly improve without your participation.

#5 is unusual in that it makes sense in the context of the article. Not that it adds a lot to my understanding, but at least the commenter inhabits the correct plane of reality and applies logic. That makes #5 above-average in this day and age.

Or look at the comments on my my recent ALA article. To be fair, more than I expected come from mobile web developers who know what I’m talking about and show that my reality is shared by those who have actual hands-on experience.

The others who yammer on about iPhone and Android don’t have the fuckingest clue what they’re talking about. Problem is, they just have to talk. And talk. And talk. And take over the comment thread.

And then there’s comment #23. The obvious answer to this rampant idiocy is “You’re lazy and stupid and you shouldn’t be allowed near websites.” But if I said that I’d be polluting the thread just as much as the offending comment does. So I don’t — although it’s a pity I can’t tell the pretentious asshole who wrote comment #18 to go fuck himself.

This is nothing new or even remarkable, but I have become very tired of it. Reading these comments and realising I couldn’t do anything about them is what pushed me over the edge. Straw that breaks the camel’s back, droplet that overflows the bucket.

If this is the sort of “conversation” we’re supposed to be having, why, then I prefer to be alone with my thoughts.

Good quality

But isn’t it possible I miss something? Aren’t there comments that enhance my knowledge and understanding? Yes, there are, but they are few and far between.

During the entire year of 2010 there were only two occasions where comments were indispensable:

  1. #15 of Nokia’s problem. Now this is the sort of comment that the whole system was invented for all those years back. This is unsought, genuinely useful information that enhances my understanding of the subject of the article. Nowadays it’s so unusual that I felt compelled to tweet about it.
  2. Two commenters on Click event delegation on the iPhone gave valuable extra information on the topic I was exploring, to the extent that I posted a follow-up.

Now if I hadn’t had comments, would these people have used my contact form to get in touch with me? I’m fairly certain that the two event delegation commenters would have done so, but that the Nokia commenter wouldn’t have. So I’d have lost that genuinely useful and revealing information.

Still, that sort of comment happens way less than once per year, and I’ve now used up my allotment for the next hundred posts or so. So why not disable comments in the mean time?

No comment

I’d like to apologise to those people whose comments were interesting and thoughtful. I’m sorry, but you’re being drowned out by the bad stuff. And I have become very very tired of the bad stuff.

So that’s it, really. The bad outweighs the good too much.

Commenting on QuirksBlog is hereby abolished. When I ask a question, as I did in List of WebKit-based desktop browsers, I’ll turn on comments for that article. But other than that I’m done with them.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, web developer, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter or Mastodon.
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