Our new comments policy: don’t let the door hit your comments on the ass on their way out

How about a nice cup of shut the fuck upAfter I rolled out JWM’s new design, a few Longtime Readers™ wrote in to ask a simple question: what happened to the comments? So I figured I should say something for the record on that score.

The short version is that comments are closed on Just Well Mixed. Comments posted in the past have been retained and will continue to be displayed, but the option to post new ones on either new or old posts has turned off.

Why? Two reasons.

First, the quality of comments this site has received has been going downhill for a long time. That’s kind of depressing, because one of the great joys of the early blogosphere was the intelligence and variety of the comments I got here. And because of that, we early bloggers got kind of attached to comments as an integral part of a blog. We had arguments over it. We got ideological about it! People used to tell each other (with a straight face!) that a blog wasn’t a “real blog” if it didn’t allow comments, if you can believe that.

Those days are long past, of course. My comments section hasn’t exactly been the second coming of the Algonquin Round Table for quite some time. Today the comments are almost entirely spam, and those that aren’t rarely have anything interesting to add to the conversation. So my attachment to the idea of allowing them being an integral part of what makes JWM JWM isn’t what it used to be.

Second, there’s no shortage of other channels people can use to opine on my work. Here is a short list of some things that did not exist when this site first went live, all the way back in January of 2002:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • Hacker News
  • WordPress.com

These, and many many many others, are all places where you can discuss things you read here with like-minded folk if you feel the desire to. And the conversations around my writing that have sprung up there have in recent years been much higher quality than the ones that have sprung up in the comments sections of the posts themselves.

When I started JWM, publishing online was a complicated process that required either a (small, but still) degree of technical knowledge or a fair bit of money. In that environment, comment sections were nice; they opened the conversation to people who otherwise would not have been able to participate in it. Today, though, those barriers have all come down. Anyone who wants to can publish anything they want to, almost always for free, without needing me to provide them with tools to do so. In that environment, comment sections feel increasingly beside the point.

Comment sections are the male nipples of online publishing. Maybe at some point in the distant past they served a purpose, but today they are vestigial legacy organs at best. Well, here at JWM we don’t truck with dragging obsolete flesh around; if it isn’t useful, we get out the rusty X-Acto knife and get to cuttin’. So the nipples are gone, my friends. The nipples are gone. And if you want to yell at me about that, you’ll need to rustle up your own megaphone from here on out.


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