July 23, 2013

Instapundit opens up comments in a "grand experiment."

He writes:
I’ve opened ‘em up before — and, for that matter, Ann Althouse did it once when I was away, to much excitement — but this new system should be much better. 
The system is part of "the new rollout of tech at PJ Media will allow one sign-in to work across the whole site," so you've got to join their system to be able to comment. And they will be able to manage you in ways that I was not able to manage my commenters (some of whom really were trying to destroy my blog and waste all our time).

Someone at Instapundit named Stoutcat says:
Where Althouse closes a door, Reynolds opens a window! This is an excellent idea, and I'm anticipating much enjoyment and eddification from reading your commenters, who are, no doubt, as far above Althouse's commenters, as hers were above the general horde.
Instapundit responds:
Yeah, Althouse's apparent joy at being comment-free gives me pause. But there' s no connection -- this has been in the works for months as part of PJ's single sign-on thing.
As for "Althouse's apparent joy at being comment-free," if that's what he's seeing, that is in fact only appearance. The loss has been very painful, because I believed the comments gave the place a lot of energy. But some unknown proportion of the commenters were people with ill will, who wanted destruction, and deleting even the ones we knew about had become literally a full-time job. But I wasn't in some big old system with lots of tech people. I've kept independent, with the simplicity of the people's platform, Blogger, which won't let me exclude people. I could only delete, which was a technique that my most aggressive antagonists used against me (and against all the other commenters who'd contributed so much over the years).

That really hurt, but I'm an optimist, and — like a blog — I live in the present and move forward, so I find the good in whatever the situation is, continually making choices about how to keep things as good as possible, and the day came when the balance of good and bad in the comments experience tipped so severely that I couldn't maintain the sunny denial needed to put up with everything. Since then, I've felt the loss, and part of the loss is seeing exiled commenters talking about me elsewhere on the web, forgetting/ignoring the problem that made me close the comments — as if I would shut off the comments because people attacked my writings! — and saying such nasty things about me that I could get depressed brooding about the real proportion of good faith to bad faith commenters.

But I've got to resist traipsing down that detour as I continue on the road of blogging, where I've found so much joy in the past and hope to find more, doing things in this newly simplified style. Meanwhile, Instapundit gets fancier, as PJ Media makes its play to become a social media enterprise. That's the road I've diverged from. I can't be your social media website.

I've redefined my task as something I can do alone, not that I'm alone. I've got Meade — the commenter I married — walking with me every step of the way. I've got all the joy I can handle, and maybe it is joy at being comment-free. I'm a less is more kind of person. My own version of that slogan is: Better than nothing is a high standard. I do notice and take joy in the negatives that I'm free of. That's called freedom, and comment-free is a kind of freedom.

ADDED: I said it back in 2004:
Why do you blog? > To live freely in writing.