July 17, 2013

"Oh my my my.... leave the comments turned OFF. Please. I wasn't sure at first..."

"... but reading and thinking about what Althouse has to say without the clamorous din of too many commenters yelling about what they thought she'd said (I know I know I didn't have to read them) is so much better. The vlog was delightful. It was past time for some of the commenters to be stopped from using the comment section to fight, bicker, converse with, and insult each other and honestly with Althouse's type of post, commenters [would] sometimes distract from the message. I'll miss Freeman Hunt and a few others, but maybe they'll start their own blog someday. Maybe some of the others won't."

Email from one reader.

And here's another, from a different reader (hot link added):
NEVER START ACCEPTING COMMENTS AGAIN! For the sake of my sanity, please don’t! In recent times, whenever I read a comment chain, I found myself slipping into madness, like R.M. Renfield waiting for the arrival of the “master.” I was an addict. I wanted the shit so bad it didn’t matter if the bulk of the comments were meaningless garbage contributing nothing to the discussion of the topic. I needed my fix, got my hit and lost my way.

Ann then Ann intervened and axed the comments. She saved (metaphorically) my life.

For what it’s worth, Ann’s output is up, her topics of greater breadth and moment than ever and I’m enjoying reading her blog again, just as I did back in 2007.
If you really need a fix of the old stuff, you can see some of the my erstwhile commenters mixing it up on Lem's place. For the most part, they are demonstrating why it's better not to have that material here. And then there's the occasional comment like this, from "Eileen Lurker" (the 463rd comment in this thread):
I think I've finally read every single comment on this thread.

I really don't know why. Glutton for punishment, I guess....

I love all you guys, and as one of the 90% who almost never commented but always read at althouse, I was actually very excited to come here and see all my favorite names show up.

I'm really not interested in meeting anyone; I just like the way a lot of you think, and appreciate the depth and good humor that often underlies the discussion. I love -- love! -- the fact that so many of you see things "outside the box," and it interests and challenges me in ways I genuinely enjoy. In that sense, Althouse was the perfect leader for the discussion, since she was unafraid to challenge the conventional take on any topic that caught her eye.

I don't know why things changed, but it was a very rapid and unsettling devolvement. Maybe it's just not possible to get that back, but isn't there room for that on the internet? Can't there be a place that's about ideas, and not so much personalities, at least in the sense of truly knowing each other IRL?

I especially don't get the flame throwers, who never seem to add anything to the discussion at all, just name-calling and accusation and innuendo. Why? What's the value there? I don't get it. It's not about whether the commenters here like each other personally, at least that's not what attracts me. It's your *ideas,* and the way you express them. Maybe if I knew you personally I'd be repelled, and horrified that I let you and your ideas into my home (as it were).

But see, the beauty of this is that I never *have* to let you into my home. It's about how you think about a topic that interests me, and how that makes me think in turn; and that's all I really need to know in order to love coming here. So maybe you really *are* a dog. But if you put an idea out there that gets me to think, I'm grateful. It's fun. It's interesting. I really don't want more than that.

I'd always wanted to be a commenter at althouse -- my goodness, you've all provided fodder for many a discussion at my home! I'd love to see if I could keep up with you all, and maybe even add something to the discussion. But the risk appears to be high; and the nasty infection appears to have followed you all here.

Ugly, ugly stuff. Why? Really, why?
You know, I would have allowed all that ugliness to continue, and it wasn't the reason I suddenly shut off the comments the day I did. There was a more specific problem that had to be dealt with. It's been explained, but those who are grousing about my cutting off the comments don't seem to understand. Responding to people who don't (or won't) understand things had long been a distracting problem, quite aside from the ugliness and the outright hostility to me from people who were camped in my comments, stinking up the place. But, as I said, I would have continued to host the comments, because I liked seeing comments and loved some of the commenters, if it hadn't been for the more specific problem that I don't want to talk about.

Now, I see their continual expression of ill-will toward me, and I'm glad to have my distance. If they really loved commenting here and wanted to come back, they should have talked about how they could help me restore the conversation in a way that could work. Instead they showed how much they were part of the problem, and how they didn't really even like me. It's been an enlightenment, and it's affected how I write here. I've enjoyed the comments-free space, and I hope I'm providing better material for those who want to read what I have to say. If you want to talk back, I accept and read email and (as you see above) publish some of it.

Alternatively, start your own blog.