May 17, 2020

"Should Your Blog Be on Medium, WordPress, Substack, or Ghost?/A realistic comparison of 2020's top blogging platforms."

This is a question I have — right now, quite pressing — and the piece is on Medium, but okay.... it's on topic. I've been looking at WordPress. I've even signed up and paid, but I have the right to back out. I noticed — writing the last post — that Matt Taibbi is on Substack, and I looked at that site and it immediately popped out as much cleaner and more user-friendly than WordPress, so I'm eager to read this.

The author of this piece, Sah Kilic, doesn't present Medium as something that would work for me, so I can skip that. He calls WordPress "bloody slow," because of the reliance on "an extension for everything":
The themes are bulky and clunky, and the extensions have a lot of unnecessary fat to be trimmed. And the average user, not being a developer, tries to fix these issues by, wait for it… installing more extensions to speed-up load times....
I was overwhelmed with the complexity and messiness of the place and all the technical language. I was reading things out loud and whining "What does that mean?!" Ugh! I feel nauseated just remembering.

So, please, could Substack magically be what I want?

Substack makes their money from subscriptions, just like Medium, but unlike Medium, it’s on a per-blog basis. People don’t subscribe to Substack, they subscribe to your particular blog, or should I say — your email newsletter. Substack is a platform for sending emails; your content is delivered to your audience in this way....
Ugh! No no no. I'm not doing an email newsletter.

What's Ghost? Ugh! I hit the wall trying to read the description. I feel like I'm stuck with WordPress, and I already hate it, but it's possible that if I could just force myself to get through the set-up today, I'd have a place that would look beautiful, have a proper membership wall, and offer a fine environment for unmoderated, troll-free commenting. I need to do that, but I've got to tell you, I get so disgusted looking at anything technical about web design that I am always 5 seconds away from quitting altogether. I cannot go on with Blogger, at least not with a comments section, and I can't seem to get myself over the threshold into the new place. I don't know that this new place that I need can be created within WordPress, and it's very hard to work with it without knowing that I can, in the end, get what I want. I really hate Wordpress. Hate.

ADDED: Let me just show you a screenshot from the page where I am stuck trying to set up a WordPress blog:



What is all that?! "Title Attribute"? "CSS Classes"? "Link Relationship"?!! As if the parenthetical "XFN" explains it! It's just abusive. I hate them.

AND: I can't deal with the complexity. I need to stay within the flow that has served me well here on Blogger. I'm just going to keep moderation on all the time, and approve comments when I'm in the mood to read them.

235 comments:

1 – 200 of 235   Newer›   Newest»
Heartless Aztec said...

Hire someone to do it for you. Lotsa' part-time pros out there who will do an excellent job. I'm sure they'd appreciate the business.

Hey Skipper said...

Perhaps you could give admin privileges to a few sensible commenters, J Farmer, for one example, and let them biff the trolls for you?

Ann Althouse said...

What I need is an expert who already knows how to do everything who would be able to understand my explanation of what I want and set it up for me, without my having to deal with looking at the technical stuff. This would need to be someone who knows the technical stuff but doesn't speak to me in any kind of a technical way.

I'm not inviting people to volunteer to do this, because: 1. I don't trust people and don't want to give anyone this access to me, 2. I would have to deal with any applicant for this role to find out if they could do this and that's also a job that I don't want, 3. It's a security risk for the blog. How would I know what's in there?

Ann Althouse said...

4. Coronavirus lockdown.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm not inviting people to volunteer to do this" ≠ I'm thinking of using a volunteer and don't want to pay. I would pay for this work but I don't trust anyone to do it and I don't want to have to figure out who could do this properly. I don't want to get into a relationship with someone and not be happy with the way they interact with me and to have to wonder if they did what I want.

I feel trapped, frankly.

Ann Althouse said...

I am literally nauseated thinking about this.

Sebastian said...

Totally get your predicament.

But how about hiring someone to monitor and clean up the current blog on your behalf?

Could some of that be automated by someone with technical expertise?

I'd pay a quasi-subscription to help you do it.

whitney said...

I would still read your blog without the comments

Tom said...

Look at typepad.com, works for me for 15 years.

Peter said...

What’s the problem with the comment section? Looks fine to me.
(I also blog on Blogger, bit don’t have comments)

whitney said...

You could reach out to Scott Alexander at https://slatestarcodex.com/ or another well-known blogger with a robust comment section and find out how they do it. I thought of Greg Cochran at https://westhunt.wordpress.com/ also but he uses WordPress so I don't know if that would be helpful for you

Instugator said...

Ann,

Over at Ricochet.com the web guy Max does great work. Their website and business uses wordpress. Perhaps he could freelance for you.

By the way, they are always looking for contributors and don't mind if you post both there and on your own venue.

I'd ask them.

Stew

Peter said...

What’s the problem with the comments? Seems fine to me.
(I also blog on Blogger, but no comments)

Jersey Fled said...

Whatever The New Neo is on seems pretty clean and easy to use, at least from a commenter standpoint. Some of us are already over there.

Also, there must be some computer sciences students hanging around Madison who would be willing to help.

Peter said...

What’s the problem with the comments? Seems fine to me.
(I also blog on Blogger, but no comments)

Peter said...

What’s the problem with the comments? Seems fine to me.
(I also blog on Blogger, but no comments)

Darrell Harris said...

Ann,

Long-time viewer, and occasional commenter.

I don't want to increase your anxiety levels, but I would definitely try to find a way to back-up all of this blog's historical content - at least your posts, if not the comments. I've heard too many anecdotal stories of people that have had content on a platform, and it would disappear. Sometimes it's just a technical glitch, but other times it's flat-out censorship. Either way, you don't own the content that's on someone else's platform, no matter what wonderful words they use to convey the idea that they are all about 'freedom'. If you're not paying, you're not the client.

Even if you are the 'client', these platforms have the right to fire you.

rhhardin said...

Wordpress has been around for a long time, so has that advantage. A new site might not be there long.

Darrell Harris said...

Ann,

Long-time viewer, and occasional commenter.

I don't want to increase your anxiety levels, but I would definitely try to find a way to back-up all of this blog's historical content - at least your posts, if not the comments. I've heard too many anecdotal stories of people that have had content on a platform, and it would disappear. Sometimes it's just a technical glitch, but other times it's flat-out censorship. Either way, you don't own the content that's on someone else's platform, no matter what wonderful words they use to convey the idea that they are all about 'freedom'. If you're not paying, you're not the client.

Even if you are the 'client', these platforms have the right to fire you.

Janetchick said...

I don’t have any help to offer in fixing your problem. I just wanted to tell you I appreciate what you do. Thank you.

I will now buy some random thing off Amazon to show my appreciation.

Ken B said...

“ What’s the problem with the comment section?”

The comments.

Shouting Thomas said...

I blog on WordPress, but I don't really make an effort to attract an audience or promote.

While I don't prohibit comments, I'm certainly not looking to encourage them or to engage in political debate.

My blog is really just an artist's journal. WordPress is cheap and easy. I think 3 bucks a month.

I'm not into haggling over tech stuff. I did that for a living for 45 years.

tcrosse said...

This is the bread and wine of the software racket: implementing the wants and needs of the client. Do not despair, Althouse.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I am occasionally in a situation where I know what I am trying to do, which is very specific; I know what my pain points are, I have thoroughly researched the options, and I'm still stuck. I know people are trying to help when they offer suggestions but they don't know what I know, and what I have tried and rejected, or not tried because I know it won't work for reasons that are known only to me. The suggestions then become really annoying. Sometimes you just want to talk about being stuck.

Ken B said...

Have you looked at Wix.com?

Michael K said...

Ricochet and Chicagoboyz use Wordpress. Neither have 200 comment threads, but those thread usually deteriorate when they get that long,

Ann Althouse said...

I'm trying to get started and I encounter this text: "Welcome to your new site! You can edit this page by clicking on the Edit link."

There IS NO EDIT LINK.

I search the page for "edit" and there's nothing other than "You can edit this page by clicking on the Edit link."

I look at every icon and think about whether it could mean "edit."

I just want to set up the "home" page. I'm just completely stuck.

Ken B said...

I bet PJMedia would love to host your blog. All you would have to do is endlessly link to American Spectator, and rewrite your headlines as clickbait.

MayBee said...

My husband and I were just talking about this yesterday. How tech companies remind us of the way tennis developed- shrouding itself in confusing language to keep the masses out.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Well...my brother (who I am NOT!! suggesting) is a retired systems analyst and wrote much of the code for various security software programs and the NASA Ames Research Mars Program software is the type of person who you need. He does assemble web pages, mostly for people in the music industry.

1. He doesn't care about you, as a person you are a client, or is even interested in having a "relationship" with you. The trust that he knows what he is doing....is based on the satisfaction of previous clients and resume of past projects.

2. He would want to know EXACTLY what it is you want. How you want your web site to function. What it would look like. You have to be VERY clear, precise, exact and not be constantly changing your mind.😒 This is the biggest challenge when dealing with clients.

4. You can ask for a lot of features, but it may cost you. If you keep changing your mind, it will cost you.

3. Most importantly: how much skill do you have? Because, if it is none to little ability, then he would, in the past when he wasn't retired, either write a contract to do ongoing maintenance (for when the client screws it up or code becomes corrupted by outside agencies --viruses). Or refer you to someone who would be willing to hold your hand (for a price) and say now now now.

There are plenty of retired people who would be able to do those things. Most of them don't require any physical contact with you and can be done remotely. Corona virus is just an excuse.

Andrew said...

Someone beat me to it: TypePad.

I know your blog won't be an academic one, but the "Law Professor Blogs Network" uses TypePad. At the very least, perhaps your former colleagues can tell you the pros and the cons.

See http://www.lawprofessorblogs.com/ for a list of them.

Ann Althouse said...

I can't believe how bad this experience is.

The last time I read a combination of sentences that was as annoying as "Welcome to your new site! You can edit this page by clicking on the Edit link" it was this, from my county: "Please read this Order carefully. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a crime punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both."

Starts with a nice word — Welcome/Please — then loads something noxious onto you.

Richard Dolan said...

"I really hate Wordpress. Hate."

So before you completely embrace the power of the Darkside, just remember how that usually turns out. Somehow, despite the crappy platform, you've made it work for 15+ years, every single day. So there's that.

It's a lovely day in Brooklyn this morning, and from the earlier posts, same in Madison too. So turn the hatefulness off for a while, embrace the Lightside and come back later.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for the suggestions, but there is no way I'm going to "reach out" to someone I don't know.

Andrew said...

Follow up suggestion: Instead of changing platforms, why not keep this one, and hire someone to monitor the comments?

Ann Althouse said...

"What’s the problem with the comments? Seems fine to me."

We have to delay them and then moderate them. If it seems fine to you, it's because we're doing mindless, time-consuming shit work that we're not going to keep doing. Glad you like it, but we need to stop doing it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Peter asked What’s the problem with the comments? Seems fine to me.

Just guessing that it is the periodic, boring and idiotic wars between various commentators that clogs up the threads. Also some malicious commenters that the Hosts would like to ban.

Blogger doesn't (I think) have this capability to ban. So Althouse and Meade often have to spend some time 'moderating' and removing comments. This is, likely, a giant PITA to them, takes away their freedom, and is an annoyance to people who wish to treat the comment section here like a chat room.

Howard said...

I think your biggest concern should be that you're going to transform your wonderful art project into Thomas kinkade painter of light

Heartless Aztec said...

Reach out to someone you do know. Your son John?

Ken B said...

Ann wants a turn key operation. The big names are Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace,

Bob Boyd said...

Regarding your nausea, maybe it's the snakon.

John in PA said...

I bet Glenn Reynolds would know somebody

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

Is it something I said?

Bob Boyd said...

Speak of the devil...

Bill Peschel said...

I appreciate your concern and anxiety. I've worked with various blogging software for years (I actually started with pmachine, later Expression Engine, which is like needing a bicycle and buying a Corvette).

I'm in the middle of writing a business guide for writers, and recommended WordPress for their website. After some thought and talking to writers on Facebook groups, I don't think that's necessarily a good idea.

Wordpress is complicated. I'm struggling with it. The plugins and organization makes it slow, unless you hire an expert to run the backend for you.

Because it's such a big platform, scammers target it. Like why you get a lot more virus writers targeting PCs instead of Macs or Linux. Plugins are a big target, because if they're not kept up, someone can figure out a way to hack them.

The big scam that popped up recently was a hacker buying someone's plugin, and modifying it with new code. Wordpress owners upgrade to the new version, and they've installed the virus.

It doesn't happen often, but it can make you paranoid.

OTOH, going with Substack or Medium or Squarespace means your content can be controlled by someone else. Of course, you're using blogger, so it's not that much different. At least, if you download your content, you have a chance of saving it (although it does ask the question: what for? To give to your university as part of their archives?)

Not much help here; except to say, no, you're not crazy to feel this way.

Browndog said...

It seems to me you should turn to other bloggers more up to speed for friendly recommendations. Seems prudent.

Anyway, hope it all works out.

Bob Boyd said...

WordPress For Dummies
Available through the Althouse portal.

Meade said...

Sorry about that.

R C Belaire said...

This is probably more difficult than I think: Couldn't you start by simply banning commentators that you know cause trouble from experience and go from there? Possibly within a fortnight you will have eliminated 90% of your problem. Of course, you/Meade will be busy during the interim.

dwshelf said...

I come to read Althouse.

Occasionally I read the comments looking for some backstory, but it's not essential.

I just read the Taibbi piece linked. The piece was awesome. The comments predictably sucked.

Please stay. Dump the comments if necessary.

Known Unknown said...

"Blogger doesn't (I think) have this capability to ban"

Blog Comment KillFile is a hell of a plug-in. Users can hush commenters permanently or hide individual comments they don't like. Post a link and be done with it. Works on a lot of browsers. Leave it up to the end-user to create their own experience.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

Do you know your son John?

actual items said...

I know you won't reach out to someone you don't know, but at least would consider perusing Slate Star Codex and garner (he he) some inspiration on how comment moderation could work?

I like your blog better but like his comment section better. It's nested, for one.

He has 2 open threads per week, one Culture War topics are allowed, one when they are not. What is Culture War? You know it when you see it, I guess. Open threads comments go in reverse order which is nice.

He bans commenters for various reasons I don't always understand. Doesn't happen very often. And the bans don't seem to be permanent, a week, a month, 6 months. His main policy is comments should be at least 2 of these 3 things: necessary, true, nice. I try to follow that commenting policy for myself across the internet.

Jeff Brokaw said...

Held hostage by bad faith commenters — ain’t *that* a kick in the ass.

I share your dislike of Wordpress.

Scott Adams talked yesterday about the new site locals.com that he says is great for content creators. Worth looking into.

Freeman Hunt said...

I also hate WordPress and felt the way you describe long ago when I thought about setting up a site with it. And I'd set up many other sites before that, some from scratch, so it wasn't a matter of wanting to avoid tech. WordPress is fiddly.

tcrosse said...

Under the current dispensation a banned commenter can get a new Google ID and log into Blogger with a brand new name. This has happened from time to time, I think, but a changed id doesn't always mask a constant style.

reader said...

I am sorry for the frustration that you are experiencing and appreciate your efforts to keep your blog moving forward.

Wouldn’t there be some person from the University that could assist you? Does the University of Wisconsin have a Computer Science program? A professor or admin might be able to direct you to someone who could walk you through it without your having to divulge personal information. There are a lot of college students who have lost internships/jobs and are very bored (at least here in California).

Temujin said...

Wow. I would look at that Wordpress page you screenshot and search for another format, which is what you're striving to do. It's impressive that you have higher standards than the US Government, or any major corporation, for using outside people to do your tech work. However, in this day and age, almost all of us have to reluctantly depend on someone outside to do our initial tech work to get our businesses up and running. Or even for home use for some.

I would not tell you what to do. But I'll kindly suggest (ugh) that it might be time for you to compromise this standard of yours just a bit. There are thousands of people who could help you set this up in the manner in which you choose. And there might even be a great, creative, helpful friend that you'd get out of it. I know what you're thinking: "Who needs new friends?!" Yes, I hear you.

But maybe it's time to try. It is a solution. And here's how you do it. You find someone through a trusted friend, right there in Madison. You meet with this person. You hire her or him to do the work and let them know, if there is any security breach, you'll kill them. They see you're serious. They understand and do the work. They leave promising you that you'll never hear from them again. You kill him/her anyway.

Then spend years and years blogging as you dreamed.

Seriously- if you want to do this blog the way you want, you're going to need help. This seems to be a bridge too far, but you can do it. Help does not hurt much, and is actually pretty...uh...helpful most of the time. In the meantime, cut out all commentary for now until you get the new thing going, and buy you and Meade an extra 5 free hours/day.

Francisco D said...

Althouse,

You are being tortured by assholes trying to disrupt your site and tortured by coming up with technical fixes. So, right now you are screwed either way. Maybe it is best to come up with a simple good solution rather than a neatly perfect one. It will be less stressful.

Just go back and delete the assholes trying to disrupt the blog. Ignore their insults or whatever they are doing to get your goat. They are manipulating your emotions with their actions.

Another point is that people here are willing to help, but we do not know the extent of the problem. You could be a little more forthcoming about the people who are being disruptive. Maybe we can help you find simple solutions.

Ann Althouse said...

"I don't want to increase your anxiety levels, but I would definitely try to find a way to back-up all of this blog's historical content - at least your posts, if not the comments..."

People at Google gave me individual attention and admitted in the end that it couldn't be done. I'm not interested in trying to do that again. They couldn't find a way, and I accept that there is no way. Yes, everything could be lost. I could also drop dead. That's life.

The blog is saved at archive.org.

Anyway, much as I care about the archive, I realized that 99% of what the blog is is what's happening in the day. And that's pretty close to how life feels to me: We live in days. We can see other units of time, but the day is the thing. We begin it and we end it and we lose consciousness, then begin and end another one.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

actual items said I like your blog better but like his comment section better. It's nested, for one.

Nested comments are pretty nice. They would, at least, sort of limit the annoying back and forth between selected commentors to that nested part of the thread. They can throw poo at each other in their own little nest.

When the comment is in response to somebody else's comment that is clear instead of having to write the name of the person you are responding to.

Having to personally moderate the amount of comments on the multiple posts that are here daily, would be awful! (IMO).

Banning individual commenters can work but you would have to ban not just by name, email but also ISP among other things. (in my limited knowledge...I ask my brother about this kind of thing 😁)

Ann Althouse said...

"Scott Adams talked yesterday about the new site locals.com that he says is great for content creators. Worth looking into."

I did. It looked awful. I couldn't get to the point where I could see what it was. Plus it seems to be a place for right wing content. I don't want that branding on me.

rhhardin said...

Thanks for the suggestions, but there is no way I'm going to "reach out" to someone I don't know.

I think that's in Games People Play. ummmm. guessing "Yes, But"

memory attempt at a distance of, what, 50 years.

Meade said...

"AND: I can't deal with the complexity. I need to stay within the flow that has served me well here on Blogger. I'm just going to keep moderation on all the time, and approve comments when I'm in the mood to read them."

PERFECT! I'm with you 100%

Ann Althouse said...

"Either way, you don't own the content that's on someone else's platform, no matter what wonderful words they use to convey the idea that they are all about 'freedom'. If you're not paying, you're not the client."

That's what they say, but explain all those people on Facebook and Twitter. Is Trump the product of Twitter? Who's using who? It's mutual. Whatever. Blogger has worked very well for me and I feel free and a great sense of flow here. I love having comments, but the comments are also a huge hassle. I always have the option of just stopping having a comments section.

TickTock said...

Ann,

I've dealt with similar issues before. I can code, do html but it's always been one offs, not my main gig in life. Still I want to stay in control, particularly of my websites. So now i hire people but make certain that I always understand the resultant product well enough to do emergency fixes.

Why not work with a tutor? You could be more productive while not winding up dependent upon someone else.

But don't quit. Others depend on you for a note of sanity in their lives.

Jeff Brokaw said...

One site that does comments well is maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com. They use some type of custom home-grown software. Not sure if it allows better control of comments. Just throwing that out there.

Typepad is not accepting new users. I’ve looked into that before.

Glenn Reynolds likes Hosting Matters and they offer customization and installation of hosted software like movable type, I believe.

It’s unfortunate that commenting issues cause such giant problems for bloggers, but then this is similar to the reasons social media is terrible for discussing politics: the people.

Ann Althouse said...

"So before you completely embrace the power of the Darkside, just remember how that usually turns out. Somehow, despite the crappy platform, you've made it work for 15+ years, every single day. So there's that."

Exactly. I think I'm the biggest blog on Blogger. I'm the Queen of Blogger. Why should I wander somewhere else?

You know I've got thousands of tags linking back to tens of thousands of posts. That functionality is a big deal to me, a source of ideas and connections.

Anne-I-Am said...

I hear how frustrated you are. Wow. This is a complicated process. I used Square Space a long time ago--really in the very beginning, but I didn't have comments. SS was easy to set up, but again, I didn't worry about comments.

Most of the time, I just read your posts. I find them interesting and love your thought process--especially your forays into the use of language. I skip the comments almost all the time, unless I think I have something on-topic to say (which I usually don't).

The cafe is only fun if moderation is off. It seems to work better when there is real-time back-and-forth.

Other sites, such as Watts Up With That, have moderators. I guess Anthony Watts found people he trusts; they do a good job.

Maybe walk away from it for awhile. Let your quiet brain fiddle with it while you do something else.

Andrew said...

@Meade,
"PERFECT! I'm with you 100%"

Do you all ever talk to each other?

Does she make you stay in a separate room, like in Misery?

Just kidding, Ann. I love your work. Please don't reject or delete this comment.

Jeff Brokaw said...

“Plus it seems to be a place for right wing content. I don't want that branding on me.”

Doubtful — Dave Rubin started it and he is about individual rights and freedom above all. Not a right winger by any stretch of the imagination.

Eleanor said...

I set up a teaching blog site on Wordpress in under an hour, and I have been using it for a couple of years without issue. I'm not sure just what your problem is with it because Wordpress is about as user friendly as blog sites get. But then I remembered what a production you made out of getting an absentee ballot online. Since I don't believe you're as illiterate computer-wise as this frustration makes you appear, I'm guessing that, like with the absentee ballot thing, this something you really don't want to do. And that's OK, but please just say,"I don't want to do it". Helplessness used to an attractive feminine feature, but not so much anymore.

Inga said...

I know you love your blog. It’s a wonderful blog, worth reading even without comments and when comments were turned off for a while a few years ago, I still read your blogs. Whatever bumping of heads we’ve done over the years, I appreciate your mighty efforts here. It is a work of art and I think moving it elsewhere would cheapen it. I understand the issues with moderation and I’m sure I’ve added to those headaches over the years. Keep doing what you love, don’t worry, be happy, simplistic and trite, yes, but meant from the heart.

Will Cate said...

Ann said: "Ugh! No no no. I'm not doing an email newsletter."

LOL... I share your distaste, but at the same time I wouldn't even be familiar with Substack were it not for Matt Taibbi's email newsletter generated by (of course) Stubstack.

langford peel said...

You should just quit.

Or not have comments.

Jim K said...

I too come to read Althouse. Hardly ever look at the comments, not worth the trouble. FWIW I also hate Wordpress from personal experience. Keep up the good and valuable work. Thanks!

Andrew said...

Wow! Inga and I are in agreement! Kudos to you, Inga.

Ann, your blog brings people together in harmony. Like Coca-Cola.

tcrosse said...

Well, that de-escalated quickly.

Lance said...

Bad news: WordPress is the most flexible and best performing blog software. It also has a steep learning curve.

You should look into hiring a WordPress consultant. You'll have to research the consultant the same way you'd research any contractor. Also you get what you pay for.

Good luck, I hope you find a solution, I'd hate to have you stop blogging.

Narr said...

The best part of retiring for me was that I no longer had to try to understand all the new tech stuff. I have no desire to learn new tricks and jump through new hoops, and frankly I'm glad that you find a conversion too troublesome to undertake right now. I find myself in your situation all too often anyway, without even trying.

That said, I'm here for the comments as much as your posts, especially the Cafe comments. In spite of the cranks and loonies, there's a good mix of knowledge and viewpoints and I learn a lot from other commenters. I'm not as interested in The Law and related topics as you are and would probably stop coming altogether if you dropped comments.

It's a great shame that your very success has become a burden; I don't have the slightest wisdom or advice to offer, just thanks for doing what you do.

Narr
Can you tell if I hit the Amazon link or not?

Temujin said...

Why would you wander somewhere else? Blogger works. You are, as you say, the Queen of Blogger. If the issue is us, the commenters, just shut it off. I'd still read you. The vast majority would still read you. I read you for years before I wrote anything here. The only thing is...there are some very sharp people who share some things of interest here. That would be missed. The rest of it...not so much.

Ann Althouse said...

"This is probably more difficult than I think: Couldn't you start by simply banning commentators that you know cause trouble from experience and go from there? Possibly within a fortnight you will have eliminated 90% of your problem. Of course, you/Meade will be busy during the interim."

I can't ban commenters here. I can only moderate comments and not let them through. It's an ongoing process and we are tired of it.

I could turn off the comments, but as I said, I do enjoy reading them and have a way of alternating between writing posts and engaging with the comments. I want to keep that.

TerriW said...

There was a pretty active community that followed Megan McArdle around everywhere she wrote for many years and got to know each other in the comments and ended up creating a private Facebook group for the conversation after she posts. Now that she's at WaPo (and their comment section is just .... bad for substantive discussion), this has been a good thing.

So, not so great for anyone who comes late to the game to find, but a way to keep it going if the comments become unmanageable.

Yancey Ward said...

If you are unwilling to change the blog platform, you need to just close the comments altogether. I will still read the blog.

Jeff Brokaw said...

Maybe that Killfile plugin idea would (mostly) work? It does depend on the users to make changes but it might be the closest to ideal you can get.

Good luck either way.

Ann Althouse said...

"I come to read Althouse. Occasionally I read the comments looking for some backstory, but it's not essential. I just read the Taibbi piece linked. The piece was awesome. The comments predictably sucked. Please stay. Dump the comments if necessary."

Thanks for taking the time to write that in the comments. I think the great majority of readers of this blog are like you (based on the numbers I'm seeing). This does make just ending the comments a rational, simple solution to everything. I may do that.

Yancey Ward said...

The alternative, probably already mentioned above, is to hire someone to set it up for you in Wordpress. A competent person will be able to take what your description of what you want and create it for you on the platform, or any other platform. You could probably pay such a person a flat fee to shepherd you through the process so that you aren't completely dependent on such a person for very long. Within 2-3 months, you wouldn't need this person's help any longer.

Freeman Hunt said...

When I worked, I used to sometimes work with a design person who was not on-site. She would send things, and I would send back an email with changes, usually lots of changes. Then she'd email back the thing with changes, and I'd email back more changes, and we'd go back and forth like this until I liked the design. Liking each other never factored in. We never even talked on the phone. Maybe you could work with someone like that.

Freeman Hunt said...

Is there a way to have the blog on Blogger and the comments somewhere else?

Wa St Blogger said...

Althouse is my first stop on my daily information consumption tour. I like the items you post, love you photography and mostly like reading comments. I do wish there were a way to control them. I sometimes wish I could be a more regular contributor, but I rarely get in early enough in the flow to have any impact and some people have established such strong relationships that this sometimes feels like their own personal debate forum. But that is not germane to your issue. I am restraining from offering advice. Something will have to give, though. I am rooting for you and hope you find a solution before the last hair on your head is gone.

Ann Althouse said...

"Under the current dispensation a banned commenter can get a new Google ID and log into Blogger with a brand new name. This has happened from time to time, I think, but a changed id doesn't always mask a constant style."

It's the style that is the problem, and I detect the style, so the fake-new commenter would be identified.

MayBee said...

Thanks for taking the time to write that in the comments. I think the great majority of readers of this blog are like you (based on the numbers I'm seeing). This does make just ending the comments a rational, simple solution to everything. I may do that.

Do the numbers that you have access to differentiate between who is reading just the post and who is reading the comments? I always have read the comments, years before I first commented and even when I don't comment now.
I would and do come back multiple times a day to see if there are new comments.

Would there be incentive for people to come back multiple times if there are 6 posts or so a day, and that's it? Would you lose numbers that way? Or maybe that doesn't matter.

Meade said...

"This does make just ending the comments a rational, simple solution to everything. I may do that."

Yes. And if I happen to kick the bucket sooner rather than later, turn the comments back on. Presto — next husband up!

Honestly, I won't mind.

Nichevo said...

Thanks for taking the time to write that in the comments. I think the great majority of readers of this blog are like you (based on the numbers I'm seeing). This does make just ending the comments a rational, simple solution to everything. I may do that.


Unfalsifiable-how will you know that you're failing? You can't do this without the comments.

What surprises me, not having delved into Blogger internals, is that no one can program some kind of bot to do the kind of housekeeping you want done - delete all comments by X, delete or censor all comments with the word Y, post to warn commenters repeatedly saying Z.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

While I understand the frustration and sympathize with Althouse and Meade. If there were no comments, I probably wouldn't be visiting as frequently.

Part of the charm is being able to respond to the posts that pique my interest. Exchange ideas with others and discuss or opine on the nuances of the posts.

It has been said that this blog is like a "Salon" in the historical definition of the term a regular social gathering of eminent people (especially writers and artists) at the house of a woman prominent in high society. Not that we all are 'eminent' people...pretty far from that. LOL But, the atmosphere, when people are being cooperative instead of fighting, is similar.

Without comments, that atmosphere, the feeling of some community, would be lost.

It isn't my decision, of course, since it is not my blog and I am not doing any of the hard word that Althouse and Meade are doing. I just think it would be a shame.

Ann Althouse said...

"Just go back and delete the assholes trying to disrupt the blog. Ignore their insults or whatever they are doing to get your goat. They are manipulating your emotions with their actions. "

You've got me wrong. There is absolutely nothing about the "insults or whatever" that "gets to" me. I don't read these people and it is like having a leak in the roof or an animal that keeps breaking into the house. They're just assholes and idiots whose ideas mean nothing to me. It's just a chore to deal with it, and I don't like that I have to impose moderation on the comments. The commenting experience is better when it's spontaneous and flowing. I'm sorry I can't provide that.

Browndog said...

For me, the lure of Althouse over the years has been useful nuggets in the comments. Learning something new, or a perspective I hadn't considered is worth my time. It seems the comments are way less informative, and very conversational.

The other night the very first comment on the cafe was a link to an article about one of the Channel islands during WWII. Enjoyed reading it. The rest of the comments were an episode of Dr. Phil.

Also, devoid of humor. Howard cracks the best jokes; Meade isn't too shabby.

Just my perspective.

etbass said...

"This does make just ending the comments a rational, simple solution to everything. I may do that."

Think that would be a mistake. The comments are frequently more enlightening than the post. Sorry. And the debates that sometimes take place are also helpful. All in all, the comments are maybe more than 50% of the value of the blog.

Ann Althouse said...

"Nested comments are pretty nice. They would, at least, sort of limit the annoying back and forth between selected commentors to that nested part of the thread. They can throw poo at each other in their own little nest."

Well, I hate nested comments. People jumping the line even if only to say "This!" or "You win the thread." Bleh!! Visually ugly indentations. Nope. Chronological order is the most comprehensible.

steve uhr said...

I recommend you read "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug. It will make you think about the importance of user experience.

rcocean said...

There are youtube videos that go step by step into how to set up wordpress. Did you look into those? Why not spend an hour on that, in order to save 100 hours of moderation in the future?

There are even books, that you can order through the Althouse Amazon link. Or you can flail around and complain.

Personally, I'm going through, in my spare time and saving a few Althouse posts here and there to MS Word. Like the "How McCain lost me post". This blog is really a historical gold mine.

Achilles said...

Ann Althouse said...


Exactly. I think I'm the biggest blog on Blogger. I'm the Queen of Blogger. Why should I wander somewhere else?

You know I've got thousands of tags linking back to tens of thousands of posts. That functionality is a big deal to me, a source of ideas and connections.



I think the pjmedia idea above would fit best for you.

1. They would happily do this for you for "free." You would probably have to let them deal with the ads.

2. They are utterly reliant on their image since that is the only measurable asset so you could probably trust them more than most.

What you are talking about doing is a custom website. Several thousand dollars.

Wordpress is going to get hacked at some point. It is just the nature of that platform. The other widget stackers are in a similar place and they require you to do work which it doesn't sound like you want to do.

PJmedia would be a win win for you both.

Ann Althouse said...

"Yes. And if I happen to kick the bucket sooner rather than later, turn the comments back on. Presto — next husband up!"

Yeah, and if I die, I'm sure you'll get plenty of offers. Good luck, old man.

Mark said...

Freeman Hunt labels WordPress quite well as `fiddly'. If you really like constantly having to tweak things, it's the one for you.

So I don't think it's the one for you, Ann.

"Blog Comment KillFile is a hell of a plug-in. Users can hush commenters permanently or hide individual comments they don't like. "

This tends to leave the discussion section a shambles as people respond to comments others do not see and leaves it a mess. Long threads become difficult to parse and it leads to `black lists' being shared among visitors.

If you want group think and prefer and echo chamber, go ahead and go and allow something like KillFile.

Meade said...

I'd have to turn them all down. Better than nothing is an impossibly high standard.

rcocean said...

"Chronological order is the most comprehensible'

Yes! Nothing is more annoying that to respond someone's comment at BLoggingheads TV, and then go back later and see that your comment has been pushed 12 posts down because people have come after and gotten into some troll fight or whatever.

Nesting sucks.

steve uhr said...

The problem IMO is the nasty personal attacks. If you simply make it known that is not acceptable, and shame them in public, that may help.

madAsHell said...

What is all that?! "Title Attribute"? "CSS Classes"? "Link Relationship"?!! As if the parenthetical "XFN" explains it! It's just abusive.

Welcome to Object-Oriented Programming!!

"Learn to Code!!".......just teasing!!

Yancey Ward said...

"Is there a way to have the blog on Blogger and the comments somewhere else?"

Yes.

tim in vermont said...

End the comments any time you like. I read your blog every day and don’t read the comments. That won’t change. I might drop in a drive by comment that addresses the post directly, but I don’t really care anymore about interacting with other commenters here and since the comments are largely predictable, lust like my comments had become predictable. I don’t miss reading them. You have a couple excellent commenters I miss reading though. Like the guy from Hong Kong or Singapore, Balfour something, can’t remember. Maybe we could convince rhhardin start using Twitter.

Kaus uses substack, and i subscribe, but don’t actually read them that often, but I like his Kausfiles Twitter hybrid which I visit daily.

madAsHell said...

XFN is a technical term that is an acronym that stands for “XHTML Friends Network.” This is primarily used by websites that want to create a series of referral links between other websites in order to boost SEO ratings.

The acronym was also elaborated as eXtreme Fight Night, but we all know the first rule of fight club.

MadisonMan said...

" I realized that 99% of what the blog is is what's happening in the day. And that's pretty close to how life feels to me: We live in days."
Has anyone done a PhD thesis on this blog? I only ask because there are scads of PhDs on, say, Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman, and I have to think you've created a lot more content than they ever did. I do view this blog as an interesting (maybe unique) lens into the past 15+ years.

I also loathe nested comments. It's an artificial aggregation of what is said. Hooray for Chronological.

I do blog and use wordpress. It works, and that's about all I can say. It is Better Than Nothing. However, that might not rise to your standards. I only use it because I am lazy and don't want to investigate other means. I regret I can offer no silver bullet for what is a source of anguish, but I do hope some solution appears.

Instugator said...

Ricochet comment threads routinely get to triple digits. They even have a PIT thread that goes to the 1000's

Fernandinande said...

Bloggers in ancient Rome would attach their charta publicum adnoto to the aqueduct pillars, a crowd would assemble and eventually someone who could read would call out the content to the assembled crowd of commenters, who would then start yelling at each other.

So that's one idea.

Achilles said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I come to read Althouse. Occasionally I read the comments looking for some backstory, but it's not essential. I just read the Taibbi piece linked. The piece was awesome. The comments predictably sucked. Please stay. Dump the comments if necessary."

Thanks for taking the time to write that in the comments. I think the great majority of readers of this blog are like you (based on the numbers I'm seeing). This does make just ending the comments a rational, simple solution to everything. I may do that.

The comment community here really is a small niche community that is somewhat incestuous. But it also has the best collective set of varied background knowledge and depth I have seen in a comment group. There are not that many of us.

I would be sad to see it go.

One option you have is you can Add Authors.

Personally I would go with the pjmedia idea listed above. They would happily do it for free and would probably cater to your personality issues more than anyone else.

But that would involve trust.

Ann kinda sounds like an Agoraphobe living in a blogger house.

Arashi said...

Althouse is one of the blogs I read on a mostly daily basis. I have been doing this since another blog I frequent kept posting links to this blog and I found the content worth the time. I appreciate that having to moderate the blog is a pain in the bum and that you wish to create content, not have to nuresmaid other peoples children. THe dilemma is that you do want to have comments and have a free flow between the folks who post.
Every other blog I frequent that allows comments has to deal with the same reality. Since the web is basically annonymous, people act out their worst impulses when commenting. What the other sites do is enable a select group of folks to act as moderators - but I get that you perhaps do not wish to entertain that as a possible solution. And of course you could just not have comments at all.
There isn't a perfect solution, and I'll bet my own money that any of the other hosting solutions have more than enough of their own issues that will take more time to deal with than you really want to spend.
I do not envy you in making this decision. I do think the only real soltuion is either engage a few good people to moderate for you or go without comments. From what I have seen, the assholes allways find a way to get on a platform - even those that allow banning - to pollute it with their krap. I think it is the way of the internet and the basically bad nature of a lot of people - there are a lot of assholes and the 'net just concentrates their badness.
I truly wish you luck with this as your blog is definitely worth the effort.

Michael said...

Althouse
You live in Madison the home of an excellent university which might have some experts who could help. On the other hand seeing what we have seen from experts it might be better to learn the lingo and do it yourself. Love the goofs these techies pull. Click on the Edit button. LOL.

Original Mike said...

Hate sticking my nose into this, but I guess I am going to anyways. It appears that the problem is a very small number of commenters that get banned on sight. If that's true, other people could moderate for you following simple instruction requiring no judgement on their part. '"If you see X, delete her." You gain a huge amount of freedom for a very little 'loss of control'.

NMObjectivist said...

Don't change.

Kirk Parker said...

Two comments (though I suppose they're really meta-comments) to Althouse's dilemma here:

1. One thing missing from the trust someone discussion is you already trust blogger/google! I know you got some individualized help trying to export/backup, But you really have no idea where those individuals actually fit in the larger scheme of GOOG; overall it's just about the biggest most faceless player out there.

2. I know someone who claims to have gotten some help from local-to-the-troll law enforcement. I think it's been a while, but I think the premise was once you have actually identified the individual, unwelcome harassment is just unwelcome harassment--there's nothing computer specific about saying "leave Althouse alone".

LA_Bob said...

Ending the comments would be sad. Some commenters have relevant subject-matter expertise, and I learn stuff from them. Some are downright funny. Some both. It would be a shame to lose all that.

Kirk Parker said...

I am certainly not among those who find the comments dispensable. I especially like the fact that Althouse will engage in the comments, which makes it a true conversation not just a letters to the editor type feature.

Andrew said...

If you were to stop comments altogether, perhaps you could have an email address for people to respond to your posts. You could then make a new post out of an email that substantively adds to the topic. It would be easier to separate wheat from chaff that way.

Temujin said...

Well...you may not appreciate this link to another blog, but I'm thinking you might enjoy this and a few of us could use a smile. Remember King Crimson anyone? Dancing Fripps

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

I NEED to comment here. People know me IRL on FB, and I got kicked off Twitter for being mean.

Mary said...

Ann, maybe SquareSpace might work for you? I use it for my food photography blog, I don't have to deal with comments much so I don't know if this would be a better option, and yes wordpress is horrible! https://www.squarespace.com

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

I’m waiting to get kicked off Reddit

Godot said...

Does this help?

https://wordpress.org/support/topic/cant-edit-page-content/

MayBee said...

Blogger tim in vermont said...
End the comments any time you like. I read your blog every day and don’t read the comments. That won’t change


But you used to comment frequently. Anyway I’m glad to see you show up for a drive by. I’ve been wondering about your family’s health

Kirk Parker said...

"I hate nested comments"

That alone would get you multiple marriage offers from people of the highest quality, if Meade should leave before his time!

One additional thought about comments here, presuming you don't simply kill them off: The comment section is good, I get a lot out of it, but... it could really use some additional thoughtful, good-faith participation from the left side of the spectrum.

Robert Cook is literally the only person who comes to mind who fits that bill. Mind you, I think he's wrong about everything, desperately wrong, but I've never got the slightest feeling that he's trolling about anything.

I know such people exist, because they write on their own: Glenn Greenwald, Jonathan Turley, Matt Taibbi, Joel Kotkin, etc. How to attract that sort of person to comment here?

And please feel free to chime in with others who I actually making a contribution here, I might be missing somebody.

BlackjohnX said...

Whichever you choose, you will lose readers to some extent and commenters to a greater extent. Your desire to eliminate certain types of comments seems nonsensical to me. You have an interest or point of view which is expressed in the item you post. You also have a financial interest in having visitors go to Amazon through your blog. Why do you care what comments that post elicits. You've stated your opinion. I doubt if you are looking for insights or accolades. When criticized and you take the time to respond, you never accept any criticism as justified. Leave it up to those who come to read or discuss to determine which commenters comments they want to read. After a few visits, pre moderation, I figured out that Chuck, PPTapes, et al, were seldom worth a glance, let alone a thorough reading. You are really trying to fix something which is not truly broken - it just offends your sensibilities. The best changes you could make, should you stay with your current platform, is to eliminate moderation before post appear and allowing threads which can respond to a previous post ala Instapundit. My two cents.

Clayton Hennesey said...

"I bet Glenn Reynolds would know somebody"

Reynolds had his site scraped by Gab's Andrew Torba for months before he ever gained a clue. Even then he never really quite grasped the consequences.

Ann Althouse said...

“ Personally I would go with the pjmedia idea listed above. ”

PJMedia?! I don’t belong there. I don’t even read it. It’s trashy.

I like Instapundit, but I don’t think the affiliation w PJM is good.

I don’t want to be linked to any kind of political brand.

Karen said...

Two things. 1) Can you find a way to block comments from the bad players who colonize the thread with their arguments? Your comment thread is the best place on the Internet, along with the comment thread on Paul VanderKlay’s videos.
2) Have you checked out locals.com? It is subscriber based, but supposedly user friendly.

LA_Bob said...

Anne-I-Am said, "Maybe walk away from it for awhile. Let your quiet brain fiddle with it while you do something else."

This is the key. Patience.

When you have to do something you don't enjoy, it is....work. And not pleasant work.

I'm a retired software developer and workflow analyst. I enjoyed what I did. But I hate dealing with and configuring a new computer. Not my core skill set or "fun thing to do in life".

Tech is not everyone's core skill set or fun thing to do in life. A huge problem is there are simply too many options and tradeoffs.

Lot of great suggestions in the comments here. Just take your time, let yourself be frustrated. Accept that this isn't going to happen tomorrow afternoon (this unfortunately is the hardest part).

You will get there!

Farmer said...

Didn't this blog start off without comments? I seem to remember being incredibly annoyed when they started, because they sucked. I'd love to see them gone. The blowhards outnumber the interesting people by a lot. I'd miss the interesting people but most of the time I'm probably missing them anyway since to find them I have to wade through all the bullshit comments.

Farmer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clayton Hennesey said...

"I'm trying to get started and I encounter this text: "Welcome to your new site! You can edit this page by clicking on the Edit link."

There IS NO EDIT LINK.

I search the page for "edit" and there's nothing other than "You can edit this page by clicking on the Edit link."

I look at every icon and think about whether it could mean "edit."

I just want to set up the "home" page. I'm just completely stuck."

It sounds that your needs could best be satisfied by being a columnist for someone else's organization.

Assuming, though, that your goal is something other than having your cake and eating it, too, by merely using the term "WordPress" you don't distinguish between Matt Mullenweg's WordPress.com, the eleven-billion-whatever-blog platform from which he now earns the fee revenue to make WordPress greater and greater bloatware, in the process creating the profitable new niche of managed WordPress hosting (see wpengine.com, et al), and WordPress.org, the organization from which one can download WordPress for free, install and run it on your host of choice, configure it exactly to your needs, and never worry about Matty one day taking issue with your content and summarily consigning it to the bit bucket.

Recommendations in order:

1. Write for someone else, and shed everything else you've just about explicitly declared you're now bored with and weary of.

2. Set up your own WordPress blog, and task the ingenious Meade with its setup and running. An entire spectrum of comment moderation and authoritative roles for you, Meade, John, and anyone else is available, plus, you can structure the thing as leanly or as obesely as you desire. You will have the hosting costs, but those can be trivial, and with you, not Google, the sole boss of your in-blog advertising and solicitation, those revenues should easily cover it.

3. Write for someone else, and shed everything else you've just about explicitly declared you're now bored with and weary of.

Lucid-Ideas said...

The blog'father' Glenn Reynolds is my spirit animal. He was my professor.

Instapundit is among...if not one of the top 10 blogs on the whole interwebs...as well as Professor Althouse's blog.

FullMoon said...

No offense, but if you change things, the bitch has won. She is laughing.

Maybe put the change on hold for a while. Reconsider while on your next excursion.




hstad said...

Ann, it sounds like you're tired of the policing the blogging contents. It's your site! But one of the reasons that makes your site different is that your articles [subject data] is very symbiotic with your current blogging community. Great responses [interplay] is what makes your Blog click. I would hate for you to drop this combination!

Matthew Heintz said...

I've lurked for years, commented 4 times in the last 4 days.I come for the comments, I have turned on multiple people to the blog, they all come for the comments. No comments, no comers to the blog. Please find a solution that keeps comments, I know you know how important they(we) are!

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I think turning off comments here and someone starting a reddit for reader comments is probably the best solution. Whoever wanted to could make a link post at reddit that he or she wanted to comment on, post the first comment, and it would be off to the races.

I can't do it, because I don't want to use my (dormant) reddit account. I created a new one, username PantsFromAlthouse (some jerk already had my handle here) but you can't create a new community with a new account until thirty days has passed and you have some karma under your belt. I'd be willing to set it up when I'm able if Althouse decides she wants that.

And, also, I'd never do anything against her wishes but she doesn't even need to be involved. She can turn off comments here and whoever wants to discuss her posts at reddit is free to do so. Sub would need mods and I'm sure many here would be willing to do that, including banning she who cannot be named if she showed up. :)

Anne-I-Am said...

I had the same thought as Original Mike. Add a few regular commenters as mods--with the instruction that all they are to do is delete comments by those whom you identify. (Seems like right now it is that Mary creature.).

That would involve trust, I suppose. I confess I am baffled by your lack of trust.

The thing about tweaking what you do on Blogger, such as allowing moderators, is you can undo it easily enough. Moving to another platform is a lot of work and may/will invite new and unforeseen problems. You know this devil.

CR said...

I am interested in what you say, Ann, not what commenters say. So I’d still come here if comments were turned off.

Ken B said...

Just to be clear. My PJM suggestion was a joke. That is why I remarked about linking to AS and using only clickbait headlines. PJM is gawd offal, instapundit excepted, and instapundit is in decline with the likes of hoyt and Driscoll stinking it up.

Freeman Hunt said...

Anyone know of a plug and play commenting solution that could be easily appended to the Blogger post template?

lb said...

Ann - I hear your frustration and wish I could help! Maybe take a week with no comments on this blog and let yourself relax. Sometimes that's all it takes to get some clarity. When you are in the middle of it it just sucks. I'm sorry and appreciate all you guys do - this is my favorite blog and commenters by far - you have done a wonderful job.

RichardJohnson said...

Whatever you decided DON'T use DISQUS. It falsely labels good comments as spam.
Another idiocy point of DISQUS: I recently changed my browser. DISQUS no longer includes my more recent comments. Did Garage Mahal design DISQIS?

Maude's Dad said...

I empathize with your frustration. I'm a software engineer, and I get frustrated with awful tool interfaces. If your user interface is so bad that a law professor can't figure out how to use it, it sucks.

I suspect that when the google engineers said that exporting your site wasn't possible, what they meant was that it wasn't possible with the effort that they were willing to make. People make programs to copy web sites all the time (like the internet archive does).

What might be the best solution for you now is not to get someone to do it for you, but to get someone to train you in whatever site you end up picking. Then you still have total control, and can do it yourself however you want. I bet there are training courses on youtube.

rcocean said...

"Ricochet comment threads routinely get to triple digits. They even have a PIT thread that goes to the 1000's"

Why would anyone want to read that? My experience is that once any thread goes over 300 comments, its devolved into dullards yakking at each other. The only exceptions occur with people are commenting on contemporaneous event like a Debate or election results.

Ricochet also has that annoying feature whereby people automatically "quote" the comment that are responding to. So you get the following situation:

Person 2 quotes person 1 and responds
Person 3 quotes persons 1 and 2 and responds
Person 1 quotes 1,2,and 3 and responds.

It's absurd.

Lem said...

If google wasn't so big maybe they would have asked you what you want and made it happen. if only for one account. or maybe charge extra for the privilege or whatever. I guess blogger is not a money maker for them... so.

Chanie said...

"I come to read Althouse. Occasionally I read the comments looking for some backstory, but it's not essential. I just read the Taibbi piece linked. The piece was awesome. The comments predictably sucked. Please stay. Dump the comments if necessary."

Thanks for taking the time to write that in the comments. I think the great majority of readers of this blog are like you (based on the numbers I'm seeing). This does make just ending the comments a rational, simple solution to everything. I may do that


Ditto. Ann has been one of three websites in my daily reading rotation for the last 10+ years. I even used to have a subscription "donation" when that was a thing (it went away?). I rarely comment. Occasionally Ann updates posts or makes posts based on interaction with commentators, so it not like it's valueless -- but I read the comments less than 1% of the time and would not really miss them. I would miss Ann.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

I have been running a local wordpress blog for over ten years now. I use Wordpress hosted on Godaddy. I have had no problem with Wordpress. I think I sat down with the "Dummies" book for an hour in 2007 and had my first post up after just leafing through. I have resisted adding a lot of plugins, and have kept the "classic" editor, so I can even do my work with Javascript turned off. The only theme work I have done is editing my theme to have three columns, and I only did that as my commenters did not seem to like any of the premade themes I previewed.

I use Wordpress native comments which are strictly chronological, not nested, and that's the way I like it. I hate nested comments. The blog is not high profile enough to often attract abusers, so I do not require commenters to log in with a password, but that ability exists. I have had to ban a few people, which I did by IP address. On the whole Wordpress has been a positive experience.

My sister, who is very smart, but not partiularly technical also uses Wordpress to promote her books, and has had no trouble mastering it, including themes much more complicated than anything I use.

I am less enthusiastic about Godaddy, who have somehow "lost" my database twice, forcing me to in one case go to a months old backup. (I do daily backups now).

Rabel said...

Another option.

Tomcc said...

Kirk Parker: I've pondered that aspect (harassment) as well. There is at least one (and probably more) bad faith commenter who makes no (apparent) attempt at anonymity. It makes me wonder if Prof. Althouse could persuade big G to block certain IP addresses.
It's hard to say whether law enforcement would be any help, what with all the salon owners to be dealt with right now.

Wince said...

Althouse you need to slow the urgency to make a decision you feel right now.

Interim idea for the days/weeks until you "flatten the curve" of anxiety on making a decision:

1.) Shut-down comments on this, the Main Althouse Blogger blog.

2.) Create a shadow Blogger blog (call it "Meadehouse" or "Outhouse", whatever) with comments enabled.

3.) Create a secondary shadow Meadehouse/Outhouse Headline comment post without the content body of your post for each Althouse post. Allow commenters to comment there.

4.) All content, value, links and notoriety will remain attached to the Main Althouse blog (without comments for the time being).

5.) Crucially, trolls will no longer be able to attach their comments under your full posts. They cannot free-ride or hijack the attention attracted by your content.

6.) Assuming that decreases the value of troll activity, the commenting discussion on Meadehouse/Outhouse should improve. You'd also feel less pressure to curate the discussion there because it is not longer attached to the content you produce.

7.) Heck, there's no reason a commenter here could not create a Meadehouse/Outhouse shadow blog for you for you with your blessing, or independently if you simply shut off comments here.

Meanwhile, take the time needed to make a decision you are comfortable with!

bagoh20 said...

Isn't it amazing how few people it takes to totally screw up anything? That's a huge lesson for life right there, and why you never want too many people involved in your life. Looking at you leftists. Leave me alone.

When it comes to any software system off the shelf I always see the same thing. Nobody makes a simple solution to anything, even simple problems.

bagoh20 said...

I can't spend much time here anymore with moderation on. It wastes a lot of time checking to see if the blog is still asleep. I'm not retired, or hiding from boogie man, so my time is limited. Although I won't leave completely, "a man has got to know his limitations"

0_0 said...

Please avoid anything requiring Disqus for comments.

Rabel said...

“Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

Soon a cruel sifting and winnowing of the commenters will begin. The chaff will be trammeled and banished and only the purest, wheatiest grains will survive.

Fear the sifter, evil trolls.

Fear the winnower, obsessive stalkers.

Fear the gluten that remains, celiacs.

Fear the carbs, Ketomaniacs.

Or just ban everybody.

bagoh20 said...

Having someone moderate is no big deal. The bad stuff is, I assume, pretty obvious and doesn't take much careful analysis. Most sites do it. Someone could at least keep the thing alive enough to make it workable for comments. The only problem I see is over moderation not under moderation, so they need to be tolerant.

CJinPA said...

Sorry to see this frustrating you, Ann. I can't help but feel a little embarrassed that, as adults, we can't play without mom and dad having to monitor us.

I would keep reading without comments. There are some insightful comments, but a lot of routine reactions. I generally don't go for the political jugular, so as a result I don't think anyone reads my comments.

agentlesoul said...

Ann Althouse said...

I think I'm the biggest blog on Blogger. I'm the Queen of Blogger. Why should I wander somewhere else?

So that means that you are a major content creator for Blogger, and they should value your presence. I'm wondering if that would allow you to demand more attention from them. Find the right person, higher up in the org chart, and say, look, I like Blogger but it frustrates me, and I'm thinking about taking my blog and its readers elsewhere. Here are the features I need to make it less frustrating: ...
Sure, Google is a big, faceless corporation, but they didn't get that big by ignoring customer needs. They might listen, and make changes.

Andrew said...

If the blogging platform utilizes Fortran, skip it.

https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2020/05/never-trust-the-experts.php

Maude's Dad said...

"Dave Rubin started it and he is about individual rights and freedom above all. Not a right winger by any stretch of the imagination."

That's enough to make someone a right winger these days.

Ken B said...

So, the worst of all worlds:
- moderation delays
- work for Meadehouse
- Shouting Thomas stays

Okay, not the *worst*. PJM clickbait headlines and links to Sarah Hoyt would be worse.

Joan said...

I feel as if I’ve been here since nearly the beginning, and the comments are a big reason why. My suggestion is, turn off comments on some posts, maybe a majority, but not all. That would limit the amount of policing you have to do.

I’ll also add, whatever Ace of Spades HQ uses allows both chronological commenting and bans on commenters. “Cobs” police the comment threads so they don’t get out of hand. It’s a great community over there, not as diverse as this one (maybe) but just as learned and fun to visit. That said, the site design is absurdly cluttered and sometimes gives me a headache. It’s like something out of 1998, and I say that because it reminds me of the site I had around that time supporting a weekly newsletter. But the software appears to do all the things you want.

NMObjectivist said...

Medium censored Aaron Ginn and now there's a big piece on him in the WSJ on that -- 5/15/20. So Medium seems bad as a platform.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, your frustration with WordPress made me chuckle, but I am not laughing at you. You are reminding me of a struggle I had to deal with back when I was a project manager — software developers showing off their “user-friendly” interfaces that were anything but friendly to end users. Perhaps the peak came when one developer, frustrated with my critique, demanded to know what.’s wrong with doctors, were they stupid? Ah, no, but I asked him whether a doctor ought to have to drop everything and get a masters in computer Science to figure out how to use their system? Eventually the firm hired a young woman with a Ph.D. in human-computer interface, and she was able to work with potential end users and translate their needs into hard, testable, requirements. Not long after she worked for me she won one of our highest technical awards. She fully deserved it.

“Title Attribute”suggests that they are using an object-oriented programming language, like C# (pronounced “see sharp”), C++, or Java. CSS is Cascading Style Sheets, which are written in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). And that suggests to me that this site is going to require someone pretty technical to set something up for you.p

somewhy said...

Turn the comments off. I've been reading since marginalia days, and probably average about 1 in 5 posts where I read the attached comment stream.

There's a core of maybe 15-20 regular commenters who are well worth the effort to consider what they post; the rest won't be missed.

Some bright soul will then get the idea to produce a "companion blog" by copy/past of each post, with comment free-for-all. That's then their problem, not yours. I won't visit, but you might, occasionally. The problem with free speech is that people will insist upon speaking, even when they having nothing to say.

Anyway, you are too old to waste such time on this sort of problem, and I say that, gently, as someone who is just 3 months older. Thank you for years of thoughtful, sometimes provocative, comment; I hope you continue without comments.

Paddy O said...

Take a one week course on WordPress or get a book, there are many. I know, you don't want to, but think of how much less you want to be bothered by all this bother about comments and WP lingo. A week of learning and you'll not have to spend the same time every future week with moderation.

Plus learning something initially complicated is a great way to keep the mind active and avoid dementia. Precisely because you don't want to is a reason to kick your brain into action and show it who's the boss of things.

langford peel said...

You should shut off the comments. Period.

Kay said...

I guess my feeling is that I come here to read Althouse, not comments. Yes, I enjoy commenting from time to time, and there are some commenters I enjoy reading. But if the comments had to go, I wouldn’t miss them and would keep visiting. This blog is probably my main source of news.

FullMoon said...

After reading all the comments, the answer seems to be moderation interns.

Only seems fair and reasonable that these unpaid moderators should be chosen from the crew who has been here the longest. Three people, working 8 hour shifts should do it.

With that in mind, I nominate Inga, Shouting Thomas, and ,of course, the delightful Ritmo.

Jim Grey said...

I'm not sure I understand what you would get on WordPress in terms of comment management that you don't get on Blogger. I've been on WordPress since 2007 and I'm not aware of anything there that would automatically do anything with my comments other than quarantine spam.

I do not recommend changing platforms after as many years as you've been doing this. You're entrenched here.

My bona fides: 30 year software development veteran. Tech does not daunt me. I also happen to LOVE WordPress. And I still say you are best off just staying on Blogger.

rcocean said...

"I can't help but feel a little embarrassed that, as adults, we can't play without mom and dad having to monitor us."

This completely ignores the facts. First, there are people with personal and political agendas who will ruin any "public space" unless controlled. Second, you always have oddballs who want to hijack anything popular to ride some hobby horse. Third, some people are NOT malicious, they just love the sound of their own voice/keyboard and ruin it. Fourth, you have people who ARE malicious, and love destroying other people's work.

Its not about being "adult". Moderation is always required. That's internet 101.

PJ said...

I can't say I know exactly what the parameters of the problem are, but I do think this is a good time to take action because any sort of troll problem is likely to get worse as the election approaches. The only possibility that occurs to me that hasn't already been discussed would be to turn comments off, except when you don't. By that I mean that comments would be turned off most of the time and as a matter of expectation, but turned on at your whim, irregularly, whenever you feel like it. Maybe you're interested in commentariat reaction to a particular post, or maybe you want to crowdsource some request for information, or maybe a wave of nostalgia will overtake you. So you say something at the end of a post like, "I'm turning comments on because I want your thoughts on this post; any comments under other posts will be ignored and deleted." When you have what you want, turn comments back off. If anyone triggers your urge to moderate, turn comments back off.

This would work to deter trolls if the trolls are people who are not interested in the front page but are just here to spoil the comments. Are those your trolls? You would lose a whole class of readers like Matthew above, and I would find that regrettable, but perhaps occasional comments would be a better choice for you than either "no comments ever" or "always on but always moderated."

Another thought just now occurs -- I have noticed that when you post a poll, it is possible to comment under the poll results as well as under your post. Perhaps if you are interested in comments on a particular post, you can add some sort of poll question, and comments could be posted under the poll.

cubanbob said...

AA please consider taking your aphorism to heart that better than nothing is a high standard. Having read all the comments on this thread to this point not one comment has been obnoxious. A number of of the commenters on this point claim not to read the comments. Others occasionally and others skip the very large comment count in some threads and other just ignore the few miscreants. Perhaps consider doing nothing. Those who don't read the comments won't notice. Those that do have the choice of just skipping the miscreants. I do. I greatly appreciate the work you and Meade do. I come here for the content and the comments. Please just leave things as they are and your readers can sort things out for themselves. Perhaps Blogger will come up with a Troll-Be-Gone feature. Until then ignore the clowns, most of your readers do.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

Just for the record, you can leave the "customizing menus" section blank. I have never put anything there.

Earnest Prole said...

I can tell you fancy, I can tell you plain: You give something up for everything you gain.

rehajm said...

Honestly, I won't mind.

Just curious - How would it work exactly if you did?

Maybe I don't want to know...

CJinPA said...

Its not about being "adult". Moderation is always required. That's internet 101.
I know it’s just the way it is. And it’s somewhat embarrassing to me as a commenter when a blogger says the work that goes into policing us is an increasingly unbearable chore.

Mr. D said...

Thank you for this blog. I have learned many things here.

I have used Blogger for my minuscule blog for 15 years and its limitations are a problem. The comment section here is valuable, but the trolls and bad actors are certainly on the upswing. Have the honchos at Blogger ever explained why they will not give you a mechanism to block the malefactors?

Bay Area Guy said...

I have a funny story about "comments".

Way back in the Paleolithic era, there was a little blog called "Daily Kos", run by this little leftist Homonculus, who did serve in the Army, but was still a weenie.

Anyway, for about 6 mos, I was the only opposition and I used to swat down those lefty morons like gnats. At the time, the blog world was just getting started. So, Kos banned my ass. He said I was "disruptive" to the community. But it was argument, no cursing no personal attacks.

And, then Kos took off like a rocket ship into the stratosphere. At one point, he mighta been the biggest blogger. It was Kos, Insty, Andrew Sullivan, if you can believe it.

That was nearly 20 years ago - this Idiot Senator from Vermont (not Bernie,the other Idiot Jeffords), left the GOP to swing the Senate to the Dems. That was big news at the time. Later, they'd chant, "Bush lied, people died!"

Fun times!

Where was I? Oh yeah, Althouse is a National Treasure - and whatever form this blog takes, I'm sure it'll work out.

Carry on, Comrades.

Jim Gust said...

I am a regular reader an only occasional commenter.

Since becoming aware of the burden of monitoring comments some months ago, I have raised the bar for me making comments. Before making more work for Ann and Meade, I ask myself, would this comment add enough to the discussion to make it worth their effort? That cut my rate of making comments in half.

Perhaps more of the commenters should consider this approach as well?

Another alternative might be to only permit comments on a subset of the blog posts. Does Blogger permit that?

Unknown said...

I have been reading Althouse for over ten years and this is my first comment. The blog is a daily read for me. I would read Althouse without the comments, but I do think this blog has the best commenters on the web. The content is informative and insightful and rarely dull. The comments add a dimension of critic thinking about issues in that multiple viewpoints are presented.


A quick note: as I recall, Meade first came to Ann’s attention via the comments...

Narr said...

Pushing 200 here. What about closing comments after the first 100 or so? Since you make maybe four or six posts a day there would be a strict limit to how much policing you have to do . . . Stagger your posts so all time zones get a chance at early comments . . . Or--

I'll volunteer to be a co-censor. Just let me pick the threads; I already have a list of useless and pernicious, uhh, toxic commenters to look out for.

It's sad to see what I realized 25 years ago, when I first ventured into Interweb discussion, recur again--unmoderated sites eventually get buried in crap.

Narr
I work cheap

Ralph L said...

whatever Ace of Spades HQ uses allows both chronological commenting and bans on commenters.

ace.mu.nu

Years ago, he had problems with crashing.

FullMoon said...

Naturally, any discussion of frustration with commenters requires reposting this.
Not sure who has done it more, me or Jon.
I am close to forty times, think Jon is in the sixties.
Works on chrome and others also.

Blog Killfile – Get this Extension for 🦊 Firefox (en-US)

Achilles said...

Ann Althouse said...
“ Personally I would go with the pjmedia idea listed above. ”

PJMedia?! I don’t belong there. I don’t even read it. It’s trashy.

I like Instapundit, but I don’t think the affiliation w PJM is good.

I don’t want to be linked to any kind of political brand.



You would be letting other people do work for you. It isn't an endorsement. They provide a service and you provide content. The posted domain name doesn't even have to be listed as their domain.

It is interesting to see someone who takes the WAPO and NYT's seriously call other sources of information "trashy."

It actually says a lot more about you than about PJmedia by the way. But self awareness was never your thing.

The commenters in this room are not the only people clueless to their world.

FullMoon said...

Following up on my3:35 comment.
If nominated, I shall not run.
If elected I will not serve.

But I appreciate your underbridled support.

Tomcc said...

FWIW, I have spent waaay more time on this blog during the shut down than I ever did prior. Our hostess finds intriguing subjects to blog about, some of which I find interesting. I look forward to reading the comments. Many commenters have knowledge and/or experience in areas that make it worthwhile. And sometimes one has to shift through quite a bit of chaff to get to the wheat. Even those commenters whose opinions I disagree with often make points that are worthy of consideration.

guildofcannonballs said...

Steyn ought unfuck himself and say per Buckley April 2020 has been one of the kindest months.

Christopher J Feola said...

To our dear blogger, first, thank you. I've been reading you first thing every morning for more than a decade, and generally I check back later in the day to see if you've added anything. I think I've commented twice or so in all that time. I come here for your musing and your writings. I do think the comments add to the value of your site, but understand it is minor; say, more than 5% of the value, but less than 20%. And I have bought things through the Althouse Amazon portal.

I am, by both vocation and avocation, a writer and technologist, and a bit of an expert on WordPress and similar blogging tools. I have a simple test: I ask prospective WordPress users how they would use the Cascading Style Sheet tools. If the answer is "I'll have full control of my layout!" I tell them to go ahead. Any other answer, and I tell them that they need a tech to run the site, or to choose another platform. There are no black hats and white hats here. If you love driving a sports car with a stick, drive one! If you don't know how to drive a stick and don't care, don't drive one. Same thing.

Cjf

Howard said...

Trooper Dork (Ms. Peel) is back. What a fucking poseur. She just makes me miss Cedarford even more.

Ken B said...

Achilles
You are missing the point as ever. To Althouse this blog is an expressive endeavor, a form of creativity, an artistic creation. The last thing she wants is to associate with a group, any group, pushing a political agenda. Much less a trashy group she doesn’t admire — even if it would make her life easier.

Ray - SoCal said...

This has been a most Anne thread I have ever read on this blog. It's been both deep, as well as humorous (go Meade!), and bringing out the best in commenters with lots of different opinions.

From my prior life doing web stuff. The first step is figure out what you want. Create an ability to do list. And if possible, rank what is important. The majority of work on any project should be done in the specifications, everything else is easy, when you define what you want. The biggest headache I had with web development, was working with bosses / end users who did not know what they wanted, and kept on changing their minds.

For WordPress you need somebody to keep up to date with the patches and right plug ins, since it does get hacked. Overseas software development is much cheaper (Philippines or India usually, the problem is effective communications. There is a culture issue, which can hurt a project being finished.

With Software Development Types, I have seen the coding type that don't get usability, the artists type that don't get usability, and usability types that don't get beauty (Jacob Nielsen School). Usability is being able to do the task you want.

Great Observation!
"it's because we're doing mindless, time-consuming shit work that we're not going to keep doing. Glad you like it, but we need to stop doing it.

Ray - SoCal said...

A site you can find out what technologies are used on a site:
https://builtwith.com/

Howard said...

That's right Achilles you certainly are clueless. What the hell are you doing here telling Althouse how to run her blog when you can't even help your own parents fix up their house so they can get it on the rental market.

The stove and carpet or not going to fix themselves. I thought you were a problem solver? I guess being a busybody and a bellyaching conspiracy theorist is easier.

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