April 5, 2021

I didn't plan for yesterday to be so momentous.

It certainly wasn't an Easter idea. Who am I to step on Easter? 

I had a post — put up before sunrise — about a column by a bishop who spoke of "recovering the strangeness of Easter," but he wasn't saying make your Easter Sunday strange — do something strange in your life. He wanted you to engage with the strangeness of the Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus. That was no call to perform strangeness in the drama of my own little life.

I went out for my usual sunrise run. It wasn't a big showy sunrise, but there was a gentle softness on the lake that translated into luscious strips of color in the photographs. I ended up posting 8 of the photographs, lined up chronologically. I don't think I've ever presented the sunrise photographs like that.

And those 2 posts together, with nothing more, could have made a solid Easter Sunday on the blog, a change from the usual day on the blog, with more seriousness and beauty than the usual style. There's much more to the day than what shows up on the blog, and it's good to have some days when the blog side of life is minimal.

But the blog side of life turned maximal, because I put up one more post. I'd come back from my sunrise run, and running gets me thinking and putting my thoughts in new order. As soon as I got back home, I put up the post, "I'm considering changing the approach to comments on this blog." I spelled out a few options and started a conversation. The results of the poll were very clear:

"Keep it the way it is" — that is, let comments flow into new posts unmoderated and deal with problems as they come up by deleting the trolls and the spam and so forth. I like the free flow too, but unlike the rest of you, I have to continually tend to the problems, and whenever I step away from the blog to go about my life in the material world, I have background static: I wonder what's happening in the comments. Do I need to get in there and deal with a troll infestation? There was an open door to anyone in the world to make a mess of a place that I had bound myself to protect and that I had protected for 17 years.

I didn't try to skew the poll by telling you about the burden it has become for me. I just wanted to see what you thought, and it's nice to know that the majority of poll-takers were happy with the experience I had worked so hard to create. The behind-the-scenes work for me isn't something that should concern you. Quite the opposite. The backstage labor isn't part of the show. 

I was interested to see what people would say in the comments. That's the up side of comments for me. I like to read what people have to say. I'm used to the sense of seeing the readers and feeling the camaraderie. But somewhere along the way in that thread that is now up over 600 comments — many of which are from me, responding to people — I could see that there is only one answer that gives me what I'm afraid I must take for myself. And that is the end of comments. 

I've chosen the least popular option — if you don't count the "Something else," which wasn't any specific option at all. You can email me by clicking here. If you email me, you need to say if you don't want to be quoted on the blog, because I may select quotes from the email to use in updates to the blog. But the freewheeling chattiness of the comments section is gone. I'm sad to lose it. 

In that long thread yesterday, a lot of people told me that they come to my blog not for me but for the comments. They seemed to think that argued in favor of my continuing to carry the burden of moderating the comments. It cut the other way. I didn't plan for yesterday to be so momentous, but it was that argument — augmented with the threat that I would lose traffic, the all-important, precious traffic — that pushed me toward decisive action.

So now, here I am, blogging on alone, without the hefty support of a comments section under this post. I'm writing this paragraph, and that's it. It's not a kick-off to a conversation. It stands on its own. You've read it — now, you're free. There's nothing more to do. No remarks to make. You'll see — if you continue on as a reader — what difference it makes in me as a writer. That's something I want to see too.