April 6, 2021

"Long-time reader, first time commenter. I love the café style blog you created and have spent way too many hours reading you and your commenters over the past eleven years."

Writes a reader who calls herself lawlizard. The email continues: 

I was sad to see that you ended comments, but having had some time to think about it, I would offer the following. I think the comment section had become less of a café to offer freewheeling conversation and thoughtful opinions and was more like a bar.

For the regulars, everybody knows their name, but they also had gotten boring. I could read your post and often it would spark interesting ideas and then read the comments and too often they were just rehashing the same opinion, but tied to the latest topic.

Oh look, there’s the guy who thinks all women are ninnies; there’s the guy who thinks everyone should move to Nevada from California; there’s the guy who hates Trump; there’s the guy who loves Trump; there’s the guy who think America is collapsing; there’s the communist who think they are all uni-party.

And there’s the incessant need to convince you that you, the hostess, the blogress, the free speech advocate needs to think just like them or you are not worthy, needs to find the same things interesting, needs to be on their team. And then every once in a while, some drunk shows up and has to be shown to the door and it’s your job, not theirs. They sit there and rile someone up for fun, because you have to clean up the mess.

Why couldn’t they just appreciate you for who you are instead of trying to turn you into another mindless drone? Why couldn’t they take twenty minutes to engage with the ideas and say something interesting instead of reflexively spitting out the same opinion they had yesterday?

Sometimes I had something interesting to say 2 or 3 days later and it was too late to say it. I did get a lot out of the comments, so I don't want to knock them too hard. It is very hard to be consistently interesting and surprising and deep.

Then the AI Big Tech people start hassling you to parse every single word and moderate them. Any appreciation for that, no, no no. They decided this is your job, not that you are the artist entertaining them daily for free with amazing content. And their excuses are weak-she should have hired an administrator, she should have changed her tech platform, she should allow co-bloggers — elevate the commenters to your status.

Did they ever ask you what you want, what you wanted to see? I will miss DBQ, Freeman Hunt, Mockturtle, I will miss the tangents. I missed Laslo and Betamax when they moved on. I missed Chip Ahoy. I was trying to think of a constructive solution and thought what if you tried a kind of “open-line Friday.”

Take a break from the drama. Open comments, one day a week. More importantly, I would say, do what you want. Maybe after your break you’ll miss it. If the comments did not spark your interest and your creativity and improve your thinking, then let them go.

I greatly appreciate you and your art. I respect your refusal to prostitute yourself to either the woke or the deplorable and to remain a true liberal in the original sense of the world. I’m humbled to even be writing to you and to think you will read and value my opinion. Thank you and I will keep reading. Feel free to share my comments. You can call me lawlizard.

ADDED: Another emailer: 


I miss the comments in general, though perhaps not all of them. 

I particularly do not miss the sometimes all too numerous comments in which people feel the need to explain at length why other commenters were idiots - even when I sometimes agree, as I do not see much point to picking fights in a venue like this. 

Still the comments were at times informative and even sometimes witty, so I miss that. 

Of course, it being your sandbox, you are entitled to handle it in whatever way you see fit. 

Thank you for your work on this. While I do not necessarily always agree with what I understand to be your take on things, you have the great virtue of not being boring, and your choice of topics and items to point out is frequently quite enjoyable. 

In any case, please know that I am, 

Respectfully Yours,