Lately it seems a small but stubbornly disruptive number of comments have tended to be hopelessly off-topic. And I’m not the only one to notice. Two recent comments pretty much lay out the issues succinctly, so let’s go to the tape. On the one hand, off-topic comments that take a thread into the high weeds are annoying:

When I post it says, your post is being moderated or some such. If so, I don’t know why [wildly off-topic] posts such as #7 are not deleted immediately which would also ensure there are no followup posts to it.

I don’t tend to do this for a couple of reasons. One is that when I started allowing comments I decided my main criteria for sorting through the moderation cue would be efficient, simple, and as democratic as possible: only delete posts that were potentially libelous or promoted criminal behavior. You can probably find outlying exceptions to both criteria, but having passed my eyes over every single comment that’s ever been posted here (and a few that ended up on the cutting room floor), I can say it’s a rule that’s served me well ethically and logistically. What’s more, it’s also encouraged free-wheeling conversations in an online subculture that God knows already has way too many carefully scripted discussion threads sanitized to fit a particular agenda.

Besides, what does a little rabbit chasing hurt, right?

I understand about open threads and the like, but if something is brought up and we want to discuss it, or ask about it, what is the harm?

Sure it isn’t as neat, but even talking among people in person conversations take turns.

Granted, it does interfere with the topic at hand, and would best be on an open thread, but at the end of the day, it isn’t earth shattering compared to other things.

It’s not earth shattering. But it certainly is annoying, especially when there are fairly regular open threads for people to use for random thoughts, non-sequiturs, and tasteless nonsense. I’ve never really polled to measure the popularity of comments because they seem to have been such an overwhelming success since I introduced them. And maybe what we’re dealing with here is a symptom of that success: namely, people approaching comments threads here with the same any-port-in-a-storm attitude that prevails on discussion boards.

And/but/so, here’s the deal: I’ll try to provide regular open threads (let’s say at least once every week or one open thread on the main page at any given time, whichever comes first) if you’ll try to keep it between the ditches on the rest of the comments threads. Deal?

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  1. quartet-man wrote:

    I do agree how several topics going at once CAN be annoying especially when there is one that is being talked about. Ideally the topics such as these would be in the open threads where they belong. My point wasn’t that it SHOULD happen, but if it does and someone wants clarification or to comment, they should be able to.

    Still on topic. :)

  2. quartet-man wrote:

    By the way, maybe the best thing we can do if we want to comment or question or if anyone sees this happen is to ask the poster to go to the open thread. Maybe we can have several blog police and get the training in. :)

  3. BUICK wrote:

    Doug, your suggestions sound…well, sound. Let’s all try to comply and see how it works.

  4. Grigs wrote:

    What about those Celtics! :)

  5. Fezzik wrote:

    Musically not my favorite. The tin whistle and fiddle is ok, but those bagpipes, ugh!

    Now Spurs, that’s a whole ‘nother thing. Nothing like gigging an animal with pointed metal

  6. thom wrote:

    sounds like a great idea

  7. Leebob wrote:

    Should only be a problem for the ADD afflicted among us. OOO wait a minute…is that a bicycle over there?

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