A Lack of Comments

Comments are viewed as being an essential part of any website delivering primarily written content, such as this one. So why is this site devoid of them?

This lack of comments has always been a concious choice of mine — this site was never meant to have any. However, it was called to my attention in a Tweet by Richard Archambault the other day that I haven’t yet explained myself.

The absence of comments is attributable to two factors: implementation, and philosophy.

Implementation

I don’t use a truly dynamic publishing system like WordPress to create my website. The tool I use, nanoc, is designed for the creation of static-file websites, which don’t lend themselves particularly well to comments.

There’s no plans to change away from nanoc for the moment, so that option isn’t available.

But wait, you might say. Why don’t you use a third-party hosted comment solution like Disqus?

I have nothing against Disqus in particular, but I do take issue with having too many external dependencies, as well as not having control over the appearance of all my site’s components.

Using Disqus (or any similar hosted comments service) forces me to load the necessary scripts from their servers (which I try to limit how often I do), as well as to use the styles they provide. Unfortunately, none of the styles they offer fit in with the message I try to send with this website.

One downside about losing centralized comments is that it’s difficult to see all the different reactions that have occurred. However, my strategy to combat that is simple: update the article in question with links to the external commentary, with a response of my own. (This whole post is really an example of that, thanks again to Richard.)

Even if I could have comments on the site in a technical manner which I agree with, I’m not sure I would.

Philosophy

This is what’s really stopped me from including comments. I don’t believe it’s necessary to have comments on personal sites anymore.

Discussion around posts will still happen (does still happen). However it occurs on other mediums. I receive comments via Twitter, via Facebook, via email, and I feel that the ones I receive there matter more than if I had received them here.

If people are contacting me using those methods, it usually means that they actually have something of substance to say about what I wrote. What they say over Facebook or Twitter is more public than what they say here, so they’re more likely to put out high quality content, if they put anything out at all.

I’m all for high quality content.

The Door is (Still) Open

Omitting comments doesn’t mean I’ve closed the door to discussion on my pieces of writing. It just means I’ve decided to move that discussion elsewhere.

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