YouTube and Popular Science recently announced new policies that either add greater restrictions on comments or remove comments altogether. In this social age, it seems like a given that people can comment on, well, just about anything on the Web; when sites take such actions, it may seem odd, perhaps even insulting. But as more sites take drastic measures regarding comments to combat spam, trolling, etc., perhaps we need to rethink the necessity of comments to begin with.


  1. “commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded–you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the “off” switch.”
    I agree that people often comment on things they do not fully understand. We see that in all areas of discussion, including theology.
    However, the other side of that story is that political support, including financial support, also shapes public policy. To silence dissention is to ignore the possibility that the “majority science” (or whatever the topic), or a certain expert organization, also has an biased agenda (to some degree).
    I think the climate change issue is an interesting one. The seeming interest in silencing the data regarding the past 15-20 years (we will find out in tomorrow’s report) has caused many to question the credibility, and motives, of many in the scientific community. One thing is certain: the majority of the climate-related scientific community has a lot riding on their projections, including their credibility.
    If people or groups silence differing opinions, we have to ask about motives.
    Finally, is the problem as much the differing opinions, or is the problem the poor way we have such discussions. Os Guinness is right about the need for civil discourse.

  2. I’d almost certainly quit blogging if comments stopped; comments create conversations about topics and those conversations are where we learn about one another.

    1. When blogging first started (I was there, as was CAPC in nascent form), there were no comments on blogs. People hadn’t yet thought of programming that into the popular blogging platforms. Instead, blogs themselves were the conversations. Someone would write a post and other blogs would respond. Blogs would respond to the responses. The conversations were grand and sprawling and (almost by necessity) far more thoughtful than the common back-and-forth we find in comment threads today. It was a lovely time to be a blogger and I rather miss it.

  3. I do not comment on every blogpost I read, but I will not read a blog that doesn’t allow comments. It seems to me that the author has something to fear when that is done. Besides, I can read a book if I don’t care to read the opinions of commenters.

    It’s true that YouTube attracts it’s share of crazy (and worse) comments, but that is an example of the need for moderation.

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