Why I Don't Enable Comments

Posted on Tue 19 November 2019 in PDNMeta

So, thanks to a great write-up by @kev@fosstodon.org, I wanted to mention why I don't have comments on my personal blog anymore.

Simply put: stress.

Moderation and screening of comments is a necessity in this day and age, with comment spam on a constant rise, and the toxicity of mainstream social (as I've come to call it) bleeding over from sources like HackerNews, reddit, and social media. Having to deal with all of that takes time, and some things that come through your screening box will make your skin crawl.

A bit of a story

When I was still using a Wordpress.com blog, I was actually a victim of mainstream social toxicity. I had made a posting about not being able to install Linux on an HP system that I'd bought, only to be completely unable to pass basic UEFI after rebotting. Someone on Identica (before StatusNet became GNUSocial) boosted the automatically-generated post on my own Identica account, before also posting it to HackerNews and reddit's r/technology.

What resulted from that was three things:

  1. My WP.com site being taken offline due to what amounted to a DDoS from the Slashdot Effect.
  2. My email inbox becoming flooded with spam and hateful comments in the screening tool before the site went down.
  3. Panic as I tried to figure out what the hell was going on.

On top of number 2 above, I also got linked to the reddit and HackerNews postings, and they were just as bad there as well. At one point, I even got doxxed by someone over the whole thing, and someone who came to my aid was claimed to be a sockpuppet account of mine (I didn't have a reddit account at all at the time). It got bad fast, and then went into being out-of-control.

Five days passed before I could access my blog again. Five days before everything calmed down enough to point that people moved on. Shortly after that, I disabled commenting, then ditched WP.com and Identica after a second article revising the first got me DDoSed again. I was done with that.

You can't stop this train we're on

Nor can you stop people from leaving some of the worst comments imaginable wherever they can. If a platform exists that can be abused, people will abuse it. Twitter, Facebook, and reddit are all top-tier examples of this, where people happily tear each other apart, often with no moderation whatsoever. Reddit has been getting better about this, so I'll give them that much.

Regardless, this has been going on for so long that it's almost tradition. As early as BBS systems have been around. I highly recommend Jason Scott's BBS: The Documentary for more on that, though. (Get Lamp is another great work of his, if you have the time.)

Still, any reduction in such stress can help, and without comments on my blog, there's a reduction. I don't have to deal with that problem myself, and that helps get weight off my shoulders.

If you want to leave a comment, ping me on the fediverse as @codebalion@fosstodon.org. Blocking out the stressful people is much easier when tools for it are effective enough to work as intended, and the Fediverse has those tools.