The popular comedy news site Splitsider just announced that they will ban comments on most of their articles. They join PopSci, who received opprobrium for killing comments in late September.
Why? Here's editor Adam Frucci:
A couple of reasons. For one, we've never had much of a commenting community to begin with. Unlike sites about politics or social matters, people don't seem to have much to say about comedy news. And when we do get comments, much of the time they're either offensive or just without any real substance. We put a lot of work into the content on this site, and it's frustrating to have folks finish reading an article only to be confronted with mean-spirited garbage at the bottom of the page. Furthermore, we're a small team without the time and energy to dedicate to policing and cleaning up comments. So we're getting rid of them. And I'll be honest, it feels pretty great.
Here's the thing. When sites kill their comments, there's a predictable pile-on of criticism. People defend online comments because online comments feel democratic: everyone gets their say. But websites that can't or don't invest in creating worthwhile forum shouldn't have them. It serves no one to finish a post and read paragraphs and paragraphs of unintelligible bickering, obscenity, and work-from-home scams.
So, no comments > completely unmoderated comments. That said, I'm not sure how hard it is to moderate, even on a shoestring budget. I also think there's a broken-windows theory that applies here. If you're proactive about keeping out trolls, you can create a place where people will thoughtfully engage with each other. If you don't pay any attention, the trolls will drown out any meaningful conversation.
As for us, I'm glad we've got smart commenters who say substantive things that surprise me, and also nitpick my appalling spelling and grammar. Never stop posting, please.