Quote: Blog comments

Lawrence Lessig has been getting some trolls over at his blog and asked his readers for advice on a comment policy (basically, what the threshold should be for deleting inappropriate comments). Here’s what I took to be the most insightful suggestion:


You should delete all comments, including those which attack you and your work, which are expressed in a fashion which a civil adult would not use when speaking face-to-face with another adult. Off-topic comments also get launched. That is, being on-topic is necessary but not sufficient for a comment to remain. Being civil is also necessary but not sufficient for a comment to remain.

Larry, there’s an adage which applies to hiring, that says: A-quality people hire A-quality people. B-quality people hire C-quality people. So you need to only make A hires, or your business is headed downhill.

In commenting, I’ve observed that A-quality comments attract A-quality comments. B-quality comments attract C-quality comments.

I’m an *old hand* at the internet discussion forum game, though I don’t care to list my name here. Your blog is already headed downhill as far as comments are concerned. If you want to maintain comment quality, you must prune rather ruthlessly. Now, nothing terrible will happen if you don’t. Your comment section won’t be any good, but then most comment sections aren’t, so yours won’t stand out. I don’t know that you actually want the hassle of maintaining a good comment section, it’s certainly harder than maintaining a bad one. But I’m telling you how, if you want to: if you want to maintain an actual GOOD comment section, one that literally *attracts* A-level commenters, you need to prune ruthlessly.

I suspect the same notion holds true for most internet communities, wikis inclusive, once they reach a certain popularity threshold.

(Luckily, Modern Dragons does not yet suffer from such pitfalls of runaway popularity!)