Aaron Sumner


Why I'm trying a comment-free blog

When I pushed this new, Middleman-backed version of my blog last week, I removed a key feature from the previous Jekyll (and, before that, WordPress) version.

I removed the ability for readers to add comments.

It's no secret that I generally find little value in the peanut gallery tacked onto the end of most blog posts and newspaper articles these days. By and large, they do nothing but make me shake my head in disgust (at best) or raise my blood pressure (at worst).

I dislike comments so much that for the past few years I've used a browser extension called Shut Up, so in most cases I don't even have to see the comments. If scrolling toward the end of an article in your local newspaper gives you a sense of dread, anger, or general anxiety, I highly recommend installing Shut Up.

There's also a technical reason at play. Static site generators like Middleman don't include built-in commenting systems as their database-backed counterparts do, so third-party commenting platforms like Disqus must be used. While Disqus makes it easy to drop in comments, it also does obnoxious stuff like add additional CSS classes to the site for a site developer to deal with when making everything look just so. It's also started adding links to outside content, which I might be able to disable, but shouldn't have to. I know they need to make money, too, but wish they would do so with premium options. (If Disqus does allow this, I haven't found it on their site.)

I'm not alone in publishing comment-free. Jon Gruber, the man behind the Mac-heavy Daring Fireball blog, has been doing so for years. I got to wondering if he'd ever commented publicly on this decision; turns out he did just that about seven years ago. His rationale is different than mine, but worth reading if you've been thinking about making a similar move with your publication.

Anyway, I reserve the right to restore comments, should it turn out that I'm wrong on this. In the meantime, if you have something you'd like to say about something I've written here, I'm not hard to find online.

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