As most of you know, I run a semi-pro fishing blog. What you don’t probably know is that it gets well over 25,000 page views a month and it is providing a business boost for the company we’re running it for. It’s not like I’m ready to quit the day job and retire here, but it’s pretty successful and commands a certain responsibility to the readers and fly fishing community.
But as with anything, there are always a few assholes in the bunch. You could argue that the internet breeds them — faceless exchanges with people with zero attention span and no barrier to publication. But I’ve always encouraged people to make their point and let the community put them down. The problem with that is the process isn’t always pretty. In fact, it can be a turnoff for readers to see a bunch of negative, name-calling bullshit on a site. It reflects on the blog owners.
We recently reached ass-clown saturation on our site and I decided to turn off the comments. It wasn’t worth the headaches. We had anti-environment idiots, blowhard competitors, and one specific douche that I think gave Karl and ulcer. My view is that the site offers information and entertainment, but it is not a forum. If you want to bitch, go join iFish or Westfly.
I could have blocked IP addresses, selectively published comments and kept the nice ones. But that seemed like too much work (and it rankled my journalistic ethos). The solution, in my opinion, is to publish a post saying “Comments are off” and that we welcome dissenting viewpoints, intelligently written by people using their full names and affiliations. We also welcome reader reports, questions and photos — send us your feedback through email.
On one hand, I think the blog format is successful in part because of the readers’ ability to comment and interact with the content (though Google visibility and immediacy are probably more important features in this case).
On the other hand, we are editors and experts, running a professional site and we don’t have to provide a platform for idiocy. There’s enough of it already online. This isn’t a public service, it’s a business.
Let me know what you think… leave a comment.