Let me say now that this is not one of those debates about civility online, and the rights of pseudonymous people, and whether it’s your fault you have such horrible commenters and such. I have different obsessions.
And let me also add that now I have touched elliptically on all of those topics, if this was G+ we’d end up talking about those topics instead, also.
This is an allied issue, which I still don’t think people pay enough attention to; which is that if you have seven thousand people following you, a good six thousand of those are going to be people you don’t particularly like. Even if you were Jesus, you can’t love those people. (And actually if you read the Gospels, you can see that Jesus is a pretty good example of this. He spends his whole time going WTF in the comment threads of his own parables. WTF, Peter, did you even RTFP?)
If they comment all over your posts, you will end up hating them, and shortly, mankind.
The problem, as ever, is — how do you pick out the other thousand? Especially when they keep changing?
I firmly believe that one of the pressing unsolved technological problems of the modern age is getting safely away from people you don’t like, without actually throttling them to death beforehand, nor somehow coming to the conclusion that they don’t exist, nor ending up turning yourself into a hateful monster. And that this problem invisibly creeps on people as their level of fame increases. And that the Internets continues to be amazingly good at randomly bestowing non-linear amounts of fame on people, in a remarkably well-distributed way.
I've really got to get back to this whole commenting stuff once I get off this extended open web kick.
This IS a serious unsolved problem. I think while there may be technological solutions, the underlying issues are basically personal and social. I think people first need to think about what and why they're doing what they're doing. Technological limitations (and social norms) in previous ages freed many people from thinking about many issues. Saying "I don't scribble notes in the margin of your book," is the kind of weird grandfathered-in stuff that gets into discussions of writing and existing online. That we keep on dealing with the exact same problems of following, filtering and fame in a way that never solves them reveals either a profound lack of refinement of our tools or a serious failure to come to grips with and think hard about what exactly people are doing (and want to do) online.