Letter (now open) to Dave Winer about commenting

Published because, according to Dave:

"This should be a blog post so other people can read it and respond. I will give it some thought myself and will comment if I have something to say. Thanks..."

The following is slightly edited.

Hi Dave,

1. The most recent commenting controversy has sprung up following Matt Gemmell's decision to turn comments off:



Seeing as you go pretty far back in the blogging (and pre-blogging community) do you have any recommendations about key old links or people to contact (if you can remember) about older debates going back into the 90s about "what a blog is" and whether comments should be there? Searching back in time through Google that far back can be difficult. I'm trying to compile a very long list of posts about this as far back as it goes.

2. You often talk about "posting a comment on your own blog." I don't know where this trope came from, but lots of others have taken this stance as well. The argument for this seems to be "you have no right to be on my page and exploit my popularity." The drawback to me seems there is no central location for all commentary and discussion on a post. If people see comments as merely "feedback to the author" then comments will never make sense. Why wouldn't you just demand email for that? If you see comments as an opportunity for people who are interested in discussing a specific post, with you as well, what else could replace comments? Where else would they go to find people interested in talking about that? Forcing people to post on their own site slows or almost prevents discussion. How will someone else interested in discussing your post ever hear about what I have to say (or vice versa) or have an opportunity to discuss it with me unless they meet me in the comments? How is that not putting an unfixable burden on your audience which just wants to discuss that topic with you and others? Am I missing something? Pingbacks? Trackbacks? Linkbacks?

Alex at zerodistraction.com put it this way: "So let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that most people will put two and two together and will find responses to your posts on other weblogs. It isn’t going to happen for most. Period."


UPDATE. Dave's response:


I'll start respond to this shortly.