Close or Keep Open the Comments Section at The Gate?

A lot of media sites which used to allow readers to post their thoughts in response to articles have since shut down their comments sections; and that has had me thinking about whether the Comments section at The Gate should remain open or be closed.

Close or Keep Open the Comments Section at The Gate?

One of the more notable Internet web sites which had recently closed its notorious comments section is Yahoo!, which has both the following message and a button on which to click to start a survey after every article:

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting. In the meantime, we welcome your feedback to help us enhance the experience.

“We’re thick-skinned enough to be able to deal with someone who disagrees with our opinions”, Joe Kurheg wrote in this article for Your Mileage May Vary. “However, we’re not going to turn our site over to people who want nothing more than to spew hate out into the world.” He then includes five guidelines for commenting on an article at Your Mileage May Vary:

  1. Don’t make insulting, demeaning or any type of racist, sexist or any other discriminatory comment in your post. That’s a 100% guarantee your comment won’t get approved.
  2. You must stay on topic and add something constructive to the conversation. Merely calling us or another commenter stupid is not adding anything and no one else besides us needs to waste time reading your words.
  3. If you notice a mistake, kindly forgive us – we’re only human. Please do let us know but be aware that although we may fix the error, we may or may not publish your comment because it doesn’t really add to the topic (see #2).
  4. Be kind and respectful. We understand that people might have different opinions and that’s usually a good thing. Being able to discuss these topics like adults can broaden the horizons of all our readers. But if you’re not polite about it, your post won’t be approved.
  5. In this time of the #coronacrapola, everyone is on edge. This might just be the time to realize that if someone doesn’t agree with you about traveling, maybe it’s a good idea to keep your feelings to yourself.

Summary

Despite my personally being outright attacked over the years by certain commenters — I hesitate to call them readers because that would imply that they actually read the article on which they were commenting — I vehemently support keeping the Comments section open for every article which is posted by me at The Gate. I want to continue to have a place where you can freely speak your mind without retribution, as I believe that the right to freedom of speech has been increasingly contracted lately; and I do not censor nor impose any rules for commenting — although purely “spam” comments are either deleted or never approved.

I intend to keep the Comments section open for as long as The Gate remains in existence, which is 14 years this month and counting — but I still would like to know your thoughts; so please post them in the Comments section below…

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

20 thoughts on “Close or Keep Open the Comments Section at The Gate?”

  1. ChuckMO says:

    By all means keep it open, but be prepared as the site “owner” to allow yourself to ban the posters who bring the site down.

  2. tim says:

    The fact that you keep ALL comments posted – both the good and the bad – adds integrity to your blog. The problem with Your Mileage May Vary’s post today is that THEY are the ones that decide which comments are “on topic” and which aren’t. Which means you’ll never see anything posted that challenges their opinions or that READERS might consider to be constructive to that blog. Their censorship will eventually cost them their integrity and cause readers to feel less engaged with what their writing.

    Hope you keep doing it the way you’re doing it 🙂

    1. Dora says:

      I have nver been able to comment on “Your Mileage May Vary” & thinking their page is pretty locked down, otherwise why so few (if any) comments

  3. Patrick says:

    Look.. It’s your blog. IMHO, if someone is being abusive, get rid of the comment. And I think those 5 points are pretty good. Just my .02

    Just don’t start calling it severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) 😉

  4. NB_ga says:

    Yes! Please.
    To me, blogs are meant to be places of conversation. You are not only a standard journalist providing your readers with information. You *also* open up your experiences and opinions to share with the world. As far as I am concerned, a blog without a comments section (or one with extreme conditions or rules) is not a place where I would feel welcome.

  5. Fathiss says:

    I vote to keep the comments and ditch the blog.

    1. Dom says:

      Although Fathiss and Matt B offer compelling evidence to close the comments, I hope that you will keep them open. Please feel free to delete trolling remarks and those that traffic in jackassery.

  6. Barry Graham says:

    Please keep them open!

  7. Robert says:

    Keep the comments. I often learn as much from the comments as the articles given that there are some great readers. That said, the precipitating event at that other blog was a really politically slanted post masquerading as a post. Keep the politics off of the travel blogs. If we want politcally slanted content we can go to our choice of either Fox or NYT.

  8. JohnnyBoy says:

    Please keep the comment section open. Although I usually, but not always, agree with your perspective, I very much appreciate the (sometimes) vigorous debate.
    Do us all a favor and keep it up, even if it means banning trolls that violate comment guidelines.

  9. r m h says:

    keep ’em!

    different perspectives are key! even trolls deserve a voice because we have a choice as to what we read!

  10. Hal says:

    Close it. If you’re afraid of views and opinions You don’t like. That’s how other sites are headed.

  11. Nathan says:

    Brian, you are a beacon of first amendment rights, I’m serious! Thank you for all that you do.

  12. Your daddy says:

    Omg you cant be serious. If you look at the websites that have limited comments it’s the ones like yahoo who post liberal anti police crap all day. They have articles that clearly misstate the facts and the comments point that out so now they ban comments. End goal is socialism, sad world we have come to…

  13. GUWonder says:

    In the absence of being open to comments — at least comments which don’t run afoul of a fair, basic civility standard — audience participation is likely to plummet in ways that ultimately impoverish the audience in this world where the richest learning results from being challenged and learning how to respond to challenges.

    Social media sites of sort — and the social media aspects of various websites — which try to disappear challenging contributions and claim to be “reducing the signal to noise ratio” or otherwise “sterilizing” for the benefit of their audience/members are doing their audiences/members a true disfavor when it comes to more timely learning …. including learning about the good and bad that is out there in the world.

    Being opposed to — or otherwise masking in ways — the presentation of disagreement or other challenging discussions on a personal basis is a driver of intellectual dwarfism for the persons engaging in such censorship as well as for the audience whose exposure is increasingly subject to the whims of those in a position to push forward the agenda that makes the intellectual dwarfism a growing societal problem.

    There aren’t many things on which I agree with the current US Administration, but I think there is something to be said about treating internet sites that engage in any form of editorializing/content moderation of user contributions on the same basis as content publishers like newspapers. Social media sites — including blogs and online bulletin boards of sort — which engage in content editorializing/moderation over user contributions should have no greater protection from liability over distributed content than newspapers and TV programs have for their distributed content.

  14. Thomas Potter says:

    There’s a comments section?

  15. Jackson Henderson says:

    Keep it open. Reading comments and sharing your views are central to the reader experience. I stopped visiting sites that don’t allow comments like businessinsider and now yahoo (unless they put them back).

    Sites remove comment sections because they are afraid a lot of the readers aren’t buying into the liberal propaganda a site is pushing. It is a common tactic. When someone can’t deny, counter or legitimately respond to a comment, a person will resort to ad hominem attacks or censor the comments. They can’t dispute the facts you are saying so they call you “ist” names or block your comments.

    Don’t do this The Gate. Don’t follow the model of YMMV as they only approve comments that glorify their whacky lifestyle, ignore reality, and approve of their sick views.

  16. GUWonder says:

    There is nothing liberal about censorship, regardless of whether the pre-censored message is from the right, left, center or whatever.

    If anything, most of these sites engaged in user censorship have a pro-statist bias and/or a bias toward doing what they think best serves their own narrow interests, whatever those interests may be. When it comes to that which a Tucker Carlson type thinks is “liberal propaganda”, someone else may reasonably think that to be “conservative propaganda”. Move beyond the shallow labels or not, we are best served by letting the marketplace of ideas have its free market. And for a marketplaces of ideas to work well, it needs liberty — more so now than ever.

    Recall the phrase that when liberty dies in the hearts of men and women, no constitution, no law, no court can save it. This is why it’s important to defend liberty in society at large, even when it’s uncomfortable: crippling liberty in society also cripples the marketplace of ideas and the progress that comes from the functioning of the marketplace of ideas.

    Those who are opposed to allowing an open, fair airing of ideas and opinions which may run against their own ideas and opinions are the mental cowards — mental cowards who lack the confidence in their own ideas and opinions and their ability to win hearts and minds over the longer term by engaging in the marketplace of ideas rather than by the low course of censoring. And so they try to stack the game in their own little favor now in hopes that history won’t remember their small character.

    Censoring is not censuring, and censuring is not censorship. But with expanded censoring, the power of popular censure (and what that means for progress) declines with it too. And this goes beyond just freedom vis-a-vis government actors. It goes to the root of liberty in the hearts of men and women, as an illiberal society will give society the illiberal state it deserves.

  17. I don’t provide a space for public comments on the posts on my website. I do provide an email address for readers to contact me, with a clear statement that polite comments are most welcome and helpful.
    Thus I get the feedback I need to keep my website accurate (from some really helpful readers who find my website most useful and want it to continue to be so) without the abuse from people who just want the public attention from same. In the over 30 years or so that I have been doing this sort of thing, I think I received only 2 abusive emails.

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