clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Are comments 'bad business' for online media?

New, 98 comments

Joel Johnson of ANIMALNewYork has published a post outlining his negative views on internet comments.


Who'd have thought that internet comments could be so contentious? They make for a great tool when it comes to communicating with those who visit your website, but all too often that same discourse can be ruined by what we've all come to know as trolling. Malicious intent has a way of overwhelming intelligent conversation, and this has caused a few popular sites in our industry — John Gruber's Daring Fireball chief among them — to avoid on-site discussion altogether. Joel Johnson (formerly of Gawker fame and now managing editor at ANIMALNewYork) is the latest voice to join the front lines against the practice. In a pointed piece which assails numerous preconceived benefits of comments, Johnson proclaims them to be "bad business for online media" and a "dead-end to real conversation."

A lack of overall substance and the fact that comments offer web publications basically no help in reaching profitability are cited as reasons for his stance. Most damning, though, is that Johnson — after conferring with industry colleagues — concludes that so few people actually take time to read the discussion threads that they're not even worth implementing in the first place. Yet even after having said all this, Johnson resigns himself to keeping comments around at ANIMAL — at least for now.

For some companion reading, we'd point to Matt Gemmell's commentary on the issue.