Is blogging becoming monologous?

Robert Scoble announced the other day that he was going to start moderating the comments on his blog:

It was that moment that I decided to moderate my comments here. Yes, I am now approving every comment here. And I will delete any that don’t add value to either my life or the lives of my readers.

This is a huge change for me. I wanted a free speech area, but after having a week off I realize that I need to make a change. That, I’m sure, will lead to attacks of “censorship” and all that hooey. Too bad. I’m instituting a “family room” rule here. If I don’t like it, it gets deleted and deleted without warning — just the same as if you said something abusive in my family room I’d kick you out of my house. If you don’t like that new rule, there are plenty of other places on the Internet to write your thoughts. Start a blog and link here. Etc. Etc.

Steve Rubel, similarly moderates his comments, Marketing guru Seth Godin has turned off comments on his blog, Michelle Malkin only allows trackbacks and others have systems in place which require you to register to leave a comment.

This is a disappointing trend in blogging because it starts to take the meme ‘markets are conversations’ and change it to markets are monologs (once more!). Further – how can we now seriously evangelise the benefits of having comments enabled when some of the most prominent bloggers have theirs locked down?

11 thoughts on “Is blogging becoming monologous?”

  1. Yes, it’s a disappointing trend and would be bad for blogging were it to catch on. But I’ve seen some reasonable arguments for doing this. Andy Rutledge’s interesting post, No Comments Here, discusses his reasons for removing comments from his blog.

  2. What attracts me to blogs is the opportunity to engage with the blogger. I don’t visit blogs I can’t comment on … bar on the very very odd occassion.
    I can understand comment moderation to avoid legal problems, to cut down on abusive language, to avoid spam but apart from that i’m not sure if I agree with it.

  3. maca,

    spot on – I think if you start to run into problems, then publish comment guidelines which clearly state what you find unacceptable in a comment (defamation, spam, profanity – for instance off the top of my head) and that any comments of this nature will be deleted.

    Other than that, having comments disabled (or moderated without guidelines) is a sign that the blogger in question is happy to sound off but themselves has no interest in hearing what others have to say.

  4. I don’t know about moderating comments prior to allowing them to be posted but we delete anything that might be really offensive to others. We rarely do it now but we had a string of wind-ups that always ended up getting out of hand, so we drew up a set of guidelines. Which I duly broke first of course. Still it worked and things are back to normal.

  5. Hey Tom, I agree and I disagree.

    When I spotted Scoble’s post and I reached the conclusion that it was the natural conclusion to what Robert was evangelising, as I currently believe that it is a dead end and that his efforts should now be focused on making blogging better instead of trying to make more pervasive (as I think it has enough momementum to carry itself over the tipping point, its just the paradigm and software needs to be improved in the meantime).

    I was going to response to it and post on my blog, but as I have so much goodwill and admiration for blogging (and comments and the subsequent 2-way conversation) that the blog entry that I started to write quite simply became one of my extremely long stream of consciousness posts (which means I have lots to say but need to break it down and solict feedback but even I inflicit my impatient style of writing to anyone) that I just dumped it due to the effort required to shape the flood of issues I see with blogging right now into something that better articulates the issues that I see that need to be facilatated to broaden and focus the conversation going forward.

    I don’t know if you agree with me (perhaps at some level at least) and willing to suffer my terrible prose, but hey if you are on for the conversation about the pro and cons of comments on blogs (from all angles, as well as the issues), I am happy to engage and hopeful get the conversation going.


  6. Hi Tom

    I remember in the early days of V1 of the internet there were “rules” – that we who were the early users had decided should be followed. And most loudly did’st we jump up and down if someone broke them.
    But hey – life went on anyway and so did the internet.

    From your extract Mr Scoble has said he is moderating, not eliminating, comments. It’s his blog. With which he can do what he wishes.

    Maybe it is not the best thing in the world for a high-profile blogger to be doing – but in the long run it will have minimal impact. Blogging as we know it will continue to develop and grow – much like the internet did – thanks to the efforts and work of people like your good self 🙂


  7. A conversation is not a conversation if the other person only allows you to say what he wants to hear. That’s brown nosing.

    If Scoble now wants a “family room” for his blog then he shouldn’t be talking about work now should he? He should post that on the Channel 9 blog. This totally smacks of not being able to handle opposing views or people who don’t fit in with your Disney sponsored blog. Scoble told business to pay attention to blogs and see what people are saying about you whether positive or negative and now he’s telling the negative people he won’t allow them to give their opinion on his blog and to go off and blog themselves. I look forward to the next revision of “Naked Conversations”, should be interesting.

    This whole “deleted if you don’t add to the conversation” means you are now trying to train your audience. Actually, not really an audience more like a class who now are obliged to give you the standard required answers. Not really naked or a conversation anymore. More like a structured class.

    Am also reminded of those stars who whored themselves to the tabloids while they were ascending and then when they got to the top demanded the public leave them alone.

  8. Lol!

    Oh where to start?

    I guess for me, defining what the conversation in blogging is and how today’s software does (or does not) facilitate the conversation/paradigm is where I see the problems.

    On the software front, I think too many of the tools today hamper the conversation by being over zealous about moderation and how comments work. For me, these issues can range from
    – not allowing comments at all
    – using captha’s that are easier for machines to read than humans ï?Š
    – the use/need of logon credentials
    – Moderation in its most draconian of forms and as a means of last resort, i.e. needs to be approved.

    I guess these can be grouped into the usability of the software to promote appropiate comments and the lack of rich capabilities to deal with comments. For both of these areas I think that they have to evolve and greatly improve, as they don’t really handle the issue that it’s a human making the comments afterall �

    When it comes to usability of the software, I won’t go too much into some of my views on this, but I often wonder why techniques like KittenAuth test ( are not used, as I certainly think they are more usable that text based CAPTHA’s (which have been cracked already) and it will be a long time I reckon before machine vision will be able to deal with the issues that KittenAuth presents.

    As for the rich capabilities to deal with comments, I guess this brings up the issue of the different types/styles of blogs, the many reasons for blogging, the different types/styles of conversation/engagement that takes place and the social networks that form around these blog.

    When it comes to A-List bloggers I think they highlight both the strength and weaknesses of blogging software as it is today. They highlight that blogging forms a ecosystem of conversations and when an individual is successful enough at blogging to form a big enough social network around his/her blog, the issues of the “tyranny of the mob� and civility appears.

    If the blogosphere has its own self-correcting mechanism, on a blogs to blogs level, why does blogging software do the same thing with comments on a blog, especially when a blog is sufficiently popular enough that it becomes a focal point for a discussion.

    For example, the comments on a blog entry and the blog entry itself are two separate entities in my view and should not be displayed on the same page. The way I currently see it, the blog entry seeds a discussion that can take place off the blog (i.e. someone tracksback from another blog) or on the blog but in a separate place (visually on a separate page).
    As for moderation itself, I have been wondering should blogging software develop a reputation engine/system, especially for those problems that happens more often on A-lister blogs and also develop a mechanism for tagging, rating etc. okay so you probably would have to identify your self to the system, but this could be handle by some of the meta-identity systems that are in the pipeline (so the identity is based on persona and not individual). With something like a meta-identity system in place, the reputation system could be leverage to vet the comments for relevant and civility to the blog and allow for a more fluid conversation.

    While I appreciate the naked conversation, face-to-face conversations are guided by social norms that online conversations have not currently been able to replicate.


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