Sunday 13 June 2004

This thing has been around for a day and already people have asked me about comments. I don’t get asked about comments for the other log very much. I turned them on on Livejournal (this is cross-posted) with some trepidation and it’s worked out surprisingly well.

There are two main reasons I’ve avoided comments or web editing in Backwards. The first is that I’m not a big user of web editing: I’ve had too many crashes that cost me work, accidental cuts I can’t undelete, and old cached copies of the page in the form (thank you Zope 2, or was that Squid?). Plus it’s always someone else’s UI and they’ve always set something to be too small. The other reason is that input validation is currently competing with rule based information extraction (just don’t even ask) for my "least exciting programming chore" award. The beauty of writing the entire site myself is that I don’t have to check for malicious mark up, logins, cookies and other horrible things. I have all the power, no one else has any. Easiest authentication problem ever.

But it all comes down to the fact that I instinctively dislike the idea of comments on because it’s all mine, precious. Maybe I’ve spent too much time in the wrong comments threads, but I just don’t see the appeal of spending however many millions of hours I’ve spent this year in order to give people a forum to attack me and a guaranteed audience for their troll-fest. I want to put a click between me and my critics. Given the Livejournal experiment, this is a bit silly: people use my comments to say things like "let’s go crazy Spanish style" rather than "I will eat your young, ignorant evil-doer." Even so. Precious. One day someone’s spam robot would leave a comment and I’d feel personally violated.

There’s a pot and kettle problem though, because I prefer it when other people leave comments on (or in the case of my fellows who write their own CMS, write a comments system and then leave it on). There’s a certain social niche comments fill. Writing an entry to say "happy birthday" or "wasn’t it a nice day?" in response to other people’s entries is a noise problem more than a social activity. Sending an email works a bit better, but people are protective of their inboxes. Plus you miss out on interaction between commenters.

Wow, it really is possible to talk yourself into things isn’t it? Good thing I didn’t try and balance out the pros and cons of writing input validation, or I’d be spending today adding a comment facility to this thing. As it is I need to add some features for Andrew so that I can acquire my first user.