On not allowing comments

I stopped allowing comments a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t clear on why it was the right decision until I read the comments on social media about a post I wrote on the translation of the Our Father. Ah yes, I thought, this is what I was escaping from. Part of it’s me and part of it’s the nature of comboxing.

For starters, it’s just a matter of temperament and personality. I’m low in social traits (E and A) and higher in trait N, and so I don’t care much for small talk and have a difficult time shutting off things that get stuck in my head. This gives me a mild allergic response to “Great post!” while critical comments get stuck in my head until I can bring them to some sort of resolution. Low-N folks, I suppose, can either shelve things until they have time to deal with them or fire off some response and fuggedaboutit, but the rest of us have to set up buffers if we’re going to get anything done in a day.

Comboxing is both too slow and too fast. Being High-N, all combative exchanges pull me into a tunnel, which is fine when I’ll be in there for a few minutes but not when my brain is going to fix itself there for a day. The trait helps in the classroom or a private discussion since I can have complete focus on student comments or objections, but I can’t get afford to get sucked into that tunnel for a day: I’ve got six kids, teach five preps, and have averaged .91 substantive posts a day for 13.9 years. On the other hand, comboxing demands that you respond far more quickly. I can shelve e-mails till I have time, but comment threads go stale if you leave them for 48 hours.

Blogging and comboxing are very different skills, and while I can make my way pretty well through the first I’m not all that good at the second. I read Brandon or Mike Flynn comments with great enjoyment, and Richard Chappelle or many of the Atheist commenters at Strange Notions are also very good, but I simply can’t do anything remotely like what they can do. That said, it isn’t all me and my lack of skills. Comboxing incentivizes critiquing things before one has understood the point of the OP, and the amount of irrelevancy, uncharitable readings, nit-picking and point-scoring that goes on is discouraging. Understanding blogposts demands more charity in reading than  book or a lecture: you need to allow for imprecisions, details that get left out, exaggeration and lack of qualification. On the whole I think we’d all be better off if we waited a week after reading something to respond, but situations and intelligences are far too varied even to make that a suggestion.



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