June 7, 2008
I believe very strongly that a blog without comments is not a blog. For me, the whole point of this blogging exercise is the many-way communication of the comments -- between me and the commenters, and among the commenters themselves.
As I said in How To Advertise on Your Blog Without (Completely) Selling Out:
It's an open secret amongst bloggers that the blog comments are often better than the original blog post, and it's because the community collectively knows far more than you or I will ever know.
Indeed, the best part of a blog post often begins where the blog post ends. If you are offended by that, I humbly submit you don't understand why blogs work.
A blog without comments is like Amazon without user reviews. Is it really even worth using at that point? The products themselves are commodities; I could buy them anywhere. Having dozens of highly relevant, informed user reviews means I'll almost always buy stuff from Amazon given the chance. It's a huge competitive advantage.
Comments aren't the only form of commentary on a blog post. Yes, you can follow comments on Reddit, on Digg, even on other blogs using Technorati's distributed trackback mechanism, and so forth. I also try to practice Scoble's 21st rule without being all creepy and Beetlejuice about it. All of these are great and worthwhile conversations, but none of them can match the immediacy of viewing comments right there inline with the original article.
Of course, as with all other useful things, there is a dark side to comments.
I scrutinize every comment, and I remove a tiny percentage of them: they might be outright spam, patently off-topic, or just plain mean. I like to refer to this as weeding my web garden. It's a productivity tax you pay if you want to grow a bumper crop of comments, which, despite what Joel Spolsky and Nicholas Carr would tell you, often bear such wonderful fruit. The labor can be minimized with improved equipment, but it's always there in some form. And I'm OK with that. The myriad benefits of a robust comment ecosystem outweighs the minor maintenance effort.
I really try to avoid deleting comments unless they're egregiously violating the above guidelines. I do read every comment that is posted here, and although I am unable to respond to them all -- I can barely get through my email backlog these days -- rest assured that I eventually read every single individual comment left on this site. I enjoy constructive criticism and feedback. I even welcome downright unconstructive criticism, if it's amusing or useful enough.
Comments mean additional work for the blog owner. Personally, I don't mind spending a little time every day weeding out mundane evils: spam links, naked promotion, offensive rhetoric, and so on. It's well worth it to harness the considerable collective wisdom of our community. Comments are a large part of what makes this blog work.
And then there are... the strange comments.
I don't mean your average Fark level of strange. I'm talking about category 5 weirdness, the equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot combined. I'm talking about comments that feel like they were teleported here from another dimension. About once a year, I'll discover a comment so mind-bendingly bizarre and wonderful that it defies description. This year's strongest contender comes to us from "Hello" on my Why I'm The Best Programmer In The World* blog post:
Programming is all about knowing when to boil the orange sponge donkey across the phillipines with an orangutang gorilla crossed with a ham sandwich to the fourth power of twelve across the nile with an awful headache from the previous night when all of alfred's naughty jalapeno peppers frog-marched the nordic elves across the loom-lined geronimo induced swamp donkey over and above the fortran fortified kilomanjaro fence past the meticulously crafted anti disgusting sponge cake scenario where all the hats doth quoteth the milk which is not unlike the super werewolf from the infinite realm of ninja-step. it's hard to define, really.
Finally, a definition of programming I can actually understand.
I don't think any stronger proof that comments are awesome has ever been written. So, wherever and whoever you are, "hello", thanks for that one. You've restored my faith in the value of comments for another year.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Your example of bizarre comment reminds me of way back when "The Glorious Meept!" (sometimes also known as "MEEPT!!") would post on slashdot. Not to say that Meept's postings were always unintelligible drivel. Quite the contrary - I may have selective memory, but my recollection is that Meept's postings were often quite artistic (and glorious).
I don't think I want to read your posts anymore.
somehow I since you have started this full time you have lost what I was attracted to in the first place. 1 out of 5 posts are anything to do with Coding Horror and does not help me develop as a programmer /developer. This is the reason i started to regularly look at your website in order to better my skills as something I may have been doing in my job which I have overlooked to me would be wrong. These days your posts are mixed up stuff which are off topic or maybe commenting on another persons blog post.
I found this website when i stumbled across worse then failure where code is posted which is really bad. I searched for something similar and i found this website. It was cool at first, as you introduced me to very cool books and development techniques. But now most of the posts are junk and I feel i am wasting too much time reading useless material. I am sorry but i will be deleting you feed from my firefox toolbar.
Thank you Jeff, I have learned a lot from you.
and type away until he realized thread not a big
problem, well, a bit above the community a way to be
approaching critical mass of bizarre comment in a comments are commodities; I can
come up with the homepage? Orange sponge donkey across
the topic or I can be amuse, because I've given you
there Jeff. I am stuck on having some
countries, some funny thing that style in the
comments mean your point about programming. It sort
of the blog is really.
I'm all for comment rating!
There are sooo many comments on your average post, some of them are as long as the blog post. It takes me ages to go through all of them. In terms of Added Value, few are really good, most are average, some are even negative. Would be nice if readers can rate a comment, and the comments can be displayed in the order of popularity. This way I can just read the best 3 or so in a hurry, which will maximize learning / minute ratio. And when I post a comment, I will be motivated to add significant value to make sure my comment does not sink to the bottom.
I'm sorry, you lost this reader on this entry when you mentioned Amazon's comments and their value ;-) They are entertaining to read when bored, but they don't aid in making an informed choice. They have has much credibility as financial firms' analysts' reports. If it is books, it is Amazon's book search, or Google's, that provides definitive information on the content and presentation, and whether to purchase.
The quality of comments, imho, is a measurement of the success of a blogger --- to stay true to their subject.
A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.
Nice comment Markov, we all know who you are, no need to hide behind names.
I do not believe that comment was generated through Markov chains -- what *possible* input could produce such deleriously weird output? Nothing that I've read ever sounded anything remotely like that.
There are sooo many comments on your average post, some of them are as long as the blog post
That's the irony -- for posts that get 50-100 comments, only a teeny tiny fraction of people will read them all. Every comment is guaranteed an audience of one, though: me.
Isn't it time to somehow let the readers rate each comment in a way that the best ones show up in the top of the comments section?
This is what stackoverflow will be about; it is in many ways coding horror 2.0, driven by you, the reader.
1 out of 5 posts are anything to do with Coding Horror and does not help me develop as a programmer / developer
I don't know what to tell you; this blog has always been about a variety of topics, including programming community. The post you're commenting on is about the value of your comment, for example.
I think you blog is cool, as well as an interesting read. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek at times, and that, to me anyway, makes the content more meaningful! Unlike Mr. Too Serious "programmer/developer", I will keep on reading. Jeff, you rock!
Not so sure I agree. I think a blog can easily exist without comments (read-only type of online journal).
While I would whole heartedly agree that comments are definitely useful for most blogs (your definitely), I think your that comments are *not* a requirement for a blog.
Keep up the blogging...
If a blog is not a blog unless it has comments, why can't I see comments on the homepage?
You'd break your scroll wheel, man!
Gotta agree with you there Jeff. Enjoy yours posts, love the comments. I often find a discussion with concepts far over my (3rd yr student) head, which inevitably results in me chasing down some of the buzz words and learning something new. keep up the good work!
Joel is (as is not uncommon) completely wrong. A blog without comments amounts to little more than an arrogant ass standing on a soap box. If all you want to do is stand on a box and shout at people passing by then you probably ought to find something better to do with your time. I do have to laugh at his example post he linked to. I wonder how long he searched before he found that example. I'd guess quite a while.
Besides the many interesting comments that come up, there are also those that point out additional ideas or correct those in the blog post itself. If it's a topic you're very interested in, all the extra content in the comments is a great way to find more information or get another viewpoint on the issue.
Look at a site like Slashdot which is essentially a blog. If they were to disable comments on that site tomorrow it would die, and die fast. I have learned and laughed more from the comments on Slashdot than any of the "original" content posted to it.
In any case Jeff, I'm very disappointed. I don't know if I've ever seen a comment on your blog telling another poster to "go kill yourself". Obviously you're not in the big leagues yet.
very nice. could be Rory Blyth... but probably just some funny dude who doesn't have a blog of his/her own.
wait a moment... are you posting on weekends now?
i hope that your new-found independence hasn't done serious damage to your work-life balance. it can certainly have that effect. go play some guitar hero or something.
The funny thing is that I went through 90% of the post thinking you would somehow compare blog comments to code comments or something like that, but then after that I thought you just used the wrong title, because I didn't see anything about programming. It was only on the final 2 paragraphs that it made sense. It was actually quite nice, because you kept me curious and interested all the way through. =)
Oh come on, that comment was obviously generated by some sort of bot. Randomness sometimes generates interesting poetry, but I don't think this qualifies as *that* interesting.
That said, "Orange Sponge Donkey" might be a good name for a blog. I can imagine cutting a donkey shape out of an orange sponge and using it as the blog mascot.
A blog without comments is like Amazon without user reviews. Is it really even worth using at that point? The products themselves are commodities; I could buy them anywhere.
For me, Amazon’s great without the reviews. I *could* buy the products anywhere, but:
1. I want to buy them online; leaving the house is so 20th century.
2. I want to buy them from a site that will ship the products to me in good time, for a reasonable price, and make things right if they go wrong.
3. I don’t want my credit card details or my address stolen.
With Amazon, I know from past experience that I’ve got all these. I can’t be bothered taking the risk that a new online store won’t meet 2 or 3. That, for me, is Amazon’s huge advantage. They’ve got my trust.
I believe that some of the most useful blogs that I read have no comments. My favorite blogs are purely informational, not editorial. I'll rank editorial with comment (which is where I place this blog) as my second favorite category. Pure opinion with no comment is of course quite useless.
Holy crap, I'm pretty sure I know that guy...
Happy to hear you will allow rating of comments on stack overflow...
somehow woot does it (just an editor marking comments as interesting I bet... unlike engadget).
It certainly helps when your replies are highlighted...
helps me see what sparked your reply...
I usually just read the comments that Jeff writes himself and the ones he is referring to. By the way, it's very nice to cleary distinct your comments from the others.
Have you ever considered a ranking comment system? I'm not experienced with blogs, so why do you not use they? My guess is that with that orange CAPTCHA of yours, you are a bit lazy when it comes coding your website :)
Yeah, but how did they build that trust?
For me the user reviews on Amazon are the killer feature as well. They replace the store clerk with multiple users knowing what they're talking about.
It's like many comedy show gags go:
* walk into store wearing same coloured clothes as clerks
* when customers start asking you questions you give them your opinion, which isn't polluted with a sale oriented motivation
* you are better than the clerks
But user reviews don't just replace a clerk with one user, they replace a clerk with n reviews. I've found myself being redirected to a better product because of people telling me how the first item I looked at behaves six/twelve months in.
Welcome to the 21st century Internet. :)
Hmm, while I see your point about comments, I rarely read them. Well rarely read more then 3 or 4, I'm far more interested in your thoughts then your readers (no offense readers :-) ). Also in regards to Amazon (and I'll extend it to newegg as well), I go there to buy stuff online and have it shipped to me, while I guess I do read some of the comments I have already decided what I'm buying so it's a delivery vehicle to save me time and effort plus their reputation (the companies not the reviews) gives me a better chance of not being ripped of with online buys.
That is an odd comment though, lol. It sort of reminds me of Translating a small story in english to japenese, then translating that back to english.
I would agree that comments are usually beneficial, especially with gems like that. I do worry that you may be approaching critical mass though - it's difficult to read through the number of comments you get and stuff gets repeated far too often. It's not there quite yet though, fortunately.
Work for food
food to eat
eat to live
live to _________
I am stuck on the _________
I don't know about others, but I read blog posts because I want to learn or find new stuff about something I'm interested in, something to make me think. Therefore, I don't care much about comments, replies, follow-ups, etc.
I am reading your post because I've given you credit: I've read some of your ohter posts, or someone else recommended you, you know how it works. The idea is that I'm reading your blog post because I want to.
Now why would I want to read the comments? How do I know I would find something useful in there? Especially if the comments section is longer than the post. Of course they are useful to you, as the blog owner, but of what use are they to your readers?
For me, comments aren't a big problem, the only thing that bothers me is that I can't see how long your post is, just by looking at the scrollbar, because, usually the comments aren't hidden, at take up the same page as the post itself.
However, for others, comments may be more important. They may look at them, not find anything useful, and diss your blog. You say "Comments mean additional work for the blog owner", but they also mean additional work for the blog reader.
I think a solution would be that all comments be approved by the owner. I mean, since you already read them all, you can read them one by one, take whatever info you're interested in, and only show the ones that add value to your post.
Of course, I may be wrong because they are way more readers that like to read through kilometers of comments, and then I have no right to make this assumption. :) You guys with the blogs are the ones who decide.
I'm with you on the notion that a blog is not complete or effective without comments. But I'm having some amount of trouble fostering comments on my own blog. Now sure, some of my posts are just informational and not left open-ended to specifically encourage the readers to comment - and I'm working on improving that - but many times, I do try to elicit a response by ending up a with questions. And sometimes my posts are written slightly controversial or from an uncommon perspective both because, well, that's just who I am, and also to attempt to engage and prompt visitors to leave feedback.
Also I do try to respond to comments so readers know that their comments are being noticed and appreciated.
But all of that aside, my blog posts often do not garner many comments. Of course, I know that some readers will simply lurk, maybe even enjoy the posts, yet still not feel compelled to write a comment - and that's okay. But I'd like to do more to push those who might be inclined to comment to do so.
Short of begging on the street corner, I'm kind of at a loss for where to go next to try to encourage comments. Any suggestions?
very nice. could be Rory Blyth...
No, it's Steve Gillmor's son.
Unless Rory is Steve's son.
when you see a worthwhile comment in a blog post it can be a great moment where your literally thinking 'thank god' but all too often comments are either pure abuse or spam. i can't even bring myself to read the comments on youtube or the bbc's site anymore as they make me so annoyed (granted, they're not exactly blogs). the more technical or archaic a topic is, the more i find the comments are generally self-filtering and you get good posts. its the mass-appeal blogs with huge hits that get either auto-generated garbage or just drivel.
So, if I have a blog but no one ever comments on it, is it still a blog?
Sorry, too much Zen for me...
The definition sounds like the output of a Markov parody generator (as described in the Wikipedia article on Markov chains).
As a newbie trying to take blogging more seriously (I recently bought my own domain), I must say it really is gratifying when you receive feedback from your readers (whether good or bad). Comments in your blog say you reached someone, you mattered. Someone thought your ideas are worthwhile and decided to let you know about it. This is ultimately what blogging is all about!
Of course, I'm talking about constructive, meaningful comments -- not the kind of unfathomable verbiage Jeff have shared with us in this post. You got me there for a second, Jeff. I thought you were going to share a REAL definition. :-)
It'd be mighty tempting for someone to claim credit for that comment, or to generate their own comment in that style in the next blogpost.
I find that with my blog I tend to post links to it from forums and people comment in the forum thread not the blog post. Whereas my target audience tends to frequent those forums and as such are generally unaware of blog posts once they're made if I don't make forum threads =[
Web spammers are getting good. That comment was generated by a cross between a markov chain and a question answering system.
-- Great Power Of Hope, Cure Dream!
Forgot to say in my first comment, I disagree with a blog with no comments isn't a blog. A blog is a web log for the author. I agree blogs with comments are better as popularity based culture, the more commenters the "better" your blog is as it's being read by more folks but... A blog is for the author to log his ideas, experiences whatever. This requires no readers at all to be satisfying for the blogger. It certainly won't make you any money but if you started a blog to that end, just like any other web site, more users, higher rank in google, more ad revenue. Maybe you just meant "A for profit blog without comments isn't a blog at all"
"A blog without comments is like Amazon without user reviews. Is it really even worth using at that point? The products themselves are commodities; I could buy them anywhere. Having dozens of highly relevant, informed user reviews means I'll almost always buy stuff from Amazon given the chance. It's a huge competitive advantage."
Really? I never read the user reviews on Amazon.com. The sole benefit to Amazon.com for me is that I cannot buy these books "anywhere" - most likely the book I want is not in stock locally. But I would never, ever trust the word of some anonymous Internet person regarding the value of a product. There are much better sources of opinion for this stuff than the product of some maladjustite with too much time on his/her hands.
You realise all you've done now, is sent out a personal challenge for readers everywhere to write up the weirdest crap they can come up with as responses to your blog?
Also, don't eat yellow snow.
Jeff, since you blog's popularity is very high and there are a lot comments, isn't it time to somehow let the readers rate each comment in a way that the best ones show up in the top of the comments section?
One of my reasons for asking this it because English is not my first language so I believe I take twice the time as you to go over all comments. So I read just a few comments and I believe (as you said) I'm missing a lot of information or interesting (why not hilarious) stuff.
So your writing is a commodity? Can I find it anywhere? Why do you claim a copyright to it then? ... Sorry, just not following your analogy to Amazon where "The products themselves are commodities..."
What makes some bloggers successful? Their unique perspective? Their clear writing, entertainment value, or intelligence? Sometimes maybe it's their controversial positions or the reputation they've built up. I'd rate any of those things above the comments at any blog. If your writing is a commodity you might as well post stories from a wire service or become a newsfeed. Try to become the next Slashdot or Digg, picking 'commoditized' news items and hope the community can submit comments that can carry the 'blog'? (Just playing devil's advocate) I agreed with Leo Laporte when he pulled the comments off TWIT. Don't get me wrong, I read a lot of comments around the web - it's just that the signal to noise sometimes gets to low - getting rid of comments helps me stop wasting time.
Finally, a definition of programming I can actually understand
Dude, I'm with you on this one (that arguably doesn't happen too often). comments are master. Who cares who or what wrote or generated that comment tho. I laughed my ass of anyway.
Jonas' idea of rating comments is a nice one, this is after all a community a bit above the typical "lets rate this lolcat up and everything with more than 2 lines down and comment with tldr" level.
Great so 99% of the time my blog isn't a blog.
I agree the comments can be as informative and educational as the blog post itself. I have enjoyed reading your posts for a while now and I have never commented until now. Like with all innovative things the more "input" that you have to draw upon the better and more innovative the "output" will be. This is very much evident in the more informative blogs that are out there and the tangents that the comments can lead to are often as interesting or more so than the original post.
Keep up the great work and thank you for giving us a forum to learn and engage with.
Nice comment Markov, we all know who you are, no need to hide behind names.
Anyways Jeff why don't you try to write a Markov Generator and feed it your blog, I'm sure you'll have a blast with the results. You might even be able to automate your blog posting ;)
In some countries, comments are a legal liability. Since you are effectively the publisher for the comments on your blog, some legal systems hold you accountable for the things people write in these comments. Thus, if somebody says something that is illegal in this country (such as a defamation), you might have to pay the price for this. This happened to me, so there's no comment system on my blogs.
Statistics applied to strings/characters given a measure of weight(based on the number of times a given letter appears) have been shown to become startlingly coherent and full fledged words when trying to recite Shakespeare's Hamlet at random, as if a monkey could sit at a board and type away until he succeeded writing the full play[Intro to Statistics and its Applications, Chapter 2.4]. Thus, I'm also leaning on the generator for this poster.
The other thing I wanted to say was the comments on your site are often very useful... however, it's the format that is sometimes unbearable in the amount of 50 comments of which I don't have to tell you, since you're developing stackoverflow to solve this issue.
It's also comical how someone, with Joel Spolsky's writing skill and its progression through the years, doesn't allow comments... it's almost conceited in a way to say what he said about them in the podcast where you two discussed it. It's all about the exchange.. but in his case it seems as if he's just ranting or *just* writing when he could be engaging in the kind of exchange that occurs here.
Indeed, the best part of a blog post often begins where the blog post ends. If you are offended by that, I humbly submit you don't understand why blogs work.
Perhaps. I blog for two reason: to focus my mind and to store knowledge. Blogging helps me to think through the stance that I'm about to take, and that helps me to better understand the thing that I'm talking about. If I learn something interesting or confusing, or have an insight, I like to blog about it in the hopes that it helps somebody else.
It's important to distinguish between blogging as a action and blogging as an attitude. I think you're speaking more about the second.
As a developer, a lot of techniques and ideas seem to come from blogs entries found during Google searches. This increased to insane levels during my brief work with Ruby on Rails. The comments were useful, but only when the original poster's solution didn't work as advertised.
On the other hand, I've just gotten my first comments from people that I don't know, and it's downright thrilling!
LOL, if that comment was auto-generated by some tool after all, I will LMAO. anyway, since when Jeff promoted from humble blogger to someone who promotes the best invention or best comment ever? I kind of liked this blog more when Jeff was just employed by his old company and developing software for common people. Since he started to work on stackoverflow and "developing for developers", I feel like content of this blog goes "out of scope" since many topics sadly don't relate to me anymore. Don't take me wrong, this is still the best blog I know, it's just that I was used to read here more practical posts.
Also I agree with comments. Many times when I'm trying to make my mind on something. I like to know what "Jeff thinks" but also need to see if and how community challenges that.
I think whoever left that strange comment about the definition of programming may have been on large amounts of psychedellics (probably LSD) at the time. A long time ago I used to be an intergallactic LSD shaman ;-) , and when I tried to write on LSD, it often wound up sounding a lot like that comment when I read it sober (which is disappointing since the message seems to be of infinite importance when you write it). The phrases "fourth power of twelve", "fortran fortified kilomanjaro fence" and especially "super werewolf from the infinite realm of ninja-step" simply reek of LSD.
Not seen a blog from you on .Net, Performance, Programming for quite a some time. Waiting fot the one badly. Now a days topics are more on genric side of the wall than specific.
I read your blog (as many do) through Google Reader. So most of the time, I see no comments. Also, a blog like yours gets so many comments, that I honestly can't read them all. I skim and scan, depending on how interested I am on the topic.
Using some of the ideas from Gladwell's The Tipping Point, I assume that 80% of your posts come from 20% of your visitors. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of your comments compared to your total subscribers and see if there are serial posters. Posting is really great for that 20%. For the rest of us, I don't think it matters as much as you think. Since it's your blog, you are in the 20% group. Maybe check your feedburner stats to see how many people read and how many open/click through. That would show how many people read the post/versus read the comments.
Your comment, "It's not a blog without comments" is sort of self-serving. There are blogs out there with minimal comments and I read them regularly. Blogs are for journaling. Some have a social group around them and some don't. Anyway, I don't want to blather too long on my first post. ;)
Last thing: Subscribe to comments is a great blog feature. If you think comments are so important, why can't I subscribe to a thread?
"and between the commenters themselves"
Try "amongst", not "between" here, unless you think that you have only two people who comment on your blog.
Pedantic A**hole strikes again!
I suspect one of the hardest parts of a regular blog is (and I'm guessing here because I don't do this..) is to come up with topics that are interesting and draws in the readers to comment.
You are blogging about blogging, not about the topic.
You couldn't come up with a good programming topic today...
Hmmmm ... maybe you could use the "Dirty Jobs" method.. ask people what topics they would like to discuss? Bank them for "those" days...
A blog without comments is a blog. Comments are a service, a handy source of catharsis for the readers, but the value they add to the blog itself - especially an opinion blog like this one - are dubious at best.
I mean, look - out of all of the thoughtful, interesting comments that get posted here, you ended up replying to what was most likely a spam-bot's auto-gen comment. The "conversation" is entertaining, but in the same way that talking to Eliza is entertaining. There's no real debate. If i want to actually *discuss* something you bring up, i'll do it on a mailing list or forum somewhere else, a system built for discussion rather than drive-by "graffiti commentary".
What's with the navel gazing anyway?
imo, "hello"'s quote is dead on: since you code for your users, not logic, coding is often times gluing together a mass of seemingly non-related and esoteric ideas and bits of...matter? stuff? orange sponge donkeys? ...into one -- as comprehensible as you can get it to be -- "story".
That is what "hello" illustrated for us all.
hah! that one really defines it! :D
the more technical or archaic a topic is, the more i find the comments are generally self-filtering and you get good posts.
Agree. It's also why, for some YouTube videos which are niche and not widely popular, the comments are actually useful -- but for videos viewed 100,000+ times, reading the comments will actually make you stupider.
Popularity can be a curse.
It's probably some sort of steganography to arrange for the next ... hmm ... the next ...
the next orang utan programming fortran convention in egypt.
I came across your blog a couple of weeks ago --got the link from MSDN Mag. Since that time, reading through Coding Horror has been an acitivity on my daily list. Coding Horror is just awesome, creative and informative. I would like to see the whole post archive compiled into a book. Will this be a reality some day?
Keep up the good Coding Horror,
Blogs are like software, they are better when they are well written and commented.
You trust the reviews on Amazon?
The reviewer reputation system on Amazon positively encourages people who've not read the books to post reviews. My first Windows Forms book got a review from one of Amazon's star reviewers who apparently hadn't realised the book wasn't about ASP.NET's Web Forms, and he dinged me for missing out some controls that don't, in fact, exist in Windows Forms. It was pretty clear from the review that he guy had only read the table of contents and posted a review based on that. And judging by the vast number of reviews he had posted, he wouldn't have had time to do any more than that for most of the books. And yet Amazon rewarded him for his 'efforts'. The system is open to being gamed, with inevitable consequences.
Moreover, many publishers have departments dedicated to astroturfing (faking up the appearance of grass roots support) so a great many of the reviews you read are just an extension of the official marketing blurb at the top.
Sturgeon's law holds sway on Amazon's review system. (Although thinking about it, it'd be surprising if the figure was as low as 90%.)
(And lest anyone think this may be sour grapes on my part, my current book gets pretty good reviews on Amazon. My co author, Chris Sells, puts a lot of effort into encouraging people who liked the book to write Amazon reviews. So I don't do badly from it, although that fact in itself just reinforces my view that the review system is highly distorted.)
By the way Jeff, I gave up reading comments on your blog a long long time ago. I only read them now when I'm considering posting my own, because I want to avoid redundancy. The reason? It's because despite what you may think about the relative values, I've alway found your original blog posts about 100x more interesting than the comments.
(If you're wondering why I bother to post comments at all in that case, it's because I believe the comments are mostly useful to the blog author, rather than its readers. If you feel you derive value from the comments, I'm happy to oblige.)
Actually, thinking about it, it's surprising that you don't link into comment threads more often. Your blog is richly interlinked to itself, but rarely (never?) to the comments. If you believe the comments are that much better than the main feature, why don't you link back to threads of interest when you revisit themes?
They spelt Kilimanjaro wrong! AND orangutan!!! And the comma should be a semi-colon.
Definitely not computer generated then. :)
Jeff, the feedburner counter is dropping!
I expect the blogger to have considered everything that may eventually be posted in the comments of a blog post before said post is posted. If your readers have to point out mistakes or suggest obvious improvements in the comments of a post, you're not doing your job right.
And if you think that blog post you quoted is funny, maybe someone should post a definition of "funny" next. But then again, you visit Fark.
Sorry I didn't read all of your post, but I was trying to get to the end quickly so I could write a comment on it.
I'd like to agree with a previous poster(s): the next step is a comment rating system, or maybe a tagging system so the post can arranged by topic. And of course people could choose which ordering system to use! Most comments are very similar, and out of 100 comments, there maybe 2 or 3 intersting thoughts, which get lost amongst the many similar comments.
Comments? I have two words for you...
If you were introducing someone to the concept of comments and showed them YouTube, they'd run off screaming thinking the Internet was full of morons.
And yeah, comments are good things... until they become multi-page scrolling horrors ;)
Whatever or whoever posted that comment doesn't even know how to spell Philippines.
Amazon filters the comments intensively.
If you review in your comment, that Amazon for example did not retract a defective part, the comment is never published, in spite of being true and written antiseptic.
They just filter out all comments, which show cruelly, but true facts in Amazons behaviour.
They may of course do this, but many don't know about this not nice manners. Otherwise, this is against their self-set rules.
I only trust the comments there as far as i can spit.
Only if the comments rubbish a product, i'll accept them as true.
Blogging about blogging... This isn't why I come here.
As always, very nice post!
I'm writing a post on this "a blog without comments is not a blog". Thanks for the insight. [=
To those who think the comment was auto-generated and therefore uninteresting or irrelevant, I humbly submit that you may have missed the point of that comment.
"programming is all about knowing... [some really weird random stuff] ...it's hard to define, really."
I'd guess that the first and last words were not at all random; he's just saying that one of the reasons programming is hard is because we can't even be sure what "programming" is.
Sounds like something out of the "Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy".
The best definition of programming indeed, will show it to all my classmates, I wonder what their reaction would be. Great post!
A blog comment containing nonsense text may be encrypted message traffic. (news spam unmoderated posts are also popular)
There was quite a lot of such traffic September 9-10 2001.
Block their messages wherever possible.
Comments left by users are responsible for eroding much of my faith in humanity...mostly at sites like Digg, and Slashdot. How anyone can find value in them, I do not know.
Make the barrier to commenting high, and you weed out some of the noise as a result.
That post from "hello" shows why you shouldn't code (or post on Teh Intarweb) when you're on LSD: it makes sense while doing it, but everybody else (including Your Real Self, next day) will bee all wtf about it.
You know, it kinda makes sense that the collective community as a whole, if focused in the one place can actually act like some sort of superprogrammer because of the collective knowledge. I'm sure there is a real world paralell, I just can't thinbk of one.
I agree that a lot of the comments can be great, but you must get tired of posts that don't really add anything, for example saying "Nice post Jeff". This post is self-referential.
This is so true, I have a blog that gets 5000 unique visitors or more at times but hardly anyone leaves comments and it just looks and feels empty. Comments are really an important part of the blog ecosystem.
I refuse to say "blogosphere."
Agree w/ other comments re the blogging on blogging, navel-gazing, self reference, etc.
As penalty, I think you should write a solid post on recursion.
(P.S. I read 'em all, Jeff; it's all good.)
Recursion error: Stack Overflow.
Hrm, interesting, sneaky, encoded way to advertise your other website, I see.
Any chance you'll start modding comments up and down so we don't have to read all 20 pages of them to find the gems?
My favorite comment that someone left on one of my sites went something like "Yaaaa, I eat potatoes!".
Fear and Loathing in Visual Studio.
blogging about blog comments while I comment on your blog.
I enjoy reading your weblog, Jeff, but when you start blockquoting yourself you may want to consider whether the new post is necessary. Just sayin'.
Definitely sounds like some sort of mad lib generator.
This comment is about a blog post on the subject of blog comments. Hey, I'm a self-aware comment! w00t!
If you find comments so important, why aren't they available through the RSS feeds?
That comment looked like an email an old developer of mine would send. He was Korean but grew up in Israel and spoke english, mandarin and hebrew. The best way we could generate emails like his was to take some english and auto translate it to mandarin, auto translate that to hebrew and then translate that back to english. I always wondered if the same kind of process was going on in his head.
The eccentric definition of "programming" you mentioned reminds me of a phone call I once received. Many years ago, I was working for a company so small that every employee had to take turns answering the phone. We were a slightly notorious research group, and sometimes we would get calls from private individuals who had odd requests. However, on one occasion I took a call from a woman who at first sounded normal, but then launched into a rapidfire stream of nonsensical words that nevertheless retained some grammatical sense. Later, I asked a psychologist acquaintance about this, and he suggested that his might be "word salad," a possible symptom of schizophrenia (classic "insanity," not the misdefinition of multiple personality disorder). I wonder if that's what was going on with the "orange sponge donkey" person.
I don't find bizzare comments amusing - especially long-winded ones. Anyone can throw a bunch of words together. They are are a waste of yours and our time.
@PaulG: Sounds like you need a less sophisticated sense of humour like the rest of us then!