Justin Tadlock

The Final Comments

Two seagulls standing next to each other on the roof. One is shouting while the other is calmly standing next to the other.

19,516.

That’s the number of approved comments this blog has amassed over the years. The vast majority of these comments are on some of my more popular WordPress-centered posts. I’ve had a lot of fun over the years discussing the various topics on this blog. It’s been a long and exciting journey, but it’s time for a new era.

After this post, I will disable commenting for the foreseeable future.

I wanted to write this post as a sort of farewell and to give everyone who reads the blog a final chance to comment. Please don’t waste it trying to convince me to leave commenting open. My mind is set. Next week, I’m re-launching this site, and commenting won’t be a part of that.

Why, Justin? Why?

This has been a long time coming. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for at least two years now. Several factors went into this decision. But, before we get to those reasons, let’s skip down memory lane.

A look through time

I’ve had one post hit over 1,000 comments. I’ve had 10 posts hit 300+ comments. Here’s a quick look at the most-commented posts of all time.

  1. Structure: WordPress Theme (1,020)
  2. Custom post types in WordPress (616)
  3. Visionary: WordPress Theme (522)
  4. Options WordPress Theme (513)
  5. Get The Image WordPress Plugin (454)
  6. Goodbye, headaches. Hello, menus! (378)
  7. Members: WordPress Plugin (372)
  8. Custom taxonomies in WordPress 2.8 (359)
  9. Cleaner Gallery WordPress Plugin (342)
  10. Adding and using custom user profile fields (325)

I’ve had, in total, 42 posts with 100+ comments on them. We’ve had some wonderful discussions over the years.

My only non-design/development post to garner 100+ comments was Living the frugal life. It seems that folks like saving dollars. 💵💵💵

Why I’m disabling commenting

Over the past few years, I’ve grown to dislike comments on the blog, sometimes to the point of not wanting to blog anymore. Managing comments isn’t something I signed up for when starting this site back in 2003. I just wanted to share my thoughts with the world.

The asshole-factor

If you run a Web site with any level of popularity, you get assholes who don’t know how to be non-assholes when they comment on your posts.

When you call some of these people out for being an asshole, some attempt to tell you that text is “non-emotive” and you’re reading more into it than what they intended. That’s fresh, farm-grade BS. If someone tells you that, they want you to continue allowing them to be an asshole on your blog. This type of asshole is prevalent in the developer community. I understand that many developers have trouble expressing themselves, but that’s no excuse for assholery and not improving as a human being when someone points out your assholishness.

Text is an emotive medium.

It’s the job of the writer, not the reader, to spark a particular emotion. If you’ve never read a book, a story, or a poem that has made you laugh, cry, or go on an intense emotional journey, you’re either reading crappy stuff or have no soul. Don’t give me this BS about text being non-emotive.

If I’m being an asshole, you better believe that I’m intentionally being an asshole.

I typically either censor assholes on my blog or give them a verbal beat-down the likes that they’ve never seen. Depends on my mood. Long ago, I even had an official “Wall of Shame” page for these people on my site. But, all that gets tiring.

The only person who should be an asshole on my blog is me.

Viagra and skin-care products

Spam. Ugh.

I’ve had a pretty good spam-deterring system for the past few years. I’ve used a combo of comment moderation and blacklist words/phrases along with the following three plugins to effectively stop most spam.

But, some things still get through. Such is the nature of running a blog with open comments.

The toughest spam to catch are those comments that look legit but link back to a spammy Web site in the URL field. Sure, I could disable that field, but I like to look at the Web site of the person commenting.

It’s also hard to distinguish between legitimate comments that say something like “Awesome work!” or “I love this!” from spam comments that are short and similar in nature. These comments, while appreciated, offer little value to the conversation.

After enabling comments back in 2005 when I switched to WordPress for running the site, it’s been a job moderating spam. It’s been a huge time suck over the years and not something I’m interesting in continuing.

Share or tweet this

More and more, social media has replaced commenting. A post I write today may pick up discussion on Facebook or Twitter while having few comments here on the blog. It’s how people communicate online now, and it’s time I embrace that.

In a lot of ways, this is a bit freeing. It means that I can let the social media giants handle moderation of comments. And, because everyone is on some social media network or another, more people can be engaged in the discussion, particularly if they’ve never seen my blog.

Write your own post

One thing I don’t see enough is people responding by writing their own blog posts. Leaving a comment on another site’s blog post means that you’ve lost control of your content.

This is something I plan to do more of. Instead of leaving a comment on a blog, I want to take my time to give a thoughtful response on my site. A good example of this is a recent post by Ben Gillbanks on the complexity of the Mythic starter theme. I could’ve written a comment, but that wouldn’t have give me the freedom to go as in-depth as in my response post. Comments tend to be reactive and not quite as well thought through as a blog post.

I will be encouraging more people to respond to my posts in this way. If you have something truly constructive to add to the discussion, take the time and allow your mind to create a well-formed response. I’d love to read what you wrote. You can always connect with me via the contact page, Twitter, or Facebook.

And, if you want to be an asshole, you can do that on your own blog too. 😎