Comments are Weird

February 11, 2019

20 years ago, blogs were places that developed a community in the comment section. Back then, you would subscribe to your favourite blogs, and aggregate feeds into your own personal news stream.

It hasn’t been that way for a long time. Now, there are two places content like this is discussed:

  • Social Media (for programmers, basically twitter)
  • Aggregation sites (proggit, hacker news, etc)

I don’t like either of them for different reasons.


Twitter optimizes for the quick share, and the hot take. By definition, it is almost impossible to have a meaningful conversation, just conversations with the appearance of meaning.

Aggregation Sites

There is a weird psudo-reputational competition that goes on in these places. These “communities” are largely about tearing other people down to make yourself appear smart. These sites optimize for this reputational game, which appears to mean something but ultimately doesn’t. That being said, what meaningful discussion occurs has the highest likelyhood of occuring here.

So what about comments?

Comments are just a vestigal remnent of something which has no place in the modern web anymore, for better or worse.

If you read something here that made you think, or that you appreciate in some way, I think twitter is great for that sort of content. I am @googleninja (which is a handle I am somewhat embarrased with now, but it is far too late to change).

If you would like to engage in the posturing and pedantic criticsm that programmers love to engage in, Hacker News is probably the best place for it nowadays.

If you have a reasoned response, counter-point, criticsm, or wish to add to what I have written, I would encourage you to write it out yourself in long-form somewhere. Even if it is just a gist, do it in a place that allows you to explore your ideas, and wont be threatening to folks who may be tempted to tear you down in the interest of social capital.

If you take the time to do that (in good faith), I will link to your post in my original piece, and respond accordingingly (if I have a response).

Why am I being such a prima-donna?

I miss writing about coding. But I don’t miss engaging in 99% the discussion that happens afterwards.

Writing can be quite fulfilling, and contributing to the general body of understanding in some small way is something I think we should all be trying to do. This is an experiment in the former, while attempting to opt-out of the part I don’t enjoy.

Matt Briggs

Matt Briggs thinks about programming.

Comments are weird.