Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Comment is free...

...but often not worth reading. The Guardian has “a collective group blog, bringing together regular columnists from the Guardian and Observer newspapers with other writers and commentators representing a wide range of experience and interests. The aim is to host an open-ended space for debate, dispute, argument and agreement and to invite users to comment on everything they read”.

This seems a nice idea, but the comments often provide little in the way of worthwhile debate, particularly when the original piece leans to the left a little, as Guardian writing occasionally does. There was a cool and reasonable article the other day by Melissa McEwan about nasty Republicans which inspired a couple of thousand words of comments, some of them merely making the obvious point that there are some pretty nasty Democrats too, but many of them (perhaps most, I couldn’t be bothered to count) consisting of abuse from simple-minded and often illiterate bigots who have nothing to add..

This wouldn’t matter too much—most such comments reveal in the first couple of lines how little the writer has to say, so really tedious mouthings can be skipped—except that others who comment are tempted to waste their time responding to people with whom it is pointless to argue, when they could be making intelligent comments on the original article.

When the collective blog (called Comment Is Free) was started I registered a name and participated for a while, but now I just read some of the articles and don’t join in the feeble ranting that follows many of them.

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