April 25, 2011

Voting on Comments

Dont forget to voteSome discussion on a recent post reminded me of something I've been meaning to address here but keep forgetting. It seems that some of my readers have become a bit upset about one of the features of the Intense Debate commenting system I use on this blog. The complaints fall into two categories, one of which appears to be a fairly common complaint and the other an extremely rare one. I address these complaints below.

As you'll see, I've also added a poll to the right where you can vote about whether I should keep allowing readers to vote on comments.

Should Readers Be Allowed to Vote On Comments?

Let me start with the rare complaint. I received a couple of strongly-worded emails from one reader recently who objected to the idea that readers should be able to vote on each others' comments at all.
I've subscribed to your site for quite a while and enjoy it, however, your policy of grading comments I find offensive. It's similar to grading a paper while in school. A low score is a snub and will discourage readers who receive such a score from commenting again. It reminds me of Mensa who require potential members to submit to a test to be eligible to join. No more comments from this reader!
It never occurred to me that allowing readers to vote on comments would be perceived as "grading." I realize that just because I have not heard this complaint from more than one reader does not mean that others don't feel this way.

Why Are My Comments Voted Down?

This question keeps coming up, and there is obviously no way for me to answer it because it is possible that everyone has different reasons for voting comments up or down. Personally, I find that it is quite rare that I vote a comment down. When I do so, it is almost always because the comment was incomprehensible, completely irrelevant to the discussion, or abusive.

It does seem that there are some people who vote down a comment simply because they disagree with something the commenter said. Hopefully, this effect will be countered with up-votes from other readers, and this does often seem to be the case.