Nick Denton, who runs Gawker, Lifehacker and Gizmodo, on comments:
“The idea of capturing the intelligence of the readership — that’s a joke.” […] “I don’t like going into the comments. … For every two comments that are interesting — even if they’re critical, you want to engage with them — there will be eight that are off-topic or just toxic,” he said.
Denton says that writers can’t engage because they need to work on the next story, mainly because he treats them as assembly line workers at a word factory. Not to worry, though, Nick has a solution, and like another Internet savant, Arianna Huffington, as usual his genius plan involves paying nothing for people to contribute to his site:
The answer? Denton said his sites are planning to post some stories that allow only a hand-picked, pre-approved group of people to comment on them.
I can’t read all the comments here, but I read a lot of them, and my take is pretty much the opposite of Denton’s. I learn from reading comments, engaging isn’t a waste of time, and it would kill the comments section to have gold star commenters running the roost. But I do agree with one of his observations: having people use their real names is not the solution. Idiots don’t know they’re embarrassing themselves online, so they’re proud to use their real names.
By the way, if my sitemeter math is right, his “smaller sites” get traffic that’s about on-par with ours (2 million visitors/month).