May 11, 2012

Commentary Revisited

Marco Arment reminds us Why I Don’t Have Comments On My Site, quoting an absurd rant against him and his colleagues that appeared in a comment thread at The Verge.

This was the nadir of that thread, but most of the rest are dismal. Who wants to read long, evidence-free arguments about whether a free app will beat a $5 app? Who are these people who care so much about the cost of apps? Especially apps that cost less than a burger and fries at Five Guys?

If sites are going to have comment threads, they should (a) ban anonymous cowards, (b) require children to demonstrate that their comments are worth reading, and (c) require comments to be sufficiently lengthy to be worth reading. I think even that is inadequate.

Whatever happened to “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS? Nobody asked their opinion of whether Marco Arment is running his business properly. Are they betting on whether Marco makes a million or goes bust? One assumes he has studied his own business and its underlying technologies. Courtesy requires that we imagine he knows what he’s doing, absent clear evidence to the contrary.

Of course, nobody knows everything. You might know something that Marco has overlooked, and maybe that something would be valuable. If so, it would be nice to tell him. It shouldn’t be hard to find his email address, or to give him a holler. Why shout at him in public?

From time to time, I get a lot of flack about publishing business models from people who don’t appear to know very much about publishing. No reason they should: they’re in the business of writing and grading papers.

They probably don’t know a hell of a lot about raising chinchillas, either.