Around a year or two ago I decided to shut down the commenting facility on my blogs (ie on www.ictineducation.org and www.writersknow.org). This had the unfortunate side effect of deleting some very nice and also very thought-provoking comments. So, why did I do it?
Frankly, I became exasperated with the deluge of spam and nasty comments, which far outweighed to good stuff. Getting rid of the spam was time-consuming. And as for the nasty stuff, well I decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to surround myself with people who wish to put me down, and that goes for my online life as well as my physical life.
The spam was very time-consuming to sift through because much of it, at first glance, doesn't look like spam. For instance, a comment might say: "Great article, it made me think." So I would think: "Why?" Then I'd look down at the signature or email address, and the url would be something like essays-R-us.com, with a strapline like "Get us to write your essays for you!". Erm, no thanks.
The nasty comments were not pleasant to read because in each case they were personal attacks rather than reasoned arguments. I don't mind people disagreeing with me, in fact I think it's healthy. But there is no need to be nasty, and it has nothing but negative effects. Not only does it shut down debate, it prevents debates from even starting. For example, I wonder how many people, especially women, do not express their views on social media or in blogs because of the fear that misogynistic morons (a tautology if ever there was one) will ridicule them or worse?
Have I shut down debate? No, of course not. I don't control the internet, only my bit of it. If you want to comment on things I write, please do so, I'd love to hear your views. Use Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or even start your own blog.
But do try to be constructive.
I was prompted to write this post by an article in the London Evening Standard a day or two ago on the subject of intimidation in public life. I wrote about that in my newsletter, Digital Education, back in December 2017, and then wrote a blog about it in January 2018: